1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

Robert Cumming, in Essay, delivered in the Pantheon, on Thursday, April 14. 1791 (1791) 4-5.



Next sprightly FERGUSSON claims due regard.
Fair blooms the wreath which binds his youthful brow.
His rising genius like the orient morn,
Diffuses round its sweet, its chearing rays.
As foreign from our theme, his English verse,
With some regret we pass; for there he soars
With all the pride of pure poetic fire:
With what bewitching power he leads us through
His rural shades, and sweet pastoral scenes,
While nature lives in every line he draws,
And pathos moves the nicest powers of mind.
Of this enough. — His Scottish muse must stand
High in the roll of fame. So sweetly tun'd
His various subjects from the goldfinch gay,
Industrious bee, or farmer's ingle side,
Down to the lowest essay of his Muse,
So nicely touch'd. — So true his colours rise,
They move the passions as they flash around,
Bright'ning the social scene. — Time steals away,
While mirth and humour crown the jocund hour.
But, still, howe'er adapted to the theme;
However high the glow of wit may rise;
However sweet our youthful Bard has sung;
His finest notes fall short of RAMSAY'S lyre.
These only rouse the rougher powers of mind:
'Tis his to touch the finest springs of love;
To move those feelings, so remote from sense,
That finest images express them not.