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Mrs. Barbauld essayed her strength in one or two serious poems and epistles on political subjects. In the treatment of such themes she was not happy. It is only in her lighter moods that she is free from a certain complacent shallowness of sentiment which lessens the value of her work. This fault is less noticeable in her later poems, when age and sad experience had overcome her yet even here, in only one of her lyrics, in the close of the Ode to Life, do we meet with much real beauty of feeling. Towards the end of her days she composed the longest of her poems, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven. Her subject is the decline of British power, the transfer of European prestige to America; and it is not surprising that it was received with much disfavour. Nor were the public to be soothed by hearing that the 'ingenuous youth from the Blue Mountains or Ontario's Lake,' forerunners of Lord Macaulay's New Zealander, should, making duteous pilgrimage to London's faded glories, enquire
'Where all-accomplished Jones his race began.'
Mrs. Barbauld could not forgive the public its ingratitude. She took a mild revenge in publishing no more poems, and the step, it may be, was a wise one. In the heyday of the Georgian revival, her academic little verses must have missed their accustomed praise. Her vaunted immortelles had already faded; I fear they will bear no more their golden flowers in any possible future.
A. MARY F. ROBINSON.
ODE TO SPRING.
Sweet daughter of a rough and stormy sire,
Whose unshorn locks with leaves
And swelling buds are crowned ;
From the green islands of eternal youth,
Crowned with fresh blooms and ever springing shade;
Turn, hither turn thy step,
O thou, whose powerful voice
More sweet than softest touch of Doric reed,
And through the stormy deep
Breathe thine own tender calm.
Thee, best beloved! the virgin train await
And vales and dewy lawns,
With untired feet; and cull thy earliest sweet,
Of him, the favoured youth
That prompts their whispered sigh.
Unlock thy copious stores, those tender showers
And silent dews that swell
The milky ear's green stem,
And feed the flowering osier's early shoots;
And call those winds which through the whispering boughs
With warm and pleasant breath
Salute the blowing flowers.
Now let me sit beneath the whitening thorn
And mark thy spreading tints steal o'er the dale,
And watch with patient eye
Thy fair unfolding charms.
O nymph, approach! while yet the temperate sun
The earth's fair bosom; while the streaming veil
From his severer blaze.
Sweet is thy reign, but short :-the red dog-star
Reluctant shall I bid thee then farewell:
For O not all that Autumn's lap contains,
Fair Spring! whose simplest promise more delights Than all their largest wealth, and through the heart
Each joy and new-born hope
With softest influence breathes.
'Animula, vagula, blandula.
Life! I know not what thou art,
But this I know, when thou art fled
No clod so valueless shall be
As all that then remains of me.
O whither, whither dost thou fly,
Where bend unseen thy trackless course,
Ah, tell where I must seek this compound I?
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame
Wait, like some spell-bound knight, Through blank oblivious years the appointed hour To break thy trance and reassume thy power? Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be? O say what art thou when no more thou'rt thee?
Life! we've been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather; 'Tis hard to part when friends are dear; Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
GEORGE CRABBE was born at Aldborough in Suffolk, of poor parents, on the 24th of December, 1754. He was apprenticed in his fourteenth year to a surgeon at Wickham Brook, near Bury St. Edmunds, and after completing his term actually practised at Aldborough. He was not however successful. in his profession, and being reduced to great extremities, he determined to go to London, and to devote himself to literature. for which he had at an early age discovered a strong bent. For a long time he sought in vain for patronage, but was at length fortunate enough to attract the attention of Burke, through whose kindly influence The Library (1781) was favourably received by the public. In the same year he took orders, and two years later published The Village, after first submitting it to the revision of Johnson. This work at once established his reputation; but instead of following up his success, for the period of twenty-four years he published but one poem, The Newspaper (1785), and devoted himself almost entirely to parish work. In 1807 appeared The Parish Register, which was succeeded in 1810 by The Borough, in 1812 by Tales in Verse, and in 1819 by Tales of the Hall. This was his last poetical work, though his death did not take place till February 3, 1832, thirteen years later.]
Crabbe's poems form a very distinct landmark in the course of English literature. Nothing is more noticeable in the latter part of the eighteenth century than the apparent exhaustion of poetical material. Poetry thrives in an agitated atmosphere; it languishes in a state of settled repose. For more that a century before the appearance of Crabbe the prevailing tone of English poetry had been political. The interest of the people had been absorbed in the establishment of their constitutional liberties, which they had secured at the price of civil war and a disputed succession, and what was felt in society was reflected in verse. The political passions of the period show themselves in different forms in the controversial satires of Dryden, in the personal satires of Pope, in the dramatic declamation of Addison, and at last in the more composed moralising of Johnson and Goldsmith. But by degrees, under a settled dynasty, the air is cleared of serious