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To the fair, the young, the good-to the lovers of poetic worth-to all who can estimate and enjoy the beautiful and sublime effusions of inspired intellectwe are happy in the opportunity of offering a new, enlarged, and chastened edition of a much - favoured volume.
In presenting a selection from the most popular works of our modern bards-works, which do and will exist as a glorious monument of the taste and genius of this Augustan age—works, which afford full and proud refutation of the oft-repeated, arrogant, and bigotted assertion, that, in the fair fields of Poësy, they, who went before us, have plucked every brighter flower, leaving, to the humble gleaners who follow, nought but weeds and stubble-we will not pay to the judgment of the public so poor a compliment as to point out for admiration its more prominent beauties. however, the honest and ennobling pride we feel, in being of the same nation, and living in the same era, with those who will live hereafter-who will speak to future ages in that voice, and in that language which shall be heard and understood by the mind of man till Time shall be no more—that conscious pride will not suffer us to remain silent on the traits which characterise and distinguish the productions of our most gifted sons and daughters of song.
But, to whom, when all are either great or rich, rare or lovely, shall we assign the first place in our splendid galaxy ?-To thee-Byron-thou master of the soulthou wizard of the lyre-whose strong and cunning hand plunges amidst the chords, and sounds the depths of human passion! Thou spirit of the elements—thou child of the storm-what shall we say of thee ?What?—that thou standest on the extreme verge of that wide and immeasurable gulph--that gulph which no one has dared to overstep-that impassable, that undebatable strait which lies between our - shoal of time” and the proud rock, where stood--where stands where will ever stand-our own immortal Shakespeare ! Peace to thy manes, thou morning star of verse! and may the record of thy genius live in marble, thy errors be written upon
sand! The next place in our shining hemisphere must be awarded to Him, who perhaps (if he did justice to bimself) ought to stand first-to Him, who drinks at the living spring, the fountain-head of inspiration--Coleridge that champion of the truth—that true lover of - the fair humanities of old Religion”-He, who speaks to us, as with the trumpet-tongue of an angel, of time, and of eternity ;-HE, who bears to us a message of glad tidings from the world of worlds, where tears will he wiped away, and all things be fulfilled.--No one, who has a mind to understand, and a heart to feel the beauty and the majesty, the sweetness and the comfort of true religion, can peruse the page of this pure and heavenly-gifted poet without becoming a better and a happier being
By his side must stand the Bard of Hope--for surely
Religion and Hope should go hand in hand !—Campbell ! -who that has heard can ever forget the music of thy golden lyre, which sounds a hymn of joy that can soothe the worst ills of life, and almost “ create a soul bencath the ribs of Death ?”—who, that ever listened to the spirit-stirring note of thy battle-song, felt not a thousand hearts throb within his bosom, with the pulse of valour and of patriotisin?
And Thou, who sportest in the garden of delightthe bower of the Muses-culling sweetness from every flower, and, like the fabled lover of the rose, pouring forth a flood of harmony to entrance the ear and subjugate the heart-0, Minstrel of Erin !-O, tender and graceful Moore !—the voluptuous melody of the impassioned lay, which echoes through the land
from lady's bower to princely hall—when it sinks from the ear into the soul, brings back the years that are gone the verdant morn of youth-the light of hope—the sigh, the FIRST fond sigh of “ Love's Young Dream .!''
With all the purity and much of the elevation of thought that characterises our favourite Coleridge, the Muse of Montgomery breathes a delicate, a delicious pensiveness which finds an echo in every heart that has proved-and where, alas! is the heart that has not proved—the evanescent nature of human bliss—the too much prized, the perishable wealth of man? But His is not the dirge of grief-not the song of one who mourns without bope; for, while he sweetly and sadly moralises on the lot of frail humanity, he cheeringly reminds those who weep over the bier of departed worth—who sit at the threshold of the tomb, whose dark portal has closed, and shut them out from all they loved that when our 66 Mother Earth takes home her child,” it is but to ripen the immortal seed for that harvest, when what has been sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption--when death shall be swallowed up in victory.
We must next speak of Crabbe, who, with reference to the boldness—the startling boldness, and breadthwith which he sketches the wilder and darker features of our nature, may be termed the Rembrandt of poetry. We trust, however, that we shall not be deemed invidious, if we confess that, while we pay due homage to that genius, that consummate skill, which can dive into the innermost recesses of the heart, and there discover, and hold up to the light, the secret springs of human action, we cannot view the picture he presents to us without mingled feelings of sorrow and disgust. It is all shadow-one broad mass of shadow-without any relief-without one contrasting, one redeeming ray of light.-—If such were a faithful portraiture of man, we should blush at the consciousness of belonging to such a species. Yet, in justice to this true poet, though painful dissector of gross mortality, let us add, that he can, when he rises from the contemplation of our baser nature, wield at will the elements of the terrible and the grand. This is fully shown in his poem of Sir Eustace Grey, the length of which alone prevents it from enriching our collection. That masterly delineation of the “ last worst ill ” that can befal us--that appalling picture of the human mind in ruins-would, had he written not another line, establish his fame on a rock of everduring strength.
If the strains of Crabbe arouse the string of pain,