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MR. HAZLITT observes, in treating of the Elizabethan period of literature, which he likens to the "RICH STROND" of Spenser, that "it only wants exploring to fill the inquiring mind with wonder and delight, and to convince us that we have been wrong in lavishing all our praise on new-born gauds, though they are made and moulded of things past*; and in giving to dust that is a little gilded, more laud than gilt o'er dusted:"that it " will be found amply to repay the labour of the search, and it will be hard if in
* This is extremely applicable to the genteel and somewhat cloying poems published under the assumed name of Cornwall.-This author, whose forte lies in tasteful selection, and who is original in imitation, would do well to read and mark page 26 of Mr. Hazlitt's Elizabethan Lectures.
most cases curiosity does not end in admiration, and modesty teach us wisdom." Here very likely some of the profane will shake their heads and exclaim, "We have had specimens in plenty of the ore, and the mine does not pay the trouble of working!" and indeed there does seem somé reason for the above complaint, when one refers to the dryness of many articles in the British Bibliographer, the Restituta, and the Archaica, and several of the reprints entire, which have issued from the Lee Priory private press of Sir Egerton Brydges. For this it is not very difficult to account.-The writer of these remarks is no way deficient in respect for the talents of the author of "Mary de Clifford" and "The Ruminator;" and, in his opinion, the vulgar jaded stomach of the age, which has no appetite but the false one induced by drams and cayenne, is miserably shown by its neglect of the last mentioned elegant series of papers. He has sym
*The fickleness of our reading public is well censured in the following sentence from "Eastward Hoe :"They are borne on headlong in desire, from one no
pathized, even unto tears, in those heart-breathed, melancholy effusions, poured out with such moving ingenuousness, during the "Sylvan Wanderer's" forest walks amid the dank heaps of matted leaves* and he has mourned over the fast crumbling decay of an ancient and noble house. But private feeling, however painful may be the struggle, (and in this case it is most painful,) must give way to impartial criticism.
Sir Egerton was originally intended for a man of genius-but many melancholy circumstances, which every lover of the Muse bewails with drooping head and heart, have crooked the promising branch, and turned the nourishing sap to a corroding poison, eating the heart of the tree. This it is that has caused that craving for unwholesome food
velty to another: and where these ranging appetites reign there is ever more passion than reason; no stay, and so no happiness."
* Sir E. B. has wisely (whatever the worldly and ignorant may say) unloaded his full heart on paper
"The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."
which his editorial labours so frequently display. A darkness comes over his spirit, and the blue sky appears black even to his corporeal eye. His patrician feelings unconsciously cling to him in all things. The multitude are following the chase through a beautiful country after a more glittering leader: he cannot mingle unnoticed in the herd, and therefore plunges moodily among thorny brakes and black rocks-he throws himself beneath "knotty, knarry, barren trees," blasted by the "thwarting thunder blue;" and gropes around him for rank weeds which "the dire looking planet smites."-His lips wreathe into a grievous smile when he lights on a sow-thistle, he tastes it, and fancies its bitter juice richer far than the oozings of the wine-vats.-No misgiving obtrudes itself on him that his palate is out of order! no! he carries home his bundle of dry plants and withered leaves, and sends it to his man cook, Mr. Warwick*, who dresses the worthless trash with rich sauce. It is served to table in a superb dish, and re
*The Lee Priory printer.
commended as an exquisite dainty to the wondering guests. In fact (dropping the silly metaphor) the reprints of those authors superintended by Sir E. Brydges have been, on the whole, such as to fully justify the imposing dogma of Dr. Johnson, "that they were sought after because they were scarce, and would not have become scarce had they been much esteemed."-But there were other neglected writers in that era besides Nicholas Breton, Robert Greene, and
* In justice to Sir Egerton Brydges, it should be observed, that we are indebted to his zeal, and that of his unwearied coadjutor Mr. Haslewood, for much curious and interesting information relating to our early writers; of which Dr. Drake has known how to avail himself, without the labour of wading through the mass of rubbish, under which it has sometimes lain hid. The reviver of Wither's "Shepherd's Hunting," and "Fair Virtue," (so ably panegyrized by Mr. Lamb) and of the learned Stanley's "Poems," and "Translations from Moschus, Anacreon, &c." deserves the poetical student's warmest thanks; and I have much pleasure in acknowledging that I owe my more intimate acquaintance with the following beautiful poem to Sir Egerton's almost entire reprint of it in several numbers of the "Restituta."