Appendix Two - 1
IN SIX CANTOS.
Borough of Sunderland:
GEORGE RICHMOND, HIGH-STREET,
MR. ROBERT GREENWELL,
TRIBUTE OF LOVE, WHICH IS DAILY RIPENING,
CIRCUMSTANCES DEVELOPE CHARACTER, THE FOLLOWING
IS INSCRIBED BY
YOUR AFFECTIONATE BROTHER,
It may be proper to inform the reader, in the commencement of these prefatory remarks, that the author's partiality for an intimate friend, has induced him to devolve upon that friend the task, of offering such observations to the consideration of his reader, as may be necessary to prepare him for a candid perusal of the following Poem.
One of the first things that will strike the attention of the reader, is the moral and discussional character of THE BARD. Poetry is frequently employed to depict, in all the charm of numbers, the beauty or the grandeur of external nature; often to celebrate the great events of history; frequently to record the praises of the great in arms, or the profound in wisdom; and often as the vehicle of adoration and praise to the Divine Being; but seldom has Poetry been seen to intrude herself into the province of the philosopher, and, by engaging in the discussion of moral truths, endeavour to bring the charms of fancy and imagination to illustrate the dry reasonings of the philosopher and the moralist. Such a course, however bold it may appear, is not entirely without precedent. Political and religious truths are scattered, in greater or less proportion, through the writings of many of the Poets, both of ancient and modern times; and we have some examples of Poets devoting their whole power to discussions of an abstract nature. The reader's recollection will immediately revert to the "Night Thoughts" of Dr. Young, and to the "Task" of Cowper; works, the great objects of which are, to sap the foundation of irreligion - expose the corruptions by which Christianity has been disfigured, and enforce the reception of her sublime discoveries, and obedience to her holy requirements. With such precedents before him, the author of THE BARD saw no impropriety in making Poetry the vehicle, through which he should spread before the minds of all who may honour his work with a perusal, such views as have occurred to him of the political and religious aspect of the times. If the writer of these observations may be permitted, for a moment, to speak of his friend without reserve, he would inform the reader that the peculiar turn of Mr. Greenwell's mind is such as to lead him to delight more in the contemplations of moral scenery, than in the common, though certainly not exhausted theme of Poetry - the glories of external nature: not that he is incapable of relishing these; far from it; he is
able to appreciate, and to describe, both the august and the minutely beautiful, in the construction and decoration of the universe; but still, his highest delight is to turn the page of human history, and to pry into the diversities of human character - to distinguish what is true and beautiful, from what is false and corrupt in the political and politico-religious institutions of the world; and he only throws his imagination over the phenomena of nature, to furnish him with imagery, by which to elucidate and adorn the subjects of his severe thought. Such, it will be seen, is precisely the character of the following Poem. With reference to the opinions which it developes, it may be remarked that they are those of a Christian, a Protestant, a Dissenter, - in politics, a Democrat. From the whole or part of these sentiments, it is to be presumed, many of the readers of THE BARD will differ; all, however, that the author can require from such, is, a candid consideration of the views he endeavours to develope, and of such facts in the past history, or present condition of the world, as are referred to in the Poem. And should the present publication be rendered in the humblest degree, instrumental in loosening the hold of error, or superstition, over the human mind, and advancing the cause of universal virtue and freedom, the writer doubts not that the Poet will have reaped from it what will be to him the most gratifying reward. His highest ambition is to be useful to his kind; and what can be more delightful, to an aspiring and ardent mind, than the thought of being employed, in however humble a degree, in emancipating humanity from the shackles of ignorance and servility, and raising it to the rank and happiness, which intelligence, virtue, and freedom can alone confer?
To disarm the severity of a reader's criticism, by stating the circumstances in which a book has been produced, even when those circumstances have been manifestly unfavourable to the cultivation of letters, is generally a fruitless task; the writer will, therefore, be content with simply stating that the author of THE BARD is a young man, and has passed the most of his days in the severe labour by which the vast proportion of our fellows are compelled to earn the means of a humble and unostentatious subsistence - his studies have, therefore, been pursued, and his poetical talent cultivated, in the brief intervals of fatiguing exertion, and with the scanty means which so humble an individual may be supposed to command. He lays his work before the public, not as the elaborate production of a secluded and scholastic Poet; but as the result of the severe midnight amusements of one who prefers waking reveries to sleepy dreams.