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Of life oppress, whom sober sense conducts,
And virtue, thro' this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and sense I mean not to disjoin,;
Virtue and sense are one: and trust me,


A faithless heart betrays the head unsound.
Virtue (for mere good-nature is a fool)
Is sense and spirit with humanity :

'Tis sometimes angry and its frown confounds;
'Tis even vindictive, but in vengeance just.

Knaves fain would laugh at it: some great ones dare.

But at his heart the most undaunted son

Of fortune dreads its name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth;
This is the solid pomp of prosperous days;
The peace and shelter of adversity.
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of envy and all-sapping time.
The gaudy gloss of fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye; the suffrage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attained
sense alone and dignity of mind.
Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul,
Is the best gift of Heaven: a happiness


even above the smiles and frowns of fate

Exalts great Nature's favourites; a wealth
That ne'er encumbers, nor can be transierr'd.


Read boldly, and unprejudiced peruse
Each fav'rite modern, e'en each ancient Muse
With all the comic salt and tragic rage
The great stupendous genius of our stage,
Boast of our island, pride of humankind,
Had faults to which the boxes are not blind;
His frailties are to every gossip known,
Yet Milton's pedantries not shock the town.

Ne'er be the dupe of names however high,
For some outlive good parts, some misapply.
Each elegant Spectator you admire,

But must you therefore swear by Cato's fire?
Masks for the court, and oft a clumsy jest,
Disgraced the muse that wrought the Alchemist.
'But to the ancients.'-Faith! I am not clear,
For all the smooth round type of Elzevir,
That ev'ry work which lasts in prose or song
Two thousand years deserves to last so long:
For-not to mention some eternal blades
Known only now in academic shades,

(Those sacred groves where raptured spirits stray,
And in word-hunting waste the livelong day)
Ancients whom none but curious critics scan,-
Do read Messala's praises if you can.
Ah! who but feels the sweet contagious smart
While soft Tibullus pours his tender heart?
With him the loves and muses melt in tears,
But not a word of some hexameters !
'You grow so squeamish and so devilish dry
You'll call Lucretius vapid next.' Not I:
Some find him tedious, others think him lame,
But if he lags his subject is to blame.
Rough weary roads thro' barren wilds he tried,
Yet still he marches with true Roman pride;
Sometimes a meteor, gorgeous, rapid, bright,
He streams athwart the philosophic night.
Find you in Horace no insipid odes?—
He dared to tell us Homer sometimes nods;
And but for such a critic's hardy skill
Homer might slumber unsuspected still.


[WILLIAM SOMERVILLE was born in Warwickshire in 1677. He was educated at Winchester, and became a Fellow of New College, Oxford. In 1704 he inherited the seat of his ancestors, Edston, where he spent the remainder of his life as a country gentleman. Late in life he began to write, and published The Two Springs, 1725; Occasional Poems, 1727; The Chase, 1734; and Hobbinol. He died July 19, 1742, and was buried at Henley in Arden.]

Wotton, near


feet high,

was a handsome noisy squire, a strapping fellow six a hard rider, a crack shot. No more characteristic

specimen of the sporting country gentleman, pure and simple, could

be imagined,

or one less likely to develope into a poet. It was, in

One of his earliest

fact, not until fast living had begun to break down his constitution that he took to literature as a consolation.

exercises was an epistle addressed to Addison, who had bought a property in Warwickshire, and so had become Somerville's neighcontains the well-known compliment which pleased Dr. Johnson

bour. This

so much :

same time

poem is neatly and enthusiastically versified, and

When panting Virtue her last efforts made,
You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid.'

Somerville was the disciple of Addison, but he enjoyed at the Allan Ramsay tells us more about his person than we should otherwise have known, and an epistle to James Thomson displays the respect with which he learned to contemplate his own literary

the friendship of Pope. A lyric correspondence with


A friendship with the boyish Shenstone was the last

and drunkenness. His life is a singular variant of the pagan ideal and of a career that ended very plaintively, in pain, financial ruin,

of the time; it is curious to find a boisterous squire, of the coarse type that Fielding painted in the next generation, assuming the airs of a stoic and a wit, and striking the fashionable Cato attitude in top-boots and a hunting-belt.

Somerville, who was a well-read man, took the Cynegetica of Gratius Faliscus as his model, when he produced his best poein, The Chase. Like the Latin poet, he alternates moral maxims with practical information about the training and the points of hounds. This epic, which is in four books, discusses in its first part the origin of hunting, the economy of kennels, the physical and moral accomplishments of hounds, and the choosing of a good or bad scenting day. The second book, which possesses more natural language and a finer literary quality than the others, commences with directions for hare-hunting, and closes with a moral reproof of tyranny. In the third book hunting is treated from an antiquarian and an exotic standpoint, while the fourth deals with the breeding of hounds, their diseases, and the diseases they cause, such as hydrophobia. It will hardly be guessed from such a sketch of the contents that The Chase is a remarkably readable and interesting poem it is composed in blank verse that is rarely turgid and not very often flat, and the zeal and science of the author give a certain vitality to his descriptions which compels the reader's attention. People that have a practical knowledge of the matters described confess that Somerville thoroughly understood what he was talking about, and that in his easy chair before the fire he 'plied his function of the woodland' no less admirably than he had done in the saddle in his athletic youth.

The success of The Chase induced him, when he was quite an old man, to sing of fishing and of the bowling green; but on these subjects he was less interesting than on hunting. His Hobbinol, a sort of mock-heroic poem on rural games, written in emulation of The Splendid Shilling of John Philips, was intended to be sprightly, and only succeeded in being ridiculous. Less foolish, but somewhat coarsely and frivolously easy, were his Fables, in the manner of Prior. Posterity, in short, has refused to regard Somerville in any other light than as the broken-down squire, warming himself with a mug of ale in his ancestral chimney corner, and instructing the magnificent Mr. Addison in the mysteries of breeds and points.




Ye vigorous youths, by smiling fortune blest
With large demesnes, hereditary wealth,
Heap'd copious by your wise forefathers' care,
Hear and attend! while I the means reveal
T'enjoy those pleasures, for the weak too strong,
Too costly for the poor: to rein the steed
Swift-stretching o'er the plain, to cheer the pack
Opening in concerts of harmonious joy,

But breathing death. What tho' the gripe severe
Of brazen-fisted time, and slow disease
Creeping thro' ev'ry vein, and nerve unstrung,
Afflict my shattered frame, undaunted still,
Fixed as a mountain ash, that braves the bolts


angry Jove; tho' blasted, yet unfallen;


can my soul in fancy's mirror view

Deeds glorious once, recall the joyous scene
In all its splendours decked, o'er the full bowl
Recount my triumphs past, urge others on
With hand and voice, and point the winding way:
Pleased with that social sweet garrulity,
The poor disbanded veteran's sole delight.

First let the kennel be the huntsman's care,
Upon some little eminence erect,

And fronting to the ruddy dawn; its courts
On either hand wide op'ning to receive

The sun's all-cheering beams, when mild he shines,
And gilds the mountain tops. For much the pack
(Roused from their dark alcoves) delight to stretch
And bask, in his invigorating ray:

Warned by the streaming light, and merry lark,
Forth rush the jolly clan; with tuneful throats
They carol loud, and in grand chorus joined
Salute the new-born day.


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