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able evidence of being composed altogether from the impulses of the writer's mind, as excited by external objects and internal sensations. Here are no tawdry and feeble paraphrases of former poets, no attempts at describing what the author might have become acquainted with in his limited reading. The woods, the vales, the brooks, “the crimson spots i' the bottom of a cowslip,” or the loftier phenomena of the heavens, contemplated through the alternations of hope and despondency, are the principal sources whence the youth, whose adverse circumstances and resignation under them extort our sympathy, drew the faithful and vivid pictures before us. Examples of minds highly gifted by nature, struggling with, and breaking through the bondage of adversity, are not rare in this country: but privation is not destitution; and the instance before us is, perhaps, one of the most striking of patient and persevering talent existing and enduring in the most forlorn, and seemingly hopeless condition, that literature has at any time exhibited.’ In a short time Clare was in possession of a little fortune. The present Earl Fitzwilliam sent £100 to his publishers, which, with the like sum advanced by them, was laid out in the purchase of stock; the Marquis of Exeter allowed him an annuity of fifteen guineas for life; the Earl of Spencer a further annuity of £10, and various contributions were received from other noblemen and gentlemen, so that the poet had a permanent allowance of £30 per annum. He married his ‘Patty of the Vale,' | ‘the rosebud in humble life,' the daughter of a | neighbouring farmer; and in his native cottage at Helpstone, with his aged and infirm parents and his young wife by his side—all proud of his now rewarded and successful genius—Clare basked in the sunshine of a poetical felicity. The writer of this recollects, with melancholy pleasure, paying a visit to the poet at this genial season in company with one of his publishers. The humble dwelling wore an air of comfort and contented happiness. Shelves were fitted up, filled with books, most of which had been sent as presents. Clare read and liked them all! He took us to see his favourite scene, the haunt of his inspiration. It was a low fall of swampy | ground, used as a pasture, and bounded by a dull rushy brook, overhung with willows. Yet here | Clare strayed and mused delighted.
is now, we believe, in a private asylum—hopeless, but not dead to passing events. This sad termination of so bright a morning it is painful to contemplate. Amidst the native wild flowers of his song we looked not for the ‘deadly nightshade"—and, though the example of Burns, of Chatterton, and Bloomfield, was better fitted to inspire fear than hope, there was in Clare a naturally lively and cheerful temperament, and an apparent absence of strong and dangerous passions, that promised, as in the case of Allan Ramsay, a life of humble yet prosperous contentment and happiness. Poor Clare's muse was the true offspring of English country life. He was a faithful painter of rustic scenes and occupations, and he noted every light and shade of his brooks, meadows, and green lanes. His fancy was buoyant in the midst of labour and hardship; and his imagery, drawn directly from nature, is various and original. Careful finishing could not be expected from the rustic poet, yet there is often a fine delicacy and beauty in his pieces, and his moral reflections and pathos win their way to the heart. “It is seldom,' as one of his critics remarked, “that the public have an opportunity of learning the unmixed and un- || adulterated impression of the loveliness of nature on || a man of vivid perception and strong feeling, equally | unacquainted with the art and reserve of the world, and with the riches, rules, and prejudices of literature.” Clare was strictly such a man. His reading before his first publication had been extremely limited, and did not either form his taste or bias the direction of his powers. He wrote out of the | fulness of his heart; and his love of nature was so || universal, that he included all, weeds as well as || flowers, in his picturesque catalogues of her charms. In grouping and forming his pictures, he has recourse to new and original expressions—as, for example— | Brisk winds the lightened branches shake | By pattering, plashing drops confessed; And, where oaks dripping shade the lake, Paint crimping dimples on its breast.
A sonnet to the glow-worm is singularly rich in this vivid word-painting:—
Tasteful illumination of the night,
In these happy microscopic views of nature, Grahame, the author of the Sabbath, is the only poet who can be put in competition with Clare. The delicacy of some of his sentimental verses, mixed up in careless || profusion with others less correct or pleasing, may be seen from the following part of a ballad, The Fate of Amy:— The flowers the sultry summer kills | Spring's milder suns restore; But innocence, that fickle charm, Blooms once, and blooms no more. The swains who loved no more admire, Their hearts no beauty warms; And maidens triumph in her fall That envied once her charms.
The Primrose—A Sonnet.
Welcome, pale primrose ! starting up between
The Thrush’s Nest—A Sonnet.
Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush
First-love will with the heart remain
Mary, I dare not call thee dear,
How loath to part, how fond to meet,
Thy face was so familiar grown,
* Montgomery says quaintly but truly of this sonnet, ‘Here we have in miniature the history and geography of a thrush's nest, so simply and naturally set forth, that one might think
No more difficile
But let the heartless critic who despises them try his own hand either at a bird's nest or a sonnet like this; and when he has succeeded in making the one, he may have some hope of being able to make the other."
| But now my very dreams forget
Though there thy beauty lingers yet,
When last that gentle cheek I prest,
Dawnings of Genius.
In those low paths which poverty surrounds, The rough rude ploughman, off his fallow grounds (That necessary tool of wealth and pride), While moiled and sweating, by some pasture's side, Will often stoop, inquisitive to trace The opening beauties of a daisy's face; Oft will he witness, with admiring eyes, The brook's sweet dimples o'er the pebbles rise; And often bent, as o'er some magic spell, He'll pause and pick his shapéd stone and shell: Raptures the while his inward powers inflame, And joys delight him which he cannot name; Ideas picture pleasing views to mind, For which his language can no utterance find; Increasing beauties, freshening on his sight, Unfold new charms, and witness more delight; So while the present please, the past decay, And in each other, losing, melt away. Thus pausing wild on all he saunters by, He feels enraptured, though he knows not why; And hums and mutters o'er his joys in vain, And dwells on something which he can't explain. The bursts of thought with which his soul's perplexed, Are bred one moment, and are gone the next; Yet still the heart will kindling sparks retain, And thoughts will rise, and Fancy strive again. So have I marked the dying ember's light, When on the hearth it fainted from my sight, With glimmering glow oft redden up again, | And sparks crack brightening into life in vain; Still lingering out its kindling hope to rise, Till faint, and fainting, the last twinkle dies. Dim burns the soul, and throbs the fluttering heart, Its painful pleasing feelings to impart; Till by successless sallies wearied quite, The memory fails, and Fancy takes her flight: The wick, confined within its socket, dies, Borne down and smothered in a thousand sighs.
[Scenes and Musings of the Peasant Poet.] [From the ‘Village Minstrel."] Each opening season, and each opening scene, On his wild view still teemed with fresh delight; E’en winter's storms to him have welcome been, That brought him comfort in its long dark night, As joyful listening, while the fire burnt bright, Some neighbouring labourer's superstitious tale, How ‘Jack-a-lantern,’ with his wisp alight, To drown a 'nighted traveller once did fail, He knowing well the brook that whimpered down the - vale.
And tales of fairyland he loved to hear, Those mites of human forms, like skimming bees, That fly and flirt about but everywhere; The mystic tribes of night's unnerving breeze, That through a lock-hole even creep with ease: The freaks and stories of this elfin crew, Ah! Lubin gloried in such things as these; How they rewarded industry he knew, And how the restless slut was pinchéd black and blue.
a quick sense of the ridiculous, a strong passion for
the stage and the drama, and a love of London society and manners, Smith became a town wit and humorist—delighting in parodies, theatrical colloquies, and fashionable criticism. His first pieces appear to have been contributed to the Pic-Nic newspaper established by Colonel Henry Greville, which afterwards merged into The Cabinet, both being sosely calculated for the topics and feelings of the day. A selection from the Pic-Nic papers, in two small volumes, was published in 1803. He next joined the writers for the London Review—a journal esta: blished by Cumberland the dramatist, on the novel principle of affixing the writer's name to his * 2
The Review proved a complete failure. The system of publishing names was an unwise innovation, destroying equally the harmless curiosity of the reader, and the critical independence of the author; and Cumberland, besides, was too vain, too irritable and poor, to secure a good list of contributors. Smith then became a constant writer in the Monthly Mirror (wherein Henry Kirke White first attracted the notice of what may be termed the literary world), and in this work appeared a series of poetical imitations, entitled Horace in London, the joint production of James and Horace Smith. These parodies were subsequently collected and published in one volume in 1813, after the success of the Rejected Addresses had rendered the authors famous. Some of the pieces display a lively vein of town levity and humour, but many of them also are very trifling and tedious. In one stanza, James Smith has given a true sketch of his own tastes and character:—
Me toil and ease alternate share,
Books, and the converse of the fair,
With these, and London for my home,
I envy not the joys of Rome,
The Circus or the Forum !
To London he seems to have been as strongly attached as Dr Johnson himself. “A confirmed metropolitan in all his tastes and habits, he would often quaintly observe, that London was the best place in summer, and the only place in winter; or quote Dr Johnson's dogma—“Sir, the man that is tired of London is tired of existence.” At other times he would express his perfect concurrence with Dr Mosley's assertion, that in the country one is always maddened with the noise of nothing: or laughingly quote the Duke of Queensberry's rejoinder on being told one sultry day in September that London was exceedingly empty—“Yes, but it's fuller than the country.” He would not, perhaps, have gone quite so far as his old friend Jekyll, who used to say, that “if compelled to live in the country, he would have the approach to his house paved like the streets of London, and hire a hackney-coach to drive up and down the street all day long;” but he would relate, with great glee, a story showing the general conviction of his dislike to ruralities. He was sitting in the library at a country house, when a gentleman, informing him that the family were all out, proposed a quiet stroll into the pleasure-grounds. “Stroll! why, don't you see my gouty shoe P” “Yes, but what then you don't really mean to say that you
have got the gout? I thought you had only put on
that shoe to avoid being shown over the improve
ments.” There is some good-humoured banter and exaggeration in this dislike of ruralities; and accordingly we find that, as Johnson found his way to the remote Hebrides, Smith occasionally transported himself to Yorkshire and other places, the country
seats of friends and noblemen. The ‘Rejected Ad
dresses’ appeared in 1812, having engaged James
and Horace Smith six weeks, and proving “one of
the luckiest hits in literature.” The directors of
Drury Lane theatre had offered a premium for the best poetical address to be spoken on opening the new edifice; and a casual hint from Mr Ward, secre
tary to the theatre, suggested to the witty brothers
the composition of a series of humorous addresses, professedly composed by the principal authors of the day. The work was ready by the opening of the theatre, and its success was almost unexampled. Eighteen editions have been sold; and the copy
* Memoir prefixed to Smith's Comic Miscellanies, 2 vols. 1841.
right, which had been originally offered to Mr Murray for L.20, was purchased by that gentleman, in 1819, after the sixteenth edition, for L. 131. The articles written by James Smith consisted of imitations of Wordsworth, Cobbett, Southey, Coleridge, Crabbe, and a few travesties. Some of them are inimitable, particularly the parodies on Cobbett and Crabbe, which were also among the most popular.
Horace Smith contributed imitations of Walter
Scott, Moore, Monk Lewis, Lord Byron, W. T. Fitzgerald (whose “Loyal Effusion’ is irresistibly ludicrous for its extravagant adulation and fustian), Dr Johnson, &c. The amount of talent displayed by the two brothers was pretty equal; for none of James Smith's parodies are more felicitous than that of Scott by Horace. The popularity of the “Rejected
Addresses’ seems to have satisfied the ambition of the elder poet. He afterwards confined himself to short anonymous pieces in the New Monthly Magazine and other periodicals, and to the contribution of some humorous sketches and anecdotes towards Mr Mathews's theatrical entertainments, the authorship of which was known only to a few. The Country Cousins, Trip to France, and Trip to America, mostly written by Smith, and brought out by Mathews at the English Opera House, not only
filled the theatre, and replenished the treasury, but
brought the witty writer a thousand pounds—a sum to which, we are told, the receiver seldom made allusion without shrugging up his shoulders, and ejaculating, ‘A thousand pounds for nonsense!' Mr Smith was still better paid for a trifling exertion of his muse; for, having met at a dinner party the late Mr Strahan, the king's printer, then suffering from gout and old age, though his faculties remained unimpaired, he sent him next morning the following jeu d'esprit —