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Chapman's translation of Homer without rapture. His opinion concerning the duty of a poet is contained in his declaration, that “ he would blot from his “ works any line that did not contain “ some inotive to virtue.”
THE characters, by which WaHer in
tended to distinguish his writings, are spriteliness and dignity: in his smaller. pieces he endeavours to be gay; in the larger, to be great. Of his airy and light productions, the chief fource is gallantry, that attentive reverence of female excellence, which has descended. to us from the Gothic ages. As his poems are commonly occasional, and his addresses personal, he was not fo
liberally supplied with grand as with soft images; for beauty is more eafily found than magnanimity.
The delicacy, which he cultivated, restrains him to a certain nicety and caution, even when he writes upon the flightest matter. He has therefore in his whole volume nothing burlesque, and seldom any thing ludicrous or familiar. He seems always to do his best;; though his subjects are often unworthy of his care. It is not easy to think without fome contempt on an author, who is giowing illustrious in his own: opinion by verses, at one time, “ To a “ Lady, who can do any thing, but “ sleep, when she pleases.” At another, “ To a Lady, who can sleep, when she
“ pleases.” Now, “ To a Lady, on her “ paffing through a crowd of people.” Then, “ On a braid of divers colours “ woven by four fair Ladies :" “ On a “ tree cut in paper :” or, “ To a Lady, “ from whom he received the copy of “ verses on the paper-tree, which for " many years had been missing.”
Genius now and then produces a lucky trifle. We still read the Dove of Anacreon, and Sparrow of Catullus ; and a writer naturally pleases himself with a performance, which owes nothing to the subject. But compositions merely pretty have the fate of other pretty things, and are quitted in time for something useful : they are flowers fragrant and fair, but of short duration ;
or they are blossoms to be valued only as they foretell fruits.
Among Waller's little poems are fome, which their excellency ought to secure from oblivion; as, To Amoret, comparing the different modes of regard with which he looks on her and Sacharissa; and the verses On Love, that begin, Anger in hasty Words or Blows.
In others he is not equally successful; sometimes his thoughts are deficient, and sometimes his expression.
The numbers are not always musical; as, i Fair Venus, in thy soft arms
The god of rage confine;
What tho'he frown, and to tumult do incline;
Thou the flame
Kindled in his breast canft tame, With that snow which unmelted lies
on thine. He seldom indeed fetches an amorous sentiment from the depths of science ; his thoughts are for the most part eafily understood, and his images such as the fuperficies of nature readily fupplies; he has a just claim to popularity, because he writes to common degrees of knowledge, and is free at least from philosophical pedantry, unless perhaps the end of a song to the Sun may be excepted, in which he is too much a Copernican. To which may be added, the simile of the Palm in the verses