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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
I find myself on this occasion.-Subla“ tum quærimus. I can now excuse all his “ foibles; impute them to age, and to dis" trefs of circumstances: the last of these 6 considerations wrings my very soul to
For a man of high spirit, con“ scious of having (at least in one produc
tion) 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."-He died July 14, 1743.
66 think on.
It is with regret that I find myself not better enabled to exhibit memorials of a writer, who at least muft be allowed to have set a good example to men of his own class, by devoting part of his time to elegant knowledge; and who has shewn, by the subjects which his poetry has adorned, that it is prác
ticable to be at once a skilful sportsman and a man of letters,
Somervile has tried many modes of poetry; and though perhaps he has not in any reached fuch excellence as to raise much envy, it may commonly be said at least, that he writes very well for a gentleman. His serious pieces are sometimes elevated, and his trifles are sometimes' elegant, In his verses to' Addison the couplet which mentions Clio is written with the most exquisite delicacy of praise; it exhibits one of those happy strokes that are seldom attained. In his Odes to Marlborough there are beautiful lines; but in the second Ode he shews that he knew little of his hero, when he talks of his private virtues. His subjects are such as require no great depth of thought or energy of expression. His Fables are generally stale, and therefore excite no curiosity. Of his favourite, The Two Springs, the fi&tion is unnatural, and the moral inconsequential.
In his Tales there is too much coarseness, with too little care of language, and not sufficient rapidity of narration.
His great work is his Chase, which he undertook in his maturer age, when his ear was improved to the approbation of blank verse, of which however his two first lines give a bad specimen. To this poem praise cannot be totally denied. He is allowed by sportsmen to write with great intelligence of his subject, which is the first requisite to excellence; and though it is impossible to interest the common readers of verse in the dangers or pleasures of the chase, he has done all that transition and variety could easily effect; and has, with great propriety, enlarged his plan by the modes of hunting used in other countries.
With still less judgement did he chuse blank verse as the vehicle of Rural Sports. If blank verse be not tumid and gorgeous, it is crippled prose; and familiar images in laboured language have nothing to recommend them but absurd novelty, which, wanting the attractions of Nature, cannot please long. One excellence of the Splendid Shilling is, that it is short. Disguise can gratify no longer than it deceives.