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Thou couldt anatomise with ready Art,
And the grown Seas of that great Storm affwage;
To these a Virgin-modesty which first met
Virtues of those few
43 Princes have garber'd fince each scatter'd Grace, Each Line and Beauty of that injur'd Face And on th’ united Parts breatb'd
fuch a Fire As spight of Malice fae phall ne'er expire.
Attending, not affecting, thus the Crown,
44 John Harris,
On Mr. JOHN FLETCHER, and his WORKS;
never before Published,
But hard, to do the living-dead Men Right. 43 Princes have gather'd fince each featter'd Grace,
Each Line and Beauty of that injur'd Face;] This relates to King Charles the First causing The Faithful Shepherdess to be reviv'd, and acted before him. The Lines are extremely beautiful, and do honour to the King's Tafte in Poetry, which as it comes from an Adversary (tho certainly a very candid one, and who before condemn'd the Fire-brandScriblers and Meteor-Wits of his Age) is a strong Proof of its being a very good one. Queen Elizabeth may be call'd the Mother of the English Poets; James the First was a Pedagogue to them, encourag'd their Literature but debas'd it with Puns and Pedantry : Charles the First reviv'd a good Taste, but the Troubles of his Reign prevented the great Effects of his Patronage.
44 John Harris was of New-College, Oxford, Greek Professor of the University, and so eminent a Preacher that he was calld a second ChrySofton. In the Civil Wars he sided with the Presbyterians, and was one of the Asembly of Divines, and is the only Poet in this Collection whom we certainly know to have been for the Parliament against the King. His Poem has great Merit; the fine Break after the mention of the Earl of Esex, and the Simile of the Elm and Clusters of Grapes, deserve a particular Attention. After this Simile I have struck out some Lines that were unequal in Merit to their Brethren, left the Reader, tired with these, fhould ftop too fhort; for those which now follow, tho' unjust with regard to Beaumont, are poetically good.
To praise a landed Lord, is gainful Art :
45 Henry Moody, Bart.
43 Sir Henry Moody was of the Number of those Gentlemen who had honorary Degrees conferr'd by King Charles the First at his Return to Oxford after the Battle of Edgehill. The Poem has some ftrong Marks of Genius in it, particularly in these Lines,
until these sullen Days :
That crown the Head of Merit.
many Faults in the Measure of our Verse by making the Accents always fall on right Syllables, and laying aside those harsh Elisions us'd
On the Deceased Author, Mr. John FLETCHER,
his Plays; and especially, The Mad Lover.
To its first Matter, and the Formal Heat
by our ancient Poets, they mistook this Run of the Verses into each other after the Manner of Virgil, Homer, &c. for a Fault, which depriv'd our Rhime of that Grandeur and Dignity of Numbers which arises from a perpetual change of Pauses, and turn'd whole Poems into Distichs,
46 The first four Lines of this Copy of Verses, I own, are quite above my Comprehension. What formal Heat can mean, and Head fitting in Judgment, is a Riddle too intricate for me to guess at. Then, why any Piece should be above our Candour, I am equally at a loss to understand. If these Verses are printed among Sir Afton Cokaine's Poems, they may, perhaps, stand in a more intelligible Plight. But, as I never met with that Gentleman's Writings, I'll venture to subjoin my Suspicion how the Text might have originally stood.
Whilf bis well-organ'd Body is retird
Pieces above our Censure, and our Love; The formal Herd I would interpret to be the Croud of Fanatics, that swarm'd at the Time of the first Publication of Beaumont's and Fletcher's Works. Then, as to the Correction in the fourth Line, it gives an Antithesis that makes good Sense; whereas Candour and Love are merely Tautology. An excellent Work may, with Reason, be said to be as much above Censure, as it is above our Admiration and Praises. The Word approve, I conceive, is to be taken in an equivocal Sense; not, directly, to commend; but to see whether the Piece, under Judgment, will stand the Teft of being approved.
Mr. Theobald. This Note of Mr. Theobald's is ingenious; but there are great Liberties taken, and the Sense is, I believe, made totally different from the true one, which at best is very obscure. Formal Heat, I take to be a metaphysical and logical Term for the Soul, as the Formal Cause is that which constitutes the Effence of any thing. Fletcher's Soul therefore now fits in Judgment, to approve Works deserving of Praise to Cenfure for Candour, it is certainly a very probable Conjecture.
Such, as dare boldly venture to appear
And sighted every thing he writ'as Naught :