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production. The last of these poems, with its bright companions, the Lycidas, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, does not belong to the period under our notice, and shall be attended to in its place; but it will be proper not to pass the two former without remark, as they tend to exhibit to us the march of a mighty genius.
In the first of them, “ On the death of a fair Infant," written when our author was only seventeen, we find the boy-poet moving
and harmony under the shackles of rhyme, and managing a stanza, like the Spencerian but less bulky by two lines, with facility and effect. If he occasionally indulges in those conceits, which blemished all the poetry of that
his thoughts are more frequently just, and he is sometimes tender and sometimes sublime. The personification of Winter in his “ ice-ypearled car,” is conceived and expressed in the spirit of genuine poetry; and the 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th *stanzas entertain us with a crowd of beauties, unneighboured by a thought, a line, or, scarcely, an expression, which we can be desirous of changing.-I shall cite the fifth stanza for its peculiar merit; and the sixth,
Our author's niece, a daughter of his sister, Mrs. Philips.
as it seems to have suggested to Dryden one of those sublime ideas, with which he opens his noble ode on the death of Mrs. Anne Killegrew.
Or that thy corse corrupts in Earth's dark womb;
Hid from the world in a low.delved tomb.
Could beaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear)
Whether above that high first moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields (if such there were)?
The seventh stanza is the most objectionable of the poem: in the first, and the second, the thought, which, at the first glance, might seem to require defence, is certainly correct: in the first, indeed, it is beautifully
• I subjoin the passage from Dryden's Ode.
Whether adopted to some neighbouring star,
Thou roll'st above us in thy wand'ring race :
Moved with the heaven's majestic pace:
poetic. When the poet asks whether the object of his lamentation were
that just Maid, who once before Forsook the hated earth, &c.
and when he says
And thou the mother of so sweet a child
it is rather strange that both Tickell and Fenton should call this fair infant the NEPhew of our author,
In the ode “ On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," written after an interval of four years, we trace the flight of a more powererful fancy, and distinguish beauties of a superior order mingled with defects, perhaps, of a greater magnitude. It discloses, indeed, in most of its parts the vitious taste of the age; but even where it is most erroneous, it discloses also the power of the poet. The fourth stanza of the hymn is the offspring, at once, of correct judgment, and of strong imagination; and its merit is not lessened by the intrusion of a thought or a word, which the nicest critic would wish to be expelled.
No war or battle's sound
Was heard the world around :
The hooked chariot stood,
Upstain'd with hostile blood :
And kings sate still with awful eye,
The following stanza is not quite so unexceptionable and pure; but its errors are venial, and it closes beautifully
Who (the ocean) now hath quite forgot to rave,
The thirteen succeeding sianzas are disfigured by numerous conceits; but from the nineteenth,
The Oracles are dumb, &c.
to the conclusion of the ode, we are struck with the most forcible exhibition of the highest poetry. In the course of these nine stanzas we may perhaps be inclined to object to a few accidental words; but we cannot withhold our wonder from that vigour of conception, which has breathed a soul into the painting, and placed it in warm and strenuous animation before our eyes.
Besides these two little poems, which have been selected only as instances of the progress of our author's English muse, he produced some other small pieces of poetry in his native language, which are all distinguished by beauties and faults, and disco
ver strong power with an unformed taste. When in the verses written “ At a solemni Musick,” we read the following lines, where, speaking of the wedded sounds of the harmonious sisters,Voice and Verse, the young poet says that they are
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce,
To Him that sits thereon,
we acknowledge some touches of the Paradise Lost; and from the following passage of the “ Vacation Exercise” we may infer some slight promise of that divine
Yet I would rather, if I were to choose
But whatever emanations of genius may throw a light over his English poems, composed at this early stage of his life, there is