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So many spots, like næves on Venus' soil,
Like rose-buds, stuck i’the lily-skin about.
The tongue may fail; but overflowing eyes
But thou, O virgin-widow, left alone,
gone, Whose skilful sire in vain strove to apply Medcines, when thy balm was no remedy ; With greater than Platonic love, O wed His soul, though not his body, to thy bed : Let that make thee a mother; bring thou forth The ideas of his virtue, knowledge, worth; Transcribe the original in new copies ; give Hastings o'the better part; so shall he live In's nobler half; and the great grandsire be Of an heroic divine progeny: An issue which to eternity shall last, Yet but the irradiations which he cast. Erect no mausoleums; for his best Monument is his spouse's marble breast.
THE MEMORY OF MR OLDHAM.
John Oldham, who, from the keenness of his satirical poetry, justly acquired the title of the English Juvenal, was born at Shipton, in Gloucestershire, where his
father was a clergyman, on 9th August, 1653. About 1678, he was an usher in the free school of Croydon ; but having already distinguished himself by several pieces of poetry, and particularly by four severe satirical invectives against the order of Jesuits, then obnoxious on account of the Popish Plot, he quitted that mean situation, to become tutor to the family of Sir Edward Theveland, and afterwards to a son of Sir William Hickes. Shortly after he seems to have resigned all employment except the unthrifty trade of poetry. When Oldham entered
career, he settled of course in the metropolis, where his genius recommended him to the company of the first wits, and to the friendship of Dryden. He did not long enjoy the pleasures of such a life, nor did he live to experience the uncertainties, and disappointments, and reverses, with which, above all others, it abounds. Being seized with the small-pox, while visiting at the seat of his patron, William Earl of Kingston, he died of that disease on the 9th December, 1688, in the 30th year of
His “ Remains," in verse and prose, were soon afterwards published, with elegies and recommendatory verses prefixed by Tate, Flatman, Durfey, Gould, Andrews, and others. But the applause of Dryden, expressed in the following lines, was worth all the tame panegyrics of other contemporary bards. It appears, among the others, in “ Oldham's Remains," London, 1683.
MR OLDH A M.
Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
taught the numbers of thy native tongue. But satire needs not those, and wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line. *
* Dryden's opinion concerning the harshness of Oldham's numbers, was not unanimously subscribed to by contemporary authors. 66 'Tis your
A noble error, and but seldom made,
prime, Still shew'd a quickness; and maturing time But mellows what we write, to the dull sweets of
In the “ Historical Dictionary," 1694, Oldham is termed, “a pithy, sententious, elegant, and smooth writer :" and Winstanley says, that none can read his works without admiration; pithy his strains, so sententious his expression, so elegant his oratory, so swimming his language, so smooth his lines.” Tom Brown goes the length to impute our author's qualification of his praise of Oldham to the malignant spirit of envy: own way, Mr Bayes, as you may remember in your verses upon Mr Oldham, where you tell the world that he was a very fine, ingenious gentleman, but still did not understand the cadence of the English tongue.”-Reasons for Mr Bayes' changing his Religion, Part II. p. 33.
But this only proves, that Tom Brown and Mr Winstanley were deficient in poetical ear; for Oldham's satires, though full of vehemence and impressive expression, are, in diction, not much more harmonious than those of Hall or of Donne. The reader may take the following celebrated passage on the life of a nobleman s chaplain, as illustrating both the merits and defects of his poetry :
Some think themselves exalted to the sky