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his poem, a fuppofition furely allowable, is poetically true, and happily imagined. But the car of Dryden, with his two courfers, has nothing in it peculiar; it is a car in which any other rider may be placed."
The Bard appears, at the first view, to be, as Algarotti and others have remarked, an imitation of the prophecy of Nereus. Algarotti thinks it fuperior to its original; and, if preference depends only on the imagery and animation of the two poems, his judgement is right. There is in The Bard more force, more thought, and more variety. But to copy is less than to invent, and the copy has been unhappily produced at a wrong time.
The fiction of Horace was to the Romans credible; but its revival difgufts us with apparent and unconquerable falfehood. Incredulus odi.
To felect a fingular event, and fwell it to a giant's bulk by fabulous appendages of spectres and predictions, has little difficulty, for he that forfakes the probable may always find the marvellous. And it has little use; we are affected only as we believe; we are imVOL. IV. Hh
proved only as we find fomething to be imitated or declined. I do not fee that The Bard promotes any truth, moral or political.
His ftanzas are too long, efpecially his epodes; the ode is finished before the ear has learned its measures, and confequently before it can receive pleasure from their confonance and recurrence.
Of the first stanza the abrupt beginning has been celebrated; but technical beauties can give praise only to the inventor. It is in the power of any man to rush abruptly his fubject, that has read the ballad of Johnny Armstrong,
Is there ever a man in all Scotland
The initial resemblances, or alliterations, ruin, ruthless, helm or hauberk, are below the grandeur of a poem that endeavours at fublimity.
In the fecond ftanza the Bard is well defcribed; but in the third we have the puerilities of obfolete mythology. When we are told that Cadwallo bufb'd the ftormy main, and that Modred made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud
cloud-top'd head, attention recoils from the repetition of a tale that, even when it was first heard, was heard with fcorn.
The weaving of the winding sheet he borrowed, as he owns, from the northern Bards; but their texture, however, was very properly the work of female powers, as the art of spinning the thread of life in another mythology. Theft is always dangerous; Gray has made weavers of his flaughtered bards, by a fiction outrageous and incongruous. They are then called upon to Weave the warp, and weave the woof, perhaps with no great propriety; for it is by croffing the woof with the warp that men weave the web or piece, and the first line was dearly bought by the admiffion of its wretched correfpondent, Give ample room and verge enough. He has, however, no other line as bad.
The third stanza of the second ternary is commended, I think, beyond its merit. The perfonification is indistinct. Thirst and Hunger are not alike; and their features, to make the imagery perfect, fhould have been difcriminated. We are told, in the fame
stanza, how towers are fed. But I will no longer look for particular faults; yet let it be obferved that the ode might have been concluded with an action of better example; but fuicide is always to be had, without expence of thought.
These odes are marked by glittering accumulations of ungraceful ornaments; they strike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harfhnefs. The mind of the writer feems to work with unnatural violence. Double, double, toil and trouble. He has a kind of strutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tiptoe. His art and his struggle are too vifible, and there is too little appearance of eafe and nature.
To fay that he has no beauties, would be unjuft a man like him, of great learning and great industry, could not but produce fomething valuable. When he pleases leaft, it can only be faid that a good design was ill directed.
His tranflations of Northern and Welsh Poetry deferve praife; the imagery is pre
served, perhaps often improved; but the language is unlike the language of other poets.
In the character of his Elegy I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for by the common sense of readers uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of fubtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours. The Church-yard abounds with images which find a mirrour in every mind, and with fentiments to which every bofom returns an echo. The four ftanzas beginning Yet even these bones, are to me original: I have never seen the notions in any other place; yet he that reads them here, perfuades himself that he has always felt them. Had Gray written often thus, it had been vain to blame, and useless to praise him.