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Thomson, in his pastoral story of Palemon and Lavinia, appears to have copied a passage from Otway. Palemon thus addresses Lavinia :
Oh, let me now into a richer soil
Chamont employs the same image when speaking of Monimia he says,
“ You took her up a little tender flower,
and with a careful loving hand Transplanted her into your own fair garden, Where the sun always shines.”
The origin of the following imagery is undoubtedly Grecian ; but it is still embellished and modified by our best poets :
" While universal Pan
Thomson probably caught this strain of imagery:
“ Sudden to heaven
Summer, v. 1692.
Gray, in repeating this imagery, has borrowed a remarkable epithet from Milton:
“ Lo, where the rosy-bosom'd hours
Ode to Spring
* Along the crisped shades and bowers
Revels the spruce and jocund spring;
Comus, v. 984.
Collins, in his Ode to Fear, whom he associates with Danger, there grandly personified, was I think considerably indebted to the following stanza of Spenser :
“ Next him was Fear, all arm’d from top to toe,
Faery Queen, B. iii. c. 12. s. 12.
Warm from its perusal, he seems to have seized it as a hint to the Ode to Fear, and in his “ Passions” to have very finely copied an idea here:
« First Fear, his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewildered laid,
Ode to the Passions.
The stanza in Beattie's “Minstrel," first book, in which his « visionary boy,” after “the storm of summer rain,” views “ the rainbow brighten to the setting sun," and runs to reach it:
“ Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chase thine ardour has begun!
The same train of thought and imagery applied to the same subject, though the image itself be somewhat different, may be found in the poems of the platonic John Norris; a writer who has great originality of thought, and a highly poetical spirit. His stanza runs thus,
“So to the unthinking boy the distant sky
Seems on some mountain's surface to relie;
Curious to touch the firmament;
But when with an unwearied pace,
The Infidel, by John Norris.
In the modern tragedy of “ The Castle Spec
tre” is this fine description of the ghost of Evelina :-“ Suddenly a female form glided along the vault. I flew towards her. My arms were already unclosed to clasp her,—when suddenly her figure changed! Her face grew pale, a stream of blood gushed from her bosom. While speaking, her form withered away; the flesh fell from her bones; a skeleton loathsome and meagre clasped me in her mouldering arms. Her infected breath was mingled with mine; her rotting fingers pressed my hand, and my face was covered with her kisses. Oh! then how I trembled with disgust!"
There is undoubtedly singular merit in this description. I shall contrast it with one which the French Virgil has written in an age, whose faith was stronger in ghosts than ours, yet which perhaps had less skill in describing them. There are some circumstances which seem to indicate that the author of the “ Castle Spectre" lighted his torch at the altar of the French muse. Athalia thus narrates her dream, in which the spectre of Jezabel her mother appears :
“ C'étoit pendant l'horreur d'une profonde nuit,
Ma mère Jezabel devant moi s'est montrée,
-En achevant les mots epouvantables,
D'os et de chair meurtris, et trainée dans la fange,
Racine's Athalie, Act ii. S. 5.
Goldsmith, when, in his pedestrian tour, he sat amid the Alps, as he paints himself in his
Traveller," and felt himself the solitary neglected genius he was, desolate amidst the surrounding scenery, probably at that moment, applied to himself the following beautiful imagery of Thomson :
“ As in the hollow breast of Apennine
Beneath the centre of encircling hills,
Autumn, v. 202.
Goldsmith very pathetically applies a similar image:
“ E'en now where Alpine solitudes ascend,
Akenside illustrates the native impulse of genius by a simile of Memnon's marble statue, sounding its lyre at the touch of the sun:
“For as old Memnon's image, long renown'd
By fabling Nilus, to the quivering touch