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The mere ftru&ture of verfes feems never to have engaged much of his care. But his lines are very smooth in Rofamond, and too fmooth in Cato.

'Addison is now to be confidered as a Critic; a name which the prefent generation is fcarcely willing to allow him. His criticism is condemned as tentative or experimental, rather than fcientific, and he is considered as deciding by taste rather than by principles.

'It is not uncommon for those who have grown wife by the labour of others to add a little of their own, and overlook their masters. Addifon is now defpiled by fome, who perhaps would never have seen bis defects but by the lights which he afforded them. That he always wrote as he would think it neceffary to write now, cannot be affirmed; hs inftructions were fuch as the character of his readers made proper. That general knowledge which now circulates in common talk was in his time rarely to be found. Men not profeffing learning were not ashamed of ignorance; and in the female world any acquaintance with books was diftinguished only to be cenfured. His purpose was to infufe literary curiofity, by gentle and unfufpected conveyance, into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy; he therefore presented knowledge in the most alluring form, not lofty and auftere, but acceffible and familiar. When he thewed them their defects, he fhewed them likewife that they might be easily fupplied. His attempt fucceeded; enquiry was awakened, and comprehenfion expanded, An emulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from his time to our own life has been gradually exalted, and conversation purified and enlarged.

Dryden had, not many years before, fcattered criticism over his Prefaces with very little parfimony; but, though he fometimes condefcended to be fomewhat familiar, his manner was in general too fcholaftic for those who had yet their rudiments to learn, and found it not easy to understand their mafter. His obfervations were framed rather for thofe that were learning to write, than for thofe that read .only to talk.

An instructor like Addifon was now wanting, whofe remarks being fuperficial, might be easily understood, and being juft, might prepare the mind for more attainments. Had he prefented Paradife Loft to the public with all the pomp of fyftem and severity of science, he would perhaps have been admired, and the book ftill have been neglected; but by the blandifhments of gentleness and facility, he has made Milton an univerfal favourite, with whom readers of every clafs think it neceffary to be pleased.

He defcended now and then to lower difquifitions, and by a ferious difplay of the beauties of Chevy Chase expofed himself to the ridicule of Wagstaff, who bellowed a like pompous character on Tom Thumb; and to the contempt of Dennis, who confidering the fundamental pofition of his criticifm, that Chevy Chafe pleafes, and ought to pleafe, because it is natural, obferves," that there is a way of deviating from nature by bombaft or tumour, which foars above nature, and enlarges images beyond their real bulk; by affectation, which forfakes nature in queft of fomething unfuitable; and by im. becility, which degrades nature by faintnefs and diminution, by obfcuring images, and weakening effects. In Chevy Chace there is not H 4 much


much of either bombaft or affectation; but there is chill and lifeless imbecility. The flory cannot poffibly be told in a manner that shall make lefs impreffion on the mind."

Before the profound obfervers of the prefent race repofe too fecurely on the confcioufnefs of their fuperiority to Addifon, let them confider bis Remarks on Ovid. in which may be found fpecimens of criticism fufficiently fubtle and refined; let them perufe likewife his Effays on Wit, and on the Pleasures of Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from difpofitions inherent in the mind of man, with skill and elegance, fuch as his contemners will not easily attain.

'As a describer of life and manners, he must be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which, as Steele obferves, is peculiar to himself, is fo happily diffufed, as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. He never outfeps the modesty of nature, nor raifes merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with fo much fidelity, that he can be hardly faid to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air fo much original, that it is difficult to fuppofe them not merely the product of imagination.

As a teacher of wisdom he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthufiaftic or fuperftitious: he appears neither weakly credulous nor wantonly fceptical; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real intereft, the care of pleafing the Author of his being. Truth is fhewn fometimes as the phantom of a vifion, fometimes appears half veiled in an allegory; fometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy, and fometimes fteps forth in the confidence of reafon. She wears a thoufand dreffes, and in all is pleafing.

Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet.

His profe is the model of the middle file; on grave fubjects not formal, on light occafions not grovelling; pure without fcrupulofity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always cafy, without glowing words or pointed fentences. Addison never deviates from his track to fnatch a grace; he feeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected fplendor.

It feems to have been his principal endeavour to avoid all harfhnefs and feverity of diction; he is therefore fometimes verbofe in his tranfitions and connections, and fometimes defcends too much to the language of converfation; yet if his language had been lefs idiomatical, it might have loft fomewhat of its genuine Anglicifm. What he attempted, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetic; he is never rapid, and he never ftagnates. His fentences have neither ftudied amplitude, nor affected brevity: his periods, though not diligently rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English tile, familiar but not coarfe, and elegant but not oftentatious, mult give his days and nights to the volumes of Addifon.'


Those who know nothing of Blackmore's poetical accomplishments but what is to be collected from the ludicrous reprefentations of cotemporary wits, will wonder how he obtained his prefent exalted station among the English poets. But if the opinion of Dr. Johnson, the refcuer of his fame, may be trufted to, that wonder will ceafe.

In the former part of his life Blackmore was a physician of high eminence and extenfive practice, and therefore was made a poet not by neceffity, but inclination. He does not appear to have been known as a maker of verfes till he was seven or eight and forty. His firft publication was Prince Arthur, an heroic poem in ten books. This work must have been very generally read, as it ran through three editions in two years; 6 a very uncommon inftance of favourable reception, it is remarked, at a time when literary curiofity was yet confined to particular claffes of the nation.' In two years afterwards, he fabricated another heroic poem, under the title of King Arthur, in twelve books. Befides thefe, and other poems of confiderable length, he produced two more heroic poems, in which he attempted to immortalize Queen Elizabeth and King Alfred. Of his four epic poems,' we are told, that the firft had fuch reputation and popularity as enraged the critics; the fecond was at least known enough to be ridiculed; the two laft had neither friends nor enemies.'


he was

His labours were not folely confined to poetry; equally voluminous in phyfic and theology. As a writer, whatever other praise might be denied him, he certainly was entitled to that of great diligence, or wonderful facility.

The poem that has gained him admittance into this Collection, is Creation; which, if he had written nothing elfe, would, in the opinion of his Biographer, have tranfmitted him to pofterity among the firft favourites of the English Mufe. What its particular merits are, we are told in the courfe of Sir Richard's poetical character, which, if not justly, is at least very ingeniously drawn.

Blackmore, by the unremitted enmity of the wits, whom he provoked more by his virtue than his dulnefs, has been expofed to worfe treatment than he deferved; his name was fo long used to point every epigram upon dull writers, that it became at laft a byeword of contempt: but it deferves obfervation, that malignity takes hold only of his writings, and that his life paffed without reproach, even when his boldness of reprehenfion naturally turned upon him many eyes defirous to efpy faults, which many tongues would have made hafle to publifh. But thofe who could not blame, could at least forbear to praife; and therefore of his private life and domeftic character there are no memorials.


As an Author he may justly claim the honours of magnanimity. The inceffant attacks of his enemies, whether ferious or merry, are

never difcovered to have difturbed his quiet, or to have leffened his confidence in himself; they neither awed him to filence nor to caution; they neither provoked him to petulance, nor depreffed him to complaint. While the diftributors of literary fame were endeavouring to depreciate and degrade him, he either defpifed or defied them, wrote on as he had written before, and never turned afide to quiet them by civility, or reprefs them by confutation.

He depended with great fecurity on his own powers, and perhaps was for that reafon lefs diligent in perufing books. His literature, was, I think, but finall. What he knew of antiquity, I fufpect him to have gathered from modern compilers; but though he could not boat of much critical knowledge, his mind was ftored with general principles, and he left minute researches to those whom he confidered as little minds.

• With this difpofition he wrote most of his poems. Having formed a magnificent defign, he was careless of particular and fubordinate elegancies; he studied no niceties of verification; he waited for no felicities of fancy; but caught his first thoughts in the first words in which they were prefented: nor does it appear that he faw beyond his own performances, or had ever elevated his views to that ideal perfection, which every genius born to excel is condemned always to purfue, and never overtake. In the first fuggeftions of his imagination he acquiefced; he thought them good, and did not feek for better.

The poem on Creation has, however, the appearance of more circumspection; it wants neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor elegance of diction: it has either been written with great care, or, what cannot be imagined of fo long a work, with fuch felicity as made care leís neceffary.

Its two conftituent parts are ratiocination and defcription. To reason in verse is allowed to be difficult; but Blackmore not only reafons in verfe, but very often reafons poetically; and finds the art of uniting ornament with ftrength, and cafe with clofenefs. This is a kill which Pope might have condefcended to learn from him, when he needed it fo much in his Moral Effays.

In his defcriptions, both of life and nature, the poet and the philofopher happily co-operate; truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance fulained by truth.

in the structure and order of the poem, not only the greater parts are properly confecutive, but the didactic and illuftrative paragraphs are fo happily mingled, that labour is relieved by pleafure, and the attention is led on through a long fucceffion of varied excellence to the original pofition, the fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.'

The most remarkable circumftance in the life of Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, is, that at an age not exceeding twelve years he refolved to educate himself. Such a purpose, formed at fuch an age, and fuccefstully profecuted, delights as it is ftrange,. and inftructs as it is real. And his biographer adds, his literary acquifitions are more wonderful, as the years in which


they are commonly made were spent in the tumult of a military life, or the gaiety of a court.'

As a poet he might have been excluded from this Collection without much injury to his claims. He is a writer, fays Dr. Johnfon (and we agree with him) that fometimes glimmers, but rarely fhines, feebly laborious, and at best but pretty. His fongs are upon common topics; he hopes, and grieves, and repents, and defpairs, and rejoices, like any other maker of little tanzas to be great he hardly tries; to be gay is hardly in his power.'

As little does the noble author who comes next to him feem to merit his prefent elevation.

'Granville was a man illustrious by his birth, and therefore attracted notice: fince he is by Pope ftiled the polite, he must be fuppoled elegant in his manners, and generally loved: he was, in times of contest and turbulence, ileady to his party, and obtained that esteem which is always conferred upon firmuefs and confiftency. With those advantages, having learned the art of verfifying, he declared himself a poet; and his claim to the laurel was allowed.

But by a critic of a later generation, who takes up his book without any favourable prejudices, the praife already received will be thought fufficient; for his works do not fhew him to have had much comprehenfion from nature, or illumination from learning. He feems to have had no ambition above the imitation of Waller, of whom he has copied the faults, and very little more. He is for ever amufing himself with the puerilities of mythology; his King is Jupiter, who, if the Queen brings no children, has a barren Juno. The Queen is compounded of Juno, Venus, and Minerva. His poem on the Duchefs of Grafton's law-fuit, after having rattled awhile with Juno and Pallas, Mars and Alcides, Caffiope, Niobe, and the Propetides, Hercules, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, at lalt concludes its folly with profanenefs.

His verfes to Mira, which are most frequently mentioned, have little in them of either art or nature, of the fentiments of a lover, or the language of a poet: there may be found, now-and then, a happier effort; but they are commonly feeble and unaffecting, or forced and extravagant.

His little pieces are feldom either fpritely or elegant, keen or weighty. They are trifles, written by idleness, and published by vanity. But his Prologues and Epilogues have a juft claim to praise." The Progress of Beauty feems one of his mot elaborate pieces, and is not deficient in fplendor and gaiety; but the merit of original thought is wanting. Its highest praife is the fpirit with which he celebrates King James's confort, when he was a Queen no longer.

The Eay on unnatural Flights in Poetry, is not inelegant nor injudicious, and has fomething of vigour beyond most of his other performances: his precepts are just, and his cautions proper; they are indeed not new, but in a didactic poem novelty is to be expected only in the ornaments and illuftrations. His poetical precepts are accom

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