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MATTHEW GREEN. MATTHEW GREEN (1696–1737) was author of a poem, 'The Spleen,' which received the praises of Pope and Gray. His parents were dissenters, but the poet, it is said, afterwards left their communion, disgusted with their austerity. He obtained an appointment as clerk in the Custom-house. His disposition was cheerful ; but this did not save him from occasional attacks of low spirits, or spleen, as the favourite phrase was in his time. Having tried all imaginable remedies for his malady, he conceived himself at length able to treat it in a philosophical spirit, and therefore wrote his poem, which adverts to all its forms, and their appropriate remedies, in a style of comic verse resembling 'Hudibras,' but allowed to be eminently original. Green terminated a quiet inoffensive life of celibacy in 1737, at the age of forty-one.
The Spleen' was first published by Glover, the author of 'Leonidas,' himself a poet of some pretension in his day. Gray thought that even the wood-notes of Green often break out into strains of real poetry and music. As 'The Spleen' is almost unknown to modern readers, we present a few of its best passages. The first that follows contains one line marked by italic, which is certainly one of the happiest and wisest things ever said by a British author. It seems, however, to be imitated from Shakspeare
Man but a rush against Othello's breast,
Cures for Melancholy.
But if dull fogs invade the head, Fling but a stone, the giant dies ;
That memory minds not what is read, Laugh and be well. Monkeys have been I sit in window dry as ark, Extreme good doctors for the spleen; And on the drowning world remark: And kitten, if the humour hit,
Or to some coffee-house I stray Has harlequined away the fit.
For news, the manna of a day, Since mirth is good in this behalf, And from the hipped discourses gather, At some particulars let us laugh.... That politics go by the weather. ... If spleen-fogs rise at break of day,
Sometimes I dress, with women sit, I clear my evening with a play,
And chat away the gloomy fit; Or to some concert take my way.
Quit the stiff garb of serious sense, The company, the shine of lights.
And wear a gay impertinence, The scenes of humour, music's flights, Nor think nor speak with any pains, Adjust and set the soul to rights.
But lay on Fancy's neck the reins. .. In rainy days keep double guard,
I never game, and rarely bet, Or spleen will surely be too hard :
Am loath to lend or run in debt. Which, like those fish by sailors met, No Compter-writs me agitate; Fly highest while their wings are wet. Who moralising pass the gate, In such dull weather, so unfit
And there mine eyes on spendthrifts turn, To enterprise a work of wit ;
Who vainly o'er their bondage mourn. When clouds one yard of azure sky, Wisdom, before beneath their care, That's fit for simile, deny,
Pays her upbraiding visits there,
And forces Folly through the grate And zeal, when baffled, turns to spleen. Her panegyric to repeat.
• Happy the man, who, innocent, This view, profusely when inclined, Grieves i.ot at ills he can't prevent; Enters a caveat in the mind :
His skiff does with the current glide, Experience, joined with common sense, Not puffing pulled against the tide. To mortals is a providence.
He, paddling by the scuffling crowd, Reforming schemes are none of mine; Sees unconcerned life's wager rowed, To mend the world 's a vast design: And when he can't prevent foul play, Like theirs, who tug in little boat
Enjoys the folly of the fray. To pull to them the ship afloat,
Yet philosophic love of ease
I suffer not to prove disease,
Of a free press and equal laws.
Contentment-A Wish. Forced by soft violence of prayer,
And dreams, beneath the spreading beech, The blithesome goddess soothes my care; Inspire, and docile fancy teach; I feel the deity inspire,
While soft as breezy breath of wind, And thus she models my desire :
Impulses rustle through the mind :
While Pan melodious pipes away,
Vie in variety of green;
Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep, And drive, while t'other holds the plough; Brown fields their fallow Sabbaths keep, A chief, of temper formed to please, Plump Ceres golden tresses wear, Fit to converse and keep the keys; And poppy top-knots deck her hair, And better to preserve the peace,
And silver streams through meadows Commissioned by the name of niece;
stray, With undersiandings of a size,
And Naiads on the margin play, To think their master very wise.
And lesser nymphs on side of hills, May Heaven-it's all I wish for-send From plaything urns pour down the rills. One genial room to treat a friend,
Thus sheltered free from care and strife, Where decent cupboard, little plate, May I enjoy a calm through life; Display benevolence, not state.
See faction safe in low degree, And may my humble dwelling stand As men at land see storms at sea, Upon some chosen spot of land :
And laugh at miserable elves, A pond before full to the brim,
Not kind, so much as to themselves, Where cows may cool, and geese may Cursed with such souls of base alloy, swim;
As can possess, but not enjoy; Behind, a green, like velvet neat,
Debarred the pleasure to impart Soft to the eye, and to the feet:
By avarice, sphincter of the heart; Where odorous plants in evening fair Who wealth, hard-earned by guilty cares, Breathe all around ambrosial air;
Bequeath untouched to thankless heirs ; From Eurus, foe to kitchen ground
May I, with look ungloomed by guile, Fenced by a slope with bushes crowned, And wearing virtue's livery-smile, Fit dwelling for the feathered throng, Prone the distressed to relieve, Who pay their qait-rents with a song: And little trespasses forgive; With opening views of hill and dale, With income not in Fortune's power, Which sense and fancy do regale,
And skTil to make a busy hour; Where the half cirque, which vision With trips to town, life to amuse, bounds
To purchase books, and hear the news, Like amphitheatre surrounds:
To see old friends, brush off the clown, And woods impervious to the breeze, And quicken taste at coming down, Thick phalanx of embodied trees;
Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage, From hills through plains in dusk array, And slowly mellowing in age. Extended far, repel the day;
When fate extends its gathering Here stillness, height, and solemn shade, Fall off like fruit grown fully ripe, Invite, and contemplation aid :
Quit a worn being without pain, Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate Perhaps to blossom soon again. The dark decrees and will of fate
ISAAC HAWKINS BROWNE. A series of six imitations of living authors was published in 1736 by Isaac HAWKINS BROWNE (1706-1760), which obtained great popularity, and are still unsurpassed. The nearest approach to them are the serious parodies in the ‘Rejected Addresses. Browne was an amiable, accomplished man. He sat in parliament for some time as member for Wenlock in Shropshire. He wrote a Latin poem, • De Animi Immortalitate, in the style of Lucretius, and an English poem on the subject of Design and Beauty. His imitations, however, are his happiest work. The subject of the whole is ‘A Pipe of Tobacco,' and the first of the series is 'A New Year's Ode,' an imitation of Col. ley Cibber, beginning thus:
Tobacco tempers Phoebus' ire;
Tobacco cheers with gentle fire.
And Boreas is afraid to roar.
Little tube of mighty power,
With my finger gently braced, Charmer of an idle hour,
And thy pretty swelling crest, Object of my warm desire,
With my little stopper pressed, Lip of wax and eye of fire ;
And the sweetest bliss of blisses And thy snowy taper waist
Breathing from thy balmy kisses. Thomson is the subject of the third imitation :
O thou, matured by glad Hesperian suns,
Each parent ray; then rudely rammsd illume,
This appears to be one of the happiest of the imitations; but as the effect of Thomson's turgid style and diction employed on such a theme is highly ludicrous, the good-vatured poet was offended with Browne, and indited some angry lines in reply. The fourth imitation is in the style of Young's 'Satires,' which are less strongly marked by any mannerism than his · Night Thoughts,' not then written. Pope is thus imitated :
Blest leaf ! whose aromatic gales dispense
And let me taste thee unexcised by kings. Swift concludes the series, but though Browne caught the manner of the dean, he also imitated his grossness.
SIR CHARLES HANBURY WILLIAMS. As a satirical poet, courtier, and diplomatist, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams (1709-1759) enjoyed great popularity during the latter part of the reign of George II. Lord Hervey, Lord Chesterfield, Pulteney, and others, threw off political squibs and light satires; but Williams eclipsed them all in liveliness and pungency. He was introduced into public life by Sir Robert Walpole, whom he warmly supported. “He had come, on the death of his father, Mr. Hanbury, into parliament in 1733, baving taken the name of Williams for a large estate in Monmouthshire, left to him by a godfather who was no relation. After his celebrated political poetry in ridicule of Walpole's antagonists, having unluckily lampooned Isabella, Duchess of Manchester, with her second husband, Mr. Hussey, an Irish gentleman, and his countrymen, he retreated, with too little spirit, from the storm that threatened him into Wales, whence he was afterwards glad to accept missions to the courts of Dresden, Berlin, and Russia.'* One verse of this truculent satire may be quoted :
But careful Heaven reserved her Grace
On stronger parts depending:
That beats all understanding. Pulteney, in 1742, succeeded in procuring the defeat and resignation of his rival Sir Robert Walpole, and was himself elevated to the peerage under the title of Earl of Bath. From this period he sank from popular favour into great contempt, and some of the bitterest of Williams's verses were levelled at him. In his poem of the ' Statesman,' he thus characterises the new peer:
When you touch on his lordship's bigh birth,
Speak Latin as if you were tipsy ;
Et genus non fecimus ipsi.
Yet attempt not to reckon his bounties,
Yet speak not a word of the countess.
To enrol the fair deeds of his youth;
Leave a blank for his honour and truth.
He spake—and the minister fell;
Oh, that he had taught him to spell.
How Sands, in sense and person queer,
No mortal yet knows why;
To call his vixen by. Such pasquinades, it must be confessed, are as personal and virulent as any of the subsequent political poetry of the Rolliad or Anti-Jacobin Review. The following is a more careful specimen of Williams's character-painting. It is part of a sketch of General Churchill-a man not unlike Thackeray's Major Pendennis:
* Croker: Lord Hervey's Memoirs