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Though in a bare and rugged way,
ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA. Died 1720.
This lady was the daughter of Sir William Kingsmill, of Sidmonton, ia the county of Southampton, and was married to Heneage, Earl of Winchelsea. A collection of her poems was printed in 1713.
"It is remarkable,'1 says Wordsworth, "that excepting a passage or two in the Windsor Forest of Pope, and some delightful pictures in the poems of Lady Winchelsea, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of the Paradise Lost and the Seasons, does not contain a single new image of external nature."
THE ATHEIST AND THE ACORN.
1 Methinks the world is oddly made,
Behold, quoth he, that mighty thing,
A Pumpkin large and round,
Or bear it from the ground.
Whilst on this Oak a fruit so small,
So disproportion'd, grows;
Its ill contrivance knows.
My better judgment would have hung
That weight upon a tree.
And small and feeble be.
No more the caviller could say,
Nor farther faults descry;
Fell down upon his eye.
Th' ofi'endcd part with tears ran o'er,
As punish'd for the sin;
Nor skull had kept them in.
How gayly is at first begun
Our life's uncertain race!
Enlightens all the place.
How smiling the world's prospect lies,
How tempting to go through!
Did more inviting show.
How soft the first ideas prove,
Which wander through our minds! How full the joys, how free the love, Which does that early season move, As flowers the western winds 1
Our sighs are then but vernal air,
But April drops our tears,
And youth each vapor clears.
But, oh 1 too soon, alas 1 wo climb,
Scarce feeling, we ascend The gently-rising hill of Time, From whence with grief we see that prime
And all its sweetness end.
The die now cast, our station known,
Fond expectation past: The thorns which former days had sown, To crops of late repentance grown,
Through which we toil at last.
Whilst every care's a driving harm,
That helps to bear us down;
And every look's a frown.
MATTHEW PRIOR. 1665—1721.
Or the parentage of Prior very little is known. He was nephew of the keeper of a tavern at Charing Cross, where he was found by the Earl of Dorset, and sent, at his expense, to be educated at Cambridge, where he obtained a fellowship. By the same nobleman's influence, he went as secretary to the English ambassador at the Hague. In 1697 he was secretary of legation at the treaty of Ryswick, and the next year held the same office at the court of France. At fifty-three years of age he found himself, after all his important employments, with no other means of subsistence than his fellowship at Cambridge; but the publication of his poems by subscription, and the kindness of Lord Hasley, restored him to easy circumstances for the rest of his life. He died, after a lingering illness, in 1721, in the fifty-eighth year of his age.
« Prior," says Campbell, « was one of the last of the race of poets who relied for ornament on scholastic allusion and pagan machinery; but he used them like Swift, more in jest than earnest, and with good effect." His poetry has the qualities of ease, fluency, and correctness. We give one specimen:—
Interred beneath this marble stone
Lie sauntering Jack and idle Joan.
While rolling threescore years and one
Did round this globe their courses run,
If human things went ill or well,
If changing empires rose or fell,
The morning past, the evening came,
And found this couple still the same.
They walk'd, and eat, good folks: what then
Why then they walk'd and eat again:
They soundly slept the night away;
They did just nothing all the day:
Nor sister either had nor brother;
They seem'd just tallied for each other.
Their moral and economy
They paid the church and parish rate,
No man's defects sought they to know;
They neither added nor confounded;
Nor good nor bad, nor fools nor wise;
ESTHER VANHOMRIGH. Died 1721.
This accomplished female is the well-known "Vanessa" of Dean Swift While the following beautiful ode will give an idea of her refined tasto and highly cultivated mind, the cold, heartless manner in which he treated her, must ever remain as a blot upon his character.1
ODE TO SPRING.
Hail, blushing goddess, beauteous Spring!
Yet why should I thy presence hail?
Divine imprest their gentle sway,
LADY RACHEL RUSSELL. 1636—1723.
This most admirable woman was the wife of Lord William Russell, who was judicially murdered, on an alleged charge of treason, July 21, 1683. At the trial of her husband she accompanied him into court; and when he was inhumanly refused counsel, and allowed only an amanuensis, she stood forth as that assistant, and excited the deepest sympathy as well as admiration in all who beheld her. After sentence was pronounced against him, she promised him to take care of her own life, for the sake of his children,—a promise she religiously kept, though she survived him above forty years. "Her letters," says Burnett, » are written with an elegant simplicity, with truth and nature, whioh can flow only from the heart. The tenderness and constancy of her affection for her murdered lord, present an image to melt the souLv|
A collection of her letters between herself and her correspondents was pub lished in 1773. The following is
TO DR. FITZWILLIAM."
I need not tell you, good doctor, how little capable I have been of such an exercise as this. You will soon find how unfit I am still for it, since my yet disordered thoughts can offer me no other than such words as express the deepest sorrows, and confused as my yet amazed mind is. But such men as you, and particularly one so much my friend, will, I know, bear with my weakness, and compassionate my distress, as you have already done by your good letter and excellent prayer. I endeavor to make the best use I can of both; but I am so evil and unworthy a creature, that though I have desires, yet I have no dispositions, or worthiness, towards receiving comfort. You, that knew us both, and how we lived, must allow I have just cause to bewail my loss. I know it is common with others to lose a friend; but to have lived with such a one, it may be questioned how few can glory in the like happiness, so consequently lament the like loss. Who can but shrink at such a blow, till by the mighty aids of his Holy Spirit, we will let the gift of God, which he hath put into our hearts, interpose? That reason which sets a measure to our souls in prosperity, will then suggest many things which we have seen
1 "I have now before me a volume of letters by the widow of the beheaded Lord HuiaeU, which are full of the most moving and impressive eloquence."— Horace H'otjnie.
2 A divine for whom Lady Russell had a prcat esteem and friendship; he bad been chaplain to oer father, as he was afterwards to the Duke of York.