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THE MOTTO.-PAGE 27.
Dr. HURD has omitted in his Text the Lines from
He conquer'd th’ earth; the whole world, you. Earth, means this habitable globe; world, the system of universal nature. ... But the compliment is not a little extravagant! like that of Mr. Pope to Newton—
“God said, Let Newton be, and all was light”
—for which the Poet is very justly reprehended by his learned Commentator.
only he, Who best can praise thee, next must be. i. e. he must be only next; for none but Cicero himself was equal to the subject. The poet glances at what Livy said of the great Roman orator—“vir magnus, acer, memorabilis, et in cujus laudes sequendas Cicerone laudatore opus fuerit.” A fragment, preserved by the elder Seneca.
Whose verse walks highest, but not flies. i. e. which keeps within the limits of nature, and is sublime without being extravagant. Virgil's epic Muse is here justly characterized: the Lyric, is a swan of another species, of which the poet says nobly, elsewhere— “Lo, how th' obsequious wind and swelling air “The Theban swan does upwards bear “Into the walks of clouds, where he does play, “And with extended wings open his liquid way.” Pindaric Odes. The Praise of Pindar.
ODE.-OF WIT.—PAGE 28.
Less women lore’t, either in love or dress. We should now
say, to avoid the disagreeable contraction,-
—But our poet affected these contractions, and, if we may believe the writer of his life, fancied they gave a strength and energy to his verse. The truer reason for his use of them was, that he found them in fashion.
PAGE 29. No towns or houses rais'd by poetry. Here used in the double sense of houses, properly so called, and of families.
PAGE 30. If those be stars which paint the Galaxy. This idea has been borrowed by Mr. Addison, and applied, with much elegance, to our poet himself. For, speaking of Mr. Cowley's wit, he says— “One glitt'ring thought no sooner strikes our eyes “With silent wonder, but new wonders rise: “As in the milky way a shining white “O'erflows the heav'ns with one continued light;" “That not a single star can shew his rays, “Whilst jointly all promote the common blaze. Account of English Poets, to Mr. H. S.
Nor the dry chips of short-lung’d Seneca. Meaning his short sentences, as if he had not breath enough to serve him for longer—anhelanti similis—Yet, in another sense, he is, perhaps, the most long-winded author of antiquity. For, as Mr. Bayle has well observed, “Il n'y a guere d'ecrivain “ dont le verbiage soit plus grand que celui de Seneque: “ Cicero mettroit dans une periode de six lignes ce que Se“ neque dit dans six periodes qui tiennent huit ou neuf “lignes.” Lettres, t. ii. p. 150.
Dr. HURD has omitted the two concluding stanzas of this Ode.
TO THE LORD FALKLAND,
For his safe Return from the Northern Expedition against the Scots, in 1639,-PAGE 31.
Consequently the poet was then in his 21st year. These verses to the Lord Falkland perpetuate the memory of the author's entire friendship with that virtuous and accomplished nobleman—a friendship contracted, as Dr. Sprat tells us, by the agreement of their learning and manners.—It is remarkable, that we find no compliment addressed by Mr. Cowley to the Duke of Buckingham, or the Earl of St. Albans. He supposed, without doubt, that he had done honour enough to those lords (some will think, too much) in permitting them to be his patrons:
“Enough for half the greatest of those days
All virtues, and some customs of the court. The expression is remarkable, and implies that not all the customs of Charles the First's court were such as would be approved by a man of virtue. If any are curious to know what those customs were, they may have their curiosity in part gratified, by turning to two remarkable letters of Lady Leicester and Ilord Robert Spencer, in the collection of the Sidney papers, vol. ii. p. 472, and p. 668.
To question a monopoly of wit? As it had done many other monopolies. The allusion is not so far-fetched as it seems.
As far from danger, as from fear he's free. Yet it was, in part, to vindicate himself from the imputation of this fear, that he always put himself in the way of danger, and in the end, threw away his valuable life at the battle of Newbury.
oN THE DEATH of MR. JoRDAN, second MASTER of west MINSTER SCHool.-PAGE 34.
Dr. Hurd has selected the following lines only from this poem,
ON THE DEATH OF SIR ANTHONY WANDYKE. PAGE 39. Tho' poets in that word with painters share. Namely, dare;
pictoribus atque poetis “Quidlibet audendi semper fuit aequa potestas.” Ars. Poet. ver, 11. Nor was his hand less erring than his heart. A noble eulogy of this extraordinary man! and, if report says true, a very just one.
PAGE 40. Wond’rously painted in the mind divine. A platonic idea, which Malbranche and our Norris have rendered so famous.
Only his beauteous lady still he loves. A lady, of distinguished quality, as well as beauty, daughter to the Lord Ruthen, Earl of Gowry.
ON THE DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM HERVEY,
PAGE 50, The author's beloved friend.—This poem came from the heart, and is therefore more natural and pleasing than most others of our author. Unluckily, it occasioned the poet's introduction to Lord St. Alban's, that is, it ruined his fortune. My dearest friend would l had dy'd for thee. From 2 Sam. xviii. PAGE 51. A strong and mighty influence join'd our birth. In this and the following stanza the poet has copied Persius, Sat. v.; but with freedom and spirit.
PAGE 52. He lov'd my worthless rhymes, and, like a friend. &&. — each finding, like a friend,
“Something to blame, and something to commend.” Pope, to Mr. Jervas. Large was his soul; as large a soul as eler. Mr. Gray seems to have had his eye on this line when he wrote that verse, in his Epitaph— “Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere.” - PAGE 53. We 'ave lost in him arts that not yet are found. “And worlds applaud, that must not yet be found.” Pope, Essay on Crit. ver. 194. PAGE 55. ... Where grief and misery can be join'd with verse. Rightly