« EdellinenJatka »
WALL E R.
POPE has imitated Waller with elegance, efpecially in the verfes on a Fan of his own defign; for he defigned with dexterity and taste.
The application of the story of Cephalus and Procris is as ingenious as Waller's Phœbus and Daphne. Waller abounds, perhaps to excefs, in allufions to mythology and the ancient claffics. The French, as may be imagined, complain that he is too learned for the ladies. The following twelve lines contain three allufions, delicate indeed; but fome may deem them to be too far-fetched, too much crouded, and not obvious to the lady to whom they were addreffed, on her finging a fong of his compofing:
Chloris, yourself you fo excell,
When you vouchsafe to breathe my thought,
But of his voice, the boy had burn'd."
Here is matter enough compreffed together for Voiture to have fpun out into fifty lines. Were I to name my favourite among Waller's fmaller pieces, it should be his Apology for having loved before. He begins by saying, "That they who never had been ufed to the surprising juice of the grape, render up their reason to
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, Stars gave the first delight; Admiring in the gloomy shade Thofe little drops of light. Then at Aurora, whose fair hand Remov'd them from the fkies, He gazing tow'rds the Eaft did ftand, She entertain'd his eyes.
But when the bright Sun did appear,
All thofe he 'gan defpife;
His wonder was determin'd there,
The English verfification was much smoothed by Waller; who ufed 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 scenes 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 fo 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 taste, on which Waller was formed.
WALL E R.
ON A LADY SINGING TO HER LUTE.
FAIR Charmer, cease, nor make your voice's prize
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.
And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
"With beauty, with pleasure, surrounded, to languish,
To weep without knowing the caufe of my anguish;
IN the following love-verfes is a ftrain of fenfibility which the reader will be pleased, I fuppofe, to fee, being now first published from a manufcript of Mr. Gray:
Sighs fudden and frequent, looks ever dejected,
IN the imitation of Cowley, in two pieces, on a Garden, and on Weeping, Pope has properly enough, in conformity to his original, extorted some moral, or darted forth some 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 idea muft be accompanied with a conceit :
66 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 diftrefs; you will be disappointed. Wit, on 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 fo amiable a mind, fuch integrity of manners, and fuch 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 fubject 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