1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

Joseph Robertson, in Lives of the Scottish Poets (1822) 6:26-27.



Although neither the talent shewn in Alexis, or Lochleven, nor in any of Bruce's minor pieces, (if we except, as at present we must, The Cuckoo) is such as to entitle him to a high rank among poets; yet it is very rare that we see in works written at so early an age, and under so many disadvantages, such a dawn of excellence as in those of Michael Bruce. If we compare, as in fairness we ought, what Bruce did before he was twenty, with what other poets who have lived to mature their powers and acquire a great name, were able to produce at the same period of life — with the juvenile effusions, for example, of Thomson or Macpherson, who were both as favourably circumstanced in respect to education as Bruce; we shall be forced to allow that as in promise he far excelled them, there is every probability that he would not have yielded to them in performance, had he been happily spared to make the trial. We cannot perhaps say, with Logan, since we know not, besides, how much of the praise he meant to apply to himself, that "if images of nature that are beautiful and new; if sentiments warm from the heart, interesting and pathetic; if a style chaste with ornament, and elegant with simplicity; if these and many other beauties of nature and art are allowed to constitute true poetic merit, the poems of Michael Bruce will stand high in the judgement of men of taste;" yet we may safely assert, that to all of these qualities, no poetry ever more strongly inclined.