« PreviousContinue »
On the morning of the 18th of December, 1855, SAMUEL ROGERS died in his house in St. James' Place, surrounded by the works of art and taste which have made it famous for half a century.
" He expired," writes Dr. Beattie, his attending physician, " at halfpast twelve this morning. A more tranquil and placid transition I never beheld. His devoted niece closed his eyes, and his faithful domestics stood weeping around his bed. Some of the attendant circumstances reminded me of the death-bed of Campbell ; but this was more calm, solemn, and impressive — quite in keeping with the scene in his · Human Life.'"
It was the consolation of Campbell, in his declining years, that he had never written a line against religion or virtue. We may say, with equal truth, of Rogers, that he has left no verse which his friends could “ wish to blot.” Exquisite taste and judgment pervade everything from his pen. But, while this purity of style and sentiment renders him a favorite poet for the young, his great and peculiar merits, we think, are better felt and appreciated, in later years, by those who have become wearied with the intense straining for effect, and the passionate eccentricities, of some of our more recent schools of verse, and refer with fresh pleasure to pages that are marked everywhere with simplicity, refinement, and tranquil beauty.
A Life of Rogers would be to the literary annals of the present
century, what the Life of Dr. Johnson was to some fifty years of the past. Such a book would take up the subject where Boswell left it, and bring it down to the time of the poet's death. His home is the necessary central point for this work. If its walls could speak, they would utter a history that would surpass even Boswell's in interest. This volume will no doubt be written, and, with the Poems of Rogers as its companion, will find a place on every parlor table, and on the shelves of every library.
The present edition of the works of this popular poet is in the shape in which they will go down to posterity. The author found ample leisure to edit and annotate his own productions in a manner that leaves nothing to be desired. His notes are as exquisitely finished as the poems themselves. We have only thrown together, in a preparatory memoir, such illustrations of the personal and literary career of their author as were within our reach ; among which we are sure that the reminiscences by Bryant, and the eloquent article from the London Times on the poet's death, will form equally valuable and permanent contributions to literary history as the finished critiques of Mackintosh and Jeffrey.