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66 2d. - Duke of Rutland. List of pictures burned at Belvoir Castle. Dine at Sydenham with Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, Mr. Moore and Mr. Rogers. Poet's Club.
“4th.-Morning view, and walk with Mr. Heber and Mr. Stanhope. Afterwards, Mr. Rogers, Lady S., Lady H. A good picture, if I dare draw it accurately ; to place in lower life would lose the peculiarities which depend upon their station; yet, in any station. Return with Mr. Rogers. Dine at Landsdowne House. Sir James Mackintosh, Mr. Grenville, elder brother to Lord Grenville.
66 6th. — Call at Mr. Rogers', and go to Lady Spençer. Go with Mr. Rogers to dine at Highbury with his brother and family. Miss Rogers the same at Highbury as in town.
* Mr. Rogers says I must dine with him to-morrow, and that I consented when I was at Sydenham; and now certainly they expect me at Hampstead, though I have made no promise.
“7th. — Dinner at Mr. Rogers', with Mr. Moore and Mr. Campbell, Lord Strangford and Mr. Spencer.
Go to Mr. Rogers', and take a farewell visit to Highbury. Miss Rogers. Promise to go when
Return early Dine there, and purpose to see Mr. Moore and Mr. Rogers in the morning when they set out for Calais.
Was too late this morning. Messrs. Rogers and Moore were gone. Go to church at St. James'. The sermon good ; but the preacher thought proper to apologize for a severity which he had not used. Write some lines in the solitude of Somerset House, not fifty yards from the Thames on one side, and the Strand on the other; but as quiet as the sands of Arabia. I am not quite in good humor with this day ; but, happily, I cannot say why."
The dinner at Sydenham, alluded to under the date of July 2d, made a lasting impression on more than one of the party; and Moore has immortalized it in one of his most graceful and exquisite poems, the Verses to the Poet Crabbe's Inkstand. We transcribe the stanzas in which the poet describes the subject of this sketch :
66 How freshly doth my mind recall,
'Mong the few days I've known with thee, One that most buoyantly of all
Floats in the wake of memory!
“ When he, the poet, doubly graced
In life, as in his perfect strain,
Without which Fancy shines in vain ;
" Who in his page will leave behind,
Pregnant with genius though it be,
Where Sense o’er all holds mastery :
“ Friend of long years ! of friendship tried
Through many a bright and dark event ;
In all, my stay and ornament!
He, too, was of our feast that day,
And all were guests of one whose hand
Around the lyre of this great land;
65 In whose sea-odes - as in those shells
Where Ocean's voice of majesty
Old Albion's Spirit of the Sea.”
In 1819 Rogers appeared again before the world of letters, with the poem entitled Human Life, which found a friendly critic in the accomplished editor of the Edinburgh Review. From his beautiful article we copy the following extracts :
“ These are very sweet verses. They do not, indeed, stir the spirit like the strong lines of Byron, nor make our hearts dance within us, like the inspiring strains of Scott; but they come over us with a bewitching softness that, in certain moods, is still more delightful, and soothe the troubled spirits with a refreshing sense of truth, purity, and elegance. They are pensive rather than passionate ; and more full of wisdom and tenderness than of high flights of fancy, or overwhelming bursts of emotion ; while they are moulded into grace at least as much by the effect of the moral beauties they disclose, as by the taste and judgment with which they are constructed.
5. The theme is HUMAN LIFE !-- not only · the subject of all verse, ' but the great centre and source of all interest in the works of human beings, to which both verse and prose invariably bring us back, ence.
when they succeed in riveting our attention, or rousing our emotions, and which turns everything into poetry to which its sensibilities can be ascribed, or by which its vicissitudes can be suggested ! Yet it is not by any means to that which, in ordinary language, is termed the poetry or the romance of human life, that the present work is directed. The life which it endeavors to set before us is not life diversified with strange adventures, embodied in extraordinary characters, or agitated with turbulent passions; not the life of warlike paladins, or desperate lovers, or sublime ruffians, or piping shepherds, or sentimental savages, or bloody bigots, or preaching pedlers, or conquerors, poets, or any other species of madmen ; but the ordinary, practical, and amiable life of social, intelligent and affectionate men in the upper ranks of society, --- such, in short, as multitrdes may be seen living every day in this country; for the picture is entirely English, and though not perhaps in the choice of every one, yet open to the judgment, and familiar to the sympathies, of all. It contains, of course, no story, and no individual characters. It is properly and peculiarly contemplative, and consists in a series of reflections on our mysterious nature and condition upon earth, and on the marvellous though unnoticed changes which the ordinary course of our existence is continually bringing about in our being. Its marking peculiarity in this respect is, that it is free from the least alloy of acrimony or harsh judgment, and deals not at all, indeed, in any species of satirical or sarcastic remark. The poet looks here on man, and teaches us to look on him, not merely with love, but with reverence; and, mingling a sort of considerate pity for the shortness of his busy little career, and the disappointments and weaknesses by which it is beset, with a genuine admiration of the great capacities he unfolds, and the high destiny to which he seems to be reserved, works out a very beautiful and engaging picture, both of the affections by which life is endeared, the trials to which it is exposed, and the pure and peaceful enjoyments with which it may often be filled.
- This, after all, we believe, is the tone of true wisdom and true virtue ; and that to which all good natures draw nearer, as they approach the close of life, and come to act less, and to know and to meditate more, on the varying and crowded scene of human exist
When the inordinate. hopes of early youth, which provoke their own disappointment, have been sobered down by longer experience and more extended views; when the keen contentions, and eager rivalries, which employed our riper age, have expired or been abandoned ; when we have seen, year after year, the objects of our fiercest hostility, and of our fondest affections, lie down together in the hallowed peace of the grave; when ordinary pleasures and amusements begin to be insipid, and the gay derision which seasoned them to appear flat and importunate ; when we reflect how often we have mourned and been comforted ; what opposite opinions we have successively maintained and abandoned ; to what inconsistent habits we have gradually been formed, and how frequently the objects of our pride have proved the sources of our shame,- we’are naturally led to recur to the careless days of our childhood, and, from that distant starting place, to retrace the whole of our career, and that of our contemporaries, with feelings of far greater humility and indulgence than those by which it had been actually accompanied ; — to think all vain but affection and honor, the simplest and cheapest pleasures the truest and most precious, and generosity of sentiment the only mental superiority which ought either to be wished for or admired.
“We are aware that we have said something too much of this;' and that our readers would probably have been more edified, as well as more delighted, by Mr. Rogers' text, than with our preachment upon it. But we were anxious to convey to them our sense of the spirit in which this poem is written ; and conceive, indeed, that what we have now said falls more strictly within the line of our critical duty than our general remarks can always be said to do ; because the true character and poetical effect of the work seems, in this instance, to depend much more on its moral expression than on any of its merely literary qualities.
6. The author, perhaps, may not think it any compliment to be thus told that his verses are likely to be greater favorites with the old than with the young; —and yet it is no small compliment, we think, to say that they are likely to be more favorites with his readers every year they live. And it is, at all events, true, whether it be a compliment or not, that as readers of all ages, if they are any way worth pleasing, have little glimpses and occasional visitations of those truths which longer experience only renders more familiar, so no works ever sink so deep into amiable minds, or recur so often to their remembrance, as those which embody simple, and solemn, and reconciling truths, in emphatic and elegant language, and anticipate, as it were, and bring out with effect, those salutary lessons which it seems to be the great end of our life to inculcate. The pictures of violent passion and terrible emotion, the breathing characters, the splendid imagery and bewitching fancy, of Shakspeare himself, are less frequently recalled, than those great moral aphorisms in which he has so often
Told us the fashion of our own estate,
and, in spite of all that may be said, by grave persons, of the frivolousness of poetry, and of its admirers, we are persuaded that the most memorable and the most generally admired of all its productions are those which are chiefly recommended by their deep practised wisdom, and their coincidence with those salutary imitations with which nature herself seems to furnish us from the passing scenes of our existence.
66 The literary character of the work is akin to its moral character; and the diction is as soft, elegant and simple, as the sentiments are generous and trud The whole piece, indeed, is throughout in admiravle keeping ; and its beauties, though of a delicate, rather than an obtrusive character, set off each other, to an attentive observer, by the skill with which they are harmonized, and the sweetness with which they slide into each other. The outline, perhaps, is often rather timidly drawn, and there is an occasional want of force and brilliancy in the coloring ; which we are rather inclined to ascribe to the refined and somewhat fastidious taste of the artist, than to any defect of skill or of power. We have none of the broad and blazing tints of Scott, nor the startling contrasts of Byron, nor the anxious and endlessly repeated touch of Southey, but something which comes much nearer to the soft and tender manner of Campbell ; with still more reserve and caution, perhaps, and more frequent sacrifices of strong and popular effect to an abhorrence of glaring beauties, and a disdain of vulgar resources.”
Soon after this appearance as a poet, we find him acting in a character which he seems almost as much to have affected,- that of a peace-maker. Among the men of letters whom Dr. Parr visited in