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'Ere you remark another's sin,
Bid your own conscience look within:
Control thy more voracious bill,

Nor for a breakfast nations kill.'"

A variety of other fables and apologues in verse lie scattered over the literary field, some of which are sufficiently spirited and entertaining. Among the best of these are Mrs. Thrale's Three Warnings, and Merrick's Chameleon.

4. By romantic poems, the name assigned to the fourth subdivision of narrative poetry, we mean, poems in which heroic subjects are epically treated, after the manner of the old romances of chivalry, yet in which neither the subject nor the form rise to the true dignity of the Epic. Such poems are essentially the fruit of modern times and modern ideas. Between the period of the Renaissance, when the production of metrical romances ceased, and the close of the eighteenth century, the taste of European society preferred, both in art and literature, works modelled upon the masterpieces of Greek and Roman genius, and recoiled with an aversion, more or less sincere, from all that was Gothic or medieval. In such a period, a romantic poem, had it appeared, would have been crushed by the general ridicule, or smothered under the general neglect. But, towards the close of the eighteenth century, a reaction set in, and the romantic poems of Scott and his imitators are one among many of its fruits.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the earliest of these productions (1805), exhibits the influence of the old romances much more decidedly than those of later date. Expressions and half lines constantly occur in it, which are transferred unaltered from the older compositions; and the vivid and minute description of Branksome Hall, with which the poem opens, is exactly in the style of the graphic old Trouvères :

"Nine-and-twenty knights of fame

Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;
Nine-and-twenty squires of name

Brought them their steeds to bower from stall;
Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall

Waited, duteous, on them all:

They were all knights of mettle true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch..

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Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,
Waited the beck of the warders ten;
Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,
Stood saddled in stable day and night,
Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,
And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow;
A hundred more fed free in stall;-

Such was the custom of Branksome Hall."

The popularity of the Lay naturally induced Scott to go on working in the same mine; Marmion came out in 1808, and the Lady of the Lake in 1810. Marmion, though it has fine passages, is faulty as a poem. The introductions to the cantos, addressed to six of his friends, are so long, and touch upon such a variety of topics, that the impressions they create interfere with those which the story itself is intended to produce; nor have they much intrinsic merit, if we except that to William Rose, containing the famous memorial lines on Pitt and Fox. In the Lady of the Lake, Scott's poetical style reaches its Here the romantic tale culminates; the utmost that can be expected from a kind of poetry far below the highest, and from a metre essentially inferior to the heroic, is here attained The story is conducted with much art; the characters are interesting; the scenery glorious; the versification far less faulty than in Marmion.


Byron's Oriental Tales, the Giaour, the Corsair, the Bride of Abydos, &c.,- are but imitations, with changed scenery and accessories, of Scott's romantic poems, though they displaced them for a time in the public favour. But the Lady of the Lake will probably outlive the Corsair,

because it appeals to wider and more permanent sympathies. The young, the vehement, the restless, delight in the latter, because it reflects and glorifies to their imagination the wild disorder of their own spirits; the aged and the calm find little in it to prize or to commend. But the former poem, besides that "hurried frankness of composition which pleases soldiers, sailors, and young people of bold and active disposition," has attractions also for the firm, even mind of manhood and the pensiveness of age: the truth and vividness of its painting, whether of manners or of nature, delight the one; the healthy buoyancy of tone, recalling the days of its youthful vigour, pleasantly interests the other.

The following extract is from the well-known Pirate's Song, with which the Corsair opens:

"O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,

Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home.
These are our realms, no limits to their sway ·
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
Ours the wild life in tumult still to range
From toil to rest, and joy in every change.
Oh, who can tell? not thou, luxurious slave!
Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave!

Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease!

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Whom slumber soothes not pleasure cannot please.---
Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide,
The exulting sense the pulse's maddening play,
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way;
That for itself can woo the approaching fight,
And turn what some deem danger to delight;

That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal,

And where the feebler faint can only feel:

Feel to the rising bosom's inmost core,

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Its hope awaken and its spirit soar!"

Moore's Lalla Rookh is also a romantic poem, more

*Life of Scott: Diary.

musical and more equably sustained than those of Byron,
but inferior to his in force, and to Scott's both in force and
nobleness. One passage we will give; - it is that in
which the Peri, whose admission to Paradise depends upon
her finding a gift for the Deity which will be meet for his
acceptance, and who has already vainly offered the heart's
blood of a hero fallen in his country's defence, and the last
sigh of a maiden who had sacrificed her life for her lover,
finds, at last, the acceptable gift in the tear of peni-
tence, shed by one who had seemed hardened in crime:
"But, hark! the vesper-call to prayer,
As slow the orb of daylight sets,
Is rising sweetly on the air

From Syria's thousand minarets!
The boy has started from the bed
Of flowers, where he had laid his head,
And down upon the fragrant sod
Kneels, with his forehead to the South,
Lisping the eternal name of God

From purity's own cherub mouth,
And looking, while his hands and eyes
Are lifted to the glowing skies,
Like a stray babe of Paradise,
Just lighted on that flowery plain,

And seeking for its home again!

Oh, 't was a sight that Heaven - that child


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A scene which might have well beguiled

Ev'n haughty Eblis of a sigh
For glories lost and peace gone by.

"And how felt he, the wretched man
Reclining there while memory ran
O'er many a year of guilt and strife,
Flew o'er the dark field of his life,
Nor found one sunny resting-place,
Nor brought him back one branch of grace!
'There was a time,' he said, in mild
Heart-humbled tones,-' thou blessed child!
When, young and haply pure as thou,
I looked and prayed like thee,—but now
He hung his head, -each nobler aim
And hope and feeling, which had slept
From boyhood's hour, that instant came
Fresh o'er him, and he wept - he wept!'

5. The historical poem is a metrical narrative of public events, extending over a period more or less prolonged of a nation's history. It lies open to the obvious objection that, if the intention be merely to communicate facts, they can be more easily and clearly described in prose; if to write something poetically beautiful, the want of unity of plan, and the restraints which the historical style imposes on the imagination, must be fatal to success. Hence the rhyming chronicles of Layamon, Robert of Gloucester, and Robert Manning, though interesting to the historian of our literature, are of no value to the critic. In Dryden's Annus Mirabilis the defects of this style are less apparent, because the narrative is confined to the events of one year, and that year (1666) was rendered memorable by two great calamities, neither of which was unsusceptible of poetic treatment - the great Plague and the Fire of London. Yet, after all, the Annus Mirabilis is a dull poem; few readers would now venture upon the interminable series of its lumbering stanzas.

Didactic Poetry: The "Hind and Panther;" Essay on Man;

Essay on Criticism; "Vanity of Human Wishes."

We have now arrived at the didactic class of poems, those, namely, in which it is the express object of the writer to inculcate some moral lesson, some religious tenet, or some philosophical opinion. Pope's Essay on Man, Dryden's Hind and Panther, and many other well-known poems, answer to this description.

All, or very nearly all, the Anglo-Saxon poetry composed subsequently to the introduction of Christianity, bears a didactic character. Of Cædmon the Venerable Bede remarks, that he "never composed an idle verse;" that is to say, his poetical aims were always didactic. A large proportion also of the English poetry produced in the three centuries following the conquest had direct instruc


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