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application. The SHIPWRECK is said to comprise within itself the rudiments of navigation, so as even to claim to be considered as a grammar of the nautical science. The correctness of the rules and maxims laid down in the Poem, for the conduct of a ship under circumstances of perilous emergency, render it extremely valuable to the seaman. The notes originally affixed to the Poem, in explanation of the technical terms, the frequent introduction and euphonous arrangement of which form so striking a peculiarity of the composition, were thought necessary by the Author, on account of there being, at that time, no modern dictionaries to which he could refer the reader, without forfeiting, by his implied commendation of them, his claim to the professional character he had assumed,-a claim of which he professes himself to be much more tenacious than of his reputation as a poet.
Fresh water critics venture out of their element in entering upon a minute examination of such a poem as this. The care with which it appears to have been elaborated, has, however, left little for the invidious notice of criticism. In a few instances, the hand of correction has been injudiciously applied in the editions of the Poem subsequent to its first appearance; it is conjectured, that some of the alterations in the third edition, which are of this nature, are to be attributed to his having left the final revision to his friend Mallet, who, although a poet, was not
If the style of the Poem is faulty in any respect, it is in that of the too ambitious phraseology, by which it seems to have been Falconer's effort to sustain the epic dignity of the narrative. Into this fault the models of the day were adapted to seduce any young writer; and the versification he adopted presents a constant temptation to artificial and inverted forms of expression. Thus for instance, to weigh anchor, is paraphrased in the following line :
“ Or win the anchor from its dark abode."
The frequency of the classical allusions, by which also the Poet probably intended to render his work more secundum artem poetical, is justified by their local propriety. As suggested by the surrounding scenery, they seem perfectly natural; and they are introduced, generally, with considerable skill and effect. The most pleasing parts of the poem, however, are those in which the narration is characterized by all the simplicity of the seaman, rather than by the embellishments of a half-learned taste.
Short and simple are the annals of poor ARION's history. He was born at Edinburgh, about the year 1730. His father was a poor
but industrious barber, who had to maintain a large family, under the distressing circumstance of all his children, with the single exception of William, being either deaf or dumb. Reading English, writing, and a little arithmetic comprised the whole of Falconer's education, although he afterwards acquired some knowledge of the French,
Spanish, and Italian languages, and, it is added, even of the German. When very young, he entered on board a merchant vessel at Leith, in which he served an apprenticeship. He was afterwards servant to Campbell, the author of Lexiphanes, when purser of a ship, who is stated to have taken considerable pains in improving the mind of the young seaman, and to have subsequently felt a pride in boasting of his scholar. At what time the calamitous event occurred, which furnished the subject of the SHIPWRECK, has not been ascertained : he was then, it appears, employed in the Levant trade. He continued in the merchant service till 1762. In that SHIPWRECK made its first appearance, in quarto, dedicated to his Royal Highness Edward, Duke of York, who had hoisted his flag as rear admiral of the blue, on board the Princess Amelia, of eighty guns, attached to the feet under Sir Edward Hawke. The Poem immediately took with the public; and Falconer, having, as it is said, at the Duke's recommendation, quitted the
merchant service for the royal navy, was soon after rated a midshipman on board the Royal George.
At the peace of 1763, the Royal George was paid off, and Falconer, in the course of the same year, was appointed purser of the Glory frigate. Soon after this, he married a young lady of the name of Hicks, who survived him. From the Glory, he was, in 1767, appointed to the Swift
In 1764, he published a new edition of his Poem, in octavo, corrected and enlarged; and, in the following year, a political satire on Lord Chatham, Wilkes, and Churchill, of which it is enough to say, that had Falconer never written any thing but satire, his name would long since have been forgotten. His Universal Dictionary of the Marine was published in 1769, at which period he was resident in the metropolis, supporting himself chiefly by his literary exertions. Among other resources, he is said to have re