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art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban He has added nothing to English poetry, get bard, however he may fall below his sublimity; at least half his book deserves to be read: perhe will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have haps he valued most himself that part which the more smoke.
critic would reject.
GILBERT West is one of the writers of whom I | Testament." Perhaps it may not be without regret my inability to give a sufficient account; effect to tell, that he read the prayers of the the intelligence which my inquiries have obtain- public liturgy every morning to bis family, and ed is general and scanty.
that on Sunday evening he called his servants He was the son of the Rev. Dr. West; per into the parlour, and read to them first a sermon haps* him who published “ Pindar' at Oxford and then prayers. Crashaw is now not the only about the beginning of this century. His mother maker of verses to whom may be given the two was sister to Sir Richard Temple, afterwards venerable names of poet and saint. Lord Cobham. His father, purposing to edu- He was very often visited by Lyttelton and cate him for the church, sent him first to Eton, Pitt, who, when they were weary of faction and afterwards to Oxford; but he was seduced and debates, used at Wickham to find books and to a more airy mode of life, by a commission in quiet, a decent table, and literary conversation. a troop of horse, procured him by his uncle. There is at Wickham a walk made by Pitt;
He continued some time in the army; though and, what is of far more importance, at Wickit is reasonable to suppose that he never sunk ham Lyttelton received that conviction which into a mere soldier, nor ever lost the love, or produced his “ Dissertation on St. Paul.” much neglected the pursuit, of learning; and These two illustrious friends had for a while afterwards, finding himself more inclined to listened to the blandishments of infidelity; and civil employment, he laid down his commission, when West's book was published, it was bought and engaged in business under the Lord Towns- by some who did not know his change of opinion, hend, then secretary of state, with whom he at- in expectation of new objections against Christitended the king to Hanover.
anity; and as infidels do not want malignity His adherence to Lord Townshend ended in they revenged the disappointment by calling him nothing but a nomination (May 1729) to be a methodist. clerk-extraordinary of the privy-council, which Mr. West's income was not large; and his produced no immediate profit; for it only placed friends endeavoured, but without success, to obhim in a state of expectation and right of suc- tain an augmentation. It is reported, that the cession, and it was very long before a vacancy education of the young prince was offered to admitted him to profit.
him, but that he required a more extensive Soon afterwards he married, and settled him- power of superintendance than it was thought self in a very pleasant house at Wickham, in proper to allow him. Kent, where he devoted himself to learning and In time, however, his revenue was improved; to piety. Of his learning the late Collection he lived to have one of the lucrative clerkships exhibits evidence, which would have been yet of the privy council (1752 ;) and Mr. Pitt at fuller, if the dissertations which accompany his last had it in his power to make him treasurer version of Pindar had not been improperly of Chelsea Hospital. omitted. Of his piety the influence has, I hope, He was now sufficiently rich; but wealth been extended far by his “ Observations on the came too late to be long enjoyed ; nor could it Resurrection,” published in 1747, for which the secure him from the calamities of life; he lost university of Oxford created him a doctor of (1755) bis only son; and the year after (March laws by diploma (March 30, 1748) and would 26) a stroke of the palsy brought to the grave doubtless have reached yet further, had he lived one of the few poets to whom the grave might to complete what he had for some time meditat- | be without its terrors. ed, the evidences of the truth of the “ New Of his translations I have only compared the
first Olympic ode with the original, and found
my expectation surpassed, both by its elegance * Certainly him. It was published in 1897.-C.
and its exactness. He does not confine himself
to his author's train of stanzas, for he saw that a process of events, neither knowledge nor elethe difference of the languages required a differ- gance preserves the reader from weariness. ent mode of versification. The first strophe is His Imitations of Spenser are very successfully eminently happy; in the second he has a little performed, both with respect to the metre, the strayed from Pindar's meaning, who says, “ if language, and the fiction; and being engaged at thou, my soul, wishest to speak of games, look once by the excellence of the sentiments, and not in the desert sky for a planet hotter than the the artifice of the copy, the mind has two sun; nor shall we tell of nobler games than those amusements together. But such compositions of Olympia." He is sometimes too paraphrasti-are not to be reckoned among the great achievecal. Pindar bestows upon Hiero an epithet, ments of intellect, because their effect is local which, in one word, signifies delighting in horses ; and temporary, they appeal not to reason or pasa word which, in the translation, generates these sion, but to memory, and presuppose an acci
dental or artificial state of mind. An imitation
of Spenser is nothing to a reader, however acute, Hiero's royal brows, whose care
by whom Spenser has never been perused. Tends the courser's poble breed,
Works of this kind may deserve praise, as proofs
of great industry, and great nicety of observa-
us, they cannot claim. The noblest beauties of Pindar says of Pelops, that “ he came alone in
art are those of which the effect is coextended the dark to the White Sea ;" and West,
with rational nature, or at least with the whole
circle of polished life; what is less than this can Near the billow-beaten side Of the foam-besilver'd main,
be only pretty, the plaything of fashion, and the Darkling, and alone, be stood :
amusement of a day.
which however is less exuberant than the for- There is in the “ Adventurer” a paper of mer passage.
verses given to one of the authors as Mr. West's, A work of this kind must, in a minute ex- and supposed to have been written by him. It amination, discover many imperfections ; but should not be concealed, however, that it is West's version, so far as I bave discovered it, printed with Mr. Jago's name in Dodsley's appears to be the product of great labour and Collection, and is mentioned as his in a letter of great abilities.
Shenstone's. Perhaps West gave it without His Institution of the Garter (1742) is written naming the author; and Hawkesworth, receivwith sufficient knowledge of the manners that ing it from him, thought it his ; for his he prevailed in the age to which it is referred, and thought it, as he told me, and as be tells the with great elegance of diction ; but, for want of public.
WILLIAM COLLINS was born at Chichester, but unhappily there was no vacancy. This was on the twenty-fifth day of December, about the original misfortune of his life. He became 1720. His father was a hatter of good reputa- a commoner of Queen's College, probably with tion. He was in 1733, as Dr. Warburton has a scanty maintenance; but was, in about half a kindly informed me, admitted scholar of Win- year, elected a demy of Magdalen College, where chester College, where he was educated by Dr. he continued till he had taken a bachelor's deBurton. His English exercises were better gree, and then suddenly left the university; for than his Latin.
what reason I know not that he told. He first courted the notice of the public by He now (about 1744) came to London a liter. some verses to “A Lady Weeping,” published ary adventurer, with many projects in his in “ The Gentleman's Magazine.”
head, and very little money in his pockets. He In 1740, he stood first in the list of the schol- designed many works; but his great fault was ars to be received in succession at New College, I irresolution; or the frequent calls of immedi. ate necessity broke his scheme, and suffered him his inclination than his genius; the grandeur of to pursue no settled purpose. A man doubtful wildness, and the novelty of extravagance, were of his dinner, or trembling at a creditor, is not always desired by him, but not always attained, much disposed to abstracted meditation, or re- Yet, as diligence is never wholly lost, if his efmote inquiries. He published proposals for a forts sometimes caused harshness and obscurity history of the Revival of Learning; and I have they likewise produced in happier momento heard him speak with great kindness of Leo the sublimity and splendour. This idea which he Tenth, and with keen resentment of his taste- had formed of excellence led him to oriental ficless successor, But probably not a page of his tions and allegorical imagery, and perhaps, while history was ever written. He planned several he was intent upon description, he did not suffitragedies, but he only planned them. He wrote ciently cultivate sentiment. His poems are the now and then odes and other poems, and did production of a mind not deficient in fire, nor something, however little.
unfurnished with knowledge either of books or About this time I fell into his company. His life, but somewhat obstructed in its progress by appearance was decent and manly; his know- deviation in quest of mistaken beauties. ledge considerable, his views extensive, his con- “ His morals were pure, and his opinions piversation elegant, and his disposition cheerful. ous: in a long continuance of poverty, and long By degrees I gained his confidence; and one day habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that was admitted to him when he was immured by any character should be exactly uniform. There a bailiff, that was prowling in the street. On is a degree of want by which the freedom of this occasion recourse was had to the booksellers, agency is almost destroyed; and long association who, on the credit of a translation of Aristotle's with fortuitous companions will at last relax the Poetics, which he engaged to write with a large strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincommentary, advanced as much money as en- cerity. That this man, wise and virtuous as he abled him to escape into the country. He was, passed almost "unentangled through the showed me the guineas safe in his hand. Soon snares of life, it would be prejudice and temerity afterwards his uncle, Mr. Martin, a lieutenant- to affirm; but it may be said that at least be colonel, left him about two thousand pounds; a preserved the source of action unpolluted, that sum which Collins could scarcely think exhaust- his principles were never shaken, that his disible, and which he did not live to exhaust. The tinctions of right and wrong were never conguineas were then repaid, and the translation founded, and that his faults had nothing of maneglected.
lignity or design, but proceeded from some unBut man is not born for happiness. Collins, expected pressure, or casual temptation. who, while he studied to live, felt no evil but “ The latter part of his life cannot be remempoverty, no sooner lived to study, than his life bered but with pity and sadness. He languished was assailed by more dreadful calamities, disease some years under that depression of mind which and insanity.
enchains the faculties without destroying them, Having formerly written his character, * while and leaves reason the knowledge of right withperhaps it was yet more distinctly impressed out the power of pursuing it. These clouds upon my memory, I shall insert it here. which he perceived gathering on his intellects,
“ Mr. Collins was a man of extensive litera- he endeavoured to disperse by travel, and passed ture, and of vigorous faculties. He was ac- into France; but found himself constrained to quainted not only with the learned tongues, but yield to his malady, and returned. He was for with the Italian, French, and Spanish languages. some time confined in a house of lunatics, and He had employed his mind chiefly upon works afterwards retired to the care of his sister in of fiction, and subjects of fancy; and, by in- Chichester, where death, in 1756, came to his dulging some peculiar habits of thought, was relief. eminently delighted with those flights of imagi- " After his return from France, the writer of nation which pass the bounds of nature, and to this character paid him a visit at Islington, which the mind is reconciled only by a passive where he was waiting for his sister, whom he acquiescence in popular traditions. He loved had directed to meet him: there was then nofairies, genii, giants, and monsters; he delight-thing of disorder discernible in his mind by any ed to rove through the meanders of enchant- but himself; but he had withdrawn from study, ment, to gaze on the magnificence of golden pal- and travelled with no other book than an Engaces, to repose by the water-falls of Elysian lish Testament, such as children carry to the gardens.
school : when his friend took it into his hand, “ This was, however the character rather of out of curiosity to see what companion a man of He was visited at Chichester, in his last ill- , may be added, that his diction was often harsh, ness, by his learned friends Dr. Warton and his unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously selected. brother, to whom he spoke with disapprobation He affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of his Oriental Eclogues, as not sufficiently ex- of revival; and be puts his words out of the pressive of Asiatic manners, and called them his common order, seeming to think, with some Irish Eclogues. He showed them, at the same later candidates for fame, that not to write prose time, an ode inscribed to Mr. John Hume, on is certainly to write poetry. His lines commonly the superstitions of the Highlands; which they are of slow motion, clogged and impeded with thought perior to his other works, but which clusters of consonants. As men are often es no search has yet found.*
letters had chosen, I have but one book,' said
Collins, but that is the best.' * In the " Poetical Calendar,” a collection of
Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I poems by Fawkes and Woty, in several volumes, once delighted to converse, and whom I yet re. 1763, &c.-C.
member with tenderness.
teemed who cannot be loved, so the poetry of His disorder was not alienation of mind, but Collins may sometimes extort praise when it general laxity and feebleness, a deficiency rather gives little pleasure. of his vital than his intellectual powers. What Mr. Collins's first production is added here he spoke wanted neither judgment nor spirit; from the “ Poetical Calendar." but a few minutes exhausted him, so that he was forced to rest upon the couch, till a short
TO MISS AURELIA CR, cessation restored his powers, and he was again able to talk with his former vigour.
ON HER WEEPING AT HER SISTER'S WEDDING. The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon after his uncle's death; and, Cease, fair Aurelia, cease to mourn; with the usual weakness of men so diseased,
Lament not Hannah's happy state;
You may be happy in your turn, eagerly snatched that temporary relief with
And seize the treasure you regret. which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce.
With love united Hymen stands, But his health continnally declined, and he grew And softly whispers to your charms, more and more burdensome to himself,
“ Meet but your lover in my bands, To what I have formerly said of his writings You'll find your sister in his arms."
JOHN DYER, of whom I have no other account painting, and about 1727, printed “ Grongar to give than his own letters, published with Hill” in Lewis's Miscellany. Hughes's correspondence, and the notes added Being, probably, unsatisfied with his own by the editor, have afforded me, was born in proficiency, he, like other painters, travelled to 1700, the second son of Robèrt Dyer, of Aber- Italy; and coming back in 1740, published glasney, in Caermarthenshire, a solicitor of great 66 The Ruins of Rome.” capacity and note.
If his poem was written soon after his return, He passed through Westminster-school under he did not make much use of his acquisitions in the care of Dr. Freind, and was then called painting, whatever they might be : for decline home to be instructed in his father's profession of health and love of study determined him to But his father died soon, and he took no delight the church. He therefore entered into orders; In the study of the law; but, having always and, it seems, married about the same time a amused himself with drawing, resolved to turn lady of the name of Ensor ; “ whose grandmopainter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardson, ther,” says he, "was a Shakspeare descended from an artist then of high reputation, but now bet- a brother of every body's Shakspeare;” by her, ter known by his books than by his pictures. in 1756, he had a son and three daughters living.
Having studied awhile under his master, he His ecclesiastical provision was for a long became, as he tells his friend, an itinerant paint-time but slender. His first patron, Mr. Harer, and wandered about South Wales, and the per, gave him, in 1741, Calthorp, in Leicesterparts adjacent; but he mingled poetry with shire, of eighty pounds a year, on which he lived
ten years, and then exchanged it for Belchford,
in Lincolnshire, of seventy-five. His condition • It is printed in the late Collection.-R. now began to mend. In 1751, Sir John Heathcote gave him Coningsby, of one hundred and
- The pilgrim oft forty pounds a year; and in 1755, the Chancel- At dead of night, 'mid his orison, hears lor added Kirkby, of one hundred and ten.
Aghast the voice of time, disparting towers,
Tumbling all precipitate, down dash'd, complains that the repair of the house at Con
Rattling around, loud thandering to the moon. ingsby, and other expenses, took away the profit. In 1757, he published “ The Fleece,” his Of “ The Fleece,” which never became po greatest poetical work, of which I will not sup- pular, and is now universally neglected, I can press a ludicrous story. Dodsley, the booksel say little that is likely to recall it to attention. ler, was one day mentioning it to a critical visi- The wool-comber and the poet appear to me tor, with more expectation of success than the such discordant natures, that an attempt to other could easily admit. In the conversation bring them together is to couple the serpent with the Author's age was asked, and being repre- the fowl. When Dyer, whose mind was not sented as advanced in life, “ He will,” said the unpoetical, has done bis utmost, by interesting critic, “ be buried in woollen.”,
his reader in our native commodity, by interHe did not indeed long survive that publica- spersing rural imagery, and incidental digrestion, nor long enjoy the increase of his prefer- sions, by clothing small images in great words, ments; for in* 1758 he died.
and by all the writer's arts of delusion, the Dyer is not a poet of bulk or dignity suffi- meanness naturally adhering, and the irrevecient to require an elaborate criticism. 6 Gron- rence babitually annexed to trade and manufacgar Hill” is the happiest of his productions: it ture, sink him under insuperable oppression; is not indeed very accurately written ; but the and the disgust which blank verse, encumbering scenes which it displays are so pleasing, the and encumbered, superadds to an unpleasing images which they raise are so welcome to the subject, soon repels the reader, however willing mind, and the reflections of the writer so con- to be pleased. sonant to the general sense or experience of Let me however honestly report whatever mankind, that when it is once read, it will be may counterbalance this weight of censure. I read again.
have been told, that Akenside, who, upon a The idea of “ The Ruins of Rome" strikes poetical question, has a right to be heard, said, more, but pleases less, and the title raises " That he would regulate his opinion of the greater expectation than the performance gra- reigning taste by the fate of Dyer's · Fleece;' tifies. Some passages, however, are conceived for, if that were ill-received, he should not with the mind of a poet; as when, in the think it any longer reasonable to expect fame neighbourhood of dilapidating edifices, he says, from excellence."
WILLIAM SHENSTONE, the son of Thomas Shen- the family went to market, a new book should stone and Anne Pen, was born in November, be brought him, which, when it came, was in 1714, at the Leasowes in Hales-Owen, one of fondness carried to bed and laid by him. It is those insulated districts which, in the division said, that when his request had been neglected, of the kingdom, was appended, for some reason his mother wrapt up a piece of wood of the not now discoverable, to a distant county; and same form, and pacified him for the night. which, though surrounded by Warwicksbire As he grew older, he went for a while to the and Worcestershire, belongs to Shropshire, Grammar-school, in Hales-Owen, and was though perhaps thirty miles distant from any placed afterwards with Mr. Crumpton, an other part of it.
eminent schoolmaster at Solihul, where he dis, He learned to read of an old dame, whom his tinguished bimself by the quickness of his poem of “ The School- Mistress” has delivered progress. to posterity; and soon received such delight When he was young (June, 1724) he was defrom books, that he was always calling for fresh prived of his father, and soon after (August, entertainment, and expected that, when any of 1726) of his grandfather, and was, with his
brother, who died afterwards unmarried, left
to the care of his grandmother, who managed * July 24th.-C.