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DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.
John SHEFFIELD, Earl of Mulgrave, descended from a noble family of great antiquity, distinguished himself in a military capacity both by sea and land. After the Revolution, he was created Marquis of Normanby, and on the accession of Queen Anne, Duke of Buckingham ; under which different titles he is celebrated by his contemporaries, and in particular by Dryden, Roscommon, Lansdown, Garth, and Pope.
His Essay on Poetry may be considered as one of the earliest attempts to restore a just taste in English literature, and as having led the way to the great improvement which soon afterwards followed. Of the splendid mansion which he erected in St. James's Park, since called Buckingham House, and of his manner of living there, he has left a very curious account in a letter to the Duke of Chandos. He died in February, 1720. He married Catherine Darnley, daughter of James II. by the Countess of Dorchester.
ON MR. POPE AND HIS POEMS.
With Age decay'd, with Courts and bus'ness tir’d,
Encomiums suit not this censorious time,
Ignorance honour'd, Wit and Worth defam'd,
And yet so wonderful, sublime a thing
'Tis great delight to laugh at some men's ways, But a much greater to give Merit praise.
ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA,
Wife of Daniel, second Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, distinguished
The following complimentary verses to Pope are omitted in the editions of Warburton, Warton, and Bowles ; but having been given by Pope in the first edition of his Poems, in 1717, are here reprinted from that edition.
TO MR. POPE.
The Muse of every heavenly gift allow'd
Swift has addressed her in an Impromptu, under the name of Ardelia ; v. Swift's Works, Sir Walter Scott's ed. vol. xiii. p. 344.
Then let us find, in your foregoing page,
15 Asserts his own, by sympathy of parts.Me panegyric verse does not inspire, Who never well can praise what I admire; Nor in those lofty trials dare appear, , But gently drop this counsel in your ear. Go on, to gain applauses by desert, Inform the head, whilst you dissolve the heart; Inflame the soldier with harmonious rage, Elate the young, and gravely warm the sage. Allure with tender verse the female race,
25 And give their darling passion courtly grace; Describe the forest still in rural strains, With vernal sweets fresh breathing from the plains. Your Tales be easy, natural, and gay, Nor all the Poet in that part display ;
30 Nor let the Critic there his skill unfold, For Boccace thus, and Chaucer Tales have told. Soothe, as you only can, each differing taste, And for the future charm as in the past. Then should the verse of ev'ry artful hand Before your numbers eminently stand; In you no vanity could thence be shown, Unless, since short, in beauty, of your own, Some envious scribbler might in spite declare, That for comparison you plac'd them there.
40 But envy could not against you succeed, 'Tis not from friends that write, or foes that read; Censure or praise must from ourselves proceed.
MR. WYCHERLEY. The following lines by Wycherley afford a very favourable specimen of his poetical talents ; insomuch that Dennis and others contended that Pope was himself the author of them ; a charge which Pope thought it worth his while to refute, by stating that “the first brouillon of them, and the second copy with corrections, were both extant in Wycherley's own hand-writing.” They were written in 1708, before the publication of the pastorals ; and are repeatedly referred to in Wycherley's Letters to Pope ; in one of which he says, “ I have made a damn'd compliment in verse upon the printing your pastorals, which you shall see when you see me.”
TO MR. POPE, ON HIS PASTORALS. In these more dull, as more censorious days, When few dare give, and fewer merit praise, A Muse sincere, that never Flatt'ry knew, Pays what to friendship and desert is due. Young, yet judicious ; in your verse are found 5 Art strength’ning Nature, sense improv'd by sound. Unlike those Wits, whose numbers glide along So smooth, no thought e’er interrupts the song: Laboriously enervate they appear, And write not to the head, but to the ear:
10 Our minds unmov'd and unconcern’d they lull, And are at best most musically dull: So purling streams with even murmurs creep, And hush the heavy hearers into sleep. As smoothest speech is most deceitful found, 15 The smoothest numbers oft are empty sound. But Wit and Judgment join at once in you, Sprightly as youth, as age consummate too: Your strains are regularly bold, and please With unforced care, and unaffected ease, With proper thoughts, and lively images : Such as by Nature to the Ancients shown, Fancy improves, and judgment makes your own : For great men's fashions to be follow'd are, Altho' disgraceful 'tis their clothes to wear.