« הקודםהמשך »
which the poet may learn to write, and the philofopher to reason.
If Prior's poetry be generally considered, his praise will be that of correctness and industry, rather than of compass of comprehen
or activity of fancy. He never made any effort of invention : his greater pieces were all tissues of sentiment; and his smaller, which consist of light images or single conceits, were not always his own. I have traced him among the French Epigrammatists, and have been informed that he poached for prey among obscure aathors.
The Thief and the Cordelier is, I suppose, generally considered as an original production; with how much justice this Epigram may tell, which was written by Georgius Sabinus, a poet now little known or read, though once the friend of Luther and Melancthon;
De Sacerdote Furem consolante.
Huc ubi dat fontes carnificina neci.
Jam cum cælitibus (si modo credis) eris.
Sacrificus contra ; mihi non convivia fas eft
Ducere, jejunans hac edo luce nihil.
What he has valuable he owes to his diligence and his judgement. His diligence has justly placed him amongst the most correct of the English poets; and he was one of the first that resolutely endeavoured at correctness, He never sacrifices accuracy to haste, nor indulges himself in contemptuous negligence, or impatient idleness; he has no careless lines, or entangled sentiments; his words are nicely selected, and his thoughts fully expanded. If this part of his character suffers any abatement, it must be from the disproportion of his rhymes, which have not always sufficient consonance, and from the admission of broken lines into his Solomon; but perhaps he thought, like Cowley, that hemistichs ought to be ad mitted into heroic poetry,
He had apparently such rectitude of judgement as secured him from every thing that approached to the ridiculous or absurd; but as laws operate in civil agency not to the excitement of virtue, but the repression of wickedness, so judgement in the operations of
their places, where they do their duty, but
than that of any among the successors of modious modes of language, from his predea called, and were then put by constraint into
intellect can hinder faults, but not produce
Prior is never low, nor very often sublime.
It is said by Longinus 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,
Whatever Prior obtains above mediocrity seems the effort of struggle and of toil. He has many vigorous but few happy lines; ; he has every thing by purchase, and nothing by gift; he had no nightly visitations of the
no infusions of sentiment or felicities His diction, however, is more his own Dryden; he borrows no lucky turns, or comceffors. His phrases are original, but they are sometimes harsh; as he inherited no elegances, none has he bequeathed. His exprefsion has every mark of laborious study; the line feldom seems to have been formed at
the words did not come till they were
Muse, of fancy
so it sullenly
. In his greater compositions
there may be found more rigid fțateliness than graceful dignity,
Of versification he was not negligent: what he received from Dryden he did not lose; neither did he increase the difficulty of writing, by unnecessary severity, but uses Triplets and Alexandrines without fcruple, In his Preface to Solomon he proposes some improvements, by extending the sense from one couplet to another, with variety of pauses, This he has attempted, but without success; his interrupted lines are unpleasing, and his sense as less distinct is less striking.
To Our Our Tis Tig
He has altered the Stanza of Spenser, as a house is altered by building another in its place of a different form. With how little resemblance he has formed his new Stanza ta that of his master, these specimens will shew,
She flying fast from heaven's hated face,
Some of his poems are written without remenced poet, we had not recovered from
But that fair crew of knights,' and Una fair,
we by stratagem should make : Our triumph had been founded in our flight. 'Tis ours, by craft and by surprise to gain : ?Tis theirs, to meet in arms, and battle in the
plain. By this new structure of his lines he has avoided difficulties; nor am I sure that he has lost any of the power of pleasing; but he no ļonger imitates Spenser. . gularity of measures; for, when he com
our Pindarick infatuation; but he probably