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IMITATIONS OF ENGLISH POETS.
WOMEN ben full of Ragerie,
Yet fwinken nat fans fecrefie.
Thilke moral fhall ye understond,
Te-he, cry'd Ladies; Clerke not spake :
DR. WARTON justly obferves, "That this is a grofs and dull caricature of the Father of English Poetry." He might have added, it is as difgufting as it is dull, and no more like Chaucer, than a 66 Billing/gate" is like "an OBEREA.”
HE that was unacquainted with Spenfer, and was to form his ideas of the turn and manner of his genius from this piece, would undoubtedly fuppofe that he abounded in filthy images, and excelled in defcribing the lower scenes of life. But the characteristics of this sweet and allegorical poet are not only ftrong and circumstantial imagery, but tender and pathetic feeling, a molt melodious flow of verfification, and a certain pleafing melancholy in his fentiments, the conftant companion of an elegant tafte, that cafts a delicacy and grace over all his compofitions. To imitate Spenfer on a subject that does not partake of the pathos, is not giving a true representation of him; for he seems to be more awake and alive to all the foftneffes of nature than almost any writer I can recollect. There is an affemblage of difgufting and disagreeable sounds in the following ftanza of Pope, which one is almoft tempted to think, if it were poffible, had been contrived as a contraft, or rather as a burlesque, of a moft exquifite ftanza in the Fairy Queen : "The fnappifh cur (the paffengers annoy)
Close at my heel with yelping treble flies;
The whimp'ring girl, and hoarfer-screaming boy,
Join to the yelping treble, fhrilling cries;
The very turn of thefe numbers bears the clofeft resemblance
with the following, which are of themselves a complete concert of the most delicious mufic:
"The joyous birds shrouded in cheerful shade, Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet;
Th' angelical, foft trembling voices made
Thefe images, one would have thought, were peculiarly calculated to have struck the fancy of our young imitator with so much admiration, as not to have fuffered him to make a kind of travesty of them.
The next flanza of Pope reprefents fome allegorical figures, of which his original was fo fond:
"Hard by a fty, beneath a roof of thatch,
Dwelt Obloquy, who in her early days
Bafkets of fish at Billingfgate did watch,
Cod, whiting, oyfter, mackrel, fprat, or plaice;
There learn'd she speech from tongues that never cease.
Slander befide her, like a Magpie, chatters,
With Envy, (fpitting Cat) dread foe to peace;
Like a curs'd Cur, Malice before her clatters,
And vexing ev'ry wight, tears cloaths and all to tatters.”
But these perfonages of Obloquy, Slander, Envy, and Malice, are not marked with any diflinct attributes; they are not thofe living figures, whofe attitudes and behaviour Spenfer has minutely drawn with fo much clearness and truth, that we behold them with our eyes as plainly as we do on the cieling or the banquetinghoufe. For, in truth, the pencil of Spenfer is as powerful as that of Rubens, his brother allegorist; which two artists resembled each other in many refpects: but Spenfer had more grace, and was as warm a colourist. WARTON.
IN ev'ry Town, where Thamis rolls his Tyde,
There oft are heard the notes of Infant Woe,
The short thick Sob, loud Scream, and fhriller Squall:
How can ye, Mothers, vex your Children fo?
Some play, fome eat, fome cack against the wall,
And as they crouchen low, for bread and butter call.
And on the broken pavement, here and there,
hood I ween.