1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Peter Bayley

Charles Brockden Brown?, in Review of Bayley, Poems; Literary Magazine and American Register [Philadelphia] 2 (April 1804) 15.



This is the first time that we have seen the name of Peter Bayley among the list of English poets. By his works, however, he is entitled to an honourable rank among them. They rise far above the productions of mediocrity with which the English press has lately groaned. The volume before us contains specimens of poetry of different descriptions. The author has tried his strength in blank verse and rhyme, in satire, in description, in ode, in elegy, in sonnet, and in burlesque, and in each of these he is considerably successful.

The first poem in this collection is a satire, entitled An Apology for Writing. The writer has adopted, in this piece, the fashionable mode of dialogue, annotation, and quotation; his versification is melodious; and his temper appears to be as irascible as the lovers of the crack of Gifford's horsewhip could wish it.

The three most considerable poems, as to length, are An Evening in the Vale of Festinog, A first View of the World, and The Delusions of Love. The first of these, as the title would inform us, is description, intermixed with such reflection as the scenes described is calculated to inspire. Mr. B. seems to have that enthusiastic love of nature, which is inseparable from the truest and highest spirit of poetry. The following passage will enable the reader to judge, in some measure, how far this assertion is just:

But who shall paint the mingled waves of light,
And hues effulgent, that together roll,
Where with the sky the long-drawn blazing line
Of ocean mixes! There the ardent glow
Of topaz, and the ruddy ruby's flush,
Unite, convolved in floods; floating along,
Big clouds of purple, edg'd with brightest light,
Spread their broad vans; above, a thin light tinge
Of palest saffron melts by faint degrees
Into the pure caerulean: higher still,
Through the broad veil of grey that spreads around,
And fills the vault of heaven, at intervals,
Bursts the blue sky, and sheds a milder day.