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blacksmith might have done for Patty what is performed by Vulcan. The appearance of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous; a shoe-boy could have been produced by the casual cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is broken in both cases; there is no dignus vindice nodus, no difficulty that required any supernatural interposition. A patten may be made by the hammer of a mortal; and a bastard may be dropped by a human strumpet. On great occasions, and on small, the mind is repelled by useless and apparent falsehood.
Of his little poems the public judgment seems to be right; they are neither much esteemed, nor totally despised. The story of the Apparition is borrowed from one of the tales of Poggio. Those that please least are the pieces to which Gulliver gave occasion; for who can much delight in the echo of an unnatural fiction?
Dione is a counterpart to Amynta, and Pastor Fido, and other trifles of the same kind, easily imitated, and unworthy of imitation. What the Italians call comedies from a happy conclusion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful event; but the style of the Italians and of Gay is equally tragical. There is something in the poetical Arcadia so remote from known reality and speculative possibility, that we can never support its representation through a long work. A pastoral of an hundred lines may be endured; but who will hear of sheep and goats, and myrtle bowers and purling rivulets, through five acts? Such scenes please barbarians in the dawn of literature, and children in the dawn of life; but will be for the most part thrown away as men grow wise, and nations grow learned.
F George Granville, or, as others write, Greenville, or Grenville, afterwards Lord Lansdowne, of Bideford, in the county of Devon, less is known than his name and high rank might give reason to expect. He was born about 1665, the son of Bernard Greenville, who was intrusted by Monk with the most private transactions of the Restoration, and the grandson of Sir Bevil Greenville, who died in the king's cause, at the battle of Lansdowne. His early education was superintended by Sir William Ellis, and his progress was such, that before the age of twelve he was sent to Cambridge,* where he pronounced a copy of his own verses to the Princess Mary d'Este of Modena, then Duchess of York, when she visited the university.
At the accession of King James, being now eighteen, he again exerted his poetical powers, and addressed the new monarch in three short pieces, of which the first is profane, and the two others such as a boy might be expected to produce; but he was commended by old Waller, who perhaps was pleased to find himself imitated in six lines, which, though they begin with nonsense and end with dulness, excited in the young author a rapture of acknowledgment,
In numbers such as Waller's self might use.
It was probably about this time that he wrote the poein to the Earl of Peterborough, upon his accomplishment of the Duke of York's marriage with the Princess of Modena, whose charms appear to have gained a strong prevalence over his imagination, and upon whom nothing ever has been *To Trinity College. By the university register it appears that he was admitted to his Master's degree in 1679: we must, therefore, set the year of his birth some years back,
charged but inprudent piety, an intemperate and misguided zeal for the propagation of Popery. However faithful Granville might have been to the king, or however enamoured of the queen, he has left no reason for supposing that he approved either the artifices or the violence with which the king's religion was insinuated or obtruded. He endeavoured to be true at once to the king and to the Church. Of this regulated loyalty he has transmitted to posterity a sufficient proof, in the letter which he wrote to his father about a month before the Prince of Orange landed.
"Mar, near Doncaster, Oct. 6, 1688.
"To the Honourable Mr. Barnard Granville, at the Earl of Bathe's,
"SIR,--Your having no prospect of obtaining a commission for me, can no way alter or cool my desire at this important juncture to venture my life, in some manner or other, for my king and country.
"I cannot bear living under the reproach of lying obscure and idle in a country retirement, when every man who has the least sense of honour should be preparing for the field.
"You may remember, sir, with what reluctance I submitted to your commands upon Monmouth's rebellion, when no importunity could prevail with you to permit me to leave the academy: I was too young to be hazarded; but, give me leave to say, it is glorious at any age to die for one's country, and the sooner the nobler the sacrifice.
"I am now older by three years. My uncle Bathe was not so old when he was left among the slain at the battle of Newbury; nor you yourself, sir, when you made your escape from your tutor's, to join your brother at the defence of Scilly.
"The same cause has now come round about again. The king has been misled; let those who have misled him be answerable for it. Nobody can deny but he is sacred in his own person; and it is every honest man's duty to defend it.
"You are pleased to say, it is yet doubtful if the Hollanders are rash enough to make such an attempt; but, be that as it will, I beg leave to insist upon it, that I may be presented to his majesty, as one whose utmost ambition is to devote his life to his service, and my country's, after the example of all my ancestors.
"The gentry assembled at York, to agree upon the choice of representatives for the county, have prepared an address to assure his Majesty they are ready to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for him upon this and all other occasions; but at the same time they humbly beseech him to give them such magistrates as may be agreeable to the laws of the land; for, at present, there is no authority to which they can legally submit.
They have been beating up for volunteers at York, and the towns adjacent, to supply the regiments at Hull; but nobody will list. By what I can hear, everybody wishes well to the king; but they would be glad his ministers were hanged.
"The winds continue so contrary, that no landing can be so soon as was apprehended; therefore I may hope, with your leave and assistance, to be in readiness before any action can begin. I beseech you, Sir, most humbly and most earnestly, to add this one act of indulgence more to so many other testimonies which I have constantly received of your goodness; and be pleased to believe me always, with the utmost duty and submission, Sir,
"Your most dutiful son,
And most obedient servant,
Through the whole reign of King William he is supposed to have lived in literary retirement, and indeed had for some time few other pleasures but those of study in his power. He was, as the biographers observe, the younger son of a younger brother; a denomination by which our ancestors proverbially expressed the lowest state of penury and dependence. He is said, however, to have preserved himself at this time from disgrace and difficulties by economy, which he forgot or neglected in life more advanced, and in better fortune.
About this time he became enamoured of the Countess of Newburgh, whom he has celebrated with so much ardour by the name of Mira. He wrote verses to her before he was three-and-twenty, and may be forgiven if he regarded the face more than the mind. Poets are sometimes in too much haste to praise.
In the time of his retirement it is probable that he composed his dramatic pieces; the "She-Gallants" (acted 1696), which he revised and called Once a Lover, and always a Lover;" the "Jew of Venice," altered from Shakspeare's "Merchant of Venice" (1698); "Heroic Love," a tragedy (1701); "The British Enchanters" (1706), a dramatic poem; and "Peleus and Thetis," a masque, written to accompany the "Jew of Venice."
The comedies, which he has not printed in his own editions of his works, I never saw; "Once a Lover, and always a Lover," is said to be in a great degree indecent and gross. Granville could not admire without bigotry; he copied the wrong as well as the right from his masters, and may be supposed to have learned obscenity from Wycherley, as he learned mythology from Waller.
In his "Jew of Venice," as Rowe remarks, the character of Shylock is made comic, and we are prompted to laughter instead of detestation. It is evident that "Heroic Love" was written, and presented on the stage, before the death of Dryden. It is a mythological tragedy, upon the love of Agamemnon and Chryseis, and therefore easily sunk into neglect, though praised in verse by Dryden, and in prose by Pope. It is concluded by the wise Ulysses with this speech :
Fate holds the strings, and men, like children, move
But as they're led; success is from above.
At the accession of Queen Anne, having his fortune improved by bequests from his father, and his uncle the Earl of Bath, he was chosen in parliament for Fowey. He soon after engaged in a joint translation of the Invectives against Philip, with a design, surely weak and puerile, of turning the thunder of Demosthenes upon the head of Lewis. He afterwards (in 1706) had his estate again augmented by an inheritance from his elder brother, Sir Bevil Granville, who, as he returned from the government of Barbadoes, died at sea. He continued to serve in parliament; and in the ninth year of Queen Anne was chosen knight of the shire for Cornwall. At the memorable change of the ministry (1710) he was made secretary of war in the place of Mr. Robert Walpole.
Next year, when the violence of party made twelve peers in a day, Mr. Granville became Lord Lansdown, Baron Bideford, by a promotion justly remarked to be not invidious, because he was the heir of a family in which two peerages, that of the Earl of Bath and Lord Granville of Potheridge, had lately become extinct. Being now in the Queen's favour, he (1712) was appointed comptroller of the household, and a privy counsellor; and to his other honours was added the dedication of Pope's Windsor Forest." He was advanced next year to be treasurer of the household.
Of these favours he soon lost all but his title; for at the accession of King George his place was given to the Earl of Cholmondeley, and he was per
secuted with the rest of his party. Having protested against the bill for attainting Ormond and Bolingbroke, he was, after the insurrection in Scotland, seized September 26, 1715, as a suspected man, and confined in the Tower till February 8, 1717, when he was at last released, and restored to his seat in parliament; where (1719) he made a very ardent and animated speech against the repeal of the Bill to prevent Occasional Conformity, which, however, though it was then printed, he has not inserted into his works.
Some time afterwards (about 1722), being perhaps embarrassed by his profusion, he went into foreign countries, with the usual pretence of recovering his health. In this state of leisure and retirement, he received the first volume of Burnet's History, of which he cannot be supposed to have approved the general tendency, and where he thought himself able to detect some particular falsehoods. He therefore undertook the vindication of General Monk from some calumnies of Dr. Burnet, and some misrepresentations of Mr. Echard. This was answered civilly by Mr. Thomas Burnet and Oldmixon; and more roughly by Dr. Colbatch.
His other historical performance is a defence of his relation Sir Richard Greenville, whom Lord Clarendon had shown in a form very unamiable. So much is urged in this apology to justify many actions that have been represented as culpable, and to palliate the rest, that the reader is reconciled! for the greater part; and it is made very probable that Clarendon was by personal enmity disposed to think the worst of Greenville, as Greenville was also very willing to think the worst of Clarendon. These pieces were published at his return to England.
Being now desirous to conclude his labours, and enjoy his reputation, he published (1732) a very beautiful and splendid edition of his works, in which he omitted what he disapproved, and enlarged what seemed deficient. He now went to Court, and was kindly received by Queen Caroline; to whom and to the Princess Anne he presented his works, with verses on the blank leaves, with which he concluded his poetical labours. He died in Hanoversquare, January 30, 1735, having a few days before buried his wife, the Lady Anne Villiers, widow to Mr. Thynne, by whom he had four daughters, but no son.
Writers commonly derive their reputation from their works; but there are works which owe their reputation to the character of the writer. The public sometimes has its favourites, whom it rewards for one species of excellence with the honours due to another. From him whom we reverence for his beneficence we do not willingly withhold the praise of genius; a man of exalted merit becomes at once an accomplished writer, as a beauty finds no great difficulty in passing for a wit.
Granville was a man illustrious by his birth, and therefore attracted notice; since he is by Pope styled "the polite," he must be supposed elegant in his manners, and generally loved; he was in times of contest and turbulence steady to his party, and obtained that esteem which is always conferred upon firmness and consistency. With those advantages, having learned the art of versifying, he declared himself a poet; and his claim to the laurel was allowed. But by a critic of a later generation, who takes up his book without any favourable prejudices, the praise already received will be thought sufficient; for his works do not show him to have had much comprehension from nature, or illumination from learning. He seems to have had no ambition above the imitation of Waller, of whom he has copied the faults, and very little more. He is for ever amusing himself with the puerilities of mythology; his King is Jupiter, who, if the Queen brings no children, has a barren Juno. The Queen is compounded of Juno, Venus, and Minerva.
His poem on the Duchess of Grafton's lawsuit, after having rattled awhile with Juno and Pallas, Mars and Alcides, Cassiope, Niobe, and the Propetides, Hercules, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, at last concludes its folly with profaneness. Emb
His verses to Mira, which are most frequently mentioned, have little in them of either art or nature, of the sentiments of a lover or the language of a poet there may be found, now and then, a happier effort; but they are commonly feeble and unaffecting, or forced and extravagant. His little pieces are seldom either sprightly or elegant, either keen or weighty. They are trifles written by idleness, and published by vanity. But his prologues and epilogues have a just claim to praise.
The Progress of Beauty seems one of his most elaborate pieces, and is not deficient in splendour and gaiety; but the merit of original thought is wanting. Its highest praise is the spirit with which he celebrates King James's consort, when she was a queen no longer.
The Essay on unnatural Flights in Poetry is not inelegant or injudicious, and has something of vigour beyond most of his other performances: his precepts are just, and his cautions proper; they are indeed not new, but in a didactic poem novelty is to be expected only in the ornaments and illustrations. His poetical precepts are accompanied with agreeable and instructive notes.
The Masque of Peleus and Thetis has here and there a pretty line; but it is not always melodious, and the conclusion is wretched.
In his British Enchanters he has bidden defiance to all chronology, by confounding the inconsistent manners of different ages; but the dialogue has often the air of Dryden's rhyming plays; and his songs are lively, though not very correct. This is, I think, far the best of his works; for, if it has many faults, it has likewise passages which are at least pretty, though they do not rise to any high degree excellence.
HOMAS YALDEN, the sixth son of Mr. John Yalden, of Sussex, was born in the city of Exeter, in 1671. Having been educated in the grammar-school belonging to Magdalen College in Oxford, he was in 1690, at the age of nineteen, admitted commoner of Magdalen Hall, under the tuition of Josiah Pullen, a man whose name is still remembered in the university. He became next year one of the scholars of Magdalen College, where he was distinguished by a lucky accident. It was his turn, one day, to pronounce a declamation; and Dr. Hough, the president, happening to attend, thought the composition too good to be the speaker's. Some time after, the doctor finding him a little irregularly busy in the library, set him an exercise for punishment; and, that he might not be deceived by any artifice, locked the door. Yalden, as it happened, had been lately reading on the subject given, and produced with little difficulty a composition which so pleased the president, that he told him his former suspicions, and promised to favour him.
Among his cotemporaries in the college were Addison and Sacheverell, men who were in those times friends, and who both adopted Yalden to their intimacy. Yalden continued, throughout his life, to think as probably he had thought at first, yet did not forfeit the friendship of Addison.
When Namur was taken by King William, Yalden made an ode. There never was any reign more celebrated by the poets than that of William, who