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risit, he was sitting in an attitude green;" and at another, “in trim of much attention to a drawing, gardens." When we are willing to pinned up near the fire-place; and escape from the tedium of uniforanother gentleman, whom I after- mity, nature and accident supply wards found to be a Mr. Varlet, a numberless varieties, which we shall miniature painter, who has since for the most part vainly strive to settled at Bath, had evidently been heighten and improve. It is too in conversation with him ahout it. much to say, that we will use the My friend begged leave to ask whom face of the country as the painter it was intended to represent. Mr. does his canvas; Mason hesitated, and looked earnest
Take thy plastic spade, ly at Mr. Varlet. I could not resist It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants, (though I instantly felt a wish to have They are thy colours. been silent) saying, surely from the The analogy can scarcely hold strong likeness it must be the late Mr. farther than in a parterre; and even Gray. Mr. Mason at once certainly there very imperfectly. Mason could forgave the intrusion, by asking my not bear to see his own system opinion as to his fears of having ca- pushed to that excess into which it ricatured his poor friend. The fea- naturally led; and bitterly resented tures were certainly softened down, the attempts made by the advocates previously to the engraving."*-Ni- of the picturesque, to introduce into chols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. ix. his landscapes more factitious wild
ness than he intended. In the next year, 1772, appeared In 1783, he published a Translathe first book of the English Garden. tion from the Latin of Du Fresnoy's The other three followed separately Art of Painting, in which the prein 1777, 1779, and 1782. The very cepts are more capable of being retitle of this poem was enough to in- duced to practice. He had underduce a suspicion, that the art which taken the task when young, partly it taught (if art it can be called) as an exercise in versification, and was not founded on general and per- partly to fix on his mind the prinmanent principles. It was rather ciples of an art in which he had a mode which the taste of the time himself some skill. Sir Joshua Reyand country had rendered prevalent, nolds, having desired to see it, added and which the love of novelty is als some notes, and induced him to reready supplanting. In the neigh- vise and publish it. The artist found bourhood of those buildings which in it the theory of ideal beauty, man constructs for use or magnifi- which had been taught him by Zacence, there is no reason why he chary Mudge, from the writings of should prefer irregularity to order, Plató, and which enabled him to or dispose his paths in curved lines, rise above the mere mechanism of his rather than in straight. Homer, predecessors. That Mason's version when he describes the cavern of Ca- surpasses the original, is not saying lypso, covers it with a vine, and much in its praise. In some prefascatters the alder, the poplar, and tory lines addressed to Reynolds, he the cypress, without any symmetry has described the character of Dryabout it; but near the palace of den with much happiness. Alcinous he lays out the garden by The last poem which he published the rule and compass. Our first pa- separately, was a Secular Ode on the rents in Paradise, are placed by Mil- Revolution in 1688. It was formal ton amidst
and vapid; but sufficed to show that A happy rural seat of various view;
time, though it had checked “the ly
ric rapture,” had left him his ardour but let the same poet represent him in the cause of freedom. Like the two self in his pensive or his cheerful leaders of the opposite parties, Pitt moods, and he is at one time walk- and Fox, he hailed with glad voice ing “ by hedge-row elms on hillocks the dawn of French liberty. It was
It is said, that the best likeness of Gray is to be found in the figure of Scipio, in an engraving for the edition of Gil Blas, printed at Amsterdam, 1735, vol. iv. p. 94.See Mr. Mitford's Gray, vol. i. Ixxxi. A copy of this figure would be acceptable to many of Gray's admirers.
only for the gifted eye of Burke to our churches. In speaking of a wind foresee the storm that was impende instrument, which William of Malmsing.
bury seems to describe as being acted At the same time he recommended on by the vapour arising from hot the cause of the enslaved negroes from water, he has unfortunately gone the pulpit. The abolition of the out of his way to ridicule the proslave trade was one of the few po- jected invention of the steam-boat by litical subjects the introduction of Lord Stanhope. The atrocities comwhich seemed to be allowable in that mitted during the fury of the French place. In 1788, appeared also his revolution had so entirely cured him Memoirs of William Whitehead, at- of his predilection for the popular tached to the posthumous works of part of our government, that he could that writer; a piece of biography, not resist the opportunity, however as little to be compared in interest ill-timed, of casting a slur on this to the former, as Whitehead himself nobleman, who accused of can be compared to Gray.
being over-partial to it. In the third His old age glided on in solitude essay, on Parochial Psalmody, he and peace amid his favourite pur- gives the preference to Merrick's suits, at his rectory of Aston, where weak and affected version over the he had taught his two acres of gar- two other translations that are used den to command the inequalities of in our churches. The late Bishop “ hill and dale," and to combine Horsley, in his Commentary on the “ use with beauty." The sonnet in Psalms, was, I believe, the first who which he dedicated his poems to his was hardy enough to claim that palm patron, the Earl of Holdernesse, de- for Sternhold, to which, with all its scribes in his best manner the hap- awkwardness, his rude vigour enpiness he enjoyed in this retreat. He titles him. was not long permitted to add to his When he comes to speak of Chrisother pleasures the comforts of a tianizing our hymns, the apprehenconnubial life. In 1765, he had mar- sion which he expresses of deviating ried Mary, daughter of William from the present practice of our estaShermon, Esq., of Kingston-upon- blishment seems to have restrained Hull, who in two years left him a him from saying something which he widower. Her epitaph is one of would otherwise have said. The those little poems to which we can question surely is not so much, what always return with a melancholy the practice of our present establishpleasure. I have heard that this ment is, as what that of the first lady had so little regard for the art Christians was. There is, perhaps, in which her husband excelled, that no alteration in our service that could on his presenting her with a copy of be made with better effect than this, verses, after the wedding was over, provided it were made with as great she crumpled them up and put them caution as its importance demands. into her pocket unread. When he His death, which was at last sudhad entered his seventieth year, den, was caused by a hurt on his Hurd, who had been his first friend, shin, that happened when he was and the faithful monitor of his stu- stepping out of his carriage. On the dies from youth, confined him “ to a Sunday (two days after) he felt so sonnet once a year, or so ;” warning little inconvenience from the accident him, that « age, like infancy, should as to officiate in his church at Aston. forbear to play with pointed tools.” But on the next Wednesday, the He had more latitude allowed in 7th of April, 1797, a rapid mortiprose ; for in 1795 he published fication brought him to his grave. Essays Historical and Critical on His monument, of which Bacon was English Church Music. In the former the sculptor, is placed in Westminpart of his subject, he is said, by ster Abbey, near that of Gray, with those who have the best means of the following inscription :knowing, to be well informed and
Optimo Viro accurate; but in the latter to err on
Gulielmo Mason, A.M. the side of a dry simplicity, which, in
Si quis alius the present refined state of the art,
Culto, Casto, Pio it would not answer any good pur
Ob. 7. Apr. 1797. pose to introduce into the music of
Mason is reported to have been bers, and of some other anonymous ugly in his person. His portrait, by satires which have been imputed to Reynolds, gives to features, ill-form- him, he must have felt Hayley's ined and gross, an expression of intel- tended compliment as a severe religence and benignity. In the latter proach: part of life, his character appears to have undergone a greater change, The reptile beauties of invenom'd song.
Sublimer Mason ! not to thee belong from its primitive openness and good nature, than mere time and expe- Of the Epistle, when it was rerience of the world should have marked, in the hearing of Thomas wrought in it. Perhaps this was Warton, that it had more energy nothing more than a slight perversion than could have been expected from which he had contracted in the school Walpole, to whom others ascribed it, of Warburton. What was a coarse Warton remarked that it might have arrogance in the master himself, as- been written by Walpole, and bucksumed the form of nicety and super- ramed by Mason. Indeed, it is not ciliousness in the less confident and unlikely that one supplied the vebetter regulated tempers of Mason nom, and the other spotted the snake. and Hurd. His harmless vanity In a letter of expostulation to Warcleaved to him longer. As a proof ton, Mason did not go the length of of this, it is related that, several years disclaiming the satire, though he after the publication of Isis, when was angry enough that it should be he was travelling through Oxford, laid at his door. I have heard that and happened to cross over Magda- he received with much apathy the len Bridge at a late hour of the even- praises offered him by Hayley, in the ing, he turned round to a friend who Essay on Epic Poetry. He has rewas riding with him, and remarked marked, “ that if rhyme does not that it was luckily grown dusk, for condense the sense, which passes they should enter the University un- through its vehicle, it ceases to be observed. When his friend, with good, either as verse or rhyme.” some surprise, inquired into the rea- This rule is laid down too broadly. son of this caution; what, (said he) His own practice was not always do you not remember my Isis ? consonant with it, as Hayley's never
He was very sensible to the an- With Darwin's poetry, it is noyance of the periodical critics, said that he was much pleased. which Gray was too philosophical or His way of composing, as we too proud to regard otherwise than learn from Gray's remarks upon his as matter of amusement. He was poems, was to cast down his first the butt for a long line of satirists or thoughts carelessly, and at large, and lampooners. Churchill, Lloyd, Col- then clip them here and there at leiman, the author of the Probationary sure. * This method,” as his friend Odes, and, if I remember right, observed, « will leave behind it a Paul Whitehead and Wolcot, all le- laxity, a diffuseness. The force of a veled their shafts at him in turn. In thought otherwise well-invented, the Probationary Odes, his pecu- well-turned, and well-placed) is often liarities were well caught: when the weakened by it.” He might have writer of these pages repeated some added, that it is apt to give to poetry of the lines in which he was imi- the air of declamation. tated, to Anna Seward, whose ad- Mason wished to join what he miration of Mason is recorded in her considered the correctness of Pope letters, she observed, that what was with the high imaginative power of meant for a burlesque was in itself Milton, and the lavish colouring of excellent. There is reason to sup- Spenser. In the attempt to unite pose that he sometimes indulged qualities so heterogeneous, the effect himself in the same licence under of each is in a great measure lost, which he suffered from others. If and little better than a caput morhe was indeed the author of the He- tuum remains. With all his praises roic Epistle to Sir William Cham- of simplicity, he is generally much
* Essays on English Church Music, Mason's Works, vol. iii. p. 370.
afraid of saying any thing in a plain Chills the pale plain beneath him : mark and natural manner.
He often expresses the commonest thoughts in a The dark stream brawling round its rugged studied periphrasis. He is like a
base, man, who being admitted into better These cliffs, these yawning caverns, this company than his birth and education Skirted with unhewn stone; they awe my
wide circus, have fitted him for, is under conti
soul, nual apprehension, lest his attitude As if the very genius of the place and motions should betray his origin. Himself appear’d, and with terrific tread Even his negligence is studied. His Stalk'd through his drear domainmuse resembles the Prioresse in Chaucer,
we could fancy that both these That pained her to counterfete chere,
personages had come fresh from the Of court and be stateliche of manere,
study of the English garden. The And to been holden digne of reverence.
distresses of Elfrida, and the heroism Yet there were happier moments of Caractacus, are in danger of bein which he delivered' himself up to coming objects of secondary consithe ruling inspiration. So it was
deration, while we are admiring the when he composed the choruses in shades of Harewood, and the rocks the Caractacus, beginning,
of Mona. He has attempted to shelMona on Snowdon calls
ter himself under the authority of
Sophocles; but though there are Hail, thou harp of Phrygian frame
some exquisite touches of landscapeand
painting in that drama, the poet has Hark! heard ye not yon footstep dread-o introduced them with a much more Of which it is scarcely too much to sparing hand. It is said that Hurd say that in some parts they remind pruned away a great deal more luxus of the ancient tragedians.
uriance of this kind, with which the In each of his two Tragedies, the first draught of the Elfrida was overincidents are conducted with so much run; and we learn from Gray, in his skill, and there is so much power of admirable letter of criticism on the moving the affections, that one is Caractacus, that the opening of that tempted to wish he had pursued this tragedy was, as it at first stood, even line, though he perhaps would never much more objectionable than at have done any thing much better in present. Such descriptions are better it. One great fault is that the dra- suited to the Masque, a species of matis personæ are too much employ- drama founded on some wild and ed in pointing out the Claudes and romantic adventure, and of which Salvator Rosas with which they are the interest does not depend on the surrounded. They seem to want manners or the passions. It is therenothing but long poles in their hands fore more in its place in Argentile to make them very good conductors and Curan, which he calls a legenover a gallery of pictures. When dary drama, written on the old EngEarl Orgar, on seeing the habitation lish model. He composed it after of his daughter, begins
the other two, and during the short How nobly does this venerable wood,
time that his wife lived; but, like seGilt with the glories of the orient sun,
veral of his poems, it was not pubEmbosom yon fair mansion! The soft air
lished till the year of his decease. Salutes me with most cool and temperate The beginning promises well; and breath ;
the language of our old writers is at And, as I tread, the flower-besprinkled lawn first tolerably well imitated. There Sends up a cloud of fragrance
is afterwards too much trick and too and Aulus Didius opens the other many prettinesses, such is that of play with a description somewhat the nosegay which the princess finds, more appropriate :
and concludes from its tasteful arThis is the secret centre of the isle :
rangement to be the work of princely Here, Romans, pause, and let the eye of fingers. The subordinate parts, of wonder
the Falconer, and Ralph, his deputy, Gaze on the solemn scene ; behold yon oak, are not sustained according to the How stern he frowns, ard with his broad author's first conception of them. brown arms
The story is well put together. He
rose ; nor
has, perhaps, nothing else that is And plain them in these branches. Larks equal in expression to the following and finches passage.
Will I fright hence, nor aught shall dare
approach Thou know'st, when we did quit our an. This pensive spot, save solitary things chor'd barks,
That love to mourn as I do. We cross'd a pleasant valley ; rather say A nest of sister vales, o'erhung with hills How cold and lifeless are these Of varied form and foliage ; every vale
pretty lines, when compared to the Had its own proper brook, the which it
so wench-like words,” of the young hugg'd
princes, which suggested them. In its green breast, as if it fear'd to lose The treasur'd crystal. You might mark the course
If he be gone he'll make his grave a bed ; Of these cool rills more by the ear than
With female fairies will his tomb be haunted, For, though they oft would to the sun unfold And worms will not come to thee. Their silver as they past, 'twas quickly lost; Whilst summer lasts, and I live here,
Arv. With fairest flow'rs, But ever did they murmur.
verge Of one of these clear streams, there stood I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not
lack O'ergrown with moss and ivy; near to
The flower that's like thy face, pale primwhich, On a fall'n trunk, that bridged the little The azured hare-bell
, like thy veins ; no, nor brook,
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, A hermit sat. Of him we ask'd the name
Out-sweetend not thy breath : the ruddock
would Of this sweet valley, and he call'd it Hakeness. (Argentile and Curan, A.1.) With charitable bill (O bill, fore-shaming
The rich-left heirs, that let their fathers lie In two lines more, we are unluckily Yea, and furr'd moss besides, when flowers
Without a monument !) bring thee all this ; reminded that this is no living land
are none, scape.
To winter-ground thy corse.
This is grief, seeking to relieve and forget itself in fiction and fancy; the
other, though the occasion required Since the time of Mason, this rage an expression of deeper sorrow, is a for describing what is called sce- mere pomp of feeling. nery (and scenery indeed it often is, His blank verse in the English having little of nature in it) has in- Garden has not the majesty of Akenfected many of our play-writers and side, the sweetness of Dyer, or the novelists.
terseness of Armstrong. Its chaArgentile's intention of raising a racteristic is delicacy; but it is a derustic monument to the memory of licacy approaching nearer to weakhis father, is taken from Shakspeare. ness than to grace. It has more re
semblance to the rill that trickles This grove my sighs shall consecrate ; in
over its fretted channel, than to the shape Of some fair tomb, here will I heap the turf stream that winds with a full tide, And call it Adelbright's. Yon aged yew,
and “ warbles as it flows.” The Whose rifted trunk, rough bark, and gnarl- practice of cutting it into dialogue ed roots,
had perhaps crippled him. As he Give solemn proof of its high ancientry,
has made the characters in his plays Shall canopy the shrine. There's not a too attentive to the decorations of the flower,
scene-painter, so in the last book of That hangs the dewy head, and seems to the English Garden he has turned his weep,
landscape into a theatre, for the reAs pallid blue bells, crow-tyes and marsh presentation of a play. The story of lilies,
Nerina is too long and too compliBut I'll plant here, and if they chance to wither,
cated for an episode in a didactic My tears shall water them; there's not a
poem. He will seldom bear to be bird
confronted with those writers whom That trails a sad soft note, as ringdoves do, he is found either by accident or deOr twitters painfully like the dun martlet, sign to resemble. His picture of the But I will lure by my best art, to roost callow young in a bird's-nest is, I