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writers Racine appears to be the best, if not the only Greek scholar, except Fenelon. The rest, Corneille, Moliere, La Motte, Fontenelle, Crebillon, Voltaire, knew little of that language.
I find and feel it impossible to conclude these remarks on Pope's Messiah, without mentioning another poem taken also from Isaiah, the noble and magnificent ode on the Destruction of Babylon, which Dr. Lowth hath given us in the thirteenth of his Prelections on the Poetry of the Hebrews; and which, the scene, the actors, the sentiments, and diction, all contribute to place in the first rank of the sublime; these Prelections, abounding in remarks entirely new, delivered in the purest and most expressive language, have been received and read with almost universal approbation, both at home and abroad, as being the richest augmentation literature has in our times received, and as tending to illustrate and recommend the Holy Scriptures in an uncommon degree. It has been constantly a matter of surprise to hear an eminent prelate pronouncing lately, with a dogmatical air, that these Prelections, “ are in a vein of criticism not above the common." Notwithstanding which decision, it may safely be affirmed, that they will long survive, after the commentaries on Horace's Art of Poetry, and on the Essay on Man, are lost and forgotten.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
GEORGE LORD LANSDOWN.
Non injussa cano: Te nostræ, Vare, myricæ,
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
GEORGE LORD LANSDOWN'.
Thy forest, Windsor! and thy green retreats,
Ver. 3, &c. Originally thus, (and indeed much better ;)
Chaste Goddess of the woods,
This Poem was written at two different times: the first part of it, which relates to the country, in the year 1704, at the same time with the Pastorals; the latter part was not added till the year 1713, in which it was published. P.
Notwithstanding the many praises lavished on this celebrated nobleman as a poet, by Dryden, by Addison, by Bolingbroke, by our Author, and others, yet candid criticism must oblige us to confess, that he was but a feeble imitator of the feeblest parts of Waller. In his tragedy of Heroic Love, he seems not to have had a true relish for Homer whom he copied; and in the British Enchanters, very little fancy is to be found in a subject fruitful of romantic imagery. It was fortunate for him, says Mr. Walpole in his Anecdotes, that in an age when persecution raged so fiercely against lukewarm authors, that he had an intimacy with the Inquisitor General ; how else would such lines as these escape the Bathos; they are in his Heroic Love;
Why thy Gods Enlighten thee to speak their dark decrees. His Progress of Beauty, and his Essay on Unnatural Flights in
GRANVILLE commands; your aid, O Muses, bring!
The Groves of Eden, vanish'd now so long,
NOTES. Poetry, seem to be the best of his pieces ; in the latter are many good critical remarks and precepts, and it is accompanied with notes that contain much agreeable instruction. For it may be added, his prose is better than his verse. Witness a Letter to a Young Man on his taking Orders, his Observations on Burnet, and his Defence of his relation Sir Richard Grenville, and a Translation of some parts of Demosthenes, and a Letter to his Father on the Revolution, written in October 1688. After having been Secretary at War 1710, Controller and Treasurer to the Household, and of her Majesty's Privy Council, and created a Peer 1711, he was seized as a suspected person, at the accession of King George the First, and confined in the Tower, in the very chamber that had before been occupied by Sir Robert Walpole. But whatever may be thought of Lord Lansdown as a poet, his character as a man, was highly valuable. His conversation was most pleasing and polite ; his affability, and universal benevolence and gentleness, captivating; he was a firm friend, and a sincere lover of his country. This is the character I received of him from his near relation, and descendant, the late excellent Mrs. Delany ; who was herself a true judge of merit and worth ; of which she possessed so great a degree. Lord Lansdown was frequently the subject of those entertaining conversations at which I had the honour and advantage of being sometimes present, both in London and Windsor ; in both which places, she was enabled to pass the remainder of a most well-spent life, with great ease and comfort, by the kindness of royal munificence, bestowed on her with equal delicacy and generosity.
Ver. 7. A feeble and niggardly encomium on the Paradise Lost, which in truth was not much read when our young poet wrote this passage. There is an inaccuracy in the ninth line, in making the flame equal to a grove. It might have been Milton's flame. In a great writer we can pardon nothing, least his blemishes should be copied.