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tions, render it difficult to determine whether we are more to respect the poet, or the man.
But in the more cramped and contracted walk of sonnet and metrical epitaph, Mason reigns and triumphs. In the former, he sometimes far surpasses Milton-in the latter, he rivals Dryden. Like those of the latter, however, the subjects of his sepulchral eulogies, though not undeserving, were frequently obscure. Domestic virtue, of all others the most valuable, but happily the most common, put the powers of the writer to the severest trial ; yet in the Epitaph on Mrs. Mason, the pangs of widowed love, and the recent disruption of the tenderest of all ties, have produced a' gem of purest ray serene,' which has never been beheld without admiration, and seldom without a tear. Yet, in one of those lucky moments which are no more to be accounted for than the lights and shades of human life, Mason has far surpassed that and himself. To the present collection we are indebted for the following lines, at once awful, vigorous, sublime, and pathetic.
ON THOMAS FOUNTAYNE, ESQ.
Tby duteous knee! the hand of Heaven revere !
In mute submission, drop the Christian tear!
The buds of manly worth, whose opening bloom
Sunk in th' eternal winter of the tomb :
For whom fair Fortune's liberal feast was spread,
Was torn by lingering torture, to the dead.
“ The doom of man in my dread bosom lies;
this vale of
care, Be his to soar with seraphs in the skies !" From about the fortieth year of his age, whether from indolence, or that imagination is the first faculty which falls a prey to mental declension, as it is one of the first which developes itself, a manifest inferiority begins to appear in the productions of Mason's Muse. Still he sang on, as occasion prompted or entreaty urged, to his seventieth year, when his “right reverend censor prescribed to him an abstinence from verse, with the exception of an annual sonnet, which he continued feebly and coldly to indite to his last birth-day, not six weeks, as we have said, before his decease.
The collection of his works in this edition is copious, and perhaps, as far as the author would have acknowledged, complete. Yet we cannot help wishing that one scarce and exquisite poem, written by him, if at all, in the vigour of his powers, and another of later date and inferior merit, had been inserted at least as apocryphal, and on internal evidence :-we mean the Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers, and the Archeological Epistle to Dean Miller. With respect to the first-when it is remembered that no one then alive, with the same peculiar taste and the same political principles, could have written such poetry, we must either ascribe the Heroic Epistle to our author or suppose, very needlessly and improbably, that one person supplied the matter and another shaped it into verse! But the personal insolence displayed in this poem to his sovereign, which was probably the true reason for concealing the writer's name=the principles of genuine taste which abound in it--the bitter and sarcastic strain of indignation against a monstrous mode of bad taste then beginning to prevail in landscape gardening, and, above all, a vigorous flow of spirited and harmonious verse, all concur to mark it as the work of our independent and uncourtly bard.
The Archeological Epistle was an hasty but animated effusion, drawn forth by the Rowleian Controversy, and dressed in the garb of old English verse, in order to obviate the argument drawn from the difficulty of writing in the language of the fifteenth century. The task might indeed have been performed by many; but the sentiments accorded with the known declarations of Mason: the versification and language were easy to him, and an oblique stroke at Archbishop Markham, whom he travelled out of his way to insult, betrayed, and perhaps was meant indirectly to betray, the real author.
. Even glomed York, of thine Amede afraid,
At Lollard's Tower with spiring eye shall peer.' The last words convey a personal reflection.
But to return to his acknowledged works,-of which the most considerable, after the first spirited
productions of his youth, is the English Garden. It is the misfortune of this work that it was seriously intended to be didactic—to convey a practical knowledge of the science which it professed to teach. Instruction therefore was the first object, and poetry the second. In consequence, the matter is coldly scientific, and the composition stifly correct. Less of inspiration (that inspiration which Mason once possessed) has seldom been thrown into the verses of a man of genius. As a vehicle for his precepts he chose blank verse, which he was not accustomed to, for his own accommodation ; yet he appears to
have been more constrained by his imagined freedom than he would have been by the fetters of rhyme. No one can for a moment compare the versification of the English Garden with Mason's own translation of Du Fresnoy, without being compelled to acknowledge that the clearness, the compression, the simplicity of couplets in the hand of such a master, were better adapted to the conveyance of scientific truth, than the license, the looseness, the tumour, and the concomitant indistinctness of blank verse. In this work the single episode which he has introduced is puerile and romantic, though the addition of a modern head to a truncated ancient statue, which has been censured as a clumsy contrivance, is justified by the constant practice of statuaries. But neither the precepts of art, nor the charms of poetry, could wean our bard from his inveterate propensity to political growling. Health, competence, an elegant retirement, the disposal of his own time, well earned reputațion,and, excepting nuptial happiness,almostevery earthly blessing, seem to have been
corroded by this single poison; and at the close of the work, he has no other consolation than that the elegant art which he had taught, and the beautiful scenes which his precepts were likely to produce, would at least contribute to sooth the sorrows of his party for the vices of their government, and the miseries of their country—that such, the virtuous and heart-broken few,
May turn that art we sing to soothing use
She tùrns from Honour's standard. Among the additions made to Mason's Poems in the Edition of 1797, we were struck by a sad instance of injudicious vanity, from the danger of which human nature is never exempt. This is nothing less than an Elegy in a church-yard in North Wales, written in ill-conceived but friendly emulation of Gray's incomparable poem. For such an attempt, of which he seems in part to have felt the temerity, nothing can be more awkward than his excuse.
• It was not so much for the sake of contrast that I gave the elegy such an exordium, as to make it appear a day scene, and as such, to contrast it with the twilight scene of my excellent friend's elegy? As his own suffrage, however, may be suspected, he shelters himself from the imputation of vanity, under the autho. rity of a nameless critic; and this, says he, is to obviate a prejudice, which some readers might take to it, as supposing, from the title and subject, that I wrote it to emulate what, I am as ready to own as they are, is inimitable.' Whoever the flatterer may have been, the right reverend censor was surely not at hand, to warn him
τουσδ' αλλος έναρις, απο δ' Εκτορος εσχεο χειρας-and it is really singular that this emulous and aspiring elegy should, in fact, be the meanest of all Mason's compositions-feeble and prosaic in its diction, and tritely moral in its sentiments. Let us not be mistaken, however, as imputing to Mason morality for dulness. He was always moral, he was never dull. It is indeed the glory of this poet, so various in his subjects, and often so impassioned in his sentiments, not only that he never trespassed on the nicest rules of decorum, but that his writings breathe the purest spirit of morality, and the most exalted strains of devotion. " Independently of all regard to the decencies of his character and function, he appears, in his later years especially, to have been habitually and deeply pious
--in proof of which we subjoin with pleasure his last short strain, the feeble effort, indeed, of a genius almost exhausted, of a light twinkling in the socket, but the tribute of an humble and holy spirit prepared to meet its God.
Again the year on easy wheels has roll'd
To bear me to the term of seventy-two.
Yet still my eyes can seize the distant blue
How Nature, to her Maker's mandate true,
And still, (thank Heaven!) if I not falsely deem,
Strains not discordant to each moral theme
(Best of poetic palms !) my faith supreme
Art. V.-1. An Essay on the Prevention and Cure of Insanity,
with Observations on the Rules for the Detection of Pretenders
to Madness. By George Nesse Hill. London. pp. 446. 2. Report, together with the Minutes of Evidence, and an Appendix
of Papers, from the Committee appointed to consider of Propisions being made for the better Regulation of Madhouses in England. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed,
July, 1815.) Lach Subject of Evidence arranged under its distinct Head. By J, B. Sharpe, Member of the Royal
College of Surgeons. 80. pp. 411. 1815. 3. A Letter Addressed to the Chairman of the Select Committee
of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the State of Madhousęs. To which is subjoined, Remarks on the Nature's
Causes, and Cure of Mental Derangement. By Thomas Bake
well. pp. 100. 1815. 4. Observations on the Laws relating to Private Lunatic Asy
lums, and particularly on a Bill for their Alteration, which passed the House of Commons in the year 1814. London. 5. Practical Hints on the Construction and Economy of Pauper Lunatic Asylums, including Instructions to the Architects
who offered Plans for Wakefield Asylum, and a Sketch of themost approved Design. By Samuel Tuke. pp. 55. 1815. IT would be difficult, perhaps, to find in the whole range of
Cowper's poetry a passage of more exquisite pathos than a short sentence in one of his letters. He is, if we recollect right, congratulating a friend upon a recent recovery from a fever, and he proceeds somewhat in this strain : You have been restored from bodily pain and indisposition, and it is well; I am thankful, and you ought to be thankful for it; but “Oh! the fever of the mind !" ? Nothing, indeed, can weigh in the smallest degree against mental sickness,-against that state in which the imagination is only active as the agent of cruelty-in which conscience, always alive to guilt, is now furnished with the tormenting implements of fancy and fear; ---when there are no distinct impressions upon the brain but those of misery ;-- when all besides this is indistinctness, tumult, hurry, distraction!
But madness is said to be a state, in many cases, of comparative happiness. Can that be called happiness which seems to deprive man for a time of the destiny of his being, and link him with perishable matter?--which severs the bond of social and domestic affection, and places a barrier of separation between man and his fellow man? Surely no vividness of pleasurable feeling, no exaltation of the fancy, even to the highest pitch of giddy delight, no exclusion, however complete, from the actual misery of the world, can compensate, in any measure, for the deprivation of consciousness, or cause mental alienation to be contemplated in any other light than as a most distressing and heart-rending spectacle.
Insanity is at best a state of helplessness; and the subjects of it are, on this account, in a peculiar manner, the objects of legislative guardianship. The relative situation of a madman to the government under which he lives, bears no inconsiderable resemblance to that of a child to his parents ; and the wisdom, both of
and lawgiver, will be best evinced by the systematic care exercised in either
instance to secure the well-being of the charge. In this point of view, incentives to misconduct, on the part of intimate connexions, towards the insane, may be compared with