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By snow disguised, in bright confusion lie,
And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.
No gentle-breathing breeze prepares the spring,
No birds within the desert region sing.
The ships, unmov'd, the boisterous winds defy
While rattling chariots o'er the ocean fly.
The vast leviathan wants room to play,
And spout his waters in the face of day.
The starving wolves along the main sea prowl,
And to the moon in icy valleys howl.
O'er many a shining league the level main
Here spreads itself into a glassy plain:
There solid billows of enormous size,
Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.
And yet but lately have I seen, even here,
The winter in a lovely dress appear,
Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasured snow,
Or winds began through hazy skies to blow:
At evening a keen eastern breeze arose,
And the descending rain unsullied froze.
Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew,
The ruddy morn disclosed at once to view
The face of nature in a rich disguise,
And brightened every object to my eyes:
For every shrub, and every blade of grass,
And every pointed thorn, seemed wrought in glass;
In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,
While through the ice the crimson berries glow,
The thick-sprung reeds, which watery marshes yields,
Seemed polished lances in a hostile field.
The stag, in limpid currents, with surprise
Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise :
The spreading oak, the beech, and towering pine
Glazed over, in the freezing ether shine.
The frighted birds the rattling branches shun,
Which wave and glitter in the distant sun.
When, if a sudden gust of wind arise,
The brittle forest into atoms flies;
The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends
And in a spangled shower the prospect ends:
Or, if a southern gale the region warm,
And by degrees unbind the wintry charm,
The traveller a miry country sees,
And journeys sad beneath the dropping trees :
Like some deluded peasant, Merlin leads
Through fragrant bowers, and through delicious meads ;
While here enchanted gardens to him rise,
And airy fabrics there attract his eyes,
His wandering feet the magic paths pursue,
And while he thinks the fair illusion true,
The trackless scenes disperse in fluid air,
And woods, and wilds, and thorny ways appear:
A tedious road the weary wretch returns,
And, as he goes, the transient vision mourns.
Philip's pastorals, though more natural, are, in every other respect, much inferior to those of Pope. But he was an elegant versifier, and the following fragment, translated from Sappho, is a poetical gem so brilliant that Warton thought Addison must have assisted in its composition
Blessed as the immortal gods is he,
The youth who fondly sits by thee,
And hears and sees thee all the while,
Softly speak and sweetly smile.
'T was this deprived my soul of rest,
And raised such tumults in my breast,
For while I gazed in transport tossed,
My breath was gone, my voice was lost.
My bosom glowed; the subtle flame
Ran quickly through my vital frame;
O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
My ears with hollow murmurs rung.
In dewy damps my limbs were chilled,
My blood with gentle horrors thrilled ;
My feeble pulse forgot to play ;
I fainted, sunk, and died away. On the accession of George the First to the throne, Philips was made commissioner of the collieries; and when Dr. Boulter became archbishop of Armagh, in Ireland, the poet accompanied the prelate to that country, and there soon after rose to very considerable preferments. In 1748, having acquired some property, he purchased an annuity of four hundred pounds, and returned to London, there to pass the remainder of his life in ease; but his health soon after failed, and he died in the following year.
Besides various other poems and translations, Philips was the author of three dramas, The Distressed Mother, The Briton, and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester; But as their merit is not above mediocrity, they require no farther notice.
John Philips was the son of Dr. Stephen Philips, and was born at Bampton, in Oxfordshire, on the thirteenth of December, 1676. His father was archdeacon of Salop, and minister of Bampton; and after the future poet had received the rudiments of his education, he was sent to Westminster school, where he was soon distinguished, not only for the superiority of his exercises, but for his civility and good-nature, which soon made him the idol of his school-fellows. While at school he became acquainted with the poets, both ancient and modern, and particularly admired Milton.
In 1694, Philips entered Christ Church College, Oxford, and soon became distinguished as an eminent genius, even among the most eminent of his college. His reputation was, however, confined to his friends and to the university, until he published, in 1703, the Splendid Shilling, which extended it to a much wider circle. This performance, by its novel character, raised his fame so high, that when all Europe resounded with the victory of Blen
heim, he was, probably through indirect opposition to Addison, engaged, by the Tory party, to celebrate that great event for them. He would willingly have declined this task, but his friends insisted that he should perform it. The next year he produced his great work, the poem on Cider, in two books. This production was unusually successful, and continued long to be read as a happy imitation of Virgil's "Georgics.' Becoming now more confident in his own abilities, Philips began to meditate a poem on the Last Day. This work he did not, however, live to finish. His diseases,' in the language of Dr. Johnson, a slow consumption and an asthma, put a stop to his studies, and on the fifteenth of February, 1708, at the beginning of his thirty-third year, put an end to his life. He was buried in the cathedral of Hereford ; and a monument was afterward erected for him in Westminster Abbey, by Sir Simon Harcour, afterward lord chancellor of England.
Philips' life was brief, and his works few. The “Splendid Shilling,' written to burlesque the style of Milton, has the merit of original design, but little more can be said in its praise ; and to assert that “Blenheim' is not below mediocrity, is as much as can be said in its favor. To the poem on
Cider,' may be given this peculiar praise, that it is based in truth ; that the precepts it contains are exact and just; and that while it is a book of entertaininent, it is at the same time, a good manual for a gardener. It remains only for us to present a passage from this author's poems to complete the present sketch. We select the closing part of the Splendid Shilling.'
So pass my days. But when nocturnal shades
This world envelop'd, and th' inclement air.
Persuades men to repel benumbing frosts
With pleasant wines and crackling blaze of wood,
Me, lonely sitting, nor the glimmering light
Of make-weight candle, nor the joyous talk
Of loving friend, delights; distress'd, forlorn,
Amidst the horrors of the tedious night,
Darkling I sigh, and feed with dismal thoughts
My anxious mind; or sometimes mournful verse
Indite, and sing of groves and myrtle shades,
Of desperate lady near a purling stream,
Or lover pendant on a willow-tree.
Meanwhile, I labour with eternal drought,
And restless wish, and rave; my parched throat
Finds no relief, nor heavy eyes repose :
But if a slumber haply does invade
My weary limbs, my fancy 's still awake;
Thoughtful of drink, and eager, in a dream,
Tipples imaginary pots of ale
In vain; awake I find the settled thirst
Still gnawing, and the pleasant phantom curse.
Thus do I live, from pleasure quite debarr'd,
Nor taste the fruits that the sun's genial rays
Mature, John-apple, nor the downy peach,
Nor walnut in rough-furrow'd coat secure,
Nor medlar, fruit delicious in decay.
Afflictions great! yet greater still remain :
My galligaskins, that have long withstood
The winter's fury and encroaching frosts,
By time subdued (what will not time subdue ?)
A horrid chasm disclos'd with orifice
Wide, discontinuous; at which the winds
Eurus and Auster, and the dreadful force
Of Boreas, that congeals the Cronian waves,
Tumultuous enter with dire chilling blasts,
Portending agues. Thus, a well-fraught ship,
Long sail'd secure, or through th' Ægean deep,
Or the Ionian, till, cruising near
The Lilybean shore, with hideous crush
On Scylla or Charybdis (dangerous rocks!)
She strikes rebounding; whence the shatter'd oak,
So fierce a shock unable to withstand,
Admits the sea; in at the gaping side
The crowding waves gush with impetuous rage,
Resistless overwhelming! horrors seize
The mariners; death in their eyes appears ;
They stare, they lave, they pump, they swear, they pray;
(Vain efforts !) still the battering waves rush in,
Implacable; till, delug'd by the foam,
The ship sinks foundering in the vast abyss.
Thomas PARNELL was born in Dublin, in 1679. He was descended from an ancient family of Cheshire, who, after the Restoration, purchased an estate in Ireland, to which the poet became heir, together with their lands, in their native country. After the usual preparatory education, he entered, in the thirteenth year of his age, the university of Dublin, and in 1700 took his master's degree, immediately after which he was ordained deacon, though under the canonical age. About three years after he was ordained priest; and, in 1705, the bishop of Clogher conferred upon him the archdeaconry of
When the Whigs, toward the end of Queen Anne's reign, passed out of office, Parnell repaired to London and joined the Tory party, by whom he was regarded as an acquisition of strength. He had previously married Miss Anne Minchen, a young lady of great beauty and accomplishments; but having the misfortune to lose her by death a few years after their union, he suffered the event to prey so deeply upon his mind as to hurry him into the habit of intemperance. But the vice could not have been either gross or notorious; for he afterward received, from Archbishop King, the vicarage of Finglass, in the diocese of Dublin, which was worth four hundred pounds a year. He did not, however, long enjoy this last preferment, as his death occurred at Chester, in the month of July, 1717, when on his way to Ireland.
Parnell seems to have been one of those poets who write from the mere love of writing. "The compass of his poetry,' says Campbell, 'is not extensive, but its tone is peculiarly delightful.' His works are of a miscellaneous nature, consisting of translations, songs, nymns, epistles, and narra
tives. His most celebrated production is The Hermit—a poem familiar to
most readers from their infancy. Its sweetness of diction and picturesque
solemnity of style must always afford pleasure. His Night Piece on Death
was indirectly preferred by Goldsmith to Gray's celebrated Elegy; but few
persons of taste will be inclined to adopt such an opinion. In the Night
Piece' the poet goes forth at midnight to the churchyard, and there meditates
among the tombs :-
How deep yon azure dyes the sky!
Where orbs of gold unnumbered lie;
While through their ranks, in silver pride,
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe,
The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds, which on the right aspire,
In dimness from the view retire:
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves.
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass, with melancholy state,
By all the solemn heaps of fate,
And think, as softly sad you tread,
Above the venerable dead,
"Time was, like thee, thy life possessed,
And time shall be that thou shalt rest.'
Those with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thoughts disclose
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chisel's slender help to fame
(Which, ere our set of friends decay,
Their frequent steps may wear away)
A middle race of mortals own,
Men half ambitious, all unknown,
The marble tombs that rise on high
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptured stones,
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones;
These all the poor remains of state,
Adorn the rich, or praise the great,
Who, while on earth in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
The poem, however, by which Parnell is chiefly known is the Hermit;' and did our limits permit, we should introduce it entire. As it is, we must be satisfied with a few of the opening paragraphs, merely to show the style.