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too ceremonious and pedantic, to stoop to common life. Satire is the poetry of a nation highly polished.
The importance of the female character was not yet acknowledged, nor were women admitted into the general commerce of society. The effect of that intercourse had not imparted a comic air to poetry, nor softened the severer tone of our versification with the levities of gallantry and the familiarities of compliment, sometimes, perhaps operating on serious subjects, and imperceptibly spreading themselves in the general habits of style and thought. I do not mean to insinuate that our poetry has suffered from the great change of manners, which this assumption of the gentler sex, or rather the improved state of female education, has produced, by giving elegance and variety to life, by enlarging the sphere of conversation, and by multiplying the topics and enriching the stores of wit and humour; but I am marking the peculiarities of composition, and my meaning was to suggest that the absence of so important a circumstance from the modes and constitution of ancient life must have influenced the contemporary poetry.
All or most of these circumstances contributed to give a descriptive, a picturesque, and a figurative cast to the poetical language. This effect appears even in the prose compositions of the reign of Elizabeth. In the subsequent age prose became the language of poetry.
In the mean time general knowledge was increasing with a wide diffusion and a hasty rapidity. Books began to be multiplied, and a variety of the most useful and rational topics had been discussed in our own language. But science had not made too great advances. On the whole we were now arrived at that period, propitious to the operations of original and true poetry, when the coyness of fancy was not always proof against the approaches of reason; when genius was rather directed than governed by judgment; and when taste and learning had so far only disciplined imagination as to suffer its excesses to pass without censure or control for the sake of the beauties to which they were allied.
The History of English Poetry.
GEORGE HORNE, D.D.,
a divine of the Hutchinsonian school, born 1730, became President of Magdalene College, Oxford, 1768, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, 1776, Dean of Canterbury, 1781, Bishop of Norwich, 1790, died
1792. He published many theological treatises, mostly controversial, but is now only known by A Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 1771, 2 vols. 4to; Oxf., 1776, 2 vols. 4to; with Essay, by Rev. Ed. Irving, Glasg., 3 vols. 12mo; Lond., 1836, 3 vols. 12mo; 1848, 2 vols. 12mo; 1848, 8vo; 1852, 8vo; 1856, 8vo; and other editions. Discourses 1779-94, 4 vols. 8vo. Works, with Life, by W. Jones, 1795-99, 6 vols. 8vo; 1809, 6 vols. 8vo; 1812, 6 vols. 8vo; 1824, 3 vols. 8vo; 1831, 2 vols. 8vo; 1845, 2 vols. 8vo.
66 This Commentary on the Psalms is his capital performance, and the one by which he will be known so long as piety and elegant learning are loved in England. It is altogether a beautiful work. The preface is a masterpiece of composition and good Perhaps he carries his applications to but this is less hurtful than the opposite extreme, the Messiah and his church occasionally rather far; which has more generally been adopted."—ORME:
His invaluable Psalms convey those comforts to others which they afforded to himself. Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use; delivered out as services for Israelitics under the Law, yet no less adapted to the circumstances of Christians under the Gospel, they present religion to us in the most engaging dress; communicating truths which philosophy could never investigate, in a style which poetry can never equal; while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creation lends all its charms to paint the glories of redemption. Calculated alike to profit and to please, they inform the understanding, elevate the affections, and entertain the im
agination. Indited under the influence of Him to whom all hearts are known, and all events foreknown, they suit mankind in all situations, grateful as the manna which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest productions of human wit, after a few perusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and lose their fragrancy: but these unfading plants of paradise become, as we are accustomed to them, still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be daily heightened; fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets extracted from them. He who hath once tasted their excellencies will desire to taste them yet
again; and he who tastes them oftenest will relish them best.
And now, could the author flatter himself that any one would take half the pleasure in reading the following exposition which he hath taken in writing it, he would not fear the loss of his labour. The employment detached him from the bustle and hurry of life, the din of politics, and the noise of folly; vanity and vexation flew away for a season, care and disquietude came not near his dwelling. He rose fresh as the morning to his task; the silence of the night invited him to pursue it; and he can truly say that food and rest were not preferred before it. Every Psalm improved infinitely upon his acquaintance with it, and no one gave him uneasiness but the last; for then he grieved that his work was done. Happier hours than those which have been spent in these meditations on the Songs of Sion he never expects to see in this world. Very pleasantly did they pass, and moved smoothly and swiftly along: for when thus engaged, he counted no time. They are gone, but have left a relish and a fragrance upon the mind, and the remembrance of them is sweet. A Commentary on the Book of Psalms: Preface.
WILLIAM COWPER, born 1731, from his tenth to his seventeenth year was educated at Westminster School, where he acquired an intimate acquaintance with the classics; nominally studied, but really neglected, law for three years, and afterwards resided for eleven years at the Temple, and in the last of those years (1763) was appointed Reading Clerk and Clerk of the Committees in the House of Lords, but by his dread of appearing at the bar of the House for examination was driven to attempts at suicide; subsequently resided in retirement, chiefly at Olney, and after repeated attacks of melancholia, died in 1800. Cowper is chiefly known as a poet,-as the author of Truth, Table Talk, Hope, Charity, Conversation, etc. (all published in one volume, Lond., 1782, 8vo), John Gilpin, 1782, The Task, Lond., 1784, 12mo,-and increased his fame by his translation of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, in English Blank Verse, Lond., 1791, 2 vols. 4to, 2d edit., 1802, 4 vols. 8vo; but his Letters entitle him to a high position among the English Prose Writers.
taste. I have scarcely found a single word which
THE FUTURE STATE OF THE HEATHEN.
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.
MY DEAR FRIEND,-Having not the least doubt of your ability to execute just such a preface as I should wish to see prefixed to my publication, and being convinced that you have no good foundation for those which you yourself entertain upon the subject, I neither withdraw my requisition, nor abate one jot of the earnestness with which I made it. I admit the delicacy of the occasion, but am far from apprehending that you will therefore find it difficult to succeed. You can draw a hair-stroke where another man would make a blot as broad as a sixpence.
With respect to the Heathen and what I have said about them, the subject is of that kind which every man must settle for himself, and on which we can proceed no further than hypothesis and opinion will carry us. I was willing, however, to obviate an objection I foresaw, and to do it in a way not derogatory from the truth of the Gospel, yet at the same time as conciliatory as possible to the prejudices of the objector. After all, indeed, I see no medium: either we must suppose them lost, or if saved, saved by virtue of the only propitiation. They seem to me, on the principles of equity, to stand in much the same predicament, and to be entitled (at least according to human apprehensions of justice) to much the same allowance as Infants: both partakers of a sinful nature, and both unavoidably ignorant of the remedy. Infants I suppose universally saved, because impeccable; and the virtuous Heathen, having had no opportunity to sin against Revelation, and having made a conscientious use of the light of Nature, I should suppose saved too. But I drop a subject on which I could say a good deal more, for two reasons: first, because I am writing a letter, and not an essay; and, secondly, because after all I might write about it, I could come to no certain conclusion.
I once had thoughts of annexing a few smaller pieces to those I have sent you; but having only very few that I account as worthy to bear them company, and those for the most part on subjects less calculated for utility than amusement, I changed my mind. If hereafter I should accumulate a sufficient number of these minutia to make a miscel·
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I am much obliged for the interest you take in the appearance of my Poems, and am much pleased by the alacrity with which you do it. Your favourable opinion of them affords me a comfortable with represage spect to that of the public; for though I make allowance for your partiality to me and mine, because mine, yet I am sure you would not suffer me unadmonished to add myself to the multitude of insipid rhymers with whose productions the world is already too much pestered.
ON HIS OWN POEMS.
To MRS. Cowper.
Oct. 19, 1781.
of both have done my best to send my arrow to the mark. My readers will hardly have begun to laugh before they will be called upon to correct that levity, and peruse me with a more serious air. As to the effect, I leave it alone in His hands who alone can produce it: neither prose nor verse can reform the manners of a dissolute age, much less can they inspire a sense of religious obligation, unless assisted and made efficacious by the power who superintends the truth he has vouchsafed to impart.
You made my heart ache with a sympathetic sorrow when you described the state of your mind on occasion of your late visit into Hertfordshire. Had I been previously informed of your journey before you made it I should have been able to have foretold all your feelings with the most unerring certainty of prediction. You will never cease to feel upon that subject: but with your principles of resignation, and acquiescence in the divine will, you will always feel as becomes a Christian. We are forbidden to murmur, but we are not forbidden to regret; and whom we loved tenderly while living we may still pursue with an affectionate remembrance without having any occasion to charge ourselves with rebellion against the sovereignty that appointed a separation. A day is coming when I am confident you will see and know that mercy to both parties was the principal agent in a scene the recollection of which is still painful. W. C.
MY DEAR COUSIN,-Your fear lest I should think you unworthy of my correspondence, on account of your delay to answer, may change sides now, and more properly belongs It is long since I received your last, and yet I believe I can say truly, that not a post has gone by me since the receipt of it that has not reminded me of the debt I owe you, for your obliging and unreserved communications both in prose and verse, especially for the latter, because I consider them as marks of your peculiar confidence. The truth is, I have been such a verse-maker myself, and so busy in preparing a volume for the press [Truth, Table Talk, Hope, Charity, Conversation, etc., Lond., 1782, 8vo] which I imagine will make its appearance in the course of the winter, that I hardly had leisure to listen to the calls of any other engagement. It is, however, finished, and gone to the printer's, and I have nothing now to do with it but to correct the sheets as they are sent to me, and consign it over to the judgment of the public. It is a bold undertaking at this time of day, when so many writers of the greatest abilities have gone before, who seem to have anticipated every valuable subject, as well as all the graces of poetical embellishment, to step forth into the world in the character of a bard, especially when it is considered that luxury, idleness, and vice have debauched the public taste, and that nothing hardly is welcome but childish fiction, or what has at least a tendency to excite a laugh. I thought, however, that I had stumbled upon some subjects that had never before been poetically treated, and upon some others to which I imagined it would not be difficult to give an air of novelty by the manner of treating them. My sole drift is to be useful; a point which, however, I knew I should in vain aim at unless could be likewise entertaining. I have therefore fixed these two strings upon my bow, and by the help
LORD THURLOW, JOSEPHUS, AND TACITUS. Nov. 24, 1783.
To THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
MY DEAR WILLIAM,-An evening unexpectedly retired, and which your mother and I spend without company (an occurrence far from frequent), affords me a favourable opportunity to write by to-morrow's post, which else I could not have found. You are very good to consider my literary necessities with so much attention, and I feel proportionally grateful. Blair's Lectures (though I suppose they must make a part of my private studies, not being ad captam fœminarum) will be perfectly welcome.
You say you felt my verses. you that in this you followed my example, for I felt them first. A man's lordship is nothing to me, any farther than in connexion with qualities that entitle him to my respect. If he [Lord Thurlow] thinks himself privileged by it to treat me with neglect, I am his humble servant, and shall never be at a loss to render him an equivalent. .
I will not, however, belie my knowledge of mankind so much as to seem surprised at a treatment which I had abundant reason to expect. To these men, with whom I was once intimate, and for many years, I am no longer necessary, no longer convenient, or in any respect an object. They think of me as of the man in the moon; and whether I have a lantern, or a dog and faggot, or whether I have neither of those desirable accommodations, is to them a matter of perfect indifference: upon that point we are agreed; our indifference is mutual; and were I to publish again, which is not possible, I should give them a proof of it.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, the illustrious Commander-in-Chief of the American armies during the Revolutionary war, born on Pope's Creek, county of Westmoreland, Virginia, Feb. 22, 1732, died at Mount Vernon, Dec. 14, 1799, wrote a great deal and wrote very well; and thereforenot for the first time-we rank him with authors.
"He read little, but with close attention. Whatever he took in hand he applied himself to with ease; and his papers which have been preserved power of writing correctly, always expressing show how he almost imperceptibly gained the
himself with clearness and directness, often with
felicity of language and grace."-GEORGE BANCROFT: Hist. of the United States, vol. vii., 1858.
ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE OF TRENTON. HEAD-QUARTERS, MORRISTOWN, Dec. 27, 1776. To THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
SIR, I have the pleasure of congratulating you upon the success of an enterprise which I had formed against a detachment of the enemy lying in Trenton, and which was executed yesterday morning.
The evening of the twenty-fifth I ordered the troops intended for this service to parade back of McKonkey's ferry, that they might begin to pass as soon as it grew dark, imagining we should be able to throw them all over, with the necessary artillery, by twelve o'clock, and that we might easily arrive at Trenton by five in the morning, the distance being about nine miles. But the quantity of ice made that night impeded the passage of the boats so much that it was three o'clock before the artillery could all be got over; and near four before the troops took up their line of march.
L'Estrange's Josephus has lately furnished us with evening lectures. But the historian is so tediously circumstantial, and the translator so insupportably coarse and vulgar, that we are all three weary of him. How would Tacitus have shone upon such a subject! great master as he was of the art of description, concise without obscurity, and affecting without being poetical. But so it was ordered, and for wise reasons no doubt, that the greatest calamities any people ever suffered, and an accomplishment of one of the most signal prophecies in the Scripture, should be recorded by one of the worst writers. The man was a temporizer too, and courted the favour of his Roman masters at the expense of his own creed; or else an infidel, and absolutely disbelieved it. You will think me very dificult to please: I quarrel with Josephus for the want of elegance, and with some of our modern historians for having too much. With him, for running right forward like a gazette, without stopping to make a single observation by the way; and with them for pretending to delineate characters that existed two thousand years ago, and to dis- This made me despair of surprising the cover the motives by which they were in-town, as I well knew we could not reach it fluenced, with the same precision as if they had been their contemporaries. Simplicity is become a very rare quality in a writer. In the decline of great kingdoms, and where refinement in all the arts is carried to an excess, I suppose it is always rare. The latter Roman writers are remarkable for false ornament: they were yet no doubt admired by the readers of their own day; and with respect to authors of the present æra the most popular among them appear to me equally censurable on the same account. Swift and Addison were simple; Pope knew how to be so, but was frequently tinged with affectation; since their day I hardly know a celebrated writer who deserves the character.
before the day was fairly broke. But as I was certain there was no making a retreat without being discovered, and harassed on re-passing the river, I determined to push on at all events. I formed my detachment into two divisions, one to march by the lower or river road, the other by the upper or Pennington road. As the divisions had nearly the same distance to march, I ordered each of them, immediately upon forcing the out-guards, to push directly into the town, that they might charge the enemy before they had time to form.
The upper division arrived at the enemy's advanced post exactly at eight o'clock: and in three minutes after I found, from the fire on the lower road, that that division had also got up. The out-guards made but small opposition, though, for their numbers, they behaved very well, keeping up a constant
retreating fire from behind houses. We presently saw their main body formed; but from their motions, they seemed undetermined how to act.
Being hard pressed by our troops, who had already got possession of their artillery, they attempted to file off by a road on their right, leading to Princeton. But, perceiving their intention, I threw a body of troops in their way; which immediately checked them. Finding, from our disposition, that they were surrounded, and that they must inevitably be cut to pieces if they made any further resistance, they agreed to lay down their arms. The number that submitted in this manner was twenty-three officers and eight hundred and eighty-six men. Colonel Rahl the commanding officer, and seven others, were found wounded in the town. I do not exactly know how many they had killed; but I fancy not above twenty or thirty, as they never made any regular stand. Our loss is very trifling indeed, only two officers and one or two privates wounded.
I find that the detachment consisted of the three Hessian regiments of Lanspach, Kniphausen, and Rahl, amounting to about fifteen hundred men, and a troop of British light horse but immediately upon the beginning of the attack, all those who were not killed or taken pushed directly down towards Bordentown. These would like wise have fallen into our hands could my plan have been completely carried into execution.
General Ewing was to have crossed before day at Trenton ferry, and taken possession of the bridge leading out of town: but the quantity of ice was so great that, though he did every thing in his power to effect it, he could not get over. This difficulty also hindered General Cadwallader from crossing with the Pennsylvania militia from Bristol. He got part of his foot over: but finding it impossible to embark his artillery, he was obliged to desist.
I am fully confident that, could the troops under Generals Ewing and Cadwallader have passed the river, I should have been able, with their assistance, to have driven the enemy from all their posts below Trenton. But the numbers I had with me being inferior to theirs below me, and a strong battalion of light infantry being at Princeton above me, I thought it most prudent to return the same evening with the prisoners and the artillery we had taken. We found no stores of any consequence in the town.
In justice to the officers and men, I must add that their behaviour upon this occasion reflects the highest honour upon them. The difficulty of passing the river in a very
severe night, and their march through a violent storm of snow and hail, did not in the least abate their ardour: but when they came to the charge each seemed to vie with the other in pressing forward: and were I to give a preference to any particular corps I should do great injustice to the others.
Colonel Baylor, my first aide-de-camp, will have the honour of delivering this to you; and from him you may be made acquainted with many other particulars. His spirited behaviour upon every occasion requires me to recommend him to your particular notice.
I have the honour to be, etc., G. W.
THE BATTLE OF PRINCETON.
PLUCKEMIN, January 5, 1777. To THE PRESIDENT Of Congress.
SIR, I have the honour to inform you that since the date of my last from Trenton, I have removed with the army under my command to this place. The difficulty of crossing the Delaware, on account of the ice, made our passage over tedious, and gave the enemy an opportunity of drawing in their several cantonments, and assembling their whole force at Princeton. Their large piquets advanced towards Trenton,-their great preparations, and some intelligence I had received,-added to their knowledge that the first of January brought on a dissolution of the best part of our army,-gave me the strongest reasons to conclude that an attack upon us was meditating. Our situation was most critical and our force small. To remove immediately was again destroying every dawn of hope which had begun to revive in the breasts of the Jersey militia; and to bring those troops which had first crossed the Delaware, and were lying at Crosswix's, under General Cadwallader, and those under General Mifflin at Bordentown (amounting in the whole to about three thousand six hundred), to Trenton, was to bring them to an exposed place. One of the two, however, was unavoidable: the latter was preferred, and they were ordered to join us at Trenton, which they did, by a night. march, on the first instant.
On the second, according to my expec tation, the enemy began to advance upon us. and, after some skirmishing, the head of their column reached Trenton about four o'clock, whilst their rear was as far back as Maidenhead. They attempted to pass Sanpink Creek, which runs through Trenton, at different places; but finding the fords guarded, halted and kindled their fires. We were drawn up on the other side of the creek. In this situation we remained till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving