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1658?-1729.

DEATH.

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of the first rank; but if those talents are separated, I asserted, and do still insist, that a man of native sagacity and diligence will prove a more able and useful practiser than a heavy notional scholar, encumbered with a heap of confused ideas."

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He was not only a poet and a physician, but produced [1723] likewise a work of a different kind, A True and Impartial History of the Conspiracy against King William of Glorious Memory, in the Year 1695.' This I have never seen, but suppose it at least compiled with integrity. He engaged likewise in theological controversy, and wrote two books against the Arians—‘Just Prejudices against the Arian Hypothesis,' and

Modern Arians Unmasked.' Another of his works is "Natural Theology, or Moral Duties considered apart from Positive; with some Observations on the Desirableness and Necessity of a Supernatural Revelation.' This was the last book that he published. He left behind him 'The accomplished Preacher, or an Essay upon Divine Eloquence;' which was printed after his death by Mr. White of Nayland, in Essex, the minister who attended his death-bed, and testified the fervent piety of his last hours. He died on the 8th of October, 1729.38

38 Sir Richard Blackmore, of Boxted, in Essex, made his will in May, 1729. He directs his body to be buried in Boxted Church, near his late wife. His coffin to be plain, covered with a funeral pall, but without pall-bearers. He also directs his burial to take place between eleven and twelve at night, and that no hatchment be put upon his house. His lands he directs to be sold, and the produce invested in Bank or South-Sea Stock. He died childless; and his heirs (then under age) were his nephew, Richard Blackmore Hurst, and a niece. To his nephew Hurst he leaves the interest of 2000l., and the sum itself on his attaining the age of twenty-one. Should he die, however, before twenty-one, he then directs the payment of 1000l. to the University of Oxford, to be laid out by the University in land, the yearly produce of which is to be spent in encouraging a student of the University (giving the preference to students of his own College, St. Edmund Hall) to write poems on Divine Subjects; the student sending in 650 lines every half year, and employing part of the other half year in writing prose pamphlets against the obscene plays and publications of the time. The poems were to be printed. As the University never obtained the bequest, the nephew must have attained twenty-one, and thus succeeded in saving the public from many folio and quarto publications of bad verse.

There is a fine old mezzotinto portrait of Blackmore by Williams, after Closterman.

Blackmore, by the unremitted enmity of the wits,39 whom he provoked more by his virtue than his dulness, has been exposed to worse treatment than he deserved; his name was so long used to point every epigram upon dull writers, that it became at last a by-word of contempt: but it deserves observation, that malignity takes hold only of his writings, and that his life passed without reproach, even when his boldness of reprehension naturally turned upon him many eyes desirous to espy faults, which many tongues would have made haste to publish. But those who could not blame could at least forbear to praise, and therefore of his private life and domestic character there are no memorials.

As an author he may justly claim the honours of magnanimity. The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself; they neither awed him to silence nor to caution; they neither provoked him to petulance, nor depressed him to complaint. While the distributors of literary fame were endeavouring to depreciate and degrade him, he either despised or defied them, wrote on as he had written before, and never turned aside to quiet them by civility, or repress them by confutation.

He depended with great security on his own powers, and perhaps was for that reason less diligent in perusing books.

The Dispensary,' and treats them
Tom Brown has been frequently
Smith has a fling at him in his

39 Dryden attacked him twice in verse: in the Prologue to The Pilgrim,' and in his Epistle to his kinsman, John Dryden of Chesterton; and once in prose, in the Preface to the 'Fables.' Among Wycherley's 'Posthumous Works' (1728, p. 67) is a poem, 'To a Doctor of Physic on his writing a Satire against Wit.' Sedley has a coarse but bitter epigram upon him. Garth introduced some of his rumbling verses into and their author with an air of contempt. facetious and ill-natured at his expense. 'Poem on the Death of John Philips.' And Philips appears to have attacked him, though in what manner is, I believe, unknown. the father of the two Wartons, dated Jan. 24, 1707. p. 203; Warton's Essay on Pope,' ii. 278, ed. 1782.) of verses to be placed under his picture, "containing his works," with some expressions of contempt for each. sody on Poetry,' assigns to him the leaden crown of Flecknoe and Ned Howard. But his keenest satirist is Pope, in twenty different places.

a

(Letter from Fenton to
See Wooll's Warton,'
Gay has a caustic copy
complete catalogue of
Swift, in his Rhap-

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1658?-1729.

HIS CHARACTER AS A POET.

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His literature was, I think, but small. What he knew of antiquity, I suspect him to have gathered from modern compilers: but, though he could not boast of much critical knowledge, his mind was stored with general principles, and he left minute researches to those whom he considered as little minds.

With this disposition he wrote most of his poems. Having formed a magnificent design, he was careless of particular and subordinate elegances; he studied no niceties of versification; he waited for no felicities of fancy; but caught his first thoughts in his first words in which they were presented: nor does it' appear that he saw beyond his own performances, or had ever elevated his ideas to that ideal perfection which every genius born to excel is condemned always to pursue, and never overtake. In the first suggestions of his imagination he acquiesced; he thought them good, and did not seek for better. His works may be read a long time without the occurrence of a single line that stands prominent from the rest.

The poem on Creation' has, however, the appearance of more circumspection; it wants neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor elegance of diction: it has either been written with great care, or, what cannot be imagined of so long a work, with such felicity as made care less necessary.

Its two constituent parts are ratiocination and description. To reason in verse is allowed to be difficult; but Blackmore not only reasons in verse, but very often reasons poetically, and finds the art of uniting ornament with strength, and ease with closeness. This is a skill which Pope might have condescended to learn from him, when he needed it so much in his Moral Essays.

In his descriptions both of life and nature, the poet and the philosopher happily co-operate; truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance sustained by truth.

In the structure and order of the poem, not only the greater parts are properly consecutive, but the didactic and illustrative paragraphs are so happily mingled, that labour is relieved by pleasure, and the attention is led on through a long succession

of varied excellence to the original position, the fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.40

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As the heroic poems of Blackmore are now little read, it is thought proper to insert, as a specimen from Prince Arthur,' the song of Mopas, mentioned by Molyneux.

"But that which Arthur with most pleasure heard
Were noble strains, by Mopas sung the bard,
Who to his harp in lofty verse began,
And through the secret maze of Nature ran.
He the great Spirit sung, that all things fill'd,
That the tumultuous waves of Chaos still'd;
Whose nod dispos'd the jarring seeds to peace,
And made the wars of hostile Atoms cease.
All Beings, we in fruitful Nature find,
Proceeded from the great Eternal Mind;
Streams of his unexhausted spring of power,
And, cherish'd with his influence, endure.
He spread the pure cerulean fields on high,
And arch'd the chambers of the vaulted sky,
Which he, to suit their glory with their height,
Adorn'd with globes, that reel, as drunk with light.
His hand directed all the tuneful spheres,

He turn'd their orbs, and polish'd all the stars.
He fill'd the Sun's vast lamp with golden light,
And bid the silver Moon adorn the night.

He spread the airy Ocean without shores,
Where birds are wafted with their feather'd oars.
Then sung the bard how the light vapours rise
From the warm earth, and cloud the smiling skies.
He sung how some, chill'd in their airy flight,
Fall scatter'd down in pearly dew by night.

40 As for the rest of those who have written against me, they are such scoundrels, that they deserve not the least notice to be taken of them. Blackmore and Milbourne are only distinguished from the crowd by being remembered to their infamy.-DRYDEN: Preface to Fables.

Blackmore himself for any grand effort

Would drink and dose at Tooting or Earl's Court.

POPE: 2nd Ep. of 2nd book of Hor.

Blackmore, in 1719, was living at Earl's Court. See Hughes's 'Letters,'

i. 225.

1658?-1729.

SPECIMEN OF PRINCE ARTHUR.'

How some, rais'd higher, sit in secret steams
On the reflected points of bounding beams;
Till, chill'd with cold, they shade th' etherial plain,
Then on the thirsty earth descend in rain.

How some, whose parts a slight contexture show,
Sink hovering through the air, in fleecy snow.
How part is spun in silken threads, and clings
Entangled in the grass in gluey strings.
How others stamped to stones, with rushing sound
Fall from their crystal quarries to the ground.
How some are laid in trains, that kindled fly
In harmless fires by night, about the sky.
How some in winds blow with impetuous force,
And carry ruin where they bend their course:
While some conspire to form a gentle breeze,
To fan the air, and play among the trees.
How some, enrag'd, grow turbulent and loud,
Pent in the bowels of a frowning cloud;

That cracks, as if the axis of the world

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Was broke, and heaven's bright towers were downwards hurl'd.

He sung how earth's wide ball, at Jove's command,

Did in the midst on airy columns stand;

And how the soul of plants, in prison held,
And bound with sluggish fetters, lies conceal'd,
Till with the spring's warm beams, almost releas'd
From the dull weight, with which it lay opprest,
Its vigour spreads, and makes the teeming earth
Heave up, and labour with the sprouting birth:
The active spirit freedom seeks in vain,
It only works and twists a stronger chain.
Urging its prison's sides to break a way,
It makes that wider, where 'tis forc'd to stay;
Till, having form'd its living house, it rears
Its head, and in a tender plant appears.

Hence springs the oak, the beauty of the grove,

Whose stately trunk fierce storms can scarcely move.
Hence grows the cedar, hence the swelling vine
Does round the elm its purple clusters twine.
Hence painted flowers the smiling gardens bless,
Both with their fragrant scent and gaudy dress.
Hence the white lily in full beauty grows,
Hence the blue violet, and blushing rose.
He sung how sun-beams brood upon the earth,
And in the glebe hatch such a numerous birth;
Which way the genial warmth in Summer storms
Turns putrid vapours to a bed of worms;
How rain, transform'd by this prolific power,
Falls from the clouds an animated shower.

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