men with whom he might be supposed willing to associate ; and though he lived many years after the publication of his “Miscellaneous Poems,” yet he added nothing to them, but lived on in literary indolence, engaged in no controversy, contending with no rival, neither soliciting flattery by public commendations, nor provoking enmity by malignant criticism, but passing his time among the great and splendid, in the placid enjoyment of his fame and fortune.

Having owed his fortune to Halifax, he continued always of his patron's party, but, as it seems, without violence or acrimony, and his firmness was naturally esteemed, as his abilities were reverenced. His security therefore was never violated ; and when, upon the extrusion of the Whigs, some intercession was used lest Congreve should be displaced, the Earl of Oxford made this answer :

“Non obtusa adeo gestamus rectora Preni,

Nec tam aversus equos Tyriâ sol jungit ab urbe."

He that was thus honoured by the adverse party might naturally expect to be advanced when his friends returned to power, and he was accordingly made secretary for the island of Jamaica, a place, I suppose without trust or care, but which, with his post in the Customs, is said to have afforded him twelve hundred pounds a year. His honours were yet far greater than his profits. Every writer mentioned him with respect, and among other testimonies to his merit, Steele made him the patron of his “Miscellany," and Pope inscribed to him his translation of the “Iliad.” But he treated the muses with ingratitude; for, having long conversed familiarly with the great, he wished to be considered rather as a man of fashion than of wit; and, when he received a visit from Voltaire, disgusted him by the despicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman ; to which

the Frenchman replied, " that, if he had been only a gentleman, he should not have come to visit him."

In his retirement he may be supposed to have applied himself to books, for he discovers more literature than the poets have commonly attained. But his studies were in his later days obstructed by cataracts in his eyes, which at last terminated in blindness. This melancholy state was aggravated by the gout, for which he sought relief by a journey to Bath : but, being overturned in his chariot, complained from that time of a pain in his side, and died at his house in Surrey Street in the Strand, January 29, 1728-9. Having lain in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument is erected to his memory by Henrietta Duchess of Marl. borough, to whom, for reasons either not known or not mentioned, he bequeathed a legacy of about ten thousand pounds, the accumulation of attentive parsimony, which, though to her superfluous and useless, might have given great assistance to the ancient family from which he descended, at that time, by the imprudence of his relation, reduced to difficulties and distress.

CONGREVE has merit of the highest kind; he is an original writer, who borrowed neither the models of his plot nor the manner of his dialogue. Of his plays I cannot speak distinctly, for since I inspected them many years have passed, but what remains upon my memory is, that his characters are commonly fictitious and artificial, with very little of nature, and not much of life. He formed a peculiar idea of comic excellence, which he supposed to consist in gay remarks and unexpected answers ; but that which he endeavoured, he seldom failed of performing. His scenes exhibit not much of humour, imagery, or passion : his personages are a kind of intellectual gladiators ; every sentence is to ward or

strike ; the contest of smartness is never intermitted ; his wit is a meteor playing to and fro with alternate corus. cations. His comedies have, therefore, in some degree, the operation of tragedies; they surprise rather than divert, and raise admiration oftener than merriment. But they are the works of a mind replete with images, and quick in combination.

Of his miscellaneous poetry I cannot say anything very favourable. The powers of Congreve seem to desert him when he leaves the stage, as Antæus was no longer strong than when he could touch the ground. It cannot be observed without wonder, that a mind so vigorous and fertile in dramatic compositions should on any other occasion discover nothing but impotence and poverty. He has in these little pieces neither elevation of fancy, selection of language, nor skill in versification : yet, if I were required to select from the whole mass of English poetry the most poetical paragraph, I know not what I could prefer to an exclamation in the “Mourning Bride":


It was a fancied noise ; for all is hushed.


It bore the accent of a human voice.


It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
Whistling through hollows of this vaulted isle :
We'll listen-




No, all is hushed and still as death.—'Tis dreadful!
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their inarble heads,
To bear aloft its arched and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made steadfast and irimovable,
Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,

And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice-my own affrights me with its echoes.

He who reads these lines enjoys for a moment the powers of a poet; he feels what he remembers to have felt before, but he feels it with great increase of sensibility ; he recognises a familar image, but meets it again amplified and expanded, embellished with beauty and enlarged with majesty. Yet could the author, who appears here to have enjoyed the confidence of Nature, lament the death of Queen Mary in lines like these :

"The rocks are cleft, and new-descending rills

Furrow the brows of all the impending hills.
The water-gods to floods their rivulets turn,
And each, with streaming eyes, supplies his wanting urn.
The fauns forsake the woods, the nymphs the grove,
And round the plain in sad distractions rove :
In prickly brakes their tender limbs they tear,.
And leave on thorns their locks of golden hair.
With their sharp nails, themselves the satyrs wound,
And tug their shaggy beards, and bite with grief the ground.
Lo Pan himself, beneath a blasted oak,
Dejected lies, his pipe in picces broke.
See Pales weeping too in wild despair,
And to the piercing winds her boson bare.
And see yon fading myrtle, where appears
· The Queen of Love, all bathed in flowing tears;

See how she wrings her hands, and beats lier breast,
And tears her useless girdle from her waist :
Hear the sad murmurs of her sighing doves !

For grief they sigh, forgetful of their loves.”
And many years after he gave no proof that time had
improved his wisdom or his wit, for, on the death of the
Marquis of Blandford, this was his song :-

And now the winds, which had so long been still,

Began the swelling air with sighs to fill;
The water-nymphs, who motionless remained
Like images of ice, while she complained,

Now loosed their streams; as when descending rains
Roll the steep torrents headlong or the plains.
The prone creation who so long had gazed
Charmed with her cries, and at her griefs amazed,
Began to roar and howl with horrid yell,
Dismal to hear, and terrible to tell !
Nothing but groans and sighs were heard around,

And echo multiplied each mournful sound.” In both these funeral poems, when he has yelled out many syllables of senseless dolour', he dismisses his reader with senseless consolation. From the grave of Pastora rises a light that forms a star, and where Amaryllis wept for Amyntas from every tear sprung up a violet. But William is his hero, and of William he will sing :

The hovering winds on downy wings shall wait around,

And catch, and waft to foreign lands, the flying sound.” It cannot but be proper to show what they shall have to catch and carry :

when flowery lawns the prospect made,
And flowing brooks beneath a forest shade,
A lowing heifer, loveliest of the lerd,
Stood feeding by; while two fierce bulls prepared
Their armé heads for fight, by fate of war to prove
The victor worthy of the fair one's love ;
Unthought presage of what met next my view;
For soon the shady scene withdrew.
And now, for woods, and fields, and springing flowers,
Behold a town arise, bulwarked with walls and lofty towers ;
Two rival armies all the plain o'erspread,
Each in battalia ranged, aud shining arms arrayel
With eagle eyes beholding both from far,

Namur, the prize and mistress of the war." The“Birth of the Muse” is a miserable fiction. One good line it has which was borrowed from Dryden. The con. cluding verses are these :

“This said, no more remained. The ethereal host

Again impatient crowd the crystal coast.
The father now, within his spacious hands,
Encom passed all the mingled mass of seas and lands;

" 'Twas now,

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