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Baskets of fish at Billingsgate did watch,
30 Cod, whiting, oyster, mackrel, sprat, or plaice: There learn'd she speech from tongues that never
Slander beside her, like a magpye, chatters,
Her dugs were mark'd by ev'ry collier's hand,
Such place hath Deptford, navy-building town,
Ver. 30. Baskets of fish] How different from those enchanting imitations of Spenser, the Castle of Indolence and the Minstreld—Warton.
The above personages of Obloquy, Slander, Envy, and Malice, are not marked with any distinct attributes. They are not those living figures, whose attitudes and behaviour Spenser has minutely drawn, with so much clearness and truth, that we behold them with our eyes, as plainly as we do on the ceiling of the Banqueting-house. For, in truth, the pencil of Spenser is as powerful as that of Rubens, his brotherallegorist; which two artists resembled each other, in many respects ; but Spenser had more grace, and was as warm a colourist.-Warlon.
It is scarcely candid to say that Pope's allegorical personages are not marked by distinctive attributes and behaviour. Obloquy was a Billingsgate fish woman, surrounded by the articles in which she had dealt; Slander chatters like a magpye ; Envy spits like a cat ; Malice clatters like a cur ; and Envy tears her neighbours' clothes in tatters. A more characteristic, concise, and, at the same time, poetical passage, will not frequently be met with, even in Spenser himself.
Ne village is without, on either side,
Pope has imitated Waller, with elegance, especially in the verses on a Fan of his own design ; for he designed with dexterity and taste.
The application of the story of Cephalus and Procris is as ingenious as Waller's Phæbus and Daphne. Waller abounds, perhaps to excess, in allusions to mythology and the ancient classics.-Warton.
ON A LADY SINGING TO HER LUTE.
Fair Charmer, cease! nor make your voice's prize
On a fan of the Author's design, in which was painted the story of
CEPHALUS and Procris, with the Motto, AURA, VENI.
COME, gentle Air! th’ Æolian shepherd said,
Lo the glad gales o'er all her beauties stray,
5 Breathe on her lips, and in her bosom play! In Delia's hand this toy is fatal found, Nor could that fabled dart more surely wound: Both gifts destructive to the givers prove; Alike both lovers fall by those they love.
10 Yet guiltless too this bright destroyer lives, At random wounds, nor knows the wound she gives : She views the story with attentive eyes, And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
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 must be accompanied with a conceit :
Daphne, now a tree, as once a maid,
Still from Apollo vindicates her shade.” The Aowers that grow on the water-side could not be sufficiently described without saying, that
“ The pale Narcissus 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, on the present occasion, is to be preferred to tenderness; the babe in her eye is said to resemble Phaeton so much,
“ That heav'n, the threat'ned world to spare,
Thought fit to drown him in her tears ;
To set, like him, the world on fire.” Let not this strained affectation of striving to be witty upon all occasions be thought exaggerated, or a caricature of Cowley. It is painful to censure a writer of so amiable a mind, such integrity of manners, and such a sweetness of temper. His fancy was brilliant, strong, and sprightly ; but his taste false and unclassical, even though he had much learning. In his Latin compositions, his six 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 descriptions.
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 ;
Fain would my Muse the flow'ry Treasures sing,
Proud Grief sits swelling in her eyes ;
Thus from the Ocean first did rise: And thus through Mists we see the sun, Which else we durst not gaze upon.
These silver drops, like morning dew,
Foretell the fervour of the day :
And blasting lightnings burst away.
The Baby in that sunny Sphere
So like a Phaëton appears,
Thought fit to drown him in her tears:
E. OF ROCHESTER.
The verses on Silence are a sensible imitation of the Earl of Rochester's on Nothing ; which piece, together with his Satire on Man from the fourth of Boileau, and the tenth Satire of Horace, (which in truth is excellent,) are the only pieces of this profligate nobleman which modesty or common sense will allow any man to read. Rochester had much energy in his thoughts and diction ; and though the ancient satirists often use great liberty in their expressions, yet, as the ingenious Historian observes, “ Their freedom no more resembles the license of Rochester, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute.”
Pope, in this imitation, has discovered a fund of solid sense, and just observation upon vice and folly, that are very remarkable in a person so
| Hume's History of Great Britain, vol. ii. p. 434.