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reader, in this series of devotional poems, are drawn from the great fountain of intellectual purity, the Gospel; and to the poet in his character of a Christian monitor, we may justly and gratefully apply the following verses from his poem on Charity
When one, that holds communion with the skies,
In the extensive and admirably varied poem on Conversation, the poet shines as a teacher of manners, as well as of morality and religion.
It is remarkable, that in this work he is particularly severe on what he considered as his own peculiar defect, that excess of diffidence, that insurmountable shyness, which is so apt to freeze the current of English conversation.
Our sensibilities are so acute,
True modesty is a discerning grace,
But counterfeit is blind, and skulks thro' fear,
This poem abounds with much admirable description both serious and comic. The portrait of a splenetic man is, perhaps, the most highly finished example of comic power; and the scene of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, is a perfect model of solemn and graceful simplicity, I cannot cease to speak of this very attractive poem, without observing that the author has inserted two passages intended to obviate such objections, as he conceived most likely to be urged against the tendency of his writings. He was aware, that the light and vain might suppose him a gloomy fanatic, and as a preservative against such injurious misconception, he composed the following just and animated lines.
What is fanatic frenzy, scorned so much,
I grant it dang’rous; and approve your fear;
He then draws an excellent picture of real fanaticism, and such a picture as could not have been painted by one of her votaries.
Again, to vindicate the cheerful tendency of the lessons he wishes to inculcate, he exclaims
Let no man charge me, that I mean
I will add a few verses from the close of the poem, because they appear a just description of his own eloquence, both in poetry and conversation, when he conversed with those he loved. He is speaking of a character improved by a proper sense of religion.
Thus touch'd, the tongue receives a sacred cure
For all that was absurd, prophane, impure :
Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech
The poem on Retirement may be a delightful and useful lesson to those, who wish to enjoy and improve a condition of life which is generally coveted by all, in some periods of their existence. The different votaries of retirement are very happily described ; and the portrait of Melancholy in particular, has all that minute, and forcible excellence, derived from the faithful delineation of nature; for the poet described himself when under the overwhelming pressure of that grievous malady. The caution to the loyer is expressed with all the delicacy, and force of the most friendly admonition ; and the fair sex are too much obliged to the tenderness of the poet to resent his bold assertion, that they are not entitled to absolute adoration.
This poem contains several of those exquisite, proverbial couplets, that I have noticed on a former
occasion. Verses like the following are fit to be treasured in the heart of every man.
An idler is a watch, that wants both hands,
Absence of occupation is not rest;
Religion does not censure, or exclude,
The very sweet close of this poem I will not dwell upon at present, because I mean to notice it, in collecting, as I advance, the most remarkable passages of the poet, in which he has spoken of himself. I must not however, bid adieu to his first volume for the present, without observing, that of the smaller poems at the end of it, three are eminently happy, both in sentiment and expression; the verses assigned