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.. Who travels in religious jars, Truth mix’d with error, clouds with rays, ; With Whifton wanting pyx and stars, In the wide ocean finks or strays.
: Cowley seems to have had, what Milton is believed to have wanted, the skill to rate his own performances by their just value, and has therefore closed his Miscellanies with the yerses upon Crafhaw, which apparently excel ail that have gone before them, and in which there are beauties which common authors may justly think not only above their attainment, but above their ambition.
To the Miscellanies succeed the Anacrcontiques, or paraphraftical translations
of some little poems, which pass, however justly, under the name of Anacreon. Of those songs dedicated to festivity and gaiety, in which even the morality is voluptuous, and which teach nothing but the enjoyment of the present day, he has given rather a pleasing than a faithful representation, having retained their spriteliness, but lost their fimplicity. The Anacreon of Cowley, like the Homer of Pope, has admitted the decoration of some modern graces, by which he is undoubtedly made more amiable to common readers, and perhaps, if they would honestly declare their own perceptions, to far the greater part of those whom courtesy and ignorance are content to itile the Learned. . H 2
These little pieces will be found more finished in their kind than any other of Cowley's works. The diction fhews nothing of the mould of time, and the fentiments are at no great distance froin our present habitudes of thought. Real mirth must be always natural, and nature is uniform. Men have been wife in very different modes; but they have always laughed the same way.
Levity of thought naturally produced familiarity of language, and the familiar part of language continues long the fame: the dialogue of comedy, when it is transcribed from popular manners and real life, is read from age to age with equal pleasure." The artifices of inversion by which the esta
blished order of words is changed, or of innovation, by which new words or new meanings of words are introduced, is practised not by those who talk to be understood, but by those who write to be admired.
The Anacreontiques therefore of Cowley give now all the pleasure which they ever gave. If he was formed by nature for one kind of writing more than for another, his power seems to have been greatest in the familiar and the festive.. :
The next class of his poems is called The Mistress, of which it is not necessary to select any particular pieces for praise or censure. They have all the same beauties and faults, and nearly in: the same proportion. They are written H3
with exuberance of wit, and with copiousness of learning; and it is truly asserted by Sprat, that the plenitude of the writer's knowledge flows in upon his page, so that the reader is commonly surprised into some improvement. But, considered as the verses of a lover, no inan that has ever loved will much commend them. They are neither courtly nor pathetick, have neither gallantry nor fondness. His praises are too far-fought, and too hyperbolical, either to express love or to excite it : every stanza is crouded with darts and slames, with wounds and death, with mingled fouls, and with broken hearts.
The principal artifice by which The Mistress is filled with conceits is very