It has been fashionable of late to imitate Spenser, but the likeness of most of these copies, bath consisted rather in using a few of his ancient expreffions, than in catching his real manner. Some however have been executed with happiness, and with attention to that fimplicity, that tenderness of sentiment, and those little touches of nature, that constitute Spenser's character. I have a peculiar pleasure in mentioning two of them *, The SCHOOL-MISTRESS, by Mr. Shenstone, and the EDUCATION of ACHILLES, by Mr. Bedingfield +. To these must be added that exquisite piece of wild and romantic imagery, Thomson's Castle of Indolence; the first canto of which in particular, is marvelloully pleasing, and the stanzas have a greater flow and freedom than his blank-verse.

• Doddley's Miscellanics, Vol. I. pag. 247, and Vol. IV. pag. 119.

And also Dr. Beatsie's charming Minfrel.



POPE * has imitated WALLER in the third place, and has done it with elegance, especially in the verses on a fan of his own design, for he designed with dexterity and taste. The application of the story of Cephalus and Procris is as ingenious as Waller's Phoebus and Daphne, Waller abounds, perhaps to excess, in allusions to mythology and the ancient classics. The French, as may be imagined, complain that he is too learned for the ladies. The following twelve lines contain three allusions, delicate indeed, but some may

deem them to be too far-fetched, too much crouded, and not obvious to the Lady to whom they were addressed, on her singing a song of his composing

Chloris, yourself you so excell,


vouchsafe to breathe my thought,
That like a spirit with this spell
Of my own teaching I am caught.

• Speaking of his imitations, Pope said to Mr. Spence, " I had once a design of giving a taste of all the Greek poets ; I would have trandated a hymn of Homer, an odo of Pindar, an idylliam of Theocritus, &c. fo that I would have exhibited a general view of their poesie, throughout its different ages."


That eagle's fate and mine are one,
Which on the haft that made him die,
Elpy'd a feather of his own
Wherewith he wont to foar so high.
Had Echo with so sweet a grace,
Narcissus' loud complaints return'd,
Not for reflexion of bis face,
But of his voice, the boy had burn'd.

Here * is matter enough compresied together for Voiture to have spun out into fifty lines. If I was to name my favourite among Waller's smaller pieces, it should be his apology for having loved before. He begins by saying that “ they who never had been used to the surprising juice of the grape, render


their reason to the firít delicious cup:" this is sufficiently gallant, but what he adds has much of the sublime, and is like a thought of Milton's.


To man that was i' th' evening made,

gave the first delight;
Admiring in the gloomy Ihade,

Those little drops of light.

• Spenser and Waller were Pope's great favourites, as he told Mr. Spence, in the order they are named, in his early reading. D4


Then at Aurora, whose fair band

Remov'd them from the kies,
He gazing tow'rds the Eaft did ftand,

She entertain'd bis eyes.
But when the bright sun did appear,

All those be 'gan despise ;
His wonder was determin'd there,

And could no bigher rise.


Which of the French writers has produced any thing at once fo gallant and so lofty ? The English versification much smoothed by Waller ; who used to own that he derived the harmony of his numbers from Fairfax's Talso, who well- . vowelled his lines, though Sandys was a: melodious versifier, and Spenser has pers haps more variety of music than either of them *. A

poet who addresses his pieces to living characters, and confines himself to the subjects and anecdotes of his own times, like this courtly author, bids fairer to become popular, than he that is em

• “ Even little poems, said Pope, Thould be written by a plan. This method is evident in Tibullus, and Ovid's clegies, and almost all the pieces of the ancients. A poem on a night subje&t requires the greater care to make it conliderable enough to be read."

ployed ployed in the higher scenes of poetry and fiction, which are more remote from common manners.


be remarked lastly of Waller, that there is no passion in his love verses, and that one elegy of Tibullus, so well imitated by Hammond, excels a volume of the most refined panegyric.

The next imitation is of Cowley, in two pieces, on a garden, and on weeping, in which Pope has properly enough, in conformity to his original, extorted some moral, or darted forth fome witticism on every object he mentions: It is not enough to say that the laurels sheltered the fountain from the heat of the day, but this idca must be accompanied with a conceit.


Daphne, now a tree, as once a maid,
Still from Apollo vindicates her Thade.

The flowers that grow on the water-side could not be sufficiently described without saying, that

The pale Narcissus on the bank, in vain,
Transformed, gazes on himself again.

« VorigeDoorgaan »