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In the lines on a lady weeping, you might expect a touching pi&ture of beauty in distress; you will be disappointed. Wit on the present occasion is to be preferred to tenderness; the babe in her eye is said to resemble Phaeton so much,
That heav'n the threat'ned world to spart,
Let not this strained affectation of striving to be witty upon all occasions, be thought exaggerated, or a caricatura of Cowley. It is painful to censure a writer of fo amiable a mind, such integrity of manners, and such a sweetness of temper. His fancy was brilliant, strong, and sprightly; but bis taste false and unclassical, even though he had much learning. In his latin compositions, his fix books on plants, where the subject might have led him to a contrary practice, he imitates Martial rather than Virgil, and has given us morc Epigrams than Descriptions. I do not re
member to have seen it enough observed,
Ergo iterum versus ? dices. O Vane! quid ergo
Insanire iterum jubet, et fibi vendicat ægrum. There is another epistle also, well worthy perusal, to his friend Mat, Clifford *, at the end of the same volume. Popet, in
Vol. VI. p. 37
• Settle was allifted in writing the Anti-Achitophel by Clifford, and others the best wits of that vide, who combined against Dryden.
4 Another line likewise of Pope exactly characterises him.
The perfrue Cowley's moral lay. His general preface; his discourse concerning Cromwell; his essays on liberty, on obscurity, on agriculture, on greatness, and on himself, are full of pleasing and virtuous featiments, expressed without any affectation, so that he appears to be one of the best prose writers of his time.
one of his imitations of Horace, has exhibited the real character of Cowley, with delicacy and candour.
Who now reads Cowley i if he pleases yet,
His prose works give us the most amiable idea both of his abilities and his heart, His Pindaric odes cannot be perused with common patience by a lover of antiquity: He that would see Pindar's manner trulğ imitated, may read Masters's noble and pathetic ode on the Crucifixion ; and he that wants to be convinced that these reflections on Cowley are not too severe, may read also his epigrammatic version of it.
Doft thou not see thy prince in purple clad all o'er,
Open, oh ! open wide the fountains of thine eyes,
And let them call
For this will alk it all.
Compare Cowley's ode on presenting his book to the Bodleian library, with one of Milton on the same subject, Ad Johannem Roufciom, 1646, written in the true spirit of the ancient Lyrics, and an excellent imitation of Pindar. One allofion to Euripides of whom Milton is known to have been so fond, I cannot omit.
Æternorum operum caftos fidelis,
Ion Adca genitus Creasa.
At Oltımı Nepotes,
Cowley being early disgusted with the perplexities and vanities of a court life, had a strong desire to enjoy the milder pleasures of solitude and retirement; he therefore escaped from the tumults of London, to a little house at Wandsworth; but finding that place too near the metropolis, he left it for Richmond, and at last settled at Chertsey. He seems to have thought that the swains of Surry had the innocence of those of Sydney's Arcadia ; but the perverseness and debauchery of his own workmen foon undeceived him, with whom, it is said, he was sometimes so far provoked, as even to be betrayed into an oath. His income was about threc hundred pounds a year. Towards the latter part of his life, he shewed an aversion to the company of women, and would often leave the room if any happened to enter it whilst he was present, but still he retained a fincere affection for Leonora. His death was occafioned by a singular accident *
• There is something remarkable in the circumftances that occafioned the deaths of three others of our poets.