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Jons LANGHORSE was born in 1735, at Kirkby-Stephen, in Westmoreland. His father was a clerzyman, who died when the Poet was young, and left him and his brother to the care of their mother. lle was educated at Appleby, and entered his name at Clare-Hall, Cambridge; but his circumstances probably precluded a residence at the C'niversity, and he never obtained any degree. His earlier years were occupied in discharging the duties of a private tutor, and as assistant at the free-school of Wakefield; but he succeeded in entering holy orders, obtained a curacy; and subsequentiy, in 1767, the Rectory of Blagdon, in Somersetshire, and a Prebend's stall of Wells. After the year 1764, he resided permanently in London, having been appointed to the curacy and lectureship of St. John's, Clerkenwell, and the preachership of Lincoln's Inn; bere he had the reputation of a popular preacher and of a most industrious writer — publishing sermons, translations, letters, memoirs, and poems, and contributing to some of the leading periodical works of the day. His translation of Plutarch's Lives is the best known of his prose works; in this he had the assistance of his brother.
In the year 1767 he became a country magistrate; and the opportunities afforded by his office he turned to account in his * Country Justice,” the characters in which we may easily imagine to have been sketched from the life. The poem was published in three parts, at three different periods.
He died at Blagdon in 1779, having been twice married, and having lost both his wives in child-birth.
There are many evidences of the upright, liberal, and amiable character of Langhorne. As a magistrate he was active and useful. His mind, if not of the highest order, was richly and happily endowed. He was an accomplished scholar, an eloquent preacher, a sensible and agreeable writer of prose, and an elegant and graceful—if not a refined or vigorons-poet. There are few subjects capable of poetry which he has left untouched. Hymns, sonnets, odes, addresses to royalty, elegies, fables, pastorals, ballads, songs and translations:-to this long list of his productions we may add tragedy. He even dared to draw pen in defence of the Scotch when attacked by the keen weapon of Churchill,
The "Country Justice” is, perhaps, the most perfect and valuable of his poetical works. It records the simple annals of the poor-is full of humour and abounds in pathos—and there runs through it a rich vein of kindliness that speaks strongly for the goodness of the Poet's heart. He commences by a retrospect of the lamentable state of freedom in England, dwells upon the value of the appointment of justices; then draws the character which a justice ought to bear, enumerates the reasons why he should lean to the side of mercy and make allowances for the errors of poor human nature. His apology for the vagrant is a delicious bit
“ The child of misery, baptiz'd in tears ; **** and his appeals for protection of the poor are admirable.
His tale, “ Owen of Carron,” was the last of his works. It is founded upon the ancient and more pathetic ballad of “ Gil Morrice," and records the story of a Highland maid, who gives her heart to one who is not chosen for her, and whose rival procures his assassination.
But, as we have intimated, it is rather sound practical sense, gentle and amiable thoughts, or the results of experience learnt with a kindly reading in the great school of the world—the actual and every day world-in the form of easy and agreeable verse, than the exercise of the high and enduring attributes of the poet, which have given fame to the name of Langhorne. He rarely warms into enthusiasm. “Tenderness," says one of his biographers, “ seems to have been his peculiar characteristic;" but even this quality rarely assumes the winning and impressive influence that touches the heart.
The great defects of his poetry arise from the redundancy of ornament which he appeared to consider essential in producing a vivid impression upon the mind of his reader. He is rarely content to picture nature in her own plain but most attractive garb; and often fails in his attempts to lead votaries to her shrine by dressing her in tinsel and false jewels, the worthlessness of which is at once perceived.
The gipsy-race my pity rarely move; Yet their strong thirst of liberty I love.
For this in Norwood's patrimonial groves The tawny father with his offspring roves ; When summer suns lead slow the sultry day, In mossy caves, where welling waters play, Fann'd by each gale that cools the fervid sky, With this in ragged luxury they lie. Oft at the sun the dusky elfins strain The sable eye, then snuggling, sleep again ; Oft as the dews of cooler evening fall, For their prophetic mother's mantle call.
Far other cares that wand’ring mother wait,
Seest thou afar yon solitary thorn,
Far other treatment she who breathless lay,
Worn with long toil on many a painful road,
“ Now let me swear-for by my soul's last sigh,
The living object of thy honest rage, Old in parochial crimes, and steel'd with age, The grave
churchwarden !-unabash'd he bears Weekly to church his book of wicked prayers ; And pours, with all the blasphemy of praise, His creeping soul in Sternhold's creeping lays!
ODE TO THE RIVER EDEN,
BEAUTIFUL Eden! parent stream,
Yet shall the maids of memory say, (When, led by fancy's fairy dream,
My young steps trac'd thy winding way) How oft along thy mazy shore, That many a gloomy alder bore,
In pensive thought their poet stray'd; Or, careless thrown thy bank beside, Beheld thy dimly waters glide,
Bright through the trembling shade. Yet shall they paint those scenes again,
Where once with infant joy he play'd, And bending o'er thy liquid plain,
The azure worlds below survey'd : Led by the rosy-handed hours, When time tripp'd o'er yon bank of flowers,
Which in thy crystal bosom smild; Though old the god, yet light and gay, He flung his glass and scythe away,
And seem'd himself a child.
The poplar tall, that waving near
Would whisper to thy murmurs free ;
And trembles when I sigh for thee.
Burnish their green locks in the sun;
In airy circles run.
But, Fancy, can thy mimic power
Again those happy moments bring? Canst thou restore that golden hour,
When young Joy wav'd his laughing wing?
The vow sincere, devoid of guile !
And look'd as angels smile.
O goddess of the crystal bow,
That dwell'st the golden meads among ; Whose streams still fair in memory flow,
Whose murmurs melodise my song ! Oh! yet those gleams of joy display, Which brightening glow'd in fancy's ray,
When near the lucid urn reclin'd,
Her image on my mind.
No more in golden visions play ;
No Delia's smile approves my lay.
And in thy breast this moral findThat life, though stain'd with sorrow's showers, Shall flow serene, while virtue pours
Her sunshine on the mind.
INSCRIPTION ON A STUDY DOOR.
O thou that shalt presume to tread