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With acumen keen depth of study survey'd,
style, without laying claim to the pathos which characterises a variety of that gentleman's productions, notwithstanding his contempt for all the heretofore acknowledged rules of poetical composition. Whensoever Mr. Southey issues from the press, we find him arrayed in a different costume, though one unvarying predeliction for the wonderful runs through the whole series of his poems. His Joan of Arc, hastily composed after the manner of Milton and other epic poets, though possessing merit, is particularly deficient on the score of patriotism, as every Gallic chief is elevated to the rank of an hero, while our fifth Henry, Talbot, &c. are scarcely raised above the common walk of life. Thalaba the Destroyer, after the model of the Arabian Tales, is characterised by some bold but extravagant flights. Madoc, though generally pleasing, on account of the mild sentiments which breathe throughout that production, is nevertheless rendered irksome to the reader, at intervals, from insipidity and tameness of style. Kehama, diversified with the rhapsodies of Thalaba, and the gentleness of the last mentioned poem, claims precedence above the rest; and whatsoever genius this writer. may possess is certainly elicited from the work in question.
These points well consider’d, he next conn'd the
page, To find a theme fitting his Muse to engage ;
Upon analyzing the productions of Mr. Southey, it will be found that he is most anxious to make the world acquainted with the multiplicity of books that have engrossed his attention: to accomplish which purpose he has neglected the arrangement of his ideas, and a due attention to the groundwork of his plans; two concomitants which are absolutely essential to ensure the poet universal and unperishable fame.
A poem entitled the Damnation of Ruvomisha, from the pen of Rodrigo Maddocks, Esq., is a production in the style of Southey ; containing a portion of the extravaganza of that, writer's Curse of Kehama, while the versification is much more regular than the laureat's poem of Thalaba the Destroyer. There is, indeed, no part of the production of Mr. Maddocks which can compare with Kehama's entrance through eight portals at the same juncture of time; or of the orb compounded of a thousand little eyes kneaded into one. All that it is requisite to state, respecting the Damnation of Ruvomisha, is, that such individuals who may be partial to the most marvellous of the marvellous will find ample food for the indulgence of their predeliction on perusal of the work in question.
And the purpose achiev'd, next with care plann'd
The sage was sublime, and the hero all glory;
poem to each critic friend;
Read o'er their remarks, then corrected anew,
Each line thus subjected to keenest review:
Thus Southey, who once wrote for
wrote for freedom egad, True turn-coat, can right about face, pliant lad; 'Tis to creatures like these laureat labours belong; A soul truly fir’d wou'd disdain flattery's song:
class out Herods shame, daring alike the language of reproof and the keen lash of correction, without deigning to subsidize a venal pen in order to throw a gloss over the flagrant dereliction. As a specimen, however, of this species of composition, taken in its fullest extent, may tend to amuse, I shall present the subjoined without further apology.
Father de Aranaz published a book at Pampeluna in favour of Philip the Vth, the title of which, rendered into English word for word, ran as follows.
« The Lord Philip Vth is true King of Spain of God's own making: the “ Tower of the second David, persecuted and victorious, fortified with three “ bulwarks, viz. Justice, Religion, and Politics, to which a thousand Shields “are fastened to defend his Crown; dedicated and consecrated to the King “our Lord, whom God preserve for the Glory of Spain and the Good of “ Christendom. By Father Hyacinthus D’Aranaz, a native of the most “ faithful city of Sanguessa, Doctor of Divinity, Synodal Examiner of the
Archbishopric of Toledo, Chaplain to his Majesty, &c. &c”.
This fanatical, I might add farcical writer, compares his work to a fortress with three bulwarks. Fifteen shields are fastened to the first, eight to the second, and four to the third. To get into that fortress, one must go through a portico, where, says the author, one may be informed that the Devil, in quality of the Prince of Discord, inspires the malcontents ;with a desire of changing their king; and has entrusted the heretics with the execution of such enterprize.
So proceed in thy course, ape the courtier's
And with shame braid thy temples each fresh
(k) Adulandi gens prudentissima laudat
Sermonem indocti, faciem deformis amici. Juvenal.
The skilful race of flatterers praises the discourse of the ignorant, and the face of the deformed friend.