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mer observation. Their attempts were always analy-
tick; they broke every image into fragments; and
could no more represent, by their slender conceits and
laboured particularities, the prospects of nature, or the
scenes of life, than he, who diffects a sun-beam with
a prism, can exhibit the wide effulgence of a summer-
noon.

What they wanted however of the sublime, they en. (9 deavoured to supply by hyperbole; their amplification had no limits; they left not only reason but fancy behind them; and produced combinations of confused magnificence, that not only could not be credited, but could not be imagined.

Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, is never wholly lost: if they frequently threw away their wit upon false conceits, they likewise sometimes struck out unexpected truth: if their conceits were far-fetched, they were often worth the carriage. To write on their plan, it was at least necessary to read and think. No man could be born a metaphysical poet, nor assume the dignity of a writer, by descriptions copied from descriptións, by imitations borrowed from imitations, by traditional imagery, and hereditary similies, by readiness of rhyme, and volubility of syllables.

In perusing the works of this race of authors, the mind is exercised either by recollection or inquiry; either something already learned is to be retrieved, or something new is to be examined. If their greatness seldom elevates, their acuteness often surprises; if the imagination is not always gratified, at least the powers of reflection and comparison are employed; and in the mass of materials which ingenious absurdity has thrown together, genuine wit and ufeful knowledge may be fometimes found, buried perhaps in grossness of expression,

but

but useful to those who know their value; and such as, when they are expanded to perfpicuity, and polished to elegance, may give lustre to works which have more propriety though less copiousness of sentiment.

This kind of writing, which was, I believe, borrowed from Marino and his followers, had been recommended by the example of Donne, a man of a very extensive and various knowledge; and by Jonson, whose manner resembled that of Donne more in the ruggedness of his lines than in the cast of his fentiments.

When their reputation was high, they had undoubtedly more imitators, than time has left behind. Their immediate successors, of whom any remembrance can be faid to remain, were Suckling, Waller, Denham, Cowley, Cleiveland, and Milton. Denham and Waller fought another way to fame, by improving the harmony of our numbers. Milton tried the metaphysick style only in his lines upon Hobson the Carrier. Cowley adopted it, and excelled his predecessors, having as much sentiment, and more musick. Suckling neither improved versification, nor abounded in conceits. The fashionable style remained chiefly with Cowley; Suckling could not reach it, and Milton disdained it.

- CRITICAL REMARKS are not easily understood without examples; and I have therefore collected instances of the modes of writing by which this species of poets, for poets they were called by themselves and their admirers, was eminently distinguished.

A S the authors of this race were perhaps more desi. rous of being admired than understood, they sometimes drew their conceits from recesses of learning not

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very much frequented by common readers of poetry,
Thus Cowley on Knowledge :
The sacred tree midst the fair orchard grew ;

The phønix Truth did on it reft,
And built his perfum'd nest,
That right Porphyrian tree which did true logic show.
Each leaf did learned notions give,
And th' apples were demonstrative :

So clear their colour and divine,
The very shade they cast did other lights outshine.'.
On Anacreon continuing a lover in his old age: 67

Love was with thy life entwin'd,
Clofe as heat with fire is join'd,
A powerful brand prescrib'd the date
Of thine, like Meleager's fate.
Th’ antiperistasis of age

More enflam'd thy amorous rage. In the following verses we have an allusion to a Rabok binical opinion concerning Manna :

Variety I ask not: give me one
To live perpetually upon.
The person Love does to us fit,

Like manna, has the taste of all in it.
Thus. Donne shews his medicinal knowledge in fome
encomiastic verses :

In every thing there naturally grows
A Balsamum to keep it fresh and new,

If ’twere not injur'd by extrinsique blows ;
Your youth and beauty are this balm in you.

But you, of learning and religion,
And virtue and such ingredients, have made

A mithridate, whose operation
Keeps off, or cures what can be done or said.

Thoughe

,

70

Though the following lines of Donne, on the last night of the year, have something in them too scholastic, they are not inelegant: .

This twilight of two years, not past nor next,

Some emblem' is of me, or I of this,
· Who, meteor-like, of stuff and form perplext,
. Whose what and where in difputation is,

If I should call me any thing, should miss.
I sum the years and me, and find me not

Debtor to th' old, nor creditor to th' new,
That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot,
: Nor truft I this with hopes į and yet scarce true
This bravery is, finco these times shew'd me you.

Donne, Yet more abstruse and profound is Donne's reflection upon Man as a Microcosm :

If men be worlds, there is in every one
Something to answer in some proportion
All the world's riches ; and in good men, this
Virtue, our form's form, and our foul's soul is. .

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of thoughts fo far fetched, as to be not only una cxpected, but unnatural, all their books are full.

To a Lady, who wrote poesies for rings,
They, who above do various circles find,
Say, like a ring th' æquator heaven does bind.
When heaven shall be adorn'd by thec,
(Which then more heaven than 'tis, will be)
'Tis thou must write the poofy there,
For it wanteth one as yet,
Then the sun pass through't twice a year,
The sun, which is eftçem'd the god of wit.

COWLEY,

Tho

oth one as

gu't twice of wit.

The difficulties which have been raised about iden- 73 tity in philosophy, are by Cowley with ftill more perplexity applied to Love:

Five years ago (fays story) I lov'd you,
· For' which you call me most inconftant now;

Pardon me, madam, "you mistake the man;
For I am not the same that I was then;
No flesh is now the fame 'twas then in me,
And that my mind is.chang'd yourself may see.
The same thoughts to retain ftill, and intents,
Were more inconstant far; for accidents
Must of all things 'most strangely inconstant prove,
If from one subject they i another move :

My members then, the father members were
• From whence these take their birth, which now are

here.
If then this body love what th' other did,

'Twere incest, which by nature is forbid. The love of different women is, in geographical po: 7. etry, compared to travels through different countries :

Haft thou not found, each woman's breast

(The land where thou haft travelled)
Either by favages poffeft,

Or wild, and uninhabited ?
What joy could'st take, or what reposo,
In countries so uncivilis'd as those?
Luft, the scorching dog-star, here

Rages with immoderate heat ;
Whilft Pride, 'the rugged Northern Bear,

In others makes the cold too great.
And where these are temperate known,
The foil's all barren fand, or rocky stone.

Cowley. .
A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared to 75
Egypt; .

- The

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