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Whence will Cupid get his darts
A wound he may,
Not love convey,
Cartwright's Plays and Poems.
* With loving redbreasts.] This bird has justly been a favourite with some of our most distinguished poets, and has received due attention from them in their writings. I will set before the reader a few instances, out of many which I have collected, perhaps rather too idly and unnecessarily. In a concert of birds by Browne, B. I. Song üi. the redbreast is thus distinguished :
The mountain lark, day's herald, got on wing,
The redbreast sweet, that loves the looks of men.
Covering with moss the dead's unclosed eye,
The little redbreast teacheth charity.
The redbreast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
To deck the ground where thou art laid.
My thoughts hold mortal strife,
Against the window beats ; then, brisk, alights
Winter, 246. See likewise a stanza published by Mr. Mason, and originally intended by Gray to have been introduced into his Elegy:
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are show'rs of violets found;
...grim-grinning king.] Milton, I believe, has been justly and universally considered as unrivalled, where he says of Death that he
Grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile. I cannot resist the opportunity of setting before my readers a passage, which, though dissimilar in its subject, and inferior in its merit, yet eminently well expresses that mixture of contrary passions which is frequently sublime. I have always considered this instance as approaching nearer to the manner of Milton than any thing I have met met with in the whole course of my poetical reading. In the Masque of the Gods, introduced in the Argalus and Parthenia of Quarles, the goddess of the night is thus fancifully habited:
her body was confin'd Within a coal-black mantle, thorough lin'd
Late having deck'd with beauty's rose his tomb,
Drummond, Edinb. 1711. Fol.
With sable* furs; her tresses were of hue
B. III. p. 112. For this mixture of opposite passions, see Spence on the Odyssey, p. 77, a truly classical work, by no means so popular as it should be, and to which we may well apply what Dr. Johnson has asserted of Watts's Improvement of the Mind : “Whoever has the care of instructing others, may be charged with deficience in his duty, if this book is not recommended.” See also Dr. Henry More’s Mist. of Godliness, B. VI. Ch. v. who compares the pleasures of this life to the grinning laughter of Ghosts, &c.
* Milton has arrayed night in sables :
with him enthron'd Sat sable-vested night.
P. Lost, II. 962. + Rory.] This word seems very undeservedly disused. Fairfax has it in his Tasso :
And shook his wings with roary May-dews wet.
SIR WILLIAM ALEXANDER*.
HOUGH I have twice been at the doors of Death,
did sometime grace The murmuring Esk—may roses shade the place.”
* The Sir W. Alexander to whom this sonnet is addressed was afterwards created Earl of Stirling. He wrote poetry, a list of which is given by Mr. Pinkerton, in his Ancient Scotish Poems, p. 121. He was a particular friend of our Drayton's, as should seem from the verses of the latter on Poets and Poesy. He there styles him,
That man whose name I ever would have known
To stand by mine, &c. There is a sensible little tract of his, entitled “ A Censure of some Poets, Ancient and Modern,” and addressed to Drummond of Hawthornden, his intimate friend, preserved in the Edinburgh edition of the latter, p. 159.