Imatges de pÓgina

Surely no blame can fall upon the nymph who rejected a swain of so little meaning ?

His verses are not rugged, but they have no sweetness; they never glide in a stream of melody. Why Hammond or other writers have thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac, it is difficult to tell. The character of the Elegy is gentleness and tenuity, but this stanza has been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge of English metre was not inconsiderable, to be the most magnificent of all the measures which our language affords.



OF. Mr. Somervile's life I am not able to say any

thing that can satisfy curiosity. He was a gentleman whose estate was in Warwick

his house, where he was born in 1692, is called Edston, a seat inherited from a long line of ancestors; for he was said to be of the first family in his county. He tells of himself, that he was born near the Avon's banks. He was bred at Winchester School, and was elected Fellow of New College. It does not appear that in the places of his education, he exhibited any uncommon proofs of genius or literature. His powers were first displayed in the country, where he was distinguished as a poet, a gentleman, and a skilful and useful justice of the peace.

Of the close of his life, those whom his poems have delighted will read with pain the following account, copied from the letters of his friend Shenstone, by whom he was too much resembled.

“Our old friend Somervile is dead! I did not imagine I could have been so sorry as I find myself on this occasion.-Sublatum quærimus. I can now excuse all his foibles; impute them to age, and to distress of circumstances : the last of these considerations wrings my very soul to think on. For a man of high spirit, conscious of having (at least in one production) generally pleased the world, to be plagued and threatened by wretches that are low in every sense; to be forced to drink himself into pains of the body, in order to get rid of the pains of the mind, is a misery, &c.” He died July 19, 1742, and was buried at Wotton, near Henley-in-Arden.

His distresses need not be much pitied: his estate is said to have been fifteen hundred a-year, which by his death devolved to Lord Somerville of Scotland. His mother, indeed, who lived till ninety, had a jointure of six hundred.

It is with regret that I find myself not better enabled to exhibit memorials of a writer, who at least must be allowed to have set a good example to men of his ow class, by devoting part of his time to elegant knov ledge; and who has shewn, by the subjects which h poetry has adorned, that it is practicable to be at on a skilful sportsman and a man of letters.

Somervile has tried many modes of poetry, a though perhaps he has not in any reached such cellence as to raise much envy, it may commonly said at least, that “he writes very well for a ger man." His serious pieces are sometimes eleva and his trifles are sometimes elegant. In his ve to Addison the couplet which mentions Clio is wr with the most exquisite delicacy of praise; it exl one of those happy strokes that are seldom att In his Odes to Marlborough there are bes but in the second Ode he shews that } his hero, when alks of his priv subjects are o

such as requ. of thought of expression

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][merged small]


IT has been observed in all ages, that the advantages

of nature or of fortune have contributed very little to the promotion of happiness; and that those whom the splendour of their rank, or the extent of their capacity, have placed upon the summit of human life, have not often given any just occasion to envy in those who look up to them from a lower station : whether it be that apparent superiority incites great designs, and great designs are naturally liable to fatal miscarriages; or that the general lot of mankind is misery, and the misfortunes of those whose eminence drew upon them an universal attention have been more carefully recorded because they were more generally observed, and have in reality been only more conspicuous than those of others, not more frequent, or more severe.

That affluence and power, advantages extrinsic and adventitious, and therefore easily separable from those by whom they are possessed, should very often flatter the mind with expectations of felicity which they cannot give, raises no astonishment; but it seems rational to hope that intellectual greatness should produce better effects; that minds qualified for great attainments should first endeavour their own benefit ; and that they who are most able to teach others the way

« AnteriorContinua »