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rank and letters, as footmen behind a coronet-coach laugh at the rabble. He keeps good company, and forgets himself. He stands at the door of Mr. Murray's shop, and will not let any body pass but the well-dressed mob, or some followers of the court. To edge into the Quarterly Temple of Fame the canditate must have a diploma from the Universities, a passport from the Treasury. Otherwise, it is a breach of etiquette to let him pass, an insult to the better sort who aspire to the love of letters-and may chance to drop in to the Feast of the Poets. Or, if he cannot manage it thus, or get rid of the claim on the bare ground of poverty or want of schoollearning, he trumps up an excuse for the occasion, such as that “a man was confined in Newgate a short time before"—it is not a lie on the part of the critic, it is only an amiable subserviency to the will of his betters, like that of a menial who is ordered to deny his master, a sense of propriety, a knowledge of the world, a poetical and moral license. Such fellows (such is his cue from his employers) should at any rate be kept out of privileged places : persons who have been convicted of prose-libels ought not to be suffered to write poetry—if the fact was not exactly as it was stated, it was something of the kind, or it ought to have been so, the assertion was a pious fraud,—the public, the court, the prince himself might read the work, but for this mark of opprobrium
set upon it-it was not to be endured that an insolent plebeian should aspire to elegance, taste, fancy-it was throwing down the barriers which ought to separate the higher and the lower classes, the loyal and the disloyal—the paraphrase of the story of Dante was therefore to perform quarantine, it was to seem not yet recovered from the gaol infection, there was to be a taint upon it, as there was none in it-and all this was performed by a single slip of Mr. Gifford's pen! We would willingly believe (if we could) that in this case there was as much weakness and prejudice as there was malice and cunning.–Again, we do not think it possible that under any circumstances the writer of the Verses to Anna could enter into the spirit or delicacy of Mr. Keats's poetry. The fate of the latter somewhat resembled that of
“ a bud bit by an envious worm, Ere it could spread its sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate its beauty to the sun.” Mr. Keats's ostensible crime was that he had been praised in the Examiner Newspaper: a greater and more unpardonable offence probably was, that he was a true poet, with all the errors and beauties of youthful genius to answer for. Mr. Gifford was as insensible to the one as he was inexorable to the other. Let the reader judge from the two subjoined specimens how far the one writer could ever, without a
presumption equalled only by a want of self-knowledge, set himself in judgment on the other.
“ Out went the taper as she hurried in;
Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died :
As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
“ A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
All garlanded with carven imag'ries
And twilight saints and dim emblazonings,
“ Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
Save wings, for heaven :-Porphyro grew faint:
“ Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees ;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
“ Soon trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
Eve OF ST. AGNES.
With the rich beauties and the dim obscurities of lines like these, let us contrast the Verses addressed To a Tuft of early Violets by the fastidious author of the Baviad and Mæviad.
“ Sweet flowers ! that from your humble beds
Thus prematurely dare to rise,
To cold Aquarius' watery skies.
Are not the genial brood of May;
And flatters only to betray.
Lo! while your buds prepare to blow,
And nips your root, and lays you low.
“ Alas, for such ungentle doom !
But I will shield you; and supply
A nobler bed on which to die.
Has drunk the dew that gems your crest,
O come and grace my Anna's breast.
“ Ye droop, fond flowers ! But did ye know
What worth, what goodness there reside,
And spread their leaves with conscious pride.
“ For there has liberal Nature joined
Her riches to the stores of Art,
The soft, the sympathising heart.
Has drunk the dew that gems your crest,
O come and grace my Anna's breast. « O! I should think-that fragrant bed
Might I but hope with you to share
By one short hour of transport there. “ More blest than me, thus shall ye live
Your little day; and when ye die,
A verse; the sorrowing maid, a sigh. • While I alas ! no distant date,
Mix with the dust from whence I came,
Without a stone to tell my name.” * What an awkward bedfellow for a tuft of violets!