« AnteriorContinuar »
have allusions and a style more or less appro He embarked also in the politics of the day, priate to the time in which they profess to as a poetical antagonist to Churchill, but with have been written ; but they are none of them little advantage to his memory. Before the likely to deceive a competent scholar Chat publication of his 'Marine Dictionary,' he had terton displays occasionally great power of left his retreat at Chatham for a less comfortsatire, and generally a luxuriance of fancy and able abode in the metropolis, and appears to richness of invention which, considering his have struggled with considerable difficulties, youth, were not unworthy of Spenser. His in the midst of which he received proposals avowed compositions are very inferior to the from the late Mr. Murray, the bookseller, to forgeries--a fact that Scott explains by sup join him in the business which he had newly posing that in the forgeries all his powers established. The cause of his refusing this must have been taxed to the utmost to sup offer was, in all probability, the appointment port the deception.”—Dr. Angus's “Hand which he received to the pursership of the book Eng. Lit." See Allibone's "Crit. Dict. Eng. 'Aurora,' East Indiaman. In that ship he Lit.”; Shaw's "Hist. Eng. Lit."; Gilfillan's embarked for India, in September, 1769, but ed. “ Chatterton's Poems."
the 'Aurora' was never heard of after she passed the Cape, and was thought to have foundered in the Channel of Mozambique; so that the poet of the 'Shipwreck' may be sup
posed to have perished by the same species of WILLIAM FALCONER.
calamity which he had rehearsed.
“ The subject of the “Shipwreck,' and the “ William Falconer, born 1730, died 1769, fate of its author, bespeak an uncommon parwas the son of a barber in Edinburgh, and tiality in its favour. If we pay respect to the went to sea at an early age in a merchant ingenious scholar who can produce agreeable vessel of Leith. He was afterwards mate of verses amidst the shades of retirement, or the a ship that was wrecked in the Levant, and shelves of his library, how much more interest was one of only three out of her crew that must we take in the ship-boy on the high were saved, a catastrophe which formed the and giddy mast,' cherishing refined visions of subject of his future poem. He was for some fancy at the hour which he may casually time in the capacity of a servant to Campbell, snatch from fatigue and danger. Nor did the author of 'Lexiphanes,' when purser of a Falconer neglect the proper acquirements of ship. Campbell is said to have discovered in seamanship in cultivating poetry, but evinced Falconer talents worthy of cultivation, and considerable knowledge of his profession, both when the latter distinguished himself as a in his 'Marine Dictionary' and in the nautical poet, used to boast that he had been his precepts of the 'Shipwreck. In that poem scholar. What he learned from Campbell it he may be said to have added a congenial is not very easy to ascertain. His education, and peculiarly British subject to the lanas he often assured Governor Hunter, had guage; at least, we had no previous poem been confined to reading, writing, and a little of any length of which the characters and arithmetic, thongh in the course of his life he catastrophe were purely naval. picked up some acquaintance with the French, ** The scene of the catastrophe (though he Spanish, and Italian languages. In these his followed only the fact of his own history) was countryman was not likely to have much as poetically laid amidst seas and shores where sisted him ; but he might have lent him books, the mind easily gathers romantic associations, and possibly instructed him in the use of and where it supposes the most picturesque figures. Falconer published his 'Shipwreck' | vicissitudes of scenery and climate. The in 1762, and by the favour of the Duke of spectacle of a majestic British ship on the York, to whom it was dedicated, obtained the shores of Greece brings as strong a reminiappointment of a midshipman in the 'Royal scence to the mind as can well be imagined, of George,' and afterwards that of purser in the the changes which time has wrought in transGlory' frigate. He soon afterwards married planting the empire of arts and civilization. a Miss Hicks, an accomplished and beautiful Falconer's characters are few ; but the calm, woman, the daughter of the surgeon of Sheer sagacious commander, and the rough, obstiness-yard. At the peace of 1763 he was on nate Rodmond, are well contrasted. Some the point of being reduced to distressed cir part of the love-story of Palemon' is rather cumstances by his ship being laid up in ordi swainish and protracted, yet the effect of his nary at Chatham, when, by the friendship of being involved in the calamity leaves a deeper Commissioner Hanway, who ordered the cabin sympathy in the mind for the daughter of of the Glory' to be fitted up for his resi Albert, when we conceive her at once deprived dence, he enjoyed for some time a retreat for both of a father and a lover. The incidents study without expense or embarrassment. of the “Shipwreck,' like those of a wellHere he employed himself in compiling his wrought tragedy, gradually deepen, while they “ Marine Dictionary,' which appeared in 1769, yet leave a suspense of hope and fear to the and has been always highly spoken of by imagination. In the final scene there is somethose who are capable of estimating its merits. | thing that deeply touches our compassion in
the picture of the unfortunate man who is the news of Churchill's death arrived, Lloyd struck blind by a flash of lightning at the was seated at dinner; he became instantly helm. I remember, by the way, to have met sick, cried out ‘Poor Charles ! I shall follow with an affecting account of the identical him soon, and died in a few weeks. Churcalamity befalling the steersman of a forlorn chill's sister, a woman of excellent abilities, vessel in a similar moment, given in a prose waited on Lloyd during his illness, and died and veracious history of the loss of a vessel soon after him of a broken heart. This was on the coast of America. Falconer skilfully / in 1764. heightens this trait by showing its effect on “Lloyd was a minor Churchill. He had not the commiseration of Rodmond, the roughest his brawny force, but he had more than his of his characters, who guides the victim of liveliness of wit, and was a much better-conmisfortune to lay hold of a sail.
ditioned man, and more temperate in his
satire. Cowper knew, loved, and admired, 'A flash, quick glancing on the nerves of
and in some of his verses imitated, Robert light, Struck the pale helmsman with eternal
Lloyd."-Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets,"
126, 127, night : !
Rodmond, who heard a piteous groan be
hind, Touch'd with compassion, gazed upon the blind ;
CHARLES CHURCHILL. And, while around his sad companions crowd,
“Charles Churchill, born 1731, died 1764. He guides th' unhappy victim to the
He was the son of a respectable clergyman, shroud,
who was curate and lecturer of St. John's, Hie thee aloft, my gallant friend! he cries;
Westrinster. He was educated at WestThy only succour on the mast relies!' minster School, and entered Trinity College,
Cambridge, but not being disposed 1
“The effect of some of his sea phrases is to give a definite and authentic character to
O'er crabbed authors life's gay prime to his descriptions; but that of most of them, to a
waste, landsman's ear, resembles slang, and produces
Or cramp wild genius in the chains of obscurity. His diction, too, generally abounds
taste,' with common-place expletives and feeble lines. His scholarship on the shores of Greece is
he left the university abruptly, and coming to only what we should accept of from a seaman;
London made a clandestine marriage in the
Fleet. His father, though much displeased at but his poem has the sensible charm of ap; pearing a transcript of reality, and leaves an
the proceeding, became reconciled to what impression of truth and nature on the mind."
could not be remedied, and received the im-Campbell's “Specimens,” 480, 481. See Alli
prudent couple for about a year under his bone's “Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”; Chambers's
roof. After this young Churchill went for ** Cyc. Eng. Lit.," vol. i.
some time to study theology at Sunderland, in the north of England, and having taken orders, officiated at Cadbury, in Somersetshire, and at Rainham, a living of his father's
in Essex, till upon the death of his father he ROBERT LLOYD.
succeeded, in 1758, to the curacy and lecture
ship of St. John's, Westminster. Here he "Robert Lloyd was born in. London in 1733. conducted himself for some time with a deHe was the son of one of the under-masters . corum suitable to his profession, and increased
of Westminster School. He went to Cam his narrow income by undertaking private ! bridge, where he became distinguished for his tuition. He got into debt, it is true ; and Dr.
talents and notorious for his dissipation. He Lloyd, of Westminster, the father of his friend became an usher under his father, but soon the poet, was obliged to mediate with his cretired of the drudgery, and commenced profes ditors for their acceptance of a composition ; sional author. He published a poem called
but when fortune put it into his power * The Actor,' which attracted attention, and Churchill honourably discharged all his obliwas the precursor of the Rosciad. He gations. His "Rosciad' appeared at first wrote for periodicals, produced some theatrical anonymonsly, in 1761, and was ascribed to pieces of no great merit, and edited the 'St. one or other of half the wits in town; but James's Magazine.' This failed, and Lloyd, his acknowledgement of it, and his poetical involved in pecuniary distresses, was cast into * Apology,' in which he retaliated upon the the Fleet. Here he was deserted by all his critical reviewers of his poem (not fearing to boon companions except Churchill, to whose affront even Fielding and Smollett), made him sister he was attached, and who allowed him at once famous and formidable. The players, a guinea a-week and a servant, besides pro at least, felt him to be so. Garrick himself, moting a subscription for his benefit. When who, though extolled in the “Rosciad,' was
sarcastically alluded to in the 'Apology,' Accordingly, the most prominent circumcourted him like a suppliant; and his satire stances that we afterwards learn respecting had the effect of driving poor Tom Davies, him are, that he separated from his wife, and the biographer of Garrick, though he was a seduced the daughter of a tradesman in Westtolerable performer, from the stage. A letter minster. At the end of a fortnight, either from another actor, of the name of Davis, who from his satiety or repentance, he advised this seems rather to have dreaded than experienced unfortunate woman to return to her friends; his severity, is preserved in Nichols's Literary but took her back again upon her finding her Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century,' in home made intolerable by the reproaches of a which the poor comedian deprecates the poet's sister. His reputation for inebriety also recensure in an expected publication, as likely ceived some public acknowledgments. Hoto deprive him of bread. What was mean garth gave as much celebrity as he could to in Garrick might have been an object of com his love of porter, by representing him in the passion in this humble man; but Churchill act of drinking a mug of that liquor in the answered him with surly contempt, and hold shape of a bear; but the painter had no great ing to the plea of justice, treated his fears with reason to congratulate himself ultimately on the apparent satisfaction of a hangman. His the effects of his caricature. Our poet was moral character, in the meantime, did not included in the general warrant that was keep pace with his literary reputation. As he issued for apprehending Wilkes. He hid himgot above neglect he seems to have thought self, however, and avoided imprisonment. In himself above censure. His superior, the the autumn of 1764 he paid a visit to Mr. Dean of Westminster, having had occasion to Wilkes at Boulogne, where he caught a milirebuke him for some irregularities, he threw tary fever, and expired in his thirty-third aside at once the clerical habit and profession, year. and arrayed his ungainly form in the splen “Churchill may be ranked as a satirist imdour of fashion. Amidst the remarks of his mediately after Pope and Dryden, with perenemies, and what he pronounces the still haps a greater share of humour than either. more insulting advice of his prudent friends He has the bitterness of Pope, with less wit upon his irregular life, he published his epistle to atone for it; but no mean share of the to Lloyd, entitled Night,' a sort of manifesto free manner and energetic plainness of Dry. of the impulses, for they could not be called den. After the 'Rosciad' and ' Apology' he principles, by which he professed his conduct began his poem of the 'Ghost' (founded on to be influenced. The leading maxims of this the well-known story of Cock-lane), many parts epistle are, that prudence and hypocrisy in of which tradition reports him to have comthese times are the same thing! that good posed when scarce recovered from his fits of hours are but fine words; and that it is drunkenness. It is certainly a rambling and better to avow faults than to conceal them. scandalous production, with a few such oriSpeaking of his convivial enjoyments, he ginal gleams as might have crossed the brain says
of genius amidst the bile and lassitude of dis
sipation. The novelty of political warfare Night's laughing hours unheeded slip
seems to have given a new impulse to his away,
powers in the Prophecy of Famine,' a satire Nor one dull thought foretells approach
on Scotland, which even to Scotchmen must of day.'
seem to sheath its sting in its laughable exIn the same description he somewhat awk.
travagance. His poetical . Epistle to Hogarth' wardly introduces
is remarkable, amidst its savage ferocity, for
one of the best panegyrics that was ever beWine's gay God, with TEMPERANCE by stowed on that painter's works. He scalps his side,
indeed even barbarously the infirmities of the -Whilst HEALTH attends.'
man, but, on the whole, spares the laurels of
the artist. The following is his description of How would Churchill have belaboured any Hogarth's powers :fool or hypocrite who had pretended to boast of health and temperance in the midst of 'In walks of humour, in that cast of orgies that turned night into day!
style, “By his connection with Wilkes he added Which, probing to the quick, yet makes political to personal causes of animosity, and
us smile; did not diminish the number of unfavourable In comedy, his nat'ral road to fame, eyes that were turned upon his private cha Nor let me call it by a meaner name, racter. He had certainly, with all his faults, Where a beginning, middle, and an end some strong and good qualities of the heart; Are aptly join'd; where parts on parts but the particular proofs of these were not depend, likely to be sedulously collected as materials Each made for each, as bodies for their of his biography, for he had now placed him
soul, self in that light of reputation when a man's So as to form one true and perfoct likeness is taken by its shadow and darkness.
Where a plain story to the eye is told, Which we conceive the moment we
behold, Hogarth unrivall’d stands, and shall
engage Unrivall’d praise to the most distant age.'
“There are two peculiarly interesting passages in his Conference. One of them, expressive of remorse for his crime of seduction, has been often quoted. The other is a touching description of a man of independent spirit reduced by despair and poverty to accept of the means of sustaining life on humiliating terms. * What proof might do, what hunger
might effect, What famish'd nature, looking with
neglect On all she once held dear, what fear, at
strife With fainting virtue for the means of
life, Might make this coward flesh, in love
with breath, Shudd'ring at pain, and shrinking back
afresh I feel,
MICHAEL BRUCE. “We refer our readers to Dr. Mackelvie's well-known and very able Life of poor Bruce' for his full story, and for the evidence on which his claim to the Cuckoo' is rested. Apart from external evidence, we think that poem more characteristio of Bruce's genius than of Logan's, and have therefore ranked it under Bruce's name.
“Bruce was born on the 27th of March, 1746, at Kinnesswood, parish of Portmoak, county of Kinross. His father was a weaver, and Michael was the fifth of a family of eight children. Poor as his parents were, they were intelligent, religious, and most conscientious in the discharge of their duties to their chil. dren. In the summer months Michael was sent out to herd cattle ; and one loves to imagine the young poet wrapt in his plaid, under a whin-bush, while the storm was blowing, -or gazing at the rainbow from the summit of a fence,-or admiring at Lochleven and its old ruined castle, -or weaving around the form of some little maiden, herding in a neighbouring field--some Jeanie Morri. son'-one of those webs of romantic early love which are beautiful and evanescent as the gossamer, but how exquisitely relished while they last! Say not, with one of his biographers, that his education was retarded by this employment;' he was receiving in these solitary fields a kind of education which no school and no college could furnish; nay, who knows but, as he saw the cuckoo winging her way from one deep woodland recess to another, or heard her dull, divine monotone coming from the heart of the forest, the germ of that exquisite strain, least in the kingdom' of the heaven of poetry in size, but immortal in its smallness, was sown in his mind? In winter he went to school, and profited there so much, that at fifteen (not a very early period, after all, for a Scotch student beginning his curriculum-in our day twelve was not an uncommon age) he was judged fit for going to college. And just in time a windfall came across the path of our poet, the mention of which may make many of our readers smile. This was a legacy which was left his father by a relative, amounting to 200 marks, or £11.2s.6d. With this munificent sum in his pocket, Bruce was sent to study at Edinburgh College. Here he became distinguished by his attainments, and particularly his taste and poetic powers; and here, too, he became acquainted with John Logan, afterwards his biographer. After spending three sessions at college, supported by his parents and other friends, he returned to the country, and taught a school at Gairney Bridge (a place famous for the first meeting of the first presbytery of the Seceders), for £11 of salary. Thence he removed to Foresthill, near Alloa, where a damp school-room, poverty, and hard labour in teaching, united to injure his health and
Those wounds, which humbled all that
pride of man, Which brings such mighty aid to virtue's
prevail'd; Sinking beneath the storm, my spirits
fail'd, Like Peter's faith.' " But without enumerating similar passages, which may form an exception to the Temark, the general tenor of his later works fell beneath his first reputation. His 'Duellist' is positively dull; and his 'Gotham,' the imaginary realm of which he feigns himself the sovereign, is calculated to remind us of the proverbial wisdom of its sages. It was justly complained that he became too much an echo of himself, and that before his short literary career was closed, his originality appeared to be exhausted.”—Campbell's “Spe. cimens,” pp. 454-456. See Allibone's “ Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.” ; Shaw's “ Hist. Eng. Lit."; Gilfillan's Ed. of "Churchill's Poems."
depress his spirits. At Foresthill he wrote shadowy, shifting, supernatural characterhis poem 'Lochleven,' which discovers no heard, but seldom seen-its note so limited small descriptive power. Consumption began and almost unearthly :now to make its appearance, and he returned to the cottage of his parents, where he wrote O Cuckoo, shall I call thee bird, his Elegy on Spring, in which he refers with
Or but a wandering voice ?' dignified pathos to his approaching dissolution. On the 5th of July, 1767, this remarkable How fine this conception of a separated voice youth died, aged twenty-one years and three -The viewless spirit of a lonely sound,' months. His Bible was found on his pillow, plaining in the woods as if seeking for some marked at the words, Jer. xxii. 10,- Weep ye incarnation it cannot find, and saddening the not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but spring groves by a note so contradictory to weep sore for him that goeth away: for he the genius of the season. In reference to the shall return no more, nor see his native note of the cuckoo we find the following recountry.'
marks among the fragments from the common“Lord Craig wrote some time afterwards place book of Dr. Thomas Brown, printed by an affecting paper in the Mirror,' recording Dr. Welsh :
-The name of the cuckoo has the fate, and commending the genius of Bruce. generally been considered as a very pure John Logan, in 1770, published his poems. instance of imitative harmony. But in giving In the year 1807, the kind-hearted Principal that name, we have most unjustly defrauded Baird published an edition of the poems for the poor bird of a portion of its very small the behoof of Bruce's mother, then an aged variety of sound. The second syllable is not widow. And in 1837, Dr. William Mackelvie, a mere echo of the first; it is the sound reBalgedie, Kinross-shire, published what may | versed, like the reading of a sotadic line ; and be considered the standard Life of this poet, to preserve the strictness of the imitation we along with a complete edition of his Works. should give it the name of Ook-koo.'. This is
“ It is impossible from so small a segment the prose of the cuckoo after its poetry." of a circle as Bruce's life describes to infer Such is Gilfillan's eloquent tribute to the with any certainty the whole. So far as we genius of Bruce; we must, however, give the can judge from the fragments left, his power authorship of the “ Cuckoo" to Logan.was rather in the beautiful, than in the sub Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets," vol. iii., lime or in the strong. The lines on Spring,
See Allibone's " Crit. Dict. from the words. Now spring returns' to the Eng. Lit.”; Chambers's “Cyc. Eng. Lit."; close, form a continuous stream of pensive Shaw's "Hist. Eng. Lit." loveliness. How sweetly he sings in the shadow of death! Nor let us too severely blame his allusion to the old Pagan mythology, in the words "I hear the helpless wail, the shriek of
JOHN LOGAN. woe, I see the muddy wave, the dreary “ John Logan was born in the year 1748. shore;'
He was the son of a farmer at Soutra, in the
parish of Fala, Mid-Lothian. He was educated remembering that he was still a mere student,
for the church at Edinburgh, where he became and not recovered from that fine intoxication
intimate with Robertson, afterwards the his. in which classical literature drenches a young torian. So, at least, Campbell asserts; but imaginative soul, and that at last we find him
he strangely calls him a student of the same resting in the hopes of an eternal day.' * Lochleven' is the spent echo of the Sea
standing, whereas, in fact, Robertson saw
light in 1721, and had been a settled minister sons,' although, as we said before, its descrip
five years before Logan was born. After tions possess considerable merit. His "Last
finishing his studies he became tutor in the Day' is more ambitious than successful. If
family of Mr. Sinclair of Ulbster, and the late we grant the Cuckoo' to be his, as we are well-known Sir John Sinclair was one of his inclined decidedly to do, it is a sure title to pupils. When licensed to preach, Logan befame, being one of the sweetest little poems
came popular, and was in his twenty-fifth in any language. Shakspere would have been
year appointed one of the ministers of South proud of the verse-
Leith. In 1781 he read, in Edinburgh, a "Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
course of lectures on the Philosophy of Thy sky is ever clear;
History, and in 1782 he printed one of them, Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
on the Government of Asia. In the same No winter in thy year.'
year he published a volume of poems, which
were well received. In 1783 he wrote a tragedy Bruce has not, however, it has always ap called "Runnymede,' which was, owing to peared to us, caught so well as Wordsworth some imagined incendiary matter, prohibited the differentia of the cuckoo,-its invisible, from being acted on the London boards, but