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by a perception of the amiable? That tumultuous harmony of singers that are roaring out the words, “ The world shall bow to the Assyrian throne," from the opera of Judith, in the third plate of the series, called the Four Groups of Heads; which the quick eye of Hogarth must have struck off in the very infancy of the rage for sacred oratorios in this country, while “Music yet was young;" when we have done smiling at the deafening distortions, which these tearers of devotion to rags and tatters, these takers of Heaven by storm, in their boisterous mimicry of the occupation of angels, are making,--what unkindly impression is left behind, or what more of harsh or contemptuous feeling, than when we quietly leave Uncle Toby and Mr. Shandy riding their hobby-horses about the room ?
The conceited, long-backed Sign-painter, that with all the self-applause of a Raphael or Corregio (the twist of body which his conceit has thrown him into has something of the Corregiesque in it) is contemplating the picture of a bottle which he is drawing from an actual bottle that hangs beside him, in the print of Beer Street,—while we smile at the enormity of the self delusion, can we help loving the good humour and self-com
placency of the fellow? would we willingly wake him from his dream? Ι
sa not that all the ridiculous subjects of Hogarth have necessarily something in them to make us like them ; some are indifferent to us, some in their natures repulsive, and only made interesting by the wonderful skill and truth to nature in the painter ; but I contend that there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better nature, which, like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of the bad. They have this in them besides, that they bring us acquainted with the every-day human face,--they give us skill to detect those gradations of sense and virtue (which escape the careless or fastidious observer) in the countenances of the world about us; and prevent that disgust at common life, that tædium quotidianarum formarum, which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing. In this, as in many other things, they are analogous to the best novels of Smollett or Fielding.
POETICAL WORKS OF GEORGE WITHER.
The poems of G. Wither are distinguished by a hearty homeliness of manner, and a plain m speaking. He seems to have passed his life in one continued act of an innocent self-pleasing. That which he calls his Motto is a continued selfeulogy of two thousand lines, yet we read it to the end without any feeling of distaste, almost without a consciousness that we have been listening all the while to a man praising himself. There are none of the cold particles in it, the hardness and self-ends which render vanity and egotism hateful. He seems to be praising another person, under the mask of self; or rather we feel that it was indifferent to him where he found the virtue which he celebrates; whether another's bosom, or his own, were its chosen receptacle. His poems are full, and this in particular is one down
right confession, of a generous self-seeking. But by self he sometimes means a great deal,-his friends, his principles, his country, the human
Whoever expects to find in the satirical pieces of this writer any of those peculiarities which pleased him in the satires of Dryden or Pope, will be grievously disappointed. Here are no highfinished characters, no nice traits of individual nature, few or no personalities. The game run down is coarse general vice, or folly as it appears in classes. A liar, a drunkard, a coxcomb, is stript and whipt; no Shaftesbury, no Villiers, or Wharton, is curiously anatomized, and read upon. But to a well-natured mind there is a charm of moral sensibility running through them which amply compensates the want of those luxuries. Wither seems every where bursting with a love of goodness, and a hatred of all low and base actions.At this day it is hard to discover what parts in the poem here particularly alluded to, Abuses Stript and Whipt, could have occasioned the imprisonment of the author. Was Vice in High Places more suspicious than now ? had she more power; or more leisure to listen after ill reports ? That a man should be convicted of a libel when
he named no names but Hate, and Envy, and Lust, and Avarice, is like one of the indictments in the Pilgrim's Progress, where Faithful is arraigned for having “ railed on our noble Prince Beelzebub, and spoken contemptibly of his honorable friends, the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, and the Lord Luxurious.” What unlucky jealousy could have tempted the great men of those days to appropriate such innocent abstractions to themselves !
Wither seems to have contemplated to a degree of idolatry his own possible virtue. He is for ever anticipating persecution and martyrdom ; fingering, as it were, the flames, to try how he can bear them. Perhaps his premature defiance sometimes made him obnoxious to censures, which he would otherwise have slipped by.
The homely versification of these Satires is not likely to attract in the present day. It is certainly not such as we should expect from a poet “ soaring in the high region of his fancies with his garland and his singing robes about him ;"* nor is it such as he has shewn in his Philarete, and in some parts of his Shepherds Hunting. He