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sical evil are not without an attraction of fearful interest and curiosity to the human mind; and that the enjoyment, which the fancy derives from conceptions of the bloom and beauty of healthful nature, may be heightened, by contrasting them with the opposite pictures of her mortality and decay. Milton had turned disease itself into a subject of sublimity, in the vision of Adam, with that intensity of the fire of genius, which converts whatever materials it meets with into its aliment; and Armstrong, though his powers were not Miltonic, had the courage to attempt what would have repelled a more timid taste. His Muse might be said to shew a professional intrepidity in chusing the subject; and, like the physician who braves contagion, (if allowed to prolong the simile,) we may add, that she escaped, on the whole, with little injury from the trial. By the title of the poem, the authorjudiciously gave his theme a moral as well as a medical interest. He makes the influence of the passions an entire part of it. By professing to describe only how health is to be preserved, and not how it is to be restored, he avoids the unmanageable horrors of clinical detail; and though he paints the disease, wisely spares us its pharmaceutical treatment. His course through the poem is sustained with lucid management and propriety. What is explained of the animal conomy is obscured by no pedantic jargon, but made distinct, and, to a certain degree, picturesque to the conception. We need not indeed be reminded how small a portion of science can be communicated in
poetry; but the practical maxims of science, which the Muse has stamped with imagery and attuned to harmony, have so far an advantage over those which are delivered in prose, that they become more agreeable and permanent acquisitions of the memory. If the didactic path of his poetry is, from its nature, rather level, he rises above it, on several occasions, with a considerable strength of poetical feeling. Thus, in recommending the vicinity of woods around a dwelling, that may shelter us from the winds, whilst it enables us to hear their music, he introduces the following pleasing lines : “ Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all “ The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm; “ To sink in warm repose, and hear the din “ Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
Above the luxury of vulgar sleep."
In treating of diet he seems to have felt the full difficulty of an humble subject, and to have sought to relieve his precepts and physiological descriptions, with all the wealth of allusion and imagery which his fancy could introduce. The appearance of a forced effort is not wholly avoided, even where he aims at superior strains, in order to garnish the meaner topics, as when he solemnly addresses the Naiads of all the rivers in the world, in rehearsing the praises of a cup of water. But he closes the book in a strain of genuine dignity. After contemplating the effects of Time on the human body, his view of its influence dilates, with easy and majestic extension, to the
universal structure of nature; and he rises from great to greater objects with a climax of sublimity. “ What does not fade? the tower that long had
stood - The crush of thunder and the warring winds, “ Shook by the slow, but sure destroyer, Time, “ Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base. “ And Ainty pyramids, and walls of brass, “ Descend: the Babylonian spires are sunk; “ Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down. “ Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones, “ And tottering empires crush by their own weight. “ This huge rotundity we tread grows old ; « And all those worlds that roll around the sun, “ The sun himself, shall die."
He may, in some points, be compared advantageously with the best blank verse writers of the age; and he will be found free from their most striking defects. He has not the ambition of Akenside, nor the verbosity of Thomson. On the other hand, shall we say that he is equal in genius to either of those poets ? Certainly his originality is nothing like Thomson's; and the rapture of his heroic sentiments is unequal to that of the author of the “ Pleasures of Imagination.” For, in spite of the too frequently false pomp of Akenside, we still feel, that he has a devoted moral impulse, not to be mistaken for the cant of morality, a zeal in the worship of virtue, which places her image in a high and hallowed light. Neither has his versification the nervous harmony of Akenside's, for his habit of pausing almost uniformly at the close of the line, gives an air of formality to his numbers. His vein has less mixture than Thomson's; but its ore is not so fine. Sometimes, we find him trying his strength with that author, in the same walk of description, where, though correct and concise, he falls beneath the poet of the “ Seasons” in rich and graphic observation. He also contributed to the “ Castle of Indolence” some stanzas, describing the diseases arising from sloth, which form rather an useful back-ground to the luxuriant picture of the Castle, than a prominent part of its enchantment.
On the whole, he is likely to be remembered as a poet of judicious thoughts and correct expression; and, as far as the rarely successful application of verse to subjects of science can be admired, an additional merit must be ascribed to the hand, which has reared poetical flowers on the dry and difficult ground of philosophy.
FROM THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH, BOOK I.
ENTITLED ' AIR.'
OPENING OF THE POEM IN AN INVOCATION TO
DAUGHTER of Pæon, queen of every joy,
Thou cheerful guardian of the rolling year,