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Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, with all the fantastic state she took upon her, and the other absurdities arising from her want of judgment, was a woman of genius, and had a great deal of good sense, where others were concerned. The following apostrophe on "the Theme of Love" has something in it extremely pleasant, between gaiety and gravity.
"O Love, how thou art tired out with rhyme!
Her Grace wrote an Allegro and Pensieroso, as well as Milton; and very good lines they contain, and to the purpose. Her Euphrosyne does not mince the matter. She talks like a Nell Gwynn, and looks like her too, though all within bounds.
"Mirth laughing came; and running to me, flung
Her fat white arms about my neck; there hung,
I'll keep your heart, and guard it from that thief
And all your spirits like to birds in flight.
Mirth shall digest your meat, and make you strong, &c.
On the other hand, Melancholy says of Mirth that she is only happy "just at her birth;" and that she
"Like weeds doth grow,
Which makes great wrinkles, and ploughs furrows deep :
Her mouth doth gape, teeth-bare, like one that's dead:
Offers herself, and comes before a call :"
And then, in a finer strain—
"Her house is built upon the golden sands,
It makes a noise, and gives a loud report,
I dwell in groves that gilt are with the sun,
My music is the buzzing of a fly;
I walk in meadows, where grows fresh green grass,
I wish nor seek for vain and fruitless pleasures,
Dryden's young favourite, Anne Killegrew, who comes next in
the list, has no verses so unequal as these, and perhaps none so strong as some of them; but she is very clever, and promised to do real honour to her master. We regret that we have not by us the
volume of her poems, which Mr Dyce mentions, and which contains better things than he has extracted. She was accused of being helped in her writing; probably in consequence of her intimacy with the poet; or perhaps from being one of a family of wits; though the latter consideration ought to have vindicated her. She repels the charge with spirit and sweetness. The lines "Advanc'd her height," and "Every laurel to her laurel bow'd," will remind the reader of Dryden. The concluding couplet is excellent.
Anne, Marchioness of Wharton, who follows, has an agreeable song, worthy of repetition; but these lady writers will beguile us out of bounds. She was daughter of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, ancestor of the present Dillon family. Should Mr Dyce come to a second edition, we recommend him to notice connexions of this kind with the living. It will give his book additional interest, and of a popular kind. Lady Wharton was a cousin of Lord Rochester,
and has written an elegy on his death, in which she represents him as an angel. We have the pleasure of possessing a copy of Waller's Poems, in the blank leaf of which is written "Anne Wharton, given her by the Authore." Her husband was at that time not possessed of his title.
A "Mrs Taylor," who appears to have been an acquaintance of Aphra Behn, has a song with the following beautiful termination. It is upon a rake whose person she admired, and whom, on account of his indiscriminate want of feeling, she is handsomely resolved not to love.
"My wearied heart, like Noah's dove,
Finding no hope to fix my love,
Next comes Aphra herself; and, we must say, affects and makes us admire her, beyond what we looked for. Her verses are natural and cordial, written in a masculine style and yet womanly withal. If she had given us nothing but such poetry as this, she would have been as much admired, and known among us all, to this day, as she consented to be among the rakes of her time. Her comedies indeed are alarming, and justly incurred the censure of Pope: though it is probable, that a thoughtless good-humour made her pen run over, more than real licentiousness; and that although free enough in her life, she was not so "extravagant and erring as persons with less mind. We have to thank Mr Dyce for the good taste with which he has made his selections from her.
SONG IN ABDELAZER, OR THE MOOR'S REVENGE.
Whilst bleeding hearts around him flow'd,
And strange tyrannic pow'r he shew'd.
Which round about in sport he hurl'd;
Enough t' undo the amorous world.
From thee his pride and cruelty;
And every killing dart from thee:
"O Love! that stronger art than wine,
And chok'd the glutton lies, and dead;
"In vain does Hymen with religious vows
Oblige his slaves to wear his chains with ease,
"Tis Love alone can make our fetters please.
Yet in his fiercest rage is charming still:
But haughty Love comes only when he will."
Aphra Behn is said to have been in love with Creech. It should be borne in mind by those who give an estimate of her character, that she passed her childhood among the planters of Surinam; no very good school for restraining or refining a lively temperament. Her relations are said to have been careful of her; but they died there, and she returned to England her own mistress.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
We understand that the difficulty of procuring subjects for dissection is likely to be done away, in consequence of the number of poor persons who are found to die in hospitals, and whose bodies are unreclaimed. It appeared from a letter in the Morning Herald, dated April 26, that this is the way in which the French surgeons obtain a superabundance; and a person was said to have arrived in Paris, whose object was to arrange a supply for us: but we have
discovered, it seems, that we can furnish ourselves. As a preliminary step to any law on the subject, it would now be but decent to abolish the practice of giving up the murderer's body to the anatomist; otherwise the last wants of poverty and disgraces of crime will be most odiously confounded. It is said in the letter from Paris, on the authority of M. Dupin, that one-third of the population of that city dies in hospitals; to wit, 900,000 people! This appears astonishing; but there is no knowing in how reckless a manner half the inhabitants of that sprightly metropolis may live, nor how little they care where they die. It was stated the other day, that the suicides that take place there greatly exceed in number those of our own capital; and this was thought more extraordinary. People recollected the old jokes about our gloomy month of November, and wondered that the merry French should find more reasons for killing themselves. But generally speaking, suicides in England and France are most likely committed out of very different feelings; the former, from a gloomy temper, or an apoplectic fulness of blood; the latter, out of impulse. The Englishman kills himself, because he broods over his misfortune till it becomes intolerable; the Frenchman, because the same organization which leads him to be lively and thoughtless in prosperity, makes him impatient at the first incursions of adversity, and he kills himself out of the same levity with which he lived. We suspect, even in this country, that suicides are much oftener committed out of a first impulse, than people suppose; and that many a man has been tempted to it, who having a little more patience or strength of reflection than the others, has afterwards found, that his propensity was owing to no greater cause than indigestion, or some other want of health or the doctor. A Frenchman loses his money or his mistress; and it is the toss up of a die whether he laughs or kills himself. If the circumstances that surround him at the moment are favourable, he philosophizes and quotes a ballad: if otherwise, or some dandy cultivator of the grim and scornful has put into his hand a translation
It is said, that a small steam-vessel was to be fitted out, solely to convey dead bodies from France. It would have been a very ghastly ship, roaring and fuming up the channel, with that mortal freightage.