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Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool.
A groupe worthy the pencil of Giacomo da Bassano, and so minutely delineated, that he might have worked from this sketch:
— — — On the grassy bank
He adds, that the ox, in the middle of them,
.— — — — From his sides'
The troublous insects lashes, to his sides
A natural circumstance, that, to the best of my remembrance, hath escaped even the natural Theocritus. Nor do I recollect that any poet hath been struck with the murmurs of the numberless insects that swarm abroad at
* Summer, ver, 479. f Summer, ver. 485. et se(j.
the noon of a summer's day: as attendants of the evening, indeed, they have been mentioned;
Resounds the living surface of the ground:
But the novelty and nature we admire in the descriptions of Thomson, are by no means his only excellencies; he is equally to be praised for impressing on our minds the effects, which the scene delineated would have on the present spectator or Hearer. Thus having spoken j of the roaring of the savages in a wilderness of Africa, he introduces a captive, who, though just escaped from f prison and slavery under the tyrant of Morocco, is so terrified and astonished at the dreadful uproar, that
The wretch half wishes for his bonds againf
* Summer, rer. 280.
f Summer, ver. 935.
Thus also having described a caravan lost and overwhelmed in one of those whirlwinds that so frequently agitate and lift up the whole sands of the desert, he finishes his picture by adding, that,
'In Cairo's crouded streets,*
Th' impatient merchant, wondering waits in vain,
And thus, lastly, in describing the pestilence that destroyed the British troops at the siege of Carthagena, he has used a circumstance inimitably lively, picturesque and striking to the imagination; for he says, that the admiral not only heard the groans of the sick that echoed from ship to ship, but that he also pensively stood, and listened at midnight to the dashing of the waters, occasioned by throwing the dead bodies into the sea;
Heard, nightly, plungM into the sullen wares,
* Ver. 976.
| Ver. 1047.
A minute and particular enumeration of circumstances judiciously selected, is what chiefly discriminates poetry from history, and renders the former, for that reason, a more close and faithful representation of nature than the latter. And if our poets would accustom themselves to contemplate fully every object, before they attempted to describe it, they would not fail of giving their readers more new and more complete images than they generally do.* i ■.. '.
* A summer evening, for instance, after a shower, has been frequently described: but never, that I can recollect, so justly as in the following lines, whose greatest beauty is that hinted above, a simple enumeration of the appearances of nature, and of what is actually to be seen at such a time. They are not unworthy the correct and pure Tibullus. They were written by the late Mr. Robert Bedingfield, author of the Education of Achilles, a Poem, in Dodsley's Miscellanies.
Vespere sub verno, tandem actis imbribus, aether
Guttatim sparsis rorat apertus aquis.
Vivida, et insinuans mulcet amaenus odor.
These observations on Thomson, which, however, would not have been so large, if there had been already any considerable criticism on his character, might be still augmented by an examination and developement of the beauties in the loves of the Birds, in Spring, verse 580; a view of the torrid zone in Summer, verse 630; the rise of fountains and rivers in Autumn, verse 781; a man perishing in the snows, in Winter, verse 277; the wolves descending from the Alps, and a view of winter within the polar circle, verse 389; which are all of them highly-finished originals, excepting
... a few
Flurimus annosa decussus ab arbore Umax
Splendidus accendit per dumos larupida vermis, Roscida dum tremula semita luce micat. These are the particular circumstances that usually succeed a shower at that season, and yet these are new, and untouched by any other writer. The Carmina Quadragesimalia, volume the second, printed at Oxford 1748, from whence this is transcribed, (page 14,) contain many copies of exquisite descriptive poetry, in a genuine classical style. See particularly The Rivers, page 4. The Morning, page 12. The House of Care, from Spenser, page 16. The Mahometan Paradise, page 32. The Trees of different soils, page 63. The Bird's Nest, page 82. Geneva, page 89. Virgil's Tomb, page 97. The Indian, page 118. The House of Discord, page 133. Columbus first discovering the land of the West Indies, page 125, &c.