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And, mid these days of dark alarm,
Almost to hope allure.
To tell of brighter hours,
Her sunny gales and showers.
The powers of life restore;
Shall see her charms no more.
Beloved friends, adieu !
Could I resign but you.
That rends my soul from lise,
Through each convulsive strise,
Of terror and regret,
Clings close and closer yet.
Thus mortally opprest?
And bid thy terrors rest!
Thine heavenly being trust!
Still shuddering clings to dust.
With love's own patient care,
Still pour the servent prayer:
No more, nor voice my ear,
And shed the pitying tear,
My grateful thoughts perceive,
My lasi sad claim receive!
Forget alone her faults;
were entirely removed before she quitted this scene of trial and suffering; and her spirii departed to a better state of existence, confiding with heavenly joy in the acceptance and love of her Redeemer.
RICHARD CUMBERLAND, 1722–1811.
RICHARD CUMBERLAND, a celebrated dramatic and miscellaneous writer, was born under the roof of his maternal grandfather, the celebrated Dr. Richard Bentley,' on the 29th of February, 1722. After the usual preparatory studies, he was admitted into Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with distinguished honor in 1750. Soon after this, while pursuing his studies at the university, he received an invitation from Lord Halifax to become his private and confidential secretary. Accordingly he proceeded to London, where he published his first offering to the press-a churchyard Elegy, in imitation of Gray's. It made but little impression. “The public,” he observes, were very little interested in it, and Dodsley as little profied." Soon after this, he published his first legitimate drama, “The Ba. nishment of Cicero;" but it was not adapted for the stage, and it afterwards appeared as a dramatic poem.
In 1759, he married Elizabeth, the only daughter of George Ridge, Esq., of Kilminston, and through the influence of his patron, Lord Halifax, was appointed crown agent for Nova Scotia ; and in the next year, when that nobleman, on the accession of George III., was made lord- lieutenant of Ireland, Cumberland accompanied him as secretary. He now began to write with assiduity for the stage, and produced a variety of plays, of which the most successful was the comedy of “ The West Indian," and thus he became known to the literary and distinguished society of the day. The character of him by Goldsmith, in his “ Retaliation," is one of the finest compliments ever paid by one author to another.2.
In 1780, Cumberland was sent on a confidential mission to the courts of Madrid and Lisbon, to induce them to enter into separate treaties of peace with England. But he failed to accomplish the object of his mission, and returned in 1781, having contracted, in the public service, a debt of five thousand pounds, which Lord North's ministry meanly and unjustly refused to pay. He was compelled, therefore, to sell all his paternal estate, and retire to private life. He fixed his residence at Tunbridge Wells, and there poured forth a variety of dramas, essays, and other works: among which were “ Anecdotes of Eminent Painters in Spain;" a poem in eight books entitled “Calvary, or the Death of Christ,” and another called the "Exo
See “Compendium of English Literature,”' p. 129.
2 Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts,
THE TERENCE OF ENGLAND, THE MENDER OF HEARTS;
diad." Here also, in 1785, he first published in two volumes the collection of Essays known as “The Observer," which the next year was considerably enlarged, was published in five volumes in 1790, and in 1803 was incorporated with the British Classics. In 1806, he published "Memoirs of his Own Life ;' and in 1811 his last work, entitled “Retrospection, a Poem in Familiar Verse."! He died on the 11th of May, in the same year.
Of the personal character of Mr. Cumberland, a pretty accurate judgment may be formed from his “Memoirs." His self-esteem was great and his vanity overweening, but he possessed as kind a heart as ever beat in a human breast. In society few men appeared to more advantage in conversation, or evinced a more perfect mastery of the art of pleasing. As a writer, he may be said to be more remarkable for the number than for the distinguished excellence of his works; but many of them, it should be remembered, were hastily produced in order to better his income: and it has been justly said that, “if he has produced much that is perishable or forgotten, he has also evolved creations which have been enregistered as among the finest efforts of genius." His “ Observer” is among the most interesting and instructive of the series called the British Classics,y and few books are read with more pleasure than his “Memoirs of his Own Life."
THE PROGRESS OF POETRY.
The poet, therefore, whether Hebrew or Greek, was in the earliest ages a sacred character, and his talent a divine gift, a celestial inspiration: men regarded him as the ambassador of Ileaven and the interpreter of its will. It is perfectly in nature, and no less agrecable to God's providence, to suppose that even in the darkest times some minds of a more enlightened sort should break forth, and be engaged in the contemplation of the universe and its author: from meditating upon the works of the Creator, the transition to the act of praise and adoration follows as it were of course: these are operations of the mind, which naturally inspire it with a certain portion of rapture and enthusiasm, rushing upon the lips in
· For an extract from this poem, see « Compendium of English Literature," ? Dr. Johnson, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, thus speaks of him : " The want of company is an inconvenience, but Mr. Cumberland is a million."
3 Of this, Dr. Drake thus speaks in the fifth volume of his Essays, p. 393: “ The Observer,' though the sole labor of an individual, is yet rich in variety, both of subject and manner; in this respect, indeed, as well as in literary in1erest, and in fertility of invention, it may be classed with the Spectator' and
Adventurer;' if interior to the laiter in grandeur of fiction, or to the former in delicate irony and drainatic unity of design, it is wealthier in its literary fuod than either, equally moral in its views, and as abundant in the creation of incident. I consider it, therefore, with the exception of the papers just mentioned, as superior, in its powers of attraction, io every other periodical composition.”
warm and glowing language, and disdaining to be expressed in ordinary and vulgar phrase. Poetry then is the language of prayer, an address becoming of the Deity; it may be remembered, it may be repeated in the ears of the people called together for the purposes of worship; this is a form that may be fixed upon their minds, and in this they may be taught to join.
The next step in the progress of poetry from the praise of God is to the praise of men: illustrious characters, heroic actions are singled out for celebration: the inventors of useful arts, the reformers of savage countries, the benefactors of mankind, are extolled in verse, they are raised to the skies: and the poet, having praised them as the first of men whilst on earth, deifies them after death, and, conscious that they merit immortality, boldly bestows it, and assigns to them a rank and office in heaven appropriate to the character they maintained in life. Hence it is that the merits of a Bacchus, a Hercules, and numbers more are amplified by the poet, till they become the attributes of their divinity; altars are raised and victims immolated to their worship. These are the fanciful effects of poetry in its second stage: religion overheated turns into enthusiasm; enthusiasm forces the imagination into all the visionary regions of fable, and idolatry takes possession of the whole Gentile world. The Egyptians, a mysterious, dogmatizing race, begin the work with symbol and hieroglyphic: the Greeks, a vain ingenious people, invent a set of tales and fables for what they do not understand, embellish them with all the glittering ornaments of poetry, and spread the captivating delusion over all the world.
In the succeeding period we review the poet in full possession of this brilliant machinery, and with all Olympus at his command: surrounded by Apollo and the Muses, he commences every poem with an address to them for protection; he has a deity at his call for every operation of nature; if he would roll the thunder, Jupiter shakes Mount Ida to dignify his description; Neptune attends him in his car, if he would allay the ocean; if he would let loose the winds to raise it, Æolus unbars his cave; the spear of Mars and the agis of Minerva arm him for the battle; the arrows of Apollo scatter pestilence through the air! Mercury flies upon the messages of Jupiter; Juno raves with jealousy, and Venus leads the Loves and Graces in her train. In this class, we contemplate Homer and his inferior brethren of the epic order; it is their province to form the warrior, instruct the politician, animate the patriot; they delineate the characters and manners; they charm us with their descriptions, surprise us with their incidents, interest us with their dialogue; they engage every passion in its turn, melt us to pity, rouse us to glory, strike us with terror, fire us with indignation; in a word, they prepare us for the drama, and the drama for us.
A new poet now comes upon the stage; he stands in person before us: he no longer appears as a blind and wandering bard, chanting his rhapsodies to a throng of villagers collected in a group about him, but erects a splendid theatre, gathers together a whole city as his audience, prepares a striking spectacle, provides a chorus of actors, brings music, dance, and dress to his aid, realizes the thunder, bursts open the tombs of the dead, calls forth their apparitions, descends to the very regions of the damned, and drags the Furies from their flames to present themselves personally to the terrified spectators: such are the powers of the drama; here the poet reigns and triumphs in his highest glory.
The fifth denomination gives us the lyric poet chanting his ode at the public games and festivals, crowned with olive and encompassed by all the wits and nobles of his age and country: here we contemplate Stersichorus, Alcæus, Pindar, Callistratus: sublime, abrupt, impetuous, they strike us with the shock of their electric genius; they dart from earth to heaven; there is no following them in their flights; we stand gazing with surprise; their boldness awes us, their brevity confounds us: their sudden transitions and ellipses escape our apprehension; we are charmed we know not why, we are pleased with being puzzled, and applaud although we cannot comprehend. In the lighter lyric we meet Anacreon, Sappho, and the votaries of Bacchus and Venus; in the grave, didactic, solemn class we have the venerable names of a Solon, a Tyrtæus, and those who may be styled the demagogues in poetry: Is liberty to be asserted, licentiousness to be repressed? Is the spirit of a nation
a to be roused? It is the poet, not the orator, must give the soul its energy and spring. Is Salamis to be recovered? It is the elegy of Solon must sound the march to its attack. Are the Lacedemonians to be awakened from their lethargy? It is Tyrtæus who must sing the war-song, and revive their languid courage.
Poetry next appears in its pastoral character; it affects the garb of shepherds and the language of the rustic: it represents to our view the rural landscape and the peaceful cottage. It records the labors, the amusements, the loves of the village nymphs and swains, and exhibits nature in its simplest state: it is no longer the harp or the lyre, but the pipe of the poet, which now invites our attention,
Observer, No. 67.