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It is difficult to decide among what group of poets to class SAMUEL ROGERS. He was contemporary with the whole line, from Cowper almost to our own time.

1762-1855 His first poems appeared when Cowper began to write; his Pleasures of Memory was published about the time Wordsworth was bringing out the Lyrical Ballads ; his Italy was nearly contemporary with the death of Shelley; and he lived to see Tennyson called the greatest poet of this generation. At his hospitable home, the abode of good taste in literature and art, one might have met the finest wits of more than half this century.

Rogers's Pleasures of Memory is one of those didactic poems, such as Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination, which appeared fifty years earlier, or Campbell's Pleasures of Hope, written a little later, in which the poet exalts one quality of the mind over all the others, and makes it the theme on which to hang his musings on nature and human life. A dozen lines of his apostrophe to Memory will suffice to show the poet's style :

Hail, Memory, hail ! in thy exhaustless mine
From age to age unnumbered treasures shine!
Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
And place and time are subject to thy sway!
Thy pleasures most we feel when most alone,-
The only pleasures we can call our own.
Lighter than air, Hope's summer visions die,
If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
If but a beam of sober reason play,
Lo, Fancy's fairy frost-work melts away!
But can the wiles of art, the grasp of power,
Snatch the rich relics of a well-spent hour ?
These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight,
Pour round her path a stream of living light,
And gild those pure and perfect realms of rest
Where virtue triumphs, and her sons are blest!”

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This poem on Italy is in blank verse, with now and then a fragment in prose, and is a sort of poetical journal of a tour in Italy, in which he puts down descriptions of places, the impressions made on his mind by the new scenes, and various tales or adventures he met with in the

travels. The story of Genevra, the bride who was hidden in the oak chest on her bridal day, and was never found till years after, when her skeleton was discovered in decayed bridal robes, is one of the best-known episodes of the poem.

These poets, Cowper, Burns, Crabbe, and Rogers, may be said to stand midway between the old and the new in poetry. Crabbe and Rogers were not men to make any revolution, and were poets who would take their color from the greater geniuses around them; but Cowper showed signs of a change, while Burns's songs may be said to be the first awaking of a new spirit in English poetry. Although he founded no school and made no revolution in literature, he is the minstrel of a new order. Hitherto the minstrel sits in the court of the king, and sings only to the ear of royalty. He has gone to battle with the king's hosts, and sometimes fallen in the king's hour of triumph. But this new minstrel, who sings songs to poverty and honest manhood, whose love is in no royal bowers, and whose triumphs are not of war, - this is Robert Burns, the ploughman, the minstrel of the people.

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PART VI.

THE LAKE SCHOOL AND ITS

CONTEMPORARIES.

1790 TO 1832.

INTRODUCTORY.

IN

N studying the progress of poetry from the earliest times,

you will see that, like laws or government or religion, it is subject to many changes, and that there are revolutions in literature as well as in history. The poets of one period have all a certain likeness; even though each may be in his way original, his work will bear the mark of his own time, and follow the prevailing fashion. This continues till some man of great originality and power appears, who by his genius turns taste into new channels, and drawing after him a crowd who imitate him in his manner, founds what we call a new school of poetry.

We have seen how Pope had thus made a school, in which, as somebody says, “ French taste was ruled by English understanding ;" and for almost a century his influence kept poetry in smooth, easy, flowing rhymes, but yet very artificial beside the naturalness of the earlier poets. Coleridge, of whom I am now going to speak, says, “ The Pope school sacrificed the heart to the head ;” and that is, I think, as good a statement as can be made of it.

I pointed out in my last Talk that in Cowper there is an effort to make the head and the heart work together, and showed that in the Scotch poet Burns we have the first outburst of the real minstrel poet since the seventeenth century. But neither Cowper nor Burns was a man to found a school of poetry; they were only men who influenced it. Such work as Percy and Macpherson had done also aroused a taste for a new order of verse ; but the great departure from Pope, and the setting up of new ideas as the basis of poetry, was begun by what we call the Lake School. It is of this school that I am going to give you a brief account.

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