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But oh! in every mortal pang
That rends my soul from life,That soul, which seems on you to hang
Through each convulsive strife,
Of terror and regret,
Clings close and closer yet.
Yet why, immortal, vital spark !
Thus mortally opprest ? Look up, my soul, through prospects dark
And bid thy terrors rest;
Thine heavenly being trust:
Still shuddering clings to dust.
Oh ye! who soothe the pangs of death
With love's own patient care, Still, still retain this fleeting breath,
Still pour the fervent prayer.
No more, nor voice my ear,
And shed the pitying tear;
Whose kindness (though far, far removed)
My grateful thoughts perceive,
My last sad claim receive!
Forget alone her faults;
Who asks your lingering thoughts.
John Wolcot, who achieved so much popularity, or rather, notoriety, under the assumed name of “PETER PINDAR,” was born at Dodbrock, in the county of Devon, in 1738. He was educated at the free-school of Kingsbridge, and was articled to his uncle, an apothecary, at Fowey. In 1767, he accompanied Sir William Trelawney to Jamaica, as a physician, having previously procured his degree from Edinburgh ; but finding his profession unprofitable, he was induced to take holy orders, and obtained a living in the island. The mind of his patron, under whose advice he acted, in thus changing the avowed object of his life, appears to have been as gross as that of the patronised ;-it was understood between them that the one was “ to get himself japanned,” as an easy mode of obtaining “ loaves and fishes” from the other. On the death of Trelawney, Wolcot returned to England, and, considering his for. mer calling more likely to be profitable than his latter, settled as a medical practitioner at Truro, in Cornwall. In 1780, he accompanied to London the painter, Opie, whose genius he had the merit of discovering, and whom he rescued from obscurity. In London he commenced his literary career, by a series of attacks on the Royal Academy. His skill as an artist was considerable ; and he was, therefore, enabled to mingle so much truth and judgment with his criticisms, as to give point and effect to his coarse and bitter sarcasms. He was not, however, long satisfied to hunt such “small game;" but began a series of disgusting attacks upon the person and family of the king. The wit and humour which abounded in these compositions procured them to be relished ; and the writer rapidly attained to an extent of popularity unparalleled in his age. He died at Somerstown, on the 14th of January, 1819, in the eighty-first year of his age ;-for a long period he received an annuity from his publishers; and contrived to amass a property by no means inconsiderable. It is said, that at one period his poems were so galling to the highest powers in the realm, that an attempt was made to purchase his silence by a government annuity. It was, however, unsuccessful; and “Peter Pindar" continued to the last his system of ridicule and slander.
If we may judge the personal character of Dr. Wolcot from his writings, and the anecdotes that are told of him, his mind and his habits must have been gross and sensual to a degree. He felt no
remorse at wounding—either to procure money, or to gratify un. called-for spleen—the feelings of the highest and the most virtuous persons in the realm. He speaks in one of his satires of his “ lean heart;" it was evidently incapable of sympathy with the better sensations of humanity. In all his writings he appears to have been actuated by that sentiment which a later wit describes as “the malice in a good thing,-being the barb that makes it sick." The satirist, in his old age, was afflicted with blindness; his winter was the opposite of that which has been described as “frosty but kindly :” still he continued to send forth his squibs; and grieved only that he had lost the power of making them hurt. The objects of his enmity had been gradually removed out of his reach. One of his friends visited him on his death-bed; and, asking the worn. out sinner if he could do aught to gratify him, received this memorable reply, “ Yes; give me back my youth !"
We owe some apology for introducing him into this volume. It would, perhaps, be wrong to omit a writer who obtained so large a share of public attention, and whose works were, at one period, circulated to an almost incredible extent. The subjects of which he treated were for the most part of temporary interest; and he is, consequently, even now very nearly forgotten. It is impossible to deny, that his poems abound in wit and humour, and occasionally exhibit proofs of a genius, which, the man's mind had not been naturally gangrened, might have placed him high among the satirical Poets of his country. In selecting our specimens, we have thought it desirable to pass over the grosser productions of his pen, and to extract a few of his lyrics,--some of which are ani. mated, elegant, and tender. Still his exceeding popularity will amaze modern readers; and is to be accounted for only by believ. ing that which is humbling to humanity,—those who pander to our vices are more eagerly accepted than those who inculcate virtue ; and there, unhappily, prevails a disposition to encourage unprincipled persons who strive to render rank powerless, by making it contemptible. There are, however, few evils which time does not
The name of Peter Pindar is now seldom or never heard of; and if we find ourselves compelled to drag it from the obscurity to which it has been consigned, we trust that with the bane we have given the antidote.
Young men -
That when you have been comfortably feeding,
The curs, without one atom of court breeding, With watry jaws, have whin'd, and paw'd, and bark’d; Show'd anxiousness about the mutton bone, And, 'stead of your mouth, wish'd it in their own; And if you gave this bone to one or t'other, Heav'ns what a snarling, quarrelling, and pother ! This, p’rhaps, has often touch'd you to the quick, And made you teach good manners by a kick; And if the tumult was beyond all bearing, A little bit of sweet emphatic swearing, An eloquence of wondrous use in wars, Amongst sea captains and the brave jack tars.
Now tell me honestly,—pray don't you find
That you experienc'd in the curs,
Causing your anger and demurs? As, for example, when your mistress, Fame, Wishing to celebrate a worthy name,
Takes up her trump to give the just applause;
How have you, puppy-like, paw'd, wish'd, and whin'd,
How growl'd, and curs’d, and swore, and pin'd,
FROM her whom ev'ry heart must love,
And every eye with wonder see;
Ah! were she fair alone for me !
In vain to solitudes I fly,
To bid her form from mem'ry part;
And roots its beauties in my heart.
blush appear ;
In ev'ry rose that decks the vales,
'Tis Julia's voice salutes my ear.
Thus let me rove the world around,
Whatever beauty's charm can boast,