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His is one of the works in which blank verfe feems properly used; Thomson's wide expansion of general views, and his enumeration of circumstantial varieties, would have been obstructed and embarrassed by the frequent intersection of the sense, which are the necefTary effects of rhyme.
His descriptions of extended scenes and general effects bring before us the whole magnificence of Nature, whether pleasing or dreadful. The gaiety of Spring, the splendour of Summer, the tranquillity of Autumn, and the horror of Winter, take in their turns poffeffion of the mind. . The poet leads us through the appearances of things as they are successively varied by the viciffitudes of the year, and imparts to us so much of his own enthusiasm, that our thoughts expand with his imagery, and kindle with his sentiments. Nor is the naturalist without his part in the entertainment; for he is affifted to recollect and to combine, to arrange his discoveries, and to amplify the sphere of his contemplation.
defect of the Seasons is want of method but for this I know not that there was any remedy. Of many appearances subsisting all at once, no rule can be given why one should be mentioned before another; yet the memory wants the help of order, and the curolity is not excited by suspense or expectation.
His diction is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts both thcir lustre and their shade; such as invest them with splendour, through which perhaps they are not always easily discerned. It is too exuberant, and sometimes may be charged with filling the ear more than the mind. Vol. IV. N
These Poems, with which I was acquainted at their first appearance, I have since found altered and enlarged by subsequent revisals, as the author supposed his judgement to grow more exact, and as books or conversation extended his knowledge and opened his prospects. They are, I think, improved in general; yet I know not whether they have not lost part of what Temple calls their race; a word which, applied to wines, in its primitive sense, means the favour of the soil.
Liberty, when it first appeared, I tried to read, and soon defifted. I have never tried again, and therefore will not hazard either praise or censure.
The highest praise which he has received ought not to be supprest: it is said by Lord Lyttelton in the Prologue to his posthumous play, that his works contained
No line which, dying, he could wish to blot.
HE Poems of Dr. WATTS were by my recom:
mendation inserted in the late Collection; the readers of which are to impute to me whatever pleafure or weariness they may find in the perusal of Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden.
IS AAC WATTS was born July 17, 1674, at Southampton, where his father, of the same name, hept, a boarding-school for young gentlemen, though common report makes him à fhoemaker. He appears, from the narrative of Dr. Gibbons, to have been nei. ther indigent nor illiterate.
Ifaac, the eldest of nine children, was given to books from his infancy; and began, we are told, to learn Latin when he was four years old, I suppose, at hoine. He was afterwards taught Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, by Mr. Pinhorne, a clergyman, master of the Freeschool at Southampton, to whom the gratitude of his scholar afterwards inscribed a Latin ode.
His proficiency at school was so conspicuous, that a subscription was proposed for his support at the Uni
versity; but he declared his resolution to take his lor with the Diflenters. Such he was as every Christian Church would rejoice to have adopted.
He therefore repaired in 1690 to an academy taught by Mr. Rowe, where he had for his companions and fellow-students Mr. Hughes the poet, and Dr. Horte, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam. Some Latin Efsays, supposed to have been written as exercises at this academy, shew a degree of knowledge, both philosophical and theological, such as very few attain by a much longer course of study.
He was, as he hints in his Miscellanies, a maker of verses from fifteen to fifty, and in his youth he
appears to have paid attention to Latin poetry. His verses to his brother, in the glyconick measure, written when he was seventeen, are remarkably easy and elegant. Some of his other odes are deformed by the Pindarick folly then prevailing, and are written with such neglect of all metrical rules as is without example among the ancients; but his diction, though perhaps not always exactly pure, has such copiousness and splendour, as fhews that he was but at a very little distance from excellence.
His method of study was to impress the contents of his books upon his memory by abridging them, and by interleaving them to amplify one system with supplements from another.
With the congregation of his tutor Mr. Rowe, who were, I believe, Independents, he communicated in his nineteenth year.
At the age of twenty he left the academy, and spent two years in fiudy and devotion at the house of his father, who treated him with great i. derness; and had
the happiness, indulged to few parents, of living to see his fon eminent for literature and venerable for piety.
He was then entertained by Sir John Harcopp five years, as domestick tutor to his fon; and in that time particularly devoted himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures; and being chosen assistant to Dr. Chauncey, preached the first time on the birth-day that compleated his twenty-fourth year; probably considering that as the day of a second nativity, by which he entered on a new period of existence.
In about three years he succeeded Dr. Chauncey; but, foon after his entrance on his charge, he was seized by a dangerous illness, which funk him to such weakness, that the congregation thought an allistant necessary, and appointed Mr. Price. His health then returned gradually, and he performed his duty, till (1712) he was seized by a fever of such violence and continuance, that, from the feebleness which it brought upon him, he never perfectly recovered.
This calamitous state made the compassion of his friends necessary, and drew upon him the attention of Sir Thomas Abney, who received him into his house; where, with a constancy of friendship and uniformity of conduct not often to be found, he was treated for thirty-fix years with all the kindness that friendship could prompt, and all the attention that respect could dictate. Sir Thomas died about eight years afterwards; but he continued with the lady and her daughters to the end of his life. The lady died about a year after him.
A ccalition like this, a state in which the notions of patronage and dependence were overpowered by the perception of reciprocal benefits, deserves a particular