Slike strani
PDF
ePub

His adherence to Lord Townshend ended in nothing but a nomination (May 1729) to be clerk-extraordinary of the Privy Council, which produced no immediate profit; for it only placed him in a ftate of expectation and right of fucceffion, and it was very long before a vacancy admitted him to profit.

Soon afterwards he married, and settled himself in a very pleasant houfe at Wickham in Kent, where he devoted himself to learning, and to piety. Of his learning the late Collection exhibits evidence, which would have been yet fuller, if the differtations which accompany his verfion of Pindar had not been improperly omitted. Of his piety the influence has, I hope, been extended far by his "Obfervations on "the Refurrection," published in 1747, for which the University of Oxford created him a Doctor of Laws by diploma (March 30, 1748), and would doubtless have reached yet further had he lived to complete what he had for fome time meditated, the Evidences of the Truth of the New Teftament. Perhaps it may not be without effect to tell, that he read the prayers of the publick liturgy every morning to his family, and that on Sunday evening he called his fervants into the parlour, and read to them first a fermon and then prayers. Crafhaw is now not the only maker of verfes to whom may be given the two venerable names of Poet and Saint.

He was very often vifited by Lyttelton and Pitt, who, when they were weary of faction and debates, ufed at Wickham to find books and quiet, a decent table, and literary converfation. There is at Wickham a walk made by Pitt; and, what is of far more importance,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

importance, at Wickham Lyttelton received that conviction which produced his " Differtation on St. Paul."

These two illuftrious friends had for a while liftened to the blandishments of infidelity; and when Weft's book was published, it was bought by fome who did not know his change of opinion, in expectation of new objections against Chriftianity; and as infidels do not want malignity, they revenged the disappointment by calling him a Methodist.

Mr. Weft's income was not large; and his friends endeavoured, but without fuccefs, to obtain an aug. mentation. It is reported, that the education of the young Prince was offered to him, but that he required a more extenfive power of fuperintendance than it was thought proper to allow him.

In time, however, his revenue was improved; he lived to have one of the lucrative clerk fhips of the Privy Council (1752); and Mr. Pitt at last had it in his power to make him treasurer of Chelsea Hofpital.

He was now fufficiently rich; but wealth came too late to be long enjoyed; nor could it fecure him from the calamities of life; he loft (1755) his only fon; and the year after (March 26) a stroke of the palfy brought to the grave one of the few poets to whom the grave might be without its terrors.

Of his tranflations I have only compared the first Olympick Ode with the original, and found my expectation furpaffed, both by its elegance and its exactness. He does not confine himself to his author's train of ftanzas; for he faw that the difference of languages required a different mode of verfification. The firft ftrophe is eminently happy; in the fecond he has a little ftrayed from Pindar's meaning, who S 3 fays,

fays, "if thou, my foul, wifheft to fpeak of games, "look not in the defert fky for a planet hotter than "the fun; nor fhall we tell of nobler games than "thofe of Olympia." He is fometimes too paraphraftical. Pindar beflows upon Hiero an epithet, which, in one word, fignifies delighting in horses; a word which, in the tranflation, generates thefe lines:

Hiero's royal brows, whofe care

Tends the courfer's noble breed,
Pleas'd to nurfe the pregnant mare,
Pleas'd to train the youthful steed.

Pindar fays of Pelops, that " he came alone in the "dark to the White Sea;" and West,

Near the billow-beaten fide

Of the foam-befilver'd main,
Darkling, and alone, he flood:

which however is lefs exuberant than the former paffage.

A work of this kind must, in a minute examination, difcover many imperfections; but Weft's verfion, fo far as I have confidered it, appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.

His "Inftitution of the Garter" (1742) is written with fufficient knowledge of the manners that prevailed in the age to which it is referred, and with great elegance of diction; but, for want of a process of events, neither knowledge nor elegance preferve the reader from weariness.

His "Imitations of Spenfer" are very fuccessfully performed, both with refpect to the metre, the language, and the fiction; and being engaged at once

by

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

by the excellence of the fentiments, and the artifice of the copy, the mind has two amusements together. But fuch compofitions are not to be reckoned among the great atchievements of intellect, because their effect is local and temporary; they appeal not to reafon or paffion, but to memory, and pre-fuppofe an accidental or artificial ftate of mind. An imitation of Spenfer is nothing to a reader, however acute, by whom Spenfer has never been perufed. Works of this kind may deferve praife, as proofs of great industry, and great nicety of obfervation; but the highest praise, the praise of genius, they cannot claim. The nobleft beauties of art are thofe of which the effect is co-extended with rational nature, or at least with the whole circle of polished life; what is lefs than this can be only pretty, the plaything of fashion, and the amusement of a day.

[blocks in formation]

THERE is in the "Adventurer" a paper of verses given to one of the authors as Mr. Weft's, and fuppofed to have been written by him. It should not be concealed, however, that it is printed with Mr. Jago's name in Dodfley's Collection, and is mentioned as his in a Letter of Shenftone's. Perhaps Weft gave it without naming the author, and Hawkesworth, receiving it from him, thought it his; for his he thought it, as he told me, and as he tells the publick.

COLLINS,

« PrejšnjaNaprej »