1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Meyler

Christopher Lake Moody, Review of Meyler, Poetical Amusement on the Journey of Life; Monthly Review 52 (January 1807) 91-92; Poetical Register 6 (1806) 501-02.



Poetical Amusement on the Journey of Life; consisting of various Pieces in Verse: serious, theatric, epigrammatic, and miscellaneous. By William Meyler. 8vo. pp. 220. 6s. Boards. Bath, printed by the Author; and sold by Robinson, &c. London. 1806.

We have derived little 'amusement' from the first section of these fugitive compositions. A paraphrase of St. Paul's sublime description of charity is the first in the collection; and what rhyming imitation can ever equal the original prose? Mr. Meyler's expansion is cold and lifeless. — The "Sorrows of a favourite Spaniel" are vented with disgusting coarseness: but the "Monody on the death of Garrick" possesses some poetical merit, and conveys us, by an easy and natural transition, to the second part, in which the author appears to much greater advantage. In most of his prologues, epilogues, and occasional addresses, which are varied with due discrimination, we discern much ease, and are now and then treated with a neat or witty allusion. We are inclined to particularize the Epilogues delivered by Mr. Jackson, Mr. Brunton, and Mr. Bisset, the apologetical address spoken by Mrs. Didier, and that which is intitled "Old Crop."

The epigrammatic specimens are generally well turned: as for example:

THE FAIR EQUIVOQUE.
As blooming Harriet moved along,
The fairest of the beauteous throng,
The beaux gazed on with admiration,
Avow'd by many an exclamation—
What form! what naivete! what grace!
What roses deck that Grecian face!
"Nay," Dashwood cries, "that bloom's not Harriet's,
'Twas bought at Reynold's, Moore's, or Marriott's;
And though you vow her face untainted,
I swear, by God, your beauty's painted."
A wager instantly was laid,
And Ranger sought the lovely maid;
The pending bet he soon reveal'd,
Nor e'en the impious oath conceal'd.
Confus'd — her cheek bore witness true,
By turns the roses came and flew.
"Your bet," she said, is rudely odd—
But I am painted, Sir — by God."

THE RETORT SIMPLE.
Cries a buck of a Parson, impatient and hot,
"Into this ragged surplice the Devil has got."
The Clerk, who endeavour'd t' adjust, coax, and pin it,
Cried, "Why, Zur, as you say, the Devil is in it."

TO SLEEP, IMITATED FROM THE LATIN.
Emblem of death! come soothing, balmy sleep,
Friend of my pillow! o'er my eyelids creep;
Soft let me slumber, gently breathing, sigh,
Live without life, and without dying die!

Mr. Meyler apologizes for blending with the Miscellaneous effusions several pieces which should have been placed under their proper heads. The Sonnet at page 161, and "Billy Burrows," for instance, belong, of right, to the first division; and they are sufficient to convince us that the author, with a little pains might succeed even in the graver walks of poetry; for both are characterized by tenderness of sentiment and simplicity of diction. The performance, indeed, on the whole, makes such a pleasing olla podrida, that it is with much reluctance we notice such imperfect rhymes as "seat" and "gate," "frame" and "gleam," "came" and "beam," "taste" and "feast," "wake and bespeak," "seen" and "lane," &c. We cannot, also, recognize the meritorious worth of the following lines:

"Celestial charity, generous and kind."
"Long carried on in but one trader's name."
"For who so fit as' thee' to, &c."
"With such a charge for worlds I had not 'fell.'"

In works of length and transcendant merit, we are enjoined by high authority to overlook the "paucae maculae": but short compositions, not hastily published, have no claims to similar indulgence. Several of the present juvenile productions, though honoured with myrtle wreaths at Bath-Easton villa, bear revision; and some might have remained in the author's repositories without subtracting from the value of the collection: but from the charge of high crimes and literary misdemeanours, we willingly absolve Mr. Meyler, and he is hereby absolved accordingly.