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he tells us, that He created her, and saw her, and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his works*.”
The praise of Johnson was still more liberal. “It wants," he said, "neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor elegance of diction; it has either been written with great care, or, what cannot be imagined of so long a work, with such felicity as made care less necessary. Its two constituent parts are ratiocination and description. To reason in verse is allowed to be difficult, but Blackmore not only reasons in verse, but very often reasons poetically; and finds the art of uniting ornament with strength, and ease with closeness. This is a skill which Pope might have condescended to have learned from him when he needed it so much in his Moral Essays. In his descriptions both of life and nature, the poet and the philosopher happily co-operate; truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance sustained by truth. In the structure and order of the poem, not only the greater parts are properly consecutive, but the didactic and illustrative paragraphs are so happily mingled, that labour is relieved by pleasure, and the attention is led on through a long succession of varied excellence to the original position, the fundamental principal of Wisdom and of Virtue."
To the commendation of two of the most eminent critics in our language it would be presumptuous in me to add my own.
The nature of his subject admitted only of a moderate use of the embellishments of fancy, but Blackmore, in several places, sprinkles thoughts of genuine poetic beauty. Two or three passages, immediately recurring
to the memory, may be adduced.
Of rivers he very
They scatter verdant life on every side.—Creation, B. I.
The creeping ivy, to prevent its fall,
Clings with its fibrous grapples to the wall.—B. II.
And see, with swelling canvass winged, she flies,
The results which would arise from a removal of the sun to a remoter distance are related with harmony and grace.
No mild indulgent gales would gently bear,
On their soft wing, sweet vapours through the air,
The flame of life, and recreate beast and man.
His versification is often sounding and compact; as, when speaking of the erroneous schemes of the Greek philosophers;
These with the pride of dogmatising schools
Imposed on Nature arbitrary rules;
Forced her their vain inventions to obey,
And move, as learned phrenzy traced the way.-B. III.
If the reader would desire to form a just conception of the ingenuity with which Blackmore has overcome the difficulty of presenting a scientific inquiry in clear, and certainly not inharmonious verses, let him read his account of the circulation of the blood, which is not inferior to the more florid reasoning of Darwin.
The salient point, so first is called the heart,
Which tube, prolonged but little from its source,
One to th' inferior limbs its path inflects.
Both smaller, by degrees, and smaller grow,
From which, by numerous convolutions wound,
Of various figures, and of various size.
The arterial ducts, when thus involved, produce
For though the arterial pipes themselves extend
The same continued circling channels run
Back to the heart, where first their course begun.
From Blackmore we pass to a very different writer. Pope said that the good nature of PARNELL was equal to his learning. His friends always spoke of him with affection; Bolingbroke mentions him with tenderness; so did Gay and Arbuthnot; and Swift numbered him with the most distinguished men of the age. Goldsmith regarded him as the last of that great school which had modelled itself on the ancients; his selection of imagery he thought happy, and his manner natural; his Fairy Tale he pronounced one of the finest productions in any language, and the Night Piece on Death he placed by the
side of the Elegy of Gray. Pope, from whose revision his poetry derived great advantage, considered the story of Pandora, and the Eclogue on Health, two of the most beautiful things he had ever read. Goldsmith might be disposed to elevate the simplicity of Parnell, from an aversion to the ornamented diction of Gray; but a modern writer of refined taste and great accomplishments in the art of which he writes, has compared his poetry to a "flower that has been trained and planted by the skill of the gardener, but which preserves in its cultivated state the natural fragrance of its wilder air."
In Parnell we are struck by the exceeding melody of the versification; the stream is singularly clear and beautiful. The image by which he represents the mind of the Hermit bewildered by doubt and discordant feelings, is at once exquisitely conceived and expressed with inimitable elegance and picturesque selection of illustrations.
So when a smooth expanse receives imprest
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
In Piety, or the Vision, there is a couplet which, by a slight change in the punctuation, becomes one of the most pleasing in his works:
'Twas then, as slumbering on my couch I lay,
The versification of Parnell harmonises with the gentle
ness of his fancy; without either the mannerism or the vigour of Pope, it soothes the ear with a few tones of delightful music, of which an echo may be heard in Rogers and Bowles.
Pope has commended the poet for the softness of his manners and the variety of his acquirements; but his highest distinction will always arise from the purity of his strains. Goldsmith in describing
His sweetly moral lay,
That leads to truth through pleasure's flowery way;— has given him the best and most enduring eulogy.
Pope offered a similar tribute to the genius of ADDISON, when he said that he had set "the passions on the side of truth," and poured "each human virtue in the heart." His Hymns are, without any exception, the most perfect compositions of their kind in our literature,-simple, poetic, and reverent. His intellectual character has been sketched by Young with great affection and enthusiasm, in the treatise inscribed to Richardson to which I have already alluded. The Second part of the Essay, in which he proposed to inquire into his pretensions as an original writer, never appeared.
He claims for him a more refined, judicious, and extensive genius than Pope or Swift. Swift he deemed a singular wit, Pope a great poet, Addison a great author. “I never read him," he writes, "but I am struck with such a disheartening idea of perfection, that I drop my pen. And, indeed, far superior writers should forget his compositions, if they would be greatly pleased with their own. And yet, (perhaps you have not observed it,) what is the common language of the world, even of his admirers, concerning him? They call him an elegant