1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

Allan Cunningham, in Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern (1825) 1:228-29.



While the songs of some other poets have risen into a popularity which they hardly seem to deserve, those of Logan have by no means received such notice as their merits claim. As the author of the Ode to the Cuckoo, his name stands justly high; the sweetness, the neatness, and concise beauty of that composition, cannot well be rivalled; yet it must not be disguised that many assign it to Michael Bruce, a young poet, who, though he died in the blossom of his hope, has received some compensation by the general sympathy with which his name is regarded, and by the fame that his promise, rather than his performance, has obtained. I confess, in a matter of gratuitous conjecture, I cannot see why we should impeach the testimony of Logan in his own favour; or why he was incapable of producing such a strain, when he had written some which fairly rival it. Are we to suppose, because he introduced into the works of Bruce some of his own poetry without acknowledging it, that at the same time he privately and basely taxed the productions of his friend to grace his own future works? I cannot believe it, and till I see more reason I will not. If he was sweet, and neat, and concise in the ode to the Cuckoo, he was not less so in some of his other lyrics: he united great sensibility with great nicety of judgment, his style was free and flowing, and his felicitous brevity of expression was favourable to lyric composition.