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and not a few enemies. Amongst the latter was Hugh Kelly, who published a poem which contained a very illiberal invective against him; particularly the accusation of damning, in the Review, all works of excellence, and praising his own. It is proper, however, that the public should know (and I have been assured of the fact on undisputed authority) that, in all the established Reviews, no author is suffered to write an account of his own work. On the
contrary, if he furnish sketches, or hints, of his own publication, 'they are rigidly examined, and corrected by the editor with the strictest impartiality. But to return to the subject of our memoir : in the year 1765, he was appointed by Dr. Hurd, the present bishop of Worcester, assistant preacher at Lincoln's Inn; and, in the same year, he published his “Letters on the Eloquence of the Pulpit.” They were followed by a poem in favour of the Scotch, called “Genius and Valour," which, by opposing the “Prophecy of Famine" of Churchill, drew upon him the enmity of that satyrist; the attack, however, did not deprive him of any portion of his credit. On the contrary, he was rewarded, in 1766, by the university of Edinburgh, with the degree of doctor in divinity.
At length, in 1767, the doctor was united to Miss Ann Cracroft, with whom, for five years, he had kept up an incessant correspondence; and the letters were, after her decease, and by her particular request, published under the title of “Letters to Eleonora.”
Soon after his marriage a living was purchased at Blagdon, Somersetshire, to which the doctor retired with his beloved companion. But his happiness was of short duration; for, at the end of eighteen months, Mrs. Laughorne, in the most awful trial to which a female is exposed, forfeited her existence, leaving an infant son, now the Rev. J. T. Langhorne, already mentioned.
The impression which the loss of such an accomplished partner made upon the mind of the doctor was extreme; and in order to bury the recollection of past felicity, he retired to Folkstone, and resided with his elder brother, the Rev. W. Langhorne: here he
published his poem, entitled “The Enlargement of the Mind," which is in praise of paternal affection.
It was in this retirement that he succeeded, with the assistance of his brother, in making a complete translation of the “ Lives of Plutarch;" an undertaking evidently executed with consummate ability, and which will render any other translation superfluous. He employed the first years of his widowhood in lamentations for the loss of his accomplished lady, by composing some interesting verses written at Sandgate Castle: he also wrote some beautiful stanzas to the late Mr. Scott, of Amwell, who had experienced a sinilar domestic misfortune; and this brought on an intimacy between the two gentlemen, which continued during their lives.
About this time he published the “Letters supposed to have passed between St. Evremond and Waller;” and “Frederic and Pharamond;" while, in the same year, 1771, he completely established his reputation as a poet, by the publication of those charming “Fables” which form the subject of the present volume. The plan of the fable, according to the just explanation given by the author himself, “is here enlarged, and the province so far extended, that the original narrative and moral may be accompanied with imagery, description, and sentiment. The scenery is formed in a department of nature, adapted to the genius and disposition of poetry, where she finds new objects, interests, and connections to exercise her fancy and her powers.” In addition to this statement, all readers of taste will coucur in the justice of the following remarks by Mr. Langhorne, junior: “The rural imagery on which the fables are grounded, had not been before adapted to that species of poetry; and the moral is so naturally interwoven with the narrative, that its effect is more forcible and more pleasing than when unconnected with the relation. Impersonation may certainly be applied, with as much reason, to the vegetable as to the animal creation, if the characteristic attributes of each plant or flower are faithfully marked, and the unity of the fable is maintained. The
beautiful fields of vegetative nature afford an ample range for the poet and the nioralist; and since every avenue which leads to knowledge, and unlocks the sources of moral truth, requires to be disclosed, the mode of conveying instruction, by allegorising the scenery of nature, must be considered as an acquisition to literature; not only as it extends the province of the poetic genius, bul as tending to inspire just and rational sentiments of virtue.”
His poem, entitled “The Origin of the Veil,” was also written in 1771, while he was on a visit at Potton, in Bedfordshire; and returning, in 1772, to his native county, he married the daughter of
- Thompson, Esq. a magistrate, who resided near Brough. With her he made a short tour through part of France, and, on his return, he retired to his parsonage at Blagdon, where he passed the remainder of his days.
In 1773, he was put in the commission of the peace, and at the importunity of his friend and coadjutor, Dr. Burn, he wrote the “Country Justice," a poem, in three parts. He also translated, from the Italian, “A Historical Dissertation on the ancient Republics of Italy.”
It is a very remarkable circumstance in the life of this author, that, in less than four years after his marriage, his second wife experienced the same fate as his first:
« Tis thus that Heaven its empire does maintain,
It may afflict, but man may not complain."
She left him a daughter, whom, by will, he confided to the care of Mrs. Gillman, a lady whose friendship he had gained by some poetical compliments.
By his interest with the Bouverie family, he was, in 1777, presented to a prebend in the cathedral of Wells, and would have experienced the highest dignities in his profession, if, in the death of Mr. York, for whom the seals were intended, the doctor had not lost a patron from whom he had received the strongest professions of friendship. But
“ Fortune that with malicious joy,
Does man, ber slave, oppress;
Is seldom pleased to bless;"
and though it might be expected that the doctor's fortitude would have been proof against such adventitious reverses, yet he never wholly recovered this disappointment, but sunk into a decline, which lasted three years, and terminated his existence on the 1st of April, 1779, in the forty-fifth year of his age.
During his illness, however, he wrote “Owen of Carron,” which is considered as one of his most finished poetical pieces. It is extremely pathetic, and, from its distressing catastrophe, proves uncommonly interesting.
The different productions of Dr. Langhorne bave been critically examined by Dr. Anderson, whose liberal and candid remarks do honour to his erudition and discernment. In short, the rank of the doctor, as a writer, may be accurately estimated from the fol lowing paragraph.
As a poet, his compositions are distinguished by undoubted marks of genius; a fine imagination, and a sensible heart. Imagery and enthusiasm, the great essentials of poetry, inspirit all his works, and place them far above the strain of vulgar compositions. The tenderness of love and the soft language of complaint were adapted to his genius, as well as elevation of thought, opulence of imagery, and the highest beauties of poetry. But the qualities for which he is chiefly distinguished, are imagination, pathos, and simplicity, animated sentiment, pertinence of allusion, warmth and vivacity of expression, and a melodious versification. His sentimental productions are exquisitely tender and beautiful; his de*criptive compositions show a feeling heart and a warm imagination; and his lyric pieces are pregnant with the genuine spirit of poetical
nthusiasm : but bis style, in the midst of much splendor and sirength, is sometimes harsh and obscure, and may be censured as
deficient in ease and distinctness. His chief faults are redundant decoration, and an affectation of false and unnecessary ornament. He is not always contented with that concise and simple language which is sufficient to express his sentiments, but is tempted to indulge in superfluous diction, by the fascinating charms of novelty and harmony. By giving way to the luxury of words, and immoderate embellishment, he sometimes, though rarely, violates simplicity, and becomes unavoidably inaccurate and redundant. His sentiments, however, are always just, often new, and generally striking. A great degree of elegance and classical simplicity runs through all his compositions; and his descriptions of nature, rural imagery, pictures of private virtue, and pastoral innocence, have a judicious selection of circumstances, a graceful plainness of expression, and a happy mixture of pathos and sentiment, which mark the superior poet.
“As an author, he is more esteemed for his poetic than his prosaic productions, though candour must admit the latter possess such a degree of fancy, sentiment, and erudition, as entitles them to a more general approbation than they have hitherto received; for, of the numerous prose works he wrote, none have been in great request since his death, except Solyman and Almena, Theodosius and Constantia, and Plutarch's Lives, which have gone through several editions."
He wrote a dramatic piece, in 1765, entitled “The Fatal Prophecy;” but in this he was less successful than in any of his other productions. Indeed, it does not appear to be calculated for representation.
The private character of Dr. Langhorne, in the several departments of life, was such as to entitle his memory to that respect which society in general must ever retain for an affectionate parent, a disinterested friend, and a benevolent man.