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“ I must acknowledge that there are abundance of fine things in my hands, and such as do honour to the personages who penned them ; but I am under the indispensable necessity of giving the preference to Lord Dorset. I must request you will hear it yourselves, gentlemen, and I believe you will all then approve my judgment :- I promise to pay to John Dryden, Esq., or order, on demand, the sum of Five hundred pounds. Dorset.' I must confess,” continued Dryden, “that I am equally charmed with the style and the subject; and I fatter myself, gentlemen, that I stand in need of no argument to induce you to acquiesce in opinion, even against yourselves. This style of writing excels any other, ancient or modern: it is not the essence, but the quintessence of language, and is, in fact, reason and argument surpassing every thing in letters.” Of course, the company cordially concurred with the bard, and complimented the superior penetration of the noble donor.

When Dryden was a boy at Westminster School, he was put, with others, to write a copy of verses on the miracle of the conversion of water into wine. Being a great truant, he had not time to compose his verses ; and when brought up, he had only made one line of Latin, and two of English :

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Vidit et erubuit lympha pudica Deum !!
“The modest water, awed by power divine,

Beheld its God, and blushed itself to wine ;” which so pleased the master, that instead of being angry, he said it was a presage of future greatness, and gave the youth a crown on the occasion. What a contrast this first outburst of poetic power presents with the closing days of his literary career! when in his seventieth year he complains that, “worn out with study, and oppressed with fortune, he was compelled to contract with his publisher to furnish ten thousand verses at sixpence per line !”

Macaulay thus writes of Dryden :—“His command of language was immense. With him died the secret of the old poetic diction

? This may be a plagiarism from Crashaw's—“ Nympha pudica Deum vidit, et erubuit..

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of England,—the art of producing rich effects by familiar words. On the other hand, he was the first writer under whose skilful management the scientific vocabulary fell into natural and pleasing verse :

“The varying verse, the full-resounding line,

The long majestic march, and energy divine.'”

Warton says, the most splendid and sublime passage that Dryden ever wrote is the following :

So when of old the Almighty Father sate
In council, to redeem our ruin'd state,
Millions of millions, at a distance round,
Silent the sacred consistory crown'd,
To hear what mercy, mix'd with justice, could propouna :
All prompt, with eager pity, to fulfil
The full extent of their Creator's will.
But when the stern conditions were declared,
A mournful whisper through the host was heard,
And the whole hierarchy, with heads hung down,
Submissively declin’d the ponderous proffer’d crown.

Then, not till then, the Eternal Son from high
Rose in the strength of all the Deity :
Stood forth to accept the terms, and underwent
A weight which all the frame of Heaven had bent,
Nor He himself could bear, but as Omnipotent !

Addison's poetry is generally considered cold and artificial, although his graver productions are harmonious and beautiful; they are, indeed, accepted as his best compositions. His well-known Hymn, says Thackeray, “shines like the stars.” Here it is :

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,

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Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly, to the listening earth,
Repeats the story of her birth ;
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,

Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What, though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball ?
What, though no real voice, nor sound,
Amid their radiant orbs be found ?
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice ;
Forever singing, as they shine,
“ The hand that made us is Divine.”

One of Addison's best pieces is that written at the tomb of Virgil, in 1741: he also achieved a dramatic triumph in his celebrated tragedy of Cato. Let us rehearse his grand soliloquy :

It must be so. Plato, thou reason’st well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality ?
Or, whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us :
'Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates—Eternity to man ! .
Eternity !—thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being-
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
The wide, th’ unbounded prospect lies before me ;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold.—If there's a power above us
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works), He must delight in virtue ;
And that which He delights in, must be happy.

The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years ;
But thou shalt Aourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds !

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Pope was a precocious genius ; for when only in his thirteenth year, he wrote these pleasing lines on Solitude :

Happy the man whose wish and care

A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air

In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,

Whose Aocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,

In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcern’dly find

Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,

Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night ; study and ease,

Together mixt; sweet recreation ;
And innocence, which most does please

With meditation.

Thus let me live unseen, unknown,

Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone

Tell where I lie.

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