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BRUCE.-LOGAN.- MICKLE.- -CHATTERTON. 149 soft and melodious versification, is almost the only production of this writer which continues to be printed in popular collections. An Elegy on Spring, and a short descriptive poem entitled Lochleven, form the chief memorials of the genius of MICHAEL BRUCE, a school-master in an obscure part of Scotland, who died in 1767, at the early age of twenty-one. His college companion, John LOGAN (1748–1788), was the author of a wellknown Ode to the Cuckoo, of a tragedy named Runnymede, and some other poems, which continue to rank in the collections of the British poets: he also published a volume of sermons, much admired for their refined sentiment and elegant composition. WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE (1734–1788), a native of Dumfries-shire, is chiefly remembered for his translation of the Lusiad of Camoens, a Portuguese poet. His original poems, like too many of those produced in the age now under notice, have little to recommend them besides that melody of versification in which poetry was then supposed chiefly to consist, and for which almost every thing else seems to have been sacrificed.
The most remarkable name in the whole range of the poets of this age, is that of Thomas CHATTERTON, a youth of obscure parentage at Bristol, who, in his seventeenth year, possessed the genius and dexterity necessary for writing a series of poems in the old English language, which he passed off upon some competent judges as the productions of a versifier of the fifteenth century, and which contained many passages of the highest poetical beauty;
This extraordinary youth afterwards sought employment as a miscellaneous writer in London; but being overtaken by pecuniary distress, he put an end to his own life, August 25, 1770, when he as yet wanted three months of being eighteen years of age. It seems unquestionable, from the specimens he has left, that, if he had survived to maturity, he must have taken one of the first places in English literature.
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-1784) is less admired for his poetical than for his moral and critical productions ; yet his Vanity of Human Wishes has a moral impressiveness that belongs to few writers since the time of Pope. Excepting London, a satire, his other poems are chiefly occasional and trifling. It is remarkable that, while his conversation abounded in metaphor, he gave little illustration of that kind to his verses, in which they would have been more appropriate.
One of the few poets who seem to have been inclined to break through the tame mediocrity of the age, was CHRISTOPHER SMART (1722-1770), a man of eccentric character and degrading habits, but possessed of a singular genius. Smart had been educated as a clergyman, but being compelled to sell a college fellowship, in order to pay some tavern debts, he finally settled in London as a man of letters. His mind was at one time so far unsettled by dissipation, that he required to be confined in an asylum for lunatics, where, being denied the use of pen, ink, and paper, he marked his verses with a key upon the wainscot. In this manner was written his best production, the Song to David, which, though betraying some obscurity and irregularity, the result of a deranged understanding, contains, perhaps, more energetic and magnificent poetry than any short poem of the time. Smart had also a considerable turn for hu
The life of this ill-fated poet terminated in the King's Bench prison.
Sir WILLIAM JONES (1746-1794) is more eminent as an Oriental scholar, and a man of almost universal accomplishment, than as a poet, though some of his lyrical pieces are much admired, and have added to our current phraseology a few highly energetic and beautiful expressions. His Ode in Imitation of Alcæus, is a heartstirring effusion of patriotism.-Of the three WARTONS, the eldest, Thomas, professor of poetry at Oxford (1687 -1745), was a chaste and pleasing versifier. His eldest son, JOSEPH (1722–1800), a dignitary of the English church, though he entertained opinions respecting poetry somewhat in advance of his time, as expressed in his Essay on Pope, can only be described as another of the correct versifiers, who so much abounded in the eighteenth century.
His brother, THOMAS (1728-1790), professor of poetry at Oxford, ranks rather higher as a poet, being possessed of a better descriptive power; but
a his name owes its chief lustre to his History of English Poetry, which is a work of great research and equal
taste. This list of secondary poets concludes with CHRISTOPHER ANSTEY (1724–1805), a gentleman in Cambridgeshire, who, besides some miscellaneous pieces, was the author of a humorous poem, entitled The New Bath Guide, in which the manners of that city, about the beginning of the reign of George III., were described with great wit and satirical vivacity, but with a licentiousness which detracts much from its value in the eyes of the present generation.
In the still considerable list of poets which remains, there may be found some talent, and, in general, correct versification, with very few pieces, or even lines, that have captivated the fancy, or impressed themselves on the memory, of the people. The names of Hammond, Savage, Aaron Hill, Mallet, Lord Littleton, Hamilton of Bangour, Grainger, Dodsley, Penrose, Wilkie, Blacklock, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, Isaac Hawkins Browne, Mason, and Miss Seward, retain a certain degree of fame, though only the reflection of something that once was, as their works have long ceased to be reprinted. Others, such as Welsted, West, Whitehead, Cunningham, Hart, Jago, Lloyd, and Lovibond, only meet the eye when we chance to turn up some half-antiquated collection of the British poets.
Besides the poets already here enumerated as natives of Scotland, all of whom wrote in English, that country produced one writer in the native dialect, ROBERT FERGUSON,—who, after a brief career of twenty-four years, died in 1774. Ferguson excelled in descriptions of city life, as then exemplified in the Scottish capital ; and in his homely strains there is perhaps more real genius than in whole volumes of the tame aud regular versification of his contemporaries.
In America, little good poetry was produced, during this period. Through the extent of its history thus far, we find that the national genius seldom turned upon imaginative subjects. The severity of Puritanism which, however, had relaxed in a measure, may be supposed to have been unfriendly to this species of writing. Or rather we may infer that a certain degree of maturity in political institutions, with consequent wealth and leis
ure is required, in order to the general cultivation and relish of poetical studies. This America did not possess. The necessities of life and the peculiar situation of the people demanded more practical or useful themes. There was a class of poets, or rather of educated men who occasionally wrote poetry, and who may perhaps be ranked among the third class of British bards. Among these were John Adams, John Osborn, William Livingston, Mather Byles, and Thomas Godfrey. The poems of John Adams (1705–1740), show a good degree of mental culture, for that period in the colonies; but the immortality predicted for them at the time, has proved to be a dream. In harmony of versification he surpassed his contemporaries in his own country; but he had not all the requisites of a good poet. He wrote imitations and paraphrases of scripture, translations from Horace, and some original pieces. JOHN OSBORN, born at Sandwich, Mass., wrote poetry about the year 1733, which possesses some merit. His Whaling Song has been admired, as well as his Elegiac Epistle on the death of his sister. Philosophical Solitude, written by WILLIAM LIVINGSTON (1723-1790), when only twenty-four years old, was one of the most polished poems which the country had hitherto produced. Like most of the contemporary poetry of Great Britain at this era, it was modelled after that of the school of Pope. The author was an accomplished classical scholar, and he acquired in prose as well as in verse, an elegance of style much in advance of that which generally prevailed among his countrymen. Although his poetry is above mediocrity, his prose is still better. MATHER BYLES, minister in Boston, (1706–1786), wrote poetry as an amusement. He never attempted any considerable work, and has left only a volume of miscellaneous poems. His literary merit procured for him the favour of Pope, Watts, and other men of genius in England, with whom he was in habits of correspondence. Thomas GODFREY (17361763), died a young man, but gave proofs of a native talent for poetry, in several pieces which were received with great favour in the American Magazine. His verse, however, was not characterised by any great de
of refinement. He is said to have written the first play in America, a form of intellectual effort which will be noticed in the following period. *
As the miscellaneous poetry of this age was but a refined and tame imitation of that which prevailed in the era of Pope, itself in some measure an imitation of the productions of the Dryden school, so were the tragedies chiefly imitative of those which had gone before them, all of which were upon the French model. The English tragic drama was now weeded of all mixture of comedy, which in the older plays gave it liveliness, at the expense occasionally of good taste; but it was also relieved in a great measure of all reference to real passion, and became a matter of little more than declamation and bombast. The Revenge, by Dr. Young, produced a little before the commencement of our era, was a play of this kind, notwithstanding that it still maintains its place in the stock of the British Theatre. So were also the tragedies of Sophonisba and Agamemnon, by the author of The Seasons. In these cases, men of the best abilities in general poetry altogether failed to exhibit that picture of the higher passions which constitutes a successful tragedy. The public taste was nevertheless in some degree accommodated to the nature of that which was habitually placed before it; so that plays directly translated from the French met with temporary applause. The Zara, Alzira, and Merope of Voltaire, exemplary specimens as they were of the stiffness and coldness of that school, were produced with success by Mr. Aaron Hill. The few other plays which have preserved any degree of celebrity, may be briefly enumerated. The Gustavus Vasa of Brooke, published in 1739, at a time when its representation was forbidden, contains much patriotic sentiment. Barbarossa, by Dr. John Brown, an English clergyman, produced in 1755, possesses such a moderate degree of merit, that, if it had not a peculiar convenience for strolling companies in its limited number of characters, it must have long since sunk. ARTHUR MURPHY (1727–1805), a native of Ireland,
* AM. ED.