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The Kennet swift, for silver eels renown'd;
High in the midst, upon his urn reclin'd, (His sea-green mantle waving with the wind) 350
The NOTES VER. 341.] The word renown'd, fays a true poet, Dr. Darwin, does not present the idea of a visible object to the mind, and is thence profaic.
VER. 350.] Whenever the river Thames is mentioned, I am afraid the disgraceful and impotent criticism of Dr. Johnson on a passage in Gray's Odes, will recur to the mind of the reader. I heartily wish, for the fake of its author, who had more strong sense than a just relish for true poetry, that this strange and unwarrantable remark of his, could be funk into oblivion.
Our poet was not deterred, from the censure which Addison passed in his Campaign, on raising and personifying river-gods, from giving us this fine description, in which Thames appears and speaks with suitable dignity and importance. How much superior is this picture to that of Boileau's Rhine ; who represents the Naids as alarming the God with an account of the march of the French Monarch ; upon which the River God assumes the appearance of an old experienced commander, fies to a Dutch fort, and exhorts the garrison to dispute the intended passage. The Rhine, marching at their head, and observing Mars and Bellona on the side of the enemy, is so terrified with the view of these superior divinities, that he most gallantly runs away, and leaves the great hero Louis XIV. in quiet poffeflion of his banks. So much for a true court poet, who would not have dared to write the eight last lines of this speech of Thames, from V. 4!5. The lines of Addison in the Campaign were ;
The God appear'd: he turn’d his azure eyes Where Windsor-domes and pompous turrets rise ; Then bow'd and spoke; the winds forget to roar, And the hushid waves glide softly to the shore.
“ Hail, facred Peace! hail long-expected days, 355 That Thames's glory to the stars shall raise ! Tho' Tyber's streams immortal Rome behold, Tho' foaming Hermus swells with tides of gold, From heay'n itself, tho' sev’nfold Nilus flows, And harvests on a hundred realms bestows; These now no more shall be the Muse's themes, Lost in my fame, as in the sea their streams. Let Volga's banks with iron squadrons shine, And groves of lances glitter on the Rhine, Let barb'rous Ganges arm a servile train; 365 Be mine the blessings of a peaceful reign. No more my sons shall dye with British blood Red Iber's sands, or Ister's foaming flood :
Let Venice boast her Tow’rs amidst the Main,
Gods may descend in factions from the skies,
beds arise. I cannot forbear mentioning, that the very first composition that made the young Racine known at Paris was his Ode from the Nymph of the Seine to the Queen, which ode, by the way, was corrected by Chapelain, at that time in high vogue as a critic, and by him recommended to the court. K4
Safe on my shore each unmolested swain
385 And half thy forests rush into thy floods,
Now shall our fleets the bloody Cross display
VER. 378. And Temples rise,] The fifty new churches. P.
Ver. 380. A new Whitehall] “ Several plates (says Mr. Walpole) of the intended palace of Whitehall have been given, but, I believe, from no finished design of Inigo Jones. The four
Bear Britain's thunder, and her Cross display,
395 And Phoebus warm the rip'ning ore to gold. The time shall come, when free as feas or wind Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind, Whole nations enter with each swelling tide, And seas but join the regions they divide; 400 Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold, And the new world launch forth to seek the old. Then ships of uncouth form shall stem the tide, And feather'd people croud my wealthy side,
NOTES. great sheets are evidently made up from general hints, nor could such a source of invention and taste, as the mind of Inigo, ever produce so much sameness. The strange kind of cherubims on the towers at the end are preposterous ornaments, and whether of Inigo or not, bear no relation to the rest. The great towers in the front are too near, and evidently borrowed from what he had seen in Gothic, not in Roman buildings. Thre circular court is a picturesque thought, but without meaning or utility.
VER. 391.] Here is almost a prophecy of those discoveries of new islands and continents which this country of late had the honour to make.
Ver. 398. Unbounded Thames, &c.] A wish that London may be made a FREE PORT,
And naked youths and painted chiefs admire
420 There Faction roar, Rebellion bite her chain, And gasping Furies thirst for blood in vain.”
Here cease thy flight, nor with unhallow'd lays Touch the fair fame of Albion's golden days:
To hear the favage youth repeat
Their feather-cinctured chiefs, and dusky loves,
VER. 422. in vain.] This conclusion both of Horace and of Pope is feeble and fat. The whole should have ended with this speech of Thames at this line, 422.
Quo, Mufa, tendis ? define pervicax
Magna modis tenuare parvis."