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Where Daphne, now a tree as once a maid,
THIS, with the exception of the Imitation of Waller, is by far the best of Pope's Imitations. What he has written as defcriptive of the characteristic style of Chaucer and Spenser, is as unlike, except in the metre, as it is offenfive and disgusting: the turn of expreffions, the laboured elegance, the ornamented con. ceits, and the general caft of Cowley's poetical embellishments, are here most admirably hit off; but in this Imitation, poffibly it was fo intended, Pope confounds the feafons, I think, with injuftice to Cowley, if it was intended; and if not, with his general want of correctnefs, where he speaks of trees and flowers, &c. He calls foft Carnations the humble glories of the youthful "Spring" but most probably the gaudy inaccuracy of flow'ry defcription, was what Pope had in view.
HILE Celia's Tears make forrow bright,
The Sun, next thofe the faireft light,
Thus from the Ocean first did rife: And thus through Mifts we see the fun, Which elfe we durft not gaze upon.
These filver drops, like morning dew,
So from one Cloud foft fhow'rs we view,
And blafting lightnings burst away.
The Stars that fall from Celia's eye,
The Baby in that funny Sphere
So like a Phaëton appears,
That Heav'n, the threaten'd World to fpare,
Elfe might th' ambitious Nymph aspire,
VER. 13. The Baby in that funny Sphere] The expreffion of the "Baby on eyes," is fo common among our early writers of profe and verfe, that perhaps it need not be pointed out. It oc curs very often in Burton's Anatomy.
EXACTLY in the tafte of Lopes de Vega, who, fpeaking of a fhepherdefs weeping near the fea-fide, fays, "The ocean advances to collect her tears, and enclofing them in shells, converts them into pearls." WARTON.
In Churchill's collection of Voyages, there are fome lines written by one of the poor people who were left to perish on the coaft of Greenland, in which the idea of their tears being preserved by the froft to the laft day, is introduced. The idea is too fanciful; but fome of the lines are beautiful, and many of the thoughts very natural and affe&ting.
THE verfes on Silence are a sensible imitation of the Earl of Rochefter's on Nothing; which piece, together with his Satire on Man from the fourth of Boileau, and the tenth Satire of Horace, (which in truth is excellent,) are the only pieces of this profligate Nobleman which modefty or common fenfe will allow any man to read. Rochefter had much energy in his thoughts and diction; and though the ancient Satirifts often ufe great liberty in their expreffions, yet, as the ingenious Historian* obferves, "Their freedom no more resembles the licence of Rochester, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute."
Pope, in this imitation, has discovered a fund of solid sense, and just observation upon vice and folly, that are very remarkable in a perfon fo extremely young as he was at the time of compofing it. I believe, on a fair comparison with Rochefter's lines, it will be found, that although the turn of the Satire be copied, yet it is excelled. That Rochester should write a Satire on Man, I am not furprized; it is the business of the libertine to degrade his species, and debase the dignity of human nature, and thereby deftroy the most efficacious incitements to lovely and laudable actions. But that a writer of Boileau's purity of manners should represent his kind in the dark and disagreeable colours he has done, with all the malignity of a discontented Hobbift, is a lamentable perversion of fine talents, and is a real injury to fociety. It is a fact worthy the attention of those who ftudy the hiftory of learning, that the grofs licentioufnefs and applauded debauchery of Charles the Second's court proved almoft as pernicious to the progrefs of polite literature and the fine arts, that began to revive after the Grand Rebellion, as the gloomy superstition, the absurd cant, and formal hypocrify, that difgraced this nation during the ufurpation of Cromwell. WARTON.
• Hume's Hiftory of Great Britain, vol. ii. p. 43 ¦•
E. OF ROCHESTER.
SILENCE! coeval with Eternity ;
Thou wert, ere Nature's felf began to be,
'Twas one vast Nothing, all, and all slept fast in thee.
Thine was the fway, ere heav'n was form'd, or earth,
Ere fruitful Thought conceiv'd creation's birth,
Or midwife Word gave aid, and spoke the infant forth.
Then various elements, against thee join'd,
In one more various animal combin'd,
And fram'd the clam'rous race of bufy Human-kind.
The tongue mov'd gently firft, and speech was low, Till wrangling Science taught it noife and show, And wicked Wit arose, thy most abusive foe.