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The mere structure of verses seems never to have engaged much of his care. But his lines are very smooth in Rosamond, and too smooth in Cato.

• Addison is now to be considered as a Critic ; a name which the present generation is scarcely willing to allow him. His criticism is condemned as tentative or experimental, rather than scientific, and he is conudered as deciding by talte rather than by principles.

'It is not uncommon for those who have grown wise by the labour of others to add a little of their own, and overlook their masters, Addison is now defpiled by some, who perhaps would never have seen bis defects but by the lights which he afforded them. That he always wro:e as he would ihink it necessary to write now, cannot be affirmed; his instructions were such as the characler of his readers made proper. That general kn wledge which now circulates in common talk was in his time rarely to be found. Men not profeffing learning were not alhamed of ignorance ; and in the female world any acquaintance with books was distinguished only to be censured. His porpose was to infuse literary curiofcy, by gentle and unfuspected conveyance, into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy; he therefore prelented knowledge in the most alluring form, not lofty and auflere, but accedible and familiar. When he Thewed them their defects, he Ahewed them likewise that they might be easily supplied. His attempt fucceeded; enquiry was awakened, and comprehension expanded. An emulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from bis time to our own life has been gradually exalted, and conversation purified and enlarged.

• Dryden had, not many years before, scattered criticism over his Prefaces with very licde parfimony; but, though he sometimes condescended to be somewhat familiar, his manner was in general coo fcholaftic for those who had yet their rudiments to learn, and fund it not easy to understand tieir master. His observations were framed rather for those that were learning to write, than for thole that read only to talk,

. An instructor like Addison was now wanting, whose remarks being superficial, might be easily understood, and being just, might prepare the mind for more attainments. Had he prelenied Paradise Loft to the public with all the pomp of system and severity of science, he would perhaps have been admired, and the book still have been neglected ; but by the blandishinents of gentleness and facility, he has made Milion an universal favourite, with whom readers of every class tbink it necessary to be pleased.

• He descended now and then to lower disquisitions, and by a se. rious display of the beauties of Chevy Chase exposed himself to the ridicule of Wagstaff, who bellowed a like pompous character on Tom Thumb; and to the contempt of Dennis, wh' considering the fundamenial position of his criticism, that Chevy Chaje pleases, and ought 10 pl: ale, because it is natural, observes, “ that there is a way of deviating from nature by bombaft or tumour, which foars above nature, and enlarge images beyond their real bulk; by affectation, which forlakes nature in quest of someching unluitable; and by im. becility, which degrades nature by faintness and diminution, by ob{curing images, and weakening effcc?s. In Chevy Chace there is not

much much of either bombast or affectation ; but there is chill and lifeless imbecility. The flory cannot poflibly be told in a manner that shall make less impression on the mind.”

• Before the profound observers of the present race repose too se..curely on the consciousness of their superiority to Addison, let them consider bis Remarks on Ovid, in which may be found specimens of criticism fufficiently fubile and refined ; let them peruse likewise his Efays on Wit, and on the pleasures of Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from dispoñcions inherent in the mind of man, with skill and elegance, such as his contemners will not easily atrain.

"As a describer of life and manners, he muft be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which, as Steele observes, is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused, as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. He never outseps the modesły of nature, nor raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity, that he can be hardly said to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.

As a teacher of wisdom he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthufiallic or superstitious : he appears neither weakly credulous nor wantoniy scepical; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest, the care of pleating the Author of his being. Truth is thewn sometimes as the phantom of a vision, fome. times appears half. veiled in an allegory ; sometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy, and sometimes iteps forth in the confidence of season. She wears a thousand dresses, and in all is pleasing,

Mille babet ornatus, mille decenter habet. • His prose is the model of the middle file ; on grave subjects not formal, on light occasions not grovelling; pure without scrupulofity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed seniences. Addison never devictes from his track to snatch a grace ; he seeks no ambitious or. naments, and cries no hazardous innovacions. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendor.

' li set ms to have been his principal endeavour to avoid all harlr.css and severity of diction; he is therefore sometimes verbose in his transitions and connections, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conversacion ; yet if his language had been less idiomarical, i; might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not with to be energetic; he is never rapid, and he never stagnaies. His sentences have neither fudied amplitude, nor affected brevity: his periods, though not diligen:ly rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English tlile, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ofientatious, niuit give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.'

Thore Those who know nothing of Blackmore's poetical accomplish. ments but what is to be collected from the ludicrous representations of cotemporary wits, will wonder how he obiained his present exalted station among the English poets. But if the opinion of Dr. Johnson, the rescuer of his fame, may be trusted to, that wonder will cease.

In the former part of his life Blackmore was a physician of high eminence and extensive practice, and therefore was made a poet not by neceflity, but inclination.' He does not appear to have been known as a maker of verses till he was seven or eight and forty. His first publication was Prince Arthur, an heroic poem in ten books. This work must have been very generally read, as it ran through three editions in two years; ' a very uncommon instance of favourable reception, it is remarked, at a time when literary curiosity was yet confined to particular claffes of the nation. In two years afterwards, he fabricated another heroic poem, under the title of King Arthur, in twelve books. Besides there, and other poems of considerable length, he produced two more heroic poems, in which he attempted to immortalize Queen Elizabeth and King Alfred. Of his four epic poems,' we are told, that the first had such reputation and popularity as enraged the critics ; the second was at least known enough to be ridiculed; the two last had neither friends nor enemies.'

His labours were not solely confined to poetry; he was equally voluminous in physic and theology. As a writer, whatever other praise might be denied him, he certainly was entitled to that of great diligence, or wonderful facility.

The poem that has gained him admittance into this Collec. tion, is Creation; which, if he had written nothing elle, would, in the opinion of his Biographer, have transmitted him to polterity among the first favourites of the English Muse. What its particular meries are, we are told in the course of Sir Richard's poetical character, which, if not juhly, is at least very ingeniously drawn.

Blackmore, by the unremitted enmity of the wirs, whom he provoked more by his virsue than his dulness, has been exposed to worse treaiment than he deserved; his name was so long used to point every epigram upon dull writers, that it became at last a byeword of contempt: but it deserves observation, that maligni: y takes hold only of his writings, and that his life passed without reproach, even when his boldness of reprehension naturally turned upon him many eyes deGrous to elpy faults, which many tongues would have made halle to publish. But those who could no: blame, could at least forbear to praise ; and therefore of his private life and domellic character there are no memorials.

As an Author he may juftly claim the honours of magnanimity. The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are

never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself; they neither awed him to silence nor to caution ; they neither provoked him to perulance, nor depressed him to complaint. While the diftributors of literary fame were endeavourjog to depreciate and degrade bim, he either despised or defed them, wrote on as he had written before, and never turned aside to quiet them by civility, or repress them by confutarion.

• He depended with great security on his own powers, and per., haps was for that reason less diligent in perusing books. His litera. ture, was, I think, but finall. What he knew of'antiquity, I fufpect him to have gathered from modern compilers; but though he could not boast of much critical knowledge, his mind was stored with ge. neral principles, and he left minute researches to those whom he confidered as li:tle minds.

• With this difpofition he wrote most of his poems. Having formed a magnificent design, he was careless of particular and subordinate elegancies ; he studied no niceries of versification; he waited for no felicities of fancy ; but caught his first thoughts in the first words in which they were presented : nor does it appear that he saw beyond his own performances, or had ever elevated his views to that ideal perfection, which every genius born to excel is condemned always to pursue, and never overtake. In the fisit suggestions of bis imagination be acquiesced; he thought them good, and did not feek for better.

• The poem on Creation has, however, the appearance of more circumspection; it wants neicher harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor elegance of diction : ic has either been written with great care, or, what cannot be imagined of so long a work, with such felicity as made care less necessary.

Jis two conftituent parts are ratiocination and description. To reason in verse is allowed to be difficult ; but Blackmore not only reasons in verse, but very often realons poetically ; and finds the art of uniting ornament with strength, and ease with closeness. This is a kill which Pope might have condescended to learn from him, when he needed it so much in his Moral Essays.

'In his descriptions, both of life and nature, the poet and the philosopher happily co-operate ; truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance futlained by truth.

! In che siructure and order of the poem, not only the greater parts are properly consecutive, but the didactic and illustrative paragraphs are so happily mingled, thar labour is relieved by pleasure, and the attention is led on through a long fucceflion of varied excellence to the original position, the fundamental principle of widom and of yirtue.'

The most remarkable circumstance in the life of Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, is, that Satan age not exceeding twelve years he resolved to educate himself. Such a purpose, formed at such an age, and fuccefstully prosecuted, delights as it is strange, and instructs as it is real. And his biographer adds, his literary acquisitions are more wonderful, as the years in which

they

they are commonly made were spent in the tumult of a military life, or the gaiety of a court.'

As a poet he might have been excluded from this Collection without much injury to his claims. He is a writer, says Dr. Johnson (and we agree with him) that sometimes glimmers, but rarely thines, feebly laborious, and at best but pretty. His songs are upon common topics; he hopes, and grieves, and repents, and despairs, and rejoices, like any other maker of little Atanzas : to be great he hardly tries ; to be gay is hardly in his power.'

As licle does the noble author who comes next to him feem to merit his present elevation.

Granville was a man illuitrious by his birth, and therefore attracted notice : fince he is by Pope ftiled the polite, he must be ruppoled elegant in his manners, and generally loved : he was, in times o cortel and curbulesce, ileady to his party, and obtained that efteem which is always conferred upon firmness and consistency. With those advantages, having learned the art of versifying, he declared himself a poet; and his claim to the laurel was allowed.

But by a crisic of a later generation, who takes up his book without any favourable prejudices, the praise already received will be thought sufficient ; for his works do not Mew him to have had much comprehension from nature, or illumination from learning. He seems to have had no ambition above the imitation of Waller, of whom he has copied ihe faulis, and very litrie more. He is for ever amusing himself with the puerilities of mythology ; his King is Jupi. ter, who, if the Queen brings no children, has a barren Juno. The Queen is compounded of Juno, Venus, and Minerva. His poem on the Duchess of Grafton's law-fuit. after having rattled awhile wich Juno and Pallas, Mars and Alcides, Calliope, Niobe, and the Propetides, Hercules, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, at lait concludes its folly with profaneness.

His verses to Mira, which are moft frequently mentioned, have little in them of either art or nature, of the sentiments of a lover, or the language of a poet : there may be found, now and then, a happier effort; but they are commonly feeble and unaffecting, or forced and extravagant.

• His lille pieces are feldom either spritely or elegant, keen or weighty. They are trifles, written by idleness, and published by vanity. But his Prologues and Epilogues have a just claim to praise."

'The Progress of Beauty seems one of his moit elaborate pieces, and is not deficient in splendor and gaiery ; but the merit of original thought is wanting. Its higheit praise is the spirit with which he celebrates King James's confort, when the was a Queen no longer.

The Esay on unnatural Flights in Poetry, is not inelegant nor inju. dicious, and has something of vigour beyond most of his other performances : his precepts are jut, and his cautions proper ; they are indeed not new, but in a didactic poem novelty is to be expected only in the ornaments and illustrations. His poetical precepts are accom

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