Thomas Percy.

The book of the poets : illustrated with forty-five elegant engravings on steel, with an essay on english poetry online

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Ex Libris
C. K. OGDEN




THE



THE BOOK



OF THE



POETS.



ILLUSTRATED

WITH FORTY-FIVE ELEGANT ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL,
FROM DESIGNS BY CORBOULD, Ac.



an <00ag on



LONDON:
WILLIAM SMITH, 113, FLEET STREET.



Stack
Annex



CONTENTS.



Esstr ON ENGLISH POETRY, from its commencement until the end of the Eighteenth

Century vage Ix



PAGE
CHAUCER, GEOFFREY (born 1328, died

1400) 2

Confession of Palamon 3

The Merchant 5

Emilie ib.

Emctrius ib.

SireThopas 6

Good Counsail of Chaucer 7

GO WER, JOHN (born , died 1402) . . 8

Fortune unjustly blamed ib.

LYDGATE, JOHN (born 1375, died ) 9

Appeal in Behalf of Man ib.

HARBOUR, JOHN (born 1316, died 1396) 10
Combat between Bruce and Sir Henry

Bohn ib.

JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND (bom 1394,

died!437) 11

Jane Beaufort ib.

HENRY THE MINSTREL 13

Interview between Wallace and Bruce

after the Battle of Falkirk ib.

HENRYSONE, ROBERT (bom 1425,

died!495) 14

Description of Jupiter and Mars in

Cresseid's Vision ib.

DUNBAR, WILLIAM (born 1465, died

1530) 15

Songs to the Rose ib.

DOUGLAS, GAWIN (born 1474, died

1522) 16

A Winter Morning ib.

Song of the Birds to the Sun ib.

JAMES V. OF SCOTLAND (born 1512,

died 1542) 17

A Rustic Coquette ib.

A Coward ib.

LYNDSAY, SIR DAVID (born 1490,

died 1557) 18

Lament for James IV. of Scotland .... ib.

The Confessional Ridiculed 19

WYATT, SIR THOMAS (born 1503, died

1542) 20

The Lady to answere directly with Yea

orNay ib.

A renouncing of Love ib.



SURREY, HENRY HOWARD, Earl of

(born 1516, died 1546) 21

Description and Praise of his love,

Geraldine ib.

Description of Spring, wherein eche

thing renewes, save only the Lover ib.

VAUX, THOMAS, Lord 22

The aged Lover renounceth Love ib.

GRIMOALD, NICHOLAS (born ,

died 1563) 24

Death ofCicero ib.

SCOT, ALEXANDER 25

Lament when his Wife left him ib.

SYDNEY, SIR PHILIP (bora 1554, died

1586) 26

To the Moon - ib.

To Stella ib.

DORSET, THOMAS SACKVILLE, Earl

of (bom 1536, died 1608) 27

Remorse ib.

Old Age ib.

SPENSER, EDMUND (bora 1553, died

1598) 28

Encounter of St. George with the Dragon 29

The Bower of Bliss 31

Angelic Guardianship 32

Combat between Blandamour and Pa-

ridell ib.

Description of Sir Calidore 33

Sir Calidore's Courtship of Pastorell ... 34
RALEIGH, SIR WALTER (bom 1552,

died!618) 37

His Love admits no Rival ib.

HALL, JOSEPH (bom 1574, died 1656) 38

Youthful desire of Travel ib

The hollow Invitation 39

Conclusion to his Satires ib.

FLETCHER, GILES (bom .died 1623) 40

Justice ib.

FLETCHER, PHINEAS 41

Happiness of the Shepherd's Life ib.

D AVIES, SIR JOHN (born 1570,died 1626) 42
Various Definitions of the Soul and their

Fruitlessness ib.

Praise of Dancing 43



CONTENTS.



DRAYTON, MICHAEL (born 1563, died

1631) 44

Henry V. and his Troops on the night

before the Battle of Agincourt .... ib

Night 45

Queen Mab's Chariot ib.

The Birth of Moses 46

DANIEL, SAMUEL (born 1562, died!619) 47
The Queen of Richard II. awaiting
the entrance of her Husband and

BoHngbroke into London ib.

DONNE, JOHN (born 1573, died 1631).. 49

His Picture ib.

The Dissolution ib.

Sonnet 50

BURTON, ROBERT (born 1576, died

1639) 51

Pains and Pleasures of Melancholy .... ib.

DAVISON, FRANCIS 52

A Fiction how Cupid made a Nymph

wound herself with his Arrows .... ib.

Desire's Government 63

DRUMMOND, WILLIAM (born 1585,

died 1619) 54

. Sonnet ib.

Sonnet ib.

Consolation for the Death of his Mistress 55

Dedication of a Church 56

Of a Bee 57

Upon a Bay Tree, not long since grow-
ing in the ruins of Virgil's Tomb . . ib.

Upon a Glass ib.

WITHER, GEO. (born 1588, died 1667) 58

Song of the Nymph 59

Resistance to the Oppressor 60

The Stedfast Shepherd ib.

QUARLES, FRANCIS (born 1592, died

1644) 62

Faith ib.

From a Song 63

Emblem ib.

The Virgin to her Child 65

HERBERT, GEO. (born 1593, died 1632) 66

Sin ib.

Love ib.

Apology for Sacred Poetry 67

Employment ib.

Virtue 68

CRASHAW, RICHARD (born 1615, 69

died ) ib.

The Nativity ib.

On the Assumption of the Virgin Mary 70

To the Morning Satisfaction for Sleep 71

The Apostolic Spirit invoked 72

C ARE W, THOMAS (born , died 1 639) 73

To the New Year, for the Countess of

Carlisle ib.

The Protestation .. . 74



The Primrose 74

Elegy on Lady Maria Wentworth 75

SUCKLING, SIR JOHN (born 1609, died

1641) 76

Song ...". ib.

Description of a Bride 77

Siege of a Heart 78

Song 79

Perjury Excused ib.

DAVENANT, SIR WILLIAM (born

1605, died 1668) 80

Benefit of Poetry ib.

Description of a Leader 81

Conscience 82

Song ib.

Epitaph on Mrs. Katherine Cross .... 83
COWLEY, ABRAHAM (born 1618,

died 1667) 84

The Heart fled again 85

The Chronicle 86

The Epicure 88

Destruction of the First-born of Egypt 89

TheBargain 91

The Daughters of Saul 92

DENHAM, SIR JOHN (born 1615, died

1668) 93

The Thames ib.

A Song 94

On the Game of Chess ib.

Homer 95

Cowley ib.

MILTON, JOHN (born 1608, died 1674) 96

Invitation of Comus to the Lady 97

Samson's Lamentation for his Blindness 98

Hymn on the Nativity 99

Satan addressing the Fallen Angels . . 104

Pandemonium 105

Opening of the Gates of Hell 1 06

Satan's Soliloquy on first beholding

Adam and Eve 107

Eve's first awakening to Life 108

Adam's first awakening to Life 109

Temptation of Adam by Eve 110

WALLER, EDMUND (born 1605, died

1687) Ill

On his Majesty's (Charles I.) receiving
the news of the Duke of Bucking-
ham's Death ib.

Song 112

Upon the Death of the Lord Protector ib.
To the Duchess of Orleans, when she
was taking Leave of the Court at

Dover 113

ROCHESTER, JOHN WILMOT, Earl

of (born 1647, died 1680) 114

Upon Drinking in a Bowl ib.

Upon Nothing 1 ' 5

Love and Life : a Song 1 lu



CONTENTS.



iii



MARVELL, ANDREW (born 1620,

died 1678) 11

The Nymph complaining for the Death

of her Fawn ib

BUTLER, SAMUEL, (born 1612, died

1680) 12(

Description of Hudibras "12

Fortune of Hudibras in Battle 126

Combat between Trulla and Hudibras 127

ROSCOMMON, WENTWORTH DIL-
LON, Earl of (born 1633, died 1 684) 131

Comparison between French and Eng-
lish Translators of Poetry ib

Ode upon Solitude 132

The confident Quack 13.'

COTTON, CHARLES (born 1630, died

1687) 134

A Host and Hostess ib.

Cotton's Account of Himself 1 35

DORSET, CHARLES SACKVILLE,

Earl of (bom 1637, died 1706) .... 136
To Mr. Edward Howard, on his incom-
parable, incomprehensible Poem,

called The British Princes ib.

Song 137

Song, written at Sea ib.

Song 139

DRYDEN, JOHN (bom 1631, died 1701) 140
From an Ode to the Memory of Mrs.

Anne Killigrew 141

Truth of Revelation 142

Character of the English 143

Character of the Earl of Shaftesbury . . 1 44

Description of the Poet Shadwell 146

London 147

A Song 149

On the Monument of the Marquis of

Winchester 150

The affectionate Mother ib.

POMFRET, JOHN (bom 1667, died 1703) 152
Means of Benevolence, Hospitality, and

Friendship ib.

The secret Grief 153

Miseries of Civil War 154

PHILIPS, JOHN (bom 1676, died 1708) 155

The Splendid Shilling ib.

PRIOR, MATTHEW (bom 1664, died

1721) 159

Henry's Courtship of Emma ib.

Charity 161

The Thief and the Cordelier 162

Challenge to Human Wisdom 164

AlearnedLady 165

SMITH, EDMUND (bom , died

1710) 166

Music ib.

Ode for the Year 1705 . . ib.



KING, WILLIAM (born 1663, died 17 12) 168

Rules for giving a Dinner ib.

Reward of cruel Counsel 169

Hercules and Omphale ib.

Music an Auxiliary to Female Charms 170

YALDEN, THOMAS (born 1671, died

1736) 171

Hymn to Darkness.... ib.

The Satyr's Address 173

PARNELL, THOMAS (born 1679, died

1717) 174

Christ's Agony in the Garden 175

Advice to an old Beauty 176

Song of Hezekiah ib.

On Bishop Bur-net's being set on Fire

in bis Closet 178

On Mrs. Arabella Fermor leaving Lon-
don 179

Ostentatious Hospitality ib.

Epigram ISO

FENTON, ELIJAH (bom 1683, died

1730) 181

Impotence of Human Wisdom ib.

Education 182

On the first Fit of the Gout 183

WATTS, ISAAC (bom 1674, died 1743) 184

Divine Judgments ib.

Looking Upward 186

Seeking a Divine Calm in a restless

World ib.

Launching into Eternity 187

Free Philosophy 188

To the Rev. John Howe ib.

HUGHES, JOHN (bom 1677, died 1720) 190

To a beautiful Lady ib.

On Divine Poetry ib.

An Image of Pleasure 191

Written in a Lady's Prayer Book ib.

Ode on the Spring 192

SWIFT, JONATHAN (born 1667, died

1744) 193

To the Earl of Peterborough ib.

Epigram 194

On a Curate's Complaint of hard Duty 195

The Progress of Poetry ib.

Riddle on the Gallows 196

On Wood, the Ironmonger 197

The Dog and the Thief 198

TICKELL, THOMAS (bom 1686, died

1740) 199

From an Elegy on the Death of Addison ib.

Colin and Lucy 200

The Changeling 202

In Praise of the Hornbook 203

ADDISON, JOSEPH (bora 1672, died

1719) 204

An Ode ib.

The Battle of Blenheim 206

a *



CONTENTS.



I-AGE

Italy 208

Prologue to Smith's Phaedra and Hip-

politus 210

PHILIPS, AMBROSE (born 1671, died

1749) 211

A rustic Recess ib.

The happy Swain ib.

Beauties of a Winter Morning 212

Song 213

POPE, ALEXANDER (born 1688, died

1744) 214

Messiah, a Sacred Eclogue 215

Candidates for Fame 218

A Fragment 219

Mutual Dependance of all upon each

other 220

Strength of the Ruling Passion in Death 221

Timon's Villa 222

The literary Patron 223

On a certain Lady at Court 224

Mutual Flattery ib.

Belinda's Vision 225

BROOME, WILLIAM (born , died

1745) 227

Poverty and Poetry ib.

The Coquette 228

On Death 229

YOUNG, EDWARD (born 1681, died

1765) 230

Execution of Lady Jane Grey 231

Anticipation of the Last Day 232

Pride 233

Scribblers 234

Narcissa 236

GAY, JOHN (born 1688, died 1732) .... 238
Epistle to a Lady on her Passion for

old China 239

Song: Black. eyed Susan 241

Directions for Walking the Streets of

London 242

A Fable : The Fanner's Wife and the

Raven 244

To my Native Country 245

The Spell ib.

RAMSAY, ALLAN (born 1686, died

1758) 249

Rustic Coquettes ib.

Defence of Matrimony 250

Midnight Assignation with a Witch . . 252

In Praise of the Plaid ib.

Horace to Virgil 254

The Twa Books 255

GARTH, SAMUEL (born , died

1718) 256

Evening ib.

The Regions of Disease 257

To the Duke of Marlborough 258

On the Statue of Queen Anne 259



-AGB

HILL, AARON (born 1685, died 1750) 260

Alexis ; or, Pope ib.

Verses written when alone at an Inn . . ib.
WARTON, THOMAS (born 1687, died

1745) 263

An American Love Ode ib.

Verses written after seeing Windsor

Castle ib.

Retirement : an Ode 263

SOMERVILE, WILLIAM (born 1692,

died 1742) 264

Hare Hunting ib.

GREEN, MATTHEW (born 1696, died

1737) 269

Remedies for the Spleen ib.

SAVAGE, RICHARD (born 1698, died

1743) 272

Suffering Worth ib.

Advantages of Adversity 273

Savage on his Misfortunes, and the

Queen's Kindness 274

Political Independence of the Poet . . 275
CRAWFURD, WILLIAM (born 1700,

died ) 276

The Bush aboon Traquair ib.

Tweedside 277

HAMILTON, WILLIAM (bom 1704,

died 1754) 278

Song.. ib.

From Contemplation ib.

BYROM, JOHN (born 1691, died 1763) 280

A Pastoral ib.

MALLET, DAVID (born 1700, died

1765) 283

William and Margaret ib.

Edwin and Emma 285

Epitaph on a Young Lady 287

PITT, CHRISTOPHER (born 1699, died

1748) 288

On a Shadow : an Ode ib.

From The Art of Preaching 289

BROWNE, ISAAC HAWKINS (born

1705, died 1760) 290

A Pipe of Tobacco ib.

MOORE, EDW. (born 1712, died 1757) 293

The Return of the Penitent ib.

The Nightingale and Glow-worm .... 295

THOMSON, JAMES (born 1700, died

1748) 296

Charity inspired by Spring 297

Sheep Shearing 298

A Fox-hunting Banquet 299

The Traveller lost in the Snow 300

Description of the Scenery around the

Castle of Indolence 302

The .ZEolian Harp 303

The Miseries of Indolence 304



CONTENTS.



PAC.F

DYER, JOHN (born 1700, died 1757) .. 3( 5

Prospect from Grongar Hill ib.

From The Ruins of Rome 306

Recommendation of British Industry . 307

BRAMSTON. JAMES (bom 1700, died

1744) 309

From The Man of Taste ib.

HARTE, WALTER (born 1700, died

1774) 312

Examples of the Great who lived re-

tired from the World ib.

BLAIR, ROBERT (born 1700, died 1746) 314

The Church and Churchyard 315

The rich Man's Funeral 317

The Grave, a universal Leveller .... ib.

Death and its Consequence 319

Death of the good Man 320

BOYSE, SAMUEL (bom 1708, died 1749) 321

Epistle to Henry Brooke, Esq ib.

The Redeemer ib.

To Mrs. Oldfleld 322

ARMSTRONG, JOHN (bom 1709, died

1779) 323

A healthy Site ib.

True Luxury 324

Night-mare 325

Description of the Sweating Sickness . ib.

LYTTELTON, GEORGE LORD (born

1709, died 1773) 328

From an Elegy to the Memory of his

Wife ib.

WHITEHEAD, PAUL (bom 1710, died

1774) 331

Worthlessness of Externals ib.

Pursuit of Honour 332

SHENSTONE, WILLIAM (born 1714,

died 1763)

Ancient Britons

To Mr. Dodsley

The Princess Elizabeth

Anacreontic

Description of Virtue

JOHNSON, SAMUEL (born 1709, died

1784)

To Miss

Prologue

Fate of Poverty in London

False Glory

Imitation



GLOVER, RICHARD (born 1712, died

1785)) '.

The Chariot of Xerxes

Contrast between the Persian and

Grecian Soldiers

The Vision of Artemisia

Description of Teribazus



WHITEHEAD WILLIAM (born 1714,

died 1785) 348

The Youth and the Philosopher ib.

On Nobility 349

JAGO, RICHARD (bom 1715, died

1781) 350

Kenilworth Castle ib

To a Lady 351

GRAY, THOMAS (born 1716, died 1771) 3*2

Ode on the Spring 353

The Bard 364

Gray of Himself 358

Epitaph ib.

COLLINS, WILLIAM (born 1720, die<l

1756) 9

The Passions ib.

Ode 362

The Water Spirit ib.

SMOLLETT, TOBIAS (born 1720, died

1771) 364

The Tears of Scotland ib.

Song 365

Ode to Leven Water 366

Song 367

AKENSIDE, MARK (born 1721, died

1770) 368

Inscription for a Grotto 369

To Sleep 370

Against Suspicion 371

Man's immortal Aspirations 373

Superiority of moral to material

Grandeur '. ... 374

Uses of the Sense of the Ridiculous . . . 375

Sympathy ib.

COTTON, CHARLES (born , died

1788) 376

Marriage ib.

The Lamb and the Pig 377

SMART, CHRISTOPHER (born 1722,

diedl771) 379

From The Immensity of the Supreme

Being ib.

From The Power of the Supreme Being 380
From an Ode to an Eagle confined in a

College Court 381

GOLDSMITH, OLIVER (bom 1729,

died 1774) 382

Edwin and Angelina 383

Holland 387

The Country Clergyman 388

CUNNINGHAM, JOHN (bom 1729.

died 1773) 390

Fanny of the Dale ib.

The Miller ib.

Evening 391

LLOYD, ROBERT (bom 1733, died 1 764) 393

The Cit' Country Box . . ib.



Ti



CONTENTS.



CHURCHILL, CHARLES (born 173),

died!764) 396

Modern Criticism ib,

The Peasant and the King contrasted 397

The Tutor's Advice 399

Privileged Imposition ib.

The City Politician. 400

BLACKLOCK THOMAS (bom 1721,

died 1791) 401

From a Hymn to the Supreme Being. . ib.

The Author's Picture 402

To a Gentleman 403

WILKIE, WILLIAM (born 1721, died

1772) 404

From the Death of Hercules ib.

MASON, WILLIAM (born 1725, died

1797) 407

Elegy on the Death of Lady Coventry ib.
FALCONER, WILLIAM (born 1730,

died 1769) 410

From The Shipwreck 411

LANGHORNE, JOHN (born 1735, died

1779) 416

Verses in Memory of a Lady ib.

The Gipsy Life 418

WARTON, THOMAS (born 1728, died

1790) 419

The Pleasures of Melancholy ib.

Evening 420

Jockey Senators 421

MICKLE, WILLIAM JULIUS (born

1734, died 1788) 423

Sacred to the Heirs of Radnor Castle ib.

Stanzas 424

Downfall of the Portuguese Empire in

India .425



LOGAN, JOHN (born 1748, aiod 1788) 4:26

Description of Spring ib.

Hymn 427

Ode to the Cuckoo 428

The Braes of Yarrow ib.

CHATTERTON, THOMAS (born 1752,

died!770) 430

The Advice ib.

From The Battle of Hastings 431

FERGUSSON, ROBERT (born 1750, died

1774) 433

Leith Races ib.

From Caller Water 437

COWPER, WILLIAM (born 1731, died

1800) 438

The solemn Coxcomb 439

From Verses on the Receipt of his

Mother's Picture 440

On Corporations 441

The Miseries of Kings 442

The sanctimonious old Prude 443

A Theological Soiree 444

BURNS, ROBERT (born 1759, died 1796) 446

The Cotter returning Home 447

Comforts of the 1'oor 448

Tarn O'Shanter and the Witches 449

Meeting with Death 450

A Halloween Superstition 451

Bruce's Address to his Army 452

Highland Mary 453

Farewell to Nancy 454

The Book-worms ib.

BEATTIE, JAMES (born 1735, died

1803) 45S

The Boyhood of the Minstrel ib.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.







DRAWN BY


ENGRAVED BY


PAGE


1.


CHAUCER Interruption of the Combat between -j
Palamon and Arcite >


HAMILTON


. DAVENPORT


3


2.


SIR DAVID LYNDSAV. Female at Confession


COBBOULD


. C. HEATH


. 19


3.


LORD VAUX. Age resigning Pleasure to Youth .


ARCHER .


. ARCHER


. 23


4.


SPENSER Combat of St. George with the Dragon


DOMENICHINO


. COLLIER


. 19


5.


GILES FLETCHER Goddess of Justice




. DAVENPORT


. 40


6.


DONNE. The Crucifixion .....




. GRAVES


. 50


7.


WITHER Landscape, and the Contented Swain .


C. LORRAINE


. DAVENPORT


. 59


8.


CAREW. Angels conveying a blessed Spirit to-i
Heaven J


CORBOCLD


. C. ROLLS


. 75


9.


COWLEY. Ariadne deserted on the Shore .


CORBODLD


. C. HEATH


. 85


10.


MILTON Comus and the Lady ....


UWINS


. RANSON


. 97


II.


MILTON Adam tempted by Eve .


CORBOULD


. C. HEATH


. 110


a.


MARVELL The Lady and her wounded Fawn .


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 119


13.


BUTLER Combat of Hudibras with Trulla


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 122


U.


BUTLER Hudibrat and Ralpho ....


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 130


15.


DRYOEN Resurrection of the Poetess


CORBOCLD


. W. FINDEN


. 141


ir.


DRYDEN The affectionate Mother


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 151


17.


JOHN PHILIPS A Shipwreck ....


BALMER .


. ARCHER


. 158


IS.


PRIOR A learned Lady


UWINS


. C. HEATH


. 165


10.


PARNELL Christ's Agony in the Garden .


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 175


20.


HUGHES Impersonation of Spring


CORBOCLD


. C. HEATH


. 192


21.


SWIFT Canvas of a Candidate at an Election .


ARCHER .


. ARCHER


. 198


22.


ADDISON Contemplation of the Firmament


CORBODLD


. C. HEATH


. 20



viii



ILLUSTRATIONS.







DRAWN BY


ENGRAVPD BY


PAGE


23.


POPE The Messiah glorified .


CORBOULD


C. HEATH


. 215


24.


POPE Lady attended by Sylphs ....


UWINS .


SHBNTON


. 226


2'..


YOUNG Execution of Lady Jane Grey


CORBOULD


C. ROLLS


. 232


26.
or


GAY. Lady who has a Passion for old China


MILLS .
CORBOULD


ROMNEY
C. HEATH


. 240
24,,


mk
28.


SOMERVILE. The Chase


CORBOULD


C. ROLLS


O

. 267


29.


SAVAGE Poet expressing his Dislike of Depend- -i
ance upon Statesmen . . . . J


CORBOULD


C. HEATH


. 282


30.


BYKOM. The Pastoral Pair


CORBOULD


BACON


. 285


31.


THOMSON The charitable Cottager .


CALCOTT .


DAVENPORT


. 298


32.


BLAIR. Widow weeping over her Husband's-j
Grave J


CORBOULD


BACON


. 31


33.


ARMSTRONG Family expiring under Pestilence


CORBOCLD


BACON


. 321


31.


JOHNSON The Power of Music and Beauty


CORBODLD


W. FINDEN


. 339


3.-i.


GRAY Landscape with Cattle


GAINSBOROUGH .


ARCHER


. 353


86.


COLLINS. The Water Spirit ....


UWINS


DUNCAN


. 3C3


37.


AKENSIDE Invitation to the Grotto .


HUGHES


COOK


. 369


88.


GOLDSMITH. Edwin and Angelina


CORBOULD


SHENTON


. 383


yj.


JOHN CUNNINGHAM. Ploughman returning Home->


CORBOULD


ROMNEY


. 392


40.


CHURCHILL The City Politicians


UWINS


HEATH


. 400


41.


FALCONER The shipwrecked Mariners


CORBOULD


C. ROLLS


. 411


42.


T. WARTON The Wild Horse . . .


CORBOULD


C. HEAT H


. 422


43.


COWPER. The solemn Coxcomb


CORBOULD


C. HEATH


. 430


41.


BURNS The Cottager's Children welcoming their-j
Father's Return at Evening . . J


CORBOULD


C. HEATH


. 447


45.


BEATTIE. The Minstrel Boy ....


UWIN


DUNCAN


. 458



ENGLISH POETRY,

FROM ITS COMMENCEMENT
UNTIL THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.



A FREQUENT error among the lovers of abstract intellect has
been, to undervalue the power of language as an auxiliary to
thought. With them, it is enough if an idea is expressed in as
many words as will serve to make it intelligible : all beyond
this they account a mere labour of supererogation. But with
as much justice they might despise the diversity of hues, the
beauty of forms, and the melody of sounds, with which the
beneficent Creator has adorned this material world, and made
it a habitation in which man can be happy, because these are
not essential to the mere sustenance of man. It is in the intel-
lectual, as in the physical world. An abstract idea, to be
productive of practical results in society, must be rendered not
merely intelligible, but attractive. An argument, for the pur-
poses of conviction, must be not only conclusive in itself, but
invested with those persuasive qualities which will secure its
entrance into the hearts of those who are addressed. Man is
a poetical as well as a philosophical being, and while his intel-
lect requires sustenance, his imagination craves for enjoyment.
For this, something analagous to the material world is neces-
sary something by which the mere prose of reality is beau-
tified, and aggrandised with form, and light, and melody. On
account of the human mind being so constituted, language is



X ESSAY ON ENGLISH POETKY.

not merely the outline, but the body of thought the bones,
and muscles, and flesh, and blood, through which a phantom-
like idea becomes a living tangible reality.

To this poetical tendency, which so essentially constitutes a
great portion of our nature, we must refer that amplitude of
language by which the vocabulary of every country is distin-
guished. Even the rudest savage would not be contented with
those few words that suffice to express his simple wants, or to
indicate the external objects around him. He would not an-
nounce an important fact to his mistress, by the abrupt declara-
tion " I love you ;" nor panegyrise a deceased warrior by merely
summing up, upon his fingers, the number of scalps of which
he had become the owner. His kindled imagination struggles
to aggrandize either circumstance ; his language rises, and
expands with the theme ; and what might have been originally
expressed in the naked form of a mathematical proposition, and
in a single sentence, becomes an harangue, or a poem. Such
is also the case with society, as it continues to progress from
the savage to the civilized state of life. In every stage it is felt
that conversation, and speech in general, must consist of some-
thing more than the announcement of simple facts or proposi-
tions ; and thus the routine of social every-day life is impressed
with the spirit of poetry. But even this is not enough. There
must be men set apart and consecrated for the wants of the
imagination, as well as those of intellect and faith; and the
poet therefore becomes as indispensable an appendage of con-
stituted society, as the teacher or the priest. And amidst this
natural and universal craving, the language of every country is
rendered more or less fit for the purposes of poetry. Words
are multiplied to express the same object; the principles of
verbal inflection are increased, to indicate the states and rela-
tions of objects ; rhythms are invented, by which to give utter-
ance to every variety of emotion ; and arbitrary laws of con-
nexion are established, between the sound of the language and
the idea of which it is the utterance.

When the savage, or natural, has thus merged into the arti-
ficial state of poetry, the adaptation of language for poetical
purposes will depend upon the intellectual character of the
community, the situation in which it has been placed, and the



ESSAY ON ENGLISH POETRY. XI

circumstances of its national history. When these are of a
favourable description, the few hundreds of words of which a
language originally consisted, are expanded, in the course of
ages, like a mighty forest that has grown from a handful of
seedlings. Such was the case with the language of Greece
that voice of poetry itself that music of the heart, whose tones



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