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HIS PINDARIC ODES.
Of his Translations, the satire of Juvenal was written very early, and may therefore be forgiven, though it had not the massiness and vigour of the original. In all his versions strength and sprightliness are wanting : his Hymn to Venus, from Homer, is perhaps the best. His lines are weakened with expletives, and his rhymes are frequently imperfect.
His petty poems are seldom worth the cost of criticism ; sometimes the thoughts are false, and sometimes common. In his verses on Lady Gethin, the latter part is an imitation of Dryden's ode on Mrs. Killigrew; and Doris, that has been so lavishly flattered by Steele, 26 has indeed some lively stanzas, but the expression might be mended ; and the most striking part of the. character had been already shown in ‘Love for Love. His • Art of Pleasing' is founded on a vulgar, but perhaps impracticable principle, and the staleness of the sense is not concealed by any novelty of illustration or elegance of diction.
This tissue of poetry, from which he seems to have hoped a lasting name, is totally neglected, and known only as it appended to his plays.
While comedy or while tragedy is regarded, his plays are likely to be read; but, except what relates to the stage, I know not that he has ever written a stanza that is sung, or a couplet that is quoted. The general character of his Miscellanies is, that they show little wit, and little virtue.
Yet to him it must be confessed that we are indebted for the correction of a national error, and for the cure of our Pindaric madness. He first taught the English writers that Pindar's odes were regular ;27 and though certainly he had not the fire
a vile and false moral, and I remember is not in Horace to Tibullus which he imitates, “that all times are equally virtuous and vicious:" wherein he differs from all poets, philosophers, and Christians that ever writ.-SWIFT to Lord Bolingbroke, April 5, 1729. (Scott, xvii. 253, 2nd ed.)
26 In the Dedication of his · Miscellany' (1714) to Congreve; also in ‘Spectator,' No. 422.
27 This observation has already been made by Mr. Congreve, in his Preface to two admirable odes, written professedly in imitation of Pindar; and I may add, so much in his true manner and spirit, that he ought by all means to be
requisite for the higher species of lyric poetry, he has shown us that enthusiasm has its rules, and that in mere confusion there is neither grace nor greatness.
excepted out of the number of those who have brought Pindar into discredit by pretending to resemble him.--GILBERT WEST: Preface to Pindar.
That Pindar's odes were regular, English writers might have ascertained from Ben Jonson's noble Pindaric · Ode on the Death of Sir Henry Morison' (see Gifford’s ‘Ben Jonson,' is. 8), and from Philips's account of Cowley in the .Theatrum Poetarum,' 1675.
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Born at Corsham, in Wiltshire Educated at Westminster and Oxford
Becomes a Fellow of the College of Physicians — His first work an Heroic Poem — Prince Arthur' - 'King Arthur'— Attacked by Dennis
His "Satire against Wit' and Quarrel with Dryden His other Poems His Religious Life — Death and Burial at Boxted, in Essex Works and Character.
SIR RICHARD BLACKMORE is one of those men whose writings have attracted much notice, but of whose life and manners very little has been communicated, and whose lot it has been to be much oftener mentioned by enemies than by friends.
He was the son of Robert Blackmore, of Corsham, in Wiltshire, styled by Wood gentleman,' and supposed to have been an attorney. Having been for some time educated in a country school, he was sent at thirteen to Westminster; and in 1668 was entered at Edmund Hall, in Oxford, where he took the degree of M.A., June 3, 1676, and resided thirteen years--a much longer time than it is usual to spend at the university, and which he seems to have passed with very little attention to the business of the place ; for, in his poems, the ancient names
, of nations or places which he often introduces are pronounced by chance. He afterwards travelled : at Padua he was made Doctor of Physic; and, after having wandered about a year and a half on the Continent, returned home.
In some part of his life, it is not known when, his indigence compelled him to teach a school—an humiliation with which, though it certainly lasted but a little while, his enemies did not forget to reproach him when he became conspicuous enough to excite malevolence; and let it be remembered for his honour, that to have been once a schoolmaster is the only reproach
I Wood's Ath. Ox. by Bliss, iv. 791.