Imatges de pÓgina

the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety. It were an injury to the reader to offer him an abridgment.

He died July 26, 1680, before he had completed his thirtyfourth year; and was so worn away by a long illness that life went out without a struggle.

Lord Rochester was eminent for the vigour of his colloquial wit, and remarkable for many wild pranks and sallies of extravagance. The glare of his general character dif. fused itself upon his writings; the compositions of a man whose name was heard so often were certain of attention, and from many readers certain of applause. This blaze of reputation is not yet quite extinguished; and his poetry still relains some splendour beyond that which genius has be. stowed.

Wood and Burnet give us reason to believe, that much was imputed to him which. he did not write. I know not by whom the original collection was made, or by what authority its genuineness was ascertained. The first edition was published in the year of his death, with an air of concealment, professing in the title-page to be printed at Antwerp.

Of some of the pieces, however, there is no doubt; the imitation of Horace's satire, the verses to lord Mulgrave, the satire against man, the verses upon Nothing, and perhaps some others, are I believe genuine, and perhaps most of those which the late collection exhibits.

As he cannot be supposed to have found leisure for any course of continued study, his pieces are commonly short, such as one fit of resolution would produce.

His songs have no particular character; they tell, like other songs, in smooth and easy language, of scorn and kindness, dismission and desertion, absence and incona stancy, with the common places of artificial courtshif They are commonly smooth and easy; but have little nature, and little sentiment.

His imitation of Horace on Lucilius is not inelegant or unhappy. In the reign of Charles the second began that adaptation, which has since been very frequent, of ancient poetry to present times; and perhaps few will be found where the parallelism is better preserved than in this. The versification is indeed sometimes careless, but it is some times vigorous and weighty.

The strongest effort of his muse is his poem upon Nothing. He is not the first who has chosen this barren topic for the boast of his fertility. There is a poem called Nihil in Latin by Passerat, a poet and critic of the sixteenth century in France; who, in his own epitaph, expresses his zeal for good poetry thus :

Molliter ossa quiescent
Sint modo carminibus non onerata malis.

His works are not common, and therefore I shall subjoin his verses.

In examining this performance, Nothing must be considered as having not only a negative, but a kind of positive signification; as, I need not fear thieves; I have nothing, and nothing is a very powerful protector. In the first part of the sentence it is taken negatively; in the second it is Laken positively, as an agent. In one of Boileau's lines, it was a question, whether he should use à rien faire, or à ne rien faire; and the first was preferred, because it gave rien a sense in some sort positive. Nothing can be a subject only in its positive sense, and such a sense is given it in the first line:

Nothing, thou elder brother ev'n to shade.


In this line, I know not whether he does not allude to a
curious book De Umbra, by Wowerus, which, having told
the qualities of shade, concludes with a poem, in which are
these lines:

Jamprimum terram validis circumspice claustris
Suspensam totam, decus admirabile mundi,
Terrasque tractusque maris, camposque liquentes
Aeris, et vasti laqueata palatia cæli-

Omnibus UMBRA prior.
The positive sense is generally preserved with great skill
Through the whole poem; though sometimes, in a subordi.

nate sense, the negative nothing is injudiciously mingled. Passerat confounds the two senses.

Another of his most vigorous pieces is his lampoon on sir Car Scroop, who, in a poem called The Praise of Satire, had some lines like these: *

He who can push into a midnight fray
His brave companion, and then run away,
Leaving him to be murder'd in the street,
Then put it off with some buffoon conceit;
Him, thus dishonour'd, for a wit you own,
And court him as top fiddler of the town.'

This was meant of Rochester, whose buffoon conceit was, I suppose, a saying often mentioned, that every man would be a coward if he durst; and drew from him those furious verses, to which Scroop made in reply an epigram, ending with these lines:

Thou canst hurt no man's fame with thy ill word;
Thy pen is full as harmless as thy sword.

Of the satire against man, Rochester can only claim what remains, when all Boileau's part is taken away.

In all his works there is sprightliness and vigour, and every where may be found tokens of a mind which study might have carried to excellence. What more can be expected from a life spent in ostentatious contempt of regularity, and ended before the abilities of many other men begin to be displayed?

* I quote from memory.

CL V. JOANNIS PASSERATII, Regii in Academia Parisiensi

Ad ornatissimum Virum Erricum Memmium.

Janus adest, festæ poscunt sua dona Kalendæ;
Munus abest festis quod possim offerre Kalendis.
Siccine Castalius nobis exaruit humor?
Usque adeò ingenii nostri est exhausta facultas,
Immunem ut videat redeuntis janitor anni?
Quod nusquam est, potius nova per vestigia quæram.

Ecce autem partes dam sese versat in omnes
Invenit mea musa NIHIL, ne despice munus ;
Num NIHIL est gemmis, NIHIL est pretiosius auro.
Huc animum, huc igitur vultus adverte benignos :
Res nova narratur quæ nulli audita priorum ;
Ausonii et Graii dixerunt cætera vates,
Ausoniæ indictum NIHIL est Græcæque camæne

E cælo quacunque Ceres sua prospicit arva,
Aut genitor liquidis orbem complectitur ulnis
Oceanus, NIHIL interitus et originis expers.
Immortale NIHIL, NIHIL omni parte beatum,
Quòd si hinc majestas et vis divina probatur,
Num quid honore deum, num quid dignabimur aris?
Conspectu lucis NIHIL est jucundius almæ;
Vere NIHIL, NIHIL irriguo formosius horto,
Floridius pratis, zephyri clementius aura;
In bello sanctum nihil est, Martisque tumultu:
Justum in pace NIHIL, NIHIL est in fædere tutum.
Felix cui NIHIL est, (fuerant hæc vota Tibullo),
Non timet insidias ; fures, incendia temnit;
Solicitas sequitur nullo sub judice lites.
Ille ipse invictis qui subjicit oninia fatis
Zenonis sapiens, NIHIL admiratur et optat.
Socraticique gregis fuit ista scientia quondam,
Scire NIHIL, studio cui nunc incumbitur uni.
Nec quicquam in ludo mavult didicisse juventus,
Ad maguas quia ducit opes, et culmen honorum
Nosce NIHIL, nosces fertur quod Pythagoreæ
Grano hærere fabæ, cui vox adjuncta negantis,

Multi Mercurio freti duce viscera terræ
Pura liquifaciunt simul, et patrimonia miscent,
Arcano instantes operi, et carbonibus atris,
Qui tandem exhausti damnis, fractique labore,
Inveniunt atque inventum NIHIL usque requirunt.
Hoc dimetiri non ulla decempeda possit:
Nec numeret Libycæ numerum qui callet arenæ :
Et Phæbo ignotum NIHIL est, NIHIL altius astris.
Tique, tibi licet eximium sit mentis acumen,
Omnem in naturam penetrans, et in abdita rerum,
Pace tua, Memmi, NIHIL ignorare vidêris.
Sole tamen NIHIL est, et puro clarius igne.
Tange NIHIL, dicesque NIHIL sine corpore tangi;
Cerne NIHIL, cerni dices NIHIL absque colore.
Surdum audit loquiturque NIHIL sine voce, volatque
Absque ope pennarum, et graditur sine cruribus ullis.
Absque loco motuque nihil per inane vagatur.
Humano generi utilius NIHIL arte medendi.
Ne rhombos igitur, neu Thessala murmura tentet
Idalia vacuum trajectus arundine pectus,
Neu legat Idæo Dictæum in vertice gramen.
Vulneribus sævi NIHIL auxiliatur amoris.
Vexerit et quemvis trans mæstas portitor undas,
Ad superos imo NIHIL hunc revocabit ab orco.
Inferni NIHIL inflectit præcordia regis,
Parcarumque colos, et inexorabile pensum.
Obruta Phlegræis campis Titania pubes
Falmineo sensit NIHIL esse potentius ictu :
Porrigitur magni NIHIL extra mænia mundi:
Diique NIHIL metuunt. Quid longo carmine plura
Commemorem? virtute NIHIL præstantius ipsa,
Splendidius NIHIL est; NIHIL est Jove denique majus.
Sed tempus finem argutis imponere nugis :
Ne tibi si multa laudem mea carmina charta,
De NIHILO NIHILI pariant fastidia versus.

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