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SPENSER

PRIOR.

mission of broken lines into his “Solomon;" | blance he has formed his new stanza to that of but perhaps he thought, like Cowley, that his master, these specimens will show; hemistichs ought to be admitted into heroic poetry. He had apparently such rectitude of judgment

She flying fast from Heaven's hated face, as secured him from every thing that approached And from the world that her discover d wide, to the ridiculous or absurd ; but as laws operate Fled to the wasteful wilderness apace, in civil agency not to the excitement of virtue, From living eyes her open shame to hide, but the repression of wickedness, so judgment And lurkid in rocks and caves long unespyd, in the operations of intellect can hinder faults, Did in that castle afterward, abide, but not produce excellence. Prior is never low, To rest themselves, and weary puw'rs repair, nor very often sublime. It is said by Longinus Where store they found of all, that dain:y was and rare of Euripides, that he forces himself sometimes into grandeur by violence of effort, as the lion kindles his fury by the lashes of his own tail. To the close rock the frighted raven fies, Whatever Prior obtains above mediocrity seeins Soon as the rising earle cuts the air: the effort of struggle and of toil. He has many When the hoarse roar proclaims the lion near.

The shaggy woli unseen and trembling ljes,
vigorous, but few happy lines; he has every II-starr’d did we our förts and lines forsake,
thing by purchase, and nothing by gift; he had to dare our British foes to open fight:
no nightly visitations of the musé, no infusions Our conquest we by stratagem should make :
of sentiment or felicities of fancy.

Our triumph had been founded in our flight.
His diction, however, is more his own than of 'Tis theirs to meet in arms, and baule in the plain.

'Tis ours, by crall and by surprise to gain :
any among the successors of Dryden ; he bor-
rows no lucky turns, or commodious modes of

By this new structure of his lines he has language from his predecessors. His phrases avoided difficulties ; nor am I sare that he has are original, but they are sometimes harsh : as lost any of the power of pleasing: but he no he inherited no elegances, none has he bequeath- longer imitates Spenser. ed. His expression has every mark of laborious Some of his poems are written without reguistudy ; the line seldom seems to have been larity of measure ; for, when he commenced formed at once ; the words did not come till they poet, he had not recovered from our Pindaric were called, and were then put by constraint infatuation ; but he probably lived to be con: into their places, where they do their duty, but vinced, that the essence of verse is order and do it sullenly; In his greater compositions there consonance. inay be found more rigid stateliness than grace- His numbers are such as mere diligence may lul dignity.

attain; thcy seldom offend the ear, and seldom Of versification he was not negligent; what soothe it; they commonly want airiness, lighthe received from Dryden he did not lose; nei- ness, and facility : what is smooth is not soft. ther did he increase the difficulty of writing, by His verses always roll, but they seldon flow. unnecessary severity, but uses triplets and Alex- A survey of the life and writings of Prior andrines without scruple. In his preface to "So-may exemplify a sentence which he doubtless lomon” he proposes some improveinents, by ex- understood well, when he read Horace at his tending the sense from one couplet to another, uncle's; "the vessel long retains the scent which with variety of pauses. This he has attempted, it first receives.” In his private relaxation he but without success; his interrupted lines are revived the tavern, and in his amorous pedantry unpleasing, and his sense as less distinct is less he exhibited the college. But on higher occastriking.

sions, and nobler subjects, when habit was overHe has altered the stanza of Spenser, as a powered by the necessity of reflection, he wanthouse is altered by building another in its place ed not wisdom as a statesman, or eleganco as a of a different form. With how little resem. I poet.

CONGRE V E.

WILLIAN Congreve descended from a family stainly known : if the inscription upon his monuin Staffordshire, of so great antiquity that it ment be true, he was born in 1672. For tho clairns a place among the few that extend their place, it was said by himself, that he owed his line beyond the Norman Conquest; and was the nativity to England, and by every body else, that son of William Congreve, second son of Richard he was born in Ireland, Southern mentioned Congreve, of Congreve and Stratton. He visit- him, with sharp censure, as a man that meanly ed, once at least, the residence of his ancestors; disowned his native country. The biographers and, I believe, more places than one are still assign his nativity to Bardsa, near Leeds, in shown, in groves and gardens, where he is re- Yorkshire, from the account given by himself, iated to have written his “Old Bachelor." as they suppose, to Jacob.

Neither the time nor place of his birth is cer- To doubt whether a man of eminence has told

the tre th about his own birth, is, in appearance, Few plays have ever been so beneficial to the to be very deficient in candour ; yet, nobody writer ;' for it procured him the patronage of can live long without knowing that falsehoods of Halifax, who immediately made him one of the convenience or vanity, falsehoods from which no commissioners for licensing coaches, and soon evil inmediately visible ensues, except the ge- after yave him a place in the Fipe-office, and neral degradation of human testimony, are very another in the Customs of six lrundred pounds lightly uttered ; and, once uttered, are sullenly a-year. Congreve's conversation must surely supported. Boileau, who desired to be thought have been at least equally pleasing with his a rigorous and steady moralist, having told a writings. potiy lie to Louis the Fourteenth, continued it Such a comedy, written at such an age, reafterwards by false dates; thinking himself ob- quires some consideration. As the lighter spe. liged in honour, says his admirer, to maintain cies of dramatic poetry professes the imitation what, when he said it, was so well received. of common life, of real manners, and daily in

Wherever Congreve was born, he was edu- cidents, it apparently pre-supposes a familiar cated first at Kilkenny, and afterwards at Dub- knowledge of many characters, and exact cblin, bis father having some military employment servation of the passing world; the difficulty that stationed him in Ireland; but, after having therefore is, to conceive how this knowledge can passed through the usual preparatory studies, as be obtained by a boy. may he reasonably supposed, with great celerity

But if “The Old Bachelor” be more nearly and success, his father thought it proper to as- examined, it will be found to be one of those sign him a profession by which something might comedies which may be made by a mind vigorbe gotten; and, about the time of the Revolu- ous and acute, and furnished with comic chation, sent him, at the age of sixteen, to study racters by the perusal of other poets, without law in the Middle Temple, where he lived for much actual commerce with mankind. The dia several years, but with very little attention to logue is one constant reciprocation of conceits, atatutes or reports.

or clash of wit, in which nothing flows necessaHis disposition to become an anthor appeared rily from the occasion, or is dictated by nature. very early, as he very early felt that force of the characters, both of men and women, are imagination, and possessed that copiousness of either fictitious and artificial, as those of Heartsentiment, by which intellectual pleasure can be well and the ladies ; or easy and common, as given. His first performance was a novel, called Wittol, a tame idiot, Bluff, a swaggering cow"Incognita, or Love and Duty reconciled :" it ard, and Fundlewife, a jealous puritan; and is praised by the biographers, who quote some the catastrophe arises from a mistake not very part of the preface, that is, indeed, for such a probably produced, by marrying a woman in a time of life, uncommonly judicious. I would mask. rather praise it than read it.

Yet this gay comedy, when all these deducHis first dramatic labour was “The Old Ba- tions are made, will still remain the work of very chelor ;” of which he says, in his defence against powerful and fertile faculties ; the dialogue is Collier, “ that comedy was written, as several quick and sparkling, the incidents such as seize know, some years before it was acted. When I the attention, and the wit so exuberant, that is wrote it, I had little thoughts of the stage ; but “o'er-informs its tenement.” did it to amuse myself in a slow recovery from Next year he gave another specimen of his a fit of sickness. Afterwards, through my in- abilities in “The Double Dealer," which was discretion, it was seen, and, in some little time not received with equal kindness. He writes to more, it was acted; and I, through the remain. his patron, the Lord Halifax, a dedication, in der of my indiscretion, suffered myself to be which he endeavours to reconcile the reader to drawn into the prosecution of a difficult and that which found few friends among the audithankless study, and to be involved in a perpetual ence. These apologies are always useless : “ de war with knaves and fools."

gustibus non est disputandum;" men may be There seems to be a strange affectation in au- convinced, but they cannot be pleased against thors of appearing to have done every thing by their will. But, though taste is obstinate, it is chance. “The Old Bachelor” was written for very variable; nd time often prevails when amusement in the languor of convalescence. arguments have failed. Yet it is apparently composed with great elabo- Queen Mary conferred upon both those plays rateness of dialogue, and incessant ambition of the honour of her presence; and when she died, wit. The age of the writer considered, it is, soon after, Congreve testified his gratitude by a indeed, a very wonderful performance : for, despicable effusion of elegiac pastoral ; a comwhenever written, it was acted (1693) when he position in which all is unnatural, and yet nothing was not more than twenty-one years old ; and is new. was then recommended by Mr. Dryden, Mr. In another year (1695) his prolific pen proSouthern, and Mr. Mainwaring. Dryden said, duced “Love for Love," a comedy of nearer althat he never had seen such a first play; but liance to life, and exhibiting more real manners they found it deficient in some things requisite than either of the former. The character of to the success of its exhibition, and, by their Foresight was then common. Dryden calculated greater experience, fitted it for the stage. South- pativities; both Cromwell and King William ern used to relate of one comedy, probably of had their lucky days; and Shaftesbury himself, this, that, when Congreve read it to the players, though he had no religion, was said to regard he pronounced it so wretchedly, that they had predictions. The Sailor is not accounted very almost

, rejected it; but they were afterwards so natural, but he is very pleasant. well persuaded of its excellence, that, for half With this play was opened the New Theatre, a year before it was acted, the manager allowed under the direction of Betterton, the tragedian; its Author the privilege of the house.

where he exhibited, two years afterwards, (1687,1

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CONGREVE.
“The Mourning Bride,” a tragedy, so written answers. Congreve, a very young man, elated
as to show him sufficiently qualified for either with success, and impatient of censure, assum-
kind of dramatic poetry.

ed an air of confidence and security. His chief
In this play, of which, when he afterwards artifice of controversy is to retort upon his ad-
revised it, he reduced the versification to greater versary his own words; he is very angry, and,
regularity, there is more bustle than sentiment, hoping to conquer Collier with his own weapons
the plot is busy and intricate, and the events allows himself in the use of every term of con.
take hold on the attention ; but except a very tumely and contempt: but he has the sword
few passages, we are rather amused with noise, without the arm of Scanderbeg; he has his an-
and perplexed with stratagem, than entertained tagonist's coarseness, but not his strength. Col-
with any true delineation of natural characters. lier replied; for contest was his delight; he was
This, however, was received with more benevo- not to be frighted from his purpose or his prey.
lence than any other of his works, and still con- The cause of Congreve was not tenable ;
tinues to be acted and applauded.

whatever glosses he might use for the defence or But whatever objections may be made either palliation of single passages, the general tenor to bis comic or tragic excellence, they are lost at and tendency of his plays must always be cononce in the blaze of admiration, when it is re- demned. It is acknowledged, with universal membered that he had produced these four plays conviction, that the perusal of his works will before he had passed his twenty-fifth year; be- make no man better; and that their ultimate fore other men, even such as are some time to effect is to represent pleasure in alliance with shine in eminence, have passed their probation vice, and to relax those obligations by which life of literature, or presume to hope for any other ought to be regulated. notice than such as is bestowed on diligence and The stage found other advocates, and the dis. inquiry. Among all the efforts of early genius, pute was protracted through ten years; but at which literary history records, I doubt whether last comedy grew more modest, and Collier any one can be produced that more surpasses the lived to see the reward of his labour in the recommon limits of nature than the plays of Con- formation of the theatre. greve.

Of the powers by which this important vicAbout this time began the long continued con- tory was achieved, a quotation from “Love for troversy between Collier and the poets. In the Love," and the remark upon it, may afford a reign of Charles the First, the puritans had raised specimen : a violent clamour against the drama, which they Sir Samps. Sampson's a very good name; for considered as an entertainment not lawful to your Sampsons were very strong dogs from the Christians, an opinion held by them in common beginning. with the church of Rome; and Prynne publish- Angel. Have a care-If you remember, the ed “Histrio-Mastix,” a huge volume, in which strongest Sampson of your name pulled an ola stage-plays were censured. The outrages and house over his head at last. crimes of the puritans brought afterwards their “Here you have the Sacred History burwhole system of doctrine into disrepute, and lesqued, and Sampson once more brought into from the Restoration the poets and players were the house of Dagon, to make sport for the Philisleft at quiet; for to have molested them would tines!" have had the appearance of tendency to puri- Congreve's last play was “The Way of the tanical malignity:

World;" which, though as he hints in his dediThis danger, however, was worn away by cation, it was written with great labour and time; and Collier, a fierce and implacable non- much thought, was received with so little favour, juror, knew that an attack upon the theatre that, being in a high degree offended and diswould never make him suspected for a puritan; gusted, he resolved to commit his quiet and his he therefore (1698), published " A short View of fame no more to the caprices of an audience. the Immorality and Profaneness of the English From this time his life ceased to the public; he Stage,” I believe with no other motive than re- lived for himself and for his friends, and among ligious zeal and honest indignation. He was his friends was able to name every man of his formed for a controvertist ; with sufficient learn- time whom wit and elegance had raised to repuing; with diction vehement and pointed, though tation : it may be, therefore, reasonably supoften rulear and incorrect ; with unconquerable posed, that his manners were polite and his conpertimarity; with wit in the highest degree keen versation pleasing. and sarcastic; and with all those powers exalt- He seems not to have taken much pleasure in ed and invigorated by just confidence in his writing, as he contributed nothing to the “ Spec

tator,” and only one paper to the "Tatler, Thus qualified, and thus incited, he walked though published by men with whom he might out to battle, and assailed at once most of the be supposed willing to associate ; and though he living writers, from Dryden to D'Urfey. His lived many years after the publication of his onset was violent ; those passages, which, while Miscellaneous Poems, yet he added nothing to they stond single, had passed with little notice, them, but lived on in literary indolence; engage when they were accumulated and exposed to-ed in no controversy, contending with no rirai, gether, excited horror ; the wise and the pious neither soliciting flattery by public commendacaught the alarm; and the nation wondered why tions, nor provoking enmity by malignant critiit had so long suffered irreligion and licentious- cism, but passing his time among the great and ness to be openly taught at the public charge. splendid, in the placid enjoyment of his fame

Nothing now remained for the poets but to and fortune. resist or fly. Dryden's conscience, or his pru- Having owed his fortune to Halifax, he condence, angry as he was, withheld him from the tinued always of his patron's party, but, as it conflict: Congreve and Vanbrugh attempted seems without violence or acrimony; aad his

calise,

LEONORA.

ALMERIA.

LEONORA.

Hark !

firmness was naturally esteemed, as his abilities | strike; the contest of smartness is never inter were reverenced. His security, therefore, was mitted'; his wit is a meteor playing to and fro never violated ; and when, upon the extrusion with alternate coruscations. His comedics of the whigs, some intercession was used lest have, therefore, in some degree, the operation of Congreve should be displaced, the Earl of Ox- tragedies; they surprise rather than divert, and ford made this answer:

raise admiration oftener than merriment. But "Non obtusa adeo gestamus pectora Pani,

they are the works of a mind replete with Nec tam aversus equos Tyria sol jungit ab urbe.”

images and quick in combination.

Of his miscellaneous poetry I cannot say any He that was thus honoured by the adverse thing very favourable. The powers of Congreve party might naturally expect to be advanced seem to desert him when he leaves the stage, when his friends returned to power, and he was as Antæus was no longer strong than when accordingly made secretary for the Island of he could touch the ground. It cannot be obJamaica; a place, I suppose without trust or served without wonder, that a mind so vigorous care, but which, with his post in the Customs, is and fertile in dramatic compositions, should on said to have afforded him twelve hundred pounds any other occasion discover nothing but impoa year.

tence and poverty. He has in these little picces His honours were yet far greater than his pro- neither elevation of fancy, selection of language, fits. Every writer mentioned him with respect; nor skill in versification; yet, if I were required and, among other testimonies to his merit, to select from the whole mass of English poetry Steele made him the patron of his Miscellany, the most poetical paragraph, 1 know not what I and Pope inscribed to him his translation of the could prefer to an exclamation in “The Mourn “Iliad."

ing Bride:” I But he treated the Muses with ingratitude;

ALMERIA. for, having long conversed familiarly with the great, he wished to be considered rather as a man

It was a fancied noise ; for all is hushd. of fashion than of wit; and, when he received a visit from Voltaire, disgusted him by the de- It bore the accent of a human voice. spicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman; to which the

It was thy fear, or else some transient wind Frenchman replied, " that if he had been only a Whistling through hollows of this vaulted aisle : gentleman he should not have come to visit We'll listenhim."

In his retirement he may be supposed to have applied himself to books, for he discovers more literature than the poets have commonly attain- No, all is hush'd and still as death.-"Tis dreadfui: ed. But his studies were in his latter days ob- How reverend is the face of this tall pile, structed by cataracts in his eyes, which at last

Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads, terminated in blindness. This melancholy state

To bear alost its arch'd and pond'rous roof,

By its own weight made steadfast and immoveable, was aggravated by the gout, for which he sought Looking tranquillity! it strikes an awe relief by a journey to Bath; but, being over

And terror on my aching sight; the tombs turned in his chariot, complained from that time

And monumental caves of death look cold,

And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart. of a pain in his side, and died, at his house in

Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice, Surrey-street, in the Strand, January 29, 1728-9. Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear Having lain in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, Thy voice-my own affrights me with its echoes he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a He who reads these lines enjoys for a no monument is erected to his memory by Henrietta, ment the powers of a poet; he feels what he Dutchess of Marlborough, to whom, for reasons remembers to have felt before ; but he feels it either not known or not mentioned, he bequeath with great increase of sensibility; he recognizes ed a legacy, of about ten thousand pounds, the a familiar image, but meets it again amplified accumulation of attentive parsimony; which, and expanded, embellished with beauty and enthough to her superfluous and useless, might larged with majesty. have given great assistance to the ancient family Yet could the Author, who appears here to from which he descended, at that time, by the have enjoyed the confidence of Nature, lamen: imprudence of his relation, reduced to difficulties the death of Queen Mary in linee like these and distress.

The rocks are cleft, and new-descending rills

Furrow the brows of all th’impending hills. CONGREVE has merit of the highest kind ; he The water.gods to flood their rivulets turn; is an original writer, who borrowed neither the And each, with streaming eyes, supplies his wanting urn. models of his plot nor the manner of his dialogue. And round the plain in sad distraction rove: of his plays I cannot speak distinctly, for since in prickly brakes their tender limbs they tear

, I inspected them many years have passed; but and leave on thorns their locks of golden hair

. what remains upon my memory is, that his with their sharp,

nails, themselves the satyrs wound,

And tug their shaggy beards, and bite with grief the characters are commonly fictitious and artifi- ground. cial, with very little of nature, and not much of Lo Pan himself, beneath a blasted oak, life. He formed a peculiar idea of comic excel- Dejected lies, his pipe in pieces broke.

See Pales weeping ioo, in wild despair, lence, which he supposed to consist is gay re

And to the piercing winds her bosom bare. marks and unexpected answers; but that which And see yon fading myrtle, where appears he endeavoured he soldom failed of performing. The Queen of Love, all bath'd in flowing tears! His scenes exhibit not much of humour, imagery, See how she wrings her hands, and beats her breast, or passion ; his personages are a kind of intellec And tears her useless girdle from her waist!

Hear the sad murmurs of her sighing doves tual gladiators; every sentence is to ward or For grief they sigh, forgetful of their loves

21

ALMERIA.

And, many years after, he gave no proof that Cecilia's Day," however, has some lines which time had improved his wisdom or his wit; for, Pope had in his mind when he wrote his own. on the death of the Marquis of Blandford, this His imitations of Horace are feebly parawas his song :

phrastical, and the additions which he makes

are of little value. He sometimes retains what And now the winds, which had so long been still, Began the swelling air with sighs to fill :

were more properly omitted, as when he talks The water.nymphs, who motionless remaind, of vervain and gums to propitiate Venus. Like images of ice, while she complaind,

Of his translations, the satire of Juvenal was Now loos’d their stream: ; as when descending rains

written very early, and may therefore be forRoil the sleep torrents headlong o'er the plains. The prone creation who so long had gazd,

given, though it have not the massiness and Charm'd with her cries, and at her griefs amaz'd, vigour of the original. In all his versions Began to roar and howl with horrid yell,

strength and sprightliness are wanting; his Dismal to hear and terrible to tell! Nothing but groans and sighs were heard around,

Hymn to Venus, from Homer, is perhaps the And echo multiplied each mournful sound.

best. His lines are weakened with expletives,

and his rhymes are frequently imperfect. In both these funeral poems, when he has yelled His petty poems are seldom worth the cost of out many syllables of senseless dolour, he dis- criticism ; sometimes the thoughts are false, and misses his reader with senseless consolation : sometimes common. In his verses on Lady from the grave of Pastora rises a light that Gethin, the latter part is in imitation of Dry forms a star; and where Amaryllis wept for den's Ode on Mrs. Killegrew; and Doris, that Amyntas, from every tear sprung up a violet. has been so lavishly flattered by Steele, has in

Bút William is his hero, and of William he deed some lively stanzas, but the expression will sing :

might be mended; and the most striking part The hoy ring winds on downy wings shall wait around,

of the character had been already shown in And catch, and waft to foreigu lands, the flying sound.

“Love for Love." His “ Art of Pleasing” is

founded on a vulgar, but perhaps impracticable, It cannot but be proper to show what they shall principle, and the staleness of the sense is not have to catch and carry:

concealed by any novelty of illustration or ele'Twas now, when flowery lawns the prospect made,

gance of diction. And flowing brooks beneath a foresi-shade,

This tissue of poetry, from which he seems A lowing heifer, loveliest of the herd,

to have hoped a lasting name, is totally neStood feeding by ; while two fierce bulls prepar'd glected, and known only as it appended to his Their armed heads for fight, by fate of war to prove The victor worthy of the fair one's love ;

play3. Unthought presage of what met next my view,

While comedy or while tragedy is regarded, For soon the shady scene withdrew.

his plays are likely to be read ; but, except And now, for woods, and fields, and springing flow'rs, Behold a town arise, bulwark'd with walls and lofty has ever written a stanza that is sung, or a

what relates to the stage, I know not that he tow'rs; Two rival armies all the plain o'erspread,

couplet that is quoted. The general character Each in battalia rangd, and shining arms array'd; of his Miscellanies is, that they show little wit With eager eyes beholding both from far,

and little virtue. Namur, the prize and inistress of the war.

Yet to him it must be confessed that we are “The Birth of the Muse” is a miserable fic- indebted for the correction of a national error, tion. One good line it has, which was bor- and for the cure of our Pindaric madness. He rowed from Dryden. The concluding verses first taught the English writers that Pindar's are these:

odes were regular; and, though certainly he This said, no more remaind. Th'ethereal host

had not the fire requsite for the higher species Again imyatient crowd the crystal coast.

of lyric poetry, he has shown us, that enthuThe father now, within his spacious hands,

siasın has its rules, and that in mere confusion Encompass'u all the mingled mass of seas and lands; there is neither grace por gieatness. And, having heard alon che pondrous sphere, He launch'd the world, to loat in ambient air.

“Except!” Dr. Warton exclaims, “Is not this Of his irregular poems, that to Mrs. Arabella high sort of poetry?" He mentions, likewise, that conHunt seems to be the best ; his “Ode for St. I by Handel, I believe in 1743.-C.

greve's Opera, or Oratorio, of "Semele,” was set to musia

BLACKMORE,

Sir Richard BLACKMORE is one of those men Corsłem, in Wiltshire, styled by Wood, Genwhose writings have attracted much notice, but tleman, and supposed to have been an attorney. of whose life and manners very little has been Having been for some time ed orated in a councommunicated, and whose lot it has been to try school, he was sent, at thirteen, to Westbe much oftener mentioned by enemies than by minster; and, in 1668, was entered at Edmund friends.

Hall, in Oxford, where he took the degree of He was the son of Robert Blackmore, of | M. A. June 3, 1676, and resided thirten years ;

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