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Then headlong plunging thunders on the ground,
And quivering with the wound, in torment, reels.
As o'er the surge the stooping main-mast hung, Still on the rigging thirty seamen clung: Some, struggling, on a broken crag were cast, And there by oozy tangles grappled fast: Awhile they bore th' o'erwhelming billows rage, Unequal combat with their fate to wage; Till all benumb'd and feeble they forego Their slippery hold, and sink to shades below. Some, from the main-yard-arm impetuous thrown On marble ridges, die without a groan. Three with Palemon on their skill depend, And from the wreck on oars and rafts descend. Now on the mountain-wave on high they ride, Then downward plunge beneath th' involving tide;
Till one, who seems in agony to strive,
Next, O unhappy chief! th' eternal doom Of Heaven decreed thee to the briny tomb! What scenes of misery torment thy view! What painful struggles of thy dying crew! Thy perish'd hopes all buried in the flood, O'erspread with corses! red with human blood! So pierc'd with anguish hoary Priam gaz'd, When Troy's imperial domes in ruin blaz'd; While he, severest sorrow doom'd to feel, Expir'd beneath the victor's murdering steel. Thus with his helpless partners till the last, Sad refuge! Albert hugs the floating mast; His soul could yet sustain the mortal blow, But droops, alas! beneath superior woe: For now soft nature's sympathetic chain Tugs at his yearning heart with powerful strain; His faithful wife for ever doom'd to mourn
For him, alas! who never shall return;
And, as the tumbling waters o'er him roll'd,
And strives in vain his fetter'd limbs to clear;
BORN 1721.-DIED 1770.
Ir may be easy to point out in Akenside a superfluous pomp of expression; yet the character which Pope bestowed on him, " that he was not an every "day writer," is certainly apparent in the decided tone of his moral sentiments, and in his spirited maintenance of great principles. His verse has a sweep of harmony that seems to accord with an emphatic mind. He encountered in his principal poem the more than ordinary difficulties of a didactic subject.
"To paint the finest features of the mind,
The object of his work was to trace the various pleasures which we receive from nature and art to
their respective principles in the human imagination, and to shew the connexion of those principles with the moral dignity of man, and the final purposes of his creation. His leading speculative ideas are derived from Plato, Addison, Shaftesbury, and Hutchinson. To Addison he has been accused of being indebted for more than he acknowledged; but surely in plagiarisms from the Spectator it might be taken for granted, that no man could have counted on concealment; and there are only three passages (I think) in his poem where his obligations to that source are worthy of notice'. Independent of these, it is true that he adopted Addison's threefold division of the sources of the pleasures of the imagination; but in doing so he properly followed a theory which had the advantage of being familiar to the reader; and when he afterwards substituted another, in recasting his poem, he profited nothing by the change. In the purely ethical and didactic parts of his subject he displays a high zeal of classical feeling, and a graceful development of the philosophy of
1 Viz. in his comparison of the Votary of Imagination to a Knight Errant in some enchanted paradise, Pleasures of Imagination, book iii. 1. 507; in his sketch of the village matron, book i, 1. 255; and in a passage of book iii. at line 379, beginning" But were not nature thus endowed at large." His idea of the final cause of our delight in the vast and illimitable, is the same with one expressed in the Spectator, No. 413. But Addison and he borrowed it in common from the sublime theology of Plato. The leading hint of his well known passage, Say why was man so eminently raised," &c. is avowedly taken from Longinus.
taste. Though his metaphysics may not be always invulnerable, his general ideas of moral truth are lofty and prepossessing. He is peculiarly eloquent in those passages in which he describes the final causes of our emotions of taste: he is equally skilful in delineating the processes of memory and association; and he gives an animated view of Genius collecting her stores for works of excellence. All his readers must recollect with what a happy brilliancy he comes out in the simile of art and nature, dividing our admiration when he compares them to the double appearance of the sun distracting his Persian worshipper. But "non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto." The sweetness which we miss in. Akenside is that which should arise from the direct representations of life, and its warm realities and affections. We seem to pass in his poem through a gallery of pictured abstractions rather than of pictured things. He reminds us of odours which we enjoy artificially extracted from the flower instead of inhaling them from its natural blossom. It is true that his object was to teach and explain the nature of mind, and that his subject led him necessarily into abstract ideas, but it admitted also of copious scenes, full of solid human interest, to illustrate the philosophy which he taught. Poetry, whatever be its title, should not make us merely contemplate existence, but feel it over again. That descriptive skill which expounds to us the nature of our own emotions, is rather a sedative than a sti