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age. I had rather be my Lord Mayor, for then I should keep the nickname but a year, and mine I may retain a little longer ; not, that at seventy-five, I reckon on becoming my Lord Methufalem!"
A Letter from Lord Orford to Dr. Berkenhout, in Ar
frer to a Letter, requesting Materials for writing his Life, 1773
I am so much engaged in private business at present, that I have not had time to thank you for the favour of your letrer, nor can I now answer it to your fatisfaction.
My life has been cou insignificant to afford materials interesting to the public. In general, the lives of mere authors are dry and unent
entertaining'; nor though I have been one occasionally, are my writings of a class or me. rit to enticle me to any distinction. I can as little furnith you, fir, with a list of the:n, or their dates, which would give me niore trouble to make out than is worth while. If I have any merit with the public, it is for printing and-preserving fome valuable works of others; and if you erer write the lives of printers, I may be enrolled in the number. My own works, I suppose, are dead and buried; but as I am not impatient to be interred along with them, I hope you will leave chat office to the parlon of the parith, and I shall be as long as I live, Your obliged, humble fervant,
MILTON, SAID Lord Orford, has incrit so much superior to mere grace, that I will only say that if his Raphael, his Satan, and his Adam, have as much dignity as the Apollo Belvidere, his Eve has all the delicacy of the Venus of Medici, and his description of Eden has the colouring of Albano. His tenderness always imprints ideas as
graceful graceful as Guido's Madonnas and the Allegro Pen. ferofo, and Comus might be denominated from the three Graces,
Milton's foul was full of poetry, senfe, and fire; and ke had improved all these qualities by studying the best models. Thus prepared, he gave a loose to his genius, which was too impetuous and sublime to be curbed by the mechanism of rhyme, which would often have impeded his expreffing all he felt, and oftener, perhaps, have obliged him to add frigidities to help out the return of the found. The language, therefore, of MilTON's blank verse was not studied, but the natural application of his own tongue to deliver his own ideas.
ILTON is an author of such exquisite merit,
of his truly sxcellent productions, His Paradise Loft, Paradise Regained, and Sampson Agonikes, have already engaged our attention. We now proceed to a short eles giac poem, known by the name of LYCIDAS, parts of which exhibit traits both of beauty and fublimity. The critics, we are aware, have differed on its merits; but the reader shall have it in his power to determine acfording to his own judgment.
In the edition of Milton's smaller poems, Lycidas is entitled a monody, and the following melancholy cause is said to have given rise to the composition. A learned friend was unfortunately drowned, 1637, in the month of August, on the Irish seas, in his paffage from Chefe
This friend (we are informed by Bishop Newton) was Mr. Edward King, son of Sir John King, Secretary of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth, King James I. and King Charles I. and was a fellow of Christ College, and was so well beloved and esteemed at Cambridge, that some of the greatest names in the university have united in celebrating his obsequies, and published a collection of poems, Greek and Latin, and English, sacred to his memory. This poem is supposed to have been written by Milton, at Horton, the seat of his father, in Buckinghamshire. Here the poet opened his mind to all the delicacies of friendship, and was, therefore, susceptible of the sorrows which its loffes must have occasioned. The motto constitutes a part of the introduction to the poem, and thews how deeply the mind of the poet was affected by the decease of his amiable and learned friend.
Their association together, and their interchanges of mutually kind offices to one another, are thus delicately described :
Together both, ere the high lawns appcar’d,
Immediately afterwards the heavy change is feelingly depicted ; it is a perfect contrast to the preceding pa. ragraph:
But O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Such LYCIDAs thy loss to thepherd's car. Having thus fweetly sketched the pleasures and for, rows of friendship; Milton bursts forth into the follow, ing affecting apostrophe, replete with genuine poetry:
Where were ye; nymphs, when the remorseless deep!
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore? Some beautiful reflections are then introduced on the encertainty of human life, and on the nature of true fare; the passage is too remarkable to be here omitted:
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
Of so much fame in hcav'ı-expect thy meed. The poet then proceeds to various poetical perfoni-, fications, all of which tend to impress us with the liveliness and delicacy of his imagination. He also touches on the very corrupt state of the clergy at that period, and is supposed to allude to the probable and violent death of Laud, many years after the time in which the poem was written. The lines are fingular :
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw,
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more ! At the close of the elegy we meet with these pathetic strains, worthy the subject of his song :
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more