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what Mrs. Radcliffe had before done. In one respect, it is astonishingly superior to her former works; we mean in its style, which is simple, natural, unincumbered, and in perfectly good taste. We cannot account for this, unless it be, that, feigning it to be an ancient manuscript, and adopting the antique phraseology, she almost insensibly expressed herself in the naked simplicity of former times.
The extracts from the Journal are well worth reading. How a woman of Mrs. Radcliffe's mind could look at nature as she did, knowing that she was going straight to the inn to put it down in black and white, we cannot tell. She did it, however; and so do our lady-tourists; but our lady-tourists are not Mrs. Radcliffe. The painter sketches from nature. His answer is, “'T is my vocation, Hal!” But the poetical mind of him who is not a painter, may be said to see, and not to see; all is absorbed deeply inward, and goes in mingling with emotions, and fancies of the brain, changing its shapes and relations in its very course. Perhaps there are not to be found in writing, descriptions so minute and so true as these. Light and shadow, tints of the sky, forms, and hues, and positions of objects, appear to have been viewed by Mrs. Radcliffe with all the knowledge and accuracy of a painter's eye. There follows "Gaston de Blondeville" a pretty thick volume
“ of poetry. Remembering the specimens of Mrs. Radcliffe's talent in this art, scattered through her novels, we went to the volume with much misgiving. We were somewhat relieved; but not well enough satisfied to persevere. There is considerable improvement in diction, and there are some quite pleasing passages, which come very near being what may be justly called good poetry. There is nothing to which that homely saying, “a miss is as good as a mile,” better applies, than to what comes under the name of second-rate poetry—which, strictly speaking, is no poetry at all. To be sure, it may be in fashion, and be run after for a day; for the world is more quickly taken with the false than with the true, though it will not hold to it so long. The eyesight may be dazzled, and there may be a great expenditure of the vital principle in ecstatics ; but all comes right after a while, and people learn to distinguish between poverty and simplicity, between a superflux of words and vehement passion, deep sentiment, and rich, original thought.
We are sorry that we cannot say more for Mrs. Radcliffe's poetry; for we would say nothing but what is well of her. There is a beauty in her mind, a gentleness, a delicacy, a retiredness in her
disposition, which is wholly feminine, and which every man cannot but feel, who feels as man ought towards woman; a disposition, which she who wants, though she may draw admiration, will never win and hold a true, respectful, knightly sentiment of love.
Alnwick Castle, with other Poems. New York. G. & C. Carvill.
1827. 8vo. pp. 64. The author of these poems is understood to be Mr. Halleck, a name already too well known in the literature of this country, and, moreover, too closely associated with many of these compositions, to justify us in affecting to speak of this collection as an anonymous work.
Some of these poems have never appeared before, but the greater part of them have, we believe, already been published. Two of these, “ Marco Bozzaris” and “Connecticut,” were printed in the “New York Review;” and two others, “ Burns" and “Wyoming," appeared in some of the late numbers of this journal. We are glad to see these scattered gems now brought together, in company with others fresh from the mine. Those among us, who have watched with any interest the growth of our native literature, have long been impatient with the author for delaying to do, what he has at length done, in this collection ; and now that it is given to the public, we believe there are not a few who will complain of the frugality with which he has dealt out his treasures. The work before us is a pamphlet, with sixty pages of poetry, and two of notes, printed with a liberal allowance of margin, and ample spaces between the lines. The eye glides swiftly over the jetty type and smooth hot-pressed paper, and the most deliberate reader would finish it in less than a couple of hours. We are disposed to expostulate with one who writes so well for writing so little, particularly when he writes so much to the taste of the public. An unsuccessful author is, it is true, under no obligation to write what nobody will read, or to publish what nobody will buy. But the author of these poems has been a favorite with his countrymen from his first appearance several years since. We understand that the greater part of this collection is already sold while we are writing this notice, and we dare say the whole of it will be disposed of before our article issues from the press. It is matter of some vexation, that one thus qualified, and whose talents are thus fortunately appreciated, should be se reluctant in coming before the public, when so many of doubtful pretensions are pressing forward with such eagerness in the competition for the public favor. Of native American poetry, such as it is, there is no want. The rank soil of our literature is shooting up luxuriantly into rhyme. Almost every month produces several thick volumes of indifferent poetry, manufactured on this side the Atlantic, the titles of which are seen for a few days in large letters
a at the doors of the booksellers' shops, and then are forgotten. Innumerable adventurers, of various degrees of talent, but all flushed with hope and confidence, are continually entering upon this barren department of letters, and one after another challenging the admiration of the world. That prosaic world, however, minds its ordinary business, utterly insensible to the efforts made to give it pleasure ; and the disappointed poets turn somewhat sadly to more lucrative employments, and are generally, we believe, as well provided for in the end as the rest of the community. But here we have the phenomenon of a writer, whose works are universally admired, and scrambled for as fast as they appear, coming before the public as if he were actually afraid of an unfavorable reception, and, like a prudent merchant, trying the market with a small cargo. After this experiment, we hope he will have no apprehensions concerning the fate of what he may hereafter write. We shall expect him to attempt something that will more fully call forth and occupy his powers than the specimens contained in the few pages before us.
Some of the principal characteristics of this author's poetry, are, the great grace and freedom of the style, and the apparently unlabored melody of the numbers. It is not that the highest degree of correctness is in all cases given to the diction, nor that the most severe judgment is invariably applied to the imagery; an occasional instance of negligence in the one, or of doubtful brilliancy in the other, only serves to set off, in a more striking light, his power of happy expression, the sweetness of his versification, and the beauty of his conceptions. Touches of pathos, and strains of high lyrical enthusiasm, are not wanting ; but what particularly distinguishes his poetry from that of our native writers, and indeed from modern English poets in general, is that vein of playful humor, which occasionally breaks out, seemingly in spite of his efforts to repress it, and always in an exceedingly graceful and happy manner. Some of the author's pieces not printed in this collection, are, perhaps, the best examples of the possession of this delightful quality ; but the poem entitled
“Alnwick Castle,” is scarcely inferior to any of them in this respect. We would make an extract or two from this poem, to illustrate our remarks, were it not, that, in order to enjoy its full effect, it should be read as a whole; and, besides, we have no doubt that most of our readers are already familiar with this beautiful composition.
The poem called “ Marco Bozzaris,” is in a more solemn and lofty strain. We have met with few passages in any English author which stir the blood more powerfully than the following apostrophe. The poet has just related the final combat of this hero for his country, and his death on the field of victory.
" Come to the ridal chamber, Death!
Come to the mother's, when she feels
Come when the blessed seals
With banquet-song, and dance, and wine ;
Of agony, are thine.
“But to the hero, when his sword
Has won the battle for the free,
The thanks of millions yet to be.
Come in her crowning hour-and then
Of sky and stars to prisoned men:
To the world-seeking Genoese,
Blew o'er the Haytian seas.
Bozzaris ! with the storied brave
Greece nurtured in her glory's time,
Even in her own proud clime.” &c. pp. 12–14. This is truly, if we understand any thing of the matter, a magnificent passage, and the versification flows on in a torrent of melody which adds greatly to the effect. The whole poem is written with infinite spirit. The lines on Burns, as they have been read by all the readers of this journal, need not our praise. The following is a very brilliant and fanciful illustration of an old moral lesson. Principiis obsta is as true in love as in medicine.