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cuit, 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 dif, ference 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, 6 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.
6 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,
The lab’ring clouds do often rest;
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
another, who had forgotten the name of Milton, but recollected him by the title of The Poet.
“ It must not be omitted, that the groves near this village are famous for nightingales, which are so elegantly described in the Pensieroso. Most of the cottage windows are overgrown with sweet-briars, vines, and honeysuckles: and that Milton's habitation had the same rustic ornament, we may conclude from his description of the lark bidding him good-morrow,
Through the sweetbriar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine: for it is evident that he meant a sort of honeysuckle by the eglantine, though that word is commonly used for the sweetbriar, which he could not mention twice in the same couplet.”
THE BATTLE OF CRESSY.
“ I REMEMBER,” said the Bachelor, in speaking of the military achievements of the English nation, “ I remember to have heard a remark once made which struck me at the time as having something in it of novelty; and yet, though I have often since turned and turned it over and over again in my mind, I have never been able to discover that it has any foundation in fact, or, in truth, any meaning at all. It was made in a party where the conversation was about the superior poetical circumstances of an