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Heroic metre, with alternate rhyme, seems well enough adapted to this species of poetry ; and, however exceptionable upon other occasions, its inconveniencies appear to lose their weight in fuorter elegies; and its advantages seem to acquire an additional importance. The world has an admirable example of its beauty in a collection of elegies not long since publisbed; the produet of a gentleman * of the most exact taste, and. whose untimely death merits all the tears that elegy can sed.

It is not impossible that some may think this metre too lax and prosaic : others, that even a more dissolute variety of numbers may have superior advantages. And, in favour of thefe last, might be produced the example of Milton in his Lycidas, together with one or two recent and beautiful imitations of his versification in that monody. But this kind of argunent, I am apt to think, must prove 100 much; since the writers I have in view seem capable enough of recommending any metre they shall chuse; though it mut be owned also, that the choice they make of any, is at the same time the strongest presumption in its favoir.

Perhaps it may be no great difficulty to compromie the dipute. There is no one kind of metre that is distinguihed by rhymes, but is liable to fome objection or other. Heroic verse, where every second line is termina:ed by a rhyme, (with which the judgment re



* Mr. Hammond.

quires that the sense should in some measure also terminate) is apt to render the expression either scanty or constrained. And this is sometimes abfervable in the writings of a poet lately deceased; though I believe no one ever threw so much sense together with so much ease into a couplet as Mr. Pope. But, as an air of constraint too often accompanies this metre, it seems by no means proper for a writer of elegy.

The previous rhyme in Milton's Lycidas is very frequently placed at such a distance from the following, that it is often dropt by the memory (much better employed in attending to the sentiment) before it be brought to join its partner : and this seems to be the greatest objection to that kind of versification. But then the peculiar ease and varieiy it admits of, are no doubt fufficient to overbalance the objection, and to give it the preference to any other, in an elegy of length.

The chief exception to which stanza of all kinds is liable, is, that it breaks the sense too regularli, when it is continued through a long poem. Aid this may be perhaps the fault of Mr. Waller's excellent panegyric. But if this fault be lefs discernible in smaller compositions, as I suppose it is, I futter myself, that the advantages I have before mentoned resulting from alternate rhyme (with which stara is, I think, connected) may, at least in shorter eležies, be allowed to outweigh its imperfections.

I shall say but little of the different kinds o elegy. The melancholy of a lover is different, no doubt, froin what we feel on other mixed occasions. The


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mind in which love and grief at once predominate, is foftened to an excess. Love-elegy therefore is more negligent of order and design, and being addressed chiefly to the ladies, requires little more than tenderness and perfpicuity. Elegies, that are formed upon promiscuous incidents, anà addressed to the world in general, inculcate some fort of moral, and admit a different degree of reasoning, thought, and ardour.

The author of the following elegies entered on his subjects occahonally, as particular incidents in life fugEejled, or difpofitions of mind recommended them to his choice. If he describes a rural landskip, or unfolds the train of sentiments it inspired, he fairly drew his picture from the spot; and felt very sensibly the affection he communicates. If he speaks of his humble thed, his focks and his fieeees, he does not counterfeit the scene; who having (whether through choice or neceflity, is not material) retired betimes to countryfolitudes, and fought his happiness in rural employments, has a right to consider himself as a real shepherd. The flocks, the meadows, and the grottos, are his own, and the embellishment of his farm his fole amusement. As the sentiments therefore were inspired by nature, and that in the earlier part of his life, he hopes they will retain a natural appearance; diffusing at least some part of that amusement, which he freely acknown leges he received from the composition of them.

There will appear perhaps a real inconsistency in the moral tenor of the several elegies; and the subsequent ones may sometimes seem a recantation of the


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preceding. The reader will scarcely impute this to: overfight; but will allow, that men's opinions as well. as tempers vary; that neither public nor private, active nor fpeculative life, are unexceptionably happy, and consequently that any change of opinion concerning them may afford an additional beauty to poetry, as it gives us a more striking representation of life.

If the author las hazarded, throughout, the use of English or modern allusions, he hopes it will not be imputed to an entire ignorance, or to the left difesteem, of the ancient learning. He has kept the ancient plan and method in his eye, though he builds his edifice with the materials of his own nation. In other words, through a fondness for his native country, he has made use of the flowers it produced, though, in: order to exhibit them the greater advantage, he has . endeavoured to weave his garland by the best model he could find : with what success, beyond his own amusement, must be left to judges less partial to him than either his acquaintance or his friends.-- If of those should be so candid, as to approve the variety of subjects he has chosen, and the tenderness of sentiment he has endeavoured to impress, he begs the metre also may not be too suddenly condemneil. The public ear, habituated of late to a quicker measure, may perhaps consider this as heavy and languid; but an objection of that kind may gradually lose its force, if this meaSare Tould be allowed to suit the nature of elegy.


If it Tould happen to be considered as an object with others, that there is too much of a moral cast diffused through the whole; it is replied, that he endeavoured to animate the poetry so far as not to render this objection too obvious; or to risque excluding the fashionable reader : at the same time never deviating from a fixed principle, that poetry without morality is but the blojom of a fruit tree. Poetry is indeed like that species of plants, which may bear at once both fruits and blossoms; and the tree is by no means in perfection without the former, however it may be embellished by the flowers which surround it.



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