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OF

ENGLISH AND AMERICAN POETRY:

FROM

CÆDMON AND KING ALFRED'S BOETHIUS

ΤΟ

BROWNING AND TENNYSON.

CONTAINING NEARLY

TWO THOUSAND OF THE BEST PIECES IN THE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE;

WITH SKETCHES OF THE

HISTORY OF THE POETRY OF OUR COUNTRY,

AND

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES OF FIVE HUNDRED OF THE POETS.

EDITED BY S. O. BEETON AND W. M. ROSSETTI.

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THE SIXTH

SIXTH PERIOD,

FROM 1727 TO 1780.

DURING this period Great Britain produced some of the greatest names in the world's

muster roll of men of genius. We have, among poets, Edward Young, with his solemn ind often grand "Night Thoughts"; Thomson with his graphic descriptions of Winter in its loom and storm; Spring in its clear sunshine and fitful showers, its peeping flowers and its heery feelings; Summer in its gay voluptuousness; and Autumn in its falling leaves, quiet lecay, and melancholy fancies. We have John Dyer with his exquisite "Grongar Hill," and Shenstone with his exquisite "Garden," and Gray with his "Elegy in a Country Church-yard," which the world will never let die; and dear, generous, genial, loving, and beloved Oliver Goldsmith, and Chatterton, the wondrous boy whose monument at that grand old church at Bristol awakens thoughts "too deep for tears.' We have Logan and Bruce, the poetical Wartons, Beattie with his "Minstrel," Alexander Ross with his "Woo'd and Married and A';" Christopher Smart with his ill-fated story belongs to this period, and Lady Ann Barnard, who has thrown a lustre even on the illustrious family of the Lindsays. We have as Novelists: Samuel Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, the great and noble Samuel Johnson, the delicious author of the "Vicar of Wakefield," which touches the heart in youth and old age, and Henry Mackenzie.

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Among Historians we have David Hume, Dr. William Robertson, William Tytler, Edward Gibbon. In Divinity there shine the names of Butler, Bishop Warburton, Bishop Lowth, Dr. C. Middleton, Dr. Isaac Watts, so simple and so great, this testimony, in passing from an Episcopalian, but from one who loves all good men. We have Hurd, Jortin, the Evangelist John Wesley and his brother Charles, who between them produced some of the most exquisite Hymns in the English language; Nathaniel Lardner, Leland, Blair, Campbell, add to the list of great and much loved names. We have also the magnificent Edmund Burke. Never shall we forget his generous kindness to poor deserving George Crabbe. All night Crabbe walked on Westminster Bridge after leaving his letter at the great man's house; little did Burke know that! but all night he walked in suspense; but when he called next day the helping hand was stretched out, and nobly did Crabbe repay. We have Junius, and Adam Smith, and Sir William Blackstone, and the great Earl of Chatham. It was a glorious period, and Englishmen may well be proud of it.

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are free, natural, and picturesque. The latest editor of the poets has, with singularly bad taste, noted some of this author's most nervous and expressive phrases as vulgarisms, among which he reckons that of friendship 'the solder of society.' 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 dullness or vulgarity. His style pleases us like the powerful expression of a countenance without regular beauty. Blair was a great favourite with Burns, who quotes from The Grave' very frequently in his letters." - Campbell's "Specimens." See Gilfillan's Ed. of Blair's "Grave"; Allibone's Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit."

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ISAAC WATTS.

"This admirable person was born at Southampton on the 17th of July, 1674. His father, of the same name, kept a boardingschool for young gentlemen, and was a man of intelligence and piety. Isaac was the eldest of nine children, and began early to display precocity, of genius. At four he com. menced to study Latin at home, and afterwards, under one Pinhorn, a clergyman, who kept the free-school at Southampton, he learned Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. A subscription was proposed for sending him to one of the great universities, but he preferred casting in his lot with the Dissenters. He repaired accordingly, in 1690, to an academy kept by the Rev. Thomas Rowe, whose son, we believe, became the husband of the celebrated Elizabeth Rowe, the once popular author of 'Letters from the Dead to the Living.' The Rowes belonged to the Independent body. At this academy Watts began to write poetry, chiefly in the Latin language, and in the then popular Pindaric measure. At the age of twenty, he returned to his father's house, and spent two quiet years in devotion, meditation, and study. He became next a tutor in the family of Sir John Hartopp for five years. He was afterwards chosen assistant to Dr. Chauncey, and, after the Doctor's death, became his successor. His health, however, failed, and, after getting an assistant for a while, he was compelled to resign. In 1712, Sir Thomas Abney, a benevolent gentleman of the neighbourhood, received Watts into his house, where he continued during the rest of his life-all his wants attended to, and his feeble frame so tenderly cared for that he lived to the age of seventy-five. Sir Thomas died eight years after r. Watts entered his establishment, but the widow and daughters continued unwearied in their attentions. Abney House was a mansion urrounded by fine

gardens and pleasure-grounds, where Doctor became thoroughly at home, and wont to refresh his body and mind in intervals of study. He preached regularly a congregation, and in the pulpit, although stature was low, not exceeding five feet, excellence of his matter, the easy flow of language, and the propriety of his pronun tion, rendered him very popular. In pri t he was exceedingly kind to the poor an children, giving to the former a third pa his small income of £100 a-year, and wr for the other his inimitable hymns. Be these, he published a well-known Treatis Logic,' another on 'The Improvement of Mind,' besides various theological product amongst which his World to Come' been pre-eminently popular. In 1728 received from Edinburgh and Aberdee unsolicited diploma of Doctor of Divinity age advanced, he found himself unable to charge his ministerial duties, and offer remit his salary, but his congregation re to accept his demission. On the 25th vember, 1748, quite worn out, but wi suffering, this able and worthy man expi

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"If to be eminently useful is to fulfi highest purpose of humanity, it was cert fulfilled by Isaac Watts. His logica

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other treatises have served to brace th tellects, methodise the studies, and centrate the activities of thousands-w nearly said of millions-of minds. Th given him an enviable distinction, bu. shone still more in that other provin so felicitously chose and so success's occupied that of the hearts of the y D One of his detractors called him M. Watts.' He might have taken up epithet, and bound it as a crown him. We have heard of a pious for possessed of imperfect English, who, agony of supplication to God for som friend, said, 'O Fader, hear me ! O M hear me !' It struck us as one of the of stories, and containing one of the beautiful tributes to the Deity we ever recognising in Him a pity which not father, which only a mother can feel. tender mother does good Watts bend ov little children, and secure that thei words of song shall be those of simple, felt trust in God, and of faith in their Brother. To create a little heaven nursery by hymns, and these not maw twaddling, but beautifully natural a quisitely simple breathings of piety and was the high task to which Watts conse and by which he has immortalised, his g -Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets iii., pp. 91-93.

PHILIP DODDRIDGE. "Philip Doddridge, born 1702, die one of the most distinguished Noncor

divines. He was born in London, was educated among the Dissenters, became minister at Northampton, and died at Lisbon, whither he had departed for the benefit of his health. Doddridge was a man of learning and earnest piety. He was beloved and admired by all the religious bodies of the country. His style is plain, simple, and forcible. He was a critic of some acumen, and a preacher of great distinction. But his name lives from his practical works and expository writings, the chief of which are- Discourses on Regeneration,' 1741; Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,' 1745; and his greatest and most extensive work, The Family Expositor,' one of the most widely-circulated works of its class." -Shaw's "Hist. Eng. Lit."; Allibone's "Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit."; Dr. Kippis, in 'Biog. Brit."; Dr. Ralph Wardlaw; Bishop Warburton; Dr. E. Williams; T. H. Horne; Dr. Dibdin; Barrington, Bishop of Durham; Robert Hall's "Letters"; Dr. Francis Hunt; Morell; London Evangel. Mag."; Bishop Jebb.

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EDWARD YOUNG.

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Edward Young, born 1681, died 1765. "I now come," says Shaw, in his Hist. Eng. Lit.,'"to Edward Young, the most powerful of the secondary poets of the epoch. He began his career in the unsuccessful pursuit of fortune in the public and diplomatic service of the country. Disappointed in his hopes and somewhat soured in his temper he entered the Church, and serious domestic losses still further intensified a natural tendency to morbid and melancholy reflection. He obtained his first literary fame by his satire entitled the Love of Fame, the Universal Passion,' written before he had abandoned a secular career. It is in rhyme and bears considerable resemblance to the manner of Pope, though it is deficient in that exquisite grace and neatness which distinguish the latter. In referring the vices and follies of mankind chiefly to vanity and the foolish desire of applause, Young exhibits a false and narrow view of human motives; but there are many passages in the three epistles, which compose this satire, that exhibit strong powers of observation and description, and a keen and vigorous expression which, though sometimes degenerating into that tendency to paradox and epigram which are the prevailing defect of Young's genius, are not unworthy of his great model. The Second Epistle, describing the character of women, may be compared, without altogether losing in the parallel, to Pope's admirable work on the same subject. But Young's place in the history of English poetry-a place long a very high one, and which is likely to remain a far from unenviable one is due to his striking and original poem The Night Thoughts.' This work, consisting

of nine nights or meditations, is in blank verse, and consists of reflections on Life, Death, Immortality, and all the most solemn subjects that can engage the attention of the Christian and the philosopher. The general tone of the work is sombre and gloomy, perhaps in some degree affectedly so, for though the author perpetually parades the melancholy personal circumstances under which he wrote, overwhelmed by the rapidly-succeeding losses of many who were dearest to him, the reader can never get rid of the idea that the grief and desolation were purposely exaggerated for effect. In spite of this, however, the grandeur of Nature and the sublimity of the Divine attributes are so forcibly and eloquently depicted, the arguments against sin and infidelity are so concisely and powerfully urged, and the contrast between the nothingness of man's earthly aims and the immensity of his immortal aspirations is so pointedly set before us, that the poem will always make deep impression on the religious reader. The prevailing defects of Young's mind were an irresistible tendency to antithesis and epigrammatic contrast, and a want of discrimination that often leaves him utterly unable to distinguish between an idea really just and striking, and one which is only superficially so: and this want of taste frequently leads him into illustrations and comparisons rather puerile than ingenious, as when he compares the stars to diamonds in a seal-ring upon the finger of the Almighty. He is also remarkable for a deficiency in continuous elevation, advancing so to say by jerks and starts of pathos and sublimity. The march of his verse is generally solemn and majestic, though it possesses little of the rolling thundrous melody of Milton; and Young is fond of introducing familiar images and expressions, often with great effect, amid his most lofty bursts of declamation. The epigrammatic nature of some of his most striking images is best testified by the large number of expressions which have passed from his writings into the colloquial language of society, such as 'procrastination is the thief of time,' all men think all men mortal but themselves,' and a multitude of others. A sort of quaint solemnity, like the ornamentation upon a Gothic tomb, is the impression which the 'Night Thoughts' are calculated to make upon the reader in the present time; and it is a strong proof of the essential greatness of his genius, that the quaintness is not able to extinguish the solemnity." - Dr. Angus's "Handbook of Eng. Lit."; Gilfillan's Ed. of "Young's Poems"; Campbell's mens."

JAMES THOMSON.

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"James Thomson, a distinguished British poet, born at Ednam, near Kelso, in

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