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fined me to my bed. The second canto was written in considerably less time. This may account for many marks of slovenly execution, which I shall not attempt to excuse,
A time for correction may be found, when the entire poem is completed.' Preface, p. 8-10.
The subject itself, however, is of an interesting nature. It might furnish matter of curious inquiry, how it has happened that the public take less interest, at the present day, in the early history and traditional exploits of the Cambro-Britons, than in those of either the Irish or the Scots. Between Scotland and Ire. land, the character of Wales, it would seem, maintains a kind of insipid mediocrity, an uninteresting security, an unadventurons spirit, which in no way carries the imagination back to the period when Merlin's magic mystery cast a charm over every bill and valley, and the bards sang to their resounding harps the exploits of Arthur, leading his followers on to victory in twelve sucDessive engagements.
The industry, the talents, the literature of Scotland, are eontinually presenting themselves before us, and by them we are reminded of her early simplicity and hardihood, and of her strains of former days, so ably remodelled by her living poets. As to Ireland, if its ferocious valour, its wild traditions, its romantic sense of personal importance, its veneration for literature, its devotion to the religion the earliest professors of which it sheltered in its bosom, were ever dear to the imagination, or favourable to the purposes of poetical embellishment, they ought to be so still, for they still exist; however terrific, or lawless, or guilty may be the forms which they have assumed in modern times, under the oppression of the powerful and wealthy among its own sons, who ought to have taken an honourable pride in modifying them to better purposes, or the still more galling neglect of its conquerors, whose interest in it is shewn by little more than the severity of punishment with wbich they visit the disturbances and crimes they yet take no care to prevent.
But our business is with Mr. Bayley, and his poetry. Our objection to Welsh incidents and Welsh characters, is, that they are uninteresting. There may be 'goot men porn at Mon
mouth,' as Fluellen assures us is the case ; but these good men do not make good heroes for Epic poems; and when all the sub-beroes are mustered under them, and called over by name, every thought of harmonious numbers is put to flight by clustering consonants, and jarring aspirations.
Idwal, the hero of the first of these pieces, is a youth who, not much to his own advantage, recalls alternately to the reader's mind Scott's Wilfrid, and Beattie's Edwin. He is fair, gentle, and contemplative; dislikes a noise, and is particularly averse to the exercise of his risible muscles. He is fond of wandering through pathless glades and secret glens, of sitting under a tree,
and of scaling rocks; but his chief delight is in seeing salmon leap. All these peculiarities are described in smooth and polished verse, and with sufficient power of appropriate and pleasing imagery, liable only to the objection we have already stated, the closeness of the copy from the Minstrel.
The deseription of the Coomb, which bears the name of Idwal, and to which tradition has annexed the story of his birth, partakes somewhat more of originality, and is forcefully given. Tbe wild and melancholy features of this secluded spot, have made an impression on our Author, who describes them from his own observation, which he has succeeded in conveying to the mind of the reader, and which proves his own to be sufficiently alive to the sublime in nature. This temporary elevation is, however, soon over, and he proceeds to describe, in a tamer style, a certain seat on the summit of Mount Snowdon, which it seems, among other attributes, has the power of inspiring bim who takes a night's lodging in it. We wish our Author had been enabled to describe this seat from his own experience of its virtues; but possibly the following lines were written previously to his visit to it:
• No sooner was the power of Snowdon's stone
Ere long the virtue of that sleep to try.' p. 41. Unfortunately for him, two ungentle personages are led to the same spot from very different motives, and discuss, in his hearing, a conspiracy which involves in it his mother's and his own safety. The account of his discovering himself, of his falling a victim to the swords of the assassins, and of the despair and threatened vengeance of his friend Mathonwy, are most inadequately given ; notwithstanding the Author has evidently taken the trouble to refresh his imagination at this part of his work, with a close inspection of the beautiful episode in the 9th book of the Æneid. It is a little unfortunate that all the best parts of Mr. Bayley's poetry remind us of something much better in the works of his predecessors. Thus, in “ The narration of Brito,' the short and heart-felt exclamations of Macduft, on the murder of his wife and children, are recalled to our minds page after page, in the extended lamentations and cireumstantial description by: this garrulous mourner, under a similar affliction.
In the first part of The Hostages,' we have some attempt at poetical embellishment and machinery, which are indeed necessary to relieve the tedium of characters and incidents so hacknied as those of fair Rosamond and her royal paramour, and the fatal consequences of their dove. Zolphino, a Sicilian, who has been before desoribed, as
“ Charg’d with strange compacts that abhor the light,
And deeds whose very names the soul affright,” wishing to prevent the interference of Rosamond with regard to the hostages, whose fate is the subject of this episode, contrives to frighten her by a piece of mechanism, in comparison of which all the inventions of the proprietor of the Merlin gallery, must appear very clumsy performances. This magic chest is described with much elaborateness, but at a length that forbids us to extract the account of its wonderful properties, of the incantations made use of to bring them forward, and of the effect they produce on the niod of the lady.
The chief part of this episode is taken up with deciding by lot the fate of the sons of Owain, sovereign of North Wales, and the brothers of David, one of his chief commanders. As the Author seems to dwell with peculiar complacency on his management of this part of his work, we shall quote his description of the behaviour of “ the impatient Rhys,” who was the first to venture on the decision of chance upon existence ;
“ He said ; then near the fatal urn his stand
O dark depository!' thus he cried,
He said ; the urn but for an instant scann'd,
As Henry's feet the ball rebounding smote.”-p. 121. We do not consider this as the most favourable specimen of our Author's powers, though he himself is so modest as to dis
trust their originality in this instance, and to be willing to divide the merit of the passage with Francesco Franceschi, the Italian dramatic writer. But we must now take leave of Mr. Bayley as an epic poet. As a scholar he appears to more advantage. His Greek hexameters, which have already obtained admission into the Classical Journal, are tolerably vigorous and correct, and h is notes display abundance of ingenious research.
The volume concludes with some stanzas, entitled “ The last Farewell,” which sufficiently evince that Mr. Bayley has talents for poetry, though they are not adequate to the management of the epic kind.
Art. XIII. Antibiblion ; or The Papal Tocsin. No. I. containing
News from Rome and Poland; with a correct Latin Copy and Translation of the present Pope's Bull against Bible Societies, and notes by Scrutator. Second Edition. 8vo. Price 4d. Hatchard.
London. 1817. WE
E notice this publication, chiefly for the sake of tbe im
portant document alluded to in our first article, of which Scrutator here furnishes us with a correct Latin copy. It will, we imagine, go a considerable way towards dissipating those delusions wbich have of late prevailed with regard to the essential character and the true spirit of the Romsish superstition, and tend to rouse Protestants from the idle dreams which bave formed an excuse for their supineness.
While, however, we are disposed warmly to applaud every legitimate method of counteracting the moral dangers of Popery, we must deprecate every thing like an attempt to excite the passions or the fears of the public with regard to any questions of political danger. We do not like the title of the present pamphlet : it looks as if Scrutator designed to sound an alarm in the ears of the populace, and to make the Pope's Bull a watchword and a war-cry against the Roman Catholics. He is, it should seem, emulous of being considered as one of the geese
of the capitol. Now, it is a very easy thing, we are persuaded to instigate people to dread the Pope, and to hate a class of their fellow subjects ; to this effect fourpenny pamphlets may be highly subservient: but there is but one method of making them true Protestants, and that is by making them understand and love the religion which they profess. The best preservative against the political dangers of Popery, is that which forms the only efficient moral antidote to its delusions, thie Book wbich bis Holiness would suppress : let this but continue freely to circulate among all classes, and it will be morally impossible that Popery should again enslave the nations which the knowledge of the Gospel have made free indeed.
Art. XIV. Religious Liberty stated and enforced on the Principles of
Scripture and Common Sense. In Six Essays. With Notes and an Appendix. By Thomas Williams. 8vo. pp. 228. Price 6s, Wil
liams and Co. WERE a person comparatively a stranger to the moral history
of man, brought suddenly into a favourable situation to take a broad survey of all the disasters which have befallen this il-fated and apostate world, it would be a matter of considerable astonishment to him, to observe that the heaviest of all its heavy calamities had been self-inflicted; and that all the malignant designs formed by the Great Enemy of our race to cripple the powers and blast the prospects of mankind, uwed their efficiency to themselves. Would not such an observer be ready to conclude, that there must have existed some deadly covenant between the Powers of darkness and certain great combinations of men, that whatever engines of mischief the ingenuity of the former might originate, the honour of working them should belong exclusively to the latter? What an extreme of alternate disgust and regret would be excited, by observing that with maniac fury men had been all along tearing and lacerating their own flesh; exasperating all the natural evils of their condition, and creating many artificial ones, and actually turning the very means that had been devised, by the watchful benevolence of the Deity, to meliorate their condition, into potent instruments of torture and destruction! In the midst of his comprehensive and painful review, when his mind was wearied and disgusted with the long series of follies and calamities that had passed in succession before him, how would his eye brighten into something like ecstacy, while it rested for a few moments on the Divine radiance of that period in wbich Christianity dawned upon the unbappy race, and promised by its powerful remedies an entire cure of the moral insanity by which men had been impelled to mutual destruction! How would his spirit exult on seeing that all the malicious designs of the Evil Being, backed by the infatuated efforts of men themselves, were inadequate to defeat the benevolent counsel, or impede the mighty efforts of Divine Goodness! What an excess of gratification would be feel, in perceiving that, for near a century, the march of truth and righteousness, had been triumphant: though grappling at every step with the principles of evil, and disputing every inch of ground, yet like the dawning light, gradually and effectually chasing away the darkness ! He would see with a deep feeling of gratitude, this systein of heavenly pbilanthropy successfully warring against principalities and powers and spiritual wickednesses in high places ; establishing the throne of the Prince of Peace, in the
very heart of the kingdom of darkness, and turning the foul abodes of a cruel and degrading superstition into the temples of the living God.
But after the gleam of light which had, with meteor-like rapidity shot across the moral history of mankind, having for a