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Its diction is somewhat cumbrous and laboured, but energetic and expressive. Its versification does not denote a practised ear, but is seldom unpleasantly harsh. Upon the whole, no poem has been more, and more deservedly, popular ; and it has exerted a powerful influence upon public taste, not only in this country, but throughout Europe. Any addition to his fame has principally arisen from his Castle of Indolence,' an allegorical composition in the manner and stanza of Spenser, and among the imitators of this poet Thomson may deserve the preference, on account of the application of his fable, and the moral and descriptive beauties by which it is filled up. This piece is entirely free from the stiffness of language perceptible in the author's blank verse, which is also the case with many of his songs, and other rhymed poems."-- Aikin's “Select Brit. Poets." See Gilfillan's Ed. of Thomson's Poems” "; Serymgeour's Poetry and Poets of Bri. tain"; Shaw's "Hist. Eng. Lit."
living in Leicestershire. This he exchanged for one in Lincolnshire; but the fenny country in which he was placed did not agree with his health, and he complained of the want of books and company. In 1757 he published his largest work, The Fleece,' a didactic poem, in four books, of which the first part is pastoral, the second mechanical, and the third and fourth historical and geographical. This poem has never been very popular, many of its topics not being well adapted to poetry; yet the opinions of critics have varied concerning it. It is certain that there are many pleasing, and some grand and impressive pas. sages in the work; but, upon the whole, the general feeling is, that the length of the per. formance necessarily imposed upon it a degree of tediousness.
“Dyer did not long survive the completion of his book. He died of a gradual decline in 1758, leaving behind him, besides the reputa. tion of an ingenious poet, the character of an honest, humane, and worthy person."-Aikin's * Select Poets of Brit.” See Allibone's “ Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”; “Life of Dyer," by Dr. Samuel Johnson ; Drake's “ Literary Hours," vol. i., p. 160, et seq. ; vol. ii., p. 35. A col. lective edition of Dyer's Works was pub. lished in 1761, 8vo.; Gilfillan's Ed. of “ Dyer's Poems"; Campbell's “Specimens.”
"John Dyer, an agreeable poet, was the son of a solicitor at Aberglasney, in Carmarthenshire, where he was born in 1700. He was brought up at Westminster School, and was designed by his father for his own profession ; but being at liberty, in consequence of his father's death, to follow his own inclination, he indulged what he took for a natural taste in painting, and entered as pupil to Mr. Richardson. After wandering for some time about South Wales and the adjacent counties as an itinerant artist, he appeared convinced . that he should not attain to eminence in that profession. In 1727 he first made himself known as a poet, by the publication of his
Grongar Hill,' descriptive of a scene afforded by his native country, which became one of the most popular pieces of its class, and has
into numerous collections. Dyer then travelled to Italy, still in pursuit of professional improvement; and if he did not acquire this in any considerable degree, he improved his poetical taste, and laid in a store of new images. These he displayed in a poem of some length, published in 1740, which he entitled “The Ruins of Rome,' that capital having been the principal object of his
Of this work it may be said, that it contains many passages of real poetry, and that the strain of moral and political reflection denotes a benevolent and enlightened mind.
"His health being now in a delicate state, he was advised by his friends to take orders; and he was accordingly ordained by Dr. Thomas, Bishop of Lincoln ; and entering into the married state, he sat down on a small
“ William Hamilton, of Bangour, was born in Ayrshire in 1704. He was of an ancient family, and mingled from the first in the most fashionable circles. Ere he was twenty he wrote verses in Ramsay's 'Tea-Table Miscel. lany. In 1745, to the surprise of many, he joined the standard of Prince Charles, and wrote a poem on the battle of Gladsmuir, or Prestonpans. When the reverse of his party came, after many wanderings and hair's. breadth escapes in the Highlands, he found refuge in France. As he was a general favourite, and as much allowance was made for his poetical temperament, a pardon was soon procured for him by his friends, and he returned to his native country. His health, however, originally delicate, had suffered by his Highland privations, and he was compelled to seek the milder clime of Lyons, where he died in 1754.
“ Hamilton was what is called a ladies'.man, but his attachments were not deep, and he rather flirted than loved. A Scotch lady, who was annoyed at his addresses, asked John Home how she could get rid of them. He, knowing Hamilton well, advised her to appear to favour him. She acted on the advice, and he immediately withdrew his suit. And yet his best poem is a tale of love, and a tale, too, told with great simplicity and pathos. We
refer to his · Braes of Yarrow,' the beauty of which we never felt fully till we saw some time ago that lovely region, with its dowie dens,' -- its clear living stream, Newark Castle, with its woods and memories,-and the green wildernesses of silent hills which stretch on all sides around; saw it, too, in that aspect of which Wordsworth sung in the words* The grace of forest charms decayed
And pastoral melancholy.'
It is the highest praise we can bestow upon Hamilton's ballad that it ranks in merit near Wordsworth's fine trinity of poems, “Yarrow Unvisited,' 'Yarrow Visited,' and Yarrow Revisited.'”-Gilfillan's “ Less-known Brit. Poets,” vol. iii., pp. 102, 103. See Allibone's “ Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”; Lord Woodhouselee's “ Life of Lord Kames”; Professor Richardson; Boswell's “Life of Johnson”; Anderson's " Brit. Poets”; “ The Lounger”; “Transac. of Scot. Antiq.”; Chambers's and Thompson's “ Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen.”
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. “ Dr. Samuel Johnson, a learned English critic, lexicographer, and miscellaneous writer, was the son of a bookseller at Lichfield. His education was commenced at the free school of Lichfield, and in 1728 he was admitted of Pembroke College, Oxford; but being too poor to remain at the university, he, in 1731, quitted it without a degree. He soon afterwards lost his father, who left him in such poor circumstances that he sought the post of usher of a school at Market-Bosworth, Leicestershire, where, however, he did not continue long. He next resided with a printer at Birmingham, where he translated Lobo's account of Abys. sinia. In 1735 he married Mrs. Porter, a widow lady of that town, who was possessed of the sum of £800; and with this capital he the same year opened a school at Edial, near Lich. field ; but he obtained only three scholars, one of whom was David Garrick. About this time he began his tragedy of Irene. In 1737 he set out for the metropolis, accompanied by Garrick. On fixing his residence in London, he formed a connection with Cave, the publisher of the “Gentleman's Magazine,' for which work he wrote during several years, his prin. cipal employment being an account of the parliamentary debates. At this period he con. tracted an intimacy with Richard Savage, whose name he has immortalized by one of the finest pieces of biography ever written. In 1749 appeared his 'Vanity of Human Wishes,' an imitation of Juvenal's tenth Satire. Two years previously, he had printed proposals for an edition of Shakspere, and the plan of his
English dictionary addressed to Lord Chesterfield. The price agreed upon between himself and the booksellers for the last work was £1,575. In 1749 Garrick produced his friend's tragedy upon the stage of Drury Lane Theatre, but it was unsuccessful. In 1750 he commenced his 'Rambler,' a periodical paper, which was continued till 1752. In this work only five papers were the production of other writers. About the period of his relinquishing the “Rambler' he lost his wife, a circumstance which greatly affected him, as appears from his · Meditations, and the sermon which he wrote on her death. In 1754 he visited Oxford. The next year appeared his dictionary, which, instead of three, had occupied eight years. Lord Chesterfield endeavoured to assist it by writing two papers in its favour in the World;' but, as he had hitherto neglected the author, Johnson treated him with contempt. The publication of his great work did not relieve him from his embarrassments, for the price of his labour had been consumed in the progress of its compilation, and the year following we find him under an arrest for five guineas, from which he was released by Ri. chardson, the printer. In 1758 he began the *Idler,' which was published in a weekly newspaper. On the death of his mother, in 1759, he wrote the romance of · Rasselas,' to defray the expenses of her funeral, and to pay her debts. In 762, George III. granted him a pension of £300 per annum. In 1763, Boswell, his future biographer, was introduced to him, a circumstance to which we owe the most minute account of a man's life and cha. racter that has ever been written. Boswell, though a very ordinary mortal, has immortalized himself by this performance. In his book everything about Johnson is supplied to us; in Lord Macaulay's words, we have ‘his coat, his wig, his figure, his face, his scrofula, his St. Vitus's dance, his rolling walk, his blinking eye, the outward signs which too clearly marked the approbation of his dinner ; his insatiable appetite for fish-sauce and vealpie with plums; his inextinguishable thirst for tea; his trick of touching the posts as he walked ; his mysterious practice of treasuring up scraps of orange-peel; his morning slum. bers; his midnight disputations; his contortions ; his mutterings; his gruntings; his puffings; his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence; his sarcastic wit; his vehemence ; his insolence; his fits of tempestuous rage; his queer inmates-old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge, and the negro Frank -all are as familiar to us as the objects by which we have been surrounded from child. hood.' Johnson had the honour of a conversation with the king in the royal library, in 1765, when his Majesty asked if he intended to publish any more works. To this he anşwered, that he thought he had written enough ; on which the king said, “So should I too, if you had not written so well. About
this time he instituted the Literary Club, con. oppress humanity. He was educated at sisting of some of the most celebrated men of Winchester School, and afterwards at Mag. the age. In 1773 he went on a tour with dalen College, Oxford, and entered upon the Boswell to the western islands of Scotland, of career of professional literature, full of golden which journey he shortly afterwards published dreams, and meditating vast projects. His an account, which occasioned a controversy first publication was a series of Eclogues, between him and Macpherson, relative to the transferring the usual sentiments of pastoral poems of Ossian. In 1775 the university of į to the scenery and manners of the East. Oxford sent him the degree of LL.D., which Oriental, or Persian, incidents were for the diploma, ten years before, had been conferred first time made the subjects of compositions, on him by the university of Dublin. In 1779 retaining in their form and general cast of he began his 'Lives of the English Poets, thought and language the worn-out type of which was the last of his literary labours. pastoral. Thus the lamentation of the shepAfter a long illness, during part of which he herd expelled from his native fields is replaced had fearful apprehensions of death, his mind by a camel-driver bewailing the dangers and became calm, composed, and resigned, and he solitude of his desert journey; and the died full of that faith which he had so vigo- dialogues so frequent in the bucolics of rously defended and inculcated in his writings. | Virgil or Theocritus are transformed into His remains were interred in Westminster the amabæan complaints of two Circassian Abbey, and a statue, with an appropriate exiles. The national character and sentiments inscription, has been erected to his memory in of the East, though every effort made by St. Paul's Cathedral. A complete list of his the poet to give local colouring and appro. works is prefixed to Boswell's “Life. As a priate costume and scenery, are in no sense writer, few have done such essential service to more true to nature than in the majority of his country, by fixing its language and regu- pictures representing the fabulous Arcadia of lating its morality. In his person he was the poets, and though these Eclogues exhibit large, robust, and unwieldy; in his dress he traces of vivid imagery and melodious verse, was singular and slovenly; in conversation the real genius of Collins must be looked for positive, and impatient of contradiction. But in his “Odes.' Judged by these latter, though with all his singularities he had an excellent they are but few in number, he will be found heart, full of tenderness and compassion, and entitled to a very high place : for true warmth his actions were the result of principle. He of colouring, power of personification, and was a stout advocate for truth, and a zealous dreamy sweetness of harmony, no English champion for the Christian religion as pro- poet had till then appeared that could be comfessed in the Church of England. In politics
pared to Collins. His most commonly quoted he was a Tory, and at one period of his life a lyric is the ode entitled “The Passions,' in friend to the house of Stuart. He had a which Fear, Rage, Pity, Joy, Hope, Melan. Doble independence of mind, and would never choly, and other abstract qualities are succes. stoop to any man, however exalted, or disguise sively introduced trying their skill on different his sentiments to flatter another. Born at musical instruments. Their respective choice Lichfield, 1709; died in London, 1784."'- of these, and the manner in which each Passion Beeton's Dict. Univ. Biog.” See Gilfillan's acquits itself, is very ingeniously conceived. Ed. of “ Johnson's Poems" ; Allibone's “ Crit. Nevertheless, many of the less popular odes, Dict
. Eng. Lit.”; Lord Brougham's “Lives of as that addressed to 'Fear,' to Pity,' to Men of Letters,” &c.; Cumberland's Me. * Simplicity, and that “On the Poetical moirs "; Orme; Hazlitt, “On the Periodical Character,' contain happy strokes, someEssayists”; Christopher North.
times expressed in wonderfully laconic language, and singularly vivid portraiture. Collins possessed to an unusual degree the power of giving life and personality to an
abstract conception, and that this power is WILLIAM COLLINS.
exceedingly rare may be seen by the pre
dominant coldness and pedantry which gene.“ William Collins, born 1721, died 1759. rally prevail in modern lyric poetry, where His career was brief and unhappy. He ex. personification has been abused till it has hibited from very early years the strong become a mere mechanical artifice. In Collins poetical powers of a genius which, ripened the prosopopeia is always fresh and vivid. by practice and experience, would have made In the untinished “Ode on the Superstitions him the first lyrical writer of his age ; but his of the Highlands,' there are many fine touches ambition was rather feverish than sustained ; of fancy and description; but the reader he led a life of projects and dissipation ; and cannot divest himself of a consciousness that the first shock' of literary disappointment the pictures are rather transcripts from books drove him to despondency, despondeney to than vivid reflection from personal knowledge. indulgence, and indulgence to insanity. This Collins writes of the Highlands and their ingifted being died at 38, after suffering the habitants not like a native, but like an English cruelest affliction and humiliation that can hunter after the picturesque. Some of the
smaller and less ambitious lyrics, as the forget the improbability of the Arcadian • Verses to the Memory of Thomson,' the manners, such as never existed in any age * Dirge in Cymbeline,' and the exquisite verses or country, or the querulous and childish tone "How sleep the Brave,' are perhaps destined of thought."-Shaw's “Hist. Eng. Lit." to a more certain immortality: for a tender, Dr. Angus speaks more generously and luxuriant richness of reverie, perhaps there is kindly :-“Nature and description flourish nothing in the English language that surpasses again in Shenstone and Goldsmith. William them. All the qualities of Collins's finest Shenstone (1714-1763) was born at the Leas. thought and expression will be found united owes, in Shropshire, a small estate which he in the lovely little ‘Ode to Evening,' consist- made by his taste the envy of the great and ing of but a few stanzas in blank verse, but so the admiration of the skilful.' He was first subtly harmonized that they may be read a taught at a dame-school, and has immortalized thousand times without observing the absence his teacher in the 'School-mistress.' In 1732, of rhyme, and exhibiting such a sweet, sooth- he entered Pembroke College, Oxford, and, on ing, and yet picturesque series of images, all the Leasowes coming into his own hand, he appropriate to the subject, that the sights and retired to that place, and there remained most sounds of evening seem to be reproduced with of his life, influenced therein partly by his a magical fidelity: the whole poem seems fondness for gardening, and partly by disdropping with dew and breathing the frag. appointed love and disappointed ambition. rance of the hour. It resembles a melody of Here he wrote his Pastorals and his ElegiesSchubert."
works which, if not remarkable for genius, are certainly among the best of the class to which they belong. They abound in sim.
plicity and pathos, though they are wanting JOHN BYROM.
in force and variety. Campbell thinks, and
probably with justice, that if he had gone “John Byrom, born at Manchester, 1691, more into living nature for subjects, and had died 1763, educated at Cambridge, inventor described their realities with the same fond of a patented system of shorthand, and at last and naïve touches which give so much delighta private gentleman in his native place, is fulness to his 'School-mistress,' he would have best known for a pastoral which first appeared
increased his fame. in the Spectator,' — My time, 0 ye Muses, “ His “Schoolmistress' was published in was happily spent.' He wrote several other 1742, though it was written at college. The small poems, which have lately been published poem is a descriptive sketch in imitation of by a local society in Manchester. His writings Spenser's style, .so quaint and ludicrous, yet exhibit ease and fancy.”-Shaw's “Hist. Eng. so true to nature,' that it reminds the reader Lit.;” Allibone's “Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit." of the paintings of Wilkie or of Webster.
His · Pastoral Ballad' is a happy specimen of that kind of composition, and, it may be added, one of the latest ; the Arcadianisms in
which it indulges having given place to the WILLIAM SHENSTONE.
real-life descriptions which are found in Burns
and Hogg. The whole is written in the well. “ William Shenstone, born 1714, died 1763, known metre : a poet, whose popularity, once considerable, has now given place to oblivion ; but whose
She gazed as I slowly withdrew, pleasing and original poem • The School-mis.
My path I could hardly discern; tress' will deserve to retain a place in every
So sweetly she bade me adieu, collection of English verse. He is still more
I thought that she bade me return.' remarkable as having been one of the first to
“ His prose essays and letters occupy two cultivate that picturesque mode of laying out
volumes of the three of his works as published gardens, and developing by well-concealed art
by Dodsley ; the former are good specimens of the natural beauties of scenery, which, under
English style ; without the learning of Cowley, the name of the English style, has supplanted
but with a good deal of his ease and ele. the majestic but formal manner of Italy,
gance.” France, and Holland. In the former, Nature is followed and humoured, in the latter she is forced. The · School-mistress' is in the Spenserian stanza and antique diction, and,
DAVID MALLETT. with a delightful mixture of quaint playfulness and tender description, paints the dwell. “David Mallett was the son of a small inning, the character, and the pursuits of an old keeper in Crieff, Perthshire, where he was born village dame who keeps a rustic day-school. in the year 1700. Crieff, as many of our The Pastoral ballads of Shenstone are me. readers know, is situated on the western side lodious, but the thin current of natural feeling of a hill, and commands a most varied and which pervades them cannot make the reader beautiful prospect, including Drummond
husband. Glover threw up his share of the work, and Mallett engaged to perform the whole, to which, besides, he was stimulated by a pension from the second Duke of Marl. borough. He got the money, but when he died it was found that he had not written a line of the work. In his latter days he held the lucrative office of Keeper of the Book of Entries for the port of London. He died on the 21st of April, 1765.
“ Mallett is, on the whole, no credit to Scotland. He was a bad, mean, insincere, and unprincipled man, whose success was procured by despicable and dastardly arts. He had doubtless some genius, and his · Birks of Invermay' and “William and Margaret ’ shall preserve his name after his clumsy imitation of Thomson, called “The Excursion,' and his long, rambling · Amyntor and Theodora,' bave been forgotten."-See Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets," vol. iii., pp. 130-132.
Castle, with its solemn shadowy woods, and the Ochils, on the south, -Ochtertyre, one of the loveliest spots in Scotland, and the gorge of Glenturrett, on the north, -and the bold dark hills which surround the romantic village of Comrie, on the west. Crieff is now a place of considerable note, and forms a centre of summer attraction to multitudes; but at the commencement of the eighteenth century it must have been a miserable hamlet. Malloch was originally the name of the poet, and the name is still common in that part of Perth. shire. David attended the college of Aberdeen, and became, afterwards, an unsalaried tutor in the family of Mr. Home of Dreghorn, near Edinburgh. We find him next in the Duke of Montrose's family, with a salary of £30 per annum. In 1723 he accompanied his pupils to London, and changed his name to Mallett, as more euphonious. Next year he produced his pretty ballad of · William and Margaret,' and published it in Aaron Hill's Plain Dealer. This served as an introduction to the literary society of the metropolis, including such names as Young and Pope. In 1733 he disgraced himself by a satire on the greatest man then living – the venerable Richard Bentley. Mallett was one of those mean creatures who always worship a rising, and turn their backs on a setting sun. By his very considerable talents, his management, and his address, he soon rose in the world. He was appointed under-secretary to the Prince of Wales, with a salary of £200 a year. In conjunction with Thomson, to whom he was really kind, he wrote, in 1740, The Masque of Alfred,' in honour of the birthday of the Princess Augusta. His first wife, of whom nothing is recorded, having died, he married the daughter of Lord Carlisle's steward, who brought him a fortune of £10,000. Both she and Mallett gave themselves out as Deists. This was partly owing to his intimacy with Bolingbroke, to gratify whom he heaped abuse apon Pope in a preface to · The Patriot-King,' and was rewarded by Bolingbroke leaving him the whole of his works and MSS. These he afterwards published, and exposed himself to the vengeful sarcasm of Johnson, who said that Bolingbroke was a scoundrel and a coward -a scoundrel, to charge a blunderbuss against Christianity; and a coward, because he durst not fire it himself, but left a shilling to a beggarly Scotsman to draw the trigger after his death. Mallett ranked himself among the calumniators and, as it proved, murderers of
He wrote a Life of Lord Bacon, in which, it was said, he forgot that Bacon was a philosopher, and would, probably, when he came to write the Life of Marlborough, forget that he was a general. This Life of Bacon is now utterly forgotten. We happened to read it in our early days, and thought it a very contemptible performance. The Duchess of Marlborough left £1,000 in her will between Glover and Mallett to write a Life of her
MARK AKEXSIDE. “Mark Akenside, born 1721, died 1770, was the son of a butcher, and was born at New. castle-on-Tyne. An accident in his early years, caused by the fall of his father's cleaver on his foot, lamed him for life, and perpetuated the memory of his lowly birth. He received his education at the grammar-school of that town, where Lord Eldon, Lord Stowell, and Lord Collingwood also received the rudiments of learning : he afterwards graduated at the universities of Edinburgh and Leyden. On his return to England he settled for a shrot time at Northampton, then at Hampstead, and finally in London. Here he gained ultimately the highest honours of his profession, and when he died was physician to the queen. His chief poem, on The Pleasures of Imagination,' he completed before he left Leyden. On reaching London it was sent to Dodsley, who, by Pope's advice, purchased and published it. The sum he gave was £120, then deemed a large amount for such a work. It immediately gained a measure of celebrity which it has scarcely maintained. In later life Akenside altered it in parts without improving it: he made it, indeed, only more dry and scholastic, and is said to have remodelled some of the passages which in their primitive state are still most admired and popular. He also published a collection of * Odes,' and in 1746 he engaged to write in the Museum,' a periodical then issued by Dodsley's house.
“Akenside's genius was decidedly classical: he had extensive learning, lofty conceptions, and a true love and knowledge of nature. His Puritan origin and tastes gave an earnestness to his moral views which pervades all his writing. His ear, though not equal to Gray's,