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much skill in the mechanism of language and metre, without ardour and without imagination. In his amorous poetry he has little passion and little sensibility ; but he is never free and petulant, never tedious and never absurd. His praise consists of negations.

The Cooper's Hill of Sir John Denham (1615-1668), published in 1643, was much thought of by Dryden on account of its majesty of style. It deserves a place as one of the earliest of our descriptive poems; "its didactic reflectiveness, and the chill stream of its verse and thought,” link him closely with Pope.

The next name that invites our attention is that of Samuel Butler (1612-1688), the author of the best burlesque poem in our language. The poem of Hudibras was evidently suggested by the adventures of Don Quixote. It possesses an excess of wit, rhymes the most original and ingenious, and the most apt and burlesque metaphors, couched in an easy, gossiping colloquial metre; yet it would be as impossible to read Hudibras to an end at once as to dine on cayenne and pickles. It administers no food to the higher and more permanent feelings of the human mind. The moral comes to be felt to be without dignity, the wit without gaiety or relief, the story lagging and flat. Even the rhymes, amusing as they are, become, after a time, like the repetitions of a mimic, tiresome and stale.

Just as Milton was the last of the elder school of poets, so John Dryden (1631-1700) was the first of the new. From Milton's death till his own in 1700, Dryden reigned supreme. Of Dryden we may quote the discriminating criticism of Campbell. “He is a writer of manly and classic character. His strong judgment gave force as well as direction to a flexible fancy, and his harmony is generally the echo of solid thoughts. But he was not gifted with intense or lofty sensibility ; on the contrary, the grosser any idea is the happier he seems to expatiate upon it. The transports of the heart, and the deep and varied delineation of the passions, are strangers to his poetry. He could describe character in the abstract but could not embody it in the drama, for he entered into

character more from clear perception than fervid sympathy. This great High Priest of all the Nine was not a confessor to the finer secrets of the human breast.”

The years which composed the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), was during the whole of the eighteenth century recognised as the Augustan era of English literature ; from a supposed resemblance which it bore to the reign of the Emperor Augustus. This opinion, says a writer in Chambers's Encyclopedia of English literature, has not been followed or confirmed in the present age, excepting perhaps in the case of Addison, whose essays are characterised by genius as well as exquisite taste and fancy. Pope also maintains his ground. The praise due to good sense, and a correct and polished style, is allowed to the prose writers ; and that due to a felicity in painting artificial life, and reasoning in verse, is awarded to the poets ; but the writings of the times preceding the Restoration, and those of our own day, are more original, both in style and in thought, more imaginative, and more sentimental.

The prevailing sentiment or feeling on this subject has been stated by Lord Jeffrey in the following sentence :-“ Speaking generally of that generation of authors, it may be said that, as poets, they had no force or greatness of fancy, no pathos and no enthusiasm, and, as philosophers, no comprehensiveness, depth, or originality. They are sagacious, no doubt, neat, clear, and reasonable ; but, for the most part, cold, timid, and superficial.” The same critic represents it as their chief praise that they corrected the indecency, and polished the pleasantry and sarcasm, of the vicious school introduced at the Restoration. “Writing,” he continues, “with infinite good sense, and great grace and vivacity, and, above all, writing for the first time in a tone that was peculiar to the upper ranks of society, and upon subjects that were almost exclusiveiy interesting to them, they naturally figured as the most accomplished, fashionable, and perfect writers which the world had ever seen, and made the wild, luxuriant, and humble sweetness of our earlier authors appear rude and untutored in the comparison.

The reign of Queen Anne brings us to Alexander Pope (1688-1744). What rank should be assigned to Pope in a classification of our English poets has been a subject of frequent inquiry. It is evident that by far the greater part of his original productions consist of ethic and satiric poetry; and by those who estimate mere moral sentiment, or the exposure, in splendid versification, of fashionable vice or folly, as the highest province of the art, he must be considered as the first of bards. If, however, sublimity, imagination, and pathos, be, as they assuredly are, the noblest efforts of the creative powers, and the most difficult of attainments, Pope will be found to have had some superiors and several rivals. With Spencer, Shakspeare and Milton, he cannot, in these essential qualities, enter into competition, and when compared with Dryden, Young and Thomson, the mind hesitates in the allotment of superiority.

Dryden and Pope are the great masters of the artificial style of poetry in our language, as Chaucer, Spencer, Shakspeare and Milton were of the natural, and though this artificial style is generally and very justly acknowledged to be inferior to the other, yet, those who stand at the head of that class ought, perhaps, to rank higher than those who occupy an inferior place in a superior class. They have a clear and independent claim upon our gratitude, as having produced a, kind and degree of excellence which existed equally nowhere else.

The minor poets who surrounded Pope during the earlier part of his career were neither imitators of his manner nor partakers of his genius. Amongst these we may mention Thomas Parnell and John Gay.

The compass of the poetry of Parnell (1679-1718), is not extensive, but its tone is peculiarly delightful; not from mere correctness of expression to which some critics have stinted its praises, but from the graceful and reserved sensibility that accompanied his polished phraseology. The studied happiness of his diction does not spoil its simplicity. His poetry is like a flower that has been trained and planted by the skill of the gardener, but which preserves, in the cultivated





state, the natural fragrance of its wilder air. The poem by which Parnell is chiefly known is The Hermit, which has always been a favourite with every class of readers.

The most finished productions of John Gay (1688-1732), and those to which he will owe his reputation with posterity are his

Fables," the finest in the language. They are written with great spirit and vivacity, the versification is generally smooth and flowing, the descriptions happy and appropriate, and the moral designed to be conveyed is, for the most part, impressive and instructive.

Swift (1667-1745), wrote much that ranks under poetry, yet he had none of the characteristics of the true poetnothing of the sublime or the tender; nothing, in short, that reaches or affects the heart. “It could scarcely be expected,” says a critic, “that an irreligious divine, a heartless politician, and a selfish lover, could possess the elements of true poetry; and therefore Swift may be considered rather as a rhymer than a poet.”

In the field of poetry during the greater portion of the reign of George II., the name of Pope continued to be the greatest. The best of his works—his Moral Essays and Imitations of Horace were produced in this period. The most remarkable of his contemporaries, either adopted styles of their own, or departed widely from that of their illustrious master.

One of the contemporaries of Pope was Robert Blair (1699-1746), the author of The Grave. The eighteenth century produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerlul and simple a character as this well-known poem. In the eye of fastidious criticism Blair may be a homely and even a gloomy poet ; but there is a masculine and prominent character, even in his gloom and homeliness, that keeps it most distinctly apart from either dryness or vulgarity.

Edward Young (1681-1765), the celebrated author of the Night Thoughts, if he does not rank in the first class of poets, takes a very high place in the second. If his taste be not the purest, or his judgment not always the best, he has an exuberance, a vigour, and an originality of genius, which



amply atone for all his defects. As respects the moral influence of his poetry, there has been and there can be but one opinion. No one can rise from the studious perusal of the Night Thoughts without feeling more the value of time, and the importance of improving it aright, both for the life that now is, and for that which is to come.

Opinions, however, sometimes differ, so we shall, in fairness, quote the following judgment by a distinguished critic: "Young is a gloomy epigrammatist. He has abused great powers both of thought and language. His moral reflections are sometimes excellent ; but he spoils their beauty by overloading them with a religious horror, and at the same time giving them all the smart turns and quaint expressions of an enigma, or repartee in verse. His Universal Passion is a keen and powerful satire, but the effort takes from the effect, and oppresses attention by perpetual and violent demands upon it. His tragedy of the Revenge is monkish and scholastic. Zanga is a vulgar caricature of Iago.”

The lingering influence of the didactic and satirical school of poets is to be found not only in Blair and Young, but in Johnson's two satires on the manners of his time, the London, 1738, and the Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749, and in the vigorous satires of Churchill, who died in 1746.

Mark Akenside (1721-1770) also wrote in the spirit of the time of Queen Anne. He is best known by his Pleasures of the Imagination, a poem of which Dr. Johnson remarks, “ It has undoubtedly a just claim to a very particular notice, as an example of great felicity of genius and uncommon amplitude of acquisitions, of a young mind stored with images, and much exercised in combining and comparing them. The subject is well-chosen, and it includes all images that can strike or please, and thus comprises every species of poetical delight.”

As a poet, if Dr. Watts (1674-1748) does not take the very first rank in the imaginative, the creative, or the sublime, he has attained what the greatest might well envy-a universality of fame. He is emphatically the classic poet of the religious world, wherever the English language is spoken.

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