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THE

POEMS

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JOHN DY E R.

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Joux Dyer, of whom I have no other account to give than his own Letters, puha lished with Hughes's correspondence, and the notes added by the editor, have afforded me, was born in 1700, the second son of Robert Dyer of Aberglasney, in Carmarthenshire, a solicitor of great capacity and note.

Hle passed through Westminster-school under the care of Dr. Freind, and was then called home to be instructed in his father's profession. But his father died soon, and he took no delight in the study of the law; but, having always amused himself with drawing, resolved to turn painter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardson, an artist then of high reputation, but now better known by his books than by his pictures.

Having studied awhile under his master, he became, as he tells his friend, an itinerant painter, and wandered about South Wales, and the parts adjacent; but he mingled poetry with painting, and about 1727 printed Grongar Hill in Lewis's Miscellany.

Being, probably, unsatisfied with his own proficiency, he, like other paintors, travelled to Italy; and, coming back in 1740, published The Ruins of Rome.

If his poem was written soon after his return, he did not make much use of his acquisitions in painting, whatever they might be; for decline of health and love of study determined him to the church. He therefore entered into orders; and, it seems, married about the same time a lady of the name of Ensor, “ whose grand" mother,” says he, was a Shakspeare descended from a brother of every body's Shakspeare:" by her, in 1756, he had a son and three daughters living.

His ecclesiastical provision was for a long time but slender. His first patron, Mr. Harper, gave him, in 1741, Calthorp in Leicestershire, of eighty pounds a year, on which he lived ten years, and then exchanged it for Belchford in Lincolnshire, of seventy-five. His condition now began to mend. In 1751, sir John Heathcote gave him Coningsby, of one hundred and forty pounds a year; and in 1755 the chancellor added Kirkby, of one hundred and ten. He complains that the repair of the house at Coningsby, and other expenses, took away the profit. In 1757 he published The Fleece, his greatest poetical work; of which I will not suppress a ludicrous story. Dodsley the bookseller was one day mentioning it to a critical visitor, with more expectation of success than the other could easily admit. In the conversation the author's age was asked; and being represented as advanced in life, “ He will,” said the critic, “ be buried in woollen.”

He did not indeed long survive that publication, nor long enjoy the increase of his preferments; for in 1758' he died.

Dyer is not a poet of bulk or dignity sufficient to require an elaborate criticism. Grongar Hill is the happiest of his productions: it is not indeed very accurately written ; but the scenes which it displays are so pleasing, the images which they raise are so welcome to the mind, and the reflections of the writer so consonant to the general sense or experience of mankind, that, when it is once read, it will be read again.

The idea of The Ruins of Rome strikes more, but pleases less, and the title raises greater expectation than the performance gratifies. Some passages, however, are conceived with the mind of a poet; as when, in the neighbourhood of dilapidating edifices, he says,

- The pilgrim oft
At dead of night, mid his oraison hears
Aghast the voice of Time, disparting tow'rs,
Tumbling all precipitate down dash’d,
Rattling around, loud thund'ring to the Moon.

or The Fleece, which never became popular, and is now universally neglected, I can say little that is likely to recall it to attention. The woolcomber and the poet appear to me such discordant natures, that an attempt to bring them together is to couple the serpent with the fowl. When Dyer, whose mind was not unpoetical, has done his utmost, by interesting his reader in our native commodity, hy interspersing rural imagery, and incidental digressious, by clothing small images in great words, and by all the writer's arts of delusion, the meanness naturally adhering, and the irreverence habitually annexed to trade and manufacture, sink him under insuperable oppression; and the disgust which blank verse, encumbering and encumbered, superadds to an unpleasing subject, soon repels the reader, however willing to be pleased. Let me however honestly report whatever may counterbalance this weight of cen

I have been told, that Akenside, who, upon a poetical question, has a right to be hcard, said, “ That he would regulate his opinion of the reigning taste by the fate of Dyer's Fleece; for, if that were ill-received, he should not think it any longer reasonable to expect fame from excellence.”

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* July 24. C.

POEMS

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JO H N D Y E R.

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GRONGAR HILL. Silent nymph, with corious eye! Who, the purple evening, lie On the mountain's lonely van, Beyond the noise of busy man; Painting fair the form of things, While the yellow linnet sings; Or the tuneful nightingale Charms the forest with her tale ; Come, with all thy various dues, Come and aid thy sister Muse; Now, while Phæbus riding high, Gives lustre to the land and sky! Grongar Hill invites my song, Draw the landscape bright and strong ; Grongar, in whose mossy cells Sweetly musing Quiet dwells ; Grongar, in whose silent shade, For the modest Muses made, So oft I have, the evening still, At the fountain of a rill, Sate upon a flowery bed, With my hand beneath my head; While stray'd my eyes o'er Towy's food, Orer mead and over wood, From house to house, from bill to hill, Till Contemplation had her fill.

About his chequer'd sides I wind, And leave his brooks and meads behind, And groves, and grottoes where I lay, And vistas shooting beams of day : Wide and wider spreads the vale, As circles on a smooth canal: The mountains round, unhappy fate! Sooner or later, of all height, Withdraw their summits from the skies, And lessen as the others rise : Still the prospect wider spreads, Adds a thousand woods and meads; Sull it widens, widens still, And sinks the newly-risen hill.

Now, I gain the mountain's brow,
What a landscape lies below!
No clouds, no vapours intervene;
But the gay, the open scene
Does the face of Nature show,
In all the hues of Heaven's bow!
And, swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight.

Old castles on the cliffs arise,
Proudly towering in the skies !
Rushing from the woods, the spires
Seem from hence ascending fires !
Half his beams Apollo sheds
On the vellow mountain-heads !
Gilds the fleeces of the flocks,
And glitters on the broken rocks !

Below me trees unnumber'd rise,
Beautiful in various dyes :
The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,
The yellow beech, the sable yew,
The slender fir that taper grows,
The sturdy oak with broad-spread boughs.
And beyond the purple grove,
Haunt of Phyllis, queen of love!
Gaudy as the opening dawn,
Lies a long and level lawn,
On which a dark hill, steep and high,
Holds and charms the wandering eye !
Deep are his feet in Towy's flood,
His sides are cloth’d with waving wood,
And ancient towers crown his brow,
That cast an awful look below;
Whose ragged walls the ivy creeps,
And with her arms from falling keeps;
So both a safety from the wind
On mutual dependence find.
'T is now the raven's bleak abode;
'T is now th' apartment of the toad;
And there the fox securely feeds;
And there the poisonous adder breeds,
Conceal'd in ruins, moss, and weeds;

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