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ENGLISH AND AMERICAN POETRY:
CÆDMON AND KING ALFRED'S BOETHIUS
BROWNING AND TENNYSON.
TWO THOUSAND OF THE BEST PIECES IN THE
WITH SKETCHES OF THE
HISTORY OF THE POETRY OF OUR COUNTRY,
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES OF FIVE HUNDRED OF THE POETS.
EDITED BY S. O. BEETON AND W. M. ROSSETTI.
PHILADELPHIA: GEO. GEBBIE,
URING this period Great Britain produced some of the greatest names in the world's ind often grand “Night Thoughts”; Thomson with his graphic descriptions of Winter in its loom and storm ; Spring in its clear sunshine and fitful showers, its peeping flowers and its heery feelings ; Summer in its gay voluptuousness; and Autumn in its falling leaves, quiet lecay, and melancholy fancies. We have John Dyer with his exquisite “Grongar Hill," and Shenstone with his exquisite “Garden,” and Gray with his “ Elegy in a Country Church-yard,” which the world will never let die ; and dear, generous, genial, loving, and beloved Oliver Goldsmith, and Chatterton, the wondrous boy whose monument at that grand old church at Bristol awakens thoughts “too deep for tears.” We have Logan and Bruce, the poetical Wartons, Beattie with his “Minstrel,” Alexander Ross with his “ Woo'd and Married and A';" Christopher Smart with his ill-fated story belongs to this period, and Lady Ann Barnard, who has thrown a lustre even on the illustrious family of the Lindsays. We have as Novelists : Samuel Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, the great and noble Samuel Johnson, the delicious author of the Vicar of Wakefield," which touches the heart in youth and old age, and Henry Mackenzie.
Among Historians we have David Hume, Dr. William Robertson, William Tytler, Edward Gibbon. In Divinity there shine the names of Butler, Bishop Warburton, Bishop Lowth, Dr. C. Middleton, Dr. Isaac Watts, so simple and so great, this testimony, in passing from an Episcopalian, but from one who loves all good men. We have Hurd, Jortin, the Evangelist John Wesley and his brother Charles, who between them produced some of the most exquisite Hymns in the English language ; Nathaniel Lardner, Leland, Blair, Campbell, add to the list of great and much loved names. We have also the magnificent Edmund Burke. Never shall we forget his generous kindness to poor deserving George Crabbe. All night Crabbe walked on Westminster Bridge after leaving his letter at the great man's house ; little did Burke know that! but all night he walked in suspense ; but when he called next day the helping hand was stretched out, and nobly did Crabbe repay. We have Junius, and Adam Smith, and Sir William Blackstone, and the great Earl of Chatham. It was a glorious period, and Englishmen may well be proud of it.
RICHARD SAVAGE. " Richard Savage, born 1696, died 1743, so well known for Johnson's account of him, was the bastard child of Richard Savage, Earl Rivers, and the Countess of Macclesfield. He led a dissipated and erratic life, the victim of circumstances and of his own passions. In his miscellaneous poems the best are “The Wan. derer' and The Bastard.'”-See Shaw's “Hist. Eng. Lit.” p. 312.
ROBERT BLAIR. “Robert Blair, born 1699, died 1746, was minister of the parish of Athelstaneford, in East Lothian. His son, who died not many years ago, was a very high legal character in Scotland. The eighteenth century has produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerful and simple a character as that of The Grave. It is a popular poem, not merely because it is religious, but because its language and imagery
are free, natural, and picturesque. The latest gardens and pleasure-grounds, where !! editor of the poets has, with singularly bad Doctor became thoroughly at home, and you taste, noted some of this author's most ner. wont to refresh his body and mind in vous and expressive phrases as vulgarisms, intervals of study. He preached regularly among which he reckons that of friendship a congregation, and in the pulpit, although 'the solder of society.' Blair may be a homely stature was low, not exceeding five feet, .11 and even a gloomy poet in the eye of fastidious excellence of his matter, the easy flow of his criticism; but there is a masculine and pro- language, and the propriety of his pronunc in nounced character even in his gloom and tion, rendered him very popular. In prisot. homeliness that keeps it most distinctly apart he was exceedingly kind to the poor anilo from either dullness or vulgarity. His style children, giving to the former a third pa® (S pleases us like the powerful expression of a his small income of £100 a-year, and wr '* countenance without regular beauty. Blair for the other his inimitable hymns. Besiin was a great favourite with Burns, who quotes these, he published a well-known · Treatis from The Grave' very frequently in his Logic,' another on The Improvement of ! letters." — Campbell's Specimens.” See Mind,'besides various theological product Gilfillan's Ed. of Blair's “Grave"; Allibone's amongst which his World to Come' “ Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”
been pre-eminently popular. In 1728 received from Edinburgh and Aberdee unsolicited diploma of Doctor of Divinity age advanced, he found himself unable to
charge his ministerial duties, and offerta ISAAC WATTS.
remit his salary, but his congregation res:
to accept his demission. On the 25th 10 “ This admirable person was born at South- vember, 1748, quite worn out, but wil ampton on the 17th of July, 1674. His suffering, this able and worthy man expii father, of the same name, kept a boarding- “If to be eminently useful is to fulfi school for young gentlemen, and was a man highest purpose of humanity, it was cert of intelligence and piety. Isaac
fulfilled by Isaac Watts. His logica eldest of nine children, and began early to other treatises have served to brace ti display precocity, of genius. At four he com- tellects, methodise the studies, and menced to study Latin at home, and afterwards, centrate the activities of thousands—W under one Pinhorn, a clergyman, who kept nearly said of millions—of minds. Th the free-school at Southampton, he learned given him an enviable distinction, bu Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. A subscription shone still more in that other provin was proposed for sending him to one of the so felicitously chose and successfully great universities, but he preferred casting in occupied—that of the hearts of the ye nis lot with the Dissenters. He repaired ac- One of his detractors called him "Mitir cordingly, in 1690, to an academy kept by
Watts.' He might have taken up in the Rev. Thomas Rowe, whose son, we believe, epithet, and bound it as
Til became the husband of the celebrated Eliza- him. We have heard of a pious for beth Rowe, the once popular author of possessed of imperfect English, who, i · Letters from the Dead to the Living.' The agony of supplication to God for som Rowes belonged to the Independent body. At friend, said, “O Fader, hear me! OM this academy Watts began to write poetry, hear me!' It struck us as one of the chiefly in the Latin language, and in the then of stories, and containing one of the popular Pindaric measure. At the age of
beautiful tributes to the Deity we ever twenty, he returned to his father's house, and recognising in Him a pity which not spent two quiet years in devotion, meditation, father, which only a mother can feel. and study. He became next a tutor in the tender mother does good Watts bend or family of Sir John Hartopp for five years. little children, and secure that thei He was afterwards chosen assistant to Dr. words of song shall be those of simple, Chauncey, and, after the Doctor's death, be. felt trust in God, and of faith in their
his successor. His health, however, Brother. To create a little heaven
iii., P.p. 91-93.
... Philip Doddridge, born 1702, dier !. urrounded bř fine
the most distinguished Noncor one oi
divines. He was born in London, was educated among the Dissenters, became minister at Northampton, and died at Lisbon, whither he had departed for the benefit of his health. Doddridge was a man of learning and earnest piety. He was beloved and admired by all the religious bodies of the country. His style is plain, simple, and forcible. He was a critic of some acumen, and a preacher of great distinction. But his name lives from his practical works and expository writings, the chief of which are-Discourses on Regeneration,' 1741 ; 'Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,' 1745; and his greatest and most extensive work, “ The Family Expositor,' one of the most widely-circulated works of its class.” -Shaw's “ Hist. Eng. Lit."; Allibone's “Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”; Dr. Kippis, in “Biog. Brit.”; Dr. Ralph Wardlaw; Bishop Warburton; Dr. E. Williams; T. H. Horne; Dr. Dibdin ; Barrington, Bishop of Durham ; Robert Hall's “ Letters”; Dr. Francis Hunt; Morell; “ London Evangel. Mag."; Bishop Jebb.
EDWARD YOUNG. Edward Young, born 1681, died 1765. “I now come,” says Shaw, in his ‘Hist. Eng. Lit.,' “to Edward Young, the most powerful of the secondary poets of the epoch. He began his career in the unsuccessful pursuit of fortune in the public and diplomatic service of the country. Disappointed in his hopes and somewhat soured in his temper he entered the Church, and serious domestic losses still further intensified a natural tendency to morbid and melancholy reflection. He obtained his first literary fame by his satire entitled the Love of Fame, the Universal Passion,' written before he had abandoned a secular career. It is in rhyme and bears considerable resemblance to the manner of Pope, though it is deficient in that exquisite grace and neatness which distinguish the latter. In referring the vices and follies of mankind chiefly to vanity and the foolish desire of applause, Young exhibits a false and narrow view of human motives; but there are many passages in the three epistles, which compose this satire, that exhibit strong powers of observation and description, and a keen and vigorous expression which, though sometimes degenerating into that tendency to paradox and epigram which are the prevailing defect of Young's genius, are not unworthy of his great model. The Second Epistle, describing the character of women, may be compared, without altogether losing in the parallel, to Pope's admirable work on the same subject. But Young's place in the history of English poetry-a place long a very high one, and which is likely to remain a far from unenviable one-is due to his striking and original poem • The Night Thoughts.' This work, consisting
of nine nights or meditations, is in blank verse, and consists of reflections on Life, Death, Immortality, and all the most solemn subjects that can engage the attention of the Christian and the philosopher. The general tone of the work is sombre and gloomy, perhaps in some degree affectedly so, for though the author perpetually parades the melancholy personal circumstances under which he wrote, overwhelmed by the rapidly-succeeding losses of many who were dearest to him, the reader can never get rid of the idea that the grief and desolation were purposely exaggerated for effect. In spite of this, however, the grandeur of Nature and the sublimity of the Divine attributes are so forcibly and eloquently depicted, the arguments against sin and infidelity are so concisely and powerfully urged, and the contrast between the nothingness of man's earthly aims and the immensity of his immortal aspirations is so pointedly set before us, that the poem will always make deep impression on the religious reader: The prevailing defects of Young's mind were an irresistible tendency to antithesis and epi. grammatic contrast, and a want of discrimi. nation that often leaves him utterly unable to distinguish between an idea really just and striking, and one which is only superficially so : and this want of taste frequently leads him into illustrations and comparisons rather puerile than ingenious, as when he compares the stars to diamonds in a seal-ring upon the finger of the Almighty. He is also remark. able for a deficiency in continuous elevation, advancing so to say by jerks and starts of pathos and sublimity. The march of his verse is generally solemn and majestic, though it possesses little of the rolling thundrous melody of Milton; and Young is fond of introducing familiar images and expressions, often with great effect, amid his most lofty bursts of declamation. The epigrammatic nature of some of his most striking images is best testified by the large number of ex. pressions which have passed from his writings into the colloquial language of society, such as 'procrastination is the thief of time,' all men think all men mortal but themselves, and a multitude of others. A sort of quaint solemnity, like the ornamentation upon a Gothic tomb, is the impression which the Night Thoughts' are calculated to make upon the reader in the present time; and it is a strong proof of the essential greatness of his genius, that the quaintness is not able to extinguish the solemnity.” – Dr. Angus's “ Handbook of Eng. Lit.” ; Gilfillan's Ed. of “ Young's Poems ”; Campbell's Specimens.”
JAMES THOMSON. " James Thomson, a distinguished British poet, born at Ednam, near Kelso, in