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In 1741, he was chosen into parliament for Truro in Cornwall, probably one of those who were elected by the Prince's influence; and died next year in June at Stowe, the famous seat of the Lord Cobham. His mistress long outlived him, and in 1779 died amarried. The character which her lover bequeathed her was, indeed, not likely to attract courtship.

The Elegies were published after his death; and while the writer's name was remembered with fondness, they were read with a resolution to admire them. The recommendatory preface of the editor, who was then believed, and is now affirmed by Dr. Maty, to be the earl of Chesterfield, raised strong prejudices in their favour.

But of the prefacer, whoever he was, it may be reasonably suspected that he never read the poems ; for he professes to value them for a very high species of excellence, and recommends them as the genuine effusions of the mind, which expresses a real passion in the language of nature. But the truth is, these elegies have neither passion, nature, nor manners.' Where there is fiction, there is no passion; he that describes himself as a shepherd, ind bis Neæra or Delia, as a shepherdess, and talks of goats and lambs, feels no passion. He that courts his mistress with Roman imagery deserves to lose her; for she may with good reason suspect his sincerity. Hammond has few sentiments drawn froin nature, and few images froin modern life. He produces nothing but frigid pedantry. It would be hard to find in all his productions three stanzas that deserve to be remembered.

Like other lovers, he threatens the lady with dying ; and what then shall follow?

Wilt thou in tears thy lover's corse attend;

With eyes averted light the solemn pyre,
Till all around the doleful flames ascend,

Then, slowly sinking, by degrees expire?
To sooth the hovering soul be thine the care,

With plaintive cries to lead the mournful band,
In sable weeds the golden vase to bear,

And cull my ashes with thy trembling hand:
Panchaia's odours be their costly feast,

And all the pride of Asia's fragrant year,
Give them the treasures of the farthest East,

And, what is still more precious, give thy tear. Surely no blame can fall upon a nymph who rejected a swain of so little meaning

His verses are not rugged, but they have no sweetness ; they never glide in a stream of melody. Why Hammond or other writers have thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac, it is difficult to tell. The character of the Elegy is gentleness and tenuity ; but this stanza has been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge of English metre was not inconsiderable; to be the most magnificent of all the measures which our language affords.

SOMERVILE.

SOM ER V I L E.

OF

F Mr. SOMERVILE's life I am not able to say any thing that can

satisfy curiosity. He was a gentleman whose estate was in Warwickshire ; his house, where he was born in 1692, is called Edston, a seat inherited from a long line of ancestors ; for he was said to be of the first family in his county. He rells of himself, that he was born near the Avon's banks. He was bred at Wirchester-school, and was elected fellow of New College. It does not appear that in the places of his education, he exhibited any uncommon prcofs of genius or literature. His powers were first displayed in the country, where he was distinguished as a poet, a gentleman, and a skilful and useful justice of the Peace.

Of the close of his life, those whom his poems have delighted will reai with pain the following account, copied from the Letters of his friend Shenstone, by whom he was too inuch resembled,

“ - Our old friend Somervile is dead! I did not imagine I could have « been so sorry as I find myself on this occasion.-Sublatum quærimus. I can

now excuse all his foibles ; impute them to age, and to distress of circumstances ; the last of these considerations wrings my very soul to think

For a man of high spirit, conscious of having (at least in one pro" duction) generally pleased the world, to be plagued and threatened by

wretches that are low in every sense ; to be forced to drink hiinself into “ pains of the body, in order to get rid of the pains of the mind, is a mi" sery.”-He died July 16, 1742, and was buried at Wotton, near Henley on Arden. His distresses need not be much pitied: his estate is said to be fifteen hun

year, which by his death has devolved to lord Somervile of Scotland. His mother indeed, who lived till ninety, had a jointure of six hundred.

It is with regret that I find myself not better enabled to exhibit memorials of a writer, who at least must be allowed to have set a good example to men of his own class, by devoting part of his time to elegant knowledge; and who has shew'n, by the subjects which his poetry has adorned, that it is practicable to be at once a skiisui sportsunan and a man of letters.

Somervile

on.

Somervile has tried many modes of poetry; and thoughi perhaps he has not in any reached such excellence as to raise much envy, it may commonly be said at least that “ he writes very well for a gentleman.” His serious pieces are sometimes elevated, and his trifles are sometimes elegant. In his verses to Addison, the couplet which inentions Clio is written with the most exquisite delicacy of praise; it exhibits one of those happy strokes that are seldom attained. In his odes to Marlborough there are beautiful lines; but in the second ode he shews that he knew little of his hero, when he talks of his private virtues. His subjects are commonly such as require no great depth of thought or energy of expression. His Fables are generally stale, and therefore excite no curiosity. Of his favourite, The Two Springs, the fiction is unnatural, and the moral inconsequential. In his Tales there is too much coarseness, with two little care of language, and not sufficient rapidity of narration.

His great work is his Chace, which he undertook in his maturer age, when his ear was improved to the approbation of blank verse, of which however his two first lines give a bad specimen. To this poem praise can. not be totally denied. He is allowed by sportsmen to write with great in: telligence of his subject, which is the first requisite to excellence; and though it is impossible to interest the common readers of verse in the dangers or pleasures of the chace, he has done all that transition and variety could easily effect; and has with great propriety enlarged bis plan by the modes of hunting used in other countries.

With still less judgement did he chuse blank verse as the vehicle of Rural Sports. If blank verse be not tumid and gorgeous, it is crippled prose; and familiar images in laboured language have nothing to recommend them but absurd novelty; which wanting the attractions of Nature, cannot please long. One excellence of the Splendid Shilling is, that it is short. Disguise can gratify no longer than it deceives.

Vol. I.

SAVAGE

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I
T has been observed in all ages, that the advantages of nature or of for-

tune have contributed very little to the promotion of happiness; and that those whom the splendour of their rank, or the extent of their capacity, have placed upon the summit of human life, have not often given any just occasion to envy in those who look up to them from a lower station: whether it be that apparent superiority incites great designs, and great designs are naturally liable to fatal miscarriages; or that the general lot of mankind is misery, and the misfortunes of those, whose eminence drew upon them an universal attention, have been more carefully recorded, because they were more generally observed, and have in reality been only more conspicuous than those of others, not more frequent, or more severe.

That affluence and power, advantages extrinsick and adventitious, and therefore easily separable from those by whom they are possessed, should veTy often flatter the mind with expectations of felicity which they cannot give, Taises no astonishment; but it seems rational to hope, that intellectual greatness should produce better effects; that minds qualified for great' attainments should first endeavour their own benefit; and that they, who are most able to teach others the way to happiness, should with most certainty follow it themselves.

But this expectation, however plausible, has been very frequently.disappointed. The heroes of literary as well as civil history have been very often no less remarkable for what they have suffered, than for what they have atchieved; and volumes have been written only to enumerate the miseries of the learned, and relate their unhappy lives, and untimely deaths.

To these mournful narratives, I am about to add the Life of Richard Savage, a man whose writings entitle him to an eminent rank in the classes of learning, and whose misfortunes claim a degree of compassion, not always due to the unhappy, as they were often the consequences of the crimes of others, rather than his own.

In the year 1697, Anne Countess of Macclesfield, having lived some time upon very uneasy terms with her husband, thought a public confession of

adultery

1

adultery the most obvious and expeditious method of obtaining her liberty ; and therefore declared, that the child, with which she was then great, was begotten by the Earl Rivers. This, as may be imagined, made her husband no less desirous of a separation than herselt, and he prosecuted his design in the most effectual manner ; for he applied not to the ecclesiastical courts for a divorce, but to the parliament for an act, by which his marriage might be dissolved, the nuptial contract annulled, and the children of his wife illegitimated. This act, after the usual deliberation, he obtained, though without the approbation of some, who considered marriage as an affair only cognizable by ecclesiastical judges * ; and on March 3d was separated from his wife, whose fortune, which was very great, was repaid her, and who having, as well as her husband, the liberty of making another choice, was in a short time married to Colonel Brett.

While the earl of Macclesfield was prosecuting this affair, his wife was, on the 10th of January 1697-8, delivered of a son; and the Earl Rivers, by appearing to consider him as his own, left none any reason to doubt of the sincerity of her declaration; for he was his god-father, and gave him his own name, 'which was by his direction inserted in the register of St. Andrew's parish in Holborn, but unfortunately left bim to the care of his mother, whom as she was now set free from her husband, he probably imagined likely to treat with great tenderness the child that had contributed to so pleasing an event. It is not indeed easy to discover what motives could be found to over-balance that natural affection of a parent, or what interest could be promoted by neglect or cruelty. The dread of shame or of poverty, by which some wretches have been incited to abandon or to murder their children, cannot be supposed to have affected a woman who had proclaimed her crimes and solicited reproach, and on whom the clemency of the legislature had undeservedly bestowed a fortune, which would have been very little diminished by the expences which the care of her child could have brought upon her. It was therefore not likely that she would be wicked without temptation ; that she would look upon her son from his birth with a kind of resentment and abhorrence; and, instead of supporting, assisting, and defending him, delight to see him struggling with misery, or that she would take every opportunity of aggravating his misfortunes, and obstructing his resources, and with an implacable and restless cruelty continuc her persecution from the first hour of his life to the last.

* This year was made remarkable by the dissolution of a marriage solemnized in the face of the church. SALMON'; Revizw. The following protest is registered in the books of the House of Lords.

Diesentient. Because that 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

Roch ASTER

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