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THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
This seems to be Mr. Pope’s most finished production, and is, perhaps, the most perfect in our language. It exhibits stronger powers of imagination, more harmony of numbers, and a greater knowledge of the world, than any other of this Poet’s works: and it was probable, if our country were called upon to shew a specimen of their genius to foreigners, this would be the work here fixed upon.
I have heard a very judicious Critic say, that he had an higher idea of Milton’s style in poetry, from the two following poems, than from his Paradise Lost. It is certain the imagination shewn in them is correct and strong. The introduction to both in irregular measure is borrowed from the Italians, and hurts an English ear.
This is a very fine poem, but overloaded with epithet. The heroic measure with alternate rhime is very properly adapted to the solemnity of the subject, as it is the slowest movement that our language admits of The latter part of the poem is pathetic and interesting.
IN INIITATION OF THE THIRD SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
This poem of Mr. Johnson's is the best imitation of the original that has appeared in our language, being
possessed of all the force and satyrical resentment of
Juvenal. Imitation gives us a much truer idea of the ancients than even translation could do.
THE SCHOOL MISTRESS.
1N IMITATION OF spense R.
This poem is one of those happinesses in which a poet excels himself, as there is nothing in all Shenstone, which any way approaches it in merit; and, though I dislike the imitations of our old English poets in general, yet on this minute subject, the antiquity of the style produces a very ludicrous solemnity.
COOPER'S HILL. This poem by Denham, though it may have been exceeded by later attempts in description, yet deserves the highest applause, as it far surpasses all that went before it: the concluding part, though a little too much crowded, is very masterly.
ELOISA TO ABELARD.
The harmony of numbers in this poem is very fine, It is rather drawn out to too tedious a length, although the passions vary with great judgment. It may be considered as superior to any thing in the epistolary way; and the many translations which have been made of itinto the modern languages, are in some measure a proof of this.
ing that was, at that time, new in our poetry. Had the harmony of this been equal to that of Pope's versification, it would be incontestibly the finest poem in our language; but there is a dryness in the numbers, which greatly lessens the pleasure excited both by the Poet's judgment and imagination.
This ode has been more applauded, perhaps, than it has been felt ; however, it is a very fine one, and gives its beauties rather at a third or fourth, than at a first perusal.
Ol) E FOR MUSIC ON ST. CECILIA’S DAY.
This ode has by many been thought equal to the former. As it is a repetition of Dryden’s manner, it is so far inferior to him. The whole hint of Orpheus, with many of the lines, has been taken from an obscure Ode upon Music, published in Tete's Miscellanies.
THE SHEPHERD’S WEEK,
These are Mr. Gay's principal performance. They were originally intended, I suppose, as a burlesque on those of Philips; but, perhaps, without designing it, he has hit the true spirit of pastoral poetry. In fact, he more resembles Theocritus than any other English pastoral writer whatsover- There runs through the whole a strain of rustic pleasantry, which should ever distinguish this species of composition; but how
the antiquated expressions used here may contribute to the humor, I will not determine. For my own part, I could wish the simplicity were preserved, without recurring to such obsolete antiquity for the manner of expressing it.
The severity of this satire, and the excellence of its versification, give it a distinguished rankin this species of composition. At present, an ordinary reader would scarcely suppose, that Shadwell, who is here meant by Mac Flecknoe, was worth being chastised; and that Dryden, descending to such game, was like an eagle stooping to catch flies.
The truth however is, Shadwell at one time held divided reputation with this great poet. Every age produces its fashionable dunces, who, by following the transient topic or humor of the day, supply talkative ignorance with materials for conversation.
ON POETRY. A RHApsopy.
Here follows ane of the best versified poems in our language, and the most masterly production of its author. The severity with which Walpole is here treated, was in consequence of that minister’s having refused to provide for Swift in England, when applied to for that purpose, in the year 1725 (if I remember right). The severity of a Poet, however, gave Walpole very little uneasiness. A man whose schemes, like this minister's, seldom extended beyond the exigency of the year, but little regarded the contempt of
posterity. of the use ofRienes
This poem, as Mr. Pope tells us himself, cost much attention and labor; and, from the easiness that apPears in it, one would be apt to think as much.
FROM THE DISPENSARY. CANTO VI.
This sixth canto of the Dispensary, by Dr. Garth, has more merit than the whole preceding part of the poem, and, as I am told, in the first edition of this work, it is more correct than as here exhibited ; but that edition I have not been able to find. The praises bestowed on this poem are more than have been given to any other; but our approbation at present is cooler, for it owed part of its fame to party.
SELIM ; OR THE SHEPHERD'S MORAL.
The following eclogues, written by Mr. Collins, are very pretty: the images, it must be owned, are not very local ; for the pastoral subject could not well admit of it. The description of Asiatic magnificence and manners is a subject as yet unattempted amongst us, and, I believe, capable of furnishing a great variety of poetical imagery.
THE SPLENDID SHILLING.
This is reckoned the best parody of Milton in our language : it has been an hundred times imitated without success. The truth is, the first thing in this way must preclude all future attempts, for nothing is so easy as to burlesque any man's manner, when we are once shewed the way.
A PIPE OF TOBACCO:
1N IMITATION OF SIx SEVERAL AUTHORs.
Mr. Hawkins Brow * author of these, as I am.
old had no good original
see how well he succeeds when he turns an imitator; for the following are rather imitations, than ridiculous parodies.
Vol. IV. . y