Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The dews of the evening most carefully shun,

Whilst we together jovial sit
They are the tears of the sky for the loss of the Sun.

Careless, and crown'd with mirth and wit;

Where, though bleak winds confine us home, After the transgression of Adam, Milton, with other

Our fancies round the world shall roam. appearances of sympathizing Nature, thus marks the

We'll think of all the Friends we know, immediate consequence,

And driok to all worth drinking to;

When having drunk all thine and mine,
Sky lowered, aod muttering thunder, some sad drops

We rather sball want healths than wine.
Wept at completion of the mortal sin.

But where Friends fail us, we 'll supply
The associating link is the same in each instance;-

Our friendships with our charity;

Men that remote in sorrows live, dew or rain, not distinguishable from the liquid sub

Shall by our lusty Brimmers thrive. stance of tears, are employed as indications of sorrow. A flash of surprise is the effect in the former case, a

We'll drink the Wanting into Wealth,

And those that languish into health, flash of surprise and nothing more; for the nature of

The Afflicted into joy; th' Opprest things does not sustain the combination. In the latter,

Into socurity and rest. the effects of the act, of which there is this immediate

The Worthy in disgrace shall fiod consequence and visible sign, are so momentous, that

Favour return again more kind, the mind acknowledges the justice and reasonableness

And in restraint who stifled lie, of the sympathy in Nature so manifested; and the sky

Shall taste the air of liberty. weeps drops of water as if with human eyes, as « Earth

The Brave sball triumph in success, had, before, trembled from her entrails, and Nature

The Lovers shall have Mistresses, given a second groan.

Poor unregarded Virtue, praise,

And the neglected Poet, Bays. Awe-stricken as I am by contemplating the opera tions of the mind of this truly divine Poet, I scarcely

Thus shall our healths do others good,

Whilst we ourselves do all we would ; dare venture to add that « An Address to an Infant,»

For, freed from envy and from care, which the reader will find under the Class of Fancy in

What would we be but what we are? the present edition, exhibits something of this communion and interchange of instruments and functions

It remains that I should express my regret at the between the two powers; and is, accordingly, placed last necessity of separating my compositions from some in the class, as a preparation for that of Imagination beautiful Poems of Mr Coleridge, with which they have which follows.

been long associated in publication. The feelings with Finally, I will refer to Cotton's « Ode upon Winter, which that joint publication was made, have been graan admirable composition, though stained with some tified; its end is answered, and the time is come when peculiarities of the age in which he lived, for a general considerations of general propriety dictate the separaillustration of the characteristics of Fancy. The middle

tion. Three short pieces (now first published) are the part of this ode contains a most lively description of the work of a Female Friend; and the Reader, to whom entrance of Winter, with his retinue, as « A palsied they may be acceptable, is indebted to me for his pleaKing,» and yet a military Monarch, -advancing for sure ; if any one regard them with dislike, or be disposed conquest with his Army; the several bodies of which, to condemn them, let the censure fall upon him, who, and their arms and equipments, are described with a

trusting in his own sense of their merit and their rapidity of detail, and a profusion of fanciful compa

fitness for the place which they occupy, extorted them

from the Authoress. risons, which indicate on the part of the Poet extreme activity of intellect, and a correspondent hurry of delightful feeling. Winter retires from the Foe into his fortress, where

ESSAY SUPPLEMENTARY TO THE PREFACE.

- a magazine
Of sovereign juice is cellared in;

Wire the young of both Sexes, Poetry is, like love, a
Liquor that will the siege maintain

passion; but, for much the greater part of those who Should Phobus ne'er return again.

have been proud of its power over their minds, a peThough myself a water-drinker, I cannot resist the cessity soon arises of breaking the pleasing bondage; or pleasure of transcribing what follows, as an instance it relaxes of itself;—the thoughts being occupied in still more happy of Fancy employed in the treatment domestic cares, or the time engrossed by business. of feeling than, in its preceding passages, the Poem Poetry then becomes only an occasional recreation ; supplies of her management of forms.

while to those whose existence passes away in a course

of fashionable pleasure, it is a species of luxurious 'T is that, that gives the Poet rage,

amusement.--Ju middle and declining age, a scattered And thaws the pelly'd blood of Age; Matures the Young, restores the Old,

number of serious persons resort to poetry, as to reliAnd makes the fainting Coward bold.

cion, for a protectiou against the pressure of trivial

employments, and as a consolation for the afflictions of It lays the careful bead to rest,

life. And, lastly, there are many, who, having been Calms palpitations in tbe breast, Renders our lives' misfortune sweet ;

enamoured of this art in their youth, have found leisure, after youth was spent, to cultivate general literature; in

which poetry has continued to be comprehended as a Then let the chill Sirocco blow, And gird us round with hills of snow,

study. Or else go wbistle to be shore,

Joto the above Classes the Readers of poetry may be And make the hollow mountains roar

divided; Critics abound in them all; but from the last

only can opinions be collected of absolute value, and escape from the burthen of business, and with a wish worthy to be depended upon, as prophetic of the destiny to forget the world, and all its vexations and anxieties. of a vew work. The young, who in nothing can escape Having obtained this wish, and so much more, it is pa. delusion, are especially subject to it in their intercourse tural that they should make report as they have felt. with poetry. The cause, not so obvious as the fact is If Men of mature age, through want of practice, be unquestionable, is the same as that from which er- thus easily beguiled into admiration of absurdities, roneous judgments in this art, in the minds of men of extravagances, and misplaced ornaments, thinking it all ages, chiefly oceed; but upon Youth it operates proper that their understandings should enjoy a howith peculiar force. The appropriate business of poetry liday, while they are unbending their minds with verse, (which, nevertheless, if genuine, is as permanent as it may be expected that such Readers will resemble pure science) her appropriate employment, her privilege their former selves also in strength of prejudice, and an and her duty, is to treat of things not as they are, but as inaptitude to be moved by the unostentatious beauties ibry appear; not as they exist in themselves, but as

of a pure style. In the higher poetry, an enlightened they seem to exist to the senses and to the passions. Critic chiefly looks for a reflection of the wisdom of What a world of delusion does this acknowledged prin- the heart and the grandeur of the imagination. Wherciple prepare for the ipexperienced! what temptations ever these appear, simplicity accompanies them; Magnito go astray are here held forth for them whose thoughts ficence herself, when legitimate, depending upon a simhave been little disciplined by the understanding, and plicity of her own, to regulate her ornaments. But it whose feelings revolt from the sway of reason! — When is a well-known property of human nature,

that our a juvenile Reader is in the height of his rapture with estimates are ever governed by comparisons, of which some vicious passage, should experience throw in doubts, we are conscious with various degrees of distinctness. or common-sense suggest suspicions, a lurking con- Is it not, then, inevitable ( confining these observations sciousbess that the realities of the Muse are but shows, to the effects of style merely) that an eye, accustomed and that ber liveliest excitements are raised by transient to the glaring hues of diction by which such Readers shocks of conflicting feeling and successive assemblages are caught and excited, will for the most part be rather

of contradictory thoughts—is ever at hand to justify repelled than attracted by an original Work, the co| extravagance, and to sanction absurdity. But, it may louring of which is disposed according to a pure and

be asked, as these illusious are unavoidable, and, no refined scheme of barmony ? It is in the fine arts as in doubt, eminently useful to the mind as a process, what the affairs of life, no man can serve (i. e. obey with good can be gained by making observations, the tendency zeal and fidelity) two Masters. of which is to diminish the contidence of youth in its As Poetry is most just to its own divine origin when feelings, and thus to abridge its innocent and even pro- it administers the comforts and breathes the spirit of fitable pleasures ? The reproach implied in the question religion, they who have learned to perceive this truth, could not be warded off, if Youth were incapable of and who betake themselves to reading verse for sacred being delighted with what is truly excellent; or, if these purposes, must be preserved from numerous illusions errors always terminated of themselves in due season. 10 wliich the two Classes of Readers, whom we have Bar, with the majority, though their force be abated, been considering, are liable. But, as the mind grows thry continue through life. Moreover, the fire of youth serious from the weight of life, the range of its pasis too vivacious an element to be extinguished or damped sions is contracted accordingly; and its sympathies by a philosophical remark; and, while there is no dan- become so exclusive, that many species of high excelger that what has been said will be injurious or painful lence wholly escape, or but languidly excite, its notice. to the ardent and the confident, it may prove beneficial Besides, Men who read from religious or moral inclito those who, being enthusiastic, are, at the same time, nations, even when the subject is of that kind which Inodest and ingenuous. The intimation may unite with they approve, are beset with misconceptions and mistakes their own misgivings to regulate their sensibility, and to peculiar to themselves. Attaching so much importance bring in, sooner than it would otherwise have arrived, a to the truthis which interest them, they are prone to more discreet and sound judgment,

over-rate the Authors by whom these truths are exIf it stould excite wonder that men of ability, in pressed and enforced. They come prepared to impart bater life, whose understandings have been rendered so much passion to the Poct's language, that they reacute by practice in affairs, should be so easily and so main unconscious how little, in fact, they receive from

far imposed upon whico tbey happen to take up a new it. And, on the other hand, religious faith is to him | Work in verse, this appears to be the cause ;—that, who holds it so momentous a thing, and error appears

having discontinued their attention to poetry, whatever to be attended with such tremendous consequences, progress may have been made in other departments of that, if opinions touching upon religion occur which knowledge, they have not, as to this art, advanced the Reader condemns, he not only cannot sympathise un true discernment beyond the age of youth. If, then, with them, however animated the expression, but there a new poemn falls in their way, whose attractions are of is, for the most part, an end put to all satisfaction and that kind which would have coraptured them during enjoyment. Love, if it before existed, is converted the best of youth, the judgment pot being improved into dislike; and the heart of the Reader is set against to a degree that they shall be disgusted, they are dazzled; the Author and his book.–To these excesses, they, who and prize and cherish the faults for having had power from their professions ought to be the most guarded to make the present time vadish before them, and to against them, are perhaps the most liable; I mean thrus ibe muud back, as by cachantmeni, into the those sects whose religion, being from the calculating toappresi wacon of life. As they read, powers seem to understanding, is cold and formal. For when Christiahe resived, passions are regenerated, and pleasures nity, the religion of humility, is founded upon the restored. The book was probably taken up after an proudest faculty of our nature, what can be expected

gion itself.

but contradictions ? Accordingly, believers of this cast false principles; who, should they generalise rightly are at one time contemptuous; at another, being to a certain point, are sure to suffer for it in the end; troubled as they are and must be with inward mis

--who, if they stumble upon a sound rule, are feltered givings, they are jealous and suspicious;—and at all by misapplying it, or by straining it too far; being in seasons, they are under temptation to supply, by the capable of perceiving when it ought to yield to one of heat with which they defend their tenets, the anima- higher order. In it are found Critics too petulant to be tion which is wanting to the constitution of the reli- passive to a genuine Poel, and too feeble to grapple

with him; Men, who take upon them to report of the Faith was given to man that his affections, detached course which he holds whom they are ulterly unable from the treasures of time, might be inclined to settle to accompany, -confounded if he turn quick upon the upon those of eternity:—the elevation of his nature, wing, dismayed if he soar steadily « into the region ;s which this habit produces on earth, being to him a pre- - Men of palsied imaginations and indurated hearts; sumptive evidence of a future state of existence; and in whose minds all healthy action is languid, - who giving him a title to partake of its holiness. The religious therefore feed as the many direct them, or, with the man values what he sees chietly as an « imperfect many, are greedy after vicious provocatives ;--Judges, shadowing forth » of what he is incapable of seeing. whose censure is auspicious, and whose praise ominous ! The concerns of religion refer to indefinite objects, and in this class meet together the two extremes of best are too weighty for the mind to support them without and worst. relieving itself by resting a great part of the burthen The observations presented in the foregoing series are upon words and symbols. The commerce between of too ungracious a nature to have been made without Man and his Maker cannot be carried on but by a reluctance; and, were it only on this account, I would process where much is represented in little, and the invite the reader to try them by the test of comprehenInfinite Being accommodates himself to a finite capa- sive experience. If the number of Judges who can be city. In all this may be perceived the affinity between confidently relied upon be in reality so small, it ought religion and poetry;— between religion-making up the to follow that partial notice only, or neglect, perhaps deficiencies of reason by faith; and poetry-passionate long continued, or attention wholly inadequate to their for the instruction of reason; between religion-whose merits-must have been the fate of most works in the element is infinitude, and whose ultimate trust is the higher departments of poetry; and that, on the other supreme of things, submitting herself to circumscrip- hand, numerous productions have blazed into popution and reconciled to substitutions; and poetry, larity, and have passed away, leaving scarcely a trace ethereal and transcendent, yet incapable to sustain her behind them :-it will be further found, that when existence without sensuous incarnation. In this com- Authors have, at length, raised themselves into general munity of nature may be perceived also the lurking admiration and maintained their ground, errors and incitements of kindred error ;-so that we shall find prejudices bave prevailed concerning their genius and that no poetry has been more subject to distortion, their works, which the few who are conscious of those than that species, the argument and scope of which errors and prejudices would deplore; if they were not is religious; and no lovers of the art have gone farther recompensed by perceiving that there are select Spirits astray than the pious and the devout.

for whom it is ordained that their fame shall be in the Whither then shall we turn for that union of quali- world an existence like that of Virtue, which owes its fications which must necessarily exist before the deci- being to the struggles it makes, and its vigour to the sions of a critic cau be of absolute value? For a miod enemics whom it provokes ;-a vivacious quality, ever at once poetical and philosophical; for a critic whose doomed to meet with opposition, and still triumphing affections are as free and kindly as the spirit of society, over it; and, from the nature of its dominion, incapable and whose understanding is severe as that of dispassio- of being brought to the sad conclusion of Alexander, nate government? Where are we to look for that ini. when he wept that there were no more worlds for him tiatory composure of mind which no selfishness can

to conquer. disturb? For a natural sensibility that has been tutored Let us take a hasty retrospect of the poetical literainto correctness without losing any thing of its quick ture of this Country for the greater part of the last two ness; and for active faculties capable of answering the centuries, and see if the facts support these inferences. demands which an Author of original imagination shall Who is there that can now endure to read the «Creamake upon them,-associated with a judgment that tion » of Dubartas? Yet all Europe once resounded with cannot be duped into admiration by aught that is his praise; he was caressed by Kings; and, when bis unworily of it?-Among those and those only, who, Poem was translated into our language, the Faery Queen never having suffered their youthful love of poetry to faded before it. The name of Spenser, whose genius is remit much of its force, have applied to the considera- of a higher order than even that of Ariosto, is at this tion of the laws of this art the best power of their un day scarcely known beyond the limits of the British derstandings. At the same time it must be observed - Isles. And if the value of his works is to be estimated that, as this Class comprehends the only judgments from the attention now paid to them by his Country. which are trust-worthy, so does it include the most men, compared with that which they bestow on those erroneous and perverse. For to be mis-taught is worse of some other writers, it must be pronounced small inthan to be untaught; and no perverseness equals that deed. which is supported by system, no errors are so difficult to root out as those wbich the understanding has pledged

The laurel meed of mighty Conquerors

And Poets sageits credit to uphold. In this Class are contained Consors, who, if they be pleased with what is good, are are his own words; but his wisdom has, in this particupleased with it only by imperfect glimpses, and upon lar, been his worst enemy; while its opposite, whether

in the shape of folly or madness; has been their best might say, an established opinion, that Shakspeare is friend. But he was a great power; and bears a high justly praised when he is pronounced to be « a wild name: the laurel has been awarded to him.

irregular genius, in whom great faults are compensated A Dramatic Author, if he write for the Stage, must by great beauties,» How long may it be before this adapt himself to the taste of the Audience, or they will misconception passes away, and it becomes universally Dot endure him; accordingly the mighty genius of Shak- acknowledged that the judgment of Shakspeare in the speare was listened to. The people were delighted; but selection of his materials, and in the manner in which I am not sufficieotly versed in Suage antiquities to de- he has made them, lieterogeneous as they often are, termine whether they did not flock as eagerly to the reconstitute a unity of their own, and contribute all to presentation of many pieces of contemporary Authors, one great end, is not less admirable than his imaginawholly undeserving to appear upon the same boards. tion, bis invention, and his intuitive knowledge of Had there been a formal contest for superiority among human Nature ! dramatic Writers, that Sbakspeare, like his predecessors There is extant a small Volume of miscellaneous Sophocles and Euripides, would have often been subject Poems in which Shakspeare expresses his own feelings to the mortitication of seeing the prize adjudged to sorry in his own Person. It is not difficult to conceive that competitors, becomes too probable, when we rellect that the Editor, George Steevens, should have been insenthe admirers of Settle and Shadwell were, in a later age, sible to the beauties of one portion of that Volume, s numerous, and reckoned as respectable in point of the Soonets; though there is not a part of the writings talent, as those of Dryden. At all events, that Shakspeare of this Poet where is found, in an equal compass, a stooped to accommodate himself to the People, is sufi- greater number of exquisite feelings felicitously excicatly apparent; and one of the most striking proofs pressed. But, from regard to the Critic's own credit, hc of his almost omnipotent genius, is, that he could turn would not liave ventured to talk of an act of parto suchi glorious purpose those materials which the pre- liament not being strong enough to compel the perusal possessions of the age compelled him to make use of. of these, or any production of Shakspeare, if he had Yet even this marvellous skill appears not to have been not known that the people of England were ignorant of enough to prevent his rivals from having some advan- the treasures contained in those little pieces, and if he lage over bim in public estimatiou; else bow can we had not, moreover, shared the too common propensity account for passages and scenes that exist in his works, of human nature to exult over a supposed fall into the uuless upou a supposition that some of the grossest of mire of a genius whom he had been compelled to reibem, a fact which in my own mind I have no doubt of, card with admiration, as an inmate of the celestial were foisted in by the Players, for the gratification of regions, —« there sitting where hie durst not soar.» the many?

Nine years before the death of Shakspeare, Milton But that his Works, whatever might be their recep- was born; and early in life lie published several small tion on the stage, made liale impression upon the ruling poems, which, though on their first appearance they Intellects of the time, may be inferred from the fact that were praised by a few of the judicious, were afterwards Lord Bacon, in his multifarious writings, nowhere either neglected to that degree, that Pope, in his youth, could quotes or alludes to him.'- llis dramatic excellence pilfer from them without danger of detection.enabled him to resume possession of the stage after the whether these poems are at this day justly appreciated Restoration; but Dryden tells us that in his time two of I will not undertake to decide : nor would it imply a the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher were acted for severe reflection upon the mass of Readers to suppose one of Shakspeare. And so faint and limited was the the contrary, seeing that a Man of the acknowledged perception of the poetic beauties of his dramas in the genius of Voss, the German Poel, could suffer their time of Pope, that, in his Edition of the Plays, with a spirit to evaporate; and could change their character, view of rendering to the general Reader a necessary ser- as is done in the translation made by him of the most vice, de printed between inverted commas those pas- popular of those pieces. At all events, it is certain that kages which he thought most worthy of notice. these Poems of Miltou are now much read, and loudly

At this day, the French Critics have abated nothing praised; yet were they little heard of till more than 150 of their aversion to this darling of our Nation : « the years after their publication; and of the Sonnets, Dr Eoclisl, with their Buffon de Shakspeare,» is as familiar Johnson, as appears from Boswell's Life of him, was in an expression among them as in the time of Voltaire. the habit of thinking and speaking as contemptuously Baron Grimm is the only French writer who seems to as Steevens wrote upou those of Shakspeare. have perceived his infinite superiority to the first names About the time when the Piodaric Odes of Cowley

of the French Theatre; an advantage which the Parisian and his imitators, and the productions of that class of | Critic owed to bis Germap blood and German educa- | curious thinkers whom Dr Johnson has strangely styled

tion. The most enlightened Italians, thouglı well ac- Metaphysical Poets, were beginning to lose something quainted with our language, are wholly incompetent to of that extravagant admiration which they liad excited, ineasure the proportions of Shakspeare. The Germans 'the Paradise Lost made its appearance, « Fit audience only, of foreign nations, arc approaching towards a find though few,» was the petition addressed by the knowledge and feeling of what lic is. In some respects Poet to his inspiring Muse. I have said elsewhere that they have acquired a superiority over the fellow-couo-, lie gained more than he asked; this I believe to be true; trymen of the Poet: for among us it is a current, I

• This Hippant insensibility was poblicly reprehended by Mr * The learned Hahewill (a third edition of whose book bears date Coleridge in a course of Lectures upon Po try given ly him at the 1655 erining to refuse the error . touching Naturs's perpetual mod Royal Institution. for the various merits of thou;ht and lan ,uage universal day.. rites triu ropliadly the names of Ariosto, Tasso, io Shabspeare's Soppets sec.Numbers 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 54, 64, 66, Bents, and Spencer, as instance that poetic genius bad not dege-68, 73, 76, 86, 91, 92, 93, 97, 98, 105, 107, 108, 109, 112, 113, 114, as, brot he makes go mention of Shakespeare.

116, 117, 129, and many others.

Man;

but Dr Jolinson has fallen into a cross mistake when ohject to form the character and direct the studies of be attempts to prove, by the sale of the work, that his Son. Perhaps nowhere does a more beautiful Milton's Countrymen were « just to it» upon its first treatise of the kind exist. The good sense and wisdom appearance. Thirteen hundred Copies were sold in two of the thoughts, the delicacy of the feelings, and the years; an uncommon example, he asserts, of the pre- charm of the style, are, throughout, equally conspicuous. valence of genius in opposition to so much recent en Yet the Author, selecting among the Poets of his own mity as Milton's public conduct liad excited. But, be Country those whom he deems most worthy of his son's it remembered that, if Milton's political and religious perusal, particularises only Lord Rochester, Sir Jolin opinions, and the manner in which he announced them, Denham, and Cowley. Writing about the same time, had raised him many enemies, they had procured him Shaftesbury, an Author at present unjustly depreciated, numerous friends; who, as all personal danger was

describes the English Muses as only yet lisping in their

Cradles. passed away at the time of publication, would be eager to procure the master-work of a Man whom they The arts by which Pope, soon afterwards, contrived revered, and whom they would be proud of praising to procure to bimself a more general and a higher reThe demand did not immediately increase ; « for,» says putation than perhaps any English Poet ever attained Dr Jolinson, « many more Readers» (he means Persons during his life-time, are known to the judicious. And in the habit of reading poetry) « than were supplied at

as well known is it to them, that the undue exertion of first the Nation did not afford.» How careless must a these arts is the cause why Pope has for some time held writer be who can make this assertion in the face of so a rank in literature, to which, if he had not been semany existing title-pages to belie it! Turning to my

duced by an over-love of immediate popularity, and own shelves, I find the folio of Cowley, 7th Edition, 1681. had confided more in his native genius, he never could A book near it is Flalman's Poems, 4th Edition, 1686. have descended. He bewitched the nation by his meWaller, 5th Edition, same date. The Poems of Norris lody, and dazzled it by his polished style, and was himof Bemerton not long after went, I believe, through self blinded by his own success. Having wandered from nine Editions. What further demand there might be humanity in his Eclogues with boyish inexperience, for these works I do not know, but I well remember, the praise, which these compositions obtained, tempted that 25 years ago, the Booksellers' stalls in London him into a belief that Nature was not to be trusted, at swarmed with the folios of Cowley. This is not men

least in pastoral Poetry. To prove this hy example, be tioned in disparagement of that able writer and amiable put his friend Gay upon writing those Eclogues which but merely to shew-that, if Milton's work was

the Author intended to be burlesque. The Instigator not more read, it was not because readers did not exist of the work, and his Admirers, could perceive in them at the time. The early Editions of the Paradise Lost nothing but what was ridiculous. Nevertheless, though were printed in a shape which allowed them to be sold these Poems contain some detestable passages, the effect, at a low price, yet only 3000 copies of the Work were as Dr Johnson well observes, «of reality and truth sold in 11 years; and the Nation, says Dr Jolinson, had became conspicuous even when the intention was to been satisfied from 1623 to 1644, that is 41 years, with shew them groveling and degraded. These Pastorals, only two Editions of the Works of Shakspeare; which ludicrous to those who prided themselves upon their probably did not together make 1000 Copies; facts refinement, in spite of those disgusting passages, « beadduced by the critic to prove the « paucity of Readers. » came popular, and were read with delight, as just re

- There were Readers in multitudes; but their money presentations of rural manners and occupations.» went for other purposes, as their admiration was fixed Something less than 60 years after the publication of clsewhere. We are authorized, then, to affirm, that the Paradise Lost appeared Thomson's Winter; which the reception of the Paradise Lost, and the slow progress

was speedily followed by his other Seasons. It is a work of its fame, are proofs as striking as can be desired that of inspiration; much of it is written from himself, and the positions which I am attempting to establish are nobly from himself. How was it received ? not erroneous.'—How amusing to shape to one's self no sooner read,» says one of his contemporary Biograsuch a critique as a Wit of Charles's days, or a Lord of pliers, «than universally admired: those only excepted the Miscellanies or trading Journalist of King William's who had not been used to feel, or to look for anything time, would have brought forth, if he had set liis fa- in poetry, beyond a point of satirical or epigrammatic culties industriously to work upon this Poem, every wit, a smart antithesis richly trimmed with rhyme, or where impregnated with original excellence!

the softness of an elegiac complaint. To such his So strange indeed are the obliquities of admiration, manly classical spirit could not readily commend itself; that they whose opinions are much influenced by au- till

, after a more attentive perusal, they had got the thority will often be tempted to think that there are no belter of their prejudices, and either acquired or affixed principles ? in hunian nature for this art to rest fected a truer taste. A few others stood aloof, merely upon. I bave been honoured by being permitted to because they had long before fixed the articles of their peruse in MS. a tract composed between the period of poetical creed, and resigned themselves to an absolute the Revolution and the close of that Century. It is the despair of ever seeing any thing new and original. Work of an English Peer of high accomplishments, its These were somewhat mortified to find their notions

disturbed by the appearance of a poet, who seemed to • Hughes is express upon this subject : in his dedication of Spen- owe nothing but to nature and his own genius. But, ber's Works to Lord Somers, he writes thus. It was your Lordship's in a short time, the applause became unanimous; every encouraging a beautiful Edition of Paradise Lost that first brought that incomparable Poem to be generally known and esteemed.,

one wondering low so many pictures, and pictures so * This opinion seems actualls to have been entertained by Adam familiar, should bave moved them but faintly to what Smith, the worst critic, David Hume not excepted, that Scotland, a they felt in his descriptions. His digressions too, the soil to which this sort of weed seems natural, has produced. overflowings of a tender benevolent heart, charmed the

«It was

« AnteriorContinuar »