« EdellinenJatka »
the first delicious cup." This is fufficiently gallant; but what he
adds has much of the fublime, and is like a thought of Milton's:
"To man that was i' th' evening made,
But when the bright Sun did appear,
His wonder was determin'd there,
The English verfification was much smoothed by Waller; who used to own, that he derived the harmony of his numbers from Fairfax's Taffo, who well-vowelled his lines, though Sandys was a melodious verfifier, and Spenfer has perhaps more variety of mufic than either of them. A poet who addreffes 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 employed in higher fcenes of poetry and fiction, which are more remote from common manners. It may be remarked laftly of Waller, that there is no paffion in his love-verses; and that one elegy of Tibullus, fo well imitated by Hammond, and so unjustly cenfured by Johnfon, excels a volume of the most refined panegyric. It is remarkable that Waller never mentions Milton, whose Comus, and smaller poems, preceded his own; but were unfuitable to the French tafte, on which Waller was formed.
WALL E R.
ON A LADY SINGING TO HER LUTE.
This vocal wood had drawn the Poet too.
On a FAN of the Author's defign, in which was painted the ftory of CEPHALUS and PROCRIS, with the Motto, AURA VENI.
COME, gentle Air! th' Æolian shepherd said,
And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
IN the following love-verfes is a ftrain of fenfibility which the reader will be pleased, I suppose, to fee, being now first published from a manuscript of Mr. Gray:
"With beauty, with pleasure, furrounded, to languish,
To weep without knowing the cause of my anguish;
IN the imitation of Cowley, in two pieces, on a Garden, and on Weeping, Pope has properly enough, in conformity to his original, extorted fome moral, or darted forth fome witticifm on every object he mentions. It is not enough to fay, that the laurels fheltered the fountain from the heat of the day; but this idea muft be accompanied with a conceit :
Daphne, now a tree, as once a maid,
The flowers that grow on the water-fide could not be fufficiently defcribed without faying, that
"The pale Narciffus on the bank, in vain
Transformed, gazes on himself again."
In the lines on a Lady Weeping, you might expect a touching picture of beauty in distress; you will be disappointed. Wit, ont the prefent occafion, is to be preferred to tendernefs; the babe in her eye is faid to resemble Phaeton fo much,
"That heav'n the threat'ned world to fpare,
Let not this ftrained affectation of ftriving to be witty upon all occafions be thought exaggerated, or a caricature of Cowley. It is painful to cenfure a writer of so amiable a mind, such integrity of manners, and such a sweetness of temper. His fancy was brilliant, ftrong, and fprightly; but his tafte falfe and unclaffical, even though he had much learning. In his Latin compofitions, 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 more epigrams than defcriptions. I do not remember to
have seen it enough observed, that Cowley had a moft happy talent of imitating the easy manner of Horace's epiftolary writings; I muft therefore insert a specimen of this his excellence:
Ergo iterum verfus? dices. O Vane! quid ergo
Magna reluctantem, et nequicquam in vincla minacem.
Purgatus morbi ; fed Luna potentior herbis
There is another epistle also, well worthy perufal, to his friend, Mat. Clifford, at the end of the same volume. Pope, in one of his imitations of Horace, has exhibited the real character of Cowley with delicacy and candour:
"Who now reads Cowley? If he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
But ftill I love the language of his heart."
His profe 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 fee Pindar's manner truly 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 fevere, may read also his epigrammatic version of it :
"Doft thou not fee thy prince in purple clad all o'er,
But made at home with richer gore?"
66 AVOLY άVOLYE
Και πηγας βλεφαρων
Λυσας, ψεκαζε, δευε γαίαν.”