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national song of Rule Britannia you say, “it cannot be doubted that it has produced a great effect in accustoming Britons to the claim of maritime empire.(p. xxiv.)*

Nor is this influence confined to the lower classes. Even Ministers of State, at their public dinners, listen with complacency to these productions; and one who has been high in office, and whose talents are of the first rate, has condescended to write songs for these occasions.

* An incident occurred to me little more than a year ago, which gave me a very forcible idea of the influence which the most common popular songs have upon the minds even of persons from whom we should expect very different things. Soon after the defeat of the Austrians, in 1809, I was conversing with a Clergyman some years older than myself in our quadrangle at Clare Hall. Amongst the ornaments at the top of the building over the eastern gale-way are figures in stone of angels or cherubs. A third person was present, and the conversation turned on the times and our comparatively bappy state in this country, and especially that of ourselves, living in the peaceful retirement of a college. ** Yes,” replied the clergy man, pointing to one of the figures of the angels, “ We are very much obliged to “ the little cherub that sits up aloft,” alluding to the burden of Dibdin's song of Poor Jack. Though a reference to Providence would (in my opinion) have been better, and especially more suited to the station and education of the person who uttered the reflection, yet it seems fairly in point towards proving what I mentioned, the influence of popular songs upon the n:inds even of such persons.

You yourself, Sir, give us a forcible instance in your own case, of the fascination of poetry, and even of permanent advantage to be derived from it. In your Letter On the Advantages of a Taste for Poetry (L. xv. p. 275.) you say, that “ From the very early period at which books constituted one of my chief pleasures, to the time at which I write, I have seldom passed a day without some perusal of a poetical work. I have habitually made it the bonne bouche of my studies, and have often placed it before me as a sort of recompence for assiduity in literary or professional labours. My relish for it still remains undiminished: for whatever may be lost in fondness for the wilder and more fanciful parts of poetry, is compensated in increased attachment to the more serious and dignified. I would hope, too, that this taste has not merely served me for amusement; and if I do not deceive myself, I can refer to the strong impressions made by poetry, the origin of some of those sentiments, which I should not willingly part with.'


* Dr. Watts, in his admirable work on the Improvement of the Mind, in the Chapter on the Sciences and their uses (Ch. xx. Sec. xxxvi. §. 3.) says of poetry, that“ The most considerable advantage to be obtained from it by the bulk of mankind" "is, to

I can myself say much the same with respect to my love for poetry : but I fear that, at one period of my life, I made it more than

furnish our tongues with the richest and the most polite variety of phrases and words upon all occasious of life or religioo." And, again, “ After all that I have said, there is yet a fartber use of reading poesy, and ibat is, when the mind has been fatigued with studies of a more laborious kind, or when it is any ways uofit for the pursuit of more difficult subjects, it may be as it were unbent, and repose itself awhile on the flowery meadows where the Muses dwell. It is a very sensible relief to the soul, when it is overtired, to amuse itself with the numbers and the beautiful sentiments of the poets; and in a little time this agreeable amusement may recover the languid spirits to activity and more important service.” §. 4.

Owen Felltham, in his Resolves, in the Chapter on the Worship of Admiration, says, “I cannot read some parts of Seneca, above two leaves together, but he raises my soul to contemplations which set me a thinking on more than I can imagine ; so I ain forced to lay him by, and subside in admiration. Similar effects are worked by poetry, when it has to do with towering virtues. It excites in the mind of man such raptures, and irradiates the soul with such high apprehensions, that all the glories which this world hath, hereby appear coplemptible.” (Edition by Cumming, p. 30.) “ Its higher and imaginary descriptions rather shew what men should be, thao what they are; hyperboles in poetry, not only carry a decency, but even a grace along with them. The greatest danger that I find in poetry is, that it sometimes corrupts the mind and inflames the passions. To prevent this, let the poet strive to be chaste in his lines, and never profane, immoral, or licentious. When this is attended to, I think a grave poem the deepest kind of writing. It wings the soul up higher, than the slack pace of prose.” (Do. Chapter on Poets and Poetry, p. 131.)


my bonne bouche, or recompence for proficiency in severer studies. And though I have received many valuable impressions from excellent poetry (excellent for the matter as well as the manner,) I wish that the gold had contained less alloy, as I have likewise certainly received many bad impressions from the looser productions which have fallen in my way, and which will even now occasionally intrude into my mind. For, at the period when I chiefly met with these, my principles were not formed, nor had I a sufficiently strong sense of morality and religion, to chuse only the good and to refuse the evil. And it is the remembrance of this circumstance which so powerfully weighs with me, that I wish your Collection of Vocal Poetry had been of a different description. In your Letters to A Young LADY ON

Thomson, in his Tragedy of Agamemnon, Act. III. makes poetry one of the sources of consolation to Melisander during his solitary abode on one of the Cyclad isles :

But, chief, the muses lent their softening aid.
At their enchanting voice iny sorrows fled,
Or learu'd to please, while, through my troubled heart
The soul of barmony was felt anew.
Thus of the great community of nature
A denizen I liy'd; and oft, in hynind,
And rapturous thought, even with liigh heav'n conversid.

A Course Of English Poetry, (L. 1. p. 2.) you say, “ 1 take it for granted that you are already well grounded in the principles of morality, and therefore may be trusted to extract what is most valuable from a set of authors who, in general, are friends to virtue and decorum, while you pass lightly and unhurt over the dubious matter which may be mingled with the rest.” Now, Sir, from the opportunities which I have had of judging of the principles of morality in young persons, both at a large school, and at college, and also from my observations in the world at large, I conceive that few are possessed of this discrimination, or, at least, have not sufficient principle to reject what they in some degree know to be wrong. It appears to me, therefore, to be a point of the utmost importance that the books intended for young persons, and indeed for all persons, (for many who are more advanced in years are still more deficient in principle,) should be as free from every taint of corruption as possible. What you have said in the third Letter of your first Volume addressed to your son (p. 25.) on our Attachment to the Ancients, and upon the great use we make of the classical writers of Greece and Rome, appears to me in some measure

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