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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
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
Jamprimum terram validis circumspice claustris
Omnibus UMBRA prior.
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
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;
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.
Janus adest, festæ poscunt sua dona Kalendæ;
Ecce autem partes dam sese versat in omnes
E cælo quacunque Ceres sua prospicit arva,
Multi Mercurio freti duce viscera terræ