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DESCRIPTIVE poetry is the natural production of an early age in nations and in men : the youth of nations is incapable of supplying human character, the youth of individuals is incapable of seizing it; and both equally employ their powers on the easier topics of fields and floods, the azure of the skies and the purple of the mountains : but the same causes which make description rapturous to the unformed tastes of mankind render it insipid to their maturity; and every nation abandons the whole race of pastoral, in proportion as it advances in force of thought and activity of knowlege. Pope's instinctive skill labors to escape the difficulties of his subject by the interest of his Episodes : his politics and his miracles, the peace of Utrecht and the metamorphosis of Lodona, alternately diversify the page: he bounds over the narrow limits of pastoral, and ranges through history; calls up kingly memories from the tomb, passes sentence on the oppressor, panegyrises the champion of national happiness, and forgets the shade or sunshine of the landscape in the bolder lights and glooms of those who trod it in memorable good or evil.
The author states that this poem was written at two different times : the first part, which relates to the country, in 1704, at the same time with the pastorals ; the latter part in 1713, at which time it was published.'
The close of the poem is said to have given peculiar offence to Addison, as both a poet and a politician. The offence may fairly be conceived to have lain in Pope's open espousal of a cause fatal to Addison's party, and his advocacy of a negociation which tarnished all the laurels of the noblest war of England.
WIND Ş OR FOR E S T.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
GEORGE LORD LANSDOWNE.
Thy forest, Windsor! and thy green retreats,
5 Granville commands. Lord Lansdowne was an author of more variety than skill, and more diligenoe than success : tragedy and romance, description and criticism, served only to exercise his pen and the prudence of his friends: poetry was his mistress, but she never returned his flame; and the poet had no resource but to take refuge in the politician. There mediocrity of parts was less felt, and diligence more. From a private station he gradually advanced through successive offices, until, in 1710, he attained the peerage : but even then he was to feel the uncertainty of fortune. He was charged with disaffection to the Brunswick line, and in the next year was committed to the Tower; there succeeding a still more memorable example of the chances of public life ; for his apartment was the one in which sir Robert Walpole had been confined. Horace Walpole, with his usual wit, observes of lord Lansdowne's authorship, that it was lucky The groves of Eden, vanish'd now so long, Live in description, and look green in song: These, were my breast inspired with equal flame, Like them in beauty, should be like in fame. 10 Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain, Here earth and water seem to strive again; Not chaos-like together crush'd and bruised; But, as the world, harmoniously confused : Where order in variety we see;
15 And where, though all things differ, all agree. Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display, And part admit, and part exclude the day; As some coy nymph her lover's warm address Nor quite indulges, nor can quite repress : 20 There, interspersed in lawns and opening glades, Thin trees arise that shun each other's shades. Here in full light the russet plains extend : There wrapp'd in clouds the blueish hills ascend. Ev'n the wild heath displays her purple dies, 25 And midst the desert fruitful fields arise, That, crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn, Like verdant isles the sable waste adorn. Let India boast her plants, nor envy we The weeping amber or the balmy tree, 30 While by our oaks the precious loads are borne, And realms commanded which those trees adorn. Not proud Olympus yields a nobler sight, Though gods assembled grace his towering height, Than what more humble mountains offer here, 35 Where, in their blessings, all those gods appear. for him, in an age when persecution raged so fiercely against lukewarm authors, to have had an intimacy with the inquisitor. general.'