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versification of Pope, the influence of Walsh upon the style of the younger and greater man should not be overlooked, and there will be found in Walsh couplets such as this
'Embalmed in verse, through distant times they come,
which Pope did not disdain to re-work on his own anvil into brighter shapes. It should be noted that Walsh is the author of the only sonnet written in English between Milton's, in 1658, and Warton's, about 1750.
Edmund W. GOSSE.
TO HIS BOOK (1691).
Go, little Book, and to the world impart
Those who love's dear, deluding pains have known,
What has this bugbear death that's worth our care?
After deluding hopes and dire despair,
Death only gives us quiet at the last;
How strangely are our love and hate misplaced! Freedom we seek, and yet from freedom flee,
Courting those tyrant-sins that chain us fast, And shunning death that only sets us free. 'Tis not a foolish fear of future pains,—
Why should they fear who keep their souls from stains ?— That makes me dread thy terrors, Death, to see;
'Tis not the loss of riches or of fame,
Or the vain toys the vulgar pleasures name, 'Tis nothing, Celia, but the losing thee!
THE DESPAIRING LOVER.
Distracted with care
For Phyllis the fair,
Since nothing could move her, Poor Damon, her lover, Resolves in despair
No longer to languish, Nor bear so much anguish, But, mad with his love,
To a precipice goes, Where a leap from above Would finish his woes.
When in rage he came there, Beholding how steep
The sides did appear,
And the bottom how deep, His torments projecting, And sadly reflecting That a lover forsaken
A new love may get, But a neck when once broken Can never be set, And, that he could die
Whenever he would, Whereas he could live
But as long as he could,
The torment might grow,
At thoughts of the pain,
To his cottage again.
[WILLIAM CONGREVE was born in 1670. His first comedy, The Old Bachelor, was acted in 1693. In 1694 and 1695 respectively appeared two others, The Double Dealer and Love for Love. These were followed in 1697 by the tragedy of The Mourning Bride. His last and best comedy, The Way of the World, conspicuous for its all-conquering character of 'Millamant,' so admirably interpreted by the beautiful Mrs. Bracegirdle, was produced in 1700. After this he practically retired from literature. His works, which include a volume of miscellaneous poems, were published in 1710. He died in 1729.]
The poetical remains of Congreve, especially when considered in connection with those remarkable dramatic works which achieved for him so swift and splendid a reputation, have but a slender claim to vitality. His brilliant and audacious Muse seems to have required the glitter of the foot-lights and the artificial atmosphere of the stage as conditions of success; in the study he is, as a rule, either trivial or frigidly conventional. A translation of the third book of Ovid's Art of Love has the merit of being still readable; but his Pindaric Odes and Pastorals, such as that to the King on the taking of Namur, and The Mourning Muse of Alexis, can now only detain those who are curious in the class of poetry which flourishes under the patronage of royalty. The opening stanza of the lines On Mrs. Arabella Hunt singing has a suave and delicate movement :—
'Let all be hushed, each softest motion cease,
Be calm, as in the arms of Death:
And thou, most fickle, most uneasy part,
Be still; gently, ah! gently leave,
Let me be all, but my attention, dead.
This is beautifully and musically said. The second stanza is not so good; and in the third the charm is altogether loosed by the absurd appearance of Silence, draped in 'a melancholy Thought,' and insecurely seated upon an ancient Sigh,'—an intrusion from which the reader barely recovers in time to recognise a strange, and we think hitherto unnoticed, anticipation of the last lines of Keats' famous 'last sonnet' in the concluding couplet of the whole :
Wishing for ever in that state to lie,
For ever to be dying so, yet never die.'
In his songs and minor pieces Congreve is more successful, though he never reaches the level of his contemporary Prior. 'Amoret,' which we quote, sets a tune which has often since been heard in familiar verse; and the little song 'False though she be to me and love' has almost a note of genuine regret.