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modern fashion are too often discouraged. Those who stoop to it are always degraded.
We have of late observed with great pleasure some symptoms which lead us to hope that respectable literary men of all parties are beginning to be impatient of this insufferable nuisance. And we purpose to do what in us lies for the abating of it. "We do not think that we can more usefully assist in this good work than by showing our honest countrymen what that sort of poetry is which puffing can drive through eleven editions, and how easily any bellman might, if a bellman would stoop to the necessary degree of meanness, become “ a master-spirit of the age.” We have no enmity to Mr. Robert Montgomery. We know nothing whatever about him, except what we have learned from his books, and from the portrait prefixed to one of them, in which he appears to be doing his very best to look like a man of genius and sensibility, though with less success than his strenuous exertions deserve. We select him, because his works have received more enthusiastic praise, and have deserved more unmixed contempt, than any which, as far as our knowledge extends, have appeared within the last three or four years. His writing bears the same relation to poetry which a Turkey carpet bears to a picture. There are colours in the Turkey carpet out of which a picture might be made. There are words in Mr. Montgomery's writing which, when disposed in certain orders and combinations, have made, and will again make, good poetry. But, as they now stand, they seem to be put together on principle in such a manner as to give no image of any thing “in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth."
The poem on the Omnipresence of the Deity comiences with a description of the creation, in which we can find only one thought which has the least
pretension to ingenuity, and that one thought is stolen from Dryden, and marred in the stealing;
“ Last, softly beautiful as music's close,
Angelic woman into being rose." The all-pervading influence of the Supreme Being is then described in a few tolerable lines borrowed from Pope, and a great many intolerable lines of Mr. Robert Montgomery's own. The following may stand as a specimen :
<< But who could trace Thine unrestricted course,
Though Fancy follow'd with immortal force ?
To paint Thy Presence, and to feel it too." The last two lines contain an excellent specimen of Mr. Robert Montgomery's Turkey-carpet style of writing. The majestic view of earth is the mirror of God's presence;
and on this mirror Mr. Robert Montgomery paints God's presence. The use of a mirror, we submit, is not to be painted upon.
A few more lines, as bad as those which we have quoted, bring us to one of the most amusing instances of literary pilfering which we remember. It might be of use to plagiarists to know, as 'a general rule, that what they steal is, to employ a phrase common in advertisements, of no use to any but the right
We never fell in, however, with any plunderer who so little understood how to turn his booty to good account as Mr. Montgomery. Lord Byron, in a passage which every body knows by heart, has said, addressing the sea,
« Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow."
Mr. Robert Montgomery very coolly appropriates the image, and reproduces the stolen goods in the following form:
“ And thou, vast Ocean, on whose awful face
Time's iron feet can print no ruin-trace.”
So may such ill got gains ever prosper!
The effect which the Ocean produces on Atheists is then described in the following lofty lines :
“Oh! never did the dark-soul'd ATHEIST stand,
And watch the breakers boiling on the strand,
And shake, while rush the raving whirlwinds past!" If Mr. Robert Montgomery's genius were not far too free and aspiring to be shackled by the rules of syntax, we should
suppose that it is at the nod of the Atheist that creation staggers. But Mr. Robert Montgomery's readers must take such grammar as they can get, and be thankful.
A few more lines bring us to another instance of unprofitable theft. Sir Walter Scott has these lines in the Lord of the Isles :
" The dew that on the violet lies,
Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes."
This is pretty taken separately, and, as is always the case with the good things of good writers, much prettier in its place than can even be conceived by those who see it only detached from the context. Now for Mr. Montgomery :
“ And the bright dew-head on the bramble lies,
Like liquid rapture upon beauty's eyes."
The comparison of a violet, bright with the dew, to a woman's eyes, is as perfect as a comparison can be. Sir Walter's lines are part of a song addressed to a woman at daybreak, when the violets are bathed in dew; and the comparison is therefore peculiarly natural and graceful. Dew on a bramble is no more like a woman's
eyes than dew anywhere else. There is a very pretty Eastern tale of which the fate of plagiarists often reminds us. The slave of a magician saw his master wave his wand, and heard him give orders to the spirits who arose at the summons.
T'he slave stole the wand, and waved it himself in the air; but he had not observed that his master used the left hand for that purpose. The spirits thus irregularly summoned tore the thief to pieces instead of obeying his orders. There are very few who can safely venture to conjure with the rod of Sir Walter; and Mr. Robert Montgomery is not one of them.
Mr. Campbell, in one of his most pleasing pieces, has this line,
“ The sentinel stars set their watch in the sky.” The thought is good, and has a very striking propriety where Mr. Campbell has placed it, in the mouth of a soldier telling his dream. But, though Shakspeare assures us that “ every true man's apparel fits your thief,” it is by no means the case, as we have already seen, that every true poet's similitude fits your plagiarist. Let us see how Mr. Robert Montgomery uses the image:
“ Ye quenchless stars ! so eloquently bright,
In lambent beauty looking from the skies." Certainly the ideas of eloquence, of untroubled re
pose, of placid eyes, on the lambent beauty of which it is sweet to gaze, harmonize admirably with the idea of a sentry.
We would not be understood, however, to say, that Mr. Robert Montgomery cannot make similitudes for himself. A very few lines farther on, we find one which has every mark of originality, and on which, we will be borind, none of the poets whom he has plundered will ever think of making reprisals :
“ The soul, aspiring, pants its source to mount,
As streanis meander level with their fount.
We take this to be, on the whole, the worst similitude in the world. In the first place, no stream meanders, or can possibly meander, level with its fount. In the next place, if streams did meander level with their founts, no two motions can be less like each other than that of meandering level and that of mounting upwards.
We have then an apostrophe to the Deity, couched in terms which, in any writer who dealt in meanings, we should call profane, but to which we suppose
Mr. Robert Montgomery attaches no idea whatever.
and think, within one fleeting hour,
ti Yes! pause
No field-preacher surely ever carried his irreverent familiarity so far as to bid the Supreme Being stop and think on the importance of the interests which are under his care. The grotesque indecency of such an address throws into shade the subordinate absurdities