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him to establish a weekly paper. This benefit was not conferred on an ingrate. Cunningham had always been of a melancholy turn, occasionally bordering on despondency; and early in 1773 he was attacked by a nervous disorder, which made hinh incapable of any exertion. Mr. Slack immediately removed him to his house, and omitted nothing that could sooth the mind and recover the health of his friend. Though his kindness doubtless alleviated the sufferings of disease, it failed to accomplish its principal object. After having lingered for some months, Cunningham died on the eighteenth of September, 1773. He was buried in the churchyard of St. John's, Newcastle; and a monument was erected to his memory by Mr. Slack. He left behind him nothing that had not been published; he having a short time before his death committed to the flames the whole of his manuscript pieces.
The style of Cunningham is characterised by ease and simplicity; it has no ostentatious ornament, nor, on the other hand, does it sink into meanness. The only fault that can be objected to it is, that it is now and then deformed by careless lines, and by familiar elisions, which, though inelegant, may pass unnoticed in conversation, but are offensive in writing. His subjects are such as are level to every understanding, and calculated to please the majority of readers. Never soaring into the higher regions of poetry, he pursues in the lower a tolerably equable flight. He tries all the minor species of composition, is successful in several of them, and contemptible in
Even in the humble department of prologues and epilogues, in which so much nonsense and insipidity have been poured forth, he contrives to avoid vulgarity and silliness, and to be gay and amusing. It is, perhaps, not worth notice, except as a proof how well he could succeed in trifles, that he has rendered an acrostic not unbearable,
Had he, however, never written anything more than prologues and acrostics, bis name might have remained unknown. It is to his songs and pastorals, and some of his miscellaneous pieces, but principally to the former, that he is indebted for his fame. His songs are, as songs ought to be, graceful, sprightly, and free from affectation in their language. In this kind of poem he was once considered as being eminent, and though he has since been excelled, he still ranks among the popular lyrical writers. To the cultivation of bis talent for pastoral poetry he was advised by Shenstone, with whom he corresponded, and the advice was judiciously given. There is more of nature, and less of hackneyed imagery, in the pastorals of Cunningham than in those of many other poets. In the delineating of rural scenery, as in the poems of • Day' and 'The Landscape,' be is exceedingly happy. He selects objects which give pleasure to every observer, and which every one has observed, and he sketches them with a graphic correctness and spirit. The fallen oak converted into a a bridge across the rivulet, the swallow glancing through the one-arched bridge and dipping its wings into the water, the pool with overhanging rocks and trees, the shepherd diuing in the shade by the brook, and many similar pictures, afford sufficient evidence of descriptive skill. It is said, but I know not with what degree of correctness, that his best pastorals were written after he had made a moderate sacrifice to Bacchus.'
The miscellaneous verses of Cunningham are generally neat and ingenious, and at times enlivened by wit; but to write a regular criticism on them would be no less absurd than to break a butterfly upon the wheel.
FERGUSSON'S ÉLEGY TO HIS MEMORY.
Ye mournful meanders and groves,
Delight of the Muse and her song! Ye grottoes and dripping alcoves,
No strangers to Corydon's tongue;
Let each Sylvan and Dryad declare
His themes and his music how dear, Their plaints and their dirges prepare,
Attendant on Corydon's bier.
The reed of each shepherd will mourn,
The shades of Parnassus decay; The Muses will dry their sad urn,
Since reft of young Corydon's lay.
"To him every passion was known,
That throbb’d in the breast with desire; Each gentle affection was shown
In the soft sighing songs of his lyre.
Like the caroling thrush on the spray
In music soft warbling and wild, To love was devoted each lay,
In accents pathetic and mild.
To the cheerful he usher'd his smiles,
To the woful his sigh and his tear; A condoler with want and her toils,
When the voice of oppression was near.
Let the favour'd of Fortune attend
To the ails of the wretched and poor; Though Corydon's lays could befriend,
"Tis riches alone that can cure.
A NIGHT PIECE.
The queen of Contemplation, Night,
, Begins her balmy reign; Advancing in their varied light
Her silver-vested train. 'Tis strange, the many-marshal'd stars,
That ride yon sacred round,
A silence so profound!
The cool creation wears !
The gentle Night repairs.
The feather'd race how still! How quiet now the gamesome kid
That gambold round the hill! The sweets that, bending o'er their banks,
From sultry day declined; Revive in little velvet ranks,
And scent the western wind.