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natural manner, and uttered in words so fitted to them, that they may seem to be incapable of appearing in any other.
Vivacity and animal spirits are also present in much of Suckling's poetry, and they cause an almost total absence of anything like the romantic. He seemed determined to make love, as they make hay, “while the sun shines ;” and as a sport, too-not a necessity or an impulse Accordingly, if one mistress was not kind, he tried another; and even if she was kind, he did the same: holding it as an incontrovertible point in Cupid's casuistry that fruition is the grave of love, past, present, and to come.
Add to the foregoing, an occasional, but not very frequent, antithetical and paradoxical turn of thought and mode of expression,-and a perfect absence of all scruples about adopting ideas and even whole passages verbatim from other poets, when they happened to suit his purpose—and we have named what strike us as being the chief superficial characteristics of this writer's minor pieces. We will only observe further respecting them generally, that, notwithstanding the lightness, ease, spirit, and gaieté de cæur, which they almost every where exhibit, they are not without evidences of the writer having possessed a vein of profound thought, which he every now and then turned up a portion of in the course of his light and desultory ramblings; he occasionally dropped a deep philosophical truth as indifferently as one drops a pin, without caring whether anybody picked it up or not.
We shall now proceed to lay before the reader several of Suckling's pieces; taking them without any particular regard to the order in which they occur in his works, but pointing out briefly (as we present them) the manner in which they seem to illustrate what has now been said.
The first example we shall give is a piece which he calls A Session of the Poets. It may be considered as partly in the nature of a good-humoured satire on his brother poets, in which some of their characteristics are made apparent by the manner in which they behave themselves, on being called to attend a session or meeting in which the laureat wreath is to be placed on the head of the worthiest. This piece is chiefly interesting on account of the notice it takes of the minor poets of that time. In this respect, however, it may be looked as more curious than authentic—which latter indeed it does not pretend to be-but merely a pleasant jeu d'esprit at his companions' and rivals' expense. Since the appearance of this piece we have had four others of a similar nature-one anonymous, printed among the State Poems; the Trial for the Bays, by Lord Rochester; the Election of a Poet Laureat, by Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham; and in our own times, (and
with all due respect to the foregoing great names be it spoken) incomparably the best, by Leigh Hunt, called The Feast of the Poets. The one before us is gay, witty, agreeable, and careless even to slovenliness-particularly in the versification.
“ A session was held the other day,
There Selden, he sate hard by the chair;
There was Lucan's translator too, and he
The first that broke silence was good old Ben,
Apollo stopp'd him there, and bad him not go on,
Tom Carew was next, but he had a fault
Will. Davenant asham'd of a foolish mischance
would have been content,
To Will Bartlet sure all the wits meant well,
Suddenly taking his place again,
Toby Matthews (pox on him, how came he there?)
For had not her
In haste from the court two or three came in,
Suckling next was call’d, but did not appear,
And prized black eyes, or a lucky hit
Wat Montague now stood forth to his tryal,
For if he could do it, 'twould plainly appear
During these troubles in the court was hid
Murrey was summon’d, but ’twas urged that he
Hales set by himself most gravely did smile
He was of late so gone with divinity,
At length who but an alderman did appear,
Openly declared that the best sign
At this all the wits were in such a maze,
Only the small poets clear'd up again,
The manner in which “Old Ben” is mentioned in this, is very characteristic; the notice of the writer's intimate friend and associate, Will. Davenant, is curious, as shewing the feeling with which such matters were treated in those days; and the reference to the writer himself is the pleasantest of all, notwithstanding its evident affectation.
Nothing can be more easy, graceful, and flowing, than the versification of what follows; and there are (as we shall see) many other pieces equally perfect in this respect : which seems to shew that this slovenliness of the first piece we have given, was admitted advisedly, not unconsciously. Perhaps he intended it as a humorous heightening of the satire of the pieceas if the merits of minor poets was a theme not calling for a very careful treatment.—But besides the elegant simplicity with which the following piece is expressed throughout, it is one of those from which, taken together, a most instructive theory of love might be formed, and that on which the writer seems not only to have acted, but to have written almost exclusively.
“ 'Tis now, since I sat down before
That foolish fort, a heart,
And still I did my part:
Made my approaches, from her hand,
Unto her lip did rise ;
The language of her eyes.