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age, with some notices of their maxims and habits, which are various and contradictory, to a degree that sets all system and theory at defiance. There is an infinite deal of trash, of course, in these village gossipings. The most preposterous, perhaps, is in the account of an old man in Caithness, of whom it is recorded, that he recollected a number of old anecdotes, particularly of Sir George Sinclair of Blyth, a cadet of the family of Ulbster, who, for his sagacity, and the manly, liberal and generous spirit whichhe displayed on all occasions, was called "the Cock of the North."
The third volume is entirely occupied with an account of the Foreign authors who have treated of health and longevity, and with extracts from their works, beginning with the Regimen Sanitatis Salerni, and ending with the treatise of Halle on the Hygiène. There are some rare and curious things reprinted in this volume, with many that are dull, common, and contemptible. The last volume is dedicated to the British authors who have treated of health and longevity, and is chiefly occupied with a republication of Lord Bacon's most insane and credulous quackeries, and the common and neglected treatises of Sir W. Temple and Mr Boyle on health and specific medicines. Among the British authors, Sir John Sinclair has admitted two American pamphlets; one by Dr Rush on old age, and another by Dr Waterhouse on smoking cigars; which last is about the most miserable and childish performance we have ever seen, from any pen either British or foreign.
We take our leave of Sir John Sinclair with feelings of renewed astonishment at his patience and his temerity, in undertaking a work for which he was in all respects so unqualified: but without any emotions either of surprise or of compassion at his ill success. It is perfectly plain, that no one but a medical man, of much experience and high reputation, can ever produce any work on dietetics, of the smallest authority, or, consequently, of the smallest use. Even if it were possible for a mere dilettante to avoid the many gross and dangerous errors into which Sir John Sinclair must have fallen, it is evident that no prudent man would give him credit for such sagacity, or think himself safe in the guidance of a mere adventurer, in a matter where we do not commit ourselves without anxiety to the care of the most experienced practitioner. In the hands of a bold theorist, however, the mass of materials which are here huddled together, might have produced many ingenious conjectures, and suggested many curious analogies. In the hands of Sir John Sinclair, they have been altogether unfruitful, and produced nothing. His work is still a chaos, without harmony or order; and, instead of settling controversies by his reasonings, or maturing conjecture in
to science by his genius, he appears merely as a doubtful reporter of contradictory opinions, and a timid retailer of the most shallow and familiar precepts. We have expressed our opinion of this work the more freely, because the author appears to us to have stepped altogether out of his proper sphere in composing it, and, by this breach of privilege, to have exposed himself to the utmost severity of criticism. It is no part of the duty of a country gentleman, or a member of parliament, to be profoundly skilled in physiology; nor is it any disparagement to him, after all, to have written injudiciously on the most delicate and important of all the branches of Medicine. We give Sir John full credit for the excellence of his motives, and willingly bear testimony to the industry by which they have been seconded. It is our duty, however, to say, that on this occasion, his philanthropy has been misdirected and his industry misapplied.
ART. XIV. Poems, in Two Volumes. By William Wordsworth, Author of the Lyrical Ballads. 8vo. pp. 320. London, 1807.
HIS author is known to belong to a certain brotherhood of poets, who have haunted for some years about the Lakes of Cumberland; and is generally looked upon, we believe, as the purest model of the excellences and peculiarities of the school which they have been labouring to establish. Of the general merits of that school, we have had occasion to express our opinion pretty fully, in more places than one, and even to make some allusion to the former publications of the writer now before us. We are glad, however, to have found an opportunity of attending somewhat more particularly to his pretensions.
The Lyrical Ballads were unquestionably popular; and, we have no hesitation in saying, deservedly popular; for in spite of their occasional vulgarity, affectation, and silliness, they were undoubtedly characterised by a strong spirit of originality, of pathos, and natural feeling; and recommended to all good minds by the clear impression which they bore of the amiable dispositions and virtuous principles of the author. By the help of these qualities, they were enabled, not only to recommend themselves to the indulgence of many judicious readers, but even to beget among a pretty numerous class of persons, a sort of admiration of the very defects by which they were attended. It was upon this account chiefly, that we thought it necessary to set ourselves against this alarming innovation. Childishness, conceit, and affectation, are not of themselves very popular or attractive; and though mere novelty has sometimes been found sufficient to give them a temporary
temporary currency, we should have had no fear of their prevailing to any dangerous extent, if they had been graced with no more seductive accompaniments. It was precisely because the perverseness and bad taste of this new school was combined with a great deal of genius and of laudable feeling, that we were afraid of their spreading and gaining ground among us,) and that we entered into the discussion with a degree of zeal and animosity which some might think unreasonable towards authors, to whom so much merit had been conceded. There were times and moods indeed, in which we were led to suspect ourselves of unjustifiable severity, and to doubt, whether a sense of public duty had not carried us rather too far in reprobation of errors, that seemed to be atoned for, by excellences of no vulgar description. At other times, the magnitude of these errors-the disgusting absurdities into which they led their feebler admirers, and the derision and contempt which they drew from the more fastidious, even upon the merits with which they were associated, made us wonder more than ever at the perversity by which they were retained, and regret that we had not declared ourselves against them with still more formidable and decided hostility.
In this temper of mind, we read the annonce of Mr Wordsworth's publication with a good deal of interest and expectation, and opened his volumes with greater anxiety, than he or his admirers will probably give us credit for. We have been greatly) disappointed certainly as to the quality of the poetry; but we doubt whether the publication has afforded so much satisfaction to any other of his readers :—it has freed us from all doubt or hesitation as to the justice of our former censures, and has brought the matter to a test, which we cannot help hoping may be convincing to the author himself.
Mr Wordsworth, we think, has now brought the question, as to the merit of his new school of poetry, to a very fair and decisive issue. The volumes before us are much more strongly marked by all its peculiarities than any former publication of the fraternity. In our apprehension, they are, on this very account, infinitely less interesting or meritorious; but it belongs to the public, and not to us, to decide upon their merit, and we will confess, that so strong is our conviction of their obvious inferiority, and the grounds of it, that we are willing for once to wave our right of appealing to posterity, and to take the judgment of the present generation of readers, and even of Mr Wordsworth's former admirers, as conclusive on this occasion. If these volumes, which have all the benefit of the author's former popularity, turn out to be nearly as popular as the lyrical ballads-if they sell nearly to the same extent or are quoted and imitated
among half as many individuals, we shall admit that Mr Wordsworth has come much nearer the truth in his judgment of what constitutes the charm of poetry, than we had previously imagined-and shall institute a more serious and respectful inquiry into his principles of composition than we have yet thought necessary. On the other hand,-if this little work, selected from the compositions of five maturer years, and written avowedly for the purpose of exalting a system, which has already excited a good deal of attention, should be generally rejected by those whose prepossessions were in its favour, there is room to hope, not only that the system itself will meet with no more encouragement, but even that the author will be persuaded to abandon a plan of writing, which defrauds his industry and talents of their natural reward.
Putting ourselves thus upon our country, we certainly look for a verdict against this publication; and have little doubt indeed of the result, upon a fair consideration of the evidence contained in these volumes.To accelerate that result, and to give a general view of the evidence, to those into whose hands the record may not have already fallen, we must now make a few observations and extracts.
We shall not resume any of the particular discussions by which we formerly attempted to ascertain the value of the improvements which this new school has effected in poetry *; but shall lay the grounds of our opposition, for this time, a little more broadly. The end of poetry, we take it, is to pleaseand the name, we think, is strictly applicable to every metrical composition from which we receive pleasure, without any laborious exercise of the understanding. This pleasure, may, in general, be analyzed into three parts-that which we receive from the excitement of Passion or emotion-that which is derived from the play of Imagination, or the easy exercise of Reason--and that which depends on the character and qualities of the Diction. The two first are the vital and primary springs of poetical delight, and can scarcely require explanation to any one. The laft has been alternately overrated and undervalued by the profeffors of the poetical art, and is in fuch low eftimation with the author now before us and his affociates, that it is neceffary to fay a few words in explanation of it.
One great beauty of diction exifts only for those who have fome degree of fcholarship or critical fkill. This is what depends on the exquilite propriety of the words employed, and the delicacy with which they are adapted to the meaning which
See Vol. I. p. 63, &c.-Vol. VII. p. 1, &c.
is to be expreffed. Many of the finest paffages in Virgil and Pope derive their principal charm from the fine propriety of their diction. Another fource of beauty, which extends only to the more inftructed clafs of readers, is that which confifts in the judicious or happy application of expreffions which have been fanctified by the ufe of famous writers, or which bear the stamp of a fimple or venerable antiquity. There are other beauties of diction, however, which are perceptible by all-the beauties of sweet found and pleasant affociations. The melody of words and verses is indifferent to no reader of poetry; but the chief recommendation of poetical language is certainly derived from those general affociations, which give it a character of dignity or elegance, fublimity or tenderness. Every one knows that there are low and mean expreffions, as well as lofty and grave ones; and that fome words bear the impreffion of coarseness and vulgarity, as clearly as others do of refinement and affection. We do not mean, of course, to fay any thing in defence of the hackneyed common-places of ordinary verfemen. Whatever might have been the original character of these unlucky phrafes, they are now affociated with nothing but ideas of schoolboy imbecility and vulgar affectation. But what we do maintain is, that much of the most popular poetry in the world owes its celebrity chiefly to the beauty of its diction; and that no poetry can be long or generally acceptable, the language of which is coarfe, inelegant, or infantine.
From this great fource of pleasure, we think the readers of Mr Wordsworth are in a great measure cut off. His diction has no where any pretenfions to elegance or dignity; and he has fcarcely ever condefcended to give the grace of correctness or melody to his verification. If it were merely flovenly and neglect-x ed, however, all this might be endured. Strong fenfe and powerful feeling will ennoble any expreffions; or, at leaft, no one who is capable of eftimating those higher merits, will be difpofed to mark thefe little defects. But, in good truth, no man, now-a-days, composes verfes for publication with a flovenly neglect of their language. It is a fine and laborious manufacture, which can fcarcely ever be made in a hurry; and the faults which it has, may, for the most part, be fet down to bad taste or incapacity rather than to careleffness or overfight. With Mr Wordsworth and his friends, it is plain that their peculiarities of diction are things of choice, and not of accident. They write as they do, upon principle and system; and it evidently costs them much pains to keep down to the ftandard which they have propofed to themfelves. They are, to the full, as much mannerists, too, as the poetafters who ring changes on the common-places of maga