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English infantry-afterwards the Dutch, though much more slowly. “Now,' said I to Marlborough, we are at last ready to fight. It was six o'clock in the evening, on the 11th of July, so that we had still three hours of daylight. I was on the right at the head of the Prussians. Some battalions turned their backs on being attacked with unexampled fury. They rallied, and repaired their fault, and we regained the ground we had lost. The battle then began along the whole of the line. The sight was superb,—it was one sheet of fire. Our artillery produced a vast effect. That of the French, by the uncertainty which prevailed in their army, from the disunion of the commanders, was very ill posted, and did little execution. With us it was very different, we loved and esteemed each other. Even Marshal Ouverkerke, venerable for his age and services, an old friend of mine and Marlborough, obeyed us, and fought ardently.
“ As a proof of our good harmony, affairs were going ill on the right, where I commanded. Marlborough perceived it, and sent me a reinforcement of eighteen battalions, without which I could scarcely have supported myself. I then advanced, and made the first line give way; but I found, at the head of the second, Vendome on foot, with pike in hand, encouraging his soldiers. He made so vigorous a resistance, that I should never have succeeded, but for Natzmer, who, at the head of the Prussian gendarmes, pierced, broke the enemy, and gave me a complete victory. Marlborough purchased his success more dearly on the left, where he attacked in front. While Ouverkerke dislodged the enemy from the hedges and villages, Nassau, Fries, and Oxenstiern, pushed their infantry beyond the defiles, but were roughly handled by the household troops who came to its assistance. I now returned my obligation to the Duke. I sent Tilly, who, making a great circuit, took the brave household troops in the rear, when they had almost snatched the victory from us; but at length it was decided. The darkness of the night hindered our pursuit, and suggested to me a method of increasing the number of prisoners. I sent drums to different places, with orders to beat the French retreat ; and I placed my French refugee officers to call, on all sides, Here, Picardy! —Here, Champagne !-Here, Piedmont! The French soldiers flocked in, and I made a good harvest of them ; we took seven thousand in all.”
One afternoon, as the Nymph and the Bachelor were comparing ideas with respect to the durability of human fame, Egeria remarked, that popularity was undoubtedly the most agreeable sort of renown. “ All celebrity,” said she, “ is more or less but temporary. The fame of a modern, such is the haste with which all things are now rushing forward, can hardly be expected to survive himself above twenty years. Authors are the only persons who acquire posthumous celebrity ;-heroes and statesmen belong to their own time; when they have made their exit, they all naturally cease to be remembered; and were it not for the literary merits of those who choose to commemorate their exploits, they would soon be utterly forgotten. But nothing is more curious than the difference between literary popularity and posthumous fame: the former is the opinion of contemporaries, formed upon their own knowledge; the latter is the decision of posterity, formed upon a comparison with the merits of those who have been from age to age admired. - Thomson,' says Gray, in one of his letters, has lately published a poem called the Castle of Indolence, in which there are some good stanzas.' Who would have expected such a cold sentence from Gray on such a poem as the masterpiece of one of the most exquisite and original poets in the language? And the celebrated Waller also tells one of his friends, that the old blind schoolmaster, John Milton, hath published a tedious poem on the fall of man ;-if its length be not considered as merit, it has no other.' Such is the taste and spirit of contemporary criticism ; such the admonition with which, through the opinions of the existing time, the spirit of posterity at once rebukes the overweening conceits of popularity, and encourages conscious genius amidst neglect, contumely, and solitude.
66 The odour of few names was at one time more diffused than that of Sir William Jones ;-of a renown so general there is scarcely an example of a comparative oblivion so sudden. This eclipse of a luminary, once regarded as of the first magnitude, is very mortifying to every one who happens to enjoy any particular share of public interest, and it is vain to palliate the harshness of the truth, by saying, that Sir William Jones was overrated. Few men of genius have, from the beginning of their career, been more justly estimated. He was never considered as endowed with a remarkable degree of original talent of any kind; but always, only as an accomplished
and finished gentleman, in what related to taste and learning: besides, it could not be said that he was a popular author,-his works in general are not for the million. That he might, however, have easily become popular, I think admits of little doubt; and perhaps, were a judicious selection made from his works, a volume might yet be compiled that the world would not willingly let perish. I say this partly from the pleasure with which I remember his description of Milton's country house, which give me leave to read :"
“I set out in the morning, in company with a friend, to visit a place where Milton spent some part of his life, and where, in all probability, he composed several of his earliest productions. It is a small village, situated on a pleasant hill, about three miles from Oxford, and called Forest Hill, because it formerly lay contiguous to a forest, which has since been cut down. The poet chose this place of retirement after his first marriage; and he describes the beauties of his retreat in that fine passage of his L'Allegro
Strait mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes,
“ It was neither the proper season of the year, nor time of the day, to hear all the rural sounds, and see all the objects mentioned in this description; but, by a pleasing concurrence of circumstances, we were saluted, upon our approach to the village, with the music of the mower and his scythe ; we saw the ploughman intent upon his labour, and the milkmaid returning from her country employment.
As we ascended the hill, the variety of beautiful objects, the agreeable stillness and natural simplicity of the whole scene, gave us the highest pleasure. We at length reached the spot whence Milton undoubtedly took most of his images : it is on the top of the hill, from which there is a most extensive prospect on all sides. The distant mountains that seemed to support the clouds, the villages and turrets, partly shaded with trees of the finest verdure, and partly raised above the groves that surrounded them; the dark plains and meadows of a greyish colour, where the sheep were feeding at large ; in short, the view of the streams and rivers--convinced us that there was not a single useless or idle word in the above-mentioned description, but that it was a most exact and lively representation of nature. Thus will this fine passage, which has always been admired for its elegance, receive an additional beauty from its exactness. After we had walked, with a kind of poetical enthusiasm, over this enchanted ground, we returned to the village.
“ The poet's house is close to the church; the greatest part of it has been pulled down, and what remains belongs to an adjacent farm. I am informed that several papers, in Milton's own hand, were found by the gentleman who was last in possession of the estate. The tradition of his having lived there is current among the villagers: one of them showed us a ruinous wall that made part of his chamber, and I was much pleased with