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And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart. Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice; & lodísti Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear a lavin cat Thy voice-my own affrights me with its echoes.or He who reads these lines enjoys for a moment the powers of a poet; he infeels what he remembers to have felt before; but he feels it with great i crease of sensibility; he recognises a familiar image, but meets it again amplified and expanded, embellished with beauty, and enlarged with majesty. Yet could the author, who appears here to have enjoyed the confidence of Nature, lament the death of Queen Mary in lines like these:
The rocks are cleft, and new-descending rillsgrond Furrow the brows of all th' impending hills, udvist data The water-gods to floods their rivulets turn, bloemsi oli d orter of And each, with streaming eyes, supplies his wanting urn. The fauns forsake the woods, the nymphs the grove, tot obo ald And round the plain in sad distractions rove:
In prickly brakes their tender limbs they tear,
vhun buur plus Lo Pan himself, beneath a blasted oak,
Dejected lies, his pipe in pieces broke.
enison vilog The Queen of Love, all bathed in flowing tears;
See how she wrings her hands, and beats her breast, obiceiom
And, many years after, he gave no proof that time had improved his wisdom
The water-nymphs, who motionless remain'd,
Rehmen pinze Like images of ice, while she complain'd,
Now loosed their streams; as when descending rainsoorten valutor
ad tot vludil se Roll the steep torrents headlong o'er the plains.
to romano Nothing but groans and sighs were heard around, Jasa si mùi ca pforte daril ei And echo multiplied each mournful sound.
In both these funeral poems, when he has yelled out many syllables of senseless dolour, he dismisses his reader with senseless consolation: from the grave of Pastora rises a light that forms a star; and where Amaryllis wept for Amyntas, from every tear sprung up a violet. But William is his hero, and of William he will sing :
The hovering winds on downy wings shall wait around,
It cannot but he proper to show what they shall have to catch and carry :
'Twas now, when flowery lawns the e prospect m And flowing brooks beneath a forest shade,
A lowing heifer, loveliest of the herd,
Stood feeding by; while two fierce bulls prepared
Unthought presage of what met next my vie
And now, for woods, and fields, and springing flowers,
Behold a town arise, bulwark'd with walls and lofty towers;
Two rival armies all the plain o'erspread,
Each in battalia ranged, and shining arms array'd;
With eager eyes beholding both from far,
Namur, the prize and mistress of the war.
The Birth of the Muse is a miserable fiction. One good line it has, which
The father, now, within his spacious hands,
He launch'd the world to float in ambient air. new de
Of his irregular poems, that to Mrs. Arabella Hunt seems to be the best; his ode for St. Cecilia's Day, however, has some lines which Pope had in his mind when he wrote his own. His imitations of Horace are feebly paraphrastical, and the additions which he makes are of little value. He sometimes retains what were more properly omitted, as when he talks of vervain and gums to propitiate Venus.
Of his Translations, the satire of Juvenal was written very early, and may therefore be forgiven, though it had not the massiness and vigour of the original. In all his versions strength and sprightliness are wanting: his Hymn to Venus, from Homer, is perhaps the best.. His lines are weakened with expletives, and his rhymes are frequently imperfect. His petty poems are seldom worth the cost of criticism; sometimes the thoughts are false, and sometimes common. In his verses on Lady Gethin, the latter part is in imitation of Dryden's ode on Mrs. Killigrew; and Doris, that has been so lavishly flattered by Steele, has indeed some lively stanzas, but the expression might be mended; and the most striking part of the character had been already shown in Love for Love. His Art of Pleasing is founded on a vulgar, but perhaps impracticable principle, and the staleness of the sense is not concealed by any novelty of illustration or elegance of diction. This tissue of poetry, from which he seems to have hoped a lasting name, is totally neglected and known only as it is appended to his plays.
While comedy or while tragedy is regarded, his plays are likely to be read; but, except what relates to the stage, I know not that he has ever written a stanza that is sung, or a couplet that is quoted. The general character of his Miscellanies is, that they show little wit, and little virtue. Yet to him it must be confessed, that we are indebted for the correction of a national error, and for the cure of our Pindaric madness. He first taught the English writers that Pindar's odes were regular; and though certainly he had not the fire requisite for the higher species of lyric poetry, he has shown us, that enthusiasm has its rules, and that in mere confusion there is neither grace nor greatness.
IR RICHARD BLACKMORE is one of those men whose writings have attracted much notice, but of whose life and manners very little has been communicated, and whose lot it has been to be much oftener mentioned by enemies than by friends. He was the son of Robert Blackmore, of Corsham in Wiltshire, styled by Wood Gentleman, and supposed to have been an attorney; having been for sometime educated in a country-school, he was sent at thirteen to West
minster; and in 1668 was entered at Edmund Hall in Oxford, where he took the degree of M.A. June 3, 1676, and resided thirteen years; a much longer time than is usual to spend at the university; and which he seems to have passed with very little attention to the business of the place; for, in his poems, the ancient names of nations or places, which he often introduces, are pronounced by chance. He afterwards travelled: at Padua he was made doctor of physic; and, after having wandered about a year and a half on the Continent, returned home.
In some part of his life, it is not known when, his indigence compelled him to teach a school, an humiliation with which, though it certainly lasted but a little while, his enemies did not forget to reproach him, when he became conspicuous enough to excite malevolence; and let it be remembered for his honour, that to have been once a schoolmaster is the only reproach which all the perspicacity of malice, animated by wit, has ever fixed upon his private life.
When he first engaged in the study of physic, he inquired, as he says, of Dr. Sydenham, what authors he should read, and was directed by Sydenham to Don Quixote; which," said he, is a very good book; I read it still." The perverseness of mankind makes it often mischievous in men of eminence to give way to merriment; the idle and the illiterate will long shelter themselves under this foolish apophthegm. Whether he rested satisfied with this direction, or sought for better, he commenced physician, and obtained high eminence and extensive practice. He became Fellow of the College of Physicians, April 12, 1687, being one of the thirty which, by the new charter of King James, were added to the former Fellows. His residence was in Cheapside, and his friends were chiefly in the city. In the early part of Blackmore's time, a citizen was a term of reproach; and his place of abode was another topic, to which his adversaries had recourse, in the penury of scandal.
Blackmore, therefore, was made a poet not by necessity but inclination, and wrote not for a livelihood but for fame; or, if he may tell his own motives, for a nobler purpose, to engage poetry in the cause of virtue.
I believe it is peculiar to him, that his first public work was an heroic poem. He was not known as a maker of verses till he published (in 1695) "Prince Arthur," in ten books, written, as he relates, "by such catches and starts, and in such occasional uncertain hours as his profession afforded, and for the greatest part in coffee-houses, or in passing up and down the streets. For the latter part of this apology he was accused of writing "to the rumbling of his chariot wheels.' He had read, he says, "but little poetry throughout his whole life; and for fifteen years before had not written an hundred verses, except one copy of Latin verses in praise of a friend's book." He thinks, and with some reason, that from such a performance perfection cannot be expected; but he finds another reason for the severity of his censurers, which he expresses in language such as Cheapside easily furnished. "I am not free of the Poets' Company, having never kissed the governor's hands mine is therefore not so much as a permission poem, but a downright interloper. Those gentlemen, who carry on their poetical trade in a joint stock, would certainly do what they could to sink and ruin an unlicensed adventurer, notwithstanding I disturbed none of their factories, nor imported any goods they have ever dealt in." He had lived in the city till he had learned its note..
That"Prince Arthur" found many readers is certain; for in two years it had three editions; a very uncommon instance of favourable reception, at a time when literary curiosity was yet confined to particular classes of the
* At Saddlers' Hall.
nation. Such success naturally raised animosity; and Dennis attacked it by a formal criticism, more tedious and disgusting than the work which he condemns. To this censure may be opposed the approbation of Locke, and the admiration of Molyneux, which are found in their printed Letters. Molyneux is particularly delighted with the song of Mopas, which is therefore subjoined to this narrative.
It is remarked by Pope, that "what raises the hero, often sinks the man.' Of Blackmore it may be said, that, as the poet sinks, the man rises; the animadversions of Dennis, insolent and contemptuous as they were, raised in him no implacable resentment; he and his critic were afterwards friends; and in one of his latter works he praises Dennis "as equal to Boileau in poetry, and superior to him in critical abilities." He seems to have been more delighted with praise than pained by censure, and instead of slackening, quickened his career. Having in two years produced ten books of Prince Arthur," in two years more (1697) he sent into the world "King Arthur" in twelve. The provocation was now doubled, and the resentment of wits and critics may be supposed to have increased in proportion. He found, however, advantages more than equivalent to all their outrages; he was this year made one of the physicians in ordinary to King William, and advanced by him to the honour of knighthood, with the present of a gold chain and medal. The malignity of the wits attributed his knighthood to his new poem; but King William was not very studious of poetry; and Blackmore perhaps had other merit, for he says in his dedication to Alfred, that "he had a greater part in the succession of the house of Hanover than ever he had boasted.'
What Blackmore could contribute to the Succession, or what he imagined himself to have contributed, cannot now be known. That he had been of considerable use, I doubt not but he believed, for I hold him to have been very honest; but he might easily make a false estimate of his own importance: those whom their virtue restrains from deceiving others, are often disposed by their vanity to deceive themselves. Whether he promoted the Succession or not, he at least approved it, and adhered invariably to his principles and party through his whole life.
His ardour of poetry still continued; and not long after (1700) he published a " Paraphrase on the Book of Job, and other parts of the Scripture." This performance Dryden, who pursued him with great malignity, lived long enough to ridicule in a Prologue.
The wits easily confederated against him, as Dryden, whose favour they almost all courted, was his professed adversary. He had besides given them reason for resentment, as, in his preface to "Prince Arthur," he had said of the dramatic writers almost all that was alleged afterwards by Collier; but Blackmore's censure was cold and general, Collier's was personal and ardent; Blackmore taught his reader to dislike what Collier incited him to abhor.
In his preface to "King Arthur" he endeavoured to gain at least one friend, and propitiated Congreve by higher praise of his Mourning Bride than it has obtained from any other critic.
The same year he published a "Satire on Wit;" a proclamation of defiance which united the poets almost all against him, and which brought upon him lampoons and ridicule from every side. This he doubtless foresaw, and evidently despised; nor should his dignity of mind be without its praise, had he not paid the homage to greatness which he denied to genius, and degraded himself by conferring that authority over the national taste, which he takes from the poets, upon men of high rank and wide influence, but of less wit and not greater virtue.
Here is again discovered the inhabitant of Cheapside, whose head cannot keep his poetry unmingled with trade. To hinder that intellectual bankruptcy which he affects to fear, he will erect a Bank for Wit. In this poem he justly censured Dryden's impurities, but praised his powers, though in a subsequent edition he retained the satire, and omitted the praise. What was his reason, I know not; Dryden was then no longer in his way. His head still teemed with heroic poetry; and (1705) he published Eliza," in ten books. I am afraid that the world was now weary of contending about Blackmore's heroes; for I do not remember that by any author, serious or comical, I have found "Eliza" either praised or blamed. She "dropped," as it seems, "dead-born from the press." It is never mentioned, and was never seen by me till I borrowed it for the present occasion. Jacob says, "it is corrected and revised from another impression;" but the labour of revision was thrown away.
From this time he turned some of his thoughts to the celebration of living characters; and wrote a poem on the Kit-cat Club, and Advice to the Poets how to celebrate the Duke of Marlborough; but on occasion of another year of success, thinking himself qualified to give more instruction, he again wrote a poem of "Advice to a Weaver of Tapestry.' Steele was then publishing the Tatler; and, looking round him for something at which he might laugh, unluckily alighted on Sir Richard's work, and treated it with such contempt, that, as Fenton observes, he put an end to that species of writers that gave advice to Painters.
Not long after (1712) he published Creation,' a philosophical poem, which has been, by my recommendation, inserted in the late collection. Whoever judges of this by any other of Blackmore's performances, will do it injury. The praise given it by Addison (Spec. 339) is too well known to be transcribed; but some notice is due to the testimony of Dennis, who calls it a "philosophical poem, which has equalled that of Lucretius in the beauty of its versification, and infinitely surpassed it in the solidity and strength of its reasoning."
Why an author surpasses himself, it is natural to inquire. I have heard from Mr. Draper, an eminent bookseller, an account received by him from Ambrose Philips. "That Blackmore, as he proceeded in this poem, laid his manuscript from time to time before a club of wits with whom he associated ; and that every man contributed, as he could, either improvement or correction; so that," said Philips, "there are perhaps nowhere in the book thirty lines together that now stand as they were originally written.”
The relation of Philips, I suppose, was true; but when all reasonable, all credible allowance is made for this friendly revision, the author will still retain an ample dividend of praise; for to him must always be assigned the plan of the work, the distribution of its parts, the choice of topics, the train of argument, and, what is yet more, the general predominance of philosophical judgment and poetical spirit. Correction seldom effects more than the suppression of faults: a happy line, or a single elegance, may perhaps be added; but of a large work the general character must always remain; the original constitution can be very little helped by local remedies ; inherent and radical dulness will never be much invigorated by extrinsic animation. This poem, if he had written nothing else, would have transmitted him to posterity among the first favourites of the English Muse; but to make verses was his transcendent pleasure, and, as he was not deterred by censure, he was not satiated with praise. He deviated, however, sometimes into other tracks of literature, and condescended to entertain his readers with plain prose. When the Spectator stopped, he considered the polite world as destitute of entertainment; and, in concert with Mr. Hughes, who wrote