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sincerely regret, that passion and prejudice gain such influence in the minds of the best of men. With what indignation then must she see beard. less ignorance usurp her authority, and presumptuously pronounce sentence upon authors in her name.
Ridiculous as it must seem to ev. ery one, the court of criticism, as it is most falsely called, is chiefly composed of boys !
I am told there is a society of young Notionals formed to abash modest merit and crush humble genius.A society, which prostitutes the name and disgraces the character of a critick by its attempts to criticise. This honourable body so bedaubs its favourites with unqualified approbation, that their most intimate friends would in vain attempt to recognize them ; and even the subjects of their fulsome panegyricks are doubtful whether to attribute them to irony, or adulation. Extravagant in praises, they are despicably illiberal in their censure, which is indiscriminately poured on all, their cronies ex. cepted. They spare neither the failing's nor. feelings of any one, who is so unfortunate as to be arraigned at their bar. Predetermined to condemn, their inquiry is not, what fault has he ? but how shall he word his condemnationYet these apes of the manners of a generous censor conceitedly imagine that the opinion of the town is under their control !
For the honour of common sense I hope this information is false ; yet certain circumstances induce me to think it true. There is a young relation of mine, who devotes half of
that time, which should be employed in the business of life, to giving the publick his opinion of authors and actors. He spends his time and money in purchasing and reading new publications ; frequents the theatre, where he talks loudly, is foremost in a hiss, and when there is no danger, engages in a riot. He neglects his business and his friends &c. and spends most of his evenings with several young men, who, I suspect, form this aforementioned literary society, scientifick association, club of criticks or whatever they please to call themselves.The boy is in a sad case, I assure you.
Freedom of opinion is a privilege enjoyed by all. Every individual, however unqualified, has a right to form and express his judgment of whatever comes within the reach of his observation ; that is, no one has a right to hinder him. Propriety however should keep every man in his own sphere. Had she this influence in society, we believe that Criticism would have no reason to complain that her courts are thronged by beardless boys.
L... Boiton, Dec. 1806.
FOR THE POLYANTHOS.
Μελιγλώσσαν άοΐδων άνθεά. One excellence of the Bards of Scotland is accuracy of description, couched in words appropriate and elegant, and numbers truly hármonious. But his chief beauty we think is that art with which he interweaves, many little episodes, whose elegance charms the mind, and whose pathos touches the heart. Of this we have already given one example, we now present the reader another which is in our opinion equally excellent.
From day to day as blow the hawthorn flowers, That canopy the “ Merlie's” home of love, The plumage of the younglings shoots and spreads, Filling with joy the fond parental eye. Alas! not long the parent's partial eye Shall view the fledging wing ; ne'er shall they see The timorous pinion's first essay to flight. The truant schoolboy's eager, bleeding hand, Their house, their all, tears from the bending bush ; A shower of blossoms mourns the ruthless deed ! The piercing anguished note, the brushing wing: The spoiler heeds not; triumphing, his way Smiling he wends : The ruin'd hopeless pair, O'er many a field follow his townward steps, Then back return ; and, perching on the bush,
Find nought of all they lov'd but one small tuft
But what their wretchedness, parents or young,
T smile away his tears, caressing him With horrible embrace, the while he calls Aloud, in vain to you ! Nor does even time,Assuager of all other woes--bring balm To this : Each child, to boyish years grown up, Reminds you of your boy ! He might have been Like this, fair, blooming, modest, looking down With most engaging bashfulness. But now, Instead of this, perhaps, with sable mask Begrimmed, he feebly totters 'neath a heavy load, More fitted to his cruel master's strength. Perhaps to manhood come, allured to sell · His life, his freedom, for some paltry pounds,
He now lies 'mong the numbered, nameless crowd, That groan on gory fields, envying the dead.
The following extract bespeaks a heart glowing with that ardour of genuine piety as well as poetry, which so eminently distinguish the Sabbath; besides presenting a specimen of a difficult rhetorical figure, conducted with inimitable art and success. Every heart will assent not only to its beauties but its sentiments, that has ever admired the awfully grand and ele. gantly minute in nature, or has ever been warmed with a single spark from the altar of devo tion.
O nature ! all thy seasons please the eye Of him who sees a Deity in all, It is his presence that diffuses charms Unspeakable, o'er mountain, wood, and stream. To think that He, who hears the heavenly choirs, Hearkens complacent to the woodland song ; To think that He, who rolls yon solar sphere, Uplifts the warbling songster to the sky; To mark his presence in the mighty bow, That spans the clouds, as in the tints minute Of tiniest flower; to hear his awful voice In thunder speak, and whisper in the gale ; To know and feel his care for all that lives; 'Tis this that makes the barren waste appear A frugal field, each grove a paradise. Yes! place me 'mid far stretching woodless wilds, Where no sweet song is heard ; the heathbell there Would sooth my weary sight, and tell of Thee !