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excited by the use of mince-pies and plum-por- The diction of this poem is grossly familiar ridge; nor seen with what abhorrence those, who and the numbers purposely neglected, except in could eat them at all other times of the year, a few places where the thoughts by their native would shrink from them in December. An old excellence secure themselves from violation, being puritan, who was alive in my childhood, being at such as mean language cannot express. The one of the feasts of the church invited by a neigh-mode of versification has been blamed by Drybour to partake his cheer, told him, that if he den, who regrets that the heroic measure was not would treat him at an alehouse with beer brewed rather chosen. To the critical sentence of Dryden for all times and seasons, he should accept his the highest reverence would be due, were not his kindness, but would have none of his supersti- decisions often precipitate, and his opinions imtious meats or drinks. mature. When he wished to change the measure, he probably would have been willing to change more. If he intended that, when the numbers were heroic, the diction should still remain vulgar, he planned a very heterogeneous and unnatural composition. If he preferred a general stateliness both of sound and words, he can be only understood to wish Butler had undertaken a different work.

One of the puritanical tenets was the illegality of all games of chance; and he that reads Gataker upon Lots may see how much learning and reason one of the first scholars of his age thought necessary, to prove that it was no crime to throw a die, or play at cards, or to hide a shilling for the reckoning.

Astrology, however, against which so much of the satire is directed, was not more the folly of the puritans than of others. It had in that time a very extensive dominion. Its predictions raised hopes and fears in minds which ought to have rejected it with contempt. In hazardous undertakings care was taken to begin under the influence of a propitious planet; and, when the King was prisoner in Carisbrook Castle, an astrologer was consulted what hour would be found most favourable to an escape.

What effect this poem had upon the public, whether it shamed imposture, or reclaimed credulity, is not easily determined. Cheats can seldom stand long against laughter. It is certain that the credit of planetary intelligence wore fast away; though some men of knowledge, and Dryden Nor, even though another Butler should arise, among them, continued to believe that conjunc-would another "Hudibras" obtain the same retions and oppositions had a great part in the dis- gard. Burlesque consists in a disproportion betribution of good or evil, and in the government tween the style and the sentiments, or between of sublunary things. the adventitious sentiments and the fundamental Poetical action ought to be probable upon cer- subject. It, therefore, like all bodies compounded tain suppositions; and such probability as bur- of heterogeneous parts, contains in it a principle lesque requires is here violated only by one inci- of corruption. All disproportion is unnatural dent. Nothing can show more plainly the neces- and from what is unnatural we can derive only sity of doing something, and the difficulty of find- the pleasure which novelty produces. We ad ing something to do, than that Butler was reduced mire it awhile as a strange thing; but when it is to transfer to his hero the flagellation of Sancho, no longer strange, we perceive its deformity. It not the most agreeable fiction of Cervantes; very is a kind of artifice, which by frequent repetition suitable indeed to the manners of that age and detects itself: and the reader, learning in time nation, which ascribed wonderful efficacy to vo- what he is to expect, lays down his book, as the luntary penances; but so remote from the prac-spectator turns away from a second exhibition of tice and opinions of the Hudibrastic time, that those tricks, of which the only use is to show that judgment and imagination are alike offended. they can be played.

The measure is quick, sprightly, and colloquia., suitable to the vulgarity of the words and the levity of the sentiments. But such numbers and such diction can gain regard only when they are used by a writer whose vigour of fancy and copiousness of knowledge entitle him to contempt of ornaments, and who, in consequence of the novelty and justness of his conceptions, can afford to throw metaphors and epithets away. To another that conveys common thoughts in careless versification, it will only be said, Pauper videri Cinna vult, et est pauper. The meaning and diction will be worthy of each other, and criticism may justly doom them to perish together.


JOHN WILMOT, afterwards Earl of Rochester, the son of Henry, Earl of Rochester, better known by the title of Lord Wilmot, so often mentioned in Clarendon's History, was born April 10, 1647, at Ditchley, in Oxfordshire. After a grammatical education at the school of Burford, he entered a nobleman into Wadham College, in 1659, only twelve years old; and in 1661, at fourteen, was, with some other persons of high rank, made master of arts by Lord Clarendon in person.

He travelled afterwards into France and Italy; and at his return devoted himself to the court. In 1665, he went to sea with Sandwich, and distinguished himself at Bergen, by uncommon intrepidity; and the next summer served again on board Sir Edward Spragge, who, in the heat of the engagement, having a message of reproof to send to one of his captains, could find no man ready to carry it but Wilmot, who, in an open boat, went and returned amidst the storm of shot

He died, July 26, 1680, before he had completed his thirty-fourth year; and was so worn away by a long illness, that life went out without a struggle.

Lord Rochester was eminent for the vigour of his colloquial wit, and remarkable for many wild pranks and sallies of extravagance. The glare of his general character diffused itself upon his writings; the compositions of a man whose name was heard so often were certain of attention, and from many readers certain of applause. This blaze of reputation is not yet quite extinguished; and his poetry still retains some splendour be

He had very early an inclination to intemperance, which he totally subdued in his travels; but, when he became a courtier, he unhappily addicted himself to dissolute and vicious company, by which his principles were corrupted, and his manners depraved. He lost all sense of religious restraint, and, finding it not convenient to admit the authority of laws, which he was re-yond that which genius has bestowed. solved not to obey, sheltered his wickedness be- Wood and Burnet give us reason to believe, hind infidelity. that much was imputed to him which he did not As he excelled in that noisy and licentious mer-write. I know not by whom the original collecriment which wine excites, his companions eagerly tion was made, or by what authority its genuineencouraged him in excess, and he willingly in- ness was ascertained. The first edition was pubdulged it; till, as he confessed to Dr. Burnet, he lished in the year of his death, with an air of conwas for five years together continually drunk, or cealment, professing in the title-page to be printed so much inflamed by frequent ebriety, as in no at Antwerp. interval to be master of himself.

But his reputation for bravery was not lasting; he was reproached with slinking away in street quarrels, and leaving his companions to shift as they could without him; and Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, has left a story of his refusal to fight him.

In this state he played many frolics, which it is not for his honour that we should remember, and which are not now distinctly known. He often pursued low amours in mean disguises, and always acted with great exactness and dexterity the characters which he assumed.

He once erected a stage on Tower-hill, and harangued the populace as a mountebank; and, having made physic part of his study, is said to have practised it successfully.

He was so much in favour with King Charles, that he was made one of the gentlemen of the bed-chamber, and comptroller of Woodstock Park.

Having an active and inquisitive mind, he never, except in his paroxysms of intemperance, was wholly negligent of study; he read what is considered as polite learning so much, that he is mentioned by Wood, as the greatest scholar of all the nobility. Sometimes he retired into the country, and amused himself with writing libels, in which he did not pretend to confine himself to truth.

His favourite author in French was Boileau, and in English, Cowley.

Thus in a course of drunken gayety, and gross sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all decency and order, a total disregard of every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious obligation, he lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness; till, at the age of one-and-thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.

At this time he was led to an acquaintance with Dr. Burnet, to whom he laid open with great freedom the tenor of his opinions, and the course of his life, and from whom he received such conviction of the reasonableness of moral duty, and the truth of Christianity, as produced a total change both of his manners and opinions. The account of those salutary conferences is given by Burnet, in a book entitled, "Some Passages of the Life and Death of John, Earl of Rochester," which the critic ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety. It were an injury to the reader to offer him an abridgment.

Of some of the pieces, however, there is no doubt. The imitation of Horace's satire, the verses to Lord Mulgrave, satire against Man, the verses upon "Nothing," and perhaps some others, are I believe genuine, and perhaps most of those which the collection exhibits.*

As he cannot be supposed to have found leisure for any course of continued study, his pieces are commonly short, such as one fit of resolution would produce.

His songs have no particular character; they tell, like other songs, in smooth and easy language, of scorn and kindness, dismission and desertion, absence and inconstancy, with the common-places of artificial courtship. They are commonly smooth and easy; but have little nature, and little sentiment.

His imitation of Horace on Lucilius is not inelegant, or unhappy. In the reign of Charles the Second, began that adaption, which has since been very frequent, of ancient poetry to present times; and perhaps few will be found where the parallelism is better preserved than in this. The versification is indeed sometimes careless, but it is sometimes vigorous and weighty.

The strongest effort of his Muse is his poem upon "Nothing." He is not the first who has chosen this barren topic for the boast of his fertility. There is a poem called "Nihil," in Latin, by Passerat, a poet and critic of the sixteenth century, in France; who, in his own epitaph, expresses his zeal for good poetry thus :-Molliter ossa quiescent, Sint modo carminibus non onerata malis.

His works are not common, and therefore I shall subjoin his verses.

must be considered as having not only a negative, In examining this performance, "Nothing" but a kind of positive signification; as, I need not fear thieves; I have nothing; and nothing is a very powerful protector. In the first part of the sentence it is taken negatively, in the second it is taken positively, as an agent. In one of Boileau's

Dr. Johnson has made no mention of "Valen

tinian," (altered from Beaumont and Fletcher,) which was published after his death, by a friend, who describes him in the preface, not only as being one of the greatest geniuses, but one of the most virtuous men that ever

existed.-J. B.

lines it was a question, whether he should use à rien faire, or à ne rien faire; and the first was preferred, because it gave rien a sense in some sort positive. Nothing can be a subject only in its positive sense, and such a sense is given it in the first line:

Nothing, thou elder brother ev'n to shade.

In this line, I know not whether he does not allude to a curious book, "De Umbra," by Wowerus, which having told the qualities of shade, concludes with a poem in which are these lines::

Jam primum terram validis circumspice claustris
Suspensam totam, decus admirabile mundi
Terrasque tractusque maris, camposque liquentes
Eris et vasti laqueata palatia cœli-
Omnibus Umbra prior.

The positive sense is generally preserved with great skill through the whole poem; though, sometimes, in a subordinate sense, the negative nothing is injudiciously mingled. Passerat confounds the two senses.

Another of his most vigorous pieces is his lampoon on Sir Car Scrope, who, in a poem called "The Praise of Satire," had some lines like these:*

He who can push into a midnight fray
His brave companion, and then run away,
Leaving him to be murder'd in the street,
Then put it off with some buffoon conceit :
Him, thus dishonour'd, for a wit you own,
And court him as top fiddler of the town.

This was meant of Rochester, whose buffoon onceit was, I suppose, a saying often mentioned, that every man would be a coward if he durst; and drew from him those furious verses; to which Scrope made in reply an epigram, ending with these lines:

Thou canst hurt no man's fame with thy ill word; Thy pen is full as harmless as thy sword.

Of the satire against "Man," Rochester can only claim what remains when all Boileau's part is taken away.

In all his works there is sprightliness and vigour, and every where may be found tokens of a mind which study might have carried to excellence. What more can be expected from a life spent in ostentatious contempt of regularity, and ended before the abilities of many other men began to be displayed.t

I quote from memory.-Dr. J.

The late George Stephens, Esq. made the selection of Rochester's Poems, which appears in Dr. Johnson's edition; but Mr. Malone observes, that the same task had been performed in the early part of the last century, by Jacob Tonson.-C.



Regii in Academia Parisiensi Professoris,

Janus adest, festæ poscunt sua dona Kalendæ,
Munus abest festis quod possim offerre Kalendis.
Siccine Castalius nobis exaruit humor?
Usque adeo ingenii nostri est exhausta facultas,
Immunem ut videat redeuntis janitor anni?
Quod nusquam est, potius nova per vestigia quæram.
Invenit mea Musa nihil, ne despice munus.
Ecce autem partes dum sese versat in omnes
Nam nihil est gemmis, nihil est pretiosius auro.
Huc animum, huc igitur vultus adverte benignos
Res nova narratur quæ nulli audita priorum,
Ausonii et Graii dixerunt cætera vates,
Ausoniæ indictum nihil est Græcæque Camænæ.
E cœlo quacunque Ceres sua prospicit arva
Aut genitor liquidis orbem complectitur ulnis
Oceanus, nihil interitus et originis expers.
Immortale nihil, nihil omni parte beatur.

Quod si hinc majestas et vis divina probatur,
Conspectu lucis nihil est jucundius almæ,
Num quid honore deum, num quid dignabimur aris?
Vere nihil, nihil irriguo formosius horto,
Floridius pratis, Zephyri clementius aura;
In bello sanctum nihil est, Martisque tumultu:
Justum in pace nihil, nihil est in fœdere tutum.
Felix cui nihil est, (fuerant hæc vota Tibullo,)
Non timet insidias: fures, incendia temnit :
Solicitas sequitur nullo sub judice lites.
Ille ipse invictis qui subjicit omnia fatis
Zenonis sapiens, nihil admiratur et optat.
Socraticique gregis fuit ista scientia quondam,
Scire nihil, studio cui nunc incumbitur uni.
Nec quicquam in ludo mavult didicisse juventus,
Ad magnas quia ducit opes, et culmen honorum.
Nosce nihil, nosces fertur quod Pythagorea
Grano hærere fabæ, cui vox adjuncta negantis.
Multi Mercurio freti duce viscera terræ
Pura liquefaciunt simul, et patrimonia miscent,
Arcano instantes operi, et carbonibus atris,
Qui tandem exhausti damnis, fractique labore,
Inveniunt atque inventum nihil usque requirunt.
Nec numeret Libycæ numerum qui callet arena:
Hoc dimetiri non ulla decempeda possit:
Et Phubo ignotum nihil est, nihil altius astris.
Tuque, tibi licet eximium sit mentis acumen,
Omnem in naturam penetrans, et in abdita rerum,
Pace tua, Memmi, nihil ignorare videris.
Sole tamen nihil est, a puro clarius igne.
Tange nihil, dicesque nihil sine corpore tangi.
Cerne nihil, cerni dices nihil absque colore."
Surdum audit loquiturque nihil sine voce, volatque
Absque ope pennarum, et graditur sine cruribus ullis.
Absque loco motuque nihil per inane vagatur.
Ne rhombos, igitur, neu Thessala murmura tentet
Humano generi utilius nihil arte medendi.
Idalia vacuum trajectus arundine pectus,
Neu legat Ideo Dictum in vertice gramen
Vulneribus sævi nihil auxiliator amoris.
Vexerit et quemvis trans mostas portitor undas,
Inferni nihil inflectit præcordia regis.
Ad superos imo nihil hunc revocabit ab orco.
Parcarumque colos, et inexorabile pensum.
Obruta Phlegræis campis Titania pubes
Fulmineo sensit nihil esse potentius ictu :
Porrigitur magni nihil extra monia mundi:
Diique nihil metuunt. Quid longo carmine plura
Commemorem? Virtute nihil præstantius ipsa,
Splendidius nihil est; nihil est Jove denique majus
Sed tempus finem argutis imponere nugis
Ne tibi si multa laudem mea carmina charta,
De nihilo nihili pariant fastidia versus


WENTWORTH DILLON, Earl of Roscommon, better evidence of a fact cannot easily be found was the son of James Dillon, and Elizabeth than is here offered; and it must be by preserving Wentworth, sister to the Earl of Strafford. He such relations that we may at last judge how was born in Ireland* during the lieutenancy of much they are to be regarded. If we stay to Strafford, who being both his uncle and his god-examine this account, we shall see difficulties father, gave him his own surname. His father, on both sides; here is the relation of a fact given the third Earl of Roscommon, had been con- by a man who had no interest to deceive, and verted by Usher to the protestant religion; who could not be deceived himself; and here is, and when the popish rebellion broke out, Straf- on the other hand, a miracle which produces no ford, thinking the family in great danger from effect; the order of nature is interrupted, to disthe fury of the Irish, sent for his godson, and cover not a future but only a distant event, the placed him at his own seat in Yorkshire, where knowledge of which is of no use to him to whom he was instructed in Latin; which he learned it is revealed. Between these difficulties what so as to write it with purity and elegance, way shall be found? Is reason or testimony to though he was never able to retain the rules of be rejected? I believe what Osborne says of an grammar. appearance of sanctity may be applied to such impulses or anticipations as this: "Do not wholly slight them, because they may be true; but do not wholly trust them, because they may be false."

Such is the account given by Mr. Fenton, from whose notes on Waller most of this account must be borrowed, though I know not whether all that he relates is certain. The instructor whom he assigns to Roscommon, is one Dr. Hall, by whom he cannot mean the famous Hall, then an old man and a bishop.

When the storm broke out upon Strafford, his house was a shelter no longer; and Dillon, by the advice of Usher, was sent to Caen, where the protestants had then a university, and continued his studies under Bochart.

Young Dillon, who was sent to study under Bochart, and who is represented as having already made great proficiency in literature, could not be more than nine years old. Strafford went to govern Ireland in 1633, and was put to death eight years afterwards. That he was sent to Caen is certain; that he was a great scholar may be doubted.

At Caen he is said to have had some preternatural intelligence of his father's death.

"The Lord Roscommon, being a boy of ten years of age, at Caen, in Normandy, one day was, as it were, madly extravagant in playing, leaping, getting over the tables, boards, &c. He was wont to be sober enough; they said, God grant this bodes no ill-luck to him! In the heat of this extravagant fit he cries out, 'My father is dead! A fortnight after, news came from Ireland that his father was dead. This account I had from Mr. Knolles, who was his governor, and then with him-since secretary to the Earl of Strafford; and I have heard his Lordship's relations confirm the same."-AUBREY'S Mis


The present age is very little inclined to favour any accounts of this kind, nor will the name of Aubrey much recommend it to credit; it ought not, however, to be omitted, because

The Biog. Britan. says, probably about the year 1632; but this is inconsistent with the date of Strafford's viceroyalty in the following page.-C.

It was his grandfather, Sir Robert Dillon, second Earl of Roscommon, who was converted from popery, and his conversion is recited in the patent of Sir James, the first Earl of Roscommon, as one of the grounds of his


The state both of England and Ireland was at this time such, that he who was absent from either country had very little temptation to return; and therefore Roscommon, when he left Caen, travelled into Italy, and amused himself with its antiquities, and particularly with medals, in which he acquired uncommon skill.

At the Restoration, with the other friends of monarchy, he came to England, was made captain of the band of pensioners, and learned so much of the dissoluteness of the court, that he addicted himself immoderately to gaming, by which he was engaged in frequent quarrels, and which undoubtedly brought upon him its usual concomitants, extravagance and distress.

After some time, a dispute about part of his estate forced him into Ireland, where he was made by the Duke of Ormond captain of the guards, and met with an adventure thus related by Fenton :

"He was at Dublin as much as ever distempered with the same fatal affection for play, which engaged him in one adventure that well deserves to be related. As he returned to his lodgings from a gaming-table, he was attacked in the dark by three ruffians, who were employed to assassinate him. The Earl defended himself with so much resolution, that he despatched one of the aggressors: whilst a gentleman, accidentally passing that way, interposed, and disarmed another: the third secured himself by flight. This generous assistant was a disbanded officer, of a good family and fair reputation; who, by what we call the partiality of fortune, to avoid censuring the iniquities of the times, wanted even a plain suit of clothes to make a decent appearance at the Castle. But his Lordship, on this occasion, presenting him to the Duke of Ormond, with great importunity prevailed with his Grace, that he might resign his post of captain of the guards to his friend; which for about three years the gentleman enjoyed, and, upon his death, the Duke returned the commission to his generous benefactor."

When he had finished his business, he returned | fervent devotion, two lines of his own version of to London: was made master of the horse to "Dies Iræ:"

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the Dutchess of York; and married the Lady Frances, daughter to the Earl of Burlington, and widow of Colonel Courteney.*

He now busied his mind with literary projects, and formed the plan for a society for refining our language and fixing its standard; "in imitation," says Fenton, "of those learned and polite societies with which he had been acquainted abroad." In this design his friend Dryden is said to have

assisted him.

the image of a mind which was naturally seri"In his writings," says Fenton, "we view ous and solid; richly furnished and adorned with all the ornaments of learning, unaffectedly His imagination might have probably been more disposed in the most regular and elegant order. fruitful and sprightly, if his judgment had been


The same design, it is well known, was revived by Dr. Swift in the ministry of Oxford; but it has never since been publicly mentioned, though at that time great expectations were formed, by some, of its establishment and its effects. Such a society might, perhaps, without much difficulty, be collected; but that it would produce what is expected from it may be doubted. The Italian academy seems to have obtained its end. The language was refined, and so fixed that it has changed but little. The French academy thought that they refined their language, and doubtless thought rightly; but the event has not shown that they fixed it; for the French of the present time is very different from that of the last century.

masculine, clear, succinct style) contributed to
severe. But that severity (delivered in a
make him so eminent in the didactical manner,
that no man, with justice, can affirm he was ever
equalled by any of our nation, without confess-
ing at the same time that he is inferior to none.
In some other kinds of writing, his genius seems
fection; but who can attain it?"
to have wanted fire to attain the point of per-

who would not imagine that they had been dis-
From this account of the riches of his mind,
played in large volumes and numerous perform-
this character, be surprised to find that all the
ances? Who would not, after the perusal of

In this country an academy could be expected to do but little. If an academician's place were profitable, it would be given by interest; if attend-proofs of this genius, and knowledge, and judg ance were gratuitous, it would be rarely paid, ment, are not sufficient to form a single book, and no man would endure the least disgust. the works of some other writer of the same or to appear otherwise than in conjunction with Unanimity is impossible, and debate would se- petty size ?* But thus it is that characters are parate the assembly. the rest. The observation, that his imagination written we know somewhat, and we imagine would probably have been more fruitful and sprightly, if his judgment had been less severe, may be answered by a remarker somewhat inclined to cavil, by a contrary supposition, that his judgment would probably have been less seIt is ridiculous to oppose judgment to imaginavere, if his imagination had been more fruitful. tion; for it does not appear that men have necessarily less of one as they have more of the

But suppose the philological decree made and promulgated, what would be its authority? In absolute governments, there is sometimes a general reverence paid to all that has the sanction of power, and the countenance of greatness. How little this is the state of our country needs not be told. We live in an age in which it is a kind of public sport to refuse all respect that cannot be enforced. The edicts of an English academy would probably be read by many, only that they might be sure to disobey them.

That our language is in perpetual danger of corruption cannot be denied; but what prevention can be found? The present manners of the nation would deride authority; and therefore nothing is left but that every writer should criti

cise himself.

All hopes of new literary institutions were quickly suppressed by the contentious turbulence of King James's reign; and Roscommon, foreseeing that some violent concussion of the state was at hand, purposed to retire to Rome, alleging, that "it was best to sit near the chimney when the chamber smoked;" a sentence, of which the application seems not very clear.

His departure was delayed by the gout; and he was so impatient, either of hinderance or of pain, that he submitted himself to a French empiric, who is said to have repelled the disease into his bowels.

At the moment which he expired, he uttered with an energy of voice that expressed the most

My God, my Father, and my Friend,
Do not forsake me in my end.

He was married to Lady Frances Boyle, in April, 1662. By this lady he had no issue. He married secondly, 10th Nov. 1674, Isabella, daughter of Matthew Boynton, of Barmston, in Yorkshire.- Malone.

He died in 1684, and was buried with great Pomp in Westminster Abbey.

His poetical character is given by Mr. Fen



has not mentioned so distinctly as he ought, and We must allow of Roscommon, what Fenton what is yet very much to his honour, that he is, Addison: and that, if there are not so many or perhaps, the only correct writer in verse before of some contemporaries, there are at least fewer so great beauties in his compositions as in those faults. Nor is this his highest praise; for Mr. Pope has celebrated him as the only moral writer of King Charles' reign :


Unhappy Dryden! in all Charles' days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted lays.

His great work is his "Essay on Translated face to his "Miscellanies :"Verse;" of which Dryden writes thus in his pre

"It was my Lord Roscommon's 'Essay on

* They were published, together with those of Duke, in an octavo volume, in 1717. The editor, whoever he was, professes to have taken great care to procure and insert of all his Lordship's poems that are truly genuine. The truth of this assertion is flatly denied by the author of an account of Mr. John Pomfret, prefixed to his re. mains; who asserts, that the Prospect of Death was writ ten by that person many years after Lord Roscommon's decease; as, also, that the paraphrase of the Prayer of Jeremy was written by a gentleman of the name of Southcourt, living in the year 1724.-H.

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