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REVIEW OF ROGERS’ POEMS. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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REVIEW OF ROGERS’ POEMS.
It seems very doubtful, whether the progress and the vicissitudes of the elegant arts can be referred to the operation of general laws, with the same plausibility as the exertions of the more robust faculties of the human mind, in the severer forms of science and of useful art. The action of fancy and of taste seems to be affected by causes too various and minute to be enumerated with sufficient completeness for the purposes of philosophical theory. To explain them, may appear to be as hopeless an attempt, as to account for one summer being more warm and genial than another. The difficulty would be insurmountable, even in framing the most general outline of a theory, if the various forms assumed by imagination, in the fine arts, did not depend on some of the most conspicuous, as well as powerful agents in the moral world. But these arise from revolutions of popular sentiments, and are connected with the opinions of the age, and with the manners of the refined class, as certainly, though not in so great a degree, as with the passions of the multitude. The comedy of a polished monarchy never can be of the same character with that of a bold and tumultuous democracy. Changes of religion and of government, civil or foreign wars, conquests which derive splendour from distance, or extent, or difficulty, long tranquillity,—all these, and indeed every conceivable modification of the state of a community, show themselves in the tone of its poetry, and leave long and deep traces on every part of its literature. Geometry is the same, not only at London and Paris, but in the extremes of Athens and Samarcand: but the state of the general feeling in England, at this moment, requires a different poetry from that which delighted our ancestors in the time of Luther or Alfred.
During the greater part of the eighteenth century, the connection of the character of English poetry with the state of the country, was very easily traced. The period which extended from the English to the French Revolution, was the golden age of authentic history. Governments were secure, nations tranquil, improvements rapid, manners mild beyond the example of any former age. The English nation which possessed the greatest of all human blessings,—a wisely constructed popular government, necessarily enjoyed the largest share of every other benefit. The tranquillity of that fortunate period was not disturbed by any of those calamitous, or even extraordinary events, which excite the imagination and inflame the passions. No age was more exempt from the prevalence of any species of popular enthusiasm. Poetry, in this state of things, partook of that calm, argumentative, moral, and directly useful character into which it naturally subsides, when there are no events to call up the higher passions,—when every talent is allured into the immediate service of a prosperous and improving society,—and when wit, taste, diffused literature, and fastidious criticism, combine to deter the young writer from the more arduous enterprises of poetical genius. In such an age, every art becomes rational. Reason is the power which presides in a calm. But reason guides, rather than impels; and, though it must regulate every exertion of genius, it never can rouse it to vigorous action.
The school of Dryden and Pope, which prevailed till a very late period of the last century, is neither the most poetical nor the most national part of our literary annals. These great poets sometimes indeed ventured into the regions of pure poetry: but their general character is, that “not in fancy’s maze they wandered long;” and that they rather approached the elegant correctness of our Continental neighbours, than supported the daring flight, which, in the former age, had borne English poetry to a sublimer elevation than that of any other modern people of the West.
Towards the middle of the century, great, though quiet changes, began to manifest themselves in the republic of letters in every European nation which retained any portion of mental activity. About that time, the exclusive authority of our great rhyming poets began to be weakened; while new tastes and fashions began to show themselves in the political world. A school of poetry must have prevailed long enough, to be probably on the verge of downfal, before its practice is embodied in a correspondent system of criticism.
Johnson was the critic of our second poetical school. As far as his prejudices of a political or religious kind did not disqualify him for all criticism, he was admirably fitted by nature to be the critic of this species of poetry. Without more imagination, sensibility, or delicacy than it required,—not always with perhaps quite enough for its higher parts,—he possessed sagacity, shrewdness, experience, knowledge of mankind, a taste for rational and orderly compositions, and a disposition to accept, instead of poetry, that lofty and vigorous declamation in harmonious verse, of which he himself was capable, and to which his great master sometimes descended. His spontaneous admiration scarcely soared above Dryden. “Merit of a loftier class he rather saw than felt.” Shakespeare has transcendent excellence of every sort, and for every critic, except those who are repelled by the faults which usually attend sublime virtues,—character and manners, morality and prudence, as well as imagery and passion. Johnson did indeed perform a vigorous act of reluctant justice towards Milton: but it was a proof, to use his own words, that
The deformities of the Life of Gray ought not to be ascribed to jealousy,—for Johnson’s mind, though coarse, was not mean,—but to the prejudices of his university, his political faction, and his poetical sect: and this last bigotry is the more remarkable, because it is exerted against the most skilful and tasteful of innovators, who, in reviving more poetical subjects and a more splendid diction, has employed more care and finish than those who aimed only at correctness.
The interval which elapsed between the death of Goldsmith and the rise of Cowper, is perhaps more barren than any other twelve years in the history of our poetry since the accession of Elizabeth. It seemed as if the fertile soil was at length exhausted. But it had in fact only ceased to exhibit its accustomed produce. The established poetry had worn out either its own resources, or the constancy of its readers. Former attempts to introduce novelty had been either too weak or too early. Neither the beautiful fancy of Collins, nor the learned and ingenious indus try of Warton, nor even the union of sublime genius with consummate art in Gray, had produced a general change in poetical composition. But the fulness of time was approaching; and a revolution has been accomplished, of which the commencement nearly coincides—not, as we conceive, accidentally—with that of the political revolution which has changed the character as well as the condition of Europe. It has been a thousand times observed, that nations become weary even of excellence, and seek a new way of writing, though it should be a worse. But besides the operation of satiety—the general cause of literary revolutions—several particular circumstances seem to have affected the late changes of our poetical taste; of which, two are more conspicuous than the rest.
In the natural progress of society, the songs which are the effusion of the feelings of a rude tribe, are gradually polished into a form of poetry still retaining the marks of the national opinions, sentiments, and manners, from which it originally sprung. The plants are improved by cultivation; but they are still the native produce of the soil. The only perfect example which we know, of this sort, is Greece. Knowledge and useful art, and perhaps in a great measure religion, the Greeks received from the East: but as they studied no foreign language, it was impossible that any foreign literature should influence the progress of theirs. Not even the name of a Persian, Assyrian, Phenician, or Egyptian poet is alluded to by any Greek writer: The Greek poetry was, therefore, wholly national. The Pelasgic ballads were insensibly formed into Epic, and Tragic, and Lyric poems: but the heroes, the opinions, and the customs, continued as exclusively Grecian, as they had been when the Hellenic minstrels knew little beyond the Adriatic and the Ægean. The literature of Rome was a copy from that of Greece. When the classical studies revived amid the chivalrous manners and feudal institutions of Gothic Europe, the imitation of ancient poets struggled against the power of modern sentiments, with various event, in different times and countries,—but every where in such a manner, as to give somewhat of an artificial and exotic character to poetry. Jupiter and the Muses appeared in the poems of Christian nations. The feelings and principles of democracies were copied by the gentlemen of Teutonic monarchies or aristocracies. The sentiments of the poet in his verse, were not those which actuated him in his conduct. The forms and rules of composition were borrowed from antiquity, instead of spontaneously arising from the manner of thinking of modern communities. In Italy, when letters first revived, the chivalrous principle was too near the period of its full vigour, to be oppressed by his foreign learning. Ancient ornaments were borrowed; but the romantic form was prevalent: and where the forms were classical, the spirit continued to be romantic. The structure of Tasso’s poem was that of the Grecian epic; but his heroes were Christian knights. French poetry having been somewhat unaccountably late in its rise, and slow in its progress, reached its most brilliant period, when all Europe had considerably lost its ancient characteristic principles, and was fully imbued with classical ideas. Hence it acquired faultless elegance:—hence also it became less natural,—more timid and more imitative,—more like a feeble translation of Roman poetry. The first age of English poetry, in the reign of Elizabeth, displayed a combination,—fantastic enough,—of chivalrous fancy and feeling with classical pedantry; but, upon the whole, its native genius was unsubdued. The poems of that age, with all their faults, and partly perhaps from their faults, are the most national part of our poetry, as they undoubtedly contain its highest beauties. From the accession of James, to the Civil War, the glory of Shakespeare turned the whole national genius to the drama; and, after the Restoration, a new and classical school arose, under whom our old and peculiar literature was abandoned, and almost forgotten. But all imported tastes in literature must be in some measure superficial. The poetry which once grew in the bosoms of a people, is always capable of being revived by a skilful hand. When the brilliant and poignant lines of Pope began to pall on the public ear, it was natural that we should revert to the cultivation of our indigenous poetry.
Nor was this the sole, or perhaps the chief agent which was working a poetical change. As the condition and character of the former age had produced an argumentative, didactic, sententious, prudential, and satirical poetry; so the approaches to a new order (or rather at first disorder) in political society, were attended by correspondent movements in the poetical world. Bolder speculations began to prevail. A combination of the science and art of the tranquil period, with the hardy enterprises of that which succeeded, gave rise to scientific poems, in which a bold attempt was made, by the mere force of diction, to give a political interest and elevation to the coldest parts of knowledge, and to those arts which have been hitherto considered as the meanest. Having been forced above their natural place by the wonder at first elicited, they have not yet recovered from the subsequent depression. Nor will a similar attempt be successful, without a more temperate use of power over style, till the diffusion of physical knowledge renders it familiar to the popular imagination, and till the prodigies worked by the mechanical arts shall have bestowed on them a character of grandeur.
As the agitation of men’s minds approached the period of an explosion, its effects on literature became more visible. The desire of strong emotion succeeded to the solicitude to avoid disgust. Fictions, both dramatic and narrative, were formed according to the school of Rousseau and Goethe. The mixture of comic and tragic pictures once more displayed itself, as in the ancient and national drama. The sublime and energetic feelings of devotion began to be more frequently associated with poetry. The tendency of political speculation concurred in directing the mind of the poet to the intense and undisguised passions of the uneducated; which fastidious politeness had excluded from the subjects of poetical imitation. The history of nations unlike ourselves, the fantastic mythology and ferocious superstition of distant times and countries, or the legends of our own antique faith, and the romances of our fabulous and heroic ages, became themes of poetry. Traces of a higher order of feeling appeared in the contemplations in which the poet indulged, and in the events and scenes which he delighted to describe. The fire with which a chivalrous tale was told, made the reader inattentive to negligences in the story or the style. Poetry became more devout, more contemplative, more mystical, more visionary,—more alien from the taste of those whose poetry is only a polished prosaic verse,—more full of antique superstition, and more prone to daring innovation,—painting both coarser realities and purer imaginations, than she had before hazarded,—sometimes buried in the profound quiet required by the dreams of fancy,—sometimes turbulent and martial,—seeking “fierce wars and faithful loves” in those times long past, when the frequency of the most dreadful dangers produced heroic energy and the ardour of faithful affection.
Even the direction given to the traveller by the accidents of war has not been without its influence. Greece, the mother of freedom and of poetry in the West, which had long employed only the antiquary, the artist, and the philologist, was at length destined, after an interval of many silent and inglorious ages, to awaken the genius of a poet. Full of enthusiasm for those perfect forms of heroism and liberty, which his imagination had placed in the recesses of antiquity, he gave vent to his impatience of the imperfections of living men and real institutions, in an original strain of sublime satire, which clothes moral anger in imagery of an almost horrible grandeur; and which, though it cannot coincide with the estimate of reason, yet could only flow from that worship of perfection, which is the soul of all true poetry.
The tendency of poetry to become national, was in more than one case remarkable. While the Scottish middle age inspired the most popular poet perhaps of the eighteenth century, the national genius of Ireland at length found a poetical representative, whose exquisite ear, and flexible fancy, wantoned in all the varieties of poetical luxury, from the levities to the fondness of love, from polished pleasantry to ardent passion, and from the social joys of private life to a tender and mournful patriotism, taught by the melancholy fortunes of an illustrious country,—with a range adapted to every nerve in the composition of a people susceptible of all feelings which have the colour of generosity, and more exempt probably than any other from degrading and unpoetical vices.
The failure of innumerable adventurers is inevitable, in literary, as well as in political, revolutions. The inventor seldom perfects his invention. The uncouthness of the novelty, the clumsiness with which it is managed by an unpractised hand, and the dogmatical contempt of criticism natural to the pride and enthusiasm of the innovator, combine to expose him to ridicule, and generally terminate in his being admired (though warmly) by a few of his contemporaries,—remembered only occasionally in after times,—and supplanted in general estimation by more cautious and skilful imitators. With the very reverse of unfriendly feelings, we observe that erroneous theories respecting poetical diction,—exclusive and proscriptive notions in criticism, which in adding new provinces to poetry would deprive her of ancient dominions and lawful instruments of rule,—and a neglect of that extreme regard to general sympathy, and even accidental prejudice, which is necessary to guard poetical novelties against their natural enemy the satirist,—have powerfully counteracted an attempt, equally moral and philosophical, made by a writer of undisputed poetical genius, to enlarge the territories of art, by unfolding the poetical interest which lies latent in the common acts of the humblest men, and in the most ordinary modes of feeling, as well as in the most familiar scenes of nature.
The various opinions which may naturally be formed of the merit of individual writers, form no necessary part of our consideration. We consider the present as one of the most flourishing periods of English poetry: but those who condemn all contemporary poets, need not on that account dissent from our speculations. It is sufficient to have proved the reality, and in part perhaps to have explained the origin, of a literary revolution. At no time does the success of writers bear so uncertain a proportion to their genius, as when the rules of judging and the habits of feeling are unsettled.
It is not uninteresting, even as a matter of speculation, to observe the fortune of a poem which, like the Pleasures of Memory, appeared at the commencement of this literary revolution, without paying court to the revolutionary tastes, or seeking distinction by resistance to them. It borrowed no aid either from prejudice or innovation. It neither copied the fashion of the age which was passing away, nor offered any homage to the rising novelties. It resembles, only in measure, the poems of the eighteenth century, which were written in heroic rhyme. Neither the brilliant sententiousness of Pope, nor the frequent languor and negligence perhaps inseparable from the exquisite nature of Goldsmith, could be traced in a poem, from which taste and labour equally banished mannerism and inequality. It was patronized by no sect or faction. It was neither imposed on the public by any literary cabal, nor forced into notice by the noisy anger of conspicuous enemies. Yet, destitute as it was of every foreign help, it acquired a popularity originally very great; and which has not only continued amidst extraordinary fluctuation of general taste, but has increased amid a succession of formidable competitors. No production, so popular, was probably ever so little censured by criticism: and thus is combined the applause of contemporaries with the suffrage of the representatives of posterity.
It is needless to make extracts from a poem which is familiar to every reader. In selection, indeed, no two readers would probably agree: but the description of the Gipsies,—of the Boy quitting his Father’s house,—and of the Savoyard recalling the mountainous scenery of his country,—and the descriptive commencement of the tale in Cumberland, have remained most deeply impressed on our minds. We should be disposed to quote the following verses, as not surpassed, in pure and chaste elegance, by any English lines:—
The conclusion of the fine passage on the Veterans at Greenwich and Chelsea, has a pensive dignity which beautifully corresponds with the scene:—
And we cannot resist the pleasure of quoting the moral, tender, and elegant lines which close the Poem:—
The descriptive passages require indeed a closer inspection, and a more exercised eye, than those of some celebrated contemporaries who sacrifice elegance to effect, and whose figures stand out in bold relief, from the general roughness of their more unfinished compositions: and in the moral parts, there is often discoverable a Virgilian art, which suggests, rather than displays, the various and contrasted scenes of human life, and adds to the power of language by a certain air of reflection and modesty, in the preference of measured terms to those of more apparent energy.
In the View from the House,* the scene is neither delightful from very superior beauty, nor striking by singularity, nor powerful from reminding us of terrible passions or memorable deeds. It consists of the more ordinary of the beautiful features of nature, neither exaggerated nor represented with curious minuteness, but exhibited with picturesque elegance, in connection with those tranquil emotions which they call up in the calm order of a virtuous mind, in every condition of society and of life. The verses on the Torso, are in a more severe style. The Fragment of a divine artist, which awakened the genius of Michael Angelo, seems to disdain ornament. It would be difficult to name two small poems, by the same writer, in which he has attained such high degrees of kinds of excellence so dissimilar, as are seen in the Sick Chamber and the Butterfly. The first has a truth of detail, which, considered merely as painting, is admirable; but assumes a higher character, when it is felt to be that minute remembrance, with which affection recollects every circumstance that could have affected a beloved sufferer. Though the morality which concludes the second, be in itself very beautiful, it may be doubted whether the verses would not have left a more unmixed delight, if the address had remained as a mere sport of fancy, without the seriousness of an object, or an application. The verses written in Westminster Abbey are surrounded by dangerous recollections; they aspire to commemorate Fox, and to copy some of the grandest thoughts in the most sublime work of Bossuet. Nothing can satisfy the expectation awakened by such names: yet we are assured that there are some of them which would be envied by the best writers of this age. The scenery of Loch Long is among the grandest in Scotland; and the description of it shows the power of feeling and painting. In this island, the taste for nature has grown with the progress of refinement. It is most alive in those who are most brilliantly distinguished in social and active life. It elevates the mind above the meanness which it might contract in the rivalship for praise; and preserves those habits of reflection and sensibility, which receive so many rude shocks in the coarse contests of the world. Not many summer hours can be passed in the most mountainous solitudes of Scotland, without meeting some who are worthy to be remembered with the sublime objects of nature, which they had travelled so far to admire.
The most conspicuous of the novelties of this volume is the poem or poems, entitled “Fragments of the Voyage of Columbus.” The subject of this poem is, politically or philosophically considered, among the most important in the annals of mankind. The introduction of Christianity (humanly viewed), the irruption of the Northern barbarians, the contest between the Christian and Mussulman nations in Syria, the two inventions of gunpowder and printing, the emancipation of the human understanding by the Reformation, the discovery of America, and of a maritime passage to Asia in the last ten years of the fifteenth century, are the events which have produced the greatest and most durable effects, since the establishment of civilization, and the consequent commencement of authentic history. But the poetical capabilities of an event bear no proportion to historical importance. None of the consequences that do not strike the senses or the fancy can interest the poet. The greatest of the transactions above enumerated is obviously incapable of entering into poetry. The Crusades were not without permanent effects on the state of men: but their poetical interest does not arise from these effects; and it immeasurably surpasses them.
Whether the voyage of Columbus be destined to be for ever incapable of becoming the subject of an epic poem, is a question which we have scarcely the means of answering. The success of great writers has often so little corresponded with the promise of their subject, that we might be almost tempted to think the choice of a subject indifferent. The story of Hamlet, or of Paradise Lost, would beforehand have been pronounced to be unmanageable. Perhaps the genius of Shakespeare and of Milton has rather compensated for the incorrigible defects of ungrateful subjects, than conquered them. The course of ages may produce the poetical genius, the historical materials and the national feelings, for an American epic poem. There is yet but one state in America, and that state is hardly become a nation. At some future period, when every part of the continent has been the scene of memorable events, when the discovery and conquest have receded into that legendary dimness which allows fancy to mould them at her pleasure, the early history of America may afford scope for the genius of a thousand national poets; and while some may soften the cruelty which darkens the daring energy of Cortez and Pizarro,—while others may, in perhaps new forms of poetry, ennoble the pacific conquests of Penn,—and while the genius, the exploits, and the fate of Raleigh, may render his establishments probably the most alluring of American subjects, every inhabitant of the new world will turn his eyes with filial reverence towards Columbus, and regard, with equal enthusiasm, the voyage which laid the foundation of so many states, and peopled a continent with civilized men. Most epic subjects, but especially such a subject as Columbus, require either the fire of an actor in the scene, or the religious reverence of a very distant posterity. Homer, as well as Erçilla and Camoens, show what may be done by an epic poet who himself feels the passions of his heroes. It must not be denied that Virgil has borrowed a colour of refinement from the court of Augustus, in painting the age of Priam and of Dido. Evander is a solitary and exquisite model of primitive manners, divested of grossness, without losing their simplicity. But to an European poet, in this age of the world, the Voyage of Columbus is too naked and too exactly defined by history. It has no variety,—scarcely any succession of events. It consists of one scene, during which two or three simple passions continue in a state of the highest excitement. It is a voyage with intense anxiety in every bosom, controlled by magnanimous fortitude in the leader, and producing among his followers a fear,—sometimes submissive, sometimes mutinous, always ignoble. It admits of no variety of character,—no unexpected revolutions. And even the issue, though of unspeakable importance, and admirably adapted to some kinds of poetry, is not an event of such outward dignity and splendour as ought naturally to close the active and brilliant course of an epic poem.
It is natural that the Fragments should give a specimen of the marvellous as well as of the other constituents of epic fiction. We may observe, that it is neither the intention nor the tendency of poetical machinery to supersede secondary causes, to fetter the will, and to make human creatures appear as the mere instruments of destiny. It is introduced to satisfy that insatiable demand for a nature more exalted than that which we know by experience, which creates all poetry, and which is most active in its highest species, and in its most perfect productions. It is not to account for thoughts and feelings, that superhuman agents are brought down upon earth: it is rather for the contrary purpose, of lifting them into a mysterious dignity beyond the cognizance of reason. There is a material difference between the acts which superior beings perform, and the sentiments which they inspire. It is true, that when a god fights against men, there can be no uncertainty or anxiety, and consequently no interest about the event,—unless indeed in the rude theology of Homer, where Minerva may animate the Greeks, while Mars excites the Trojans: but it is quite otherwise with these divine persons inspiring passion, or represented as agents in the great phenomena of nature. Venus and Mars inspire love or valour; they give a noble origin and a dignified character to these sentiments: but the sentiments themselves act according to the laws of our nature; and their celestial source has no tendency to impair their power over human sympathy. No event, which has not too much modern vulgarity to be susceptible of alliance with poetry, can be incapable of being ennobled by that eminently poetical art which ascribes it either to the Supreme Will, or to the agency of beings who are greater than human. The wisdom of Columbus is neither less venerable, nor less his own, because it is supposed to flow more directly than that of other wise men, from the inspiration of heaven. The mutiny of his seamen is not less interesting or formidable because the poet traces it to the suggestion of those malignant spirits, in whom the imagination, independent of all theological doctrines, is naturally prone to personify and embody the causes of evil.
Unless, indeed, the marvellous be a part of the popular creed at the period of the action, the reader of a subsequent age will refuse to sympathize with it. His poetical faith is founded in sympathy with that of the poetical personages. Still more objectionable is a marvellous influence, neither believed in by the reader nor by the hero;—like a great part of the machinery of the Henriade and the Lusiad, which indeed is not only absolutely ineffective, but rather disennobles heroic fiction, by association with light and frivolous ideas. Allegorical persons (if the expression may be allowed) are only in the way to become agents. The abstraction has received a faint outline of form; but it has not yet acquired those individual marks and characteristic peculiarities, which render it a really existing being. On the other hand, the more sublime parts of our own religion, and more especially those which are common to all religion, are too awful and too philosophical for poetical effect. If we except Paradise Lost, where all is supernatural, and where the ancestors of the human race are not strictly human beings, it must be owned that no successful attempt has been made to ally a human action with the sublimer principles of the Christian theology. Some opinions, which may perhaps, without irreverence, be said to be rather appendages to the Christian system, than essential parts of it, are in that sort of intermediate state which fits them for the purposes of poetry;—sufficiently exalted to ennoble the human actions with which they are blended, but not so exactly defined, nor so deeply revered, as to be inconsistent with the liberty of imagination. The guardian angels, in the project of Dryden, had the inconvenience of having never taken any deep root in popular belief: the agency of evil spirits was firmly believed in the age of Columbus. With the truth of facts poetry can have no concern; but the truth of manners is necessary to its persons. If the minute investigations of the Notes to this poem had related to historical details, they would have been insignificant; but they are intended to justify the human and the supernatural parts of it, by an appeal to the manners and to the opinions of the age.
Perhaps there is no volume in our language of which it can be so truly said, as of the present, that it is equally exempt from the frailties of negligence and the vices of affectation. Exquisite polish of style is indeed more admired by the artist than by the people. The gentle and elegant pleasure which it imparts, can only be felt by a calm reason, an exercised taste, and a mind free from turbulent passions. But these beauties of execution can exist only in combination with much of the primary beauties of thought and feeling; and poets of the first rank depend on them for no small part of the perpetuity of their fame. In poetry, though not in eloquence, it is less to rouse the passions of a moment, than to satisfy the taste of all ages.
In estimating the poetical rank of Mr. Rogers, it must not be forgotten that popularity never can arise from elegance alone. The vices of a poem may render it popular; and virtues of a faint character may be sufficient to preserve a languishing and cold reputation. But to be both popular poets and classical writers, is the rare lot of those few who are released from all solicitude about their literary fame. It often happens to successful writers, that the lustre of their first productions throws a temporary cloud over some of those which follow. Of all literary misfortunes, this is the most easily endured, and the most speedily repaired. It is generally no more than a momentary illusion produced by disappointed admiration, which expected more from the talents of the admired writer than any talents could perform. Mr. Rogers has long passed that period of probation, during which it may be excusable to feel some painful solicitude about the reception of every new work. Whatever may be the rank assigned hereafter to his writings, when compared with each other, the writer has most certainly taken his place among the classical poets of his country.
[* ] Prologue to Comus.—Ed.
[* ] In the Epistle to a Friend.—Ed.