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admit of it. The description of Asiatic magnificence and man ners 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 a 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 showed the way.
A PIPE OF TOBACCO. In imitation of six several Authors.Mr. Hawkins Browne, the author of these, as I am told, had no good original manner of his own, yet we see how well he succeeds when he turns an imitator; for the following are rather imitations than ridiculous parodies.
A Night PIECE ON DEATH.—The great fault of this piece, written by Dr. Parnell, is, that it is in eight-syllable lines, very improper for the solemnity of the subject; otherwise, the poem is natural, and the reflections just.
A Fairy Tale. By Dr. Parnell.—Never was the old man. ner of speaking more happily applied, or a tale better told, than this.
PALEMON AND LAVINIA.—Mr. Thomson, though in general a verbose and affected poet, has told this story with unusual simplicity. It is rather given here for being much esteemed by the public than by the editor.
The BASTARD.—Almost all things written from the heart, as this certainly was, have some merit. The poet here describes sorrows and misfortunes which were by no means imaginary; and thus there runs a truth of thinking through this poem, with. out which it would be of little value, as Savage is, in other repects, but an indifferent poet.
THE POET AND HIS Patron.—Mr. More was a poet who never ad justice done him while living. There are few of the moderns
who have a more correct taste, or a more pleasing manner of expressing their thoughts. It was upon these Fables he chiefly founded his reputation ; yet they are by no means his best production.
AN EPISTLE to a Lady.—This little poem, by Mr. Nugent, is very pleasing. The easiness of the poetry, and the justice of the thoughts, constitute its principal beauty.
Hans CARVEL.—This bagatelle, for which, by the bye, Mr. Prior has got his greatest reputation, was a tale told in all the old Italian collections of jests, and borrowed from thence by Fontaine. It had been translated once or twice before into English, yet was never regarded till it fell into the hands of Mr. Prior. A strong instance how much every thing is improved in the hands of a man of genius.
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON.—This poem is very fine, and though in the same strain with the preceding, is yet superior.
ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF MR. ADDISON.—This elegy, by Mr. Tickell, is one of the finest in our language. There is so little new that can be said upon a death of a friend, after the complaints of Ovid and the Latin Italians in this way, that one is surprised to see so much novelty in this to strike us, and so much interest to affect.
COLIN AND Lucy. A Ballad. —Through all Tickell's works there is a strain of ballad-thinking, if I may so express it; and in this professed ballad he seems to have surpassed himself. It is, perhaps, the best in our language in this way.
THE TEARS OF SCOTLAND.--This ode, by Dr. Smollett, does rather more honor to the author's feelings than his taste. The mechanical part, with regard to numbers and language, is not so perfect as so short a work as this requires ; but the pathetic it contains, particularly in the last stanza but one, is exquisitely
ON THE DEATH OF THE LORD PROTECTOR.–Our poetry was not quite harmonized in Waller's time; so that this, which would be now looked upon as a slovenly sort of versification, was, with respect to the times in which it was written, almost a prodigy of harmony. A modern reader will chiefly be struck with the strength of thinking, and the turn of the compliments bestowed upon the usurper. Every body has heard the answer our poet made Charles II., who asked him how his poem upon Cromwell came to be finer than his panegyric upon himself ? “Your Majesty," replies Waller, “ knows that poets always succeed best in fiction." THE STORY OF PAEBUS AND DAPHNE APPLIED. —
0.-The French claim this as belonging to them. To whomsoever it belongs, the thought is finely turned.
Night THOUGHTS.—These seem to be the best of the collection; from whence only the two first are taken. They are spoken of differently, either with exaggerated applause or contempt, as the reader's disposition is either turned to mirth or melancholy.
SATIRES.-Young's Satires were in higher reputation when published than they stand in at present. He seems fonder of dazzling than pleasing; of raising our admiration for his wit, than our dislike of the follies he ridicules.
A PASTORAL BALLAD.—The ballads of Mr. Shenstone are chiefly commended for the natural simplicity of the thoughts, and the harmony of the versification. However, they are not excellent in either.
PHBE. A Pastoral.—This, by Dr. Byrom, is a better effort than the preceding.
A SONG. “ Despairing beside a clear stream.”_-This, by Mr. Rowe, is better than any thing of the kind in our language.
An Essay on POETRY.—This work, by the Duke of Buckingham, is enrolled among our great English productions. The pre
cepts are sensible, the poetry not indifferent, but it has been praised more than it deserves.
CADENAS AND VANESSA. —This is thought one of Dr. Swift's correctest pioces; its chief merit, indeed, is the elegant ease with which a story, but ill-conceived in itself, is told. Alma; or, THE PROGRESS OF THE MIND.— What Prior meant
poem I cannot understand: by the Greek motto to it
Πάντα γέλως, και πάντα κόνις, και πάντα το μηδέν.
one would think it was either to laugh at the subject or his reader. There are some parts of it very fine; and let them save the bad. Dess of the rest.
THE ROMAN HISTORY; FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE CITY OF
ROME TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE." 2 vols. 8vo. 1769.*
There are some subjects on which a writer must decline all attempts to acquire fame, satisfied with being obscurely useful. After such a number of Roman histories, in almost all languages, ancient and modern, it would be but imposture to pretend new
(Good works of this kind, which comprise within moderate compass national history-and of such a nation-for a long series of years, are rare. To be well executed, the writer must possess talents of a peculiar kind; and if not well done, they are useless, and soon neglected. Skilful abridgment, or condensation, is one of the most difficult tasks in literature. It requires a mind at once comprehensive and minute, neither superficial nor dry, fitted to embrace and arrange great things, and yet not neglect small; to these must be added that charm of genius, without which such works, though even carefully exe
discoveries, or to expect to offer any thing in a work of this kind, which has not been often anticipated by others. The facts which it relates have been a hundred times repeated, and every occur. rence has been so variously considered, that learning can scarcely find a new anecdote, or genius give novelty to the old. I hope, therefore, for the reader's indulgence, if, in the following attempt, it shall appear, that my only aim was to supply a concise, plain, and unaffected narrative of the rise and decline of a well-known empire. I was contented to make such a book as could not fail of being serviceable, though of all others the most unlikely to promote the reputation of the writer. Instead, therefore, of pressing forward among the ambitious, I only claim the merit of knowing my own strength, and falling back among the hindmost ranks, with conscious inferiority.
I am not ignorant, however, that it would be no difficult task to pursue the same art by which many dull men, every day, acquire a reputation in history: such might easily be attained, by fixing on some obscure period to write upon, where much seeming erudition might be displayed, almost unknown, because not worth remembering; and many maxims in politics might be advanced, entirely new, because altogether false. But I have pursued a contrary method, choosing the most noted period in history, and offering no remarks, but such as I thought strictly true.
The reasons of my choice were, that we had no history of this splendid period in our language, but what was either too voluminous for common use, or too meanly written to please. Catrou
cuted, seldom survive the year of their publication. If success be the criterion of excellence in this department, no writer of our country has approached Goldsmith in popularity ; for without professing to investigate facts, to be in the slightest degree original, or to give even a new version of a known incident, he has contrived to fix the attention upon his narratives, divide popular favor with more ample inquirers into historical affairs, while the editions of his works may be counted by dozens.]