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The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. in Nine Volumes By Samuel Johnson Characters: 285696

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On Edmund duke of Buckingham, who died in the nineteenth year of his age, 1735.

If modest youth, with cool reflection crown'd,

And ev'ry op'ning virtue blooming round,

Could save a parent's justest pride from fate,

Or add one patriot to a sinking state;

This weeping marble had not ask'd thy tear,

Or sadly told how many hopes lie here!

The living virtue now had shone approv'd,

The senate heard him, and his country lov'd.

Yet softer honours, and less noisy fame,

Attend the shade of gentle Buckingham:

In whom a race, for courage fam'd and art,

Ends in the milder merit of the heart:

And, chiefs or sages long to Britain giv'n,

Pays the last tribute of a saint to heav'n.

This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the rest; but I know not for what reason. To crown with reflection is surely a mode of speech approaching to nonsense. Opening virtues blooming round, is something like tautology; the six following lines are poor and prosaick Art is, in another couplet, used for arts, that a rhyme may be had to heart. The six last lines are the best, but not excellent.

The rest of his sepulchral performances hardly deserve the notice of criticism. The contemptible Dialogue between He and She should have been suppressed for the author's sake.

In his last epitaph on himself, in which he attempts to be jocular upon one of the few things that make wise men serious, he confounds the living man with the dead:

Under this stone, or under this sill,

Or under this turf, &c.

When a man is once buried, the question, under what he is buried, is easily decided. He forgot that though he wrote the epitaph in a state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over him till his grave was made. Such is the folly of wit when it is ill employed.

The world has but little new; even this wretchedness seems to have been borrowed from the following tuneless lines:

Ludovici Areosti humantur ossa

Sub hoc marmore, vel sub hac humo, seu

Sub quicquid voluit benignus h?res,

Sive h?rede benignior comes, seu

Opportunius incidens viator;

Nam scire haud potuit futura, sed nec

Tanti erat vacuum sibi cadaver

Ut urnam cuperet parare vivens;

Vivens ista tamen sibi paravit,

Qu? inscribi voluit suo sepulchro

Olim siquod haberet is sepulchrum.

Surely Ariosto did not venture to expect that his trifle would have ever had such an illustrious imitator.

* * *


Christopher Pitt, of whom whatever I shall relate, more than has been already published, I owe to the kind communication of Dr. Warton, was born, in 1699, at Blandford, the son of a physician much esteemed.

He was, in 1714, received as a scholar into Winchester college, where he was distinguished by exercises of uncommon elegance, and, at his removal to New college, in 1719, presented to the electors, as the product of his private and voluntary studies, a complete version of Lucan's poem, which he did not then know to have been translated by Rowe.

This is an instance of early diligence which well deserves to be recorded. The suppression of such a work, recommended by such uncommon circumstances, is to be regretted. It is, indeed, culpable to load libraries with superfluous books; but incitements to early excellence are never superfluous, and, from this example, the danger is not great of many imitations.

When he had resided at his college three years, he was presented to the rectory of Pimpern, in Dorsetshire, 1722, by his relation, Mr. Pitt, of Stratfield Say, in Hampshire; and, resigning his fellowship, continued at Oxford two years longer, till he became master of arts, 1724.

He probably about this time translated Vida's Art of Poetry, which Tristram's splendid edition had then made popular. In this translation he distinguished himself, both by its general elegance, and by the skilful adaptation of his numbers to the images expressed; a beauty which Vida has, with great ardour, enforced and exemplified.

He then retired to his living, a place very pleasing by its situation, and, therefore, likely to excite the imagination of a poet; where he passed the rest of his life, reverenced for his virtue, and beloved for the softness of his temper and the easiness of his manners. Before strangers he had something of the scholar's timidity or distrust; but when he became familiar he was, in a very high degree, cheerful and entertaining. His general benevolence procured general respect; and he passed a life placid and honourable, neither too great for the kindness of the low, nor too low for the notice of the great.

At what time he composed his Miscellany, published in 1727, it is not easy or necessary to know: those which have dates appear to have been very early productions, and I have not observed that any rise above mediocrity.

The success of his Vida animated him to a higher undertaking; and in his thirtieth year he published a version of the first book of the ?neid. This being, I suppose, commended by his friends, he, some time afterwards, added three or four more; with an advertisement, in which he represents himself as translating with great indifference, and with a progress of which himself was hardly conscious. This can hardly be true, and, if true, is nothing to the reader.

At last, without any farther contention with his modesty or any awe of the name of Dryden, he gave us a complete English ?neid, which I am sorry not to see, joined in this publication with his other poems[160]. It would have been pleasing to have an opportunity of comparing the two best translations that, perhaps, were ever produced by one nation of the same author.

Pitt, engaging as a rival with Dryden, naturally observed his failures, and avoided them; and, as he wrote after Pope's Iliad, he had an example of an exact, equable and splendid versification. With these advantages seconded by great diligence, he might successfully labour particular passages, and escape many errours. If the two versions are compared, perhaps the result would be that Dryden leads the reader forward by his general vigour and sprightliness, and Pitt often stops him to contemplate the excellence of a single couplet; that Dryden's faults are forgotten in the hurry of delight, and that Pitt's beauties are neglected in the languor of a cold and listless perusal; that Pitt pleases the criticks, and Dryden the people; that Pitt is quoted, and Dryden read.

He did not long enjoy the reputation which this great work deservedly conferred; for he left the world in 1748, and lies buried under a stone at Blandford, on which is this inscription:

In memory of

Chr. Pitt, clerk, M.A.

Very eminent

for his talents in poetry;

and yet more

for the universal candour of

his mind, and the primitive

simplicity of his manners.

He lived innocent;

and died beloved,

Apr. 13, 1748,

aged 48.

* * *


James Thomson, the son of a minister well esteemed for his piety and diligence, was born September 7, 1700, at Ednam, in the shire of Roxburgh, of which his father was pastor. His mother, whose name was Hume[161], inherited, as coheiress, a portion of a small estate. The revenue of a parish in Scotland is seldom large; and it was, probably, in commiseration of the difficulty with which Mr. Thomson supported his family, having nine children, that Mr. Riccarton, a neighbouring minister, discovering in James uncommon promises of future excellence, undertook to superintend his education, and provide him books.

He was taught the common rudiments of learning at the school of Jedburg, a place which he delights to recollect in his poem of Autumn; but was not considered by his master as superiour to common boys, though, in those early days, he amused his patron and his friends with poetical compositions; with which, however, he so little pleased himself, that, on every new-year's day, he threw into the fire all the productions of the foregoing year.

From the school he was removed to Edinburgh, where he had not resided two years when his father died, and left all his children to the care of their mother, who raised, upon her little estate, what money a mortgage could afford, and, removing with her family to Edinburgh, lived to see her son rising into eminence.

The design of Thomson's friends was to breed him a minister. He lived at Edinburgh, as at school, without distinction or expectation, till, at the usual time, he performed a probationary exercise by explaining a psalm. His diction was so poetically splendid, that Mr. Hamilton, the professor of divinity, reproved him for speaking language unintelligible to a popular audience; and he censured one of his expressions as indecent, if not profane[162].

This rebuke is reported to have repressed his thoughts of an ecclesiastical character, and he probably cultivated, with new diligence, his blossoms of poetry, which, however, were in some danger of a blast; for, submitting his productions to some who thought themselves qualified to criticise, he heard of nothing but faults; but, finding other judges more favourable, he did not suffer himself to sink into despondence.

He easily discovered, that the only stage on which a poet could appear, with any hope of advantage, was London; a place too wide for the operation of petty competition and private malignity, where merit might soon become conspicuous, and would find friends as soon as it became reputable to befriend it. A lady, who was acquainted with his mother, advised him to the journey, and promised some countenance, or assistance, which, at last, he never received; however, he justified his adventure by her encouragement, and came to seek, in London, patronage and fame.

At his arrival he found his way to Mr. Mallet, then tutor to the sons of the duke of Montrose. He had recommendations to several persons of consequence, which he had tied up carefully in his handkerchief; but as he passed along the street, with the gaping curiosity of a new-comer, his attention was upon every thing rather than his pocket, and his magazine of credentials was stolen from him.

His first want was a pair of shoes. For the supply of all his necessities, his whole fund was his Winter, which for a time could find no purchaser; till, at last, Mr. Millan was persuaded to buy it at a low price; and this low price he had, for some time, reason to regret[163]; but, by accident, Mr. Whatley, a man not wholly unknown among authors, happening to turn his eye upon it, was so delighted that he ran from place to place celebrating its excellence. Thomson obtained, likewise, the notice of Aaron Hill, whom, being friendless and indigent, and glad of kindness, he courted with every expression of servile adulation.

Winter was dedicated to sir Spencer Compton, but attracted no regard from him to the author; till Aaron Hill awakened his attention by some verses addressed to Thomson, and published in one of the newspapers, which censured the great for their neglect of ingenious men. Thomson then received a present of twenty guineas, of which he gives this account to Mr. Hill:

"I hinted to you in my last, that on Saturday morning I was with sir Spencer Compton. A certain gentleman, without my desire, spoke to him concerning me; his answer was, that I had never come near him. Then the gentleman put the question, if he desired that I should wait on him: he returned, he did. On this, the gentleman gave me an introductory letter to him. He received me in what they commonly call a civil manner; asked me some commonplace questions; and made me a present of twenty guineas. I am very ready to own that the present was larger than my performance deserved; and shall ascribe it to his generosity, or any other cause, rather than the merit of the address."

The poem, which, being of a new kind[164], few would venture at first to like, by degrees gained upon the publick; and one edition was very speedily succeeded by another.

Thomson's credit was now high, and every day brought him new friends; among others Dr. Rundle, a man afterwards unfortunately famous, sought his acquaintance, and found his qualities such, that he recommended him to the lord chancellor Talbot.

Winter was accompanied, in many editions, not only with a preface and a dedication, but with poetical praises by Mr. Hill, Mr. Mallet, (then Malloch,) and Mira, the fictitious name of a lady once too well known. Why the dedications are, to Winter and the other seasons, contrarily to custom, left out in the collected works, the reader may inquire.

The next year, 1727, he distinguished himself by three publications; of Summer, in pursuance of his plan; of a Poem on the Death of sir Isaac Newton, which he was enabled to perform as an exact philosopher by the instruction of Mr. Gray; and of Britannia, a kind of poetical invective against the ministry, whom the nation then thought not forward enough in resenting the depredations of the Spaniards. By this piece he declared himself an adherent to the opposition, and had, therefore, no favour to expect from the court.

Thomson, having been some time entertained in the family of the lord Binning, was desirous of testifying his gratitude by making him the patron of his Summer; but the same kindness which had first disposed lord Binning to encourage him, determined him to refuse the dedication, which was, by his advice, addressed to Mr. Dodington, a man who had more power to advance the reputation and fortune of a poet.

Spring was published next year, with a dedication to the countess of Hertford; whose practice it was to invite every summer some poet into the country, to hear her verses, and assist her studies. This honour was one summer conferred on Thomson, who took more delight in carousing with lord Hertford and his friends than assisting her ladyship's poetical operations, and, therefore, never received another summons.

Autumn, the season to which the Spring and Summer are preparatory, still remained unsung, and was delayed till he published, 1730, his works collected.

He produced in 1727 the tragedy of Sophonisba, which raised such expectation, that every rehearsal was dignified with a splendid audience, collected to anticipate the delight that was preparing for the publick. It was observed, however, that nobody was much affected, and that the company rose as from a moral lecture.

It had upon the stage no unusual degree of success. Slight accidents will operate upon the taste of pleasure. There is a feeble line in the play:

O, Sophonisba, Sophonisba, O!

This gave occasion to a waggish parody:

O, Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, O!

which for awhile was echoed through the town.

I have been told by Savage, that of the prologue to Sophonisba, the first part was written by Pope, who could not be persuaded to finish it; and that the concluding lines were added by Mallet.

Thomson was not long afterwards, by the influence of Dr. Rundle, sent to travel with Mr. Charles Talbot, the eldest son of the chancellor. He was yet young enough to receive new impressions, to have his opinions rectified, and his views enlarged; nor can he be supposed to have wanted that curiosity which is inseparable from an active and comprehensive mind. He may, therefore, now be supposed to have revelled in all the joys of intellectual luxury; he was every day feasted with instructive novelties; he lived splendidly without expense; and might expect, when he returned home, a certain establishment.

At this time a long course of opposition to sir Robert Walpole had filled the nation with clamours for liberty, of which no man felt the want, and with care for liberty, which was not in danger. Thomson in his travels on the continent, found or fancied so many evils arising from the tyranny of other governments, that he resolved to write a very long poem, in five parts, upon liberty.

While he was busy on the first book, Mr. Talbot died; and Thomson, who had been rewarded for his attendance by the place of secretary of the briefs, pays in the initial lines a decent tribute to his memory.

Upon this great poem two years were spent, and the author congratulated himself upon it as his noblest work; but an author and his reader are not always of a mind. Liberty called in vain upon her votaries to read her praises and reward her encomiast: her praises were condemned to harbour spiders, and to gather dust; none of Thomson's performances were so little regarded.

The judgment of the publick was not erroneous; the recurrence of the same images must tire in time; an enumeration of examples to prove a position which nobody denied, as it was from the beginning superfluous, must quickly grow disgusting.

The poem of Liberty does not now appear in its original state; but, when the author's works were collected after his death, was shortened by sir George Lyttelton, with a liberty, which, as it has a manifest tendency to lessen the confidence of society, and to confound the characters of authors, by making one man write by the judgment of another, cannot be justified by any supposed propriety of the alteration, or kindness of the friend. I wish to see it exhibited as its author left it.

Thomson now lived in ease and plenty, and seems, for awhile, to have suspended his poetry; but he was soon called back to labour by the death of the chancellor, for his place then became vacant[165]; and though the lord Hardwicke delayed, for some time, to give it away, Thomson's bashfulness, or pride, or some other motive, perhaps not more laudable, withheld him from soliciting; and the new chancellor would not give him what he would not ask.

He now relapsed to his former indigence; but the prince of Wales was at that time struggling for popularity, and, by the influence of Mr. Lyttelton, professed himself the patron of wit: to him Thomson was introduced, and being gaily interrogated about the state of his affairs, said, "that they were in a more poetical posture than formerly;" and had a pension allowed him of one hundred pounds a year.

Being now obliged to write, he produced, 1738[166], the tragedy of Agamemnon, which was much shortened in the representation. It had the fate which most commonly attends mythological stories, and was only endured, but not favoured. It struggled with such difficulty through the first night, that Thomson, coming late to his friends with whom he was to sup, excused his delay by telling them how the sweat of his distress had so disordered his wig, that he could not come till he had been refitted by a barber.

He so interested himself in his own drama, that, if I remember right, as he sat in the upper gallery, he accompanied the players by audible recitation, till a friendly hint frighted him to silence. Pope countenanced Agamemnon, by coming to it the first night, and was welcomed to the theatre by a general clap; he had much regard for Thomson, and once expressed it in a poetical epistle sent to Italy, of which, however, he abated the value, by transplanting some of the lines into his epistle to Arbuthnot.

About this time the act was passed for licensing plays, of which the first operation was the prohibition of Gustavus Vasa[167], a tragedy of Mr. Brooke, whom the publick recompensed by a very liberal subscription; the next was the refusal of Edward and Eleonora, offered by Thomson. It is hard to discover why either play should have been obstructed. Thomson, likewise, endeavoured to repair his loss by a subscription, of which I cannot now tell the success.

When the publick murmured at the unkind treatment of Thomson, one of the ministerial writers remarked, that "he had taken a liberty which was not agreeable to Britannia in any season."

He was soon after employed, in conjunction with Mr. Mallet, to write the mask of Alfred, which was acted before the prince at Cliefden-house.

His next work, 1745, was Tancred and Sigismunda, the most successful of all his tragedies; for it still keeps its turn upon the stage. It may be doubted whether he was, either by the bent of nature or habits of study, much qualified for tragedy. It does not appear that he had much sense of the pathetick; and his diffusive and descriptive style produced declamation rather than dialogue.

His friend Mr. Lyttelton was now in power, and conferred upon him the office of surveyor-general of the Leeward Islands; from which, when his deputy was paid, he received about three hundred pounds a year.

The last piece that he lived to publish was the Castle of Indolence, which was many years under his hand, but was, at last, finished with great accuracy. The first canto opens a scene of lazy luxury that fills the imagination.

He was now at ease, but was not long to enjoy it; for, by taking cold on the water between London and Kew, he caught a disorder, which, with some careless exasperation, ended in a fever that put an end to his life, August 27, 1748. He was buried in the church of Richmond, without an inscription; but a monument has been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.

Thomson was of stature above the middle size, and "more fat than bard beseems," of a dull countenance, and a gross, unanimated, uninviting appearance; silent in mingled company, but cheerful among select friends, and by his friends very tenderly and warmly beloved[168].

He left behind him the tragedy of Coriolanus, which was, by the zeal of his patron, sir George Lyttelton, brought upon the stage for the benefit of his family, and recommended by a prologue, which Quin, who had long lived with Thomson in fond intimacy, spoke in such a manner as showed him "to be," on that occasion, "no actor." The commencement of this benevolence is very honourable to Quin; who is reported to have delivered Thomson, then known to him only for his genius, from an arrest by a very considerable present; and its continuance is honourable to both; for friendship is not always the sequel of obligation. By this tragedy a considerable sum was raised, of which part discharged his debts, and the rest was remitted to his sisters, whom, however removed from them by place or condition, he regarded with great tenderness, as will appear by the following letter, which I communicate with much pleasure, as it gives me, at once, an opportunity of recording the fraternal kindness of Thomson, and reflecting on the friendly assistance of Mr. Boswell, from whom I received it.

"Hagley in Worcestershire, Oct. 4th, 1747.

"My Dear Sister,-I thought you had known me better than to interpret my silence into a decay of affection, especially as your behaviour has always been such as rather to increase than diminish it. Don't imagine, because I am a bad correspondent, that I can ever prove an unkind friend and brother. I must do myself the justice to tell you, that my affections are naturally very fixed and constant; and if I had ever reason of complaint against you, (of which, by the by, I have not the least shadow,) I am conscious of so many defects in myself, as dispose me to be not a little charitable and forgiving.

"It gives me the truest heartfelt satisfaction to hear you have a good, kind husband, and are in easy, contented circumstances; but were they otherwise, that would only awaken and heighten my tenderness towards you. As our good and tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any material testimonies of that highest human gratitude I owed them, (than which nothing could have given me equal pleasure,) the only return I can make them now is by kindness to those they left behind them. Would to God poor Lizy had lived longer, to have been a further witness of the truth of what I say, and that I might have had the pleasure of seeing once more a sister who so truly deserved my esteem and love! But she is happy, while we must toil a little longer here below: let us, however, do it cheerfully and gratefully, supported by the pleasing hope of meeting yet again on a safer shore, where to recollect the storms and difficulties of life will not, perhaps, be inconsistent with that blissful state. You did right to call your daughter by her name; for you must needs have had a particular tender friendship for one another, endeared as you were by nature, by having passed the affectionate years of your youth together; and by that great softener and engager of hearts, mutual hardship. That it was in my power to ease it a little, I account one of the most exquisite pleasures of my life. But enough of this melancholy, though not unpleasing strain.

"I esteem you for your sensible and disinterested advice to Mr. Bell, as you will see by my letter to him: as I approve entirely of his marrying again, you may readily ask me why I don't marry at all. My circumstances have, hitherto, been so variable and uncertain in this fluctuating world, as induce to keep me from engaging in such a state: and now, though they are more settled, and of late (which you will be glad to hear) considerably improved, I begin to think myself too far advanced in life for such youthful undertakings, not to mention some other petty reasons that are apt to startle the delicacy of difficult old bachelors. I am, however, not a little suspicious that, was I to pay a visit to Scotland, (which I have some thoughts of doing soon,) I might, possibly, be tempted to think of a thing not easily repaired if done amiss. I have always been of opinion that none make better wives than the ladies of Scotland; and yet, who more forsaken than they, while the gentlemen are continually running abroad all the world over? Some of them, it is true, are wise enough to return for a wife. You see I am beginning to make interest already with the Scots ladies. But no more of this infectious subject. Pray let me hear from you now and then; and though I am not a regular correspondent, yet, perhaps, I may mend in that respect. Remember me kindly to your husband, and believe me to be

"Your most affectionate brother,

"James Thomson."

(Addressed) "To Mrs. Thomson, in Lanark."

The benevolence of Thomson was fervid, but not active: he would give, on all occasions, what assistance his purse would supply; but the offices of intervention or solicitation he could not conquer his sluggishness sufficiently to perform. The affairs of others, however, were not more neglected than his own. He had often felt the inconveniencies of idleness, but he never cured it; and was so conscious of his own character, that he talked of writing an eastern tale of the Man who loved to be in Distress.

Among his peculiarities was a very unskilful and inarticulate manner of propounding any lofty or solemn composition. He was once reading to Dodington, who, being himself a reader eminently elegant, was so much provoked by his odd utterance, that he snatched the paper from his hand, and told him that he did not understand his own verses.

The biographer of Thomson has remarked, that an author's life is best read in his works: his observation was not well-timed. Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me, he heard a lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of his character, that he was "a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously abstinent;" but, said Savage, he knows not any love but that of the sex; he was, perhaps, never in cold water in his life; and he indulges himself in all the luxury that comes within his reach. Yet Savage always spoke with the most eager praise of his social qualities, his warmth and constancy of friendship, and his adherence to his first acquaintance when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him.

As a writer he is entitled to one praise of the highest kind: his mode of thinking, and of expressing his thoughts, is original. His blank verse is no more the blank verse of Milton, or of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior are the rhymes of Cowley. His numbers, his pauses, his diction, are of his own growth, without transcription, without imitation. He thinks in a peculiar train, and he thinks always as a man of genius; he looks round on nature and on life with the eye which nature bestows only on a poet; the eye that distinguishes, in every thing presented to its view, whatever there is on which imagination can delight to be detained, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and attends to the minute. The reader of the Seasons wonders that he never saw before what Thomson shows him, and that he never yet has felt what Thomson impresses.

His is one of the works in which blank verse seems properly used. Thomson's wide expansion of general views, and his enumeration of circumstantial varieties, would have been obstructed and embarrassed by the frequent intersection of the sense, which are the necessary effects of rhyme.

His descriptions of extended scenes and general effects bring before us the whole magnificence of nature, whether pleasing or dreadful. The gaiety of spring, the splendour of summer, the tranquillity of autumn, and the horrour of winter, take, in their turns, possession of the mind. The poet leads us through the appearances of things as they are successively varied by the vicissitudes of the year, and imparts to us so much of his own enthusiasm, that our thoughts expand with his imagery, and kindle with his sentiments. Nor is the naturalist without his part in the entertainment; for he is assisted to recollect and to combine, to arrange his discoveries, and to amplify the sphere of his contemplation.

The great defect of the Seasons is want of method; but for this I know not that there was any remedy. Of many appearances subsisting all at once, no rule can be given why one should be mentioned before another; yet the memory wants the help of order, and the curiosity is not excited by suspense or expectation.

His diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts, "both their lustre and their shade:" such as invest them with splendour, through which, perhaps, they are not always easily discerned. It is too exuberant, and sometimes may be charged with filling the ear more than the mind.

These poems, with which I was acquainted at their first appearance, I have since found altered and enlarged by subsequent revisals[169], as the author supposed his judgment to grow more exact, and as books or conversation extended his knowledge and opened his prospects. They are, I think, improved in general; yet I know not whether they have not lost part of what Temple calls their "race;" a word which, applied to wines, in its primitive sense, means the flavour of the soil.

Liberty, when it first appeared, I tried to read, and soon desisted. I have never tried again, and, therefore, will not hazard either praise or censure.

The highest praise which he has received ought not to be suppressed; it is said by lord Lyttelton, in the prologue to his posthumous play, that his works contained

No line which, dying, he could wish to blot.

* * *


The poems of Dr. Watts were, by my recommendation, inserted in the late collection; the readers of which are to impute to me whatever pleasure or weariness they may find in the perusal of Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden.

Isaac Watts was born July 17, 1674, at Southampton, where his father, of the same name, kept a boarding-school for young gentlemen, though common report makes him a shoemaker. He appears, from the narrative of Dr. Gibbons, to have been neither indigent nor illiterate.

Isaac, the eldest of nine children, was given to books from his infancy; and began, we are told, to learn Latin when he was four years old, I suppose, at home. He was afterwards taught Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, by Mr. Pinhorn, a clergyman, master of the free-school at Southampton, to whom the gratitude of his scholar afterwards inscribed a Latin ode.

His proficiency at school was so conspicuous, that a subscription was proposed for his support at the university; but he declared his resolution of taking his lot with the dissenters. Such he was as every Christian church would rejoice to have adopted.

He, therefore, repaired, in 1690, to an academy taught by Mr. Rowe, where he had for his companions and fellow-students Mr. Hughes the poet, and Dr. Horte, afterwards archbishop of Tuam. Some Latin essays, supposed to have been written as exercises at this academy, show a degree of knowledge, both philosophical and theological, such as very few attain by a much longer course of study.

He was, as he hints in his Miscellanies, a maker of verses from fifteen to fifty, and, in his youth, appears to have paid attention to Latin poetry. His verses to his brother, in the glyconick measure, written when he was seventeen, are remarkably easy and elegant. Some of his other odes are deformed by the Pindarick folly then prevailing, and are written with such neglect of all metrical rules, as is without example among the ancients; but his diction, though, perhaps, not always exactly pure, has such copiousness and splendour, as shows that he was but a very little distance from excellence.

His method of study was to impress the contents of his books upon his memory by abridging them, and by interleaving them to amplify one system with supplements from another.

With the congregation of his tutor Mr. Rowe, who were, I believe, independents, he communicated in his nineteenth year.

At the age of twenty he left the academy, and spent two years in study and devotion at the house of his father, who treated him with great tenderness; and had the happiness, indulged to few parents, of living to see his son eminent for literature, and venerable for piety.

He was then entertained by sir John Hartopp five years, as domestick tutor to his son: and in that time particularly devoted himself to the study of the holy scriptures; and, being chosen assistant to Dr. Chauncey, preached the first time on the birthday that completed his twenty-fourth year; probably considering that as the day of a second nativity, by which he entered on a new period of existence.

In about three years he succeeded Dr. Chauncey; but, soon after his entrance on his charge, he was seized by a dangerous illness, which sunk him to such weakness, that the congregation thought an assistant necessary, and appointed Mr. Price. His health then returned gradually; and he performed his duty till, 1712, he was seized by a fever of such violence and continuance, that from the feebleness which it brought upon him he never perfectly recovered.

This calamitous state made the compassion of his friends necessary, and drew upon him the attention of sir Thomas Abney, who received him into his house; where, with a constancy of friendship and uniformity of conduct not often to be found, he was treated for thirty-six years with all the kindness that friendship could prompt, and all the attention that respect could dictate. Sir Thomas died about eight years afterwards; but he continued with the lady and her daughters to the end of his life. The lady died about a year after him.

A coalition like this, a state in which the notions of patronage and dependence were overpowered by the perception of reciprocal benefits, deserves a particular memorial; and I will not withhold from the reader Dr. Gibbon's representation; to which regard is to be paid, as to the narrative of one who writes what he knows, and what is known likewise to multitudes besides.

"Our next observation shall be made upon that remarkably kind providence which brought the doctor into sir Thomas Abney's family, and continued him there till his death, a period of no less than thirty-six years. In the midst of his sacred labours for the glory of God, and good of his generation, he is seized with a most violent and threatening fever, which leaves him oppressed with great weakness, and puts a stop, at least, to his publick services for four years. In this distressing season, doubly so to his active and pious spirit, he is invited to sir Thomas Abney's family, nor ever removes from it till he had finished his days. Here he enjoyed the uninterrupted demonstrations of the truest friendship. Here, without any care of his own, he had every thing which could contribute to the enjoyment of life, and favour the unwearied pursuits of his studies. Here he dwelt in a family, which for piety, order, harmony, and every virtue, was an house of God. Here he had the privilege of a country recess, the fragrant bower, the spreading lawn, the flowery garden, and other advantages, to sooth his mind, and aid his restoration to health; to yield him, whenever he chose them, most grateful intervals from his laborious studies, and enable him to return to them with redoubled vigour and delight. Had it not been for this most happy event, he might, as to outward view, have feebly, it may be painfully, dragged on through many more years of languor, and inability for publick service, and even for profitable study, or, perhaps, might have sunk into his grave under the overwhelming load of infirmities in the midst of his days; and thus the church and world would have been deprived of those many excellent sermons and works, which he drew up and published during his long residence in this family. In a few years after his coming hither, sir Thomas Abney dies; but his amiable consort survives, who shows the doctor the same respect and friendship as before, and most happily for him and great numbers besides; for, as her riches were great, her generosity and munificence were in full proportion; her thread of life was drawn out to a great age, even beyond that of the doctor's; and thus this excellent man, through her kindness, and that of her daughter, the present Mrs. Elizabeth Abney, who in a like degree esteemed and honoured him, enjoyed all the benefits and felicities he experienced at his first entrance into this family, till his days were numbered and finished; and, like a shock of corn in its season, he ascended into the regions of perfect and immortal life and joy."

If this quotation has appeared long, let it be considered that it comprises an account of six-and-thirty years, and those the years of Dr. Watts.

From the time of his reception into this family, his life was no otherwise diversified than by successive publications. The series of his works I am not able to deduce; their number and their variety show the intenseness of his industry, and the extent of his capacity.

He was one of the first authors that taught the dissenters to court attention by the graces of language. Whatever they had among them before, whether of learning or acuteness, was commonly obscured and blunted by coarseness, and inelegance of style. He showed them, that zeal and purity might be expressed and enforced by polished diction.

He continued to the end of his life the teacher of a congregation; and no reader of his works can doubt his fidelity or diligence. In the pulpit, though his low stature, which very little exceeded five feet, graced him with no advantages of appearance, yet the gravity and propriety of his utterance made his discourses very efficacious. I once mentioned the reputation which Mr. Foster had gained by his proper delivery, to my friend Dr. Hawkesworth, who told me, that in the art of pronunciation he was far inferiour to Dr. Watts.

Such was his flow of thoughts, and such his promptitude of language, that in the latter part of his life he did not precompose his cursory sermons, but having adjusted the heads, and sketched out some particulars, trusted for success to his extemporary powers.

He did not endeavour to assist his eloquence by any gesticulations; for, as no corporeal actions have any correspondence with theological truth, he did not see how they could enforce it.

At the conclusion of weighty sentences he gave time, by a short pause, for the proper impression.

To stated and publick instruction he added familiar visits, and personal application, and was careful to improve the opportunities which conversation offered of diffusing and increasing the influence of religion.

By his natural temper he was quick of resentment; but, by his established and habitual practice, he was gentle, modest, and inoffensive. His tenderness appeared in his attention to children and to the poor. To the poor, while he lived in the family of his friend, he allowed the third part of his annual revenue, though the whole was not a hundred a year; and for children he condescended to lay aside the scholar, the philosopher, and the wit, to write little poems of devotion, and systems of instruction, adapted to their wants and capacities, from the dawn of reason, through its gradations of advance in the morning of life. Every man acquainted with the common principles of human action, will look with veneration on the writer, who is at one time combating Locke, and at another making a catechism for children in their fourth year. A voluntary descent from the dignity of science is, perhaps, the hardest lesson that humility can teach.

As his mind was capacious, his curiosity excursive, and his industry continual, his writings are very numerous, and his subjects various. With his theological works I am only enough acquainted to admire his meekness of opposition, and his mildness of censure. It was not only in his book, but in his mind, that orthodoxy was united with charity.

Of his philosophical pieces, his Logick has been received into the universities, and, therefore, wants no private recommendation; if he owes part of it to Le Clerc, it must be considered that no man, who undertakes merely to methodise or illustrate a system, pretends to be its author.

In his metaphysical disquisitions, it was observed by the late learned Mr. Dyer, that he confounded the idea of space with that of empty space, and did not consider, that though space might be without matter, yet matter, being extended, could not be without space.

Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his Improvement of the Mind, of which the radical principles may, indeed, be found in Locke's Conduct of the Understanding; but they are so expanded and ramified by Watts, as to confer upon him the merit of a work, in the highest degree, useful and pleasing. Whoever has the care of instructing others, may be charged with deficience in his duty if this book is not recommended.

I have mentioned his treatises of theology as distinct from his other productions; but the truth is, that whatever he took in hand was, by his incessant solicitude for souls, converted to theology. As piety predominated in his mind, it is diffused over his works: under his direction it may be truly said, "theologi? philosophia ancillatur," philosophy is subservient to evangelical instruction: it is difficult to read a page without learning, or at least wishing, to be better. The attention is caught by indirect instruction, and he that sat down only to reason is, on a sudden, compelled to pray.

It was, therefore, with great propriety that, in 1728, he received from Edinburgh and Aberdeen an unsolicited diploma, by which he became a doctor of divinity. Academical honours would have more value, if they were always bestowed with equal judgment.

He continued many years to study and to preach, and to do good by his instruction and example: till at last the infirmities of age disabled him from the more laborious part of his ministerial functions, and, being no longer capable of publick duty, he offered to remit the salary appendant to it; but his congregation would not accept the resignation.

By degrees his weakness increased, and at last confined him to his chamber and his bed; where he was worn gradually away without pain, till he expired, Nov. 25, 1748, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

Few men have left behind such purity of character, or such monuments of laborious piety. He has provided instruction for all ages, from those who are lisping their first lessons, to the enlightened readers of Malbranche and Locke; he has left neither corporeal nor spiritual nature unexamined; he has taught the art of reasoning, and the science of the stars.

His character, therefore, must be formed from the multiplicity and diversity of his attainments, rather than from any single performance; for it would not be safe to claim for him the highest rank in any single denomination of literary dignity; yet, perhaps, there was nothing in which he would not have excelled, if he had not divided his powers to different pursuits.

As a poet, had he been only a poet, he would probably have stood high among the authors with whom he is now associated. For his judgment was exact, and he noted beauties and faults with very nice discernment; his imagination, as the Dacian Battle proves, was vigorous and active, and the stores of knowledge were large by which his fancy was to be supplied. His ear was well-tuned, and his diction was elegant and copious. But his devotional poetry is, like that of others, unsatisfactory. The paucity of its topicks enforces perpetual repetition, and the sanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction. It is sufficient for Watts to have done better than others what no man has done well.

His poems on other subjects seldom rise higher than might be expected from the amusements of a man of letters, and have different degrees of value as they are more or less laboured, or as the occasion was more or less favourable to invention.

He writes too often without regular measures, and too often in blank verse; the rhymes are not always sufficiently correspondent. He is particularly unhappy in coining names expressive of characters. His lines are commonly smooth and easy, and his thoughts always religiously pure; but who is there that, to so much piety and innocence, does not wish for a greater measure of sprightliness and vigour? He is, at least, one of the few poets with whom youth and ignorance may be safely pleased; and happy will be that reader whose mind is disposed, by his verses or his prose, to imitate him in all but his nonconformity, to copy his benevolence to man, and his reverence to God.

* * *


Of the birth, or early part of the life, of Ambrose Philips, I have not been able to find any account. His academical education he received at St. John's college, in Cambridge[170], where he first solicited the notice of the world by some English verses, in the collection, published by the university, on the death of queen Mary.

From this time, how he was employed, or in what station he passed his life, is not yet discovered. He must have published his Pastorals before the year 1708, because they are, evidently, prior to those of Pope.

He afterwards, 1709, addressed to the universal patron, the duke of Dorset, a poetical Letter from Copenhagen, which was published in the Tatler, and is, by Pope, in one of his first letters, mentioned with high praise, as the production of a man "who could write very nobly."

Philips was a zealous whig, and, therefore, easily found access to Addison and Steele; but his ardour seems not to have procured him any thing more than kind words; since he was reduced to translate the Persian Tales for Tonson, for which he was afterwards reproached, with this addition of contempt, that he worked for half-a-crown. The book is divided into many sections, for each of which, if he received half-a-crown, his reward, as writers then were paid, was very liberal; but half-a-crown had a mean sound.

He was employed in promoting the principles of his party, by epitomising Hacket's Life of Archbishop Williams. The original book is written with such depravity of genius, such mixture of the fop and pedant, as has not often appeared. The epitome is free enough from affectation, but has little spirit or vigour[171].

In 1712, he brought upon the stage the Distrest Mother, almost a translation of Racine's Andromaque. Such a work requires no uncommon powers; but the friends of Philips exerted every art to promote his interest. Before the appearance of the play, a whole Spectator, none, indeed, of the best, was devoted to its praise; while it yet continued to be acted, another Spectator was written, to tell what impression it made upon sir Roger; and, on the first night, a select audience, says Pope[172], was called together to applaud it.

It was concluded with the most successful epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play, but, whenever it is recalled to the stage, where, by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the French, it yet keeps its place, the epilogue is still expected, and is still spoken.

The propriety of epilogues in general, and, consequently, of this, was questioned by a correspondent of the Spectator, whose letter was undoubtedly admitted for the sake of the answer, which soon followed, written with much zeal and acrimony. The attack and the defence equally contributed to stimulate curiosity and continue attention. It may be discovered, in the defence, that Prior's epilogue to Ph?dra had a little excited jealousy; and something of Prior's plan may be discovered in the performance of his rival. Of this distinguished epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate[173] "the man who calls me cousin;" and when he was asked, how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, "the epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first." It was known in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.

Philips was now high in the ranks of literature. His play was applauded; his translations from Sappho had been published in the Spectator; he was an important and distinguished associate of clubs, witty and political; and nothing was wanting to his happiness, but that he should be sure of its continuance.

The work which had procured him the first notice from the publick, was his Six Pastorals, which, flattering the imagination with Arcadian scenes, probably found many readers, and might have long passed as a pleasing amusement, had they not been, unhappily, too much commended.

The rustick poems of Theocritus were so highly valued by the Greeks and Romans, that they attracted the imitation of Virgil, whose eclogues seem to have been considered as precluding all attempts of the same kind; for, no shepherds were taught to sing by any succeeding poet, till Nemesian and Calphurnius ventured their feeble efforts in the lower age of Latin literature.

At the revival of learning in Italy, it was soon discovered, that a dialogue of imaginary swains might be composed with little difficulty; because the conversation of shepherds excludes profound or refined sentiment; and, for images and descriptions, satyrs and fawns, and naiads and dryads, were always within call; and woods and meadows, and hills and rivers, supplied variety of matter, which; having a natural power to sooth the mind, did not quickly cloy it.

Petrarch entertained the learned men of his age with the novelty of modern pastorals in Latin. Being not ignorant of Greek, and finding nothing in the word eclogue, of rural meaning, he supposed it to be corrupted by the copiers, and, therefore, called his own productions ?glogues, by which he meant to express the talk of goatherds, though it will mean only the talk of goats. This new name was adopted by subsequent writers, and, amongst others, by our Spenser.

More than a century afterwards, 1498, Mantuan published his Bucolicks with such success, that they were soon dignified by Badius with a comment, and, as Scaliger complained, received into schools, and taught as classical; his complaint was vain, and the practice, however injudicious, spread far, and continued long. Mantuan was read, at least in some of the inferiour schools of this kingdom, to the beginning of the present century. The speakers of Mantuan carried their disquisitions beyond the country, to censure the corruptions of the church; and from him Spenser learned to employ his swains on topicks of controversy.

The Italians soon transferred pastoral poetry into their own language: Sannazaro wrote Arcadia in prose and verse: Tasso and Guarini wrote Favole Boschareccie, or sylvan dramas; and all nations of Europe filled volumes with Thyrsis and Damon, and Thestylis and Phyllis.

Philips thinks it somewhat strange to conceive "how, in an age so addicted to the muses, pastoral poetry never comes to be so much as thought upon." His wonder seems very unseasonable; there had never, from the time of Spenser, wanted writers to talk occasionally of Arcadia and Strephon; and half the book, in which he first tried his powers, consists of dialogues on queen Mary's death, between Tityrus and Corydon, or Mopsus and Menalcas. A series or book of pastorals, however, I know not that any one had then lately published.

Not long afterwards, Pope made the first display of his powers in four pastorals, written in a very different form. Philips had taken Spenser, and Pope took Virgil for his pattern. Philips endeavoured to be natural, Pope laboured to be elegant.

Philips was now favoured by Addison, and by Addison's companions, who were very willing to push him into reputation. The Guardian gave an account of pastoral, partly critical, and partly historical; in which, when the merit of the moderns is compared, Tasso and Guarini are censured for remote thoughts and unnatural refinements; and, upon the whole, the Italians and French are all excluded from rural poetry; and the pipe of the pastoral muse is transmitted, by lawful inheritance, from Theocritus to Virgil, from Virgil to Spenser, and from Spenser to Philips.

With this inauguration of Philips, his rival Pope was not much delighted; he, therefore, drew a comparison of Philips's performance with his own, in which, with an unexampled and unequalled artifice of irony, though he has himself always the advantage, he gives the preference to Philips. The design of aggrandizing himself he disguised with such dexterity, that, though Addison discovered it, Steele was deceived, and was afraid of displeasing Pope by publishing his paper. Published, however, it was, (Guardian, 40,) and from that time Pope and Philips lived in a perpetual reciprocation of malevolence.

In poetical powers, of either praise or satire, there was no proportion between the combatants; but Philips, though he could not prevail by wit, hoped to hurt Pope with another weapon, and charged him, as Pope thought, with Addison's approbation, as disaffected to the government.

Even with this he was not satisfied; for, indeed, there is no appearance that any regard was paid to his clamours. He proceeded to grosser insults, and hung up a rod at Button's, with which he threatened to chastise Pope, who appears to have been extremely exasperated; for, in the first edition of his letters, he calls Philips "rascal," and in the last still charges him with detaining, in his hands, the subscriptions for Homer, delivered to him by the Hanover club.

I suppose it was never suspected that he meant to appropriate the money; he only delayed, and with sufficient meanness, the gratification of him by whose prosperity he was pained.

Men sometimes suffer by injudicious kindness; Philips became ridiculous, without his own fault, by the absurd admiration of his friends, who decorated him with honorary garlands, which the first breath of contradiction blasted.

When upon the succession of the house of Hanover every whig expected to be happy, Philips seems to have obtained too little notice; he caught few drops of the golden shower, though he did not omit what flattery could perform. He was only made a commissioner of the lottery, 1717, and, what did not much elevate his character, a justice of the peace.

The success of his first play must naturally dispose him to turn his hopes towards the stage: he did not, however, soon commit himself to the mercy of an audience, but contented himself with the fame already acquired, till after nine years he produced, 1722, the Briton, a tragedy which, whatever was its reception, is now neglected; though one of the scenes, between Vanoc, the British prince, and Valens, the Roman general, is confessed to be written with great dramatick skill, animated by spirit truly poetical.

He had not been idle, though he had been silent: for he exhibited another tragedy the same year, on the story of Humphry, duke of Gloucester. This tragedy is only remembered by its title.

His happiest undertaking was of a paper, called the Freethinker, in conjunction with associates, of whom one was Dr. Boulter, who, then only minister of a parish in Southwark, was of so much consequence to the government, that he was made, first, bishop of Bristol, and, afterwards, primate of Ireland, where his piety and his charity will be long honoured.

It may easily be imagined that what was printed under the direction of Boulter would have nothing in it indecent or licentious; its title is to be understood as implying only freedom from unreasonable prejudice. It has been reprinted in volumes, but is little read; nor can impartial criticism recommend it as worthy of revival.

Boulter was not well qualified to write diurnal essays; but he knew how to practise the liberality of greatness and the fidelity of friendship. When he was advanced to the height of ecclesiastical dignity, he did not forget the companion of his labours. Knowing Philips to be slenderly supported, he took him to Ireland, as partaker of his fortune; and, making him his secretary[174], added such preferments, as enabled him to represent the county of Armagh in the Irish parliament.

In December, 1726, he was made secretary to the lord chancellor; and in August, 1733, became judge of the prerogative court.

After the death of his patron he continued some years in Ireland; but at last longing, as it seems, for his native country, he returned, 1748, to London, having, doubtless, survived most of his friends and enemies, and among them his dreaded antagonist, Pope. He found, however, the duke of Newcastle still living, and to him he dedicated his poems, collected into a volume.

Having purchased an annuity of four hundred pounds, he now certainly hoped to pass some years of life in plenty and tranquillity; but his hope deceived him; he was struck with a palsy, and died June 18, 1749, in his seventy-eighth year[175].

Of his personal character, all that I have heard is, that he was eminent for bravery and skill in the sword, and that in conversation he was solemn and pompous. He had great sensibility of censure, if judgment may be made by a single story which I heard long ago from Mr. Ing, a gentleman of great eminence in Staffordshire. "Philips," said he, "was once at table, when I asked him, how came thy king of Epirus to drive oxen, and to say 'I'm goaded on by love?' After which question he never spoke again[176]."

Of the Distrest Mother, not much is pretended to be his own, and, therefore, it is no subject of criticism: his other two tragedies, I believe, are not below mediocrity nor above it. Among the poems comprised in the late collection, the Letter from Denmark may be justly praised; the Pastorals, which, by the writer of the Guardian, were ranked as one of the four genuine productions of the rustick muse, cannot surely be despicable. That they exhibit a mode of life which does not exist, nor ever existed, is not to be objected: the supposition of such a state is allowed to pastoral. In his other poems he cannot be denied the praise of lines sometimes elegant; but he has seldom much force, or much comprehension. The pieces that please best are those which from Pope and Pope's adherents procured him the name of Namby Pamby, the poems of short lines, by which he paid his court to all ages and characters, from Walpole, "the steerer of the realm," to Miss Pulteney in the nursery. The numbers are smooth and sprightly, and the diction is seldom faulty. They are not loaded with much thought, yet, if they had been written by Addison, they would have had admirers: little things are not valued but when they are done by those who can do greater.

In his translations from Pindar, he found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard, however he may fall below his sublimity; he will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have more smoke.

He has added nothing to English poetry, yet, at least, half his book deserves to be read: perhaps he valued most himself that part which the critick would reject.

* * *


Gilbert West is one of the writers of whom I regret my inability to give a sufficient account; the intelligence which my inquiries have obtained is general and scanty.

He was the son of the reverend Dr. West; perhaps[177] him who published Pindar, at Oxford, about the beginning of this century. His mother was sister to sir Richard Temple, afterwards lord Cobham. His father, purposing to educate him for the church, sent him first to Eton, and afterwards to Oxford; but he was seduced to a more airy mode of life, by a commission in a troop of horse, procured him by his uncle.

He continued some time in the army; though it is reasonable to suppose that he never sunk into a mere soldier, nor ever lost the love, or much neglected the pursuit, of learning; and, afterwards, finding himself more inclined to civil employment, he laid down his commission, and engaged in business under the lord Townshend, then secretary of state, with whom he attended the king to Hanover.

His adherence to lord Townshend ended in nothing but a nomination, May, 1729, to be clerk extraordinary of the privy council, which produced no immediate profit; for it only placed him in a state of expectation and right of succession, and it was very long before a vacancy admitted him to profit.

Soon afterwards he married, and settled himself in a very pleasant house at Wickham, in Kent, where he devoted himself to learning and to piety. Of his learning, the late collection exhibits evidence, which would have been yet fuller, if the dissertations which accompany his version of Pindar had not been improperly omitted. Of his piety, the influence has, I hope, been extended far by his Observations on the Resurrection, published in 1747, for which the university of Oxford created him a doctor of laws by diploma, March 30,1748, and would, doubtless, have reached yet further, had he lived to complete what he had for some time meditated, the Evidences of the Truth of the New Testament. Perhaps it may not be without effect to tell, that he read the prayers of the publick liturgy every morning to his family, and that on Sunday evening he called his servants into the parlour, and read to them first a sermon, and then prayers. Crashaw is now not the only maker of verses to whom may be given the two venerable names of poet and saint.

He was very often visited by Lyttelton and Pitt, who, when they were weary of faction and debates, used at Wickham to find books and quiet, a decent table, and literary conversation. There is at Wickham a walk made by Pitt; and, what is of far more importance, at Wickham, Lyttelton received that conviction which produced his Dissertation on St. Paul.

These two illustrious friends had for awhile listened to the blandishments of infidelity; and when West's book was published, it was bought by some who did not know his change of opinion, in expectation of new objections against christianity; and as infidels do not want malignity, they revenged the disappointment by calling him a methodist.

Mr. West's income was not large; and his friends endeavoured, but without success, to obtain an augmentation. It is reported, that the education of the young prince was offered to him, but that he required a more extensive power of superintendence than it was thought proper to allow him.

In time, however, his revenue was improved; he lived to have one of the lucrative clerkships of the privy council, 1752: and Mr. Pitt at last had it in his power to make him treasurer of Chelsea hospital.

He was now sufficiently rich; but wealth came too late to be long enjoyed; nor could it secure him from the calamities of life: he lost, 1755, his only son; and the year after, March 26, a stroke of the palsy brought to the grave one of the few poets to whom the grave might be without its terrours.

Of his translations, I have only compared the first Olympick Ode with the original, and found my expectation surpassed, both by its elegance and its exactness. He does not confine himself to his author's train of stanzas: for he saw that the difference of the languages required a different mode of versification. The first strophe is eminently happy: in the second he has a little strayed from Pindar's meaning, who says, "if thou, my soul, wishest to speak of games, look not in the desert sky for a planet hotter than the sun; nor shall we tell of nobler games than those of Olympia." He is sometimes too paraphrastical. Pindar bestows upon Hiero an epithet, which, in one word, signifies "delighting in horses;" a word which, in the translation, generates these lines:

Hiero's royal brows, whose care

Tends the courser's noble breed,

Pleas'd to nurse the pregnant mare,

Pleas'd to train the youthful steed.

Pindar says of Pelops, that "he came alone in the dark to the White Sea;" and West,

Near the billow-beaten side

Of the foam-besilver'd main,

Darkling, and alone, he stood:

which, however, is less exuberant than the former passage.

A work of this kind must, in a minute examination, discover many imperfections; but West's version, so far as I have considered it, appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.

His Institution of the Garter, 1742, is written with sufficient knowledge of the manners that prevailed in the age to which it is referred, and with great elegance of diction; but, for want of a process of events, neither knowledge nor elegance preserve the reader from weariness.

His Imitations of Spenser are very successfully performed, both with respect to the metre, the language, and the fiction; and being engaged at once by the excellence of the sentiments, and the artifice of the copy, the mind has two amusements together. But such compositions are not to be reckoned among the great achievements of intellect, because their effect is local and temporary; they appeal not to reason or passion, but to memory, and pre-suppose an accidental or artificial state of mind. An imitation of Spenser is nothing to a reader, however acute, by whom Spenser has never been perused. Works of this kind may deserve praise, as proofs of great industry, and great nicety of observation; but the highest praise, the praise of genius, they cannot claim. The noblest beauties of art are those of which the effect is coextended with rational nature, or, at least, with the whole circle of polished life; what is less than this can be only pretty, the plaything of fashion, and the amusement of a day.

* * *

There is, in the Adventurer, a paper of verses given to one of the authors as Mr. West's, and supposed to have been written by him. It should not be concealed, however, that it is printed with Mr. Jago's name in Dodsley's collection, and is mentioned as his in a letter of Shenstone's. Perhaps West gave it without naming the author; and Hawkesworth, receiving it from him, thought it his; for his he thought it, as he told me, and as he tells the publick.

* * *


William Collins was born at Chichester, on the 25th of December, about 1720. His father was a hatter of good reputation. He was, in 1733, as Dr. Warton has kindly informed me, admitted scholar of Winchester college, where he was educated by Dr. Burton. His English exercises were better than his Latin.

He first courted the notice of the publick by some verses to a Lady Weeping, published in the Gentleman's Magazine.

In 1740, he stood first in the list of the scholars to received in succession at New college, but unhappily there was no vacancy. This was the original misfortune of his life. He became a commoner of Queen's college, probably with a scanty maintenance; but was, in about half a year, elected a demy of Magdalen college, where he continued till he had taken a bachelor's degree, and then suddenly left the university; for what reason I know not that he told.

He now, about 1744, came to London a literary adventurer, with many projects in his head, and very little money in his pocket. He designed many works; but his great fault was irresolution; or the frequent calls of immediate necessity broke his schemes, and suffered him to pursue no settled purpose. A man doubtful of his dinner, or trembling at a creditor, is not much disposed to abstracted meditation, or remote inquires. He published proposals for a History of the Revival of Learning; and I have heard him speak with great kindness of Leo the tenth, and with keen resentment of his tasteless successour. But probably not a page of the history was ever written. He planned several tragedies, but he only planned them. He wrote now and then odes and other poems, and did something, however little.

About this time I fell into his company. His appearance was decent and manly; his knowledge considerable, his views extensive, his conversation elegant, and his disposition cheerful. By degrees I gained his confidence; and one day was admitted to him when he was immured by a bailiff, that was prowling in the street. On this occasion recourse was had to the booksellers, who, on the credit of a translation of Aristotle's Poeticks, which he engaged to write with a large commentary, advanced as much money as enabled him to escape into the country. He showed me the guineas safe in his hand. Soon afterwards his uncle, Mr. Martin, a lieutenant-colonel, left him about two thousand pounds; a sum which Collins could scarcely think exhaustible, and which he did not live to exhaust. The guineas were then repaid, and the translation neglected.

But man is not born for happiness. Collins, who, while he studied to live, felt no evil but poverty, no sooner lived to study than his life was assailed by more dreadful calamities, disease and insanity.

Having formerly written his character[178], while, perhaps, it was yet more distinctly impressed upon my memory, I shall insert it here.

* * *

"Mr. Collins was a man of extensive literature, and of vigorous faculties. He was acquainted not only with the learned tongues, but with the Italian, French, and Spanish languages. He had employed his mind chiefly upon works of fiction, and subjects of fancy; and, by indulging some peculiar habits of thought, was eminently delighted with those flights of imagination which pass the bounds of nature, and to which the mind is reconciled only by a passive acquiescence in popular traditions. He loved fairies, genii, giants, and monsters; he delighted to rove through the meanders of enchantment, to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repose by the waterfalls of elysian gardens.

"This was, however, the character rather of his inclination than his genius; the grandeur of wildness, and the novelty of extravagance, were always desired by him, but not always attained. Yet, as diligence is never wholly lost, if his efforts sometimes caused harshness and obscurity, they likewise produced, in happier moments, sublimity and splendour. This idea which he had formed of excellence, led him to oriental fictions and allegorical imagery, and, perhaps, while he was intent upon description, he did not sufficiently cultivate sentiment. His poems are the productions of a mind not deficient in fire, nor unfurnished with knowledge either of books or life, but somewhat obstructed in its progress by deviation in quest of mistaken beauties.

"His morals were pure, and his opinions pious; in a long continuance of poverty, and long habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want, by which the freedom of agency is almost destroyed; and long association with fortuitous companions will, at last, relax the strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincerity. That this man, wise and virtuous as he was, passed always unentangled through the snares of life, it would be prejudice and temerity to affirm; but it may be said that at least he preserved the source of action unpolluted, that his principles were never shaken, that his distinctions of right and wrong were never confounded, and that his faults had nothing of malignity or design, but proceeded from some unexpected pressure, or casual temptation.

"The latter part of his life cannot be remembered but with pity and sadness. He languished some years under that depression of mind which enchains the faculties without destroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of pursuing it. These clouds which he perceived gathering on his intellects, he endeavoured to disperse by travel, and passed into France; but found himself constrained to yield to his malady, and returned. He was, for some time, confined in a house of lunaticks, and afterwards retired to the care of his sister in Chichester, where death, in 1756, came to his relief[179].

"After his return from France, the writer of this character paid him a visit at Islington, where he was waiting for his sister, whom he had directed to meet him: there was then nothing of disorder discernible in his mind by any but himself; but he had withdrawn from study, and travelled with no other book than an English testament, such as children carry to the school: when his friend took it into his hand, out of curiosity, to see what companion a man of letters had chosen, 'I have but one book,' said Collins, 'but that is the best.'"

* * *

Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I once delighted to converse, and whom I yet remember with tenderness.

He was visited at Chichester, in his last illness, by his learned friends, Dr. Warton and his brother; to whom he spoke with disapprobation of his Oriental Eclogues, as not sufficiently expressive of Asiatick manners, and called them his Irish Eclogues. He showed them, at the same time, an ode inscribed to Mr. John Hume, on the superstitions of the Highlands; which they thought superiour to his other works, but which no search has yet found[180].

His disorder was not alienation of mind, but general laxity and feebleness, a deficiency rather of his vital than intellectual powers. What he spoke wanted neither judgment nor spirit; but a few minutes exhausted him, so that he was forced to rest upon the couch, till a short cessation restored his powers, and he was again able to talk with his former vigour.

The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon after his uncle's death; and, with the usual weakness of men so diseased, eagerly snatched that temporary relief, with which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce.

But his health continually declined, and he grew more and more burdensome to himself.

To what I have formerly said of his writings may be added, that his diction was often harsh, unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously selected. He affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, seeming to think, with some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry. His lines commonly are of slow motion, clogged and impeded with clusters of consonants. As men are often esteemed who cannot be loved, so the poetry of Collins may, sometimes, extort praise when it gives little pleasure.

* * *

Mr. Collins's first production is added here from the Poetical Calendar.



Cease, fair Aurelia, cease to mourn;

Lament not Hannah's happy state;

You may be happy in your turn,

And seize the treasure you regret.

With love united hymen stands,

And softly whispers to your charms,

"Meet but your lover in my bands,

You'll find your sister in his arms."

* * *


John Dyer, of whom I have no other account to give than his own letters, published with Hughes's correspondence, and the notes added by the editor, have afforded me, was born in 1700, the second son of Robert Dyer, of Aberglasney, in Caermarthenshire, a solicitor of great capacity and note.

He passed through Westminster school under the care of Dr. Freind, and was then called home to be instructed in his father's profession. But his father died soon, and he took no delight in the study of the law; but having always amused himself with drawing, resolved to turn painter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardson, an artist then of high reputation, but now better known by his books than by his pictures.

Having studied awhile under his master, he became, as he tells his friend, an itinerant painter, and wandered about South Wales, and the parts adjacent; but he mingled poetry with painting, and, about 1727, printed Grongar Hill in Lewis's Miscellany.

Being, probably, unsatisfied with his own proficiency, he, like other painters, travelled to Italy; and coming back in 1740, published the Ruins of Rome.

If his poem was written soon after his return, he did not make much use of his acquisitions in painting, whatever they might be; for decline of health and love of study determined him to the church. He, therefore, entered into orders; and, it seems, married, about the same time, a lady of the name of "Ensor, whose grandmother," says he, "was a Shakespeare, descended from a brother of every body's Shakespeare;" by her, in 1756, he had a son and three daughters living.

His ecclesiastical provision was, for a long time, but slender. His first patron, Mr. Harper, gave him, in 1741, Calthorp, in Leicestershire, of eighty pounds a year, on which he lived ten years, and then exchanged it for Belchford, in Lincolnshire, of seventy-five. His condition now began to mend. In 1751, sir John Heathcote gave him Coningsby, of one hundred and forty pounds a year; and, in 1755, the chancellor added Kirkby, of one hundred and ten. He complains that the repair of the house at Coningsby, and other expenses, took away the profit. In 1757 he published the Fleece, his greatest poetical work; of which I will not suppress a ludicrous story. Dodsley, the bookseller, was one day mentioning it to a critical visiter, with more expectation of success than the other could easily admit. In the conversation the author's age was asked; and being represented as advanced in life, "He will," said the critick, "be buried in woollen."

He did not, indeed, long survive that publication, nor long enjoy the increase of his preferments; for in 1758 (July 24th,) he died.

Dyer is not a poet of bulk or dignity sufficient to require an elaborate criticism. Grongar Hill is the happiest of his productions: it is not, indeed, very accurately written; but the scenes which it displays are so pleasing, the images which they raise are so welcome to the mind, and the reflections of the writer so consonant to the general sense or experience of mankind, that when it is once read, it will be read again.

The idea of the Ruins of Rome strikes more but pleases less, and the title raises greater expectation than the performance gratifies. Some passages, however, are conceived with the mind of a poet; as when, in the neighbourhood of dilapidating edifices, he says,

The pilgrim oft

At dead of night, mid his orison hears

Aghast the voice of time, disparting tow'rs,

Tumbling all precip'tate down, dash'd,

Rattling around, loud thund'ring to the moon.

Of the Fleece, which never became popular, and is now universally neglected, I can say little that is likely to recall it to attention. The woolcomber and the poet appear to me such discordant natures, that an attempt to bring them together is to couple the serpent with the fowl. When Dyer, whose mind was not unpoetical, has done his utmost, by interesting his reader in our native commodity, by interspersing rural imagery, and incidental digressions, by clothing small images in great words, and by all the writer's arts of delusion, the meanness naturally adhering, and the irreverence habitually annexed to trade and manufacture, sink him under insuperable oppression; and the disgust which blank verse, encumbering and encumbered, superadds to an unpleasing subject, soon repels the reader, however willing to be pleased.

Let me, however, honestly report whatever may counterbalance this weight of censure. I have been told, that Akenside, who, upon a poetical question, has a right to be heard, said, "That he would regulate his opinion of the reigning taste by the fate of Dyer's Fleece; for if that were ill-received, he should not think it any longer reasonable to expect fame from excellence."

* * *


William Shenstone, the son of Thomas Shenstone and Anne Pen, was born in November, 1714, at the Leasowes in Hales-Owen, one of those insulated districts which, in the division of the kingdom, was appended, for some reason, not now discoverable, to a distant county; and which, though surrounded by Warwickshire and Worcestershire, belongs to Shropshire, though, perhaps, thirty miles distant from any other part of it.

He learned to read of an old dame, whom his poem of the Schoolmistress has delivered to posterity; and soon received such delight from books, that he was always calling for fresh entertainment, and expected that, when any of the family went to market, a new book should be brought him, which, when it came, was in fondness carried to bed and laid by him. It is said, that, when his request had been neglected, his mother wrapped up a piece of wood of the same form, and pacified him for the night.

As he grew older, he went for awhile to the grammar-school in Hales-Owen, and was placed afterwards with Mr. Crumpton, an eminent schoolmaster at Solihul, where he distinguished himself by the quickness of his progress.

When he was young, June, 1724, he was deprived of his father, and soon after, August, 1726, of his grandfather; and was, with his brother, who died afterwards unmarried, left to the care of his grandmother, who managed the estate.

From school he was sent, in 1732, to Pembroke college, in Oxford, a society which, for half a century, has been eminent for English poetry and elegant literature. Here it appears that he found delight and advantage; for he continued his name in the book ten years, though he took no degree. After the first four years he put on the civilian's gown, but without showing any intention to engage in the profession.

About the time when he went to Oxford, the death of his grandmother devolved his affairs to the care of the reverend Mr. Dolman, of Brome, in Staffordshire, whose attention he always mentioned with gratitude.

At Oxford he employed himself upon English poetry; and, in 1737, published a small miscellany, without his name.

He then for a time wandered about to acquaint himself with life, and was sometimes at London, sometimes at Bath, or any other place of publick resort; but he did not forget his poetry. He published, in 1741, his Judgment of Hercules, addressed to Mr. Lyttelton, whose interest he supported with great warmth at an election: this was next year followed by the Schoolmistress.

Mr. Dolman, to whose care he was indebted for his ease and leisure, died in 1745, and the care of his own fortune now fell upon him. He tried to escape it awhile, and lived at his house with his tenants, who were distantly related; but finding that imperfect possession inconvenient, he took the whole estate into his own hands, more to the improvement of its beauty, than the increase of its produce.

Now was excited his delight in rural pleasures, and his ambition of rural elegance: he began, from this time, to point his prospects, to diversify his surface, to entangle his walks, and to wind his waters; which he did with such judgment and such fancy, as made his little domain the envy of the great, and the admiration of the skilful; a place to be visited by travellers, and copied by designers. Whether to plant a walk in undulating curves, and to place a bench at every turn where there is an object to catch the view; to make water run where it will be heard, and to stagnate where it will be seen; to leave intervals where the eye will be pleased, and to thicken the plantation where there is something to be hidden; demands any great powers of mind, I will not inquire: perhaps a surly and sullen speculator may think such performances rather the sport than the business of human reason. But it must be at least confessed, that to embellish the form of nature is an innocent amusement; and some praise must be allowed, by the most supercilious observer, to him who does best what such multitudes are contending to do well.

This praise was the praise of Shenstone; but, like all other modes of felicity, it was not enjoyed without its abatements. Lyttelton was his neighbour and his rival, whose empire, spacious and opulent, looked with disdain on the petty state that appeared behind it. For awhile the inhabitants of Hagley affected to tell their acquaintance of the little fellow that was trying to make himself admired; but when, by degrees, the Leasowes forced themselves into notice, they took care to defeat the curiosity which they could not suppress, by conducting their visitants perversely to inconvenient points of view, and introducing them, at the wrong end of a walk to detect a deception; injuries of which Shenstone would heavily complain. Where there is emulation there will be vanity; and where there is vanity there will be folly[181].

The pleasure of Shenstone was all in his eye: he valued what he valued merely for its looks; nothing raised his indignation more than to ask if there were any fishes in his water.

His house was mean, and he did not improve it; his care was of his grounds. When he came home from his walks, he might find his floors flooded by a shower through the broken roof; but could spare no money for its reparation.

In time his expenses brought clamours about him, that overpowered the lamb's bleat and the linnet's song; and his groves were haunted by beings very different from fawns and fairies[182]. He spent his estate in adorning it, and his death was probably hastened by his anxieties. He was a lamp that spent its oil in blazing[183]. It is said, that if he had lived a little longer, he would have been assisted by a pension: such bounty could not have been ever more properly bestowed; but that it was ever asked is not certain; it is too certain that it never was enjoyed.

He died at the Leasowes, of a putrid fever, about five on Friday morning, February 11, 1763; and was buried by the side of his brother in the church-yard of Hales-Owen.

He was never married, though he might have obtained the lady, whoever she was, to whom his Pastoral Ballad was addressed. He is represented, by his friend Dodsley, as a man of great tenderness and generosity, kind to all that were within his influence: but, if once offended, not easily appeased; inattentive to economy, and careless of his expenses; in his person he was larger than the middle size, with something clumsy in his form; very negligent of his clothes, and remarkable for wearing his grey hair in a particular manner; for he held that the fashion was no rule of dress, and that every man was to suit his appearance to his natural form[184].

His mind was not very comprehensive, nor his curiosity active; he had no value for those parts of knowledge which he had not himself cultivated.

His life was unstained by any crime; the Elegy on Jesse, which has been supposed to relate an unfortunate and criminal amour of his own, was known by his friends to have been suggested by the story of Miss Godfrey, in Richardson's Pamela.

What Gray thought of his character, from the perusal of his letters, was this:

"I have read, too, an octavo volume of Shenstone's letters. Poor man! he was always wishing for money, for fame, and other distinctions; and his whole philosophy consisted in living against his will in retirement, and in a place which his taste had adorned, but which he only enjoyed when people of note came to see and commend it; his correspondence is about nothing else but this place and his own writings, with two or three neighbouring clergymen, who wrote verses too."

His poems consist of elegies, odes, and ballads, humorous sallies, and moral pieces.

His conception of an elegy he has in his preface very judiciously and discriminately explained. It is, according to his account, the effusion of a contemplative mind, sometimes plaintive, and always serious, and, therefore, superiour to the glitter of slight ornaments. His compositions suit not ill to this description. His topicks of praise are the domestick virtues, and his thoughts are pure and simple; but, wanting combination, they want variety. The peace of solitude, the innocence of inactivity, and the unenvied security of an humble station, can fill but a few pages. That of which the essence is uniformity will be soon described. His elegies have, therefore, too much resemblance of each other.

The lines are, sometimes, such as elegy requires, smooth and easy; but to this praise his claim is not constant; his diction is often harsh, improper, and affected: his words ill-coined, or ill-chosen; and his phrase unskilfully inverted.

The lyrick poems are almost all of the light and airy kind, such as trip lightly and nimbly along, without the load of any weighty meaning. From these, however, Rural Elegance has some right to be excepted. I once heard it praised by a very learned lady; and, though the lines are irregular, and the thoughts diffused with too much verbosity, yet it cannot be denied to contain both philosophical argument and poetical spirit.

Of the rest I cannot think any excellent: the Skylark pleases me best, which has, however, more of the epigram than of the ode.

But the four parts of his Pastoral Ballad demand particular notice. I cannot but regret that it is pastoral: an intelligent reader, acquainted with the scenes of real life, sickens at the mention of the crook, the pipe, the sheep, and the kids, which it is not necessary to bring forward to notice, for the poet's art is selection, and he ought to show the beauties without the grossness of the country life. His stanza seems to have been chosen in imitation of Rowe's Despairing Shepherd.

In the first part are two passages, to which if any mind denies its sympathy, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:

I priz'd ev'ry hour that went by,

Beyond all that had pleas'd me before;

But now they are past, and I sigh,

And I grieve that I priz'd them no more.

When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,

What anguish I felt in my heart!

Yet I thought (but it might not be so)

'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.

She gaz'd, as I slowly withdrew;

My path I could hardly discern;

So sweetly she bade me adieu,

I thought that she bade me return.

In the second, this passage has its prettiness, though it be not equal to the former:

I have found out a gift for my fair;

I have found where the woodpigeons breed;

But let me that plunder forbear,

She will say 'twas a barbarous deed:

For he ne'er could be true, she averr'd,

Who could rob a poor bird of its young;

And I lov'd her the more when I heard

Such tenderness fall from her tongue.

In the third, he mentions the commonplaces of amorous poetry with some address:

'Tis his with mock passion to glow!

'Tis his in smooth tales to unfold,

How her face is as bright as the snow,

And her bosom, be sure, is as cold;

How the nightingales labour the strain.

With the notes of his charmer to vie;

How they vary their accents in vain,

Repine at her triumphs and die.

In the fourth, I find nothing better than this natural strain of hope:

Alas! from the day that we met,

What hope of an end to my woes,

When I cannot endure to forget

The glance that undid my repose?

Yet time may diminish the pain:

The flow'r, and the shrub, and the tree,

Which I rear'd for her pleasure in vain,

In time may have comfort for me.

His Levities are, by their title, exempted from the severities of criticism; yet it may be remarked, in a few words, that his humour is sometimes gross, and seldom sprightly.

Of the moral poems, the first is the Choice of Hercules, from Xenophon. The numbers are smooth, the diction elegant, and the thoughts just; but something of vigour is still to be wished, which it might have had by brevity and compression. His Fate of Delicacy has an air of gaiety, but not a very pointed general moral. His blank verses, those that can read them may, probably, find to be like the blank verses of his neighbours. Love and Honour is derived from the old ballad, "Did you not hear of a Spanish Lady?"-I wish it well enough to wish it were in rhyme.

The Schoolmistress, of which I know not what claim it has to stand among the moral works, is surely the most pleasing of Shenstone's performances. The adoption of a particular style, in light and short compositions, contributes much to the increase of pleasure: we are entertained at once with two imitations, of nature in the sentiments, of the original author in the style, and between them the mind is kept in perpetual employment.

The general recommendation of Shenstone is easiness and simplicity; his general defect is want of comprehension and variety. Had his mind been better stored with knowledge, whether he could have been great, I know not; he could certainly have been agreeable[185].

* * *


The following life was written, at my request, by a gentleman who had better information than I could easily have obtained; and the publick will, perhaps, wish that I had solicited and obtained more such favours from him[186].

"DEAR SIR,-In consequence of our different conversations about authentick materials for the life of Young, I send you the following detail.

"Of great men, something must always be said to gratify curiosity. Of the illustrious author of the Night Thoughts much has been told of which there never could have been proofs; and little care appears to have been taken to tell that, of which proofs, with little trouble, might have been procured."

Edward Young was born at Upham, near Winchester, in June, 1681. He was the son of Edward Young, at that time fellow of Winchester college, and rector of Upham; who was the son of Jo. Young, of Woodhay, in Berkshire, styled by Wood, gentleman. In September, 1682, the poet's father was collated to the prebend of Gillingham Minor, in the church of Sarum, by bishop Ward. When Ward's faculties were impaired through age, his duties were necessarily performed by others. We learn from Wood, that at a visitation of Sprat's, July the 12th, 1686, the prebendary preached a Latin sermon, afterwards published, with which the bishop was so pleased, that he told the chapter he was concerned to find the preacher had one of the worst prebends in their church. Some time after this, in consequence of his merit and reputation, or of the interest of lord Bradford, to whom, in 1702, he dedicated two volumes of sermons, he was appointed chaplain to king William and queen Mary, and preferred to the deanery of Sarum. Jacob, who wrote in 1720, says, "He was chaplain and clerk of the closet to the late queen, who honoured him by standing godmother to the poet." His fellowship of Winchester he resigned in favour of a gentleman of the name of Harris, who married his only daughter. The dean died at Sarum, after a short illness, in 1705, in the sixty-third year of his age. On the Sunday after his decease, bishop Burnet preached at the cathedral, and began his sermon with saying, "Death has been of late walking round us, and making breach upon breach upon us, and has now carried away the head of this body with a stroke; so that he, whom you saw a week ago distributing the holy mysteries, is now laid in the dust. But he still lives in the many excellent directions he has left us, both how to live and how to die."

The dean placed his son upon the foundation at Winchester college, where he had himself been educated. At this school Edward Young remained till the election after his eighteenth birthday, the period at which those upon the foundation are superannuated. Whether he did not betray his abilities early in life, or his masters had not skill enough to discover in their pupil any marks of genius for which he merited reward, or no vacancy at Oxford afforded them an opportunity to bestow upon him the reward provided for merit by William of Wykeham; certain it is, that to an Oxford fellowship our poet did not succeed. By chance, or by choice, New college cannot claim the honour of numbering among its fellows him who wrote the Night Thoughts.

On the 13th of October, 1703, he was entered an independent member of New college, that he might live at little expense in the warden's lodgings, who was a particular friend of his father, till he should be qualified to stand for a fellowship at All Souls. In a few months the warden of New college died. He then removed to Corpus college. The president of this society, from regard also for his father, invited him thither, in order to lessen his academical expenses. In 1708, he was nominated to a law-fellowship at All Souls by archbishop Tenison, into whose hands it came by devolution. Such repeated patronage, while it justifies Burnet's praise of the father, reflects credit on the conduct of the son. The manner in which it was exerted, seems to prove that the father did not leave behind him much wealth.

On the 23rd of April, 1714, Young took his degree of bachelor of civil laws, and his doctor's degree on the 10th of June, 1719.

Soon after he went to Oxford, he discovered, it is said, an inclination for pupils. Whether he ever commented tutor is not known. None has hitherto boasted to have received his academical instruction from the author of the Night Thoughts.

It is probable that his college was proud of him no less as a scholar than as a poet; for in 1716, when the foundation of the Codrington library was laid, two years after he had taken his bachelor's degree, Young was appointed to speak the Latin oration. This is, at least, particular for being dedicated in English, "To the ladies of the Codrington family." To these ladies he says, "that he was unavoidably flung into a singularity, by being obliged to write an epistle dedicatory void of commonplace, and such a one as was never published before by any author whatever; that this practice absolved them from any obligation of reading what was presented to them, and that the bookseller approved of it, because it would make people stare, was absurd enough, and perfectly right."

Of this oration there is no appearance in his own edition of his works; and prefixed to an edition by Curll and Tonson, 1741, is a letter from Young to Curll, if we may credit Curll, dated December the 9th, 1739, wherein he says, that he has not leisure to review what he formerly wrote, and adds, "I have not the Epistle to lord Lansdowne. If you will take my advice, I would have you omit that, and the oration on Codrington. I think the collection will sell better without them."

There are who relate, that, when first Young found himself independent, and his own master at All Souls, he was not the ornament to religion and morality which he afterwards became.

The authority of his father, indeed, had ceased, some time before, by his death; and Young was certainly not ashamed to be patronised by the infamous Wharton. But Wharton befriended in Young, perhaps, the poet, and particularly the tragedian. If virtuous authors must be patronised only by virtuous peers, who shall point them out?

Yet Pope is said, by Ruffhead, to have told Warburton, that "Young had much of a sublime genius, though without common sense; so that his genius, having no guide, was perpetually liable to degenerate into bombast. This made him pass a foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets: but his having a very good heart enabled him to support the clerical character when he assumed it, first with decency, and afterwards with honour."

They who think ill of Young's morality in the early part of his life may, perhaps, be wrong; but Tindal could not err in his opinion of Young's warmth and ability in the cause of religion. Tindal used to spend much of his time at All Souls. "The other boys," said the atheist, "I can always answer, because I always know whence they have their arguments, which I have read a hundred times; but that fellow Young is continually pestering me with something of his own."[187]

After all, Tindal and the censurers of Young may be reconcilable. Young might, for two or three years, have tried that kind of life, in which his natural principles would not suffer him to wallow long. If this were so, he has left behind him not only his evidence in favour of virtue, but the potent testimony of experience against vice.

We shall soon see that one of his earliest productions was more serious than what comes from the generality of unfledged poets.

Young, perhaps, ascribed the good fortune of Addison to the Poem to His Majesty, presented, with a copy of verses, to Somers; and hoped that he also might soar to wealth and honour on wings of the same kind. His first poetical flight was when queen Anne called up to the house of lords the sons of the earls of Northampton and Aylesbury, and added, in one day, ten others to the number of peers. In order to reconcile the people to one, at least, of the new lords, he published, in 1712, an Epistle to the right honourable George lord Lansdowne. In this composition the poet pours out his panegyrick with the extravagance of a young man, who thinks his present stock of wealth will never be exhausted.

The poem seems intended also to reconcile the publick to the late peace. This is endeavoured to be done by showing that men are slain in war, and that in peace "harvests wave, and commerce swells her sail." If this be humanity, for which he meant it; is it politicks? Another purpose of this epistle appears to have been, to prepare the publick for the reception of some tragedy he might have in hand. His lordship's patronage, he says, will not let him "repent his passion for the stage;" and the particular praise bestowed on Othello and Oroonoko looks as if some such character as Zanga was even then in contemplation. The affectionate mention of the death of his friend Harrison, of New college, at the close of this poem, is an instance of Young's art, which displayed itself so wonderfully, some time afterwards, in the Night Thoughts, of making the publick a party in his private sorrow.

Should justice call upon you to censure this poem, it ought, at least, to be remembered, that he did not insert it in his works; and that in the letter to Curll, as we have seen, he advises its omission. The booksellers, in the late body of English poetry, should have distinguished what was deliberately rejected by the respective authors[188].This I shall be careful to do with regard to Young. "I think," says he, "the following pieces in four volumes to be the most excusable of all that I have written; and I wish less apology was needful for these. As there is no recalling what is got abroad, the pieces here republished I have revised and corrected, and rendered them as pardonable as it was in my power to do."

Shall the gates of repentance be shut only against literary sinners?

When Addison published Cato, in 1713, Young had the honour of prefixing to it a recommendatory copy of verses. This is one of the pieces which the author of the Night Thoughts did not republish.

On the appearance of his Poem on the Last Day, Addison did not return Young's compliment; but the Englishman of October 29, 1713, which was probably written by Addison, speaks handsomely of this poem. The Last Day was published soon after the peace. The vicechancellor's imprimatur, for it was printed at Oxford, is dated May the 19th, 1713. From the exordium, Young appears to have spent some time on the composition of it. While other bards "with Britain's hero set their souls on fire," he draws, he says, a deeper scene. Marlborough had been considered by Britain as her hero; but, when the Last Day was published, female cabal had blasted, for a time, the laurels of Blenheim. This serious poem was finished by Young as early as 1710, before he was thirty; for part of it is printed in the Tatler[189] It was inscribed to the queen, in a dedication, which, for some reason, he did not admit into his works. It tells her, that his only title to the great honour he now does himself, is the obligation which he formerly received from her royal indulgence.

Of this obligation nothing is now known, unless he alluded to her being his godmother. He is said, indeed, to have been engaged at a settled stipend as a writer for the court. In Swift's Rhapsody on Poetry are these lines, speaking of the court:

Whence Gay was banish'd in disgrace,

Where Pope will never show his face,

Where Y-- must torture his invention

To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.

That Y-- means Young seems clear from four other lines in the same poem:

Attend, ye Popes and Youngs and Gays,

And tune your harps and strew your bays;

Your panegyricks here provide;

You cannot err on flatt'ry's side.

Yet who shall say, with certainty, that Young was a pensioner? In all modern periods of this country, have not the writers on one side been regularly called hirelings, and on the other patriots?

Of the dedication, the complexion is clearly political. It speaks in the highest terms of the late peace; it gives her majesty praise, indeed, for her victories, but says, that the author is more pleased to see her rise from this lower world, soaring above the clouds, passing the first and second heavens, and leaving the fixed stars behind her; nor will he lose her there, he says, but keep her still in view through the boundless spaces on the other side of creation, in her journey towards eternal bliss, till he behold the heaven of heavens open, and angels receiving and conveying her still onward from the stretch of his imagination, which tires in her pursuit, and falls back again to earth.

The queen was soon called away from this lower world, to a place where human praise or human flattery, even less general than this, are of little consequence. If Young thought the dedication contained only the praise of truth, he should not have omitted it in his works. Was he conscious of the exaggeration of party? Then he should not have written it. The poem itself is not without a glance towards politicks, notwithstanding the subject. The cry that the church was in danger, had not yet subsided. The Last Day, written by a layman, was much approved by the ministry, and their friends.

Before the queen's death, the Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love, was sent into the world. This poem is founded on the execution of lady Jane Grey, and her husband lord Guildford, 1554, a story, chosen for the subject of a tragedy by Edmund Smith, and wrought into a tragedy by Rowe. The dedication of it to the countess of Salisbury does not appear in his own edition. He hopes it may be some excuse for his presumption, that the story could not have been read without thoughts of the countess of Salisbury, though it had been dedicated to another. "To behold," he proceeds, "a person only virtuous, stirs in us a prudent regret; to behold a person only amiable to the sight, warms us with a religious indignation; but to turn our eyes on a countess of Salisbury gives us pleasure and improvement; it works a sort of miracle, occasions the bias of our nature to fall off from sin, and makes our very senses and affections converts to our religion, and promoters of our duty." His flattery was as ready for the other sex as for ours, and was, at least, as well adapted.

August the 27th, 1714, Pope writes to his friend Jervas that he is just arrived from Oxford; that every one is much concerned for the queen's death, but that no panegyricks are ready yet for the king. Nothing like friendship had yet taken place between Pope and Young; for, soon after the event which Pope mentions, Young published a poem on the queen's death, and his majesty's accession to the throne. It is inscribed to Addison, then secretary to the lords justices. Whatever were the obligations, which he had formerly received from Anne, the poet appears to aim at something of the same sort from George. Of the poem, the intention seems to have been to show, that he had the same extravagant strain of praise for a king as for a queen. To discover, at the very outset of a foreigner's reign, that the gods bless his new subjects in such a king, is something more than praise. Neither was this deemed one of his excusable pieces. We do not find it in his works.

Young's father had been well acquainted with lady Anne Wharton, the first wife of Thomas Wharton, esq. afterwards marquis of Wharton; a lady celebrated for her poetical talents by Burnet and by Waller.

To the dean of Sarum's visitation sermon, already mentioned, were added some verses "by that excellent poetess Mrs. Anne Wharton," upon its being translated into English, at the instance of Waller, by Atwood. Wharton, after he became ennobled, did not drop the son of his old friend. In him, during the short time he lived, Young found a patron, and in his dissolute descendant a friend and a companion. The marquis died in April, 1715. In the beginning of the next year the young marquis set out upon his travels, from which he returned in about a twelve-month. The beginning of 1717 carried him to Ireland; where, says the Biographia, "on the score of his extraordinary qualities, he had the honour done him of being admitted, though under age, to take his seat in the house of lords."

With this unhappy character, it is not unlikely that Young went to Ireland. From his letter to Richardson, on Original Composition, it is clear he was, at some period of his life, in that country. "I remember," says he, in that letter, speaking of Swift, "as I and others were taking with him an evening walk, about a mile out of Dublin, he stopped short: we passed on; but perceiving he did not follow us, I went back and found him fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm, which in its uppermost branches was much withered and decayed. Pointing at it, he said, 'I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top.'" Is it not probable, that this visit to Ireland was paid when he had an opportunity of going thither with his avowed friend and patron[190]?

From the Englishman, it appears that a tragedy by Young was in the theatre so early as 1713. Yet Busiris was not brought upon Drury-lane stage till 1719. It was inscribed to the duke of Newcastle, "because the late instances he had received of his grace's undeserved and uncommon favour, in an affair of some consequence, foreign to the theatre, had taken from him the privilege of choosing a patron." The dedication he afterwards suppressed.

Busiris was followed, in the year 1721, by the Revenge. He dedicated this famous tragedy to the duke of Wharton. "Your grace," says the dedication, "has been pleased to make yourself accessory to the following scenes, not only by suggesting the most beautiful incident in them, but by making all possible provision for the success of the whole."

That his grace should have suggested the incident to which he alludes, whatever that incident might have been, is not unlikely. The last mental exertion of the superannuated young man, in his quarters at Lerida, in Spain, was some scenes of a tragedy on the story of Mary queen of Scots.

Dryden dedicated Marriage à-la-Mode to Wharton's infamous relation, Rochester, whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but as the promoter of his fortune. Young concludes his address to Wharton thus: "My present fortune is his bounty, and my future his care; which I will venture to say will be always remembered to his honour, since he, I know, intended his generosity as an encouragement to merit, though through his very pardonable partiality to one who bears him so sincere a duty and respect, I happen to receive the benefit of it." That he ever had such a patron as Wharton, Young took all the pains in his power to conceal from the world, by excluding this dedication from his works. He should have remembered that he, at the same time, concealed his obligation to Wharton for the most beautiful incident in what is surely not his least beautiful composition. The passage just quoted is, in a poem afterwards addressed to Walpole, literally copied:

Be this thy partial smile from censure free!

'Twas meant for merit, though it fell on me.

While Young, who, in his Love of Fame, complains grievously how often "dedications wash an ?thiop white," was painting an amiable duke of Wharton in perishable prose, Pope was, perhaps, beginning to describe the "scorn and wonder of his days" in lasting verse.

To the patronage of such a character, had Young studied men as much as Pope, he would have known how little to have trusted. Young, however, was certainly indebted to it for something material; and the duke's regard for Young, added to his "lust of praise," procured to All Souls' college a donation, which was not forgotten by the poet when he dedicated the Revenge.

It will surprise you to see me cite second Atkins, case 136, Stiles versus the Attorney General, March 14; 1740, as authority for the life of a poet. But biographers do not always find such certain guides as the oaths of the persons whom they record. Chancellor Hardwicke was to determine whether two annuities, granted by the duke of Wharton to Young, were for legal considerations. One was dated the 24th of March, 1719, and accounted for his grace's bounty in a style princely and commendable, if not legal-"considering that the publick good is advanced by the encouragement of learning and the polite arts, and being pleased therein with the attempts of Dr. Young, in consideration thereof, and of the love I bear him," &c. The other was dated the 10th of July, 1722.

Young, on his examination, swore that he quitted the Exeter family, and refused an annuity of 100l. which had been offered him for life if he would continue tutor to lord Burleigh, upon the pressing solicitations of the duke of Wharton, and his grace's assurances of providing for him in a much more ample manner. It also appeared, that the duke had given him a bond for 600l. dated the 15th of March, 1721, in consideration of his taking several journeys, and being at great expenses, in order to be chosen member of the house of commons, at the duke's desire, and in consideration of his not taking two livings of 200l. and 400l. in the gift of All Souls' college, on his grace's promises of serving and advancing him in the world.

Of his adventures in the Exeter family I am unable to give any account. The attempt to get into parliament was at Cirencester, where Young stood a contested election. His grace discovered in him talents for oratory, as well as for poetry. Nor was this judgment wrong. Young, after he took orders, became a very popular preacher, and was much followed for the grace and animation of his delivery. By his oratorical talents he was once in his life, according to the Biographia, deserted. As he was preaching in his turn at St. James's he plainly perceived it was out of his power to command the attention of his audience. This so affected the feelings of the preacher, that he sat back in the pulpit, and burst into tears. But we must pursue his poetical life.

In 1719 he lamented the death of Addison, in a letter addressed to their common friend Tickell. For the secret history of the following lines, if they contain any, it is now vain to seek:

In joy once join'd, in sorrow, now, for years-

Partner in grief, and brother of my tears,

Tickell, accept this verse, thy mournful due.

From your account of Tickell it appears that he and Young used to "communicate to each other whatever verses they wrote even to the least things."

In 1719 appeared a Paraphrase on part of the book of Job. Parker, to whom it is dedicated, had not long, by means of the seals, been qualified for a patron. Of this work the author's opinion may be known from his letter to Curll: "You seem, in the collection you propose, to have omitted what I think may claim the first place in it; I mean 'a translation from part of Job,' printed by Mr. Tonson." The dedication, which was only suffered to appear in Mr. Tonson's edition, while it speaks with satisfaction of his present retirement, seems to make an unusual struggle to escape from retirement. But every one who sings in the dark does not sing from joy. It is addressed, in no common strain of flattery, to a chancellor, of whom he clearly appears to have had no kind of knowledge.

Of his satires it would not have been possible to fix the dates, without the assistance of first editions, which, as you had occasion to observe in your account of Dryden, are with difficulty found. We must then have referred to the poems, to discover when they were written. For these internal notes of time we should not have referred in vain. The first satire laments, that "Guilt's chief foe in Addison is fled." The second, addressing himself, asks:

Is thy ambition sweating for a rhyme,

Thou unambitious fool, at this late time?

A fool at forty is a fool indeed.

The Satires were originally published separately, in folio, under the title of the Universal Passion. These passages fix the appearance of the first to about 1725, the time at which it came out. As Young seldom suffered his pen to dry, after he had once dipped it in poetry, we may conclude that he began his satires soon after he had written the Paraphrase on Job. The last satire was certainly finished in the beginning of the year 1726. In December, 1725, the king, in his passage from Helvoetsluys, escaped, with great difficulty, from a storm by landing at Rye; and the conclusion of the Satire turns the escape into a miracle, in such an encomiastick strain of compliment, as poetry too often seeks to pay to royalty.

From the sixth of these poems we learn,

Midst empire's charms, how Carolina's heart

Glow'd with the love of virtue and of art:

since the grateful poet tells us, in the next couplet,

Her favour is diffus'd to that degree,

Excess of goodness! it has dawn'd on me.

Her majesty had stood godmother, and given her name, to the daughter of the lady whom Young married in 1731; and had, perhaps, shown some attention to lady Elizabeth's future husband.

The fifth satire, on Women, was not published till 1727; and the sixth not till 1728.

To these poems, when, in 1728, he gathered them into one publication, he prefixed a preface; in which he observes, that "no man can converse much in the world, but at what he meets with he must either be insensible or grieve, or be angry or smile. Now to smile at it, and turn it into ridicule," he adds, "I think most eligible, as it hurts ourselves least, and gives vice and folly the greatest offence. Laughing at the misconduct of the world, will, in a great measure, ease us of any more disagreeable passion about it. One passion is more effectually driven out by another than by reason, whatever some teach." So wrote, and so of course thought, the lively and witty satirist at the grave age of almost fifty, who, many years earlier in life, wrote the Last Day. After all, Swift pronounced of these satires, that they should either have been more angry or more merry.

Is it not somewhat singular that Young preserved, without any palliation, this preface, so bluntly decisive in favour of laughing at the world, in the same collection of his works which contains the mournful, angry, gloomy Night Thoughts?

At the conclusion of the preface he applies Plato's beautiful fable of the Birth of Love to modern poetry, with the addition, "that poetry, like love, is a little subject to blindness, which makes her mistake her way to preferments and honours; and that she retains a dutiful admiration of her father's family; but divides her favours, and generally lives with her mother's relations." Poetry, it is true, did not lead Young to preferments or to honours; but was there not something like blindness in the flattery which he sometimes forced her, and her sister prose, to utter? She was always, indeed, taught by him to entertain a most dutiful admiration of riches; but surely Young, though nearly related to poetry, had no connexion with her whom Plato makes the mother of love. That he could not well complain of being related to poverty, appears clearly from the frequent bounties which his gratitude records, and from the wealth which he left behind him. By the Universal Passion he acquired no vulgar fortune, more than three thousand pounds. A considerable sum had already been swallowed up in the South sea. For this loss he took the vengeance of an author. His muse makes poetical use more than once of a South sea dream.

It is related by Mr. Spence, in his manuscript anecdotes, on the authority of Mr. Rawlinson, that Young, upon the publication of his Universal Passion, received from the duke of Grafton two thousand pounds; and that, when one of his friends exclaimed, "two thousand pounds for a poem!" he said it was the best bargain he ever made in his life, for the poem was worth four thousand.

This story may be true; but it seems to have been raised from the two answers of lord Burghley and sir Philip Sidney in Spenser's Life.

After inscribing his satires, not perhaps without the hopes of preferment and honours, to such names as the duke of Dorset, Mr. Dodington, Mr. Spencer Compton, lady Elizabeth Germaine, and sir Robert Walpole, he returns to plain panegyrick. In 1726, he addressed a poem to sir Robert Walpole, of which the title sufficiently explains the intention. If Young must be acknowledged a ready celebrator, he did not endeavour, or did not choose, to be a lasting one. The Instalment is among the pieces he did not admit into the number of his excusable writings. Yet it contains a couplet which pretends to pant after the power of bestowing immortality:

Oh! how I long, enkindled by the theme,

In deep eternity to launch thy name!

The bounty of the former reign seems to have been continued, possibly increased, in this. Whatever it might have been, the poet thought he deserved it; for he was not ashamed to acknowledge what, without his acknowledgment, would now, perhaps, never have been known:

My breast, O Walpole, glows with grateful fire.

The streams of royal bounty, turn'd by thee,

Refresh the dry domains of poesy.

If the purity of modern patriotism will term Young a pensioner, it must, at least, be confessed he was a grateful one.

The reign of the new monarch was ushered in by Young with Ocean, an Ode. The hint of it was taken from the royal speech, which recommended the increase and the encouragement of the seamen; that they might be "invited, rather than compelled by force and violence, to enter into the service of their country;" a plan which humanity must lament that policy has not even yet been able, or willing, to carry into execution. Prefixed to the original publication were an Ode to the King, Pater Patri?, and an Essay on Lyrick Poetry. It is but justice to confess, that he preserved neither of them; and that, the ode itself, which in the first edition, and in the last, consists of seventy-three stanzas, in the author's own edition is reduced to forty-nine. Among the omitted passages is a Wish, that concluded the poem, which few would have suspected Young of forming; and of which few, after having formed it, would confess something like their shame by suppression.

It stood originally so high in the author's opinion, that he entitled the poem, Ocean, an Ode. Concluding with a Wish. This wish consists of thirteen stanzas. The first runs thus:

O may I steal

Along the vale

Of humble life, secure from foes!

My friend sincere,

My judgment clear,

And gentle business my repose!

The three last stanzas are not more remarkable for just rhymes; but, altogether, they will make rather a curious page in the life of Young:

Prophetic schemes,

And golden dreams,

May I, unsanguine, cast away!

Have what I have,

And live, not leave,

Enamour'd of the present day!

My hours my own!

My faults unknown!

My chief revenue in content!

Then leave one beam

Of honest fame!

And scorn the labour'd monument!

Unhurt my urn

Till that great TURN

When mighty nature's self shall die;

Time cease to glide,

With human pride,

Sunk in the ocean of eternity!

It is whimsical that he, who was soon to bid adieu to rhyme, should fix upon a measure in which rhyme abounds even to satiety. Of this he said, in his Essay on Lyrick Poetry, prefixed to the poem: "For the more harmony likewise I chose the frequent return of rhyme, which laid me under great difficulties. But difficulties overcome, give grace and pleasure. Nor can I account for the pleasure of rhyme in general, (of which the moderns are too fond,) but from this truth." Yet the moderns surely deserve not much censure for their fondness of what, by his own confession, affords pleasure, and abounds in harmony.

The next paragraph in his essay did not occur to him when he talked of "that great turn" in the stanza just quoted. "But then the writer must take care that the difficulty is overcome. That is, he must make rhyme consist with as perfect sense and expression, as could be expected if he was perfectly free from that shackle."

Another part of this essay will convict the following stanza of, what every reader will discover in it, "involuntary burlesque:"

"The northern blast

The shatter'd mast,

The syrt, the whirlpool, and the rock.

The breaking spout,

The stars gone out,

The boiling strait, the monster's shock."

But would the English poets fill quite so many volumes, if all their productions were to be tried, like this, by an elaborate essay on each particular species of poetry of which they exhibit specimens?

If Young be not a lyrick poet, he is, at least, a critick in that sort of poetry; and, if his lyrick poetry can be proved bad, it was first proved so by his own criticism. This surely is candid.

Milbourne was styled, by Pope, "the fairest of criticks," only because he exhibited his own version of Virgil to be compared with Dryden's, which he condemned, and with which every reader had it not otherwise in his power to compare it. Young was surely not the most unfair of poets for prefixing to a lyrick composition an essay on lyrick poetry, so just and impartial as to condemn himself.

We shall soon come to a work, before which we find, indeed, no critical essay, but which disdains to shrink from the touchstone of the severest critick; and which certainly, as I remember to have heard you say, if it contain some of the worst, contains also some of the best things in the language.

Soon after the appearance of Ocean, when he was almost fifty, Young entered into orders. In April, 1728[191] not long after he had put on the gown, he was appointed chaplain to George the second.

The tragedy of the Brothers, which was already in rehearsal, he immediately withdrew from the stage. The managers resigned it, with some reluctance, to the delicacy of the new clergyman. The epilogue to the Brothers, the only appendage to any of his three plays which he added himself, is, I believe, the only one of the kind. He calls it an historical epilogue. Finding that "Guilt's dreadful close his narrow scene denied," he, in a manner, continues the tragedy in the epilogue, and relates how Rome revenged the shade of Demetrius, and punished Perseus "for this night's deed."

Of Young's taking orders something is told by the biographer of Pope, which places the easiness and simplicity of the poet in a singular light. When he determined on the church, he did not address himself to Sherlock, to Atterbury, or to Hare, for the best instructions in theology; but to Pope, who, in a youthful frolick, advised the diligent perusal of Thomas Aquinas. With this treasure Young retired from interruption to an obscure place in the suburbs. His poetical guide to godliness hearing nothing of him during half a year, and apprehending he might have carried the jest too far, sought after him, and found him just in time to prevent what Ruffhead calls "an irretrievable derangement."

That attachment to his favourite study, which made him think a poet the surest guide to his new profession, left him little doubt whether poetry was the surest path to its honours and preferments. Not long, indeed, after he took orders, he published, in prose, 1728, a true Estimate of Human Life, dedicated, notwithstanding the Latin quotations with which it abounds, to the queen; and a sermon preached before the house of commons, 1729, on the martyrdom of king Charles, entitled, an Apology for Princes, or the Reverence due to Government. But the Second Discourse, the counterpart of his Estimate, without which it cannot be called a true Estimate, though, in 1728, it was announced as "soon to be published," never appeared; and his old friends the muses were not forgotten. In 1730 he relapsed to poetry, and sent into the world, Imperium Pelagi, a naval lyrick, written in imitation of Pindar's Spirit, occasioned by his majesty's return from Hanover, September, 1729, and the succeeding peace. It is inscribed to the duke of Chandos. In the preface we are told, that the ode is the most spirited kind of poetry, and that the Pindarick is the most spirited kind of ode. "This I speak," he adds, "with sufficient candour, at my own very great peril. But truth has an eternal title to our confession, though we are sure to suffer by it." Behold, again, the fairest of poets. Young's Imperium Pelagi was ridiculed in Fielding's Tom Thumb; but let us not forget that it was one of his pieces which the author of the Night Thoughts deliberately refused to own.

Not long after this Pindarick attempt, he published two epistles to Pope, concerning the Authors of the Age, 1730. Of these poems, one occasion seems to have been an apprehension lest, from the liveliness of his satires, he should not be deemed sufficiently serious for promotion in the church.

In July, 1730, he was presented, by his college, to the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire. In May, 1731, he married lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the earl of Lichfield, and widow of colonel Lee. His connexion with this lady arose from his father's acquaintance, already mentioned, with lady Anne Wharton, who was coheiress of sir Henry Lee, of Ditchley, in Oxfordshire. Poetry had lately been taught by Addison to aspire to the arms of nobility, though not with extraordinary happiness.

We may naturally conclude, that Young now gave himself up, in some measure, to the comforts of his new connexion, and to the expectations of that preferment, which he thought due to his poetical talents, or, at least, to the manner in which they had so frequently been exerted.

The next production of his muse was the Sea-piece, in two odes.

Young enjoys the credit of what is called an Extempore Epigram on Voltaire; who, when he was in England, ridiculed, in the company of the jealous English poet, Milton's allegory of Sin and Death:

You are so witty, profligate, and thin,

At once we think thee Milton, Death, and Sin.

From the following passage, in the poetical dedication of his Sea-piece to Voltaire, it seems, that this extemporaneous reproof, if it must be extemporaneous (for what few will now affirm Voltaire to have deserved any reproof,) was something longer than a distich, and something more gentle than the distich just quoted:

No stranger, sir, though born in foreign climes.

On Dorset downs, when Milton's page

With Sin and Death provok'd thy rage,

Thy rage provok'd, who sooth'd with gentle rhymes?

By Dorset downs, he probably meant Mr. Dodington's seat. In Pitt's poems is an Epistle to Dr. Edward Young, at Eastbury, in Dorsetshire, on the Review at Sarum, 1722.

While with your Dodington retir'd you sit,

Charm'd with his flowing Burgundy and wit, &c.

Thomson in his Autumn, addressing Mr. Dodington calls his seat the seat of the muses,

Where, in the secret bow'r and winding walk,

For virtuous Young and thee they twine the bay.

The praises Thompson bestows but a few lines before on Philips, the second

Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfetter'd verse,

With British freedom sing the British song,

added to Thomson's example and success, might, perhaps, induce Young, as we shall see presently, to write his great work without rhyme.

In 1734 he published the Foreign Address, or the best Argument for Peace, occasioned by the British Fleet and the Posture of Affairs. Written in the character of a sailor. It is not to be found in the author's four volumes.

He now appears to have given up all hopes of overtaking Pindar, and, perhaps, at last resolved to turn his ambition to some original species of poetry. This poem concludes with a formal farewell to Ode, which few of Young's readers will regret:

My shell, which Clio gave, which kings applaud,

Which Europe's bleeding genius call'd abroad,


In a species of poetry altogether his own, he next tried his skill, and succeeded.

Of his wife, he was deprived in 1741. Lady Elizabeth had lost, after her marriage with Young, an amiable daughter, by her former husband, just after she was married to Mr. Temple, son of lord Palmerston. Mr. Temple did not long remain after his wife, though he was married a second time to a daughter of sir John Barnard, whose son is the present peer. Mr. and Mrs. Temple have generally been considered as Philander and Narcissa. From the great friendship which constantly subsisted between Mr. Temple and Young, as well as from other circumstances, it is probable that the poet had both him and Mrs. Temple in view for these characters; though, at the same time, some passages respecting Philander do not appear to suit either Mr. Temple or any other person with whom Young was known to be connected or acquainted, while all the circumstances relating to Narcissa have been constantly found applicable to Young's daughter-in-law.

At what short intervals the poet tells us he was wounded by the deaths of the three persons particularly lamented, none that has read the Night Thoughts (and who has not read them?) needs to be informed.

Insatiate archer! could not one suffice?

Thy shaft flew thrice; and thrice my peace was slain;

And thrice, ere thrice yon moon had fill'd her horn.

Yet how is it possible that Mr. and Mrs. Temple and lady Elizabeth Young could be these three victims, over whom Young has hitherto been pitied for having to pour the Midnight Sorrows of his religious poetry; Mrs. Temple died in 1736; Mr. Temple four years afterwards, in 1740; and the poet's wife seven months after Mr. Temple, in 1741. How could the insatiate archer thrice slay his peace, in these three persons, "ere thrice the moon had fill'd her horn?"

But, in the short preface to the Complaint, he seriously tells us, "that the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious; and that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the writer." It is probable, therefore, that in these three contradictory lines, the poet complains more than the father-in-law, the friend, or the widower.

Whatever names belong to these facts, or, if the names be those generally supposed, whatever heightening a poet's sorrow may have given the facts; to the sorrow Young felt from them, religion and morality are indebted for the Night Thoughts. There is a pleasure sure in sadness which mourners only know!

Of these poems, the two or three first have been perused, perhaps more eagerly and more frequently than the rest. When he got as far as the fourth or fifth, his original motive for taking up the pen was answered; his grief was naturally either diminished or exhausted. We still find the same pious poet; but we hear less of Philander and Narcissa, and less of the mourner whom he loved to pity.

Mrs. Temple died of a consumption at Lyons, in her way to Nice, the year after her marriage; that is, when poetry relates the fact, "in her bridal hour." It is more than poetically true, that Young accompanied her to the Continent:

I flew, I snatch'd her from the rigid north, And bore her nearer to the sun.

But in vain. Her funeral was attended with the difficulties painted in such animated colours in Night the Third. After her death, the remainder of the party passed the ensuing winter at Nice.

The poet seems, perhaps, in these compositions, to dwell with more melancholy on the death of Philander and Narcissa, than of his wife. But it is only for this reason. He who runs and reads may remember, that in the Night Thoughts Philander and Narcissa are often mentioned and often lamented. To recollect lamentations over the author's wife, the memory must have been charged with distinct passages. This lady brought him one child, Frederick, now living, to whom the prince of Wales was godfather.

That domestick grief is, in the first instance, to be thanked for these ornaments to our language, it is impossible to deny. Nor would it be common hardiness to contend, that worldly discontent had no hand in these joint productions of poetry and piety. Yet am I by no means sure that, at any rate, we should not have had something of the same colour from Young's pencil, notwithstanding the liveliness of his satires. In so long a life, causes for discontent and occasions for grief must have occurred. It is not clear to me that his muse was not sitting upon the watch for the first which happened. Night thoughts were not uncommon to her, even when first she visited the poet, and at a time when he himself was remarkable neither for gravity nor gloominess. In his Last Day, almost his earliest poem, he calls her the Melancholy Maid,

Whom dismal scenes delight,

Frequent at tombs and in the realms of night.

In the prayer which concludes the second book of the same poem, he says-

Oh! permit the gloom of solemn night

To sacred thought may forcibly invite.

Oh! how divine to tread the milky way,

To the bright palace of eternal day!

When Young was writing a tragedy, Grafton is said by Spence to have sent him a human skull, with a candle in it, as a lamp; and the poet is reported to have used it.

What he calls the true Estimate of Human Life, which has already been mentioned, exhibits only the wrong side of the tapestry; and, being asked why he did not show the right, he is said to have replied that he could not. By others it has been told me that this was finished; but that, before there existed any copy, it was torn in pieces by a lady's monkey.

Still, is it altogether fair to dress up the poet for the man, and to bring the gloominess of the Night Thoughts to prove the gloominess of Young, and to show that his genius, like the genius of Swift, was, in some measure, the sullen inspiration of discontent.

From them who answer in the affirmative it should not be concealed, that, though "Invisibilia non decipiunt" appeared upon a deception in Young's grounds, and "Ambulantes in horto audiêrunt vocem Dei" on a building in his garden, his parish was indebted to the good humour of the author of the Night Thoughts for an assembly and a bowling-green.

Whether you think with me, I know not; but the famous "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" always appeared to me to savour more of female weakness than of manly reason. He that has too much feeling to speak ill of the dead, who, if they cannot defend themselves, are, at least, ignorant of his abuse, will not hesitate, by the most wanton calumny, to destroy the quiet, the reputation, the fortune, of the living. Yet censure is not heard beneath the tomb, any more than praise. "De mortuis nil nisi verum-De vivis nil nisi bonum," would approach much nearer to good sense. After all, the few handfuls of remaining dust which once composed the body of the author of the Night Thoughts feel not much concern whether Young pass now for a man of sorrow, or for a "fellow of infinite jest." To this favour must come the whole family of Yorick. His immortal part, wherever that now dwells, is still less solicitous on this head.

But to a son of worth and sensibility it is of some little consequence whether contemporaries believe, and posterity be taught to believe, that his debauched and reprobate life cast a Stygian gloom over the evening of his father's days, saved him the trouble of feigning a character completely detestable, and succeeded, at last, in bringing his "grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."

The humanity of the world, little satisfied with inventing perhaps a melancholy disposition for the father, proceeds next to invent an argument in support of their invention, and chooses that Lorenzo should be Young's own son. The Biographia and every account of Young pretty roundly assert this to be the fact; of the absolute impossibility of which the Biographia itself, in particular dates, contains undeniable evidence. Reader

s I know there are of a strange turn of mind, who will hereafter peruse the Night Thoughts with less satisfaction; who will wish they had still been deceived; who will quarrel with me for discovering that no such character as their Lorenzo ever yet disgraced human nature, or broke a father's heart. Yet would these admirers of the sublime and terrible be offended, should you set them down for cruel and for savage.

Of this report, inhuman to the surviving son, if it be true, in proportion as the character of Lorenzo is diabolical, where are we to find the proof? Perhaps it is clear from the poems.

From the first line to the last of the Night Thoughts no one expression can be discovered which betrays any thing like the father. In the Second Night I find an expression which betrays something else; that Lorenzo was his friend; one, it is possible, of his former companions; one of the duke of Wharton's set. The poet styles him "gay friend;" an appellation not very natural from a pious incensed father to such a being as he paints Lorenzo, and that being his son.

But let us see how he has sketched this dreadful portrait, from the sight of some of whose features the artist himself must have turned away with horrour. A subject more shocking, if his only child really sat to him, than the crucifixion of Michael Angelo; upon the horrid story told of which, Young composed a short poem of fourteen lines in the early part of his life, which he did not think deserved to be republished.

In the First Night, the address to the poet's supposed son is,

Lorenzo, fortune makes her court to thee.

In the Fifth Night;

And burns Lorenzo still for the sublime

Of life? to hang his airy nest on high?

Is this a picture of the son of the rector of Welwyn?

Eighth Night;

In foreign realms (for thou hast travell'd far;)

which even now does not apply to his son.

In Night Five;

So wept Lorenzo fair Clarissa's fate;

Who gave that angel-boy on whom he dotes;

And dy'd to give him, orphan'd in his birth!

At the beginning of the Fifth Night we find;

Lorenzo! to recriminate is just;

I grant the man is vain who writes for praise.

But, to cut short all inquiry; if any one of these passages, if any passage in the poems, be applicable, my friend shall pass for Lorenzo. The son of the author of the Night Thoughts was not old enough, when they were written, to recriminate, or to be a father. The Night Thoughts were begun immediately after the mournful event of 1741. The first Nights appear, in the books of the company of Stationers, as the property of Robert Dodsley, in 1742. The preface to Night Seven is dated July 7th, 1744. The marriage, in consequence of which the supposed Lorenzo was born, happened in May, 1731. Young's child was not born till June, 1733. In 1741 this Lorenzo, this finished infidel, this father to whose education vice had for some years put the last hand, was only eight years old.

An anecdote of this cruel sort, so open to contradiction, so impossible to be true, who could propagate? Thus easily are blasted the reputations of the living and of the dead.

Who, then, was Lorenzo? exclaim the readers I have mentioned. If we cannot be sure that he was his son, which would have been finely terrible, was he not his nephew, his cousin?

These are questions which I do not pretend to answer. For the sake of human nature, I could wish Lorenzo to have been only the creation of the poet's fancy: like the Quintus of Anti-Lucretius, "quo nomine," says Polignac, "quemvis Atheum intellige." That this was the case, many expressions in the Night Thoughts would seem to prove, did not a passage in Night Eight appear to show that he had something in his eye for the groundwork, at least, of the painting. Lovelace or Lorenzo may be feigned characters; but a writer does not feign a name of which he only gives the initial letter:

Tell not Calista. She will laugh thee dead,

Or send thee to her hermitage with L--.

The Biographia, not satisfied with pointing out the son of Young, in that son's lifetime, as his father's Lorenzo, travels out of its way into the history of the son, and tells of his having been forbidden his college at Oxford, for misbehaviour. How such anecdotes, were they true, tend to illustrate the life of Young, it is not easy to discover. Was the son of the author of the Night Thoughts, indeed, forbidden his college for a time, at one of the universities? The author of Paradise Lost is by some supposed to have been disgracefully ejected from the other. From juvenile follies who is free? But, whatever the Biographia chooses to relate, the son of Young experienced no dismission from his college, either lasting or temporary.

Yet, were nature to indulge him with a second youth, and to leave him at the same time the experience of that which is past, he would probably spend it differently-who would not?-he would certainly be the occasion of less uneasiness to his father. But, from the same experience, he would as certainly, in the same case, be treated differently by his father.

Young was a poet: poets, with reverence be it spoken, do not make the best parents. Fancy and imagination seldom deign to stoop from their heights; always stoop unwillingly to the low level of common duties. Aloof from vulgar life, they pursue their rapid flight beyond the ken of mortals, and descend not to earth but when compelled by necessity. The prose of ordinary occurrences is beneath the dignity of poets.

He who is connected with the author of the Night Thoughts, only by veneration for the poet and the christian, may be allowed to observe, that Young is one of those, concerning whom, as you remark in your account of Addison, it is proper rather to say "nothing that is false, than all that is true."

But the son of Young would almost sooner, I know, pass for a Lorenzo, than see himself vindicated, at the expense of his father's memory, from follies which, if it may be thought blamable in a boy to have committed them, it is surely praiseworthy in a man to lament, and certainly not only unnecessary but cruel in a biographer to record.

Of the Night Thoughts, notwithstanding their author's professed retirement, all are inscribed to great or to growing names. He had not yet weaned himself from earls and dukes, from speakers of the house of commons, lords commissioners of the treasury, and chancellors of the exchequer.

In Night Eight the politician plainly betrays himself:

Think no post needful that demands a knave:

When late our civil helm was shifting hands,

So P-- thought; think better if you can.

Yet it must be confessed, that at the conclusion of Night Nine, weary, perhaps, of courting earthly patrons, he tells his soul,


Thy patron he, whose diadem has dropt

Yon gems of heaven; eternity thy prize;

And leave the racers of the world their own.

The Fourth Night was addressed, by a "much-indebted muse," to the honourable Mr. Yorke, now lord Hardwicke; who meant to have laid the muse under still greater obligation, by the living of Shenfield in Essex, if it had become vacant.

The First Night concludes with this passage:

Dark, though not blind, like thee, Meonides:

Or Milton, thee. Ah! could I reach your strain;

Or his who made Meonides our own!

Man too he sung. Immortal man I sing.

Oh! had he prest his theme, pursu'd the track

Which opens out of darkness into day!

Oh! had he mounted on his wing of fire,

Soar'd, where I sink, and sung immortal man-

How had it blest mankind, and rescu'd me!

To the author of these lines was dedicated, in 1756, the first volume of an Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope, which attempted, whether justly or not, to pluck from Pope his "wing of fire," and to reduce him to a rank at least one degree lower than the first class of English poets. If Young accepted and approved the dedication, he countenanced this attack upon the fame of him whom he invokes as his muse.

Part of "paper-sparing" Pope's third book of the Odyssey, deposited in the Museum, is written upon the back of a letter signed "E. Young," which is clearly the handwriting of our Young. The letter, dated only May the 2nd, seems obscure; but there can be little doubt that the friendship he requests was a literary one, and that he had the highest literary opinion of Pope. The request was a prologue, I am told.

"May the 2nd.

"Dear Sir,-Having been often from home, I know not if you have done me the favour of calling on me. But, be that as it will, I much want that instance of your friendship I mentioned in my last; a friendship I am very sensible I can receive from no one but yourself. I should not urge this thing so much but for very particular reasons; nor can you be at a loss to conceive how a 'trifle of this nature' may be of serious moment to me; and while I am in hopes of the great advantage of your advice about it, I shall not be so absurd as to make any further step without it. I know you are much engaged, and only hope to hear of you at your entire leisure.

"I am, sir, your most faithful,

"and obedient servant,


Nay, even after Pope's death, he says, in Night Seven,

Pope, who couldst make immortals, art thou dead?

Either the Essay, then, was dedicated to a patron, who disapproved its doctrine, which I have been told by the author was not the case; or Young appears, in his old age, to have bartered for a dedication, an opinion entertained of his friend through all that part of life when he must have been best able to form opinions.

From this account of Young, two or three short passages, which stand almost together in Night Four, should not be excluded. They afford a picture by his own hand, from the study of which my readers may choose to form their own opinion of the features of his mind, and the complexion of his life:

Ah me! the dire effect

Of loit'ring here, of death defrauded long;

Of old so gracious (and let that suffice)

My very master knows me not.

I've been so long remember'd, I'm forgot.

When in his courtiers' ears I pour my plaint,

They drink it as the nectar of the great;

And squeeze my hand, and beg me come to-morrow.

Twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy,

Court-favour, yet untaken, I besiege.

If this song lives, posterity shall know

One, though in Britain born, with courtiers bred,

Who thought e'en gold might come a day too late;

Nor on his subtle deathbed plann'd his scheme

For future vacancies in church or state.

Deduct from the writer's age "twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy," and you will still leave him more than forty when he sat down to the miserable siege of court-favour. He has before told us,

A fool at forty is a fool indeed.

After all, the siege seems to have been raised only in consequence of what the General thought his "deathbed."

By these extraordinary poems, written after he was sixty, of which I have been led to say so much, I hope, by the wish of doing justice to the living and the dead, it was the desire of Young to be principally known. He entitled the four volumes which he published himself, the Works of the Author of the Night Thoughts. While it is remembered that from these he excluded many of his writings, let it not be forgotten that the rejected pieces contained nothing prejudicial to the cause of virtue, or of religion. Were every thing that Young ever wrote to be published, he would only appear, perhaps, in a less respectable light as a poet, and more despicable as a dedicator; he would not pass for a worse christian, or for a worse man. This enviable praise is due to Young. Can it be claimed by every writer? His dedications, after all, he had, perhaps, no right to suppress. They all, I believe, speak, not a little to the credit of his gratitude, of favours received, and I know not whether the author, who has once solemnly printed an acknowledgment of a favour, should not always print it.

Is it to the credit or to the discredit of Young, as a poet, that of his Night Thoughts the French are particularly fond?

Of the Epitaph on lord Aubrey Beauclerk, dated 1740, all I know is, that I find it in the late body of English poetry, and that I am sorry to find it there.

Notwithstanding the farewell which he seemed to have taken in the Night Thoughts of every thing which bore the least resemblance to ambition, he dipped again in politicks. In 1745 he wrote Reflections on the publick Situation of the Kingdom, addressed to the duke of Newcastle; indignant, as it appears, to behold

A pope-bred princeling crawl ashore,

And whistle cut-throats, with those swords that scrap'd

Their barren rocks for wretched sustenance,

To cut his passage to the British throne.

This political poem might be called a Night Thought. Indeed it was originally printed as the conclusion of the Night Thoughts, though he did not gather it with his other works.

Prefixed to the second edition of Howe's Devout Meditations, is a letter from Young, dated January 19, 1752, addressed to Archibald Macaulay, esq. thanking him for the book, which he says "he shall never lay far out of his reach; for a greater demonstration of a sound head and a sincere heart he never saw."

In 1753, when the Brothers had lain by him above thirty years, it appeared upon the stage. If any part of his fortune had been acquired by servility of adulation, he now determined to deduct from it no inconsiderable sum, as a gift to the society for the propagation of the Gospel. To this sum he hoped the profits of the Brothers would amount. In his calculation he was deceived; but by the bad success of his play the society was not a loser. The author made up the sum he originally intended, which was a thousand pounds, from his own pocket.

The next performance which he printed was a prose publication, entitled, the Centaur not fabulous, in six Letters to a Friend on the Life in Vogue. The conclusion is dated November 29, 1754. In the third letter is described the deathbed of the "gay, young, noble, ingenious, accomplished, and most wretched Altamont." His last words were, "my principles have poisoned my friend, my extravagance has beggared my boy, my unkindness has murdered my wife!" Either Altamont and Lorenzo were the twin production of fancy, or Young was unlucky enough to know two characters who bore no little resemblance to each other in perfection of wickedness. Report has been accustomed to call Altamont lord Euston.

The Old Man's Relapse, occasioned by an epistle to Walpole, if written by Young, which I much doubt, must have been written very late in life. It has been seen, I am told, in a miscellany published thirty years before his death. In 1758, he exhibited the Old Man's Relapse, in more than words, by again becoming a dedicator, and publishing a sermon addressed to the king.

The lively letter in prose, on Original Composition, addressed to Richardson, the author of Clarissa, appeared in 1759. "Though he despairs of breaking through the frozen obstructions of age and care's incumbent cloud, into that flow of thought and brightness of expression, which subjects so polite require;" yet is it more like the production of untamed, unbridled youth, than of jaded fourscore. Some sevenfold volumes put him in mind of Ovid's sevenfold channels of the Nile at the conflagration:

--ostia septem

Pulverulenta vocant, septem sine flumine valles.

Such leaden labours are like Lycurgus's iron money, which was so much less in value than in bulk, that it required barns for strong boxes, and a yoke of oxen to draw five hundred pounds.

If there is a famine of invention in the land, we must travel, he says, like Joseph's brethren, far for food; we must visit the remote and rich ancients. But an inventive genius may safely stay at home: that, like the widow's cruise, is divinely replenished from within, and affords us a miraculous delight. He asks why it should seem altogether impossible, that heaven's latest editions of the human mind may be the most correct and fair? And Jonson, he tells us, was very learned, as Sampson was very strong, to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and buried himself under it.

Is this "care's incumbent cloud," or "the frozen obstructions of age?"

In this letter Pope is severely censured for his "fall from Homer's numbers, free as air, lofty and harmonious as the spheres, into childish shackles and tinkling sounds; for putting Achilles into petticoats a second time:" but we are told that the dying swan talked over an epick plan with Young a few weeks before his decease.

Young's chief inducement to write this letter was, as he confesses, that he might erect a monumental marble to the memory of an old friend. He, who employed his pious pen, for almost the last time, in thus doing justice to the exemplary deathbed of Addison, might, probably, at the close of his own life, afford no unuseful lesson for the deaths of others.

In the postscript, he writes to Richardson, that he will see in his next how far Addison is an original. But no other letter appears.

The few lines which stand in the last edition, as "sent by lord Melcombe to Dr. Young, not long before his lordship's death," were, indeed, so sent, but were only an introduction to what was there meant by "the muse's latest spark." The poem is necessary, whatever may be its merit, since the preface to it is already printed. Lord Melcombe called his Tusculum, La Trappe.

"Love thy country, wish it well,

Not with too intense a care;

'Tis enough that, when it fell,

Thou its ruin didst not share.

Envy's censure, flatt'ry's praise,

With unmov'd indiff'rence view;

Learn to tread life's dang'rous maze,

With unerring virtue's clew.

Void of strong desire and fear,

Life's wide ocean trust no more;

Strive thy little bark to steer

With the tide, but near the shore.

Thus prepar'd, thy shorten'd sail

Shall, whene'er the winds increase,

Seizing each propitious gale.

Waft thee to the port of peace.

Keep thy conscience from offence,

And tempestuous passions free;

So, when thou art call'd from hence,

Easy shall thy passage be;

Easy shall thy passage be,

Cheerful thy allotted stay,

Short th' account 'twixt God and thee:

Hope shall meet thee on the way:

Truth shall lead thee to the gate,

Mercy's self shall let thee in,

Where its never-changing state

Full perfection shall begin."

The poem was accompanied by a letter.

"La Trappe, the 27th of Oct. 1761.

"Dear Sir,-You seemed to like the ode I sent you for your amusement: I now send it you as a present. If you please to accept of it, and are willing that our friendship should be known when we are gone, you will be pleased to leave this among those of your own papers that may possibly see the light by a posthumous publication. God send us health while we stay, and an easy journey!

"My dear Dr. Young,

"yours, most cordially,


In 1762, a short time before his death, Young published Resignation. Notwithstanding the manner in which it was really forced from him by the world, criticism has treated it with no common severity. If it shall be thought not to deserve the highest praise, on the other side of fourscore, by whom, except by Newton and by Waller, has praise been merited?

To Mrs. Montagu, the famous champion of Shakespeare, I am indebted for the history of Resignation. Observing that Mrs. Boscawen, in the midst of her grief for the loss of the admiral, derived consolation from the perusal of the Night Thoughts, Mrs. Montagu proposed a visit to the author. From conversing with Young, Mrs. Boscawen derived still further consolation; and to that visit she and the world were indebted for this poem. It compliments Mrs. Montagu in the following lines:

Yet write I must. A lady sues:

How shameful her request!

My brain in labour with dull rhyme,

Hers teeming with the best!

And again;

A friend you have, and I the same,

Whose prudent, soft address

Will bring to life those healing thoughts

Which dy'd in your distress.

That friend, the spirit of thy theme

Extracting for your ease,

Will leave to me the dreg, in thoughts

Too common; such as these.

By the same lady I am enabled to say, in her own words, that Young's unbounded genius appeared to greater advantage in the companion than even in the author; that the christian was in him a character still more inspired, more enraptured, more sublime, than the poet; and that, in his ordinary conversation,

Letting down the golden chain from high,

He drew his audience upward to the sky.

Notwithstanding Young had said, in his Conjectures on original Composition, that "blank verse is verse unfallen, uncurst; verse reclaimed, reinthroned in the true language of the gods," notwithstanding he administered consolation to his own grief in this immortal language, Mrs. Boscawen was comforted in rhyme.

While the poet and the Christian were applying this comfort, Young had himself occasion for comfort, in consequence of the sudden death of Richardson, who was printing the former part of the poem. Of Richardson's death he says,

When heav'n would kindly set us free,

And earth's enchantment end;

It takes the most effectual means,

And robs us of a friend.

To Resignation was prefixed an apology for its appearance; to which more credit is due than to the generality of such apologies, from Young's unusual anxiety that no more productions of his old age should disgrace his former fame. In his will, dated February, 1760, he desires of his executors, "in a particular manner," that all his manuscript books and writings whatever might be burned, except his book of accounts.

In September, 1764, he added a kind of codicil, wherein he made it his dying intreaty to his house-keeper, to whom he left 100l. "that all his manuscripts might be destroyed, as soon as he was dead, which would greatly oblige her deceased friend."

It may teach mankind the uncertainty of worldly friendships, to know that Young, either by surviving those he loved, or by outliving their affections, could only recollect the names of two friends, his house-keeper and a hatter, to mention in his will; and it may serve to repress that testamentary pride, which too often seeks for sounding names and titles, to be informed, that the author of the Night Thoughts did not blush to leave a legacy to "his friend Henry Stevens, a hatter at the Temple-gate." Of these two remaining friends, one went before Young. But, at eighty-four, "where," as he asks in the Centaur, "is that world into which we were born?"

The same humility which marked a hatter and a house-keeper for the friends of the author of the Night Thoughts had before bestowed the same title on his footman, in an epitaph in his Church-yard upon James Barker, dated 1749; which I am glad to find in the late collection of his works.

Young and his house-keeper were ridiculed, with more ill-nature than wit, in a kind of novel published by Kidgell, in 1755, called the Card, under the names of Dr. Elwes and Mrs. Fusby.

In April, 1765, at an age to which few attain, a period was put to the life of Young.

He had performed no duty for three or four years, but he retained his intellects to the last.

Much is told in the Biographia, which I know not to have been true, of the manner of his burial; of the master and children of a charity-school, which he founded in his parish, who neglected to attend their benefactor's corpse; and of a bell which was not caused to toll so often as upon those occasions bells usually toll. Had that humanity, which is here lavished upon things of little consequence either to the living or to the dead, been shown in its proper place to the living, I should have had less to say about Lorenzo. They who lament that these misfortunes happened to Young, forget the praise he bestows upon Socrates, in the preface to Night Seven, for resenting his friend's request about his funeral.

During some part of his life Young was abroad, but I have not been able to learn any particulars.

In his seventh Satire he says,

When, after battle, I the field have SEEN

Spread o'er with ghastly shapes which once were men.

It is known also, that from this, or from some other field, he once wandered into the enemy's camp, with a classick in his hand, which he was reading intently; and had some difficulty to prove that he was only an absent poet, and not a spy.

The curious reader of Young's life will naturally inquire to what it was owing, that though he lived almost forty years after he took orders, which included one whole reign, uncommonly long, and part of another, he was never thought worthy of the least preferment. The author of the Night Thoughts ended his days upon a living which came to him from his college, without any favour, and to which he probably had an eye when he determined on the church. To satisfy curiosity of this kind is, at this distance of time, far from easy. The parties themselves know not often, at the instant, why they are neglected, or why they are preferred. The neglect of Young is by some ascribed to his having attached himself to the prince of Wales, and to his having preached an offensive sermon at St. James's. It has been told me, that he had two hundred a year in the late reign, by the patronage of Walpole; and that, whenever any one reminded the king of Young, the only answer was, "he has a pension." All the light thrown on this inquiry, by the following letter from Seeker, only serves to show at what a late period of life the author of the Night Thoughts solicited preferment.

"Deanery of St. Paul's, July 8, 1758.

"Good Dr. Young,-I have long wondered, that more suitable notice of your great merit hath not been taken by persons in power. But how to remedy the omission I see not. No encouragement hath ever been given me to mention things of this nature to his majesty. And therefore, in all likelihood, the only consequence of doing it would be weakening the little influence which else I may possibly have on some other occasions. Your fortune and your reputation set you above the need of advancement; and your sentiments, above that concern for it, on your own account, which, on that of the publick, is sincerely felt by

"Your loving brother,

"Tho. Cant."

At last, at the age of fourscore, he was appointed, in 1761, clerk of the closet to the princess dowager.

One obstacle must have stood not a little in the way of that preferment, after which his whole life seems to have panted. Though he took orders, he never entirely shook off politicks. He was always the lion of his master Milton, "pawing to get free his hinder parts." By this conduct, if he gained some friends, he made many enemies.

Again: Young was a poet; and again, with reverence be it spoken, poets by profession, do not always make the best clergymen. If the author of the Night Thoughts composed many sermons, he did not oblige the publick with many.

Besides, in the latter part of life, Young was fond of holding himself out for a man retired from the world. But he seemed to have forgotten that the same verse which contains "oblitus meorum," contains also "obliviscendus et illis." The brittle chain of worldly friendship and patronage is broken as effectually, when one goes beyond the length of it, as when the other does. To the vessel which is sailing from the shore, it only appears that the shore also recedes; in life it is truly thus. He who retires from the world will find himself, in reality, deserted as fast, if not faster, by the world. The publick is not to be treated as the coxcomb treats his mistress; to be threatened with desertion, in order to increase fondness.

Young seems to have been taken at his word. Notwithstanding his frequent complaints of being neglected, no hand was reached out to pull him from that retirement of which he declared himself enamoured. Alexander assigned no palace for the residence of Diogenes, who boasted his surly satisfaction with his tub.

Of the domestick manners and petty habits of the author of the Night Thoughts, I hoped to have given you an account from the best authority: but who shall dare to say, to-morrow I will be wise or virtuous, or to-morrow I will do a particular thing? Upon inquiring for his house-keeper, I learned that she was buried two days before I reached the town of her abode.

In a letter from Tscharner, a noble foreigner, to count Haller, Tscharner says, he has lately spent four days with Young at Welwyn, where the author tastes all the ease and pleasure mankind can desire. "Every thing about him shows the man, each individual being placed by rule. All is neat without art. He is very pleasant in conversation, and extremely polite."

This, and more, may possibly be true; but Tscharner's was a first visit, a visit of curiosity and admiration, and a visit which the author expected.

Of Edward Young, an anecdote which wanders among readers is not true, that he was Fielding's Parson Adams. The original of that famous painting was William Young, who was a clergyman. He supported an uncomfortable existence by translating for the booksellers from Greek; and, if he did not seem to be his own friend, was, at least, no man's enemy. Yet the facility with which this report has gained belief in the world argues, were it not sufficiently known, that the author of the Night Thoughts bore some resemblance to Adams.

The attention which Young bestowed upon the perusal of books, is not unworthy imitation. When any passage pleased him, he appears to have folded down the leaf. On these passages he bestowed a second reading. But the labours of man are too frequently vain. Before he returned to much of what he had once approved, he died. Many of his books, which I have seen, are by those notes of approbation so swelled beyond their real bulk, that they will hardly shut.

What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame!

Earth's highest station ends in, Here he lies!

And dust to dust concludes her noblest song!

The author of these lines is not without his hic jacet.

By the good sense of his son, it contains none of that praise which no marble can make the bad or the foolish merit; which, without the direction of a stone or a turf, will find its way, sooner or later, to the deserving.

M. S.

Optimi parentis

Edvardi Young, LL.D.

hujus ecclesi? rect.

Et Elizabeth?

f?m. pr?nob.

Conjugis ejus amantissim?,

pio et gratissimo animo

hoc marmor posuit

F. Y.

Filius superstes.

Is it not strange that the author of the Night Thoughts has inscribed no monument to the memory of his lamented wife? Yet, what marble will endure as long as the poems?

Such, my good friend, is the account which I have been able to collect of the great Young. That it may be long before any thing like what I have just transcribed be necessary for you, is the sincere wish of,

Dear sir,

Your greatly obliged friend,

Herbert Croft, Jun.

Lincoln's Inn, Sept. 1780.

P.S. This account of Young was seen by you in manuscript, you know, sir; and, though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you insisted on striking out one passage, because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long, for your sake, I did for the sake of myself and of the world. But this postscript you will not see before the printing of it; and I will say here, in spite of you, how I feel myself honoured and bettered by your friendship: and that, if I do credit to the church, after which I always longed, and for which I am now going to give in exchange the bar, though not at so late a period of life as Young took orders, it will be owing, in no small measure, to my having had the happiness of calling the author of the Rambler my friend[193].


Oxford, Oct. 1782.

Of Young's poems it is difficult to give any general character; for he has no uniformity of manner: one of his pieces has no great resemblance to another. He began to write early, and continued long; and at different times had different modes of poetical excellence in view. His numbers are sometimes smooth, and sometimes rugged; his style is sometimes concatenated, and sometimes abrupt; sometimes diffusive, and sometimes concise. His plan seems to have started in his mind at the present moment; and his thoughts appear the effect of chance, sometimes adverse, and sometimes lucky, with very little operation of judgment.

He was not one of those writers whom experience improves, and who, observing their own faults, become gradually correct. His poem on the Last Day, his first great performance, has an equability and propriety, which he afterwards either never endeavoured or never attained. Many paragraphs are noble, and few are mean, yet the whole is languid: the plan is too much extended, and a succession of images divides and weakens the general conception; but the great reason why the reader is disappointed is, that the thought of the Last Day makes every man more than poetical, by spreading over his mind a general obscurity of sacred horrour, that oppresses distinction, and disdains expression.

His story of Jane Grey was never popular. It is written with elegance enough; but Jane is too heroick to be pitied.

The Universal Passion is, indeed, a very great performance. It is said to be a series of epigrams; but, if it be, it is what the author intended; his endeavour was at the production of striking distichs and pointed sentences; and his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the sharpness of resistless truth.

His characters are often selected with discernment, and drawn with nicety; his illustrations are often happy, and his reflections often just. His species of satire is between those of Horace and Juvenal; and he has the gaiety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the morality of Juvenal, with greater variation of images. He plays, indeed, only on the surface of life; he never penetrates the recesses of the mind, and, therefore, the whole power of his poetry is exhausted by a single perusal; his conceits please only when they surprise.

To translate he never condescended, unless his Paraphrase on Job may be considered as a version; in which he has not, I think, been unsuccessful; he, indeed, favoured himself, by choosing those parts which most easily admit the ornaments of English poetry.

He had least success in his lyrick attempts, in which he seems to have been under some malignant influence: he is always labouring to be great, and at last is only turgid.

In his Night Thoughts he has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allusions, a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage. The wild diffusion of the sentiments, and the digressive sallies of imagination, would have been compressed and restrained by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this work is not exactness, but copiousness; particular lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantations, the magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.

His last poem was Resignation; in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and succeeded better than in his Ocean or his Merchant. It was very falsely represented as a proof of decaying faculties. There is Young in every stanza, such as he often was in his highest vigour.

His tragedies, not making part of the collection, I had forgotten, till Mr. Steevens recalled them to my thoughts by remarking, that he seemed to have one favourite catastrophe, as his three plays all concluded with lavish suicide; a method by which, as Dryden remarked, a poet easily rids his scene of persons whom he wants not to keep alive. In Busiris there are the greatest ebullitions of imagination: but the pride of Busiris is such as no other man can have, and the whole is too remote from known life to raise either grief, terrour, or indignation. The Revenge approaches much nearer to human practices and manners, and, therefore, keeps possession of the stage: the first design seems suggested by Othello; but the reflections, the incidents, and the diction, are original. The moral observations are go introduced, and so expressed, as to have all the novelty that can be required. Of the Brothers I may be allowed to say nothing, since nothing was ever said of it by the publick.

It must be allowed of Young's poetry, that it abounds in thought, but without much accuracy or selection. When he lays hold of an illustration, he pursues it beyond expectation, sometimes happily, as in his parallel of Quicksilver with Pleasure[192] which I have heard repeated at the approbation by a lady, of whose praise he would have been justly proud, and which is very ingenious, very subtile, and almost exact: but sometimes he is less lucky, as when, in his Night Thoughts, having it dropped into his mind, that the orbs floating in space might be called the cluster of creation, he thinks of a cluster of grapes, and says, that they all hang on the great vine, drinking the "nectareous juice of immortal life."

His conceits are sometimes yet less valuable. In the Last Day he hopes to illustrate the reassembly of the atoms that compose the human body at the "trump of doom" by the collection of bees into a swarm at the tinkling of a pan.

The prophet says of Tyre, that "her merchants are princes." Young says of Tyre, in his Merchant,

Her merchants princes, and each deck a throne.

Let burlesque try to go beyond him.

He has the trick of joining the turgid and familiar: to buy the alliance of Britain, "Climes were paid down." Antithesis is his favourite: "They for kindness hate;" and, "because she's right, she's ever in the wrong."

His versification is his own: neither his blank nor his rhyming lines have any resemblance to those of former writers; he picks up no hemistichs, he copies no favourite expressions; he seems to have laid up no stores of thought or diction, but to owe all to the fortuitous suggestions of the present moment. Yet I have reason to believe that, when once he had formed a new design, he then laboured it with very patient industry; and that he composed with great labour and frequent revisions.

His verses are formed by no certain model; he is no more like himself in his different productions than he is like others. He seems never to have studied prosody, nor to have had any direction but from his own ear. But, with all his defects, he was a man of genius and a poet.

* * *


Of David Mallet, having no written memorial, I am able to give no other account than such as is supplied by the unauthorised loquacity of common fame, and a very slight personal knowledge.

He was, by his original, one of the Macgregors, a clan that became, about sixty years ago, under the conduct of Robin Roy, so formidable and so infamous for violence and robbery, that the name was annulled by a legal abolition; and when they were all to denominate themselves anew, the father, I suppose, of this author, called himself Malloch.

David Malloch was, by the penury of his parents, compelled to be janitor of the high school at Edinburgh; a mean office, of which he did not afterwards delight to hear. But he surmounted the disadvantages of his birth and fortune; for, when the duke of Montrose applied to the college of Edinburgh for a tutor to educate his sons, Malloch was recommended; and I never heard that he dishonoured his credentials.

When his pupils were sent to see the world, they were entrusted to his care; and, having conducted them round the common circle of modish travels, he returned with them to London, where, by the influence of the family in which he resided, he naturally gained admission to many persons of the highest rank, and the highest character; to wits, nobles, and statesmen.

Of his works, I know not whether I can trace the series. His first production was William and Margaret[194] of which, though it contains nothing very striking or difficult, he has been envied the reputation; and plagiarism has been boldly charged, but never proved.

Not long afterwards he published the Excursion, 1728; a desultory and capricious view of such scenes of nature as his fancy led him, or his knowledge enabled him, to describe. It is not devoid of poetical spirit. Many of the images are striking, and many of the paragraphs are elegant. The cast of diction seems to be copied from Thomson, whose Seasons were then in their full blossom of reputation. He has Thomson's beauties and his faults.

His poem on Verbal Criticism, 1733, was written to pay court to Pope, on a subject which he either did not understand, or willingly misrepresented; and is little more than an improvement, or rather expansion, of a fragment which Pope printed in a Miscellany long before he engrafted it into a regular poem. There is in this piece more pertness than wit, and more confidence than knowledge. The versification is tolerable, nor can criticism allow it a higher praise.

His first tragedy was Eurydice, acted at Drury-lane in 1731; of which I know not the reception nor the merit, but have heard it mentioned as a mean performance. He was not then too high to accept a prologue and epilogue from Aaron Hill, neither of which can be much commended.

Having cleared his tongue from his native pronunciation so as to be no longer distinguished as a Scot, he seems inclined to disencumber himself from all adherences of his original, and took upon him to change his name from Scotch Malloch to English Mallet, without any imaginable reason of preference which the eye or ear can discover. What other proofs he gave of disrespect to his native country, I know not; but it was remarked of him, that he was the only Scot, whom Scotchmen did not command.

About this time Pope, whom he visited familiarly, published his Essay on Man, but concealed the author; and, when Mallet entered one day, Pope asked him slightly, what there was new. Mallet told him, that the newest piece was something called an Essay on Man, which he had inspected idly, and seeing the utter inability of the author, who had neither skill in writing nor knowledge of the subject, had tossed it away. Pope, to punish his self-conceit, told him the secret[195]

A new edition of the works of Bacon being prepared, 1750, for the press, Mallet was employed to prefix a life, which he has written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation; but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that, when he afterwards undertook the life of Marlborough, Warburton remarked, that he might, perhaps, forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.

When the prince of Wales was driven from the palace, and, setting himself at the head of the opposition, kept a separate court, he endeavoured to increase his popularity by the patronage of literature, and made Mallet his under-secretary, with a salary of two hundred pounds a year: Thomson, likewise, had a pension; and they were associated in the composition of the Mask of Alfred, which, in its original state, was played at Cliefden in 1740; it was afterwards almost wholly changed by Mallet, and brought upon the stage at Drury-lane in 1751, but with no great success.

Mallet, in a familiar conversation with Garrick, discoursing of the diligence which he was then exerting upon the life of Marlborough, let him know, that in the series of great men quickly to be exhibited, he should find a niche for the hero of the theatre. Garrick professed to wonder by what artifice he could be introduced: but Mallet let him know, that, by a dexterous anticipation, he should fix him in a conspicuous place. "Mr. Mallet," says Garrick, in his gratitude of exultation, "have you left off to write for the stage?" Mallet then confessed that he had a drama in his hands. Garrick promised to act it; and Alfred was produced.

The long retardation of the life of the duke of Marlborough shows, with strong conviction, how little confidence can be placed in posthumous renown. When he died, it was soon determined that his story should be delivered to posterity; and the papers, supposed to contain the necessary information, were delivered to lord Molesworth, who had been his favourite in Flanders. When Molesworth died the same papers were transferred, with the same design, to sir Richard Steele, who, in some of his exigencies, put them in pawn. They then remained with the old dutchess who, in her will, assigned the task to Glover and Mallet, with a reward of a thousand pounds, and a prohibition to insert any verses. Glover rejected, I suppose, with disdain, the legacy, and devolved the whole work upon Mallet; who had from the late duke of Marlborough a pension to promote his industry, and who talked of the discoveries which he had made; but left not, when he died, any historical labours behind him.

While he was in the prince's service he published Mustapha, with a prologue by Thomson, not mean, but far inferiour to that which he had received from Mallet, for Agamemnon. The epilogue, said to be written by a friend, was composed in haste by Mallet, in the place of one promised, which was never given. This tragedy was dedicated to the prince his master. It was acted at Drury-lane, in 1739, and was well received, but was never revived.

In 1740, he produced, as has been already mentioned, the Mask of Alfred, in conjunction with Thomson.

For some time afterwards he lay at rest. After a long interval, his next work was Amyntor and Theodora, 1747, a long story in blank verse; in which it cannot be denied that there is copiousness and elegance of language, vigour of sentiment, and imagery well adapted to take possession of the fancy. But it is blank verse. This he sold to Vaillant for one hundred and twenty pounds. The first sale was not great, and it is now lost in forgetfulness.

Mallet, by address or accident, perhaps by his dependance on the prince, found his way to Bolingbroke; a man whose pride and petulance made his kindness difficult to gain, or keep, and whom Mallet was content to court by an act, which, I hope, was unwillingly performed. When it was found that Pope had clandestinely printed an unauthorised number of the pamphlet called the Patriot King, Bolingbroke, in a fit of useless fury, resolved to blast his memory, and employed Mallet, 1749, as the executioner of his vengeance. Mallet had not virtue, or had not spirit, to refuse the office; and was rewarded, not long after, with the legacy of lord Bolingbroke's works.

Many of the political pieces had been written during the opposition to Walpole, and given to Franklin, as he supposed, in perpetuity. These, among the rest, were claimed by the will. The question was referred to arbitrators; but when they decided against Mallet, he refused to yield to the award; and, by the help of Millar the bookseller, published all that he could find, but with success very much below his expectation.

In 1755, his Mask of Britannia was acted at Drury-lane; and his tragedy of Elvira in 1763; in which year he was appointed keeper of the book of entries for ships in the port of London.

In the beginning of the last war, when the nation was exasperated by ill success, he was employed to turn the publick vengeance upon Byng, and wrote a letter of accusation under the character of a Plain Man. The paper was, with great industry, circulated and dispersed; and he, for his seasonable intervention, had a considerable pension bestowed upon him, which he retained to his death.

Towards the end of his life he went with his wife to France; but after awhile, finding his health declining, he returned alone to England, and died in April, 1765.

He was twice married, and by his first wife had several children. One daughter, who married an Italian of rank, named Cilesia, wrote a tragedy called Almida, which was acted at Drury-lane. His second wife was the daughter of a nobleman's steward, who had a considerable fortune, which she took care to retain in her own hands.

His stature was diminutive, but he was regularly formed; his appearance, till he grew corpulent, was agreeable, and he suffered it to want no recommendation that dress could give it. His conversation was elegant and easy. The rest of his character may, without injury to his memory, sink into silence.

As a writer he cannot be placed in any high class. There is no species of composition in which he was eminent. His dramas had their day, a short day, and are forgotten: his blank verse seems, to my ear, the echo of Thomson. His Life of Bacon is known, as it is appended to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned. His works are such as a writer, bustling in the world, showing himself in publick, and emerging occasionally, from time to time, into notice, might keep alive by his personal influence; but which, conveying little information, and giving no great pleasure, must soon give way, as the succession of things produces new topicks of conversation and other modes of amusement.

* * *


Mark Akenside was born on the 9th of November, 1721, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His father, Mark, was a butcher, of the Presbyterian sect; his mother's name was Mary Lumsden. He received the first part of his education at the grammar-school of Newcastle; and was afterwards instructed by Mr. Wilson, who kept a private academy.

At the age of eighteen he was sent to Edinburgh, that he might qualify himself for the office of a dissenting minister, and received some assistance from the fund which the dissenters employ in educating young men of scanty fortune. But a wider view of the world opened other scenes, and prompted other hopes; he determined to study physick, and repaid that contribution, which, being received for a different purpose, he justly thought it dishonourable to retain.

Whether, when he resolved not to be a dissenting minister, he ceased to be a dissenter, I know not. He certainly retained an unnecessary and outrageous zeal for what he called, and thought, liberty; a zeal which sometimes disguises from the world, and not rarely from the mind which it possesses, an envious desire of plundering wealth or degrading greatness; and of which the immediate tendency is innovation and anarchy, an impetuous eagerness to subvert and confound, with very little care what shall be established.

Akenside was one of those poets who have felt very early the motions of genius, and one of those students who have very early stored their memories with sentiments and images. Many of his performances were produced in his youth; and his greatest work, the Pleasures of Imagination, appeared in 1744. I have heard Dodsley, by whom it was published, relate, that when the copy was offered him, the price demanded for it, which was a hundred and twenty pounds, being such as he was not inclined to give precipitately, he carried the work to Pope, who, having looked into it, advised him not to make a niggardly offer; for "this was no every-day writer."

In 1741 he went to Leyden, in pursuit of medical knowledge; and three years afterwards, May 16, 1744, became doctor of physick, having, according to the custom of the Dutch universities, published a thesis or dissertation. The subject which he chose was the Original and Growth of the Human F?tus; in which he is said to have departed, with great judgment, from the opinion then established, and to have delivered that which has been since confirmed and received.

Akenside was a young man, warm with every notion that by nature or accident had been connected with the sound of liberty, and, by an eccentricity which such dispositions do not easily avoid, a lover of contradiction, and no friend to any thing established. He adopted Shaftesbury's foolish assertion of the efficacy of ridicule for the discovery of truth. For this he was attacked by Warburton, and defended by Dyson: Warburton afterwards reprinted his remarks at the end of his dedication to the Freethinkers.

The result of all the arguments, which have been produced in a long and eager discussion of this idle question, may easily be collected. If ridicule be applied to any position, as the test of truth, it will then become a question whether such ridicule be just; and this can only be decided by the application of truth, as the test of ridicule. Two men, fearing, one a real and the other a fancied danger, will be for awhile equally exposed to the inevitable consequences of cowardice, contemptuous censure, and ludicrous representation; and the true state of both cases must be known, before it can be decided whose terrour is rational, and whose is ridiculous; who is to be pitied, and who to be despised. Both are for awhile equally exposed to laughter, but both are not, therefore, equally contemptible.

In the revisal of his poem, though he died before he had finished it, he omitted the lines which had given occasion to Warburton's objections.

He published, soon after his return from Levden, 1745, his first collection of odes; and was impelled, by his rage of patriotism, to write a very acrimonious epistle to Pulteney, whom he stigmatizes, under the name of Curio, as the betrayer of his country.

Being now to live by his profession, he first commenced physician at Northampton, where Dr. Stonehouse then practised with such reputation and success, that a stranger was not likely to gain ground upon him. Akenside tried the contest awhile; and, having deafened the place with clamours for liberty, removed to Hampstead, where he resided more than two years, and then fixed himself in London, the proper place for a man of accomplishments like his.

At London he was known as a poet, but was still to make his way as a physician; and would, perhaps, have been reduced to great exigencies, but that Mr. Dyson, with an ardour of friendship that has not many examples, allowed him three hundred pounds a year. Thus supported, he advanced gradually in medical reputation, but never attained any great extent of practice, or eminence of popularity. A physician in a great city seems to be the mere plaything of fortune; his degree of reputation is, for the most part, totally casual; they that employ him know not his excellence; they that reject him know not his deficience. By any acute observer, who had looked on the transactions of the medical world for half a century, a very curious book might be written on the Fortune of Physicians[196]

Akenside appears not to have been wanting to his own success: he placed himself in view by all the common methods; he became a fellow of the Royal Society; he obtained a degree at Cambridge; and was admitted into the College of Physicians; he wrote little poetry, but published, from time to time, medical essays and observations; he became physician to St. Thomas's hospital; he read the Gulstonian lectures in anatomy; but began to give, for the Crounian lecture, a history of the revival of learning, from which he soon desisted; and, in conversation, he very eagerly forced himself into notice by an ambitious ostentation of elegance and literature.

His Discourse on the Dysentery, 1764, was considered as a very conspicuous specimen of Latinity, which entitled him to the same height of place among the scholars as he possessed before among the wits; and he might, perhaps, have risen to a greater elevation of character, but that his studies were ended with his life, by a putrid fever, June 23, 1770, in the forty-ninth year of his age[197].

Akenside is to be considered, as a didactick and lyrick poet. His great work is the Pleasures of Imagination; a performance which, published as it was, at the age of twenty-three, raised expectations that were not very amply satisfied. It has undoubtedly a just claim to very particular notice, as an example of great felicity of genius, and uncommon amplitude of acquisitions, of a young mind stored with images, and much exercised in combining and comparing them.

With the philosophical or religious tenets of the author, I have nothing to do; my business is with his poetry. The subject is well chosen, as it includes all images that can strike or please, and thus comprises every species of poetical delight. The only difficulty is in the choice of examples and illustrations; and it is not easy, in such exuberance of matter, to find the middle point between penury and satiety. The parts seem artificially disposed, with sufficient coherence, so as that they cannot change their places without injury to the general design.

His images are displayed with such luxuriance of expression, that they are hidden, like Butler's Moon, by a "veil of light;" they are forms fantastically lost under superfluity of dress. "Pars minima est ipsa puella sui." The words are multiplied till the sense is hardly perceived; attention deserts the mind, and settles in the ear. The reader wanders through the gay diffusion, sometimes amazed, and sometimes delighted; but, after many turnings in the flowery labyrinth, comes out as he went in. He remarked little, and laid hold on nothing.

To his versification, justice requires that praise should not be denied. In the general fabrication of his lines he is, perhaps, superiour to any other writer of blank verse: his flow is smooth, and his pauses are musical; but the concatenation of his verses is commonly too long continued, and the full close does not recur with sufficient frequency. The sense is carried on through a long inter-texture of complicated clauses, and, as nothing is distinguished, nothing is remembered.

The exemption which blank verse affords from the necessity of closing the sense with the couplet, betrays luxuriant and active minds into such self-indulgence, that they pile image upon image, ornament upon ornament, and are not easily persuaded to close the sense at all. Blank verse will, therefore, I fear, be too often found in description exuberant, in argument loquacious, and in narration tiresome.

His diction is certainly poetical as it is not prosaick, and elegant as it is not vulgar. He is to be commended as having fewer artifices of disgust than most of his brethren of the blank song. He rarely either recalls old phrases, or twists his metre into harsh inversions. The sense, however, of his words is strained, when "he views the Ganges from Alpine heights;" that is, from mountains like the Alps: and the pedant surely intrudes, (but when was blank verse without pedantry?) when he tells how "planets absolve the stated round of time."

It is generally known to the readers of poetry that he intended to revise and augment this work, but died before he had completed his design. The reformed work as he left it, and the additions which he had made, are very properly retained in the late collection. He seems to have somewhat contracted his diffusion; but I know not whether he has gained in closeness what he has lost in splendour. In the additional book, the Tale of Solon is too long.

One great defect of his poem is very properly censured by Mr. Walker, unless it may be said, in his defence, that what he has omitted was not properly in his plan. "His picture of man is grand and beautiful, but unfinished. The immortality of the soul, which is the natural consequence of the appetites and powers she is invested with, is scarcely once hinted throughout the poem. This deficiency is amply supplied by the masterly pencil of Dr. Young; who, like a good philosopher, has invincibly proved the immortality of man, from the grandeur of his conceptions, and the meanness and misery of his state; for this reason, a few passages are selected from the Night Thoughts, which, with those from Akenside, seem to form a complete view of the powers, situation, and end of man." Exercises for Improvement in Elocution, p. 66.

His other poems are now to be considered; but a short consideration will despatch them. It is not easy to guess why he addicted himself so diligently to lyrick poetry, having neither the ease and airiness of the lighter, nor the vehemence and elevation of the grander ode. When he lays his ill-fated hand upon his harp, his former powers seem to desert him; he has no longer his luxuriance of expression, nor variety of images. His thoughts are cold, and his words inelegant. Yet such was his love of lyricks, that, having written, with great vigour and poignancy, his Epistle to Curio, he transformed it afterwards into an ode disgraceful only to its author.

Of his odes nothing favourable can be said; the sentiments commonly want force, nature, or novelty; the diction is sometimes harsh and uncouth, the stanzas ill-constructed and unpleasant, and the rhymes dissonant, or unskilfully disposed, too distant from each other, or arranged with too little regard to established use, and, therefore, perplexing to the ear, which, in a short composition, has not time to grow familiar with an innovation.

To examine such compositions singly cannot be required; they have, doubtless, brighter and darker parts; but, when they are once found to be generally dull, all further labour may be spared: for to what use can the work be criticised that will not be read?

* * *


Thomas Gray, the son of Mr. Philip Gray, a scrivener of London, was born in Cornhill, November 26, 1716. His grammatical education he received at Eton, under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his mother's brother, then assistant to Dr. George; and when he left school, in 1734, entered a pensioner at Peterhouse, in Cambridge.

The transition from the school to the college is, to most young scholars, the time from which they date their years of manhood, liberty, and happiness; but Gray seems to have been very little delighted with academical gratifications; he liked at Cambridge neither the mode of life nor the fashion of study, and lived sullenly on to the time when his attendance on lectures was no longer required. As he intended to profess the common law, he, took no degree.

When he had been at Cambridge about five years, Mr. Horace Walpole, whose friendship he had gained at Eton, invited him to travel with him as his companion. They wandered through France into Italy; and Gray's letters contain a very pleasing account of many parts of their journey. But unequal friendships are easily dissolved: at Florence they quarrelled and parted; and Mr. Walpole is now content to have it told that it was by his fault. If we look, however, without prejudice on the world, we shall find that men, whose consciousness of their own merit sets them above the compliances of servility, are apt enough, in their association with superiours, to watch their own dignity with troublesome and punctilious jealousy, and in the fervour of independence to exact that attention which they refuse to pay. Part they did, whatever was the quarrel; and the rest of their travels was, doubtless, more unpleasant to them both. Gray continued his journey in a manner suitable to his own little fortune, with only an occasional servant.

He returned to England in September, 1741, and in about two months afterwards buried his father, who had, by an injudicious waste of money upon a new house, so much lessened his fortune, that Gray thought himself too poor to study the law. He, therefore, retired to Cambridge, where he soon after became bachelor of civil law; and where, without liking the place or its inhabitants, or professing to like them, he passed, except a short residence at London, the rest of his life.

About this time he was deprived of Mr. West, the son of a chancellor of Ireland, a friend on whom he appears to have set a high value, and who deserved his esteem by the powers which he shows in his letters, and in the Ode to May, which Mr. Mason has preserved, as well as by the sincerity with which, when Gray sent him part of Agrippina, a tragedy that he had just begun, he gave an opinion which probably intercepted the progress of the work, and which the judgment of every reader will confirm. It was certainly no loss to the English stage that Agrippina was never finished.

In this year, 1742, Gray seems first to have applied himself seriously to poetry; for in this year were produced the Ode to Spring, his Prospect of Eton, and his Ode to Adversity. He began likewise a Latin poem, De Principiis Cogitandi.

It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Mason, that his first ambition was to have excelled in Latin poetry: perhaps it were reasonable to wish that he had prosecuted his design; for, though there is at present some embarrassment in his phrase, and some harshness in his lyrick numbers, his copiousness of language is such as very few possess; and his lines, even when imperfect, discover a writer whom practice would quickly have made skillful.

He now lived on at Peterhouse, very little solicitous what others did or thought, and cultivated his mind and enlarged his views without any other purpose than of improving and amusing himself; when Mr. Mason, being elected fellow of Pembroke hall, brought him a companion who was afterwards to be his editor, and whose fondness and fidelity has kindled in him a zeal of admiration, which cannot be reasonably expected from the neutrality of a stranger, and the coldness of a critick.

In this retirement he wrote, 1747, an ode on the Death of Mr. Walpole's Cat; and the year afterwards attempted a poem, of more importance, on Government and Education, of which the fragments which remain have many excellent lines.

His next production, 1750, was his far-famed Elegy in the Church-yard, which, finding its way into a magazine, first, I believe, made him known to the publick.

An invitation from lady Cobham, about this time, gave occasion to an odd composition called a Long Story, which adds little to Gray's character.

Several of his pieces were published, 1753, with designs by Mr. Bentley; and, that they might in some form or other make a book, only one side of each leaf was printed. I believe the poems and the plates recommended each other so well, that the whole impression was soon bought. This year he lost his mother.

Some time afterwards, 1756, some young men of the college, whose chambers were near his, diverted themselves with disturbing him by frequent and troublesome noises, and, as is said, by pranks yet more offensive and contemptuous. This insolence, having endured it awhile, he represented to the governours of the society, among whom, perhaps, he had no friends; and, finding his complaint little regarded, removed himself to Pembroke hall.

In 1757 he published the Progress of Poetry, and the Bard, two compositions at which the readers of poetry were at first content to gaze in mute amazement. Some that tried them confessed their inability to understand them, though Warburton said that they were understood as well as the works of Milton and Shakespeare, which it is the fashion to admire. Garrick wrote a few lines in their praise. Some hardy champions undertook to rescue them from neglect; and, in a short time, many were content to be shown beauties which they could not see.

Gray's reputation was now so high, that, after the death of Cibber, he had the honour of refusing the laurel, which was then bestowed on Mr. Whitehead.

His curiosity, not long after, drew him away from Cambridge to a lodging near the Museum, where he resided near three years, reading and transcribing; and, so far as can be discovered, very little affected by two odes on Oblivion and Obscurity, in which his lyrick performances were ridiculed with much contempt and much ingenuity.

When the professor of modern history at Cambridge died, he was, as he says, "cockered and spirited up," till he asked it of lord Bute, who sent him a civil refusal; and the place was given to Mr. Brocket, the tutor of sir James Lowther.

His constitution was weak, and believing that his health was promoted by exercise and change of place, he undertook, 1765, a journey into Scotland, of which his account, so far as it extends, is very curious and eleg'ant; for, as his comprehension was ample, his curiosity extended to all the works of art, all the appearances of nature, and all the monuments of past events. He naturally contracted a friendship with Dr. Beattie, whom he found a poet, a philosopher, and a good man. The Mareschal college at Aberdeen offered him the degree of doctor of laws, which, having omitted to take it at Cambridge, he thought it decent to refuse.

What he had formerly solicited in vain was at last given him without solicitation. The professorship of history became again vacant, and he received, 1768, an offer of it from the duke of Grafton. He accepted, and retained it to his death; always designing lectures, but never reading them; uneasy at his neglect of fluty, and appeasing his uneasiness with designs of reformation, and with a resolution which he believed himself to have made of resigning the office, if he found himself unable to discharge it.

Ill health made another journey necessary, and he visited, 1769, Westmorland and Cumberland. He that reads his epistolary narration, wishes, that to travel, and to tell his travels, had been more of his employment; but it is by studying at home that we must obtain the ability of travelling with intelligence and improvement.

His travels and his studies were now near their end. The gout, of which he had sustained many weak attacks, fell upon his stomach, and, yielding to no medicines, produced strong convulsions, which, July 30, 1771, terminated in death.

His character I am willing to adopt, as Mr. Mason has done, from a letter written to my friend Mr. Boswell, by the reverend Mr. Temple, rector of St. Gluvias, in Cornwall; and am as willing as his warmest well-wisher to believe it true.

"Perhaps he was the most learned man in Europe. He was equally acquainted with the elegant and profound parts of science, and that not superficially, but thoroughly. He knew every branch of history, both natural and civil; had read all the original historians of England, France, and Italy; and was a great antiquarian. Criticism, metaphysicks, morals, politicks, made a principal part of his study; voyages and travels of all sorts were his favourite amusements; and he had a fine taste in painting, prints, architecture, and gardening. With such a fund of knowledge, his conversation must have been equally instructing and entertaining; but he was also a good man, a man of virtue and humanity. There is no character without some speck, some imperfection; and I think the greatest defect in his was an affectation in delicacy, or rather effeminacy, and a visible fastidiousness, or contempt and disdain of his inferiours in science. He also had, in some degree, that weakness which disgusted Voltaire so much in Mr. Congreve: though he seemed to value others chiefly according to the progress that they had made in knowledge, yet he could not bear to be considered himself merely as a man of letters; and, though without birth, or fortune, or station, his desire was to be looked upon as a private independent gentleman, who read for his amusement. Perhaps it may be said, what signifies so much knowledge, when it produced so little? Is it worth taking so much pains to leave no memorial but a few poems? But let it be considered, that Mr. Gray was, to others at least, innocently employed, to himself certainly beneficially. His time passed agreeably; he was every day making some new acquisition in science; his mind was enlarged, his heart softened, his virtue strengthened; the world and mankind were shown to him without a mask; and he was taught to consider every thing as trifling, and unworthy of the attention of a wise man, except the pursuit of knowledge and practice of virtue, in that state wherein God hath placed us."

To this character Mr. Mason has added a more particular account of Gray's skill in zoology. He has remarked, that Gray's effeminacy was affected most "before those whom he did not wish to please;" and that he is unjustly charged with making knowledge his sole reason of preference, as he paid his esteem to none whom he did not likewise believe to be good.

What has occurred to me from the slight inspection of his letters, in which my undertaking has engaged me, is, that his mind had a large grasp; that his curiosity was unlimited, and his judgment cultivated; that he was a man likely to love much where he loved at all; but that he was fastidious and hard to please. His contempt, however, is often employed, where I hope it will be approved, upon skepticism and infidelity. His short account of Shaftesbury I will insert.

"You say you cannot conceive how lord Shaftesbury came to be a philosopher in vogue; I will tell you: first, he was a lord; secondly, he was as vain as any of his readers; thirdly, men are very prone to believe what they do not understand; fourthly, they will believe any thing at all, provided they are under no obligation to believe it; fifthly, they love to take a new road, even when that road leads nowhere; sixthly, he was reckoned a fine writer, and seems always to mean more than he said. Would you have any more reasons? An interval of above forty years has pretty well destroyed the charm. A dead lord ranks with commoners; vanity is no longer interested in the matter; for a new road has become an old one."

Mr. Mason has added, from his own knowledge, that, though Gray was poor, he was not eager of money; and that, out of the little that he had, he was very willing to help the necessitous.

As a writer he had this peculiarity, that he did not write his pieces first rudely, and then correct them, but laboured every line as it arose in the train of composition; and he had a notion, not very peculiar, that he could not write but at certain times, or at happy moments; a fantastick foppery, to which my kindness for a man of learning and virtue wishes him to have been superiour.

* * *

Gray's poetry is now to be considered; and I hope not to be looked on as an enemy to his name, if I confess that I contemplate it with less pleasure than his life. His ode on Spring has something poetical, both in the language and the thought; but the language is too luxuriant, and the thoughts have nothing new. There has, of late, arisen a practice of giving to adjectives derived from substantives, the termination of participles; such as the cultured plain, the daisied bank; but I was sorry to see, in the lines of a scholar like Gray, the honied spring. The morality is natural, but too stale; the conclusion is pretty.

The poem on the Cat was, doubtless, by its author, considered as a trifle; but it is not a happy trifle. In the first stanza, "the azure flowers that blow" show resolutely a rhyme is sometimes made when it cannot easily be found. Selima, the cat, is called a nymph, with some violence both to language and sense; but there is no good use made of it when it is done: for of the two lines,

What female heart can gold despise?

What cat's averse to fish?

The first relates merely to the nymph, and the second only to the cat. The sixth stanza contains a melancholy truth, that "a favourite has no friend;" but the last ends in a pointed sentence of no relation to the purpose; if what glistered had been gold, the cat would not have gone into the water; and, if she had, would not less have been drowned.

The Prospect of Eton College suggests nothing to Gray which every beholder does not equally think and feel. His supplication to father Thames, to tell him who drives the hoop or tosses the ball, is useless and puerile. Father Thames has no better means of knowing than himself[198] His epithet, "buxom health," is not elegant; he seems not to understand the word. Gray thought his language more poetical as it was more remote from common use; finding in Dryden "honey redolent of spring," an expression that reaches the utmost limits of our language, Gray drove it a little more beyond common apprehension, by making "gales" to be "redolent of joy and youth."

Of the Ode on Adversity, the hint was, at first, taken from "O Diva, gratum qu? regis Antium;" but Gray has excelled his original by the variety of his sentiments, and by their moral application. Of this piece, at once poetical and rational, I will not, by slight objections, violate the dignity.

My process has now brought me to the wonderful wonder of wonders, the two sister odes; by which, though either vulgar ignorance or common sense at first universally rejected them, many have been since persuaded to think themselves delighted. I am one of those that are willing to be pleased, and, therefore, would gladly find the meaning of the first stanza of the Progress of Poetry.

Gray seems, in his rapture, to confound the images of "spreading sound" and "running water." A "stream of musick," may be allowed; but where does "musick," however "smooth and strong," after having visited the "verdant vales, roll down the steep amain," so as that "rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar!" If this be said of musick, it is nonsense; if it be said of water, it is nothing to the purpose.

The second stanza, exhibiting Mars' car and Jove's eagle, is unworthy of further notice. Criticism disdains to chase a schoolboy to his commonplaces.

To the third it may likewise be objected, that it is drawn from mythology, though such as may be more easily assimilated to real life. Idalia's "velvet green" has something of cant. An epithet or metaphor drawn from nature ennobles art: an epithet or metaphor drawn from art degrades nature. Gray is too fond of words arbitrarily compounded. "Many-twinkling" was formerly censured as not analogical; we may say "many-spotted," but scarcely "many-spotting." This stanza, however, has something pleasing.

Of the second ternary of stanzas, the first endeavours to tell something, and would have told it, had it not been crossed by Hyperion: the second describes well enough the universal prevalence of poetry; but I am afraid that the conclusion will not arise from the premises. The caverns of the north and the plains of Chili are not the residences of "Glory and generous shame." But that poetry and virtue go always together is an opinion so pleasing, that I can forgive him who resolves to think it true.

The third stanza sounds big with "Delphi," and "Egean," and "Ilissus," and "Meander," and "hallowed fountains," and "solemn sound;" but in all Gray's odes there is a kind of cumbrflus splendour which we wish away. His position is at last false: in the time of Dante and Petrarch, from whom he derives our first school of poetry, Italy was overrun by "tyrant power" and "coward vice;" nor was our state much better when we first borrowed the Italian arts.

Of the third ternary, the first gives a mythological birth of Shakespeare. What is said of that mighty genius is true; but it is not said happily: the real effects of this poetical power are put out of sight by the pomp of machinery. Where truth is sufficient to fill the mind, fiction is worse than useless; the counterfeit debases the genuine. His account of Milton's blindness, if we suppose it caused by study in the formation of his poem, a supposition surely allowable, is poetically true, and happily imagined. But the car of Dryden, with his two coursers, has nothing in it peculiar; it is a car in which any other rider may be placed.

The Bard appears, at the first view, to be, as Algarotti and others have remarked, an imitation of the prophecy of Nereus. Algarotti thinks it superiour to its original; and, if preference depends only on the imagery and animation of the two poems, his judgment is right. There is in the Bard more force, more thought, and more variety. But to copy is less than to invent, and the copy has been unhappily produced at a wrong time. The fiction of Horace was to the Romans credible; but its revival disgusts us with apparent and unconquerable falsehood. Incredulus odi.

To select a singular event, and swell it to a giant's bulk by fabulous appendages of spectres and predictions, has little difficulty; for he that forsakes the probable may always find the marvellous. And it has little use; we are affected only as we believe; we are improved only as we find something to be imitated or declined. I do not see that the Bard promotes any truth, moral or political. His stanzas are too long, especially his epodes; the ode is finished before the ear has learned its measures, and, consequently, before it can receive pleasure from their consonance and recurrence.

Of the first stanza, the abrupt beginning has been celebrated; but technical beauties can give praise only to the inventor. It is in the power of any man to rush abruptly upon his subject, that has read the ballad of Johnny Armstrong:

Is there ever a man in all Scotland.

The initial resemblances, or alliterations, "ruin, ruthless, helm or hauberk," are below the grandeur of a poem that endeavours at sublimity.

In the second stanza, the Bard is well described; but in the third we have the puerilities of obsolete mythology. When we are told that "Cadwallo hush'd the stormy main," and that "Modred made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topp'd head," attention recoils from the repetition of a tale that, even when it was first heard, was heard with scorn.

The weaving of the winding sheet he borrowed, as he owns, from the Northern Bards; but their texture, however, was very properly the work of female powers, as the act of spinning the thread of life in another mythology. Theft is always dangerous; Gray has made weavers of slaughtered bards by a fiction outrageous and incongruous. They are then called upon to "weave the warp, and weave the woof," perhaps, with no great propriety; for it is by crossing the woof with the warp that men weave the web or piece; and the first line was dearly bought by the admission of its wretched correspondent, "give ample room and verge enough[199]." He has, however, no other line as bad.

The third stanza of the second ternary is commended, I think, beyond its merit. The personification is indistinct. Thirst and hunger are not alike; and their features, to make the imagery perfect, should have been discriminated. We are told, in the same stanza, how towers are fed. But I will no longer look for particular faults; yet let it be observed, that the ode might have been concluded with an action of better example; but suicide is always to be had without expense of thought.

These odes are marked by glittering accumulations of ungraceful ornaments; they strike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harshness. The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural violence. "Double, double, toil and trouble." He has a kind of strutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tiptoe. His art and his struggle are too visible, and there is too little appearance of ease and nature[200].

To say that he has no beauties, would be unjust; a man like him, of great learning and great industry, could not but produce something valuable. When he pleases least, it can only be said that a good design was ill-directed.

His translations of Northern and Welsh poetry deserve praise; the imagery is preserved, perhaps often improved; but the language is unlike the language of other poets.

In the character of his Elegy I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for, by the common sense of readers uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours. The Church-yard abounds with images which find a mirror in every mind, and with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo. The four stanzas beginning "Yet even these bones," are to me original: I have never seen the notions in any other place; yet he that reads them here persuades himself that he has always felt them. Had Gray written often thus, it had been vain to blame, and useless to praise him.

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GEORGE LYTTELTON, the son of sir Thomas Lyttelton, of Hagley in Worcestershire, was born in 1709. He was educated at Eton, where he was so much distinguished, that his exercises were recommended as models to his schoolfellows.

From Eton he went to Christ-church, where he retained the same reputation of superiority, and displayed his abilities to the publick in a Poem on Blenheim.

He was a very early writer, both in verse and prose. His Progress of Love, and his Persian Letters, were both written when he was very young; and, indeed, the character of a young man is very visible in both. The verses cant of shepherds and flocks, and crooks dressed with flowers; and the letters have something of that indistinct and headstrong ardour for liberty, which a man of genius always catches when he enters the world, and always suffers to cool as he passes forward.

He staid not long at Oxford; for, in 1728, he began his travels, and saw France and Italy. When he returned, he obtained a seat in parliament, and soon distinguished himself among the most eager opponents of sir Robert Walpole, though his father, who was a commissioner of the admiralty, always voted with the court.

For many years the name of George Lyttelton was seen in every account of every debate in the house of commons. He opposed the standing army; he opposed the excise; he supported the motion for petitioning the king to remove Walpole. His zeal was considered by the courtiers not only as violent, but as acrimonious and malignant; and, when Walpole was at last hunted from his places, every effort was made by his friends, and many friends he had, to exclude Lyttelton from the secret committee.

The prince of Wales, being, 1737, driven from St. James's, kept a separate court, and opened his arms to the opponents of the ministry. Mr. Lyttelton became his secretary, and was supposed to have great influence in the direction of his conduct. He persuaded his master, whose business it was now to be popular, that he would advance his character by patronage. Mallet was made under-secretary, with two hundred pounds; and Thomson had a pension of one hundred pounds a year. For Thomson, Lyttelton always retained his kindness, and was able, at last, to place him at ease.

Moore courted his favour by an apologetical poem, called the Trial of Selim; for which he was paid with kind words, which, as is common, raised great hopes, that were at last disappointed.

Lyttelton now stood in the first rank of opposition; and Pope, who was incited, it is not easy to say how, to increase the clamour against the ministry, commended him among the other patriots. This drew upon him the reproaches of Fox, who, in the house, imputed to him, as a crime, his intimacy with a lampooner so unjust and licentious. Lyttelton supported his friend; and replied, that he thought it an honour to be received into the familiarity of so great a poet.

While he was thus conspicuous, he married, 1741, Miss Lucy Fortescue, of Devonshire, by whom he had a son, the late lord Lyttelton, and two daughters, and with whom he appears to have lived in the highest degree of connubial felicity; but human pleasures are short; she died in child-bed about five years afterwards; and he solaced his grief by writing a long poem to her memory.

He did not, however, condemn himself to perpetual solitude and sorrow; for, after awhile, he was content to seek happiness again by a second marriage with the daughter of sir Robert Rich: but the experiment was unsuccessful.

At length, after a long struggle, Walpole gave way, and honour and profit were distributed among his conquerors. Lyttelton was made, 1744, one of the lords of the treasury; and from that time was engaged in supporting the schemes of the ministry.

Politicks did not, however, so much engage him, as to withhold his thoughts from things of more importance. He had, in the pride of juvenile confidence, with the help of corrupt conversation, entertained doubts of the truth of Christianity; but he thought the time now come when it was no longer fit to doubt or believe by chance, and applied himself seriously to the great question. His studies, being honest, ended in conviction. He found that religion was true; and what he had learned he endeavoured to teach, 1747, by Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul; a treatise to which infidelity has never been able to fabricate a specious answer. This book his father had the happiness of seeing, and expressed his pleasure in a letter which deserves to be inserted:

"I have read your religious treatise with infinite pleasure and satisfaction. The style is fine and clear, the arguments close, cogent, and irresistible. May the King of kings, whose glorious cause you have so well defended, reward your pious labours, and grant that I may be found worthy, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to be an eye-witness of that happiness which I don't doubt he will bountifully bestow upon you. In the mean time, I shall never cease glorifying God, for having endowed you with such useful talents, and giving me so good a son.

"Your affectionate father,

"Thomas Lyttelton."

A few years afterwards, 1751, by the death of his father, he inherited a baronet's title with a large estate, which, though, perhaps, he did not augment, he was careful to adorn by a house of great elegance and expense, and by much attention to the decoration of his park.

As he continued his activity in parliament, he was gradually advancing his claim to profit and preferment; and accordingly was made, in time, 1754, cofferer and privy counsellor: this place he exchanged next year for the great office of chancellor of the exchequer; an office, however, that required some qualifications which he soon perceived himself to want.

The year after, his curiosity led him into Wales; of which he has given an account, perhaps rather with too much affectation of delight, to Archibald Bower, a man of whom he had conceived an opinion more favourable than he seems to have deserved, and whom, having once espoused his interest and fame, he was never persuaded to disown. Bower, whatever was his moral character, did not want abilities; attacked as he was by an universal outcry, and that outcry, as it seems, the echo of truth, he kept his ground: at last, when his defences began to fail him, he sallied out upon his adversaries, and his adversaries retreated.

About this time Lyttelton published his Dialogues of the Dead, which were very eagerly read, though the production rather, as it seems, of leisure than of study: rather effusions than compositions. The names of his persons too often enable the reader to anticipate their conversation; and, when they have met, they too often part without any conclusion. He has copied Fénélon more than Fontenelle.

When they were first published, they were kindly commended by the Critical Reviewers; and poor Lyttelton, with humble gratitude, returned, in a note which I have read, acknowledgments which can never be proper, since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice.

When, in the latter part of the last reign, the inauspicious commencement of the war made the dissolution of the ministry unavoidable, sir George Lyttelton, losing, with the rest, his employment, was recompensed with a peerage; and rested from political turbulence in the house of lords.

His last literary production was his History of Henry the second, elaborated by the searches and deliberations of twenty years, and published with such anxiety as only vanity can dictate.

The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole work was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expense of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him, at least, a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in 1764; a second edition of them in 1767; a third edition in 1768; and the conclusion in 1771.

Andrew Reid, a man not without considerable abilities, and not unacquainted with letters or with life, undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was employed, I know not at what price, to point the pages of Henry the second. The book was at last pointed and printed, and sent into the world. Lyttelton took money for his copy, of which, when he had paid the pointer, he probably gave the rest away; for he was very liberal to the indigent.

When time brought the history to a third edition, Reid was either dead or discarded; and the superintendence of typography and punctuation was committed to a man originally a comb-maker, but then known by the style of doctor. Something uncommon was probably expected, and something uncommon was at last done; for to the doctor's edition is appended, what the world had hardly seen before, a list of errours in nineteen pages.

But to politicks and literature there must be an end. Lord Lyttelton had never the appearance of a strong or of a healthy man; he had a slender, uncompacted frame, and a meagre face: he lasted, however, sixty years, and was then seized with his last illness. Of his death a very affecting and instructive account has been given by his physician[201] which will spare me the task of his moral character.

"On Sunday evening the symptoms of his lordship's disorder, which for a week past had alarmed us, put on a fatal appearance, and his lordship believed himself to be a dying man. From this time he suffered by restlessness rather than pain; though his nerves were apparently much fluttered, his mental faculties never seemed stronger, when he was thoroughly awake.

"His lordship's bilious and hepatick complaints seemed alone not equal to the expected mournful event; his long want of sleep, whether the consequence of the irritation in the bowels, or, which is more probable, of causes of a different kind, accounts for his loss of strength, and for his death, very sufficiently.

"Though his lordship wished his approaching dissolution not to be lingering, he waited for it with resignation. He said, 'It is a folly, a keeping me in misery, now to attempt to prolong life;' yet he was easily persuaded, for the satisfaction of others, to do or take any thing thought proper for him. On Saturday he had been remarkably better, and we were not without some hopes of his recovery.

"On Sunday, about eleven in the forenoon, his lordship sent for me, and said he felt a great hurry, and wished to have a little conversation with me, in order to divert it. He then proceeded to open the fountain of that heart, from whence goodness had so long flowed as from a copious spring. 'Doctor,' said he, 'you shall be my confessor: when I first set out in the world, I had friends who endeavoured to shake my belief in the Christian religion. I saw difficulties which staggered me; but I kept my mind open to conviction. The evidences and doctrines of Christianity, studied with attention, made me a most firm and persuaded believer of the Christian religion. I have made it the rule of my life, and it is the ground of my future hopes. I have erred and sinned; but have repented, and never indulged any vitious habit. In politicks, and publick life, I have made publick good the rule of my conduct. I never gave counsels which I did not at the time think the best. I have seen that I was sometimes in the wrong; but I did not err designedly. I have endeavoured, in private life, to do all the good in my power, and never for a moment could indulge malicious or unjust designs upon any person whatsoever.'

"At another time he said, 'I must leave my soul in the same state it was in before this illness; I find this a very inconvenient time for solicitude about any thing.'

"On the evening, when the symptoms of death came on, he said, 'I shall die; but it will not be your fault.' When lord and lady Valentia came to see his lordship, he gave them his solemn benediction, and said, 'Be good, be virtuous, my lord; you must come to this.' Thus he continued giving his dying benediction to all around him. On Monday morning a lucid interval gave some small hopes, but these vanished in the evening; and he continued dying, but with very little uneasiness, till Tuesday morning, August 22, when, between seven and eight o'clock, he expired, almost without a groan."

His lordship was buried at Hagley; and the following inscription is cut on the side of his lady's monument:

This unadorned stone was placed here

by the particular desire and express

directions of the right honourable

George Lord Lyttelton,

Who died August 22, 1773, aged 64.

Lord Lyttelton's poems are the works of a man of literature and judgment, devoting part of his time to versification. They have nothing to be despised, and little to be admired. Of his Progress of Love, it is sufficient blame to say that it is pastoral. His blank verse in Blenheim has neither much force nor much elegance. His little performances, whether songs or epigrams, are sometimes sprightly and sometimes insipid. His epistolary pieces have a smooth equability, which cannot much tire, because they are short, but which seldom elevates or surprises. But from this censure ought to be excepted his Advice to Belinda, which, though for the most part written when he was very young, contains much truth and much prudence, very elegantly and vigorously expressed, and shows a mind attentive to life, and a power of poetry which cultivation might have raised to excellence.


* * *


[1] The difficulty of settling Prior's birthplace is great. In the register of his college he is called, at his admission by the president, Matthew Prior, of Winburn, in Middlesex; by himself, next day, Matthew Prior, of Dorsetshire, in which county, not in Middlesex, Winborn, or Winborne, as it stands in the Villare, is found. When he stood candidate for his fellowship, five years afterwards, he was registered again by himself as of Middlesex. The last record ought to be preferred, because it was made upon oath. It is observable, that, as a native of Winborne, he is styled filius Georgii Prior, generosi; not consistently with the common account of the meanness of his birth. Dr. J.

[2] Samuel Prior kept the Rummer tavern near Charing-cross, in 1685. The annual feast of the nobility and gentry living in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields was held at his house, Oct. 14, that year. N.

[3] He was admitted to his bachelor's degree in 1686; and to his master's, by mandate, in 1700. N.

[4] Spence.

[5] He received, in September, 1697, a present of two hundred guineas from the lords justices, for his trouble in bringing over the treaty of peace. N.

[6] It should be the earl of Dorset.

[7] Swift obtained many subscriptions for him in Ireland. II.

[8] Spence.

[9] Spence.

[10] Spence; and see Gent. Mag. vol l vii. p. 1039.

[11] Richardsoniana.

[12] It is to be found in Poggii Faceti?. J.B.

[13] The same thought is found in one of Owen's epigrams, lib. i. epig. 123. and in Poggii Faceti?. J.B.

[14] Prior was not the first inventor of this stanza; for excepting the alexandrine close, it is to be found in Churchyard's Worthies of Wales. See his introduction for Brecknockshire. J.B.

[15] Mr. Malone has ascertained both the place and time of his birth by the register of Bardsey, which is as follows: "William, the sonne of Mr. William Congreve of Bardsey Grange, was baptised Febru. 10th, 1669." See Malone's Dryden, vol. i. p. 225. J.B.

[16] Dec. 17, 1714, and May 3, 1718, he received a patent for the same place for life.

[17] The Historical Register says Jan. 19. ?t. 57.

[18] "Except!" Dr. Warton exclaims, "Is not this a high sort of poetry?" He mentions, likewise, that Congreve's opera, or oratorio, of Semele, was set to musick by Handel; I believe, in 1743.

[19] At Saddlers' hall.

[20] The book he alludes to was Nova Hypothesis ad explicanda febrium intermittentium symptomata, &c. Authore Gulielmo Cole, M.D. 1693.

[21] "The Kit-cat Club," says Horace Walpole, "though generally mentioned as a set of wits, were, in fact, the patriots who saved Britain." See, for the history of its origin and name, Addisoniana, i. 120; Ward's complete and humorous account of the remarkable Clubs and Societies. Ed.

[22] He was born at Shelton, near Newcastle, May 20, 1683; and was the youngest of eleven children of John Fenton, an attorney-at-law, and one of the coroners of the county of Stafford. His father died in 1694; and his grave, in the church-yard of Stoke upon Trent, is distinguished by the following elegant Latin inscription from the pen of his son:



de Shelton

antiqua stirpe generosus:

juxta reliquias conjugis


forma, moribus, pietate,

optimo viro dignissim?:


intemerata in ecclesiam fide,

et virtutibus intaminatis enituit;

necnon ingenii lepore

bonis artibus expoliti,

ac animo erga omnes benevolo,

sibi suisque jucundus vixit.

Decem annos uxori dilectee superstes

magnum sui desiderium bonis

omnibus reliquit,

anno{salutis humanai 1694,

{?tatis suffi 56.

See Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. lxi. p. 703. N.

[23] He was entered of Jesus college, and took a bachelor's degree in 1704: but it appears, by the list of Cambridge graduates, that he removed, in 1726, to Trinity hall. N.

[24] 1717. M.

[25] Ford was Johnson's relation, his mother's nephew, and is said to have been the original of the parson in Hogarth's Modern Midnight Conversation. See Boswell, i. and iii. Ed.

[26] July 16.

[27] Spence.

[28] Shiels, Dr. Johnson's amanuensis, who says, in Cibber's Lives of the Poets, that he received this anecdote from a gentleman resident in Staffordshire. M.

[29] Goldworthy does not appear in the Villare. Dr. J.-Holdsworthy is probably meant.

[30] Spence.

[31] This mishap of Gay's is said to have suggested the story of the scholar's bashfulness in the 157th Rambler; and to similar stories in the Adventurer and Repton's Variety. Ed.

[32] It was acted seven nights. The author's third night was by command of their royal highnesses. R.

[33] Spence.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] To Trinity college. By the university register it appears, that he was admitted to his master's degree in 1679; we must, therefore, set the year of his birth some years back. H.

[38] We need not remark to any of our readers, but to those who are not Oxford men, that Pullen's name is now remembered in the university, not as a tutor, but by the venerable elm tree which was the term of his morning walks. "I have the honour to be well known to Mr. Josiah Pullen, of our hall above-mentioned, (Magdalen hall,) and attribute the florid old age I now enjoy to my constant morning walks up Headington lull, in his cheerful company." Guardian, No. 2. Ed.

[39] The vicarage of Willoughby, which he resigned in 1708. N.

[40] This preferment was given him by the duke of Beaufort. N.

[41] Not long after.

[42] Dr. Atterbury retained the office of preacher at Bridewell till his promotion to the bishoprick of Rochester. Dr. Yalden succeeded him as preacher, in June, 1713. N.

[43] This account is still erroneous. James Hammond, our author, was of a different family, the second son of Anthony Hammond, of Somersham-place, in the county of Huntingdon, esq. See Gent. Mag. vol. lvii. p. 780. R.

[44] Mr. Cole gives him to Cambridge. MSS. Athen? Cantab, in Mus. Brit.

[45] William.

[46] An allusion of approbation is made to the above in Nichol's Literary Anecdotes of the eighteenth century, ii. 58. Ed.

[47] The first edition of this interesting narrative, according to Mr. Boswell, was published in 1744, by Roberts. The second, now before me, bears date 1748, and was published by Cave. Very few alterations were made by the author, when he added it to the present collection. The year before publication, 1743, Dr. Johnson inserted the following notice of his intention in the Gentleman's Magazine.


"As your collections show how often you have owed the ornaments of your poetical pages to the correspondence of the unfortunate and ingenious Mr. Savage, I doubt not but you have so much regard to his memory, as to encourage any design that may have a tendency to the preservation of it from insults or calumnies; and, therefore, with some degree of assurance, intreat you to inform the publick, that his life will speedily be published by a person who was favoured with his confidence, and received from himself an account of most of the transactions which he proposes to mention, to the time of his retirement to Swansea, in Wales.

"From that period to his death in the prison of Bristol, the account will be continued from materials still less liable to objection; his own letters and those of his friends; some of which will be inserted in the work, and abstracts of others subjoined in the margin.

"It may be reasonably, imagined that others may have the same design, but as it is not credible that they can obtain the same materials, it must be expected that they will supply from invention the want of intelligence, and that under the title of the Life of Savage, they will publish only a novel, filled with romantick adventures and imaginary amours. You may, therefore, perhaps, gratify the lovers of truth and wit, by giving me leave to inform them, in your magazine, that my account will be published, in octavo, by Mr. Roberts, in Warwick-lane."

[48] This year was made remarkable by the dissolution of a marriage solemnized in the face of the church. Salmon's Review.

The following protest is registered in the books of the house of lords:

Dissentient: Because we conceive that this is the first bill of that nature that hath passed, where there was not a divorce first obtained in the spiritual court; which we look upon as an ill precedent, and may be of dangerous consequence in the future. HALIFAX. ROCHESTER.

[49] See Mr. Boswell's doubts on this head; and the point, fully discussed by Malone, and Bindley in the notes to Boswell. Edit. 1816. i. 150, 151. Ed.

[50] On this circumstance, Boswell founds one of his strongest arguments against Savage's being the son of lady Macclesfield. "If there was such a legacy left," says Boswell, "his not being able to obtain payment of it, must be imputed to his consciousness that he was not the real person. The just inference should be, that, by the death of lady Macclesfield's child before its godmother, the legacy became lapsed; and, therefore, that Johnson's Savage was an impostor. If he had a title to the legacy, he could not have found any difficulty in recovering it; for had the executors resisted his claim, the whole costs, as well as the legacy, must have been paid by them, if he had been the child to whom it was given." With respect for the legal memory of Boswell, we would venture to urge, that the forma pauperis is not the most available mode of addressing an English court; and, therefore, Johnson is not clearly proved wrong by the above argument brought against him. Ed.

[51] He died August 18th, 1712 R.

[52] Savage's preface to his Miscellany.

[53] Savage's preface to his Miscellany.

[54] See the Plain Dealer.

[55] The title of this poem was the Convocation, or a Battle of Pamphlets, 1717. J. B.

[56] Jacob's Lives of the Dramatick Poets. Dr. J.

[57] This play was printed first in 8vo.; and afterwards in 12mo. the fifth edition. Dr. J.

[58] Plain Dealer, Dr. J.

[59] As it is a loss to mankind when any good action is forgotten, I shall insert another instance of Mr. Wilks's generosity, very little known. Mr. Smith, a gentleman educated at Dublin, being hindered by an impediment in his pronunciation from engaging in orders, for which his friends designed him, left his own country, and came to London in quest of employment, but found his solicitations fruitless, and his necessities every day more pressing. In this distress he wrote a tragedy, and offered it to the players, by whom it was rejected. Thus were his last hopes defeated, and he had no other prospect than of the most deplorable poverty. But Mr. Wilks thought his performance, though not perfect, at least worthy of some reward, and, therefore, offered him a benefit. This favour he improved with so much diligence, that the house afforded him a considerable sum, with which he went to Leyden, applied himself to the study of physick, and prosecuted his design with so much diligence and success, that, when Dr. Boerhaave was desired by the czarina to recommend proper persons to introduce into Russia the practice and study of physick, Dr. Smith was one of those whom he selected. He had a considerable pension settled on him at his arrival, and was one of the chief physicians at the Russian court. Dr. J.

A letter from Dr. Smith, in Russia, to Mr. Wilks, is printed in Chetwood's History of the Stage. R.

[60] "This," says Dr. Johnson, "I write upon the credit of the author of his life, which was published in 1727;" and was a small pamphlet, intended to plead his cause with the publick while under sentence of death "for the murder of Mr. James Sinclair, at Robinson's coffee-house, at Charing-cross, price 6d. Roberts." Savage sent a copy of it to Mrs. Carter, with some corrections and remarks. See his letter to that lady in Mrs. Carter's life by Mr. Pennington, vol. i. p. 58.

[61] Chetwood, however, has printed a poem on her death, which he ascribes to Mr. Savage. See History of the Stage, p. 206

[62] In 1724.

[63] Printed in the late collection of his poems.

[64] It was acted only three nights, the first on June 12,1723. When the house opened for the winter season it was once more performed for the author's benefit, Oct. 2. R.

[65] To Herbert Tryst, esq. of Herefoulshire. Dr. J.

[66] The Plain Dealer was a periodical paper, written by Mr. Hill and Mr. Bond, whom Savage called the two contending powers of light and darkness. They wrote, by turns, each six essays; and the character of the work was observed regularly to rise in Mr. Hill's weeks, and fall in Mr. Bond's. Dr. J.

[67] The names of those who so generously contributed to his relief having been mentioned in a former account, ought not to be omitted here. They were the dutchess of Cleveland, lady Cheyney, lady Castlemain, lady Gower, lady Lechmere, the dutchess dowager and dutchess of Rutland, lady Strafford, the countess dowager of Warwick, Mrs. Mary Floyer, Mrs. Sofuel Noel, duke of Rutland, lord Gainsborough, lord Milsington, Mr. John Savage. Dr. J.

[68] This the following extract from it will prove:-"Since our country has been honoured with the glory of your wit, as elevated and immortal as your soul, it no longer remains a doubt whether your sex have strength of mind in proportion to their sweetness. There is something in your verses as distinguished as your air. They are as strong as truth, as deep as reason, as clear as innocence, and as smooth as beauty. They contain a nameless and peculiar mixture of force and grace, which is at once so movingly serene, and so majestically lovely, that it is too amiable to appear any where but in your eyes and in your writings."

"As fortune is not more my enemy than I am the enemy of flattery, I know not how I can forbear this application to your ladyship, because there is scarce a possibility that I should say more than I believe, when I am speaking of your excellence." Dr. J.

[69] Mr. Savage's life.

[70] She died October 11, 1753, at her house in Old Bond street, aged above fourscore. R.

[71] It appears that during his confinement he wrote a letter to his mother, which he sent to Theophilus Cibber, that it might be transmitted to her through the means of Mr. Wilks. In his letter to Cibber he says: "As to death, I am easy, and dare meet it like a man-all that touches me is the concern of my friends, and a reconcilement with my mother. I cannot express the agony I felt when I wrote the letter to her: if you can find any decent excuse for showing it to Mrs. Oldfield, do; for I would have all my friends (and that admirable lady in particular) be satisfied I have done my duty towards it. Dr. Young to-day sent me a letter most passionately kind." R.

[72] Written by Mr. Beckingham and another gentleman. Dr. J.

[73] Printed in the late collection.

[74] In one of his letters he styles it "a fatal quarrel, but too well known." Dr. J.

[75] Printed in his works, vol. ii. p. 231.

[76] See his works, vol. ii. p. 233.

[77] This epigram was, I believe, never published:

"Should Dennis publish you had stabb'd your brother,

Lampoon'd your monarch, or debauch'd your mother;

Say, what revenge on Dennis can be had,

Too dull for laughter, for reply too mad?

On one so poor you cannot take the law,

On one so old your sword you scorn to draw,

Uncag'd then, let the harmless monster rage,

Secure in dullness, madness, want, and age."

Dr. J.

[78] 1729.

[79] His expression, in one of his letters, was, "that lord Tyrconnel had involved his estate, and, therefore, poorly sought an occasion to quarrel with him," Dr. J.

[80] This poem is inserted in the late collection.

[81] Printed in the late collection.

[82] A short satire was, likewise, published in the same paper, in which were the following lines:

For cruel murder doom'd to hempen death,

Savage, by royal grace, prolong'd his breath.

Well might you think he spent his future years

In pray'r, and fasting, and repentant tears.

-But, O vain hope!-the truly Savage cries,

"Priests, and their slavish doctrines, I despise.

Shall I--

Who, by free-thinking to free action fir'd.

In midnight brawls a deathless name acquir'd,

Now stoop to learn of ecclesiastic men?

No, arm'd with rhyme, at priests I'll take my aim.

Though prudence bids me murder but their fame."

Weekly Miscellany.

An answer was published in the Gentleman's Magazine, written by an unknown hand, from which the following lines are selected:

Transform'd by thoughtless rage, and midnight wine,

From malice free, and push'd without design;

In equal brawl if Savage lung'd a thrust,

And brought the youth a victim to the dust;

So strong the hand of accident appears,

The royal hand from guilt and vengeance clears.

Instead of wasting "all thy future years,

Savage, in pray'r and vain repentant tears,"

Exert thy pen to mend a vitious age,

To curb the priest, and sink his high-church rage;

To show what frauds the holy vestments hide,

The nests of av'rice, lust, and pedant pride:

Then change the scene, let merit brightly shine,

And round the patriot twist the wreath divine;

The heav'nly guide deliver down to fame;

In well-tun'd lays transmit a Foster's name;

Touch ev'ry passion with harmonious art,

Exalt the genius, and correct the heart.

Thus future times shall royal grace extol;

Thus polish'd lines thy present fame enrol.

--But grant--

--Maliciously that Savage plung'd the steel,

And made the youth its shining vengeance feel;

My soul abhors the act, the man detests,

But more the bigotry in priestly breasts.

Gentleman's Magazine, May, 1735.

Dr. J.

[83] By Mr. Pope. Dr. J.

[84] Reprinted in the late collection.

[85] In a letter after his confinement. Dr. J.

[86] Letter, Jan. 15.

[87] See this confirmed, Gent. Mag. vol. lvii. 1140. N.

[88] The author preferred this title to that of London and Bristol compared; which, when he began the piece, he intended to prefix to it. Dr. J.

[89] This friend was Mr. Cave, the printer. N.

[90] Mr. Strong, of the post-office. N.

[91] See Gent. Mag. vol. lvii. 1040. N.

[92] Mr. Pope. See some extracts of letters from that gentleman to and concerning Mr. Savage, in Ruffhead's Life of Pope, p. 502. R.

[93] Mr. Sheridan, in his Life of Swift, observes, that this account was really written by the dean, and now exists in his own handwriting in the library of Dublin college. R.

[94] Spence's Anecdotes, vol. ii. p. 273.

[95] The words speciali gratia, or per specialem gratium, were used in the record of his degree in the college of Dublin; but were never entered in any testimonium, which merely states the fact of a degree having been taken, and, therefore, the account that they were omitted as a favour to Swift is incorrect.

[96] The affecting and amiable circumstances attending this resignation are not mentioned by Johnson, but may be seen in Sheridan's Life of Swift, p. 21, 22.

[97] The publisher of this collection was John Dunton. R.

[98] How does it appear that Stella's father was steward to sir William Temple? In his will he does not say one word of her father's services, and did not leave Esther Johnson a thousand pounds, but a lease. His bequest runs thus: "I leave the lease of some lands I have in Morris-town, in the county of Wicklow, in Ireland, to Esther Johnson, servant to my sister Gifford." M.

[99] See Sheridan's Life, edit. 1784, p. 525; where are some remarks on this passage. R.

[100] The whole story of this bishoprick is a very blind one. That it was ever intended for Swift, or that Sharpe and the dutchess of Somerset ever dissuaded queen Anne from promoting him, is not ascertained by any satisfactory evidence. M.

[101] Mr. Sheridan, however, says, that Addison's last Whig Examiner was published October 12, 1711; and Swift's first Examiner, on the 10th of the following November. R.

[102] This emphatic word has not escaped the watchful eye of Dr. Warton, who has placed a nota bene at it.

[103] See this affair very differently represented in Swift's Panegyrist, Sheridan, p. 530.

[104] An account somewhat different from this is given by Mr. Sheridan, in his Life of Swift, p. 511. R.

[105] It is but justice to the dean's memory, to refer to Mr. Sheridan's defence of him from this charge. See the Life of Swift, p. 458. R.

[106] This account is contradicted by Mr. Sheridan, who, with great warmth, asserts, from his own knowledge, that there was not one syllable of truth in this whole account from the beginning to the end. See Life of Swift, edit. 1784, p. 532. R.

[107] Spence.

[108] Henley's joke was borrowed. In a copy of verses, entitled the Time Poets, preserved in a miscellany called Choice Drollery, 1656, are these lines:

Sent by Ben Jonson, as some authors say,

Broom went before, and kindly swept the way.

J. B.

[109] This weakness was so great that he constantly wore stays, as I have been assured by a waterman at Twickenham, who, in lifting him into his boat, had often felt them. His method of taking the air on the water was to have a sedan chair in the boat, in which he sat with the glasses down. H.

[110] This opinion is warmly controverted by Roscoe, in his Life of Pope; and, perhaps, with justice; for, to adopt the words of D'Israeli, "Pope's literary warfare was really the wars of his poetical ambition more, perhaps, than of the petulance and strong irritability of his temper." See also sir Walter Scott's Swift, i. 316. Ed.

[111] This is incorrect; his ordinary hand was certainly neat and elegant. I have some of it now before me. M.

[112] Pope's first instructor is repeatedly mentioned by Spence under the name of Banister, and described as the family priest. Spence's Anecd. 259. 283. Singer's edit. Roscoe's Pope, i. 11. Ed.

[113] Dryden died May 1, 1700, a year earlier than Johnson supposed. M.

[114] No. 253. But, according to Dr. Warton, Pope was displeased at one passage, in which Addison censures the admission of "some strokes of ill-nature."

[115] See Gent. Mag. vol. li. p. 314. N. See the subject very fully discussed in Roscoe's Life of Pope, i. 86, and following pages.

[116] What eye of taste ever beheld the dancing fawn or the immortal Canova's dancing girl, and doubted of this power? Pindar long ago assigned this to sculpture, and was never censured for his poetic boldness:

?ργα δ? ζωο?σιν ερπ?ν-

τεσσ? θ' ομο?α κ?λευθοι


Olym. vii. 95. Ed.

[117] Pope never felt with Eloisa, and, therefore, slighted his own affected effusions. He had little intense feeling himself, and all the passionate parts of the epistle are manifestly borrowed from Eloisa's own Latin letters. Ed.

[118] It is still at Caen Wood. N.

[119] Spence.

[120] Earlier than this, viz. in 1688, Milton's Paradise Lost had been published with great success by subscription, in folio, under the patronage of Mr. (afterwards lord) Somers. R.

[121] This may very well be doubted. The interference of the Dutch booksellers stimulated Lintot to publish cheap editions, the greater sale of which among the people probably produced his large profits. Ed.

[122] Spence.

[123] Spence.

[124] As this story was related by Pope himself, it was most probably true. Had it rested on any other authority, I should have suspected it to have been, borrowed from one of Poggio's Tales. De Jannoto Vicecomite. J.B.

[125] On this point, see notes on Halifax's life in this edition.

[126] Spence.

[127] See, however, the Life of Addison in the Biographia Britannica, last edition. R.

[128] See the letter containing Pope's answer to the bishop's arguments in Roscoe's life, i. 212.

[129] The late Mr. Graves, of Claverton, informs us, that this bible was afterwards used in the chapel of Prior-park. Dr. Warburton probably presented it to Mr. Allen.

[130] See note to Adventurer, No. 138.

[131] Mr. D'Israeli has discussed the whole of this affair in his Quarrels of Authors, i. 176. Mr. Roscoe likewise, in his Life of Pope, examines very fully all the evidence to be gathered on the point, and comes to a conclusion much less reputable to Curll, than that to be inferred from Dr. Johnson's arguments. Ed.

[132] These letters were evidently prepared for the press by Pope himself. Some of the originals, lately discovered, will prove this beyond all dispute; in the edition of Pope's works, lately published by Mr. Bowles.

[133] Ayre, in his Life of Pope, ii. 215, relates an amusing anecdote on this occasion. "Soon after the appearance of the first epistle," he observes, "a gentleman who had attempted some things in the poetical way, called on Pope, who inquired from him, what news there was in the learned world, and what new pieces were brought to light? The visiter replied, that there was little or nothing worthy notice; that there was, indeed, a thing called an Essay on Man, shocking poetry, insufferable philosophy, no coherence, no connexion. Pope could not repress his indignation, and instantly avowed himself the author. This was like a clap of thunder to the mistaken bard, who took up his hat and never ventured to show his unlucky face there again." It is generally supposed that Mallet was this luckless person. Ed.

[134] This letter is in Mr. Malone's Supplement to Shakespeare, vol. i. p. 223.

[135] Spence.

[136] It has been admitted by divines, even that some sins do more especially beset particular individuals. Mr. Roscoe enters into a long vindication of Pope's doctrine against the imputations of Dr. Johnson; the most satisfactory parts of which are the refutations drawn from Pope's own essay.

The business of reason is shown to be,

to rectify, not overthrow,

And treat this passion more as friend than foe.

Essay on Man, ep. ii. 164.

Th' eternal art, educing good from ill,

Grafts on this passion our best principle;

'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix'd:

Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd.

Ib. ii. 175.

As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care,

On savage stocks inserted learn to bear,

The surest virtues thus from passions shoot,

Wild nature's vigour working at the root,

What crops of wit and honesty appear

From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear, &c.

Ib. ii. 181.

"And thus," concludes Mr. Roscoe, "the injurious consequences which Johnson supposes to be derived from Pope's idea of the ruling passion, are not only obviated, but that passion itself is shown to be conducive to our highest moral improvement." Ed.

[137] Entitled, Sedition and Defamation displayed. 8vo. 1733. R.

[138] Among many manuscripts, letters, &c. relating to Pope, which I have lately seen, is a lampoon in the bible style, of much humour, but irreverent, in which Pope is ridiculed as the son of a hatter.

[139] On a hint from Warburton. There is, however, reason to think, from the appearance of the house in which Allen was born at Saint Blaise, that he was not of a low, but of a decayed family.

[140] Since discovered to have been Atterbury, afterwards bishop of Rochester. See the collection of that prelate's Epistolary Correspondence, vol. iv. p. 6. N.

This I believe to be an error. Mr. Nichols has ascribed this preface to Atterbury on the authority of Dr. Walter Harte, who, in a manuscript note on a copy of Pope's edition, expresses his surprise that Pope should there have described the former editor as anonymous, as he himself had told Harte fourteen years before his own publication, that this preface was by Atterbury. The explication is probably this; that during that period he had discovered that he had been in a mistake. By a manuscript note in a copy presented by Crynes to the Bodleian library, we are informed that the former editor was Thomas Power, of Trinity college, Cambridge. Power was bred at Westminster, under Busby, and was elected off to Cambridge in the year 1678. He was author of a translation of Milton's Paradise Lost; of which only the first book was published, in 1691. J.B.

[141] In 1743.

[142] In 1744.

[143] Mr. Roscoe, with good reason, doubts the accuracy of this inconsistent and improbable story. See his Life of Pope, 556.

[144] Spence.

[145] This is somewhat inaccurately expressed. Lord Bolingbroke was not an executor: Pope's papers were left to him specifically, or, in case of his death, to lord Marchmont.

[146] This account of the difference between Pope and Mr. Allen is not so circumstantial as it was in Johnson's power to have made it. The particulars communicated to him concerning it he was too indolent to commit to writing; the business of this note is to supply his omissions. Upon an invitation, in which Mrs. Blount was included, Mr. Pope made a visit to Mr. Allen, at Prior-park, and having occasion to go to Bristol for a few days, left Mrs. Blount behind him. In his absence Mrs. Blount, who was of the Romish persuasion, signified an inclination to go to the popish chapel at Bath, and desired of Mr. Allen the use of his chariot for the purpose; but he being at that time mayor of the city, suggested the impropriety of having his carriage seen at the door of a place of worship, to which, as a magistrate, he was at least restrained from giving a sanction, and might be required to suppress, and, therefore, desire to be excused. Mrs. Blount resented this refusal, and told Pope of it at his return, and so infected him with her rage that they both left the house abruptly[1].

An instance of the like negligence may be noted in his relation of Pope's love of painting, which differs much from the information I gave him on that head. A picture of Betterton, certainly copied from Kneller by Pope[2], lord Mansfield once showed me at Kenwood-house, adding, that it was the only one he ever finished, for that the weakness of his eyes was an obstruction to his use of the pencil. H.

(Footnote 1: This is altogether wrong. Pope kept up his friendship with Mr. Allen to the last, as appears by his letters, and Mrs. Blount remained in Mr. Allen's house some time after the coolness took place between her and Mrs. Allen. Allen's conversation with Pope on this subject, and his letters to Mrs. Blount, all whose quarrels he was obliged to share, will be found in Mr. Bowles's edition of Pope's works. C.-See further and more minute information on this affair in Roscoe's Pope, i. 526, and following pages. Ed.)

(Footnote 2: See p. 249.)

[147] But see this matter explained by facts more creditable to Pope, in his life, Biographical Dictionary, vol. xxv.

[148] Part of it arose from an annuity of two hundred pounds a year, which he had purchased either of the late duke of Buckinghamshire, or the dutchess, his mother, and which was charged on some estate of that family. [See p. 256.] The deed by which it was granted was some years in my custody. H.

[149] The account herein before given of this lady and her catastrophe, cited by Johnson from Ruffhead, with a kind of acquiescence in the truth thereof, seems no other than might have been extracted from the verses themselves. I have in my possession a letter to Dr. Johnson, containing the name of the lady; and a reference to a gentleman well known in the literary world for her history. Him I have seen; and, from a memorandum of some particulars to the purpose, communicated to him by a lady of quality, he informs me, that the unfortunate lady's name was Withinbury[1], corruptly pronounced Winbury; that she was in love with Pope, and would have married him; that her guardian, though she was deformed in person, looking upon such a match as beneath her, sent her to a convent; and that a noose, and not a sword, put an end to her life. H.

(Footnote 1: According to Warton, the lady's name was Wainsbury. Ed.)

[150] Bentley was one of these. He and Pope, soon after the publication of Homer, met at Dr. Mead's at dinner; when Pope, desirous of his opinion of the translation, addressed him thus: "Dr. Bentley, I ordered my bookseller to send you your books: I hope you received them." Bentley, who had purposely avoided saying any thing about Homer, pretended not to understand him, and asked, "Books! books! what books?"-"My Homer," replied Pope, "which you did me the honour to subscribe for."-"Oh," said Bentley, "aye, now I recollect-your translation:-it is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope; but you must not call it Homer." H. Some good remarks on Pope's translation may be found in the work of Melmoth, entitled Fitzosborne's Letters. Ed.

[151] In one of these poems is a couplet, to which belongs a story that I once heard the reverend Dr. Ridley relate:

"Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage;

Hard words, or hanging, if your judge be ****,"

Sir Francis Page, a judge well known in his time, conceiving that his name was meant to fill up the blank, sent his clerk to Mr. Pope, to complain of the insult. Pope told the young man that the blank might be supplied by many monosyllables, other than the judge's name:-"but, sir," said the clerk, "the judge says that no other word will make sense of the passage."-"So then it seems," says Pope "your master is not only a judge but a poet; as that is the case, the odds are against me. Give my respects to the judge, and tell him, I will not contend with one that has the advantage of me, and he may fill up the blank as he pleases." H.

[152] See note, by Gifford, on Johnson's criticism here in Massinger's works.

[153] Johnson, I imagine, alludes to a well-known line by Rochester:

The best good man with the worst-natur'd muse.

[154] Major Bernardi, who died in Newgate, Sept. 20, 1736. See Gent. Mag. vol. 1. p. 125. N.

[155] This was altered much for the better, as it now stands on the monument in the abbey, erected to Rowe and his daughter. WARB. See Bowles's edition of Pope's works, ii. 416.

[156] In the north aisle of the parish church of St. Margaret, Westminster. H.

[157] The thought was, probably, borrowed from Carew's Obsequies to the lady Anne Hay:

I heard the virgins sigh, I saw the sleek

And polish'd courtier channel his fresh cheek

With real tears.


[158] Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child. DRYDEN, on Mrs. Killigrew.

[159] The same thought is found in George Whetstone's epitaph on the good lord Dyer, 1582:

Et semper bonus ille bonis fuit, ergo bonorum

Sunt illi demum pectora sarcophagus.


[160] It has since been added to the collection. R.

[161] According to the Biographical Dictionary the name of Thomson's mother was Beatrix Trotter. Hume was the name of his grandmother. Ed.

[162] See the Life of Beattie, by sir William Forbes, for some additional anecdotes. Ed.

[163] Warton was told by Millan that the book lay a long time unsold on his stall. Ed.

[164] "It was at this time that the school of Pope was giving way: addresses to the head rather than to the heart, or the fancy; moral axioms and witty observations, expressed in harmonious numbers, and with epigrammatick terseness; the limae labor, all the artifices of a highly polished style, and the graces of finished composition, which had long usurped the place of the more sterling beauties of the imagination and sentiment, began first to be lessened in the public estimation by the appearance of Thomson's Seasons, a work which constituted a new era in our poetry." Censura Literaria, iv. 280.

[165] An interesting anecdote respecting Thomson's deportment before a commission, instituted in 1732, for an inquiry into the state of the public offices under the lord chancellor, is omitted by Johnson and all the poet's biographers. We extract it from the nineteenth volume of the Critical Review, p. 141. "Mr. Thomson's place of secretary of the briefs fell under the cognizance of this commission; and he was summoned to attend it, which he accordingly did, and made a speech, explaining the nature, duty, and income of his place, in terms that, though very concise, were so perspicuous and elegant, that lord chancellor Talbot, who was present, publicly said he preferred that single speech to the best of his poetical compositions." The above praise is precisely such as we might anticipate that an old lawyer would give, but it, at all events, exempts the poet's character from the imputation of listless indolence, advanced by Murdoch, and leaves lord Hardwicke little excuse for his conduct. Ed.

[166] It is not generally known that in this year an edition of Milton's Areopagitiea was published by Millar, to which Thomson wrote a preface.

[167] See vol. v. p. 329 of this edition, and Mr. Roscoe's Life of Pope, for some anecdotes respecting Gay's Beggars' Opera and Polly, illustrative of the efficacy of a lord-chamberlain's interference with the stage. Ed.

[168] Several anecdotes of Thomson's personal appearance and habits are scattered over the volumes of Boswell. Ed.

[169] For an interesting collection of the various readings of the successive editions of the Seasons, see vols. ii. in. and iv. of the Censura Literaria. Thomson's own preface to the second edition of Winter may be found in vol. ii. p. 67, of the above-quoted work. Ed.

[170] He took his degrees, A. B. 1696, A. M. 1700.

[171] This ought to have been noticed before. It was published in 1700, when he appears to have obtained a fellowship of St. John's.

[172] Spence.

[173] Ibid.

[174] The archbishop's letters, published in 1760, (the originals of which are now in Christ-church library, Oxford,) were collected by Mr. Philips.

[175] At his house in Hanover-street, and was buried in Audley chapel.

[176] Mr. Ing's eminence does not seem to have been derived from his wit. That the men who drive oxen are goaded, seems to be a custom peculiar to Staffordshire. J.B.

[177] Certainly him. It was published in 1697.

[178] In the Poetical Calendar, a collection of poems by Fawkes and Woty, in several volumes, 1763, &c.

[179] A monument of exquisite workmanship, by Flaxman, is erected in Chichester to Collins's memory.

[180] It is printed in the late collection.

[181] This charge against the Lyttelton family has been denied, with some degree of warmth, by Mr. Potter, and since by Mr. Graves. The latter says, "The truth of the case, I believe, was, that the Lyttelton family went so frequently with their family to the Leasowes, that they were unwilling to break in upon Mr. Shenstone's retirement on every occasion, and, therefore, often went to the principal points of view without waiting for any one to conduct them regularly through the whole walks. Of this Mr. Shenstone would sometimes peevishly complain; though, I am persuaded, he never really suspected any ill-natured intention in his worthy and much-valued neighbours." R.

[182] Mr. Graves, however, expresses his belief that this is a groundless surmise. "Mr. Shenstone," he adds, "was too much respected in the neighbourhood to be treated with rudeness; and though his works, (frugally as they were managed) added to his manner of living, must necessarily have made him exceed his income, and, of course, he might sometimes be distressed for money, yet he had too much spirit to expose himself to insults from trifling sums, and guarded against any great distress, by anticipating a few hundreds; which his estate could very well bear, as appeared by what remained to his executors after the payment of his debts, and his legacies to his friends, and annuities of thirty pounds a year to one servant, and six pounds to another, for his will was dictated with equal justice and generosity." R.

[183] We may, however, say with the Grecian orator, ?τι απολλ?μενο? ευφρα?νει, he gives forth a fragrance as he wastes away. Ed.

[184] "These," says Mr. Graves, "were not precisely his sentiments, though he thought, right enough, that every one should, in some degree, consult his particular shape and complexion in adjusting his dress; and that no fashion ought to sanctify what was ungraceful, absurd, or really deformed."

[185] Mr. D'Israeli's remarks on Shenstone and his writings, may be profitably compared with Johnson's life. See last edition of the Curiosities of Literature. Ed.

[186] See Gent. Mag. vol. lxx. p. 225. N.

[187] As my great friend is now become the subject of biography, it should be told, that every time I called upon Johnson during the time I was employed in collecting materials for this life and putting it together, he never suffered me to depart without some such farewell as this: "Don't forget that rascal Tindal, sir. Be sure to hang up the atheist." Alluding to this anecdote, which Johnson had mentioned to me.

[188] Dr. Johnson, in many cases, thought and directed differently, particularly in Young's works. J.N.

[189] Not in the Tatler, but in the Guardian, May 9, 1713.

[190] See a letter from the duke of Wharton to Swift, dated 1717, in Swift's works, in which he mentions Young being then in Ireland. J.B.N.

[191] Davies, in his life of Garrick, says 1720, and that it was produced thirty-three years after.

[192] Mr. Boswell discovered in this heavy piece of biography a successful imitation of Johnson's style. An eminent literary character exclaimed, "No, no, it is not a good imitation of Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength." Endeavouring to express himself still more in Johnsonian phrase, he added, "It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the inspiration." See Boswell, iv. According to Malone, this eminent person was Burke, and the observation is assigned to him, without hesitation, in Prin's Life. It has sometimes been attributed to G. Stevens. Ed.

[193] See Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, 162.

[194] Mallet's William and Margaret was printed in Aaron Hill's Plain Dealer, No. 36, July 24,1724 In its original state it was very different from what it is in the last edition of his works. Dr. J.

[195] See note on this passage of Pope's life in the present edition.

[196] Johnson entertained a very high idea of the varied learning and science necessarily connected with the character of an accomplished physician, and often affirmed of the physicians of this island, that "they did more good to mankind without a prospect of reward, than any profession of men whatever." His friendship for Dr. Bathurst, and the most eminent men in the medical line of his day, is well known. See an epistle to Dr. Percival, developing the wide field of knowledge over which a physician should expatiate, prefixed to Observations on the Literature of the Primitive Christian Writers. Ed.

[197] A most curious and original character of Akenside is given by George Hardinge, in vol. viii. of Nichols's Literary Anecdotes. Ed.

[198] We shall, in comparison with this criticism, quote a passage from Rasselas, and deduce no inference:

"As they were sitting together, the princess cast her eyes on the river that flowed before her: answer, said she, great father of waters, thou that rollest thy floods through eighty nations, to the invocation of the daughter of thy native king. Tell me, if thou waterest, through all thy course, a single habitation from which thou dost not hear the murmurs of complaint." Ed.

[199] I have a soul, that like an ample shield

Can take in all; and verge enough for more.

Dryden's Sebastian.

[200] Lord Orford used to assert, that Gray "never wrote any thing easily, but things of humour;" and added, that humour was his natural and original turn. For a full examination of Johnson's strange and capricious strictures on the poetry of Gray, we, with much satisfaction, refer our readers to the life prefixed to, and the notes that accompany, an elegant edition of Gray's works, 2 vols. 8vo. Oxford, 1825. Much that is both elegant and useful will be found in that publication. Ed.

[201] Dr. Johnstone, of Kidderminster.

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