still well and happy (alas, that every proposal of this kind must be qualified by a peradventure!); and then we will surround ourselves with Scotch poets, and give the Land of Cakes the benefit of our criticism.

Talbot. Thanks for your invitation; but, even were it possible to accept it, I should scarcely like to venture on the repetition of a pleasure like this.

STANLEY. Neither should I. Better that our visit to Lynton and to HARTLEY should pass into “the domains of tender memory.' The choicest pleasures are apt to lose their charm, if you attempt the enjoyment of them a second time. Slightly as we have touched the broad domain of English Rural Poetry, it has been pleasant thus to shake hands with our poets, and to snatch a few ripe sheaves from their harvest stores. HIARTLEY, and to them. Thanks, also, to the lovely scenery in which we have pursued our discussions. I cannot but believe that our sojourn amidst such beauty has stimulated and strengthened our minds as muchnay, far more than the bracing air has strengthened our bodies.

Talbot. Perhaps our minds needed such a tonic the most. Black care has not followed us into Devonshire. We have escaped for awhile from the petty annoyances of life--we have enjoyed some of its purest pleasures-in our poets we have had good instructors, and from them we may have learnt some of the wisest lessons. have had better Masters still. .

Thanks to you,

And we

“Our daily teachers have been woods and rills,

The silence that is in the starry sky,
The peace that sleeps upon the dewy hills.”


My task is concluded. In recalling, as far as it has been possible, these summer evening conversations with STANLEY and HARTLEY, I seem to have lived the pleasant hours over again. So much, however, of the interest I feel in them is of a personal nature, that I fear lest, while recounting what was said in sportive gaiety or sober earnest, all the aroma may be dissipated, and that, although whatever was beautiful lives still in my memory, I


have produced only the skeleton of the leaf and the stalk of the flower.

It has been comparatively easy to record in these pages some of the views expressed by my two friends and myself with regard to Rural Poetry; but mere criticism is of all literary provender the most unsavoury, and I do not like to think that, after enjoying a “feast of reason," I should have little beyond the fragments of the banquet to present to my readers. Notwithstanding this drawback, the object for which these conversations have been recorded will, I trust, in some degree, be attained. hundred faults in this thing,” said dear Oliver Goldsmith of his exquisite novelette; and, truly, if I were seated in a reviewer's arm-chair, I could easily point out as many faults in this book, without being able to add, as Goldsmith could, that "a hundred things might be said to prove them beauties."

66 There are a


Any reader who is conversant with our Rural Poetry will be keenly sensible of manifold omissions as he peruses these pages. He will be surprised to find that the names of several rural poets are omitted altogether, that others are only mentioned in passing, and that some of those who receive a considerable share of attention are by no means duly criticised. If he look for any connected history of our Rural Poetry, he will be utterly disappointed ; if he seek for accurate definitions, and that careful criticism which makes its headway on the back of a syllogism, he will be equally so. For this volume, be it remembered, is a simple record of conversations; and from such a record it would be vain to expect the completeness of a critical or historical study. Such a study would, perhaps, have been of service, and some day I may attempt it; at present I have chosen the humbler office of an honest chronicler, and have therefore put upon paper, not all that might be said on this fertile topic, but as much as I could recall of what we in our familiar intercourse did actually say. But I shall have attained a higher end than any

which could be reached by a critical survey of Rural Poetry, if I have expressed, however faintly, the high sense entertained by my friends and myself of the worth and glory of the poet's art, and of the exceeding value of his noble calling. The theme is an old one, and of old it was wisely treated. Of late, however, there has been so much fanatical raving on this subject, so much foolish cant and so many assertions that are worse than foolish, especially with regard to poetic inspiration, that there is a danger lest sober-minded and truth-loving people should become

doubtful of the worth of poetry and begin to question its moral influence. Such an error will not only affect those who imbibe it, but may even tell upon the poet himself. For poets, like their fellow mortals, are dependent upon the atmosphere that surrounds them.

In one sense, indeed, they are above their age, for they can see through it and beyond it; but this clearness of vision does not always prevent them from following the false lights and moral will-a-wisps which lead other men astray.


RICHARD BARRETT, Printer, Mark Lane, London.

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