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One of the severe theologians of that time censured him as having published a book of profane and lifcivious Verses. From the charge of profaneness, the constant tenour of his life, which seems to have been eminently virtuous, and the general tendency of his opinions, which discover no irreverence of religion, must defend him ; but that the accusation of lasciviousness is unjust, the peru. sal of his works will sufficiently evince.
Cowley's Mistress has no power of seduce tion : - The plays round the head, but reaches “ not the heart.” Her beauty and absence, her kindness and cruelty, her disdain and inconstancy, produce no correspondence of emotion. This poetical account of the virtues of plants, and colours of flowers, is not perused with more fluggish frigidity. The compositions are such as might have been written for penance by a hermit, or for hire by a philosophical rhymer who had only heard of ano. ther fox; for they turn the mind only on the writer, whom, without thinking on a woman but as the subject for his task, we fometimes esteem as learned, and sometimes de
spise as trifling, always admire as ingenious, and always condemn as unnatural.
The Pindarique Odes are now to be considered; a species of composition, which Cowley thinks Pancirolus might have counted in his list of the loft inventions of antiquity, and which he has made a bold and vigorous attempt to recover.
The purpose with which he has paraphrased an Olympick and Nemæan Ode, is by himself sufficiently explained. His endeavour was, 11ot to fhew precisely what Pindar spoke, but his manner of Speaking. He was therefore not at all restrained to his expressions, nor much to his sentiments; nothing was required of him, but not to write as Pindar would not have written.
Of the Olympick Ode the beginning is, I think, above the original in elegance, and the conclusion below it in strength. The connection is supplied with great perspicuity, and the thoughts, which to a reader of less skill seem thrown together by chance, are concatenated without any abruption. Though
the English ode cannot be called a translation, it may
very properly consulted as a commentary.
The spirit of Pindar is indeed not every where equally preserved. The following pretty lines are not such as his deep mouth was used to pour :
Great Rhea's son,
In the Nemæan ode the reader must, in mere justice to Pindar, observe that whatever is faid of the original new moon, her tender fore-head and her horns, is superadded by his paraphrast, who has many other plays of words and fancy unsuitable to the original, as,
The table, free for every guest,
No doubt will thee admit,
He sometimes extends his author's thoughts without improving them. In the Olympionick an oath is mentioned in a single word, and Cowley spends three lines in swearing by the Castalian Stream. We are told of Theron's bounty, with a hint that he had enemies, which Cowley thus enlarges in rhyming profe :
But in this thankless world the giver
grow Wrongs and injuries to do, Left men should think we owe.
It is hard to conceive that a man of the first rank in learning and wit, when he was dealing out such minute morality in such feeble diction, could imagine, either waking or dreaming, that he imitated Pindar,
In the following odes, where Cowley chooses his own subjects, he sometimes rises to diguity truly Pindarick; and, if fome de
ficiencies of language be forgiven, his strains are such as those of the Theban Bard were to his contemporaries :
Begin the song, and strike the living lyre : Lo how the years to come, a numerous and
well-fitted quire, All hand in hand do decently advance," And to my song with smooth and equal mea
sure dance ;
Till all gentle notes be drown'd
After such enthusiasm, who will not lament to find the poet conclude with lines like theie!
But stop, my Muse-
Which docs to rage begin--
! The fault of Cowley, and perhaps of all the writers of the metaphysical race, is that