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direct the reader in its perusal. They ought, therefore, to be considered the poetical body into which genius infuses a vivifying spirit. The easy and graceful flow of words and syllables, or of entire lines, is as necessary to the nature of true poetry, as ideas and language are to a writer of prose.
A subject important and interesting, perspicuity of ideas and language, and animated and smooth versification, qualities which are indispensable to poetry, are all exemplified in the poem of “ The Pleasures of Friendship.” Its theme is one, which all who properly appreciate amiable feelings, not only approve, but contemplate with intense interest. True friendship is not temporary in its nature, or limited in its capacity for diffusion. Its duration is as permanent as that of the natural existence of those who are susceptible of it, and coextensive with the space which they occupy in the world. The ties by which it unites them in sentiments and objects, and the sympathies that it excites and cherishes, render it a subject of peculiar importance and attraction. Its attributes and tendencies are enumerated and illustrated by the author of this poem on the pleasures which it affords, with truth, propriety, and spirit. Avoiding the speculations into which his subject might so readily have seduced him, he has confined himself to a plain and simple, yet a dignified and rational exposition of the moral susceptibilities from which friendship derives its existence, and a brief, comprehensive, and accurate analysis of the modes in which they exercise their influence. In his poem there are no complicated and subtle processes of reasoning; no abstruse or perplexed ideas; no obscure or ambiguous phrases. His thoughts flow in an easy, a full, and a clear stream ; and his language, unaffected and appropriate, accords with them, and with the nature of the feeling which he has adopted as his theme.
One of the principal merits of this poem, is the power which it exerts of affecting the heart by appealing to the mild and amiable feelings. But much of its attraction is ascribable to the accuracy and beauty of its versification. In the perusal of it, the eye is not offended by inaccuracies in the construction or arrangement of the lines, nor is the ear shocked by harshness of language, the injudicious use of metrical quantities, the erroneous placing of accents and pauses. The cadences are regulated in accordance with rhythmical propriety, and the rules of melody and harmony are well observed. The sense of one couplet is not often made to depend on that of another by which it is succeeded; nor are the lines rendered rough and unmusical by running into each other. In regular and long poems, these are merits which writers, even when possessed of great genius and learning, do not always display. The most ardent mind may, occasionally, become languid, and intermit its efforts in the course of protracted poetical composition. The most accurate and practised ear may sometimes become inattentive or indifferent to the observance of a reiterated and regular recurrence of sounds and their various modifications. The difficulty of sustaining, throughout a poem of considerable extent, an unabated fervency of feeling, and a uniform strain of mellifluous versification, renders the merit of those by whom it is surmounted, much greater than is generally acknowledged. The popularity which has been acquired and retained by the poem of “The Pleasures of Friendship,” may in a great degree be ascribed to the correctness and melody of its numbers. Whatever importance may be attached to the subject of it, and with whatever general ability that subject has been treated, the poem itself would not possess the extensive and well established reputation which it enjoys, did it not display more than ordinary merit in its versification. The caprices of opinion may make poetical productions acceptable or attractive to those who are swayed by those caprices, rather than by their own mature and deliberate judgment. They may even give to a poet a celebrity, which can endore only while the fluctuating currents of fashion continue to flow in a certain direction. But the steady and invariable principles of correct literary taste are the best depositories to which the fame of the real poet can be intrusted. It is on these that the poem of “ The Pleasures of Friendship” must depend for the duration of its popularity; and in their conservative care, its author may with confidence place his reputation.
THE PLEASURES OF FRIENDSHIP.
The first consideration of the poem is the merciful dispensation of the Deity, in endowing the human mind with those feelings which constitute friendship, in order to furnish an emollient for every species of affliction.-A parallel is then drawn between the effects of the sun on the different seasons of the year, and those of friendship on the corresponding periods of life. The death of Abel, the first instance of any breach of friendship among men, is alluded to, as introducing the curse pronounced at the fall upon Adam and his posterity.–Friendship considered as one of the joys of heaven.The earliest of the nobler feelings experienced in the days of childhood. The pleasing effects of youthful friendship when reflected on in old age.—The advantage of possessing a true and active friend, when overtaken by misfortune, illustrated in the episode of Mortalbot and Connor.—The soothing effects of friendship in sickness and exile.-Its influence in, rendering us resigned to death, exemplified in the story of Jacob and Joseph.—The power of confidential friendship, in relieving the pain which arises from the concealment of passion or the indulgence of remorse. The happy effects of a friendly emulation in the acquirement of any science or profession.-Apostrophe to emulation. Improvement in the various branches of knowledge, and in the arts and professions cultivated by men, figuratively considered as the off
spring of a union between friendship and emulation. The pleasure of reflecting abroad upon our friends at home, instanced in the meditations of a sailor, when in the lonely situation of keeping watch by night.—The consolations of this feeling to negroes in a state of slavery.—The miserable condition of Christian slaves in the Barbary States.-Two instances given of the exertions of benevolence in their behalf: the first, that of Mr. Willshire in favour of Captain Riley and his fellow sufferers ; the second, that of the British government, in the memorable expedition against Algiers in the year 1816, commanded by Lord Exmouth, which compelled the latter power to liberate, without ransom, all the Christian slaves in its possession, and to agree that all Christians captured in battle, should, for the future, be treated as the European nations treat their prisoners of war.