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¢ Alas !” the beldam cry'd, and sbook
My friend, you quite miştook iny meaning,
below.' Another publication by Mr. Boyd is the subject of the eni, suing article.
ART. VIII. The Woodman's Tale, after the Manner of Spenser.
To which are added, other Pocms, chiefly Narrative and Lyric, and the Royal Message, a Drama. By the Rev. Henry Boyd, A.M. Translator of the Divina Comedia of Dante, &c. 8vo.
pp. 475. 1os. 6d. Boards. Longman and Co. I MITATIONS of the poets of ruder times would not often be
desirable, nor are they likely to be generally successful, Their faults may be more easily copied than their beauties ; and even some features, which in their day might be deemed attractive, will now cease to gratify the feelings, or to excite commendation. Obscurity may create, something like a pleasing awe, when real grandeur is discoverable beneath, and even licentiousness may be relished when it is seasoned with irresistible humour: but when dullness or absurdity alone is shaded by the misty cloak, and grossness on the contrary appears without the alluring dress which it so much requires, weariness and disgust must be the effects produced.-If we can wholly acquit Mr. Boyd of the latter part of this charge, it will not be found that we can absolve him from the former.
The first and last pieces in this collection are the most considerable in point of extent; and, like Mr. B.'s other original effusions, they bespeak a laudable familiarity with the language and ideas of poetry, while they betray too little regard to correct judgment, good taste, or patient revisal.---The de sign of the Woodman's Tale is to' expose the pernicious effects of indulging in the use of ardent and fermented liquors; a very commendable intention, but not very likely to be forwarded by an obscure allegory in the Spenserian stanza. By the aid of the Introduction and a few notes, we are, indeed, informed of the meaning and conduct of this very singular performance:
but we may be allowed to doubt that it will ever reclaim a single votary of Bacchus.
According to the relation of an old hermit, called Agdistes, the antient kings of the island of Ogygia originally sprang from man, but the race was afterward mixed by intermarriages with the Naiads, in spite of the artful attempts of Circe to captivate young King Crenæus. Lycurgus having banished Bacchus and Comus from Thrace, the last mentioned exile repairs to Ogye gia, and gains the good graces of Ceres, who bears him a son. This wicked imp, in order that he may subject the island to the dominion of Circe, instigates the spirits of the fogs and storms to rebellion, and to assail the Naiads with the fatal charms of Circe's cup. The Sun himself conspires to effect the diabolical scheme, by drying up the fountains, and con. straining the poor water-nymphs to have recourse to the baleful contents of the cup, which induce pride and madness, and force them to ascend in the form of pernicious vapour.- The offspring of Comus and Cotes next counterfeits shipwreck on the coast, and acquaints the Ogygians that he is marked out by the Delphic oracle as the victim whose sacrifice should appease the anger of Phoebus and the Naiads ; that he had in vain fled from the island, since the wrath of heaven pursued him; and, that he pow solicited to undergo his fate. The atonement, he adds, will be complete, if they mix his remains with the sacred lymph of the Naiads, sublimed by Vulcan.--After various discussions, he is immolated in the manner which he prescribed ; and to the islanders he bequeaths his children, who, like priests, are destined to appease the deities on great occasions. As the island is immediately visited by stormi and calamities, the inhabitants have recourse to their lately ordained Flamens, who enjoin the performance of new cereinonies, and especially recommend a grand masked ball, which has a melancholy termipation :
“ Short and fallacious were their joys, for soon
The Stygian masquers dropp'd their fair disguise,
Display'd the features of the nether skies.
Now hideous forms on ey'ry side arise,
Each with Demonian glee his victim eyes,
Shoots forth his dreadful length, to light revealid,
Till all the poison in his veins concealid,
His inmost soul, by social love unquell’d,
Crossing the welkin in a summer's night,
With foul concupiscence of low delight :
He longs to join the deep Circean rite,
And, all unconscious of his evil plight,
And reckless liv'd of Blame or Scorn's retorted eye.' Such is a short outline of this recondite fiction, for all the mysteries and concealed import of which we must refer to the author's keys and the reader's ingenuity. Mr. Boyd intimates that it is a juvenile attempt, scarcely deserving of an ap If this be not affected modesty, we must remind him that the public are intitled to some respect, and may well dispense with five cantos of a dark rhapsody which seldom rouses the feelings or interests the heart.
The Royal Message, founded on the history of David and Uriah, is likewise open to various and formidable objections. In general, it is extremely hazardous to vary or to modernize the simple and popular narratives of Scripture. Nathan's affecting apologue and its forcible application, for example, must lose much of their effect when expanded into pages of blank verse. To an injudicious selection of his subject, the author has added much unnecessary complication of plot, with great display of base and intriguing characters; and, at length, he has recourse to the stale expedient of a vision, in order to introduce Scipio Africanus as one of the interlocutors.
The Milesian Tales are grafted on Irish history or traditions, and manifest none of the licence which their title might seem to įmply ; yet their local allusions, and the languor and obscurity which more or less pervade them, will subtract from their merit in the eyes of most readers. Occasionally, however, we meet with animated description, or touching sentiment. In the introductory stanzas to the Knight of Feltrim, the poet thuş apostrophizes his former residence ;
• O wood of Graigue ! does fate decree
I ne'er must view thy shades again,
Rest me upon thy flow'ry plain.
• In winter's cold and summer's heat,
I sported in thy shelter green,
Secure beneath thy holly screen.
I tended at their matins gay,
That from the green glade stole away.' &c. Many of the smaller pieces are complimentary addresses to individuals distinguished by rank, accomplishment, or virtues, Among these, the verses to Robert Anderson, Esq. of Edinburgh, the Monody on the Rev. Dr. Henry Leslie, and the imitation of Mr. Mathias's Italian Ode to Mr. Roscoe, perhaps deserve the preference. Some are republished from the Poetical Register; and that which is intitled Visions of Woodstock is said to be the Prize Poem for the year 1777.-We quote the opening of the Ode: ! IMITATION of an Italian Ope, addressed to William Roscoe,
Esq. (Biographer of Lorenzo de Medici) by T. J. Mathias, Esq.
By Fancy call'd, the tuneful throng,
An airy squadron, flits along,
March the masters of the lyre,
Bends to salute the hallow'd choir,
Charms on every theme bestowing,
I turn, O Flamen of the Muse,
Whose potent spell renews
Wing'd with no ignoble aim,
I send, and barb it with the flame
Sequester'd from the vulgar throng
And Dirce's fount inspire the song,
While, Roscoe ! thee I call,
From many a monument of ages past,
• Deeds heroic, arts divine,
Mounts to Fame's ætherial goal.
That seems their sad, forsaken haunts to mourn?
'I he fell oppressor and the tyrant's scorn, ,
Which memory feeds, and leng by anguish worn,
That forge he enters, whence, with war's alarms
Napoleoli's axe, and midst the din of arms
Fashion'd of gold and steel. The frighted shore
When his dire edict threaten'd to restore
But midst the dread Vulcanian cells,
While voice and hand the potes prolong.' If we rightly appreciate Mr. Boyd's talents, they are more suited to the task of translation than to original composition ; and he must still bear with us when we renew our exhortations to greater correctness in rhymes and grammar. Year and bear, far and despair, food and brood, struck and partook, assail and deal, adown and moon, heard and ver'd, &c. &c. &c. can never satisfy polished ears. He should likewise be aware that thou and you are not interchangeable at pleasure, in the course of the same address; and that such regimens as the following