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constrained. And this is sometimes cbservable in the writings of a poet lately deceased ; though I believe no one ever threw so much sense together with so much ease into a couplet as Mr. Pope. But as an air of constraint too often accompanies this metre, it seems by no means proper for a writer of elegy.
The previous rhime in Milton's Lycidas is very frequently placed at such a distance from the following, that it is often dropt by the memory (much better employed in attending to the sentiment) before it be brought to join its partner : and this seems to be the greatest objection to that kind of versification. But then the peculiar ease and variety it admits of, are no doubt sufficient to overballance the objection, and to give it the preference to any other, in an elegy of length.
The chief exception to which stanza of all kinds is liable, is, that it breaks the sense too regularly, when it is continued through a long poem. And this may be perhaps the fault of Mr. Waller's excellent panegyric. But if this fault be less discernible in smaller compositions, as I suppose it is, I flatter myself, that the advantages I have before mentioned resulting from alternate rhime (with which stanza is, I think, connected) may, at least in shorter elegies, be allowed to cut-weigh its imperfections.
I shall say but little of the different kinds of elegy. The melancholy of a lover is different, no doubt, from what we feel on other mixed occasions. The mind in which love and grief at once predominate, is softened to an excess. Love-elegy therefore is more negligent of order and design, and, being addressed chiefly to the ladies, requires little more than tenderness and perfpicuity. Elegies, that are formed upon promiscuous incidents, and addressed to the world in general, incultate some sort of moral, and admit a different degree of reasoning, thought, and order.
The author of the following elegies entered on his subjects occasionally, as particular incidents in life fuggested, or dispositions of mind recommended them to his choice. If he describes a rural landskip, or unfolds the train of sentiments it inspired, he fairly drew his pieture from the Spot; and felt very sensibly the affection be communicates. If he speaks of his bumble shed, his flocks and bis fleeces, he does not counterfeit the scene ; who having (whether through choice or neceffity, is not material) retired betimes to countrysolitudes, and fought his happiness in rural employments, bas'a right to consider himself as a real shepherd, The flocks, the meadows, and the grottos, are
OW , and the embellishment of his farm his fole ainusement. As the sentiments therefore were inspired by nature, and that in the earlier part of his life, be hopes they will retain a natural appearance ; diffusing at least
some part of that amusement, which he freely acknowledges he received from the composition of them.
There will appear perhaps a real inconsistency in the moral tenour of the several elegies; and the subsequent ones may sometimes seem a recantation of the preceding. The reader will scarcely impute this to oversight; but will allow, that men's opinions as well as tempers vary ; that neither public nor private, aElive nor speculative life, are unexceptionably happy, and consequently that any change of opinion concerning them may afford an additional beauty to poetry, as it gives us a more striking representation of life.
If the author has hazarded, throughout, the use of English or modern allusions, he hopes it will not be imputed to an entire ignorance, or to the least disesteem of the ancient learning. He has kept the ancient plan and method in his eye, though he builds his edifice with the materials of his own nation. In other words, through a fondness for his nalite country, he has made use of the flowers it produced, though, in order to exhibit them to the greater cdvantage, he has endeavoured to weave his garland by the best model he could find: with what success, beyond his own amusement, must be left to judges less partial to him than either bis acquaintance or his friends. If any of those should be so candid, as to approve the variety of subjects he has chosen, and the
tenderness of sentiment he has endeavoured to impress, he begs the metre also may not be too suddenly condemned. The public ear, habituated of late to a quicker measure, may perhaps consider this as heavy and languid ; but an objection of that kind may gradually lose its force, if this measure should be allowed to suit the nature of elegy.
If it Mould happen to be considered as an obje£tion with others, that there is too much of a moral caft diffused through the whole ; it is replied, that he endeavoured to animate the poetry so far as not to render this objection too obvious; or to risque excluding the fashionable reader : at the same time never deviating from a fixed principle, that poetry without morality is but the blossom of a fruit-tree. Poetry is indeed like that species of plants, which may bear at once both fruits and blossoms, and the tree is by no means in perfection without the former, however it may
be einbellished by the jiowers which surround it.
He arrives at his retirement in the country, and takes
occasion to expatiate in praise of fimplicity. To a friend.
OR rural virtues, and for native skies,
I bade AUGUSTA's venal fons farewel ; Now, mid the trees, I see my smoke arise ;
Now hear the fountains bubbling round my cell.
O may that genius, which secures my rest,
Preserve this villa for a friend that's dear! Ne'er may my vintage glad the fordid breast !
Ne'er tinge the lip that dares be unsincere !
Far from these paths, ye faithless friends, depart !
hostile name ! Hence! the faint verse that flows not from the heart, But mourns in labour'd strains, the price of fame!