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tempt the author has been successful to a degree which does him much honour as a poet. He unites great extent of learning with singular variety and felicity of allusion, and a pleasing harmony and splendour of versification. But it must be acknowledged that there is an uniformity, which at length fatigues, and does not so much in- . terest the reader as many less correct and regular performances. The Minstrel, by Dr. BEATTIE, which may, without impropriety, be mentioned under this head, besides the most engaging pictures of nature, abounds in the richest sentimental, moral, and poetical beauties.
The Essays on Painting, History, and Epic Poetry, by Mr. HayLEY, though partaking of the historical and descriptive, are also didactic in their character, and exhibit a very large share of erudition, correctness, elegance, and poetic taste.
Besides the specimens of didactic poetry above mentioned, English literature furnished a number of others, during the period under consideration, which though not in the first grade of excellence, are yet entitled to respectful notice. The Chace, by SOMERVILLE, to a just and intelligent view of its subject, adds felicity and variety of description, and elegance of language. The Infancy of Dr. DOWNMAN discovers him to have been a good poet, an excellent medical philosopher, and a friend to morality and virtue. The Mine, a dramatic poem, by Mr. SARGENT, is considered by good judges as a work of genuine philosophical and poetical merit. And the English Orator, by Mr. POLWHELE, displays much excellent sentiment and just precept, in very harmonious verse.
* It has been suggested that the author of the Loves of the Plants was considerably indebted to the Connubia Florum of De La Croix, both in the plan and execution of his work. This beautiful Latin poem was first published in France, about the year 1727, and was reprinted at London, with notes and observations by Sir RICHARD CLAYTON, in 1791. If Dr. Darwin had ever seen De La Croix's work, (which can scarcely be questioned) some deduction must be made from his claim to originality. Still, however, the Botanic Garden will be entitled to no small sharc of applause as a poem. Though many of the opinions of the author must be considered as erroneous; though his poetry evince more taste than genius, more labour than invention, and display more meretricious glare than chaste ornament; and though much of the praise which was bestowed on the work soon after its appearance must be deemed extravagant; yet since the author of the Pursuits of Literature pronounced judgment upon it, its poetic character has, perhaps, in the estimation of many, sunk too low. Dr. Darwin is far from scanding at the head of modern poets ; but he holds a place greatly above mediocrity.
With the didactic poetry produced on the continent of Europe during the last age, the author has but little acquaintance. The Prædium Rusticum of Father VANIERE, a Jesuit of France, published about the beginning of the century, has been ever since celebrated in the literary world as a specimen of elegant Latin poetry, connected with excellent precepts and just sentiments. The Connubia Florum of M. De La Croix, also a Latin poem, and published a few years after the Prædium Rusticum, is scarcely less remarkable for the purity, vivacity, and elegance of its diction, the ingenuity of its fable and imagery, and the general soundness of its philosophy. The Abbé DELILLE, in his Garden, a didactic and descriptive work, presented his countrymen with a poem, which, though it does not display great invention, has been highly and justly applauded for the beauty of its descriptions, and the excellence of its versification. To these may be added Baron HALLER'S poem on Reason, Superstition, and Infidelity, before mentioned, and which is worthy of its illustrious author.
MORAL AND DEVOTIONAL POETRY.
The moral poetry of the eighteenth century may, without hesitation, be pronounced superior, in the union of correctness, purity and elegance, to that of any preceding age. This superiority is so remarkable that it must arrest the attention of the most careless observer, and give pleasure to every friend of human happiness. The age, it is readily admitted, gave birth to much licentious poetry; but it produced, at the same time, much that exhibits a degree of purity and elevation of sentiment to which the history of literature furnishes no parallel.
The Night Thoughts, and the Universal Passion, by Dr. Young, are entitled to the first place in this list. In these works the celebrated author has employed wonderful sublimity and force of imagination, eloquence and cogency of reasoning, and music of numbers, in conveying the most important truths that can engage the attention of mankind. The Ethical Epistles, and some other moral productions of Pope, are models in their kind which have never been excelled. The Vanity of Human Wishes, a poem in imitation of the tenth satire of Juvenal, by Dr. Johnson, has been pronounced as high an effort of ethic poetry as any language can show. The Task, by Nr. CowPER, is one of the signal honours of the
age, this class of poetic compositions. For purity of sentiment, chasteness of description, simplicity and energy of style, and a vein of original and well directed satire, this work will be admired as long as taste and virtue exist. The eighteenth century is also distinguished
by the Devotional poetry which it produced. The difficulty of this species of composition has been found and acknowledged, at all periods in which it was undertaken. Before the commencement of the age under consideration, theological doctrines, and portions of sacred history, had been made the subject of poetry, by a number of distinguished writers. Versions of the Psalms had been parti
cularly attempted by several persons with tolerable success. Among these the version of Brady and Tare held the first place in the English language. Indeed some parts of their work were so well performed that comparatively few of their successors have attained equal excellence.
But among all the sacred poetry of the eighteenth century, that of Dr. WATTS stands preeminent. His plan of evangelizing the Psalms of David, and accommodating them to the worship of God under the present dispensation, as it was equally new and ingenious, so it has received an unusual degree of approbation, and has, perhaps, been more useful than any other work in this department of composition that was ever presented to the world. Simplicity, smoothness, harmony, and pious elevation remarkably characterize his
Next to the sacred poetry of Dr. Watts, the specimens produced by Mr. ADDISON, Dr, DODDRIDGE, Mr. Pitt, Mr. MERRICK, Dr. BLACKLOCK, Mr. LOGAN, and several others, possess a high degree of merit. In this department of poetry it is believed that Great-Britain has excelled all other countries.
Poetical versions of the Psalms made, during this period, on the continent of Europe, were numerous; but of these a very small porțion are worthy of notice. The Hymns of GELLERT, a celebrated poet of Germany, are said to be entitled to a place in the first class of this kind of writings,
In this department of poetry the eighteenth century is, on the whole, superior to any preceding age. Two satirical poets of great eminence had flourished in Europe towards the close of the preceding age. Boileau and DRYDEN, equal in most
respects to the great Roman satirists, and in some superior to them all, brought modern satire to a very high degree of excellence. DRYDEN was the first who displayed with success the power of the English language in this kind of composition, In the eighteenth century the candidates for satirical fame were numerous; and in variety of manner, correctness of taste, purity of virtue, and, in some instances, in wit, humour, and force of ridicule, may be said to have exceeded all their predecessors.
In this list Mr. Pope is entitled to the first place. His Satirical Epistles, his Imitations of the ancient satirists, his Dunciad," and several other performances of a similar kind, have been long admired. In keenness of satire, energy of description, condensation of thought, and vivacity and correctness of style, he is, perhaps, superior to all who went before him. And though the moral tendency of some of his pictures may be questioned, yet he lashes vice with great force and effect." The
o Some of the images in the Dunciad are very gross and disgusting. Pope had too much of that fondness for impure ideas which was so conspicuous, and carried so much further in the writings of Swirt.
u The author of the Pursuits of Literature thus speaks of this great poet: “ The sixth and last of this immortal Brotherhood, (the satirists) in the fulness of tinie, and in the maturity of poetical power, came Pope. All that was wanting to his illustrious predecessor found its consummation in the genius, knowledge, correct sense, and condensation of thought and expresssion, which distinguished this poet. The tenour of his life was peculiarly favourable to his office. He had first cultivated all the flowery grounds of poetry. He had excelled in description, in pastoral, in the pathetic, and in general criticism; and had given an English existence in perpetuity to the father of all poetry. Thus honoured, and with thesc pretensions, he left them all for that excellence, for which the maturity of his talents and judgment so eminently designed him. Familiar with the great; intimate with the polite; graced by the attentions of the fair; ad. mired by the learned; a favourite with the nation; independent in an acquired opulence, the honourable product of his genius and industry; the companion of persons distinguished for birth, high fashion, rank, wit, or virtue ; resident in the centre of all public information and intelligence; every avenue to knowledge and every mode of observation were open to his curious prying, piercing, and unwearied intellect. His works are so gen nerally read and studied, that I should not merely fatigue, but I should ala most insult you by such a needless disquisition.