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As a poet, Pope stands the first in what has been called the second class of poetry, that which consists in the description of artificial life and manners. Invention and fancy are exhibited in the Rape of the Lock, beauty of natural description in Windsor Forest, and a tender pathos of feeling in some of his other productions. He possessed likewise, great powers of satire, and often exhibits an admirable felicity, acuteness, and delicacy of discrimination in the delineation of character. Elegance, elaborate ease, and the utmost refinement of taste characterise all his compositions ; and his style and versification are polished, smooth, and harmonious, almost to a fault of monotony.
Together with the extreme smoothness and polish of his style, good sense is likewise a quality which peculiarly distinguishes his writings. He has been called, indeed, “ the most sensible of poets.
There is great wisdom and shrewdness of observation in many of his didactic essays, in his Moral Epistles, and generally in his remarks on the characters and manners of the gay world in which he had mingled so much.
The moral character of his poetry is often pure, but not uniformly so, and seldom elevated to the highest degree. He has embalmed in his singular beauty of style and language many false and corrupt principles, and some of his productions contain much, which no man of true piety, benevolence and purity of feeling would have ever written. He sometimes writes in what is merely a strain of refined epicureanism; and his Elegy to the memory of an unfortunate lady, which has been so long admired and so often quoted, exhibits sentiments in extenuation and even in praise of the crime of suicide, equally unworthy of the Christian and the man.
SCENES FROM WINDSOR FOREST.
SEE! from the brake the whirring pheasant springs,
Nor yet, when moist Arcturus clouds the sky,
When frosts have whitend all the naked groves,
In genial spring, beneath the quivering shade,
But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sun-beams trembling on the floating tides: While melting music steals upon the sky, And soften’d sounds along the waters die : Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gently play, Belinda smil'd and all the world was gay. All but the sylph-with careful thoughts oppressed, The' impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He summons straight his denizens of air ; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair : Soft o'er the shrouds aerial whispers breathe, That seem'd but zephyrs to the train beneath. Some to the sun their insect-wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold; Transparent forms too fine for mortal sight, Their fluid bodies half dissolv'd in light. Loose to the wind their airy garments flew, Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew, Dipt in the richest tincture of the skies, Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes, While every beam new transient colours flings, Colours that change whene'er they wave their wings. Amid the circle, on the gilded mast, Superior by the head, was Ariel plac'd; His purple pinions opening to the sun, He rais'd hiz azure wand, and thus begun;
“ Ye sylphs and sylphids, to your chief give ear,
"Our humbler province is to tend the fair,
Be thou the first true mcrit to befriend;
as Chaucer is shall Dryden be.
And each bold figure just begins to live,
FROM THE ESSAY ON MAN.
Heaven forming each on other to depend, A master, or a servant, or a friend, Bids each on other for assistance call, Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all. Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally The common interest, or endear the tie. To these we owe true friendship, love sincere, Each home-felt joy that life inherits here; Yet from the same we learn, in its decline, Those joys, those loves, those interests, to resign ; Taught, half by reason, haif by mere decay, To welcome death, and calmly pass away. Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pelf, Not one will change his neighbour with himself. The learn’d is happy, nature to explore, The fool is happy, that he knows no more; The rich is happy, in the plenty giv'n, The poor contents him with the care of heav'n. See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing, The sot a hero, lunatic a king; The starving chemist in his golden views Supremely bless'd, the poet in his muse.
See some strange comfort every state attend, And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend : See some fit passion every age supply ; Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die.
Behold the child, by nature's kindly law, Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw; Some livelier playthiny gives his youth delight, A little louder, but as empty quite: Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage, And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age: Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before, Till tir'd he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
Meanwhile, opinion gilds with varying rays
One prospect lost, another still we gain,
Born 1699-Died 1747.
BLAIR's father was one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and chaplain to King Charles I. The poet, after the usual preparatory studies, was ordained the minister of Athelstaneford, in the county of East Lothian, and resided there till his death. He is said to have been assiduous and zealous in the performance of his pastoral duties, and distinguished for his fervid eloquence. Among his friends, by whom he was warmly beloved, he numbered Colonel Gardiner, Dr. Watts, and Dr. Doddridye.
“The eighteenth century,” says Campbell, "has produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerful and simple a character as that of the Grave. It is a popular poem, not merely because it is religous, but because its language and imagery are free, natural, and picturesque. Blair may be a homely and even a gloomy poet in the eye of fastidious criticism; but there is a masculine and pronounced character even in his gloom and homeliness, that keeps it most distinctly apart from either dulness or vulgarity. His style pleases us like the powerful expression of a countenance without regular beauty."
SEE yonder hallow'd fane ;-the pious work Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot, And buried midst the wreck of things which were ; There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead. The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks Till now I never heard a sound so dreary : Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird, Rook'd in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles, Black-plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of 'scutcheons And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound, Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, The mansions of the dead.-Rous'd from their slumb ers, In grim array the grisly spectres rise, Grin horribly, and obstinately sullen, Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night.