Page images

nied to contain both philofophical argument and po etical fpirit.

Of the reft I cannot think any excellent; the Skylark pleases me best, which has however more of the epigram than of the ode.

But the four parts of his Paftoral Ballad demand particular notice. I cannot but regret that it is paftoral; an intelligent reader, acquainted with the fcenes of real life, fickens at the mention of the crook, the pipe, the beep, and the kids, which it is not neceffary to bring forward to notice, for the poet's art is felection, and he ought to fhew the beauties without the grofsnefs of the country life. His ftanza feems to have been chofen in imitation of Rowe's Defpairing Shep


In the first part are two paffages, to which if any mind denies its fympathy, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:

I priz'd every hour that went by,

Beyond all that had pleas'd me before;
But now they are past, and I figh,

And I grieve that I priz'd them no more.
When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,
What anguifh I felt in my heart!
Yet I thought-but it might not be fo,
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.
She gaz'd, as I flowly withdrew,

My path I could hardly difcern;
So fweetly the bade me adieu,

I thought that the bade me return,

In the fecond this paffage has its prettinefs, though it be not equal to the former:

I have found out a gift for my fair;
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed:
But let me that plunder forbear,

She will fay 'twas a barbarous deed:

For he ne'er could be true, fhe averr'd,

Who could rob a poor bird of its young; And I lov'd her the more when I heard Such tenderness fall from her tongue.

In the third he mentions the common-places of amorous poetry with fome addrefs:

'Tis his with mock paffion to glow !
'Tis his in smooth tales to unfold,
How her face is as bright as the fnow,
And her bofom, be fure, is as cold:
How the nightingales labour the strain,

With the notes of his charmer to vie;
How they vary their accents in vain,
Repine at her triumphs, and die.

In the fourth I find nothing better than this natural strain of Hope:

Alas! from the day that we met,

What hope of an end to my woes? When I cannot endure to forget

The glance that undid my repofe.

Yet Time may diminish the pain:

The flower, and the fhrub, and the tree, Which I rear'd for her pleasure in vain,

In time may have comfort for me.

His Levities are by their title exempted from the severities of criticism; yet it may be remarked in a few words, that his humour is fometimes grofs, and feldom fpritely.


Of the Moral Poems the firft is the Choice of Her cules, from Xenophon. The numbers are smooth, the diction elegant, and the thoughts juft; but fomething of vigour perhaps is ftill to be wifhed, which it might have had by brevity and compreffion. His Fate of Delicacy has an air of gaiety, but not a very pointed general moral. His blank verfes, thofe that can read them may probably find to be like the blank verfes of his neighbours. Love and Honour is derived from the old ballad, Did you not hear of a Spanish Lady-I wish it well enough to wifh it were in rhyme.

The School-mistress, of which I know not what claim it has to ftand among the Moral Works, is furely the most pleafing of Shenftone's performances. The adoption of a particular ftyle, in light and short compofitions, contributes much to the increase of pleasure we are entertained at once with two imitations, of nature in the fentiments, of the original author in the style, and between them the mind is kept in perpetual employment.

The general recommendation of Shenftone is eafiness and fimplicity; his general defect is want of comprehenfion and variety. Had his mind been better ftored with knowledge, whether he could have been great, I know not; he could certainly have been agreeable.




HE following life was written, at my request, by a gentleman who had better information than I could easily have obtained; and the publick will perhaps with that I had folicited and obtained more fuch favours from him.


In confequence of our different converfations about authentick materials for the Life of Young, I fend you the following detail. It is not, I confefs, immediately in the line of my profeffion; but hard indeed is our fate at the bar, if we may not call a few hours now-and-then our own.

Of great men, fomething must always be faid to gratify curiofity. Of the great author of the Night Thoughts much has been told of which there never could have been proofs; and little care appears to have been taken to tell that of which proofs, with little trouble, might have been procured.

EDWARD YOUNG was born at Upham, near Winchester, in June, 1681. He was the fon of Ed


[ocr errors]

ward Young, at that time Fellow of Winchester Col lege and Rector of Upham; who was the fon of Jo. Young of Woodhay in Berkshire, styled by Wood gentleman. In September 1682 the Poet's father was collated to the prebend of Gillingham Minor, in the church of Sarum, by bifhop Ward. When Ward's faculties were impaired by age, his duties were neceffarily performed by others. We learn from Wood, that, at a vifitation of Sprat, July the 12th, 1686, the prebendary preached a Latin fermon, afterwards published, with which the Bifhop was fo pleafed, that he told the Chapter he was concerned to find the preacher had one of the worst prebends in their church. Some time after this, in confequence of his merit and reputation, or of the intereft of Lord Bradford, to whom, in 1702, he dedicated two volumes of fermons, he was appointed chaplain to King William and Queen Mary, and preferred to the deanery of Sarum. Jacob, who wrote in 1720, fays, he was chaplain and clerk of the clofet to the late Queen, who honoured him by ftanding godmother to the Poet. His fellowship of Winchester be refigned in favour of a Mr. Harris, who married his only daughter. The Dean died at Sarum, after a fhort illnefs, in 1705, in the fixty-third year of his age. On the Sunday after his deccafe Bishop Burnet preached at the cathedral, and began his fermon with faying, "Death has been "of late walking round us, and making breach upon “breach upon us, and has now carried away the head "of this body with a stroke; fo that he, whom you "faw a week ago diftributing the holy myfteries, is 66 now laid in the duft. But he fill lives in the many "excellent

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »