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possession. The most formidable of his warriors are Palsy, Cough, and Head-ache. Having entered the citadel, he inflicts a mortal wound on King Hart; who immediately prepares for death by framing a very remarkable testament.
This composition may remind the reader of the general plan of Phineas Fletcher's Purple Island; a 'work which exhibits a striking example of the misapplication of fine poetical talents. Yet that Douglas and Fletcher should have adopted subjects of this kind, will not appear surprizing to those who recollect that in poetical numbers Serenus attempted to teach the art of physic, Rhemnius to discuss the proportions of weights and measures, Hobbes to unfold the history of the Christian church'.
From the many ungrammatical passages which appear in King Hart, it has been regarded as a juvenile performance. But the grammar even of the English language remained altogether unfixed and imperfect for the space of nearly two cen
Historia Ecclesiastica Carminc Elegiaco concinnata, authore Thonia Hobbio Malmesburiensi. Opus posthumum. Augustæ Trinobantum, 1688, 8vo.
Hobbes is the author of another metrical work equally absurd in its plan, and equally despicable in its execution. It bears the title of Thome Hobbesii Malmesburiensis Vita, autbore seipso. Lond. 1679, 4to. This tract is reprinted at the end of Tbome Hobbes Angli Malmesburiensis Philosophi Vita. Carolopoli, 1681, 8vo. The prose life was published and chiefly written by Robert Blackburne, M.D.; who has only presented us with the initials of his name. It has frequently been ascribed to Dr Ralph Bathurst. See Mr Warton's Life of Batburst, p. 50.
turies posterior to the age of Douglas : and indeed no successful attempt towards reducing it to a regular and practical system seems to have preceded that of Dr Lowth. For: although the learned and acute Dr Wallis; as well as other respectable scholars, had investigated the genius of the language with critical nicety, yet their speculations did not lend any new precision or correctness to vernacular composition. Even among the writers of the present æra, the rules of English
grammar seem to be too little understood : in the elaborate pages of Dr Blair many
solecisms may be detected. The grammar of the Scotish language was never completely reduced to any standard. Much therefore was always left to the choice or caprice of the writer : and in general it would be difficult to determine what is grammatical, and what the contrary. It would be a superfluous task to search for any standard of speech, where none was acknowledged even by the best authors. If we refer to the present rules of English grammar, we shall find them most grossly violated by Buchanan, Lesley, Winzet, and others of our ancient writers who have discovered an intimate acquaintance with classical learning:
Nor is it of much importance to aver that King Hart is more ungrammatical than Douglas's translation of Virgil. For we must always recollect that the ignorance or presumption of transcribers often counteracted the author's most scrupulous attention to correctness : and as different compositions of the same writer might be obnoxious to different contingences, some might happen to receive more material injury than others, Douglas was himself aware of the dimi. nution which his reputation might possibly sustain from the bold innovations of transcribers :
Ze writaris al, and gentil redaris eik,
The longest of Douglas's original compositions is The Palice of Honour, an allegorical production which displays much versatility of fancy, and a ready command of poetical imagery. The laws of congruity may occasionally be violated, and the component parts arranged without due attention to the delicacy of proportion : yet, with all its imperfections, it is evidently the effort of a superior mind.
Early in a morning of May, the poet enters a most delightful garden, where he falls into a swoon, and is presented with a remarkable vision. He fancies himself conveyed into a dreary forest bordering on a hideous flood.
My rauist spreit on that desert terribill
Like till Cochyte the river infernall,
With vile water quhilk maid a hiddious trubil,
That it had been a riuer natural ;
With brayis bair, raif rochis like to fall,
This laithlie flude rumbland as thonder routit,
Thair yelpis wilde my heiring all fordeifit,
Combust, barrant, unblomit and unleifit,
Auld rottin runtis quhairin na sap was leifit,
A ganand den quhair murtherars men reifit.
When he finds himself in this doleful region, he begins to complain of the cruelty of Fortune ; but his attention is soon attracted by the arrival of a magnificent cavalcade ~ of ladyis fair and guidlie men.” After they have past in due order, two catives approach, the one mounted on an ass, the other on a hideous horse. These prove to be the arch-traitors Achitophel and Sinon. The latter informs him that the company which he has now beheld is Minerva with her court; that the twelve dames who surround her are Sibyls; and that she is also attended by Solomon, Pythagoras, Cicero, and other sages, Jewish, Grecian, and Roman. They are all, says Sinon, faring towards the palace of Honour, and their journey lies through this wilderness. On his enquiring' how it happens that such wretches as themselves should be suffered to follow the court of Minerva, Achitophel returns for answer, that they are there permitted to make their appearance, in the same manner as rain, thunder, and earthquakes, are sometimes permitted to deform the face of May.
The poet now betakes himself to a thick covert, from which he discovers Actæon pursued by his own dogs, and the court of Diana following at a small distance. The goddess herself is mounted on an elephant, and only attended by the pure votaries of chastity : but the poet archly expresses his surprize at the paucity of her followers. Of the fair sex however, notwithstanding this sneer, he seems to have entertained a very favourable opinion: and on every proper occasion he has been sufficiently careful to advance their claims. Into the happy regions of Elysium, his favourite poet Virgil, as Dr Jortin remarks, " seemeth not to have introduced one female, though the Roman and Grecian history might liave furnished him with several who deserved admittance as much as the best of his heroes".!
He is now attracted by the most melodious music. Instead however of solacing himself with these heavenly notes, he immediately enters into
u Jortin's Dissertations, p. 290.