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Full text of "Memoirs of the life of Dr. Darwin : chiefly during his residence at Lichfield : with anecdotes of his friends, and criticisms on his writings"

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" \ " 

WHERE hereditary honor s,fplendid for- 
tune, and perfonal graces, have fecured, from 
thefirft dawn of youth, the external refpefl and 
gratifying attention of the world, it isfeldom 
found that their poffejfor has emuloiifly and 
feduloujly diftilled the fweetnefs from the 
dajjic fountains. There is no flattery in ob- 
ferving, that of thoje rare inflances your Lord- 
Jhip is confpicuoiifly one. Such energetic in- 
du/iry involves a fuperior claim to ejtimation 
than where it has appeared the only means by 
which native talent and laudable ambition 
could have pierced the mifts of obfcurity. 

You, Sir, have nobly chofen to adorn your 
rank, hiftead of indolently leaning upon ifs 
inherent diftinffion, or even fatisfying yourfelf 
a 2, with 


with the acquirement of fenatorial eloquence. 
Profeffedly a difciple of the Mufes, and on 
public proof an highly -favored difciple, you 
miift be inter ejied in the life and character of 
one of the mo ft eminent of your poetic contem^ 

ftence, my Lord, do I prefume to lay thefe 
Memoirs of Dr. Darwin at your feet. From 
all I hear of Lord Carlijles virtues, as from 
all 1 know of his genius, it is one of my frft 
ivifhes for this Tittle Tra5t, that it may inte- 
refl and amufe a tranfient hour of his leifure, 
and obtain that approbation from him which 
mujl reward biographic integrity, while literary 
reputation brightens in hisfmik. 

I have the honor to be, with the mojl per- 
fett refpecJ and efleem, 

My Lord 9 
, . Your Lor djhip" s faithful 

and obedient fervant, 



IN publifhing thefe Memoirs of the Life 
and Writings of Dr. Darwin, I am con- 
fcious of their defects ; that they do not 
form a regular detail of biographical cir- 
cumftances, even in that moiety of his pro- 
feffional exiftence formed by his reiidence 
at Lichfield ; while of that which pafled 
at Derby I am qualified to prefent no more 
than a merely general view. 

My work confifls of the following par- 
ticulars : the perfon, the mind, the temper 
of Dr. Darwin ; his powers as a Phyfician, 
Philofopher, and Poet; the peculiar traits 
of his manners ; his excellencies and faults ; 
the Petrarchan attachment of his middle 
life, more happy in it's refult than was that 
of the Bard of Vauclufe*; the beautiful 
poetic testimonies of it's fervor, while yet 
a 3 it 


it remained hopelefs ; an inveftigation of 
the conftituent excellencies and defects of 
his magnificent poem, the Botanic Garden ; 
remarks upon his philofophic profe writ- 
ings; the characters and talents of thofe 
who formed the circle of his friends while 
he refided inLichfield; and the very fingular 
"and interefting hiftory of one of them, 
' well-known in the lettered world, whofe 
domeftic hiftory, remarkable as it is, has 
been unaccountably omitted by the gentle- 
man who wrote his life. 

Dr. Darwin's Letters make no part of 
thefe Memoirs. Pofleffing few of them 
myfelf, and thofe perfectly inconfequential, 
no effort has here been made to obtain 
them from others. He lived not, like Pope 
and Swift, Gray arid Johnfon, in exclufive 
devotion to abftracT; literature. During fuch 
hours of repofe, compared to his bufy and 
hurried life, he might have found leifure 
to pour his imagination and Jiis know- 


ledge on the epiftolary page ; but his epif- 
tles, though profeffionally numerous, were 
Ihort from neceffity, and by choice com- 
preffed. He has often faid that he had 
not the talent of elegant letter-writing. 
Like all other diftinguiihed acquirements, 
it can only obtain excellence from frequent 
and diffufe practice, unreftrained by the 
interfering preffure of extrinfic confider- 

It was alfo his frequent remark, that 
literary fame invariably fuffers by the pub- 
lication of every thing which is below the 
level of that celebrity which it has already 
gained. Letters, through whofe progress 
either wit fcatters it's fcintillations, criti- 
cifm it's inftruftion, knowledge it's trea- 
fures, or fancy it's glow, are not beneath 
the dignity of the moft eminent reputation ; 
but fince coercive circumflances in a great 
meafure precluded thofe efFufions to the 
letters of Darwin, , there would be no 

a 4 kind- 


kindnefs to his memory in obtruding them 
upon the public ; none to the public in fwel- 
ling out books with materials of no intrinfic 
value. It is only zeal without judgment, 
and the enthufiafm of partiality, which can 
take pleafure in reading a great man's letters, 
which might have been thofe of any toler- 
ably educated mind, on which genius had 
never fhone. 

Biography of recently departed Eminence 
is apt to want characleriftic truth, fince it is 
generally written either by a near relation, 

Who writes to fhare the fame of the deceafed, 

So high in merit, and to him fo dear ! 

Such dwell on praifes which they think they fhare *j 

or by an highly obliged friend, whom 
gratitude and affection render blindly par- 
tial, and who is influenced by a defire of 
gratifying, with a defcription of all-excel- 
ing endowment and angelic excellence, 

* Young's Night Thoughts. 



the furviving family of the author he com- 
memorates ; or by an editor who believes 
it highly conducive to his profits on the 
writings he publishes, or republifhes, to 
claim for their author the unquali- 
fied admiration and reverence of man- 
kind. All thefe clafles of biographers do 
for the perfon whom they commemorate, 
what our generally wife Queen Elizabeth 
had the weaknefs to requeft her painters 

would do for her portrait on the canvafs ; 


they draw a picture without fhades. 

But though people of credulous and 
effervefcent zeal may be gratified by feeing 
a writer, whofe works have charmed 
them, thus inverted with unrivalled genius 
and fuper-human virtue, the judicious few, 
whofe approbation is genuine honor, are 
aware of this truth, aflerted by Mrs. Bar- 
bauld in her beautiful, her ineftimable 
Eflay againft Inconfiftency in our Expec- 
tations. " Nature is much too frugal to 

" heap 


" heap together all manner of finning 
" qualities in one glaring mafs *." Every 
man has his errors, and the errors of pub- 
lic characters are too well known not to 
expofe unfounded eulogium to the diftafte 
of all who prefer truth to enthuflafm. 
They are confcious that the mind, as well 
as the perfon, of a celebrated character, 
ought to be drawn with difpaffionate 
fidelity, or not attempted ; that though 
juft biographic record will touch the fail- 
ings of the good and the eminent with 
tendernels, it ought not to fpread over 
them the veil of fuppreffion. A portrait 
painter might as well omit each appropriate 
diftinction of feature, countenance, and 
form, becaufe it may not be elegant, and, 
like the Limner in Gay's Fables, finifh 
his pictures from cafts of the Venus and 
Apollo, as the hiftorian conceal the faults, 
foibles, and weakneffes of the individual 
whom he delineates. 

* Aikin's and Barbauld's Eflays. 



It is this fidelity of reprefentation which 
makes Mrs. Piozzi's Memoirs of Dr. John- 
fon, and Mr. Bofwell's Tour, and his Life 
of that wonderful being, fo valuable to 
thofe who wifli not for an idol to worfhip, 
inftead of a great man to contemplate, as 
nature, paffion, and habit, compounded 
his character. 

If thofe biographers had invefted their 
deceafed friend with excellence, which no 
fbmbre i rri tability had ever overfhadowed ; 
with juftice and candor, which no literary 
jealoufy, no party prejudice, no bigot zeal 
had ever warped ; the public might have 
been led, through boundlefs veneration of 
one, into injuftice towards many. The 
world might have been induced to Relieve 
that all whofe merit he has depreciated, 
whofe talents he has undervalued, through 
the courfe of his Lives of the Poets, had 
deferred the fate they met on thofe pages. 
Then, to the injury of our national tafte, 
and to the literary and moral character of 
the great Englifh Claffics, more univerfat 



confidence had been placed in the ibphi- 
tries of thofe volumes, which feem to have 
put on the whole armor of truth by the 
force of their eloquence and the wit of 
their fatire. 

A paragraph which appeared in feveral 
of the late newfpapers, and which con- 
tained a ridiculouily falfe print, political for 
poetical, mentioned that thefe expeded 
Memoirs were undertaken at the requeft of 
the late Dr. Darwin's family. A miftaken 
rumour; though they certainly had their 
rife in the exprefled defire of Dr. Robert 
Darwin of Shrewfbury, that I would fup- 
ply him with fuch anecdotes of his father's 
earlier life, as my intimacy with him, dur- 
ing that period, had enabled me to obtain, 
and which might affift in forming a bio- 
graphic fketch, to be prefixed to his writ- 
ings at fome future time. In purpofed 
obedience thefe records were begun, but 
they became too extended to form only 
materials for another perfon's compofition ; 



and too impartial to pafs with propriety 
through the filial channel, though fervently 
juft to the excellencies of the commemo- 

Of thofe years in which the talents and 
focial virtues of this extraordinary man ihed 
their luftre over the city which I inhabit, 
no hiftorian remains, who, with vicinity of 
habitation, and domeftic intercourfe with 
Dr. Darwin, took equal intereft with my- 
felf in all that marked, by traits of him, 
that period of twenty -three years, and 
which engaged my attention from my 
very earlieft youth. Some few of his con- 
temporaries in this town yet remain ; but 
not one who could be induced to publifli 
what their obfervation may have traced, 
and their memory treafured. 

His fbmetime pupil, and late years 
friend, the ingenious Mr. Bilsborrow, is 
writing, or has written, his Life ; but fince 
Dr. Darwin conftantly ihrunk with re- 
ferved pride from all that candor would 



deem confidential converfatioru and which 
the world is fo apt to ridicule as vain ego- 
tifin ; fince it is underftood that he has not 
left biographic documents; fmce Mr. Bilf- 
borrow was fcarcely in exiftence when his 
illuftrious friend firft changed his fphere of 
aftion ; he muft find himfelf as much a 
ftranger to the particulars of his Lichfield 
refidence, as I am of thofe which were moft 
prominent in the equal number of years 
he pafled at Derby, Between us,, all will 
probably be known that can now with 
accuracy be traced of Dr. Darwin. 

To the beft of my power I have pre- 
fumed to be the recorder of vanifhed Ge- 
nius, beneath the ever-prefent confcioufnefs 
that biography and criticifm have their 
facred duties, alike to the deceafed, and to 
the public ; precluding, on one hand, un- 
juft depreciation, on the other, over-valu- 
ing partiality. 





of a private gentleman, near Newark, in 
Nottinghamfliire. He came to Lichfield 
to pradlife phyfic in the autumn of the 
year 1756, at the age of twenty-four; 
bringing high recommendations from the 
univerfity of Edinburgh, in which he had 
ftudied, and from that of Cambridge, to 
which he belonged. 

He was fomewhat above the middle 
fize, his form athletic, and inclined to cor- 
pulence ; his limbs too heavy for exact pro- 
as portion. 


portion. The traces of afevere fmall-pox; 
features, and countenance, which, when 
they were not animated by focial pleafure, 
were rather faturnine than fprightly ; a 
ftoop in the fhoulders, ^nd the then pro- 
feffional appendage, a large full-bottomed 
wig, gave, at that early period of life, an 
appearance of nearly twice the years he 
bore. Florid health, and the earnest of 
good humour, a funny fmile, on entering 
a room, and on first accofting his friends, 
rendered, in his youth, that exterior agree- 
able, to which beauty and iymmetry had 
not been propitious. 

He flammered extremely; but whatever 
he faid, whether gravely or in jest, was 
always well worth waiting for, though the 
inevitable impreffion it made might not 
always be pleafant to individual felf-love. 
Confcious of great native elevation above 
the general ftandard of intellect, he became, 
early in life, fore upon oppofition, whether 



in argument or condu<t, and always re- 
venged it by farcafm of very keen edge. 
Nor was he lefs impatient of the Tallies of 
cgotifm and vanity, even when they were 
in fo flight a degree, that ftricl: politenefs 
would rather tolerate than ridicule them. 
Dr. Darwin feldom failed to prelent their 
caricature in jocofe but wounding irony. 
If thefe ingredients of colloquial defpotifm 
were difcernible in unworn exiftence, they 
increafed as it advanced, fed by an ever- 
growing reputation within and without the 
pale of medicine. 

Extreme was his fcepticifm to human 
truth. From that caufe he often difre- 
garded the accounts his patients gave of 
themfelves, and rather chofe to colled: his 
information by indirect inquiry and by 
crofs-examining them, than from their vo- 
luntary teflimony. That diftruft and that 
habit were probably favourable to his ikill 
in difcovering the origin of diieafes, and 
B 3 thence 


thence to his preeminent fuccefs in ef- 
fefting their cure ; but they imprefled his 
mind and tinctured his converfation with 
an apparent want of confidence in man- 
kind, which was apt to wound the ingenu- 
ous and confiding fpirit, whether feeking 
his medical affiftance, or his counfel as a 
friend. Perhaps this pronenefs to fufpicion 
mingled too much of art in his wisdom. 

From the time at which Dr. Darwin 
firfl came to Lichfield, he avowed a con- 
viction of the pernicious- effecls of all vi- 
nous fluid on the youthful and healthy con- 
ilitution ; an abfolute horror of fpirits of 
all forts, and however diluted. His own 
example, with very fe\v exceptions, fup- 
ported his exhortations. From ftrong malt 
liquor he totally abftained, and if he drank 
a glafs or two of Englifh wine, he mixed it 
with water. Acid fruits, with fugar, and 
all fort of creams, and butter, were his 
luxuries; but he always ate plentifully of 



animal food. This liberal alimentary re- 
gimen he prefcribed to people of every 
age, where unvitiated appetite rendered 
them capable of following it ; even to in- 
fants. He defpifed the prejudice, which 
deems foreign wines more wholcfome than 
the wines of the country. If you muft 
drink wine, faid he, let it be home-made. 
It is well known, that Dr. Darwin's influ- 
ence and example have fobered the county 
of Derby ; that intemperance in fermented 
fluid of every fpecies is almoft unknown 
amongft it's gentlemen. 

Profeffional generofity diftingui fried Dr. 
Darwin's medical practice. While refident 
in Lichfield, to the prieft and lay-vicars of 
it's cathedral, and their families, he always 
cheerfully gave his advice, but never took 
fees from any of them. Diligently, alfo, 
did he attend to the health of the poor in 
that city, and afterwards at Derby, and fup- 
plied their neceffities by food, and all sort 
B 3 of 

6 MEMOlftS OF 

of charitable affiftance. In each of thofe 
towns, his was the cheerful board of almoft 
open-houfed hofpitality, without extrava* 
gance or parade; deeming ever the firft 
unjuft, the latter unmanly. Generofity, 
\vit, and fcience, were his houfehold gods. 
To thofe many rich prefents, which Na- 
ture beftowed on the mind of Dr. Darwin, 
fhe added the feducing, and often dangerous 
gift of a highly poetic imagination ; but he 
remembered how fatal that gift profeffion- 
ally became to the young phyficians, Aken- 
fide and Armftrong. Concerning them, the 
public could not be perfuaded, that fo much 
excellence in an ornamental fcience was 
compatible with intenfe application to a 
feverer ftudy ; with fuch application as it 
held neceflary to a refponfibility, towards 
which it might look for the fource of difeafe, 
6n which it might lean for the ftruggle with 
mortality. Thus, through the firfl twenty- 
three years of his pradlice as a phyfician, 

Dr. Dar- 


Dr. Darwin, with the wifdom .ofUlyfles, 
bound himfelf to the medical maft, that 
he might not follow thofe delufive fyrens, 
the mufes, or be confldered as their avowed 
votary. Occafional little pieces, however, 
Hole at feldom occurring periods from his 
pen ; though he cautioufly precluded their 
paffing the prefs, before his latent genius 
for poetry became unveiled to the public 
eye in it's copious and dazzling fplendour. 
Moft of thefe minute gems have ftolen into 
newfpapers and magazines, fince the im- 
pregnable rock, on which his medicinal 
and philofophical reputation were placed, 
induced him to contend for that fpecies of 
fame, which mould entwine the Parnaffian 
laurel with the balm of Pharmacy: 

After this fketch of Dr. Darwin's cha- 
racter and manners,4et us return to the dawn 
of his profeffional eftablilhment. A few 
weeks after his arrival at Lichfield, in the 
latter end of the year 1756", the intuitive 
B 4 difcern- 


difcernment, the ikill, fpirit, and decifion, 
which marked the long courfe of his fuccefs- 
ful practice, were firft called into a&ion, 
and brilliantly opened his career of fame. 
The late Mr. Inge of Thorpe, in Stafford- 
fliire, a young gentleman of family, for- 
tune, and confequence, lay fick of a danger- 
ous fever. The juftly celebrated Dr. Wilks 
of Willenhal, who had many years poflefTed, 
in wide extent, the bufinefs and confidence 
of the Lichfield neighbourhood, attended 
Mr. Inge, and had unfuccefsfully combated 
his difeafe. At length he pronounced it 
hopelefs ; that fpeedy death mufl enfue, 
and took his leave. It was then that a 
fond mother, wild with terror for the life 
of an only fon, as drowning wretches catch 
at twigs, fent to Lichfield for the young, 
and yet inexperienced phyfician, of recent 
arrival there. By a reverfe and entirely 
novel courfe of treatment, Dr. Darwin gave 
his dying, patient back to exiftence, to 



health, profperity, and all that high repu- 
tation, which Mr. Inge afterwards ppffcfled 
as a public magiftrate. 

The far-fpreading report of this judici- 
oufly daring and fortunate exertion brought 
Dr. Darwin into immediate and extend ve 
employment, and foon eclipfed the hopes 
of an ingenious rival, who redgned the 
conteft; nor, afterwards, did any other 
competitor bring his certainly ineffectual 
lamp into that fphere, in which fo bright 
a luminary flione. 

Equal fuccefs, as in the cafe of Mr. Inge, 
continued to refult from the powers of Dr. 
Darwin's genius, his frequent and intenfe 
meditation, and the avidity with which he, 
through life, devoted his leifure to fcien- 
tide acquirement, and the investigation of 
difeafe. Ignorance and timidity, fuperfti- 
tion, prejudice, and envy, feduloufly ftrovc 
to attach to his practice the terms, rafh, 
experimental, theoretic ; not conddering, that 




without experimental theory, the reftoring 
fcience could have made no progrefs ; that 
neither time, nor all it's accumulation of 
premature death, could have enlarged the 
circle, in which the merely practical phyii- 
cian condemns himfelf to walk. Strength 
of mind, fortitude unappalled, and the per- 
petual fuccefs which attended this great 
man's deviations from the beaten track, 
enabled him to fliake thofe mifts from his 
reputation, as the lion shakes to air the 
dewdrops on his mane. 

In 1757, he married Mils Howard, of 
the Ciofe of Lichfield, a blooming and 
lovely young lady of eighteen. A mind, 
which had native ftrength; an awakened 
tafle for the works of imagination; in- 
genuous fweetnefs ; delicacy animated by 
iprightlinefs, and fuftained by fortitude, 
made her a capable, as well as fafcinating v 
companion, even to a man of talents fo il- 
luftrious. To her he could, with confi- 


dence, commit the important talk of ren- 
dering his children's minds a foil fit to 
receive, and bring to fruit, the ftamina of 
wifdom and fcience. 

Mrs. Darwin's own mind, by nature fb 
well endowed, ftrengthened and expanded 
in the friendfhip, converfation, and confi- 
dence of fo beloved, fo revered a preceptor. 
But alas ! upon her early youth, and a too 
delicate conftitution, the frequency of her 
maternal fituation, during the firft five 
years of her marriage, had probably a bane- 
ful effecl:. The potent {kill, and affiduous 
cares of him, before whom difeafc daily 
vanifhed from the frame of others, could 
not expel it radically from that of her ho 
loved. It was however kept at bay thirteen 

Upon the diftinguifhed happinefs of thoic 
years, ihe fpoke with fervour to two inti- 
mate female friends in the laft week of her 
, which clofed at the latter end of 



the fummer 1770. " Do not weep for my 
" impending fate/' faid the dying angel, 
with a fmile of unaffected cheerfulnefs. 
" In the fhort term of my life, a great 
" deal of happinefs has been comprifed. 
" The maladies of my frame were peculiar ; 
" the pains in my head and ftomach, which 
" no medicine could eradicate, were fpaf- 
*' modic and violent ; and required ftronger 
" meafures to render them fupportable 
" while they lafted, than my conftitution 
" could fuftain without injury. The pe- 
" riods of exemption from thofe pains were 
" frequently of feveral days duration, and 
" in my intermiffions I felt no indication 
" of malady. Pain taught me the value of 
" eafe, and I enjoyed it with a glow of 
" fpirit, feldom, perhaps, felt by the habi- 
*' tually healthy. While Dr. Darwin com- 
" bated and afluaged my difeafe from time 
" to time, his indulgence to all my wiflaes, 
" his active defire to fee me amufed and 



'" happy, proved inceflant. His Koufe, as 
'" you know, has ever been the relbrt of 
" people of fcicnce and merit. If, from 
" my hufband's great and extenfive prac- 
" tice, I had much lefs of his fociety than 
" I wiftied, yet the converfation of his 
" friends, and of my own, was ever ready 
i( to enliven the hours of his abfence. As 
" occalional malady made me doubly enjoy 
" health, fo did thofe frequent abfences 
" give a zcft, even to delight, when I could 
" be indulged with his company. My 
6C three boys have ever been docile, and 
" afFeftionate. Children as they are, I 
(< could truft them with important fecrets, 
" fo facred do they hold every promife they 
c< make. They fcorn deceit, and falfehood 
" of every kind, and have lefs lelfiflinefs 
"'than generally belongs to childhood. - 
" Married to any other man, I do not fup- 
" pofe I could have lived a third part of 
"" thofe years, which I have pafled with 

. Dar- 


" Dr. Darwin ; he has prolonged my day*, 
" and he has bleffed them." 

Thus died this fuperior woman, in the 
bloom of life, fmcerely regretted by all, who 
knew how to value her excellence, and paf* 
JtonateJy regretted by the felecled few, whom 
Ihe honoured with her perfonal and confi- 
dential friendfhip. The year after his mar- 
riage, Dr. Darwin purchafed an old half 
timbered houfe in the cathedral vicarage, 
adding a handfome new front, with Ve- 
netian windows, and commodious apart- 
ments. This front looked towards Beacon 
ftreet, but had no ftreet annoyance, being 
feparated from it by a narrow, deep, dingle, 
which, when the Doclor purchafed the pre- 
jnifes, was overgrown with tangled briars 
and knot-grafs. In ancient days it was the 
receptacle of that water, which moated the 
Clofe in a fe mi circle, the other half being 
defended by the Minfter pool. A fortu- 
nate opening, between the oppofite houfes 



and this which has been described, gives it 
a profpect, fufficiently extenfive, of pleafant 
and umbrageous fields. Acrofs the dell, 
between his houfe and the ftreet, Dr. Dar- 
win flung a broad bridge of fhallow fteps 
with chinefe paling, defcending from his 
hall-dooi* to the pavement. The tangled 
and hollow bottom he cleared into lawny 
fmoothnefs, and made a terrace on the 
bank, which ftretched in a line, level with 
the floor of his apartments, planting the 
deep declivity with lilacs and rofe-bulhes; 
while he fcreened his terrace from the gaze 
of paffengers, and the fummer fun, 

By all that higher grew, 

" Of firm and fragrant leaf. Then fwiftly rofe 
" Acanthus, and each odorous, bufhy fhrub, 
" To fence the verdant wall." 

The laft gentleman who purchafed this 

lioufe and it's gardens, has deftroyed the 

verdure and plantations of that dell, for the 

i purpofe 


purpofe of making a circular coach-road 
from the ftreet to the hall- door ; a facrifice 
of beauty to convenience, and one of many 
proofs, that alteration and improvement are 
not always fynonimous terms. To this ru$ m 
wbe, of Darwinian creation, reforted, from 
it's early rifing, a knot of philofophic friends, 
infrequent vifitation. The Rev. Mr. Michell, 
many years deceafed. He was fkilled in 
aftronomic fcience, modeft and wife. The 
ingenious Mr. Kier, of Weft Bromich, then 
Captain Kier. Mr. Boulton, known and re- 
fpec~ted wherever mechanic philofophy is 
underftood. Mr. Watt, the celebrated im- 
prover of the fteam engine. And, above all 
others in Dr. Darwin's perfonal regard, the 
accomplifhed Dr. Small, of Birmingham, 
who bore the blufhing honours of his talents 
and virtues to an untimely grave. 

About the year 1705, came to Lich- 
field, from the neighbourhood of Reading, 
.the young and gay philofopher, Mr. Edge- 


.DR. DARWIN. 17 

worth, a man of fortune, and recently mar- 
ried to a Mifs Ellars of Oxfordfhire. The 
fame of Dr. Darwin's various talents allured 
Mr. E. to the city they graced. Then 
fcarcely two and twenty, and with an ex- 
terior yet more juvenile, he had mathe- 
matic fcience, mechanic ingenuity, and a 
competent portion of claffical learning, with 
the pofleffion of the modern languages. 
His addrefs was gracefully fpirited, and 
his converfation eloquent. t^e danced, he 
fenced, and winged his arrows with more 
than philofophic Ikill ; yet did not the con- 
fcioufnefs of thefe lighter endowments abate 
his ardour in the purfuit of knowledge. 

After having eftabUfhed a friendfliip and 
correfpondence with Dr. Darwin, Mr. Edge- 
worth did not return to Lichfield till the 
fummer of the year 1770. With him, at 
that period, came the late Mr. Day, of 
Bear-hill, in Berkfhire. Thefe young men 
had been fellow-ftudents in the university 
c of 


of Oxford. Mr. Day was alfo attra&ed bj 
the fame celebrated abilities, which, five 
years before, had drawn his friend into 
their fphere. He was then twenty-four^ 
in pofleffion of a clear eftate, about twelve 
hundred pounds per annum. 

Mr. Day looked the philofbpher. Pow- 
der and fine clothes were, at that time, the 
appendages of gentlemen. Mr. Day w r ore 
not either. He was tall and ftooped in 
the fhouldcrs, full made, but not corpu- 
lent ; and in his meditative and melan- 
choly air a degree of awkwardnefs and 
dignity were blended. We found his fea- 
tures interesting and agreeable amidft the 
traces of a fevere fmall-pox. There was a 
fort of weight upon the lids of his large 
hazle eyes ; yet when he declaimed, 

-" Of good and evil, 

" Paflion, and apathy, and glory, and fhame,'-' 

very expreffive were the energies gleaming 



from them beneath the ihade of fable hair, 
which, Adam-like, curled about his brows. 
Lefs graceful, lefs amufing, lefs brilliant 
than Mr. E., but more highly imagina- 
tive, more claffical, and a deeper reafoner ; 
ftricT: integrity, energetic friendfhip, open- 
handed bounty, fedulous and diffufive cha- 
rity, greatly overbalanced, on the fide of 
virtue, the tincture of mifanthropic gloom 
and proud contempt of common-life fo- 
ciety, that marked the peculiar character, 
which fliall unfold itfelf on thefe pages. In 
fucceeding years, Mr. Day publifhed two 
noble poems, The Dying Negro, and The 
Devoted Legions ; alib Sandford and Mer- 
ton, which by wife parents is put into 
every youthful hand. 

Mr. Day dedicated the third edition o 
The Dying Negro to Roufleau. That de- 
dication has every force and every grace of 
eloquence. The fentiments are ftrongly 
characleriftic of their writer, except in the 
c 2, philippic 


philippic againft American refiftance ; juft 
commenced when the addrefs to Roufleau 
was compofed. Generous indignation of 
the flave trade, praclifed without remorfe 
in the fouthern colonies of North America, 
induced Mr. Day to refufe them all credit 
for the patriotic virtue of that refiftance to 
new and unconstitutional claims, which 
threatened their liberties. 

In the courie of the year 17/0, Mr. 
Day flood for a full-length picture to Mr. 
Wright of Derby. A ftrong likenefs and a 
dignified portrait were the refult. Drawn 
as in the open air, the furrounding fky is 
tempeftuous, lurid, and dark. He ftands 
leaning his left arm againft a column in- 
fcribed to Hambden. Mr. Day looks up- 
ward, as enthufiaftically meditating on the 
Contents of a book, held in his dropped right 
hand. The open leaf is the oration of that 
virtuous patriot in the fenate, againft the 
grant of Ihip-money, demanded by King 


DR, DARWItf. 21 

Charles the firft. A flafli of lightning plays 
in Mr. Day's hair, and illuminates the con- 
tents of the volume. The poetic fancy, 
ancfwhat were then the politics of the ori- 
ginal, appear in the choice of fubjecl: and 
attitude. Dr. Darwin fat to Mr. Wright 
about the fame period. That was a limply 
contemplative portrait, of the mod perfecl 

During the fummer and autumn of 
that year, was found, in Dr. Darwin's cir- 
cle, as Mr. Day's viiitor, the late Mr. 
William Seward of London ; yet, though 
a young man whofe talents were confider- 
ably above the common level, he was 
rather a fatellite than a planet in that 
little fphere. He afterwards became known 
to the literary world as one of Dr. John- 
fbn's habitual companions, and, in the year 
1 795> ne publifhcd Anecdotes of Diftin- 
guiihed Perfons ; a compilation of more 
induflry in the collection, than grace in 
c 3 the 


the drefs. Mr. W. Seward has not dil- 
played in thofe volumes, the happy art 
of animating narration. Common occur- 
rences, even in the lives of eminent people, 
weary attention, unlefs they are told with 
elegance and fpirit. From the ardently 
fought fociety of men of genius, this gen- 
tleman acquired a ftriking degree of wit 
and ingenious allufion in converfation, 
though it was too uniformly, and too 
cauftically, of the farcaftic fpecies ; but 
every fort of fire feems to have evaporated 
from the language of Mr. W. Seward in 
paffing through his pen. 

Mr. Day and Mr. Edgeworth took the 
houfe now inhabited by Mr. Morefby, in 
the little green valley of Stow, that Hope* 
from the eaft end of the cathedral, and 
forms, with it's old grey tower on the 
banks of it's lake, fo lovely a landfcape. 
That houfe was Mr. Day's bachelor man- 
fion through the year 17/0; that of Mr. 



Edgeworth, and his wife and family, in 
the enfuing year. All of this city and it's 
vicinity, who comprehended and tafted 
thofe powers of mind which take the 
higher range of intellect, were delighted 
to mingle in fuch affociation. 

In February 1775, died Dr. Small, nor 
were fo much talent and merit fuffered to 
pafs away 

" Without the meed of fome melodious tears." 

They were given in a fhort elegy, by his 
moil valued friend, Dr. Darwin ; which 
slegy is engraven on a vafe in Mr. Boul- 
ton's garden, facred to the memory of the 
ingenious deceaied. 

Ye Gay, and Young, who thoughtlefs of your doom, 
Shun the difgufiful man lions of the dead, 

Where Melancholy broods o'er many a tomb, 

Mouldering beneath the yew's uiiwholcioiue iliade> 

C 4 If 


If chance ye enter thefe fequefter'd groves, 

And day's bright funfhine, for a while, forego, 

O leave to Folly's cheek, the laughs and loves, 
And give one hour to philofophic woe ! 

Here, while no titled duft, no fainted bone, 

No lover, weeping over beauty's bier, 
No warrior, frowning in hiftoric ftone, 

Extorts your praifes, or requefts your tear, 

Cold Contemplation leans her aching head, 
And as on hurran woe her broad eye turns, 

Waves her meek hand, and lighs for fcience dead, 
For fcience, virtue, and for Small me mourns ! 

Epitaph on Dr. Small of Birmingham, 
by Mr. Day. 

Beyond the rage of Time, or Fortune's power, 
.Remain, cold ftone ! remain, and mark the hour 
When all the nobleft gifts that Heaven e'er gave 
Were deftined to a dark, untimely grave. 
O taught on reafon's boldeft wing to rife, 
And catch each glimmer of the opening ikies ! 
O gentle bofom ! O unfpotted mind ! 
O friend to truth, to virtue, and mankind, 
Thy lov'd remains we truft to this pale (hrine, 
Secure to meet no fecond lofs like thine ! 



In Mr. Day's epitaph there is fome pa- 
thos, and more poetry ; but it is far from 
being faultlefs. Perhaps it may be it's lean: 
error, that the name of the bewailed is 
omitted, which Dr. Johnibn has well ob- 
ferved, ought always to be involved in the 
verfes. It muft, however, be confefled, 
that, in this cafe, the noun perfbnal was not 
calculated to appear with grace in verfe ; 
but that confideration, though it doubtlels 
caufed, will not juftify, the omiffion. In 
Dr. Darwin's Elegy, it is placed out of all 
poiTibility of ludicrous equivoque, and fo 
accents the laft line, as to produce no 
mean or inharmonious found. The com- 
mendation, alfb, is, in the elegy, of much 
more dignified modefty. Praife may be 
allowed to glow even upon a tomb/ione, but 
fhould never be hyperbolic. The epitaph 
is too exclamatory ; and to aflert that no 
fecond lofs, fo deplorable, can be fuftained, 
is infinitely too much for one, who, how> 



ever endowed and adorned, left the world 
at large no written teftimony of that im- 
puted fuperiority. It is finely observed by 
the charming Prior, 

" That the diftinguifh'd part of men, 
By pencil, compafs, fword, or pen, 
Should, in life's vifit leave their name, 
In characters, which may proclaim 
That they, with ardour, flrove to raife 
At once their art, and country's praife; 
And, in the working, took great care 
That all was full, and round, and fair." 

The circumftances of Mr. Day's difpo- 
lition, habits, and deiliny were fo peculiar, 
as to juftify digreffion from the principal fub- 
jedlof thefe pages. Their authorwould deem 
it inexcufable to introduce any thing fabu- 
lous ; to embellifh truth by the ilighteft co- 
louring of fi cYion, even by exaggerating fingu- 
larity, or heightening what is extraordinary ; 
but when realities are of a nature to intereft 
$ind to amufe in a collateral branch of the 


R. DARWIN. 27 

memoir, the reader will not be difpleafed 
to turn from it's principal perfonage, dif- 
tinguifhed rather by wonderful endowment 
than by uncommon occurrences, while the 
picture of his friend's more eventful ftory 
pafles before their eyes. 

Mr. Day's father died during his infancy, 
and left him an eftate of twelve hundred 
pounds per annum. Soon after his mother 
married a gentleman of the name of Phi- 
lips. The author of this narrative has 
often heard Mr. Day defer ibe him as one 
of thofe common characters, w r ho feek to 
fupply their inherent want of confequence, 
by a bufy teizing interference in circum- 
ftances, with which they have .no real 

Mrs. Philips, jointured with three hun- 
dred pounds a year out of her fon's eftate, 
was left his fole guardian, or united with 
another perfon in the trust, whom ilie in- 
fluenced. Herfelf, influenced by fuch a 



hufband, often rendered uncomfortable 
the domeftic fituation of a high-fpirited 
youth of genius. We may well fuppofe 
he impatiently brooked the preceptive im- 
pertinence, and troublefome authority of a 
man whom he defpifed, and who had no 
claim upon his obedience, though he con- 
fidered it as a duty to pay fome outward 
refpect to the hufband.of his mother. 

She frequently repined at the narrow- 
nefs of her jointure, and ftill oftener 
exprefled folicitude left Mr. Philips, who 
had no fortune of his own, fhould lole 
in the decline of life, by lofing her, all 
comfortable fubfiftence. It was Mr. Day's 
firft aft, on coming of age, and into pof- 
feffion of his eftate, to augment his 
mother's jointure to four hundred, and to 
fettle it upon Mr. Philips during his life. 
This bounty, to a man who had needlefsly 
mortified and embittered fo many years of 
his own infancy and youth, evinced a very 



elevated mind. That fnind had alfo been 
wounded by the caprice of a young lady, 
who " claimed the triumph of a lettered 
" heart/' without knowing how to value 
and retain her prize. Before the proofs of 
her ficklenefs became indifputable, he 
wrote the following beautiful elegy j 

Yet once again, in yonder myrtle bowers, 

Whence rofe-lipp'd zephyrs, hovering, Ihed perfume, 

I weave the painted radiance of the flowers, 
And prefs coy Nature in her days of bloom. 

Shall {he, benignant, to the wondering eyes 
Of the lone hermit all her charms unfold ? 

Or, gemm'd with dew, bid her gay florets rife 
To grace the ruftic matter of the fold ? 

Shall thefe poflefs her bright, her fragant ftore, 
Thefe fnatch the wreath, by plaftic Nature wove, 

Nor wanton fummer yield one garland more 
To grace the bofom of the nymph I love? 

For me mall come j with her each fitter grace, 
With her the kindred powers of harmony, 

The deep recetfes of the grove mall trace, 
And hang with flowers each confecrated tree* 



Blithe Fancy too (hall fpread her glittering plumes, 
She loves the white cliffs of Britannia's iile, 

She loves the fpot where infant Genius blooms, 
She loves the fpot, where Peace and Freedom frnile. 

Unlefs her aid the mimic queen beftow, 
In vain freili garlands the low vales adorn j 

In vain with brighter tints the florets glow, 
Or dewdrops fparkle on the brow of morn. 

Opes not one bloflbm to the fpicy gale, 

Throws not one elm it's mofs-wrcath'd branches wi.det, 
Wanders no rill through the luxuriant vale, 

Or, glifVning, ruflies down the mountain fide, 

But thither, with the morning's earlieft ray, 
Fancy has wing'd her ever-mazy flight, 

To hymn wild carols to returning day, 

And catch the faireft beams of orient light. 

Proud of the theft me mounts her lucid car, 
Her car the rainbow's painted arch fuppliesj 

Her fwift wing'd fteeds unnumber'd loves prepare, 
And countlefs zephyrs waft her through the ikies. 

There, while her bright wheels paufe in cloudlefs air. 
She waves the magic fceptre of command, 

And all her flattering vifions, wild as fair, 
Start into life beneath the potent wand. 


OR.. DARWIN. 31 

Here, proudly nodding o'er the vale below, 
High rocks of pearl reflect the morning ray, 

Whence gufhimg ftreams of azure ne&ar flow, 
And tinge the trickling herbage on their way. 

Thefe, cull'd from every mountain, every plain, 
Perennial flowers the ambient air perfume, 

Far off Hern Boreas holds his drear domain, 

Nor chains the ftreams, nor blights the facred bloom. 

Through all the year, in copfe and tangled dale, 
Lone Philomel her fong to Venus pours, 

What time pale Evening fpreads the dewy ve'rl, 
What time the red Morn bluflies on the iliores. 

Illufive vifions ! O, not here, not here, 
Does Spring eternal hold her placid reign, 

Already Boreas chills the altering year, 

And blafts the purple daughters of the plain. 

So fade my promis'd joys t fair fcenes of bliis, 

Ideal fcenes, too long believ'd in vain, 
Plung'd down and fwallow'd deep in Time's abyls !-^- 

So veering Chance, and rnthlefs fates ordain. 

Thee, Laura, thee, by fount, or mazy ftream, 
Or thicket rude, unpreft'd by human feet, 

I figh, unheeded, to the moon's pale beam ; 
Thee, Laura, thee, the echoing hiils repeat, 



Oh! long of billows wild, and winds the fport, 
Seize, feize the fafe afylum that remains ! 

Here Truth, Love, Freedom, Innocence refort, 
And offer long oblivion to thy pains. 

When panting, gafping, breathlefs, on the ftrand 
The fhipwreek'd mariner reclines his breaft, 

Say, ihall he fcorn the hofpitable hand, 
That points to fafety, liberty, and reft ? 

But tJlouy too fooii forgetful of pafl woe, 

Again would'ft tempt the winds, and treacherous fea ; 
Ah ! ihall the raging blafl forget to blow, 

Shall every wintry ftorm be hufli'd for thee ? 

Not fo'! I dread the elemental war, 

Too foon, too foon the calm, deceitful, flies ; 

\ hear the blaft come whittling from afar, 
I fee the tempeft gathering in the Ikies. 

Yet let the tempeft roar ! love fcorns all harms, 
I plunge amid the ftorm, refolved to fave j 

This hour, at leaft, I clafp thee in my arms, 
The next let ruin join us in the grave. 

The above verfes imply fome perfidy, or 
difappointment experienced by the lady to 



whom they are addrefled. She probably 
accepted Mr. Day's addrefles in refent- 
ment, and afterwards found ihe had not 
a heart to give him. This is no un- 
common cafe ; and it is furely better to 
recede, even at the church-porch, than to 
plight at it's altar the vow of unexifting 
love, which no effort of the will can im- 
plant in the bofom. It has been obferved, 
that marriage is often the grave of love, 
but fcarcely ever it's cradle ; and what hope 
of happinefs, what hope of a bleffing on 
nuptials, which commence with perjury! 

Even at that period, " when youth, elate 
and gay, fteps into life," Mr. Day was a 
rigid moralift, who proudly impofed on 
himfelf cold abftinence, even from the 
moft innocent pleafures ; nor would he 
allow an aftion to be virtuous, which was 
performed upon any hope of reward, here, 
or hereafter. This feverity of principle, 
more abftrat and Ipecious, than natural 
D or 


or ufeful, rendered Mr. Day fceptical to- 
wards revealed religion, though by no 
means a confirmed deift. Moft unlike 
Doctor Johnfon in thofe doubts, he re- 
fembled him in want of fympathy with 
fuch miferies as fpring from refinement 
and the fofter affections ; refembled him 
alfo, in true compaffion for the fufferings 
of cold and hunger. To the power of re- 
lieving them he nobly facrificed all the 
parade of life, and all the pleafures of 
luxury. For that mafs of human charac- 
ter w 7 hich conftitutes polifhed fociety, he 
avowed a fovereign contempt; above all 
things he expreffed averfion to the modern 
plans of female education, attributing to 
their influence the fickleness which had 
ftting him. He thought it, however, his 
duty to marry ; nurfed fy Hematic ideas of 
the force of philofophic tuition to produce 
future virtue, and loved to mould the in- 
fant and youthful mind. 



Ever defpicable in Mr. Day's eftimation 
were the diftindlions of birth, and the ad- 
vantages of wealth ; and he had learnt to 
look back with refentment to the allure- 
ments of the Graces. He refolved, if pof- 
fible, that his wife ihould have a tafte for 
literature and fcience, for moral and pa- 
triotic philofophy. So might flie be his 
companion in that retirement, to which he 
had deftined himfelf; and affift him in 
forming the minds of his children to ftub- 
born virtue and high exertion. He refolved 
alfo, that flie ihould be fimple as a moun- 
tain girl, in her drefs, her diet, and her 
manners ; fearlefs and intrepid as the Spar- 
tan wives and Roman heroines. There 
was no finding fuch a creature ready 
made ; philofophical romance could not 
hope it. He muft mould fome infant into 
the being his fancy had imaged. 

With the late Mr. Bicknel, then a bar- 

rifter, in confiderable pradice, and of 

D 2, taintlefs 


taintlefs reputation, and fevcral years older 
than himfelf, Mr. Day lived on terms of 
intimate friendfhip. Credentials were pro- 
cured of Mr. Day's moral probity, and with 
them, on his coming of age, thefe two 
friends journied to Shrewfbury, to explore 
the hofpital in that town for foundling 
girls. From the little train, Mr. Day, in 
'the prefence of Mr. Bickncl, fele&ed two 
of twelve years each ; both beautiful ; one 
fair, with flaxen locks, and light eyes; her 
he called Lucretia. The other, a clear, 
auburn brunette, with darker eyes, more 
glowing bloom, and chemut treiTes, he 
named Sabrina. 

Thefe girls were obtained on written 
conditions, for the performance of which 
Mr. Bicknel was guarantee. They were 
to this effecl: ; that Mr. Day fhould, within 
the twelvemonth after taking them, refign 
one into the protection of fome reputable 
tradefwoman, giving one hundred pounds 
I to 


to bind her apprentice ; maintaining her, if 
{he behaved well, till (he married, or began 
bufmefs for herfelf. Upon either of thefe 
events, he promifed to advance four hun- 
dred more. He avowed his intention of 
educating the girl he mould retain, with 
& view to making her his future wife ; 
.folemnly engaged never to violate her 
innocence; and if he fhould renounce his 
plan, to maintain her decently in fome 
creditable family till (he married, when 
he promifed five hundred pounds as her 
wedding portion. 

Mr. Day went inftantly into France with 
thefe girls ; not taking an Engliili fervant, 
that they might receive no ideas, except 
thofe which himfelf might choofe to im- 

They teized and perplexed him ; they 

quarrelled, and fought inceflantly; they 

ilckened of the fmall-pox ; they chained 

"him to. their bed-fide by crying, and 

D 3 fcream- 


fcreaming if they were ever left a moment 
with any perfon who could not fpeak to 
them in Engli/h. He was obliged to fit 
up with them many nights ; to per tor m 
for them the loweft offices of affiftance. 

They loft no beauty by their difeafe. 
Soon after they had recovered, croiling the 
Rhone with his wards in a tempeftuous 
day, the boat overfet. Being an excellent 
fwimmer he faved them both, though 
with difficulty and danger to himfelf. 

Mr. Day came back to England in eight 
months, heartily glad to feparate the little 
fquabblers. Sabrina was become the fa*- 
vourite. He placed the fair Lucretia with 
a chamber milliner. She behaved well, 
and became the wife of a refpe&able 
linen-draper in London. On his return 
to his native country, he entrufted Sabrina 
to the care of Mr. Bicknel's mother, with 
whom fhe refided fome months in a 
country village, while he fettled his affairs 



at his own rnanfion-houfe, from which 
he promifed not to remove his mother. 

It has been faid before, that the fame of 
Dr. Darwin's talents allured Mr. Day to 
Lichfield. Thither he led, in the fpring 
of the year i//o, the beauteous Sabrina, 
then thirteen years old, and taking a 
twelve month's pofleffion of the pleafant 
manfion in Stowe Valley, refumed his pre- 
parations for implanting in her young 
mind the character iftic virtues of Arria, 
Portia, and Cornelia. His experiments had 
not the fucccfs he wiflied and expected. 
Her fpirit could not be armed againft 
the dread of pain, and the appearance of 
danger. When he dropped melted foal- 
ing- wax upon her arms flie did not endure 
it heroically, nor when he fired piftols at 
her petticoats, which me believed to be 
charged with balls, could me help ftarting 
afide, or fupprefs her fcreams. 

When he tried her fidelity in fecret- 
D 4 keep- 

40 MEMOIRS or 

keeping, by telling her of well-invented 
dangers to himfelf, in which greater dan- 
ger would refult from it's being difcovered 
that he was aware of them, he once or 
twice detected her having imparted them, 
to the fervants, and to her play- fellows. 

She betrayed an averfenefs to the ftudy 
of books, and of the rudiments of fci- 
ence, which gave little promife of abi- 
lity, that fhould, .one day, be refponfible 
for the education of youths, who were to 
emulate the Gracchi. 

Mr. Day perfifted in thefe experiments, 
and fuftained their continual difappoint- 
ment during a year's refidence in the vici- 
nity of Lichfield. The difficulty feemed to 
lie in giving her motive to exertion, felf-de- 
nial, and heroifm. It w r as againft his plan to 
draw it from the ufual fources, pecuniary 
reward, luxury, ambition, or vanity. His 
watchful cares had precluded all knowledge 
of the value of money, the reputation of 



beauty, and it's concomitant defire of orna- 
mented drefs. The only inducement, there- 
fore, which this lovely artlcfs'girl cousd have 
to combat and fubdue the natural prefe- 
rence, in youth ib bloflbming, of eafc to 
pain, of vacant fport to the labour of think- 
ing, was the defire of pleafing her protestor, 
though me knew not how, or why he be- 
came fuch. In that defire, fear had greatly 
the afcendant of affection, and fear is a 
cold and indolent feeling. 

Thus, after a feries of fruitlefs trials, 
Mr. Day renounced all hope of moulding 
Sabrina into the being his imagination had 
formed ; and ceafing to behold her as his 
future wife, he placed her at a boarding - 
fchool in Sutton-Coldfield, Warwickfhire. 
His truft in the power of education fal- 
tered ; his averfion to modern elegance 
fubfided. From the time he firft lived in 
the Vale of Stowe, he had daily converfed 
\vith the beautiful Mils Honora Sneyd of 



Lichfield. Without having received a 
Spartan education, me united a difmtereft- 
ed defire to pleafe, fortitude of fpirit, na- 
tive ftrength of intellect, literary and fcien- 
tific tafte, to unfwerving truth, and to all 
the graces. She was the very Honora 
Sneyd, for whom the gallant and unfortu- 
nate Major Andre's inextinguifhable paf- 
fion is on poetic, as his military fame and 
haplefs deftiny are on patriot, record. Pa- 
rental authority having diffolved the juve- 
nile engagements of this diftinguiihed youth 
and maid, Mr. Day offered to Honora his 
philofophic hand. She admired his talents; 
ihe revered his virtues ; me tried to fchool 
her heart into fofter fentiments in his favour. 
She did not fucceed in that attempt, and in- 
genuoufly told him fo. Her fifter, Mifs Eli- 
zabeth Sneyd, one year younger than her- 
felf, was very pretty, very fprightly, very 
artlefs, and very engaging, though count- 
lefs degrees inferior to the endowed and 


DR. DA&WiIN. 43 

adorned Honora. To her the yet love- 
lucklefs fage transferred the heart, which 
Honora had with iighs refigned. Eliza- 
beth told Mr. Day me could have loved 
him, if he had acquired the manners of 
the world, inftead of thofe auftere flngu- 
larities of air, habit, and addrefs. 

He began to impute to them the fickle- 
nefs of his firft love; the involuntary icinefe 
of the charming Honora, as well as that 
for which her fifter accounted. He told 
Elizabeth, that, for her fake, he would' 
renounce his prejudices to external refine- 
ments, and try to acquire them. He 
would go to Paris for a year, and commit 
himfelf to dancing and fencing matters. 
He did fo ; flood daily an hour or two in 
frames, to fcrew back his flioulders, and 
point his feet; he prafHfed the military 
gait, the fafhionable bow, minuets, and 
cotillions ; but it was too late ; habits, fo 
long fixed, could no more than partially be 



overcome. The endeavour, made at in- 
tervals, and by vt/tblc effort, was more 
really ungraceful than the natural ftoop, 
and unfafhionable air. The ftudied bow 
on entrance, the fuddcnly recollected af- 
fumptlon of attitude, prompted the riiible 
inftead of the admiring fenfation ; neither 
was the fhowy drefs, in which he came 
"back to his fair one, a jot more becoming. 
Poor Elizabeth reproached her, reluctant 
but infuppreffive ingratitude, upon which 
all this labour, thefc facrifices had been 
wafted. She confefled, that Thomas Day, 
blackguard, as he ufed jeftingly to ftyle 
himfelf, lefs difpleafed her eye than Tho- 
mas Day, Jine gent /eman. 

Thus again difappointed, he refumcd 
his accuftomed plainnefs of garb, and 
neglect of his perfon, and went again upon 
the continent for another year, with pur- 
fuits of higher aim, more congenial to his 
talents and former principles. Returning 



to England in the year 1773, he faw, that 
fpring, Mifs Honora Sneyd united to his 
friend Mr. Edgeworth, who was become 
a widower; and, in the year 1780, he 
learned that his fecond love of that name, 
Mifs Elizabeth Sneyd, was alfo, after the 
death of Honora married to Mr. Edge- 

I; was fmgular that Mr. Day fliould thus, 
in the courfe of feven years, find himfelf 
doubly rivalled by his moft intimate 
friend ; but his own previously renounced 
purfuit of thofe beautiful young women, 
left him without either caufe or fenfations 
of refentment on their account. 

From the year 1773 this hitherto love- 
renounced philofopher refided chiefly in 
London, and amid the fmall and felecl: 
circle which he frequented there, often 
met the pretty and elegant Mifs Eflher 
Mills of Derby fhi re, who, with modern 
acquirements, and amongft modiili luxuries, 


$6 MKMOIR.S or 

fuited to her large fortune, had cultivated 
her underftanding by books, and her vir- 
tues by benevolence. The again unpoliih- 
cd ftoic had every charm in her eyes, 

" She favv Othello's vifage in his mind." 

But, from indignant recollection of hopes 
fo repeatedly baffled, Mr. Day looked with 
diftruft on female attention of however 
flattering femblance ; nor was it till after 
years of her modeft, yet tender devotion 
to his talents and merit, that he deigned 
to afk Mifs Mills, if me could, for his fake, 
refign all that the world calls pleafures ; 
all it's luxuries, all it's oftentation. . If, 
with him, (he could refolve to employ, 
after the ordinary comforts of life were 
fupplied, the furplus of her affluent for- 
tune in clothing the naked, and feeding 
the hungry ; retire with him into the 
country, and fhun, through remaining 


t>R. DARWIN. 47 

cxiftence, the iiife&ums taint of human 

Mr. Day's conftitutional fault, like poor 
Cowper's, fcemed that of looking with 
fevere and difgufted eyes upon thofe venial 
errours in his fpecies, which are mutually 

tolerated bv mankind. This ftain of mi- 


fanthropy was extremely deepened by his 
commerce with the world, rcftrained as 
that commerce had ever been. Satiric, 
jealous, and difcerning, it was not eafy to 
deceive him ; yet, in a few inftances, he 
was deceived by the appearance of virtues 
congenial to his own: 

" For neither man, nor angel can difcern 
" Hypocrify, the only evil that walks 
" Invifible, except to God alone." 

To propofals fo formidable, fo furc to 
be rejefted by a heart lefs than infinitely 
attached, Mifs Mills gladly aflcnted-; but 
fomething more remained. Mr. Day in- 



fitted, that her whole fortune fliould be 
fettled upon herfelf, totally out of his pre- 
ient or future control ; that if flie grew 
tired of a fyftem of life fo likely to weary 
p, w r oman of the world, flie might return 
to that world any hour fhe chofe, fully 
empowered to rcfume it's habits, and it's 

They married, and retired into the 
country about the year 1780, according to 
the beft recollection of the author of thefe 
memoirs. No carriage ; no appointed fer- 
vant about Mrs. Day's own perfbn ; no 
luxury of any fort. Mufic, in which fhe 
was a diftinguifhed proficient, was deemed 
trivial. She banifhed her harpfichord and 
mufic-books. Frequent experiments upon 
her temper, and her attachment, were made 
by him, whom flie lived but to obey and 
love. Over thefe flic often wept, but 
never repined. No wife, bound in the 
ilrideft fetters, as to the incapacity of 



claiming feparate maintenance, ever made 
more abfolute facrifices to the moft im- 
perious hufband, than did this lady, whofe 
independence had been fecured, and of 
whom nothing was demanded as a duty. 

Thus Mr. Day found, at laft, amid the 
very clafs he dreaded, that of fafhionable 
women, a heart whofe paffion for him 
fupplied all the requifites of his high-toned 

Some eight or ten years after his mar- 
riage, the life of this fmgular being be- 
came, in its meridian, a victim to one 
of his uncommon fyftems. He thought 
highly of the gratitude, generofity, and 
fenfibility of horfes ; and that whenever 
they were difobedient, unruly, or vicious, 
it was owing to previous ill ufage from 
men. He had reared, fed, and tamed a 
favourite foal. When it was time it 
Ihould become ferviceable, difdaining to 
employ a horfebreaker, he would ufc it 
E to 


to the bit and the burthen himfelf. He 
was not a good horfeman. The animal 
difliking his new fituation, heeded not the 
fbothing voice to which he had been 
accuftomed. He plunged, threw his maf- 
ter, and then, with his heels, ftruck him 
on the head an inftantJy fatal blow. 1C 
was faid that Mrs. Day never afterwards 
faw the fun ; that fhe lay in bed, into the 
curtains of which no light was admitted 
during the day, and only rofe to ftray alone 
through her garden, when night gave her 
fbrrows congenial gloom. She furvived 
this adored hufband two years, and then 
died, broken-hearted, for his lofs. 

Ere the principal fubjecT: of this biogra- 
phic traft is refumed, the reader will not 
be forry to learn the future defliny of 
Sabrina. She remained at fchool three 
years ; gained the efteem of her inftru&refs; 
grew feminine, elegant, and amiable. This 
young woman proved one of many inftances 



that thofe modes of education, which have 
been fanclioned by long experience, are 
feldom abandoned to advantage by inge- 
nious fyftem-mongers. 

When Sabrina left fchool, Mr. Day al- 
lowed her fifty pounds annually. She 
boarded fome years near Birmingham, 
and afterwards at Newport, in Shropfhire. 
Wherever me refided, wherever me paid 
vifits, fhe fecured to herfelf friends. Beau- 
tiful and admired, me paffed the dangerous 
interval between fixteen and twenty-five, 
without one reflection upon her conduct, 
one ftain upon her difcretion. Often the 
gueft of Dr. Darwin, and other of her 
friends in Lichfield, efteem and affection 
formed the tribute to her virtues. 

Mr. Day correfponded with her parentally, 
but feldom faw her, and never without wit- 
nefles. Two years after his marriage, and 
in her twenty-fixth year, his friend, Mr. 
Bicknel, propofed himfelf ; that very Mr. 
E Si Bick- 


Bicknel, who went with Mr. Day to the 
Foundling Hofpital at Shrevvfbury, and by 
whofe furctymip for his upright intentions 
the governors of that chanty permitted 
Mr. Day to take from thence that beau- 
teous girl, and the young Lucretia. 

Mr. Bicknel, high in pradice as a bar- 
rifter, was generally thought an advan- 
tageous match for Sabrina. More from 
prudential, than impaffioned impulfe, did 
flic accept his addrefles, yet became one of 
the moft affectionate, as well as the beft 
of wives. When Mr. Day's confent was 
afked by 'his protegee, he gave it in thefc 
ungracious words : " I do not refufe my 
confent to your marrying Mr. Bicknel ; but 
remember you have not afked my advice" 
He gave her the promifed dower, five 
hundred pounds. 

Mr. Bicknel, without patrimonial for- 
tune, and living up to his profeffional in- 
come, did not fave money. His beloved 



wife brought him two boys. When the 
eldeft was about five years -old., their father 
was feized with a paralytic ftroke, which, 
in a few weeks, became fatal. His charm- 
ing widow had no means of independent 
fupport for herfelf and infants. Mr. Day 
faid he would' allow her thirty pounds 
annually, to affift the efforts which he 
expected Ihe would make for the main- 
tenance of herfelf and children. To have 
been more bounteous nmjl furely have 
been in his heart, but it was not in his 
yftem. Through the benevolent exertions 
of Mr. Harding, Solicitor General to the 
Queen, the fum of eight hundred pounck 
was raifed among the gentlemen of the 
bar for Mrs. Bicknel and her fons ; the 
intereft to be the mothers during her life, 
and the principal, at her deceafe, to be 
divided between her. children. 

That excellent woman has lived many 

years, and yet lives with the good Dr. 

E 3 Burney 


Burney of Greenwich, as his houfekeeper, 
and affiftant in the cares of his academy. 
She is treated by him, and his friends, 
with every mark of efteem and refpecl due 
to a gentlewoman, and one whofe virtues 
entitle her to univerfal approbation. Her 
name was not in Mr. Day's will, but Mrs. 
Day continued the allowance he had made 
her, and "bequeathed its continuance from 
her own fortune during Mrs. Bicknel's Kfe, 
Mr. and Mrs. Day left no child. 

Mr. Edgeworth, having alfo loft his 
third wife, Elizabeth, is now the huf- 
band of a fourth, a daughter of the re- 
verend Dr. Beaufort of Ireland. He had 
four children by his firft ; a fon, who of 
late years died in America ; Mifs Edge- 
worth, the celebrated writer of Stories for 
Children, and Moral Tales for Young Peo- 
ple, &c. ; Mifs Anna, married to the ingeni- 
ous Dr. Beddoes of Briftol ; and Mifs Em- 
meline, married to Mr. King, furgeon of the 



fame place, Honora left him an infant 
girl and boy, when Ihe died in the year 
1780, The former inherited her mother's 
name, her beauty, and her malady, and 
died of confumption at fixteen. The ami- 
able fon yet lives, with fine talents, but 
infirm health. By his third wife, Eliza* 
beth, he has fcveral children ; and by the 
prefent, two or three. From Mr. Edge- 
worth's large family elaborate fyftems of in- 
fantile education have proceeded : of them 
the author of thefe memoirs cannot fpeak, 
as flie has never feen them. Other com- 
pofitions, which are faid to be humorous 
brilliant, a. re from the fame fource, , 

E 4 CHAP. 



IT is now perhaps more than time to re- 
fume the recollected circumftances of Dr. 
Darwin's life. 

After Dr. Small and Mr. Michell va- 
nilhed from the earth, and Mr. Day and 
Mr. Edgeworth, in the year 1772, left the 
Darwinian fphere, the prefent fir Brooke 
Boothby became an occafional inhabitant 
of Lichfield ; fought, on every poffibility, 
the converfation of Dr. Darwin, and ob- 
tained his lafting friendfhip. Sir Brooke 
had not lefs poetic fancy than Mr. Day, 
and even more external elegance than 
Mr. Edgeworth pofleffed when he won 
Honora's heart; elegance, which time, its 



general foe, has to this hour but little tar- 
nifhed in the frame of fir Brooke Boothby. 

A votary to botanic fcience, a deep rea- 
foner, and a clear-Jighted politician, is fir 
Brooke Boothby, as his convincing refu- 
tation of that fplendid, dazzling, and mif- 
leading fophiftry, Burke on the French 
Revolution, has proved. Ever to be la- 
mented is it, that national pride, and jea- 
loufy, made our efficient fenate, and a large 
majority of people in thefe kingdoms, un,- 
able to difcern the fallacy which fir Brooke's 
anfwer unveiled. Fallacy, which has even- 
tually overthrown the balance of power in 
Europe ; built up, by the ftrong cement 
of oppofition, the Republic's menacing and 
commanding tower, and wafted in combat 
with the phantom, Jacobirufm, the nerves 
and finews of defence againft the time 
when real danger may aflault Great Britain,, 

About the, period at whicli fir Brooke 
firft fought Dr. Darwin ; fought him, alib, 

Mr. Mun- 


Mr. Munday of Marketon, whofe exertions, 
as a public magiftrate, have through life 
been moft benignly fedulous and wife; with 

' The fair-ey'd Virtues in retirement dwell 3* 

and whofe ' Need wood Fore ft' is one of the 
moft beautiful local poems that has been 
written. Its landfcapes vivid and appro- 
priate ; its epifodes fweet and interefting ; 
its machinery well fancied and original ; its 
numbers fpirited, correct, and harmonious ; 
while an infufion of fwxet and gentle mo- 
rality pervades the whole, and renders 
it dear to the heart as to the eye and ear. 
Great is the lofs to poetic literature, that, of 
this delightful compofition, only a few co- 
pies were privately printed, for prefents to 
the authors friends and acquaintance ; that 
he cannot overcome his reluctance to ex- 
pofe it to the danger of illiberal criticifm 
from fome of the felf- elected cenfors in 
every periodical publication. The public 
J imagines, 


imagines, that, on each fubjeft difcufled in 
a review and magazine, it obtains the joint 
opinion of a fet of learned men, employed 
to appreciate the value of publications. - 
That in every fuch work many writers are 
engaged is true ; yet is it no lefs true that 
in each feparate tracl the opinion is merely 
individual on every various theme. One 
perfon is appointed to review the medical, 
another the chirurgical, another the cle- 
rical, another the hiftorical, another the 
philofophical articles, another the ethics in 
profe, and another the poetry ; and each 
criticifes Jingly, and unafftfled^ in his ap- 
pointed range. 

The moft diftinguiihed of Dr. Darwin's 
fcientific friends, who vifited him from a 
diftance when he lived in Lichfield, have 
now been enumerated. 

He once thought inoculation for the 
meafles might, as in the fmall-pox, mate- 
rially foften the difeafe ; and, after the pa^ 
triotic example of lady Mary Wortley Mon^ 



tague, he made the trial in his own family, 
upon his youngeft fon, Robert, now Dr. 
Darwin of Shrewfbury, and upon an infant 
daughter, who died within her firft year* 
Each had, in -confequence, the difeafe fo 
feverely, as to repel, in their father's mind, 
all future defire of repeating the experi- 

In the year 1768, Dr. Darwin met with 
an accident of irretrievable injury in the 
human frame. His propeniity to mechanics 
had unfortunately led him to conftrucl: a 
very fmgular carriage. It was a platform, 
with a feat fixed upon a very high pair of 
wheels, and fupported in the front, upon 
the back of the horfe, by means of a kind 
of probofcis, which, forming an arch, reached 
over the hind quarters of the horfe; and 
pafled through a ring, placed on an upright 
piece of iron, which worked in a focket, 
fixed in the faddle. The horfe could thus 
move from one fide of the road to the other, 
quartering, as it is called, at the will of the 
driver, whofe conftant attention was necef- 



farily employed to regulate a piece of ma- 
chinery contrived, but not well contrived, for 
that purpofe. From this whimfical car- 
riage the Doclor was feveral times thrown, 
and the laft time he ufed it, had the mif- 
fortune, from a fimilar accident, to break 
the patella of his right knee, which caufed, 
as it always muft caufe, an incurable weak- 
riefs in the fradured part, and a lamenefs^ 
not very difcernible indeed, when walking 
on even ground. 

It is remarkable, that this uncommon 
accident happened to three of the inha- 
bitants of Lichfield in the courfe of one 
year ; firft, to the author of thefe me- 
moirs in the prime of her jouth ; next, to 
Dr. Darwin ; and, laftly, to the late Mr. 
Levett, a gentleman of wealth and confe- 
quence in the town. No fuch misfortune 
was previously remembered in that city, 
nor has it once recurred through all the 
years which have fmce elapfed. 

Dr. Darwin was happy in the talents, do- 

fcR. DARWIN. 63 

cllity, and obedience, of his three fons. An 
high degree of ftammering retarded and 
embarraffed his utterance. The eldeft boy, 
Charles, had contra&ed the propenfity. 
With that wifdom, which marked the 
Dodlor's obfervations on the habits of life } 
with that deciiion of conduct, which al- 
ways inftantly followed the conviction of 
his mind, he fent Charles abroad ; at once 
to break the force of habit, formed on the 
contagion of daily example, and from a 
belief, that in the pronunciation of a fo- 
reign language, hefitation would be le'fs 
likely to recur, than in fpeaking thofe 
words and fentences, in which he had been 
accuftomed to hefitate. About his twelfth 
year he was committed to the care of the 
fcientific, the learned, the modeft, and 
worthy Mr. Dickinfon, now reftor of Bli- 
mel, in Shroplhire. 

That the purpofe of the experiment 
might not be fruftrated, Dr. Darwin im- 
prefled that good jnan's mind with the ne- 



ceffity of not permitting his pupil to con- 
verfe in Englifh ; nor ever to hear it uttere3 
after he could at all comprehend the 
French language. Charles Darwin re- 
turned to England, after a two year's refi- 
dence on the continent, completely cured 
of ftammering ; with which he was not 
afterwards troubled ; but his utterance was, 
from that time, fomewhat thick and 

Since thefe memoirs commenced, an 
odd anecdote of Dr. Darwin's early refi- 
dence at Lichfield was narrated to a friend 
of the author by a gentleman, who was of 
the party in which it happened. Mr. 
Sneyd, then of Bifhton, and a few more 
gentlemen of Staffordshire, prevailed upon 
the Doctor to join them in an expedition 
by water, from Burton to Nottingham, 
and on to Newark. They had cold provi- 
fion on board, and plenty of wine. It was 
midfummer ; the ~day ardent and fukry. 
The noontide meal had been made, and 


DR. DARWIN. 6j( 

the glafs gone gayly round. It was one of 
thofe few inftances, in which the medical 
votary of the Naiads tranfgrefled his ge- 
neral and Uriel fobriety. If not abfolutely 
intoxicated, his fpirits were in a high Hate 
of vinous exhilaration. On the boat ap- 
proaching Nottingham, within the diftance 
of a few fields, he furprifed his companions 
by ftepping, without any previous notice, 
from the boat into the middle of the river, 
and fwimming to fhore. They faw him 
get upon the bank, and walk coolly over 
the meadows toward the town : they called 
to him in vain, he did not once turn his 

Anxious left he mould take a dangerous 
cold by remaining in his wet clothes, and 
uncertain whether or not he intended to 
defert the party, they rowed inftantly to 
the town, at which they had not defigned 
to have touched, and went in fearch of 
their river-god. 

In paffing through the market-place 
F they 


they faw him {landing upon a tub, encir- 
cled by a crowd of people, and refuting 
the entreaties of an apothecary of the 
place, one of his old acquaintance, who 
was importuning hi in to go to his houfe, 
and accept of other raiments till his own 
could be dried. 

The party, on preftmg through the 
crowd, were furprifed to hear him fpeaking 
without any degree of his ufual ftammer. 

" Have I not told you, my friend, that 
" I had drank a confiderable quantity of 
" wine before I committed myfelf to the 
" river. You know my general fobriety ; 
" and, as a profeffional man, you ought 
" to know, that the unufual exiftence of 
" Internal ftimulus, would, in its effects 
< c upon the iyftem, counteract the external 
" cold and moifture." 

Then, perceiving his companions near 
him, he nodded, fmiled, and w r aved his 
hand, as enjoining them filence, thus, with- 
out heiitation, addreffing the populace. 

" Yc 


" Ye men of Nottingham, liften to me. 

" You are ingenious and induftrious me- 

tf chanics. By your induftry life's comforts 

<c are procured for yourfelves and families. 

" If you lofe your health, the power of 

" being induftrious will forfake you. That 

" you know ; but you may not know, that 

" to breathe frefh and changed air con- 

" ftantly, is not lefs neceflary to preferve 

" health, than fobriety itfelf. Air becomes 

" unwholefome in a few hours if the win- 

" dows are Ihut. Open thofe of your 

" fleeping-rooms whenever you quit them 

" to go to your workfhops. Keep the 

<e windows of your workfhops open when- 

cc ever the weather is not infupportably 

" cold, I have no mterejl in giving you 

" this advice. Remember what I, your 

" countryman, and a phyfician, tell -you. 

" If you would not bring infection and 

" difeafe upon yourfelves, and to your 
<( wives and little ones, change the air you 
F 2, " breathe, 


" breathe, change it many times in a day, 
" by opening your windows." 

So faying, he ftept down from the tub, 
and returning with his party to their boat, 
they purfued their voyage. 

Dr. Johnfon was feveral times at Lich- 
field, on vifits to Mrs. Lucy Porter his 
daughter-in-law, while Dr. Darwin was 
one of its inhabitants. They had one or 
two interviews, but never afterwards 
fought each other. Mutual and ftrong 
diflike fubfifted between them. It is 
curious that in Dr. Johnfon's various let- 
ters to Mrs. Thrale, now Mrs. Piozzi, 
publiftied by that lady after his death, 
many of them, at different periods, dated 
from Lddvpeld, the name of Darwin 
cannot be found ; nor indeed, that of any 
of the ingenious and lettered people who 
lived there ; while of its mere common-life 
characters there is frequent mention, with 
many hints of Lichfield's intellectual bar- 



rennefs, while it could boaft a Darwin, 
and other men of claffical learning, poetic 
talents, and liberal information. Of 
that number was the Rev. Thomas Seward 
Canon-Refidentiary of its Cathedral ; 
known to the lettered world as critical 
editor of Beaumont and Fletcher's Plays, 
in concert with Mr. Simpfon. Their edi- 
tion came out in the year 1750. By peo- 
ple of literary tafte and judgment, it is 
allowed to be the beft commentary on 
thofe dramatic poets which has appeared ; 
and that from the lucid ability of Mr. 
SewarcTs readings and notes. Strange, that 
dramas, fo entirely of the Shakefperian 
fchool, in the bufmefs and intereft of their 
plots ; in the ftrength and variety of their 
characters ; and which, in their fentiments 
and language, poflefs fo much of Shake- 
fpeare's fire, fliould be coldly and ftupidly 
negle&ed in the prefent day, which has 
not yet forgotten to proclaim the Bard of 
Avon to be, what he furely is, the firft 
F 3 poet 


poet the world has produced. Shakefpeare 
has had few more fpirited eulogifts than 
Mr. Seward, in the following lines, written 
about the year 1740, and publilhed, toge- 
ther with other little poems of his, in 
Dodfley's Mifcellany. 

Great Homer's birth feven rival cities claim, 

Too mighty fuch monopoly of fame ! 

Yet not to birth alone did Homer owe 

His wond'rous worth, what Egypt could beftow, 

With all the fchools of Greece, and Aria join'd, 

Enlarg'd th' immenfe expansion of his mind. 

Nor yet unrivall'd the Meonian ftrain, 

The Britifli Eagle and the Mantuan Swan 

Tower equal heights ; but happier, Stratford, thou 

With uncontefted laurels deck thy brow ! 

Thy Bard was thine unfchool'd, and from thee brought 

More than all Egypt, Greece, or Afia taught 5 

Not Homer's felf fuch peerlefs honours won, 

The Greek has rivals, but thy Shakefpeare none ! 

In the later editions of Dodfley's Mif- 
cellany, the word fuoan, in the fourth 



couplet, is moft abfurdly changed tojwain, 
becaufe it chimed more completely to the 
foregoing rhyme, Jlra'm, at the expenfe of 
every thing like fenfe and accuracy in the 
appofite terms ; at the expenfe of making 
a bird and a man fly equal heights ere 
balloons were dreamed of. Mr. Seward 
was often heard to laugh at this inftancs 
of editorial prefumption and ftupidity*. 

Another of the Lichfield literati, over- 
looked by the arrogant Johnfon, was the 
Reverend Arch-Deacon Vyfe, the amiable 
the excellent father of the prefent inge- 
nious Dr. Vyfe of Lambeth, and his gal- 
lant brother General Vyfe. Mr. Vyfe was 
not only a man of learning, but of Prioric 
talents in the metrical impromptu. Gentle 
reader, behold an inftance ! and if thou 
hateft not rhyme, as does many an ungentle 
reader, " worfe than toad or afp," thou 
wilt not think it intrufive. 

* This gentleman was father of the writer of thefe 

F 4 Mrs* 


Mrs. Vyfe, herfelf a beautiful woman, 
had a fair friend whofe name was Char 
lotte Lynes. At a convivial meeting of 
Lichfield gentlemen, moft of whom could 
make agreeable verfes, it was propofed 
that every perfon in company fhould give 
a ballad or epigram on the lady whofe 
health he drank. Mr. Vyfe toafted Mifs 
Lynes, and, taking out his pencil, wrote 
the following ftanzas extempore.. 

Shall Pope ling his flames 

With quality dames, 
And ducheffes toaft when he dines -, 

Shall Swift verfes compofe 

On the Girl at the Rofe, 
"While unfung is my fair Charlotte Lynes ? 

O ! were Ph rebus my friend, 

Or would Bacchus but lend 
The fpirit that flows from his vines, 

The lafs of the mill, 

Molly Mogg, and Lepell, 
Should be dowdies to fair Charlotte Lynes* 

Any porter may ferve, 
For a copy, to carve 



An Alcides^ with mufcular chines j 

But a Venus to draw, 

Bright as fun ever faw, 
Let him copy my fair Charlotte Lynes*, 

In the midft of gay lights, 

And foreign delights, 
For his country the banifh'd man pines j 

Thus, from her when away, 

Though my glances may ftray, 
Yet my heart is with fair Charlotte Lynes. 

It is Atropus' fport, 

With her flieers to cut fhort 
The thread, which dame Lachefis twines j 

But forbear, you curft jade, 

Or cut mine, not the thread 
That was {pun for my fair Charlotte Lynes ! 

For quadrille when the fair 

Cards and counters prepare 
They caft out the tens, eights, and nines, 

And in love 'tis my fear 

The like fate I (hall (hare, 
Difcarded by fair Charlotte Lynes. 

With hearts full of rapture 
Our good dean and chapter 



Count over, and finger their fines j 

But- Id give their eilate, 

Were it ten times as great, 
For one kifs of my fair Charlotte Lynes. 

The young pair, fpr a crown, 

On the book laid him down, 
The facrift obfequiouily joins, 

Were I bilhop I fwear 

I'd refign him my chair, 
To unite me with fair Charlotte Lynes. 

For my fijrft night I'd go 

To thofe regions of fnow, 
Where the fun, for fix months, never fliines, 

And O ! there mould complain 

He too foon came again 
To difturb me with fair Charlotte Lynes ! 

Thefe verfes were much read, admired, 
and copied. Mr. Vyfe thought his fair 
Charlotte growing too vain in confequence, 
and once, when flie was complimented 
on the fubjedt in a large company, he fai4 



" Charlotte the power of fong can tell, 
" For 'twas the ballad made the belle." 

The late Reverend William Robinfon 
wasalfo a choice fpirit amongft thofe Lich- 
fieldians, whofe talents illuminated the 
little city at that period. Too indolent for 
authorifm, he was, by wit and learning, 
fully empowered to have Ihone in that 
iphere. More of him hereafter. 

Thefe were the men whofe intellectual 
exiftence pafled unnoticed by Dr. Johnfon 
in his depreciating eftimate of Lichfield 
talents. But Johnfon liked only worfhippers. 
Arch-deacon Vyfe, Mr. Seward, and Mr. 
Robinfon, paid all the refpecT: and atten- 
tion to Dr. Johnfon, on thefe his vifits to 
their town, due to his great abilities, his 
high reputation, and to whatever was 
eftimable in his mixed character ; but they 
w T ere not in the herd that " paged his 
heels," and funk, in fervile filence, under 
the force of his dogmas, when their hearts 



and their judgments bore contrary tefti- 

Certainly, however, it was an arduous 
hazard to the feelings of the company to 
oppofe, in the flighteft degree, Dr. John- 
fon's opinions. His Heritor lungs ; that 
combination of wit, humour, and elo- 
quence, which " could make the worfe ap- 
pear the letter reafon ;" that farcaftic con- 
tempt of his antagonift, never fupprefied or 
even foftened by the due reftraints of good- 
breeding, were fufficient to clofe the lips, 
in his prefence, of men,, who could have 
met him in fair argument, on any ground, 
literary or political, moral or characleriftic. 

Where Dr. Johnfon was, Dr. Darwin had 
no chance of being heard, though at leaft 
his equal in genius, his fuperior in fcience ; 
nor indeed, from his impeded utterance, 
in the company of any overbearing de- 
claimer ; and he was too intellectually great 
to be an humble liftener to Johnfon, 
therefore he fliunned him, on having ex- 
3 perienced 

DR, pARWIN. 77 

perienced what manner of man he was. 
The furly dictator felt the mortification, 
and revenged it, by offering to avow his 
difdain of powers too diftinguifhed to be 
an object of genuine fcorn. 

Dr. Darwin, in his turn, was not much 
more juft to Dr. Johnfon's genius. He 
uniformly fpoke of him in terms, which, 
had they been deferved, w r ould have jufti- 
fied Churchill's " immane Pompofo,"' as an 
appellation of fcorn ; fince, if his perfbn 
was huge, and his manners pompous and 
violent, fo were his talents vaft and power- 
ful, in a degree from which only prejudice 
and refentment could withhold refpecT:. 

Though Dr. Darwin's hefitation in fpeak- 
ing precluded his flow of colloquial elo- 
quence, it did not impede, or at all leflen, the 
force of that concifer quality, wit. Of fa- 
tiric wit he poffeffed a very peculiar fpecies. 
It was neither the dead-doing broadfide of 
Dr. Johnfon's fatire, nor the aurora borealis 
of Gray, whofe arch, yet coy and quiet 



faftidioufnefs of tafte and feeling, as re- 
corded by Mafon, glanced bright and cold 
through his converfation, while it feerned 
difficult to define its nature ; and while its 
effects were rather perceived than felt, ex- 
citing furprife more than mirth, and never 
awakening the pained fenfe of being the 
objecT: of its ridicule. That unique in 
humorous verfe, the Long Story, is a com- 
plete and beautiful fpecimen of Gray's 
Singular vein. 

Darwinian wit is not more eafy to be 
defined ; tnjlances will beft convey an idea 
of its character to thofe who never con- 
verfed with its pofleffor. To give fuch as 
are recollected at this moment, it will be 
neceflary to recall Mr. Robinfon, already 
mentioned as a choice fpirit of Lichfield. 
His perpetual ftream of frolic raillery was 
of a fpecies fo fingular, as to have exclu- 
fively obtained, wherever he was known, 
the title of retfor, " The Reftor," as if 
there were no other. The odd excurfions 



of his fancy were enriched by an exhauftlefs 
ftore of claffic, hiftoric, and theological 
learning, grotefquely applied to the paffing 
fubje&s of converfation, and that with 
unrivalled eafe and happinefs. . It is to be 
regretted that no records remain of talents 
fo uncommon, except in the fading traces 
of contemporary recolle&ion, which time 
and mortality obliterate fo foon. fre- 
quently, during his youth and middle 
life, in the fafhionable circles of Bath, 
London, and the fitmmer public places, 
the whimfical fallies of the Redor's fportive 
imagination, which were never coarfe or 
low, commonplace or ill-natured, had 
confiderable publicity and eclat. They 
were like the lambent lightning of a calm 
fummer evening, brilliant, but not dan- 
gerous. The fweetnefs of his temper was 
the fecurity of every man's felf-love; and, 
while his humorous gayety " fet the table 
" in a roar," the company laughed at their 



But then good-nature was the only curb 
his wit could endure. Without the flighteft 
taint of infidelity, Robinfon could not re- 
fift the temptation of lancing it even at the 
moft ferious objects and themes. 

One evening, when he and Dr. Darwin 
were in company together, the Reclor had, 
as ufual, thrown the bridle upon the neck 
of his fancy, and it was fcampering over 
the church-yard, and into the chancel, 
when the Doftor exclaimed" Excellent ! 
" Mr. Robinfon is not only a clever fellow, 
" but a d d clever fellow." 

Soon after the fubjeft of common 
fwearing was introduced, Mr. R. made a 
mock eulogium upon its power to animate 
dullnefs, and to feafon wit. Dr. Darwin 
obferved, " Chrift fays, Swear not at all. 
" St. Paul, tells us we may fwear occa- 
" Jlonally. Mr. Robinfon advifes us to 
" fwear mceffantly. Let us compromife 
" between thefe counfellors, and fwear 
" by non-en-ti-ties. I will fwear by my 



" im-pu-dence, and Mr. Robinfon by his 
" mo-deft-y." 

That gentleman, whofe wit, where it 
met no equal refiftance, kept an untired 
and fparkling courfe, could feldom reco- 
ver its track when the jeft and the laugh 
were with his adverfary. So often was it 
thus when Dr. Darwin and he met, that 
Mr. R. rather fhunned than fought the 
rencounter. It was curious, that he, who 
met indulgence from his clerical and pious 
brethren for thofe frolic emanations, wont 
to play upon the themes his heart revered, 
fhould fo often find himfelf reproved, with 
cutting raillery, for the practice, by one 
not famous for holding religious fubjecls in 

Dr. Darwin was converfmg with a bro- 
ther Botanift, concerning the plant Kalmia, 
then a juft imported ftranger in our green- 
houfes and gardens. A lady', who was 
prefent, concluding he had feen it, which 
in facl; he had not, afked the Doftor what 
G were 


<52 MEMOIRS or 

were the colours of the plant. He replied, 
" Madam, the Kalmia has precifely the 
colours of a feraph's wing." So fancifully 
did he cxprefs his w r ant 6f confcioufnefs 
refpe&ing the appearance of a flower whofe 
name and rarenefs were all he knew of the 

Dr. Darwin had a large company at tea. 
His fervant announced a ftranger lady and 
gentleman. The female was a conspicuous 
figure, ruddy, corpulent, and tall. She held 
by the arm a little, meek-looking, pale, 
effeminate man, who, from his clofe ad- 
herence to the fide of the lady, feemed to 
confider himfelf as under her prote&ion. 

" Dr. Darwin, I feet you not as a phy- 
" fician, but as a Belle Efprit. I make 
" this hufband of mine," and me looked 
down \vith a fideglance upon the ani* 
mal, " treat me every fummer with a tour 
" through one of the Britifli counties, 
" to explore whatever it contains worth 
" the attention >of ingenious people. On 

" arriving 


** arriving at the feveral inns in our route, 
" I always fearch out the man of the 
ie vicinity moft diftinguilhed for his genius 
" and tafte, and introduce myfelf, that he 
" may direct, as the objects of our exartii- 
" nation, whatever is curious in nature, 
" art, or fcience. Lichfield will be our 
" headquarters during feveral days. Come, 
" Dodlor, whither muft we go, what muft 
" we investigate to-morrow, and the next 
" day, and the next ? here are my tablets 
" and pencil." 

" You arrive, riiadarri, at a fortunate 
" juncture. To-morrow you will have an 
" opportunity of furveying an annual ex- 
" hibition perfectly worth your attention. 
" To-mofroW, madam, you will go to 
" Tutbury bull-running." 

The fatiric laugh with which he ftam- 

mered out the laft word, more keenly- 

pointed this fly, yet broad rebuke to the 

vanity and arrogance of her fpeech. She 

G 2 had 


had been up amongft the boughs, and 
little expected they would break under her 
fo fuddenly, and with fo little mercy. 
Her large features fvvelled, and her eyes 
flaflied with anger " I was recommended 
" to a man of genius, and I find him in- 
" folent and ill-bred." Then, gathering 
up her meek and alarmed hufband, whom 
me had loofed when me firft fpoke, under 
the fhadow of her broad arm and moulder, 
me ftrutted out of the room. 

After the departure of this curious cou- 
ple, his guefts told their hoft he had been 
very unmerciful. I chofe, replied he, to 
avenge the caufe of the little man, whofe 
nothingnefs was fo oftentatioufly difplayed 
by his lady-wife. Her vanity has had a 
fmart emetic. If it abates the fymptoms, 
flie wall have reafon to thank her phyfician 
who administered without hope of a fee. 




ABOUT the year 1771, commenced that 
great work, the Zoonomia, firft publiflied 
in 1794; the gathered wifdom of three- 
and-twenty years. Ingenious, beyond all 
precedent, in its conjectures, and embrac- 
ing, with giant-grafp, almoft every branch 
of philofophic fcience ; difcovering their 
bearings upon each other, and thofc fubtle, 
and, till then, concealed links by which 
they are united ; and with their feparate, 
conjunctive and collective influence upon 
human organization ; their fometimes pro- 
bable, and at others demonstrative, power, 
under judicious application, of reftoring that 
regularity to the mechanifm of animal life, 
G 3 which 


which is comprehended under the terrr^ 

It cannot be denied that in the purfuit 
of a new and favorite fyftem, Dr. Dar- 
win has, in fome inftances, imperioufly re- 
jected the adverfe fads which oppofed his 
theory. His chapter on InftincT:, highly 
ingenious as it is, affords proof of his hy- 
pothetical devotion. He there denies, at 
leaft by ftrong implication, the exiftence of 
that faculty fo termed, and which God has 
given to his inferior family, in lieu of the 
rational. But this wonderfully ingenious 
philofopher feeks in vain to melt down in 
his fyftem of imitation amongft brutes, the 
eternal boundaries which feparate inftincl; 

and reafon. 

God, who has exempted the orders of 

brutal life from refponfibility for their ac- 
tions in this terreftrial fphere, gave them 
inftinft, incapable of error, but alfo, be- 
yond a certain very limited degree, incapa- 


ble of improvement ; incapable of all that 
are termed the artificial paffions. 

God, who made man accountable, and 
earthly life his {late of trial, gave him the 
nobler faculty of reafon, liable to err, 
but, in countlefs degrees, more connected 
with volition ; and, according to its differ- 
ent degrees of native ftrength, almoft inter- 
minably capable of improvement. 

InftincT: cannot be that lower degree of 
reafon which empowers the animal to ob- 
ferve, and, by will and choice, to imitate 
the actions, and acquire the arts of his ipe- 
cies ; iince, were it fo, imitation would not 
be confined to his own particular genus, 
but extend to the actions, the cuftoms, and 
the arts of other animals ; as men obferve, 
and emulate, the aftions, cuftoms, and 
arts of the natives of other countries. 
Thus, improvement would have advanced 
amongft brutes, in proportion as it has ad- 
vanced in mankind. That it has not ad- 
G 4 vance4 


vanced in brutal life, through countlefs 
generations, we have the teftimony of all 
records to afcertain. Therefore is it, that 
the inftinffrvc faculty muft be a totally 
different power to the rational, in as much 
as it has a perfection unknown to reafon, 
and as it has an incapacity of progreffion 
which counteracts that limited perfection, 
and renders it a thoufand fold inferior to 
the expanding, afpiring, and ftrengthening 
power of human intelligence. Between the 
feparate nature of thofe faculties, infur- 
mountable and everlafting are the barriers. 
Philofophy cannot throw them down ; but 
in the attempt, as in many another, 

Vaulting AMBITION doth o'erleap itfelf, 
And falls where it would mount." 

If the Creator had indeed given to 
brutal life that degree of reafon, which 
Dr. Darwin allots to it, when he aiTerts, 



that its various orders aft from imitation. 
which muft be voluntary, rather than from 
tmpuJfe, which is re/iftlefs, the refulting mif- 
chief of diforder and confufion amongft 
thofe claffes had outweighed the aggre- 
gate good of improvement; It is reafon- 
lefs, will-lefs inftinct, limited but unde- 
viating, which alone could have preferved, 
as they were in the beginning, are now, 
and ever fliall be, the numberlefs divrfions 
and fubdivifions of all merely animal life. 
As attraction is the planetary curb of the 
folar fyftem, confining all orbs to their 
proper fpheres, fo is inftincl: the re- 
ftraint, by which brutes are withheld from 
incroaching upon the allotted ranges and 
privileges of their fellow-brutes ; from lof- 
ing their diftincl natures in imitation, 
blending and endlefs. If imitation were 
the fource of brutal acquirements, whence 
the undeviating famenefs of thofe acquire- 
ments ? whence their never extended limit $ 



Wherefore, fmce the ear of the feathered 
warbler is open to the immenfe variety of 
ftrains, poured from the throat of birds of 
other plume, whence its invariable choice of 
the family fong ? And, when the female 
fees fuch numbers of different nefts build- 
ing around her for the reception of the cal- 
low brood, whence her inflexible attach- 
ment to thefamify neft ? 

Dr. Darwin read his chapter on InftincT: 
to a lady, who was in the habit of breeding 
canary-birds. She obferved that the pair, 
which he then faw building their neft in 
her cage, were ai male and female, who 

had been hatched, and reared in that very 
cage, and were not in exiftence when the 
mofly cradle was fabricated, in which they 
firft faw light. She afked him how, 
upon Jiis principle of imitation, he could 
account for the neft he then faw building, 
being conftrufted, even to the precife dif- 
pofal of every hair and fhred of wool, upon 



the model of that, in which the pair were 
born, and on which every other canary- 
bird's neft is conftrufted, where the proper 
materials are furnifhed. That of the pye- 
finch, added fhe, is of much comparer 
form, warmer, and more comfortable. 
Pull one of them to pieces for its materials; 
place another before thefe canary-birds, as 
p, pattern, and fee if they will make the 
flighteft effort to imitate their model ! No, 
the refult of their labors will, upon in- 
ilinftive, hereditary impulfe, be exaftly the 
flovenly little manlion of their race ; the 
fame with that which their parents built 
before themfelves were hatched. The 
Do&or could not do away the force of that 
fingle fact, with which his fyftem w r as in- 
compatible ; yet he maintained that fyftem 
with philofophic fturdinefs, though expe- 
rience brought confutation from <f thou- 
fand fources. 

Mr. Fellowes, the eminent champion in 



our day, of true and perfect Chriftianity, 
againft the gloomy mifreprefentations of 
the Calvinifts, has not lefs truely than 
ingeniouily obferved, that " Dr. Darwin's 
" underftanding had fome of the properties 
" of the rnicrofcope ; that he looked with 
" fingularly curious and prying eyes, into 
" the economy of plants and the habits 
" of animals, and laid open the labyrinth 
" of nature in fome of her moft elabo- 
" rate proceffes and moil fubtle combina- 
" tions ; that he was acquainted with 
" more links in the chain of fecond caufcs 
" than had probably been known to any 
" individual, who went before him ; but 
" that he dwelt fo much, and fo exclusively 
" on fecond caufes, that he too generally 
" feems to have forgotten that there is a 

Certainly Dr. Darwin's diftinguifhed 
power of difclofing the arcana of nature, 
enabled him to explore, and detect, the 



fallacy of many received and long-efta- 
blifhed opinions \ but the proud confciouf- 
nefs that his fcientific wand fo often pof- 
fefled the power attributed by Milton to 
Ithuriel's fpear, betrayed him, at times, 
into fyftematic error. Convinced, by deep 
thought and philofophic experience, that 
mankind received fo many prejudices for 
truths, he looked too jealoufly at all its 
moft revered and facred axioms. Beneath 
the force of that jealoufy he denied the 
power of inftincT:, and folved it into imi- 
tation. To have admitted, on the tefti- 
mony of all impartial obfervation, all fair 
experiment, the unbkndmg natures of in- 
ftincT: and reafon, muft have involved that 
refponfibility of man to his Creator for his 
aftions in this his flate of trial, which 
Dr. Darwin confidered as a gloomy un- 
founded fuperftition. Unqueftionably, if 
reafon, like inftinft, were incapable of 
warp from the power of volition, man 



could have no vice which might juflly 
render hirri amenable to punifliment in a 
future ftate ; neither could he have any 
virtue for wh'ofe cultivation he might 
hope eternal reward. But^ fmce his ra- 
tional faculty is choice, not impul/e, capable, 
at wilt, of refinement or degradation ; 
whether it mall be his pole-ftar to virtue 
and piety, or his ignis-fafeuus to vice and 
ir religion, it inevitably follows that man is 
accountable to God for his conduct ; that 
there is a future and retributory flate. 

If this brilliant and dazzling philofopher 
had not clofed the lynx's eye of his under- 
ftanding on that clear emanation from the 
fburce of intellectual as well as of planetary 
light, he had indeed been great and illu- 
minated above the fons of men. Then 
had he difdained to have mingled that art 
in his wifdom, which was fometimes found 
in his common-life actions, and of which 
he not unfrequently boafted. 



That noble fimplicity which difdains 
the varnifh of difingenuous defign in prin- 
ciple and in conducl, in converfation 'and 
in writing, was the defideratum of Dr. 
Darwin's ftrong and comprehenfive mind* 
It's abfence rendered his fyftems, which 
w r ere fb often luminous, at times impene- 
trably dark by paradox. It's abfence ren- 
dered his poetic tafte fomewhat mere- 
tricious from his rage for ornament ; chilled 
his heart againft the ardor of devotion, 
and chained his mighty powers within the 
limits of fecond caufes, though formed to 
foar to INFINITE. 

If r however, the do&rines of the Zoo* 
nomia are not always infallible, it is a 
work which muft fpread the fame of it's 
author over lands and feas, to whatever 
clime the fun of fcience has irradiated and 
warmed. The Zoonomia is an exhauftlefs 
repofitory of interefting fads, of curious 
experiments in natural productions, and in 



medical effe&s ; a vaft and complicated 
fcheme of difquiiition, incalculably im- 
portant to the health and comforts of 
mankind, fo far as they relate to objecls 
merely terreftr\al\ throwing novel, ufeful, 
and beautiful light on the fecrets of phy- 
fiology, botanical, chemical, and aero- 

The world may coniider the publication 
of the Zoonomia as a new era of pathologic 
fcience ; the fource of important advance 
in the power of difclofmg, abating, and 
expelling difeafe. Every young profeflbr 
of medicine, if God has given him com- 
prehenfion, affiduity, and energy, fhould 
devote his nights and days to ftudying this 
great work. It will teach him more than 
the pages of Galen and Hippocrates ; than 
fchools and univerfities know to impart. 
Thofe inftruclions which, through the 
channel of it's pages, flow to the world, 
enabled Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury 



to attain inftant eminence as a phyfician 
in that county, at his firft outfetting, and 
in the bloom of fcarcely ripened youth ; 
to continue a courfe of praclice, which 
has been the bleffing of Shroplhire ; it's 
iphere expanding with his growing fame. 
That fon, who joins to a large portion of 
his father's fcience and fkill, all the in- 
genuous kindnefs of his mother's heart. 
That fon, whofe rifing abilities and their 
early eclat, recompenfed to Dr. Darwin a 
fevere deprivation in the death of his 
eldeft and darling fon, Charles, of whom 
this memoir has already fpbken. He was 
fnatched from the world in the prime of 
his youth, and with the higheft. charafter 
at the univerfity of Edinburgh, by a pu- 
trid fever, fuppofed to have been caught 
from diflecling, with a flightly wounded 
finger, a corpfe in a ftate of dangerouily 
advanced putrefaction. When fociety be- 
came deprived of his luxuriantly bloffom- 
H ing 


ing talents, Mr. Charles Darwin had re- 
cently received an honorary medal from the 
Society of Arts and Sciences, for having 
difcovered a criterion by which pics may be 
diftinguifhed from mucus. 

A few years before Dr. Darwin left 
Lichfield as a refidence he commenced a 
botanical fociety in that city. It confifled 
of himfelf, Sir Brooke Boothby, then Mr. 
Booth by, and a Proftor in the Cathedral 
jurifdi<Sion, whofe name was Jackfon. 
Sprung from the loweft poffible origin, 
and wholly uneducated, that man .had, by 
the force of literary ambition and unwearied 
induftry, obtained admittance into the 
courts of the fpiritual la\v, a profitable 

{hare of their emoluments, and had made 


a -tolerable proficience in the Latin and 
French languages. His life, which dofed 
at fixty, was probably fhortened by late 
acquired habits of ebriety. He pafled 
through it's courfe a would-be philofopher, 

a turgid 

flR. DARWIN. 99 ' 

a turgid and iblemn coxcomb, whofe 
morals were not the beft, and who .was 
vain of lancing his pointlefs fneers at Re- 
vealed Religion. 

Jackfon admired Sir Brooke Boothby, 
and worshipped and aped Dr. Darwin. He 
became a ufeful drudge to each in their 
joint work, the tranflation of the Linnean 
lyftem of vegetation into Englifh from the 
Latin. His illuftrious coadjutors exacted of 
him fidelity to thcjcnfe of their author, and 
they corre<Sed Jackfon's inelegant Englifh, 
weeding it of it's pompous coarfenefs. 

The Dodlor was probably difappointed 
that no recruits flocked to his botanical 
ftandard at Lichfield. The young men of 
the genteel claffes in that city devoted 
themfelves to profeffions with which 
natural hiftory had no infeparable con- 
nexion. However ufeful, entertaining, 
and creditable might be it's ftudies, they 
felt little defire to deck the board of fef- 
H 2, fion, 


fion, the pulpit, or the enfigns of war, 
with the Linnean wreaths and the che- 
mical cryftallnes. Thus the original tri- 
umvirate received no augmentation, yet 
the title was maintained. Various obfer- 
vations, figned Lichfield Botanical Society, 
were fent to the periodical publications, 
and it was amufing to hear fcientific 
travellers, on their tranfit over Lichfield, 
inquiring after the ftate of the botanical 
fociety there. 

About the year 17/9, at the houfe of 
his friend, Mr. Sneyd of Belmont, whofe 
feat in the wild and hilly part of Stafford- 
Ihire Moorlands is eminent for its boldly 
romantic features, Dr. Darwin wrote an 
addrefs to its owner, from the Naiad of 
that fcene. Her rivulet originally took its 
courfe along the deep bottom of cradling 
woods, luxuriantly clothing the fleeply- 
floping mountains, which a rough glen, 
and this it's brook, divided. 

Mr. Sneyd 


Mr. Sneyd caufed the rough and tangled 
glen to be cleared and hollowed into one 
entire balm, which the brook immediately 
filled with the pureft and mod tranfparent 
water. Only a very narrow, marginal path 
is left on each fide, between the water and 
thofe high woody mountains which ihut 
the liquid fcene from every other earthly 
objecl. This lake covers more than five 
acres, yet is not more than feventy yards 
acrofs at the broadeft part. The length is, 
therefore, confiderable. It gradually nar- 
rows on it's flow, till fuddenly, and with 
loud noife, it is precipitated down a crag- 
gy, darkling, and nearly perpendicular fall 
of forty feet. The ftream then takes its 
natural channel, lofing itfelf in the fombre 
and pathlefs woods which ftretch far on- 

While we walk on the brink of this li- 
quid concave ; while we liften to the roar, 
with which the tumbling torrent pafles 
H 3 away; 


away ; while we look up, on each fide, to 
the umbrageous eminences, which leave 
us only themfelves, the water, and the 
iky, we are imprefled with a fenfe of fo- 
lemn feclufion, and might fancy ourfelves 
in the folitudes of Tinian or Juan-Fer- 
nandes. The trees and flirubs which, from 
fuch great elevation, impend over the 
flood, give it their own green tint without 
leflening its tranfparency. Glafly fmooth, 
this lake has not a wave till within a few 
yards of its precipitance. But it is time to 
introduce Dr. Darwin's verfes, already 
mentioned. They were written before the 
exiftence of the Lake, and while the brook, 
which formed it, had the filence imputed 
to it by the poet. 

Addrefs of a Water Nymph, at Belmont, to the Owner 
of that place. 


O I Friend to Peace and Virtue, ever flows 

For thee roy filent and unfnllied ftream, 



Pure and untainted as thy blamelefs life! 
Let no gay converfe lead thy Heps a ft ray 
To mix my chafte wave with immodeft wine, 
Nor with the poifonous cup, which Chemia's hand 
Deals, fell enchantrefs, to the fons of folly ! 
So (ball young Health thy daily walks attend, 
Weave for thy hoary brow the vernal flower 
Of cheer fulnefs, and with his nervous arm 
Arreft th' inexorable fcythe of Time. 

The exhortation was not difobeyed ; the 
benedi&ion was not fruitlefs. Mr. Sneyd 
ftill lives to exhilarate the fpirits of his 
friends, and to be the bleffing of his neigh- 
bourhood. The duties of a public magi- 
ilrate, exerted with energy, and tempered 
with kindnefs; the hofpitality of his fo- 
cial manfion ; his purfuit of natural hi (lo- 
ry, and tafte for the arts, are unleflened by 
time, and no corporal infirmity allays their 
enjoyment. After a lapfe of feventy years 
he pafles feveral hours every day, in ail 
feafons when the weather is dry, in the 
open air, forming for his fcenes new plans 
H 4 of 


of cultivation and ornament* Look at 
Mr. Sneyd, ye young men of fortune, and 
reflect upon the robuft and happy confe- 
quence of youthful fobriety, of religion, 
morality, and a cultivated mind ! 

" The age ofjuc/i is as a lufty winter, 
" Frofty, but kindly, 

In the fpring of the year 1778 the chil- 
dren of Colonel and Mrs. Pole of Radburn, 
in Derbyfhire, had been injured by a dan- 
gerous quantity of the cicuta, injudicioufly 
adminiftered to them in the hooping- 
cough, by a phyfician of the neighbour- 
hood. Mrs. Pole brought them to the 
lioufe of Dr. Darwin, in Lichfield, re- 
maining with them there a few weeks, till, 
by his art, the poifon was expelled from 
their conftitutions, and their health re* 

Mrs. Pole was then in the full bloom of 
her youth and beauty. Agreeable fea- 
tures i 



tures ; the glow of health ; a fafcinating 
fmile ; a fine form, tall and graceful ; play- 
ful fprightlinefs of manners ; a benevolent 
heart, and maternal affe&ion, in all its un- 
wearied cares and touching tendernefs, 
contributed to infpire Dr. Darwin's admi- 
ration, and to fecure his efteem. Soon af- 
ter Ihe left Lichfield, with her renovated 
little ones, their reftorer fent to his friend, 
Mr. Bolton of Birmingham, the following 
directions for making a tea-vafe, defigned 
as a prefent from the Doftor to Mrs, 

Friend Bolton, take thefe ingots fine 
From rich Potoli's fparkling mine 5 
With your nice art a tea-vafe mould, 
Your art, more valu'd than the gold. 
With orient pearl, in letters white, 
Around it, To the Faireft," write ; 
And, where proud Radburn's turrets rife, 
To bright Eliza fend the prize, 

I'll have no bending ferpents kifs 
The foaming wave, and feem to hifs j 



No fpraxvling dragons gape with he, 
And fnort out fleam, and vomit fire $ 
No Naiads weep; no fphinxcs dare; 
No tail hung dolphins fwim in air. 
Let leaves of myrtle round the rim, 
With rofe-buds twirling, fhade the brira j 
Each fide let woodbine ftalks defcend, 
And form the branches as they bend j 
"While oh the foot a Cnpid ftands 
And twines the wreath with both his hands, 

Perch'd on the riling lid above^ 
O place a lovelorn, turtle dove, 
With hanging wing, and ruffled plume. 
With gafping beak, and eye of gloom. 

Laft, let the fwelling bofles fhine 
With filver, white, and burnifh'd fine, 
Bright as the fount, whofe banks befidc 
NarcirTus gaz'd, and lov'd, and died. 

Vafe, when Eliza deigns to pour, 
With fnowy hand, thy boiling mower ; 
And fweetly talks, and fmiles, and fips 
The fragrant fleam, with ruby lips, 
More charms thy polifh'd orb fhall fhew 
Than Titian's glowing pencil drew ; 
More than his chifel foft unfurl'd, 
Whofe heav'n-wrought flatue charms the world. 

s Soon 


Soon after the compofition of thefe gallant 
verfes to Mrs. Pole, circumstances arofe 
\\hich gave rife to the following ode, not 
lefs beautiful, though much lefs gay. 

Fly, gentle deeds ! o'er yon unfriendly towers 
Malignant tfars, with baleful influence reign j 

Cold Beauty's frown infers the cheerlefs hours, 
And Avarice dwells in Love's polluted fane ! 

Dim, diflant towers ! whofe ample roof protects 
All that my beating bofom holds fo dear, 

Far fhining lake I whofe lilver wave reflects 
Of Nature's faireft forms, the form moft fair j 

Groves, where at noon the ileeping Beauty lies ; 

Lawns, where at eve her graceful footfieps rove; 
For ye full oft have heard my fecret figbs, 

And caught unfeen, the tear of hopelefs lovej 

Farewell ! a long farewell ! your (hades among 
No more thefe. eyes fhall diink Eliza's charms 5 

No more thefe ears the mulic of her tongue ! 
O ! doom'd for ever to another's arms ! 



Fly, gentle fteeds ! my bleeding heart convey 
Where brighter fcenes and milder planets ftrine ; 

Where Joy's white pinion glitters in the ray, 
And Love fits fmiling on his cryftal flirine ! 

About the fummer 1778 the Countefs 
of Northeik refted at one of the inns in 
Lichfield, on her way to Scotland by the 
ihorteft poffible ftages. She had been a year 
in England, for the benefit of her health, 
wafting rapidly by hemorrhage. Ineffec- 
tually had the moft eminent phyficians of 
London and Bath endeavoured to check 
the progrefs of her difeafe. Her youngeft 
daughter, Lady Marianne Carnegie, then an 
amiable girl of thirteen, now alas no more, 
and their friend, Mrs. Scott, were the com- 
panions of Lady North efk's journey. Her 
ladyfhip told the miftrefs of the inn that 
fhe was going home to die, the phyficians 
baving confeffed that art could do no rnore 



in her cafe. The perfon replied, " 1 wifh, 
" Madam, that you would fend for our 
" Doftor, he is fo famous." Lady Nor- 
thefk confented. 

When Dr. Darwin came, he obferved 
that he could do little on tranfient obferva- 
tion, where the difeafe was fo obftinate, 
and of fuch long continuance ; prefled her 
to remove with her daughter and friend to 
his houfe, and that they would remain his 
guefts during a fortnight. The invitation 
was accepted. He requefted the author 
of thefe memoirs frequently to viilt his 
new patient, contribute to amufe her, and 
abate the inevitable injury of perpetual 
felf- attention. 

Mifs Seward felt herfelf extremely inte- 
refted in this lady, and anxious to fee thofe 
fufferings relieved which were fo patiently 
fuftained. Lady Northeflc lay on a couch^ 
through the day, in Dr. Darwin's parlour, 
drawing with difficulty that breath, which 



fcemed often on the point of final evapora- 
tion. She was thin, even to transparency ; 
her cheeks fuffufed at times with a flufh. 
beautiful, though heftic. Her eyes remark- 
ably lucid and full of intelligence. If the 
languor of difeafe frequently ovcrfhadowed 
them, they were always relumined by 
every obfervation to which flie liftened, 
on lettered excellence, on the powers of 
fcience, or the ingenuity of art. Her lan- 
guage, in the high Scotch accent, had 
every happinefs of perfpicuity, and always 
expreiled rectitude of heart and fufcep- 
tibility of tafte. 

Whenever her great and friendly phy- 
fician perceived his patient's attention 
engaged by the converfation of the reft of 
the circle, he fat considering her in medi- 
tative filence, with looks that expreffed, 
" You lhall not die thus prematurely, if 
" my efforts can prevent it." 

One evening, after a long and intenfc 



reverie, he faid, " Lady Northefk, an art 
" was pradtifed in former years, which 
" the medical world has very long difufed; 
" that of injecting blood into the veins by 
" a fyringe, and thus repairing the waftc 
" of difeafes like yours. Human blood, 
<e and that of calves and fheep, were 
" ufed promifcuoufly. Superftition at- 
" tached impiety to the practice. It was 
(( put a ftop to in England by a bull of 
" excommunication from forne of our 
" Popifh Princes, againft the practitioners 
<( of fanguinary inje&ion. That it had 
" been pra&ifed with fuccefs, we may, 
" from this interdiclion, fairly conclude ; 
" elfe reftraint upon its continuance muit 
" have been fuperfluous. We have a very 
" ingenious watch-maker here, whom I 
" think I could inftrucl: to form a proper 
" inftrument for the purpofe, if you chofe 
" to fubmit to the experiment." She 
replied cheerfully, " that ihe had not 

" the 


" the leaft obje&ion, if he thought it 
" eligible/' 

Mifs Seward then faid " If the trial 
" fhould be determined upon, perhaps 
" Lady Northefk would prefer a fupply 
*' from an healthy human fubjecT:, rather 
" than from an animal. My health is 
t perfect, neither am I confcious of any 
" lurking di&afe, hereditary or accidental. 
" I have no dread of the lancet, and will 
" gladly fpare, from time to time, fuch a 
" portion from my veins to Lady Northefk, 
" as Dr. Darwin fhall think proper to 
" inje<a." 

He feemed much pleafed with the 
propofal, and his amiable patient exprefled 
gratitude far above the juft claim of the 
circumftance. Dr. Darwin faid he would 
confult his pillow upon it. 

The next day, when Mifs S. called 
upon Lady N. the Do6tor took her pre- 
vioufly into his ftudy, telling her, that he 



had rcfigned all thoughts of trying the 
experiment upon Lady Northefk; that 
it had occurred to him as a laft refource, 
to fave an excellent woman, whofe diibr- 
der, he feared, was beyond the reach of 
medicine; " but," added he, " the con- 
" ftruction of a proper machine is fo nice 
<f an affair, the leaft failure in its power 
" of acting fo hazardous, the chan.ce at 
" laft from the experiment, fo precarious, 
" that I do not choofe to ftake my reputa- 
" tion upon the rifque. If fhe die, the 
" world will fay I killed Lady Northefk, 
'* though the London and Bath phyficians 
" have pronounced her cafe hopelefs, and 
" fent her home to expire. They have 
"given her a great deal too much medicine. 
" I ftiall give her very little. Their fyftem 
". of nutritious food, their gravy jellies, and 
<( ftrong wines, I have already changed for 
" milk, vegetables, and fruit. No wines ever; 
" no meat, no. ftrong broth, at prefent. If 
X " this 

114 MEMOIRS Off 

" this alteration of diet prove unavailing, 
" her family and friends muft lofe her." 

It was not unavailing; ihe gathered 
ftrength under the change from day to 
day. The difeafe abated, and in three 
weeks time Hie purfued her journey to 
Scotland, a convalefcent, full of hope for 
herfelf; of grateful veneration towards her 
phyiician, whofe refcuing {kill had faved 
her from the grave ; and full, alfo, of over- 
rating thankfulnefs to Mifs S. for the offer 
Ihe had made. With her, Lady Northeik 
regularly correfponded from that time till 
her fuddenand deplorable death. All Lady 
N.'s letters fpoke of completely recovered 
k health and ftrength. She fent Mifs Seward 
a prefent of fome beautiful Scotch pebbles 
for a necklace, picked up by her own 
hands, in her Lord's park, and poliihed at 

Lady Northeik might have lived to old 
age, the bleffing of her family and friends. 

Alas 5 


Alas ! the time had paffed "by in which 
Mifs Seward was accuftomed to expeft a 
letter from her friend ! 

Inquiry taught her that Lady Northelk 
had perifhed by the dreadfully-frequent 
accident of having fet fire to her clothes. 
Lady Marianne Carnegie wrote to Mifs S. 
the year after, and continued to honor her 
with feveral letters while her Ladyfhip lived 
with her father at Ethic Houfe, on the 
ocean's edge. It was there that ihe de- 
dicated many of her youthful years to 
the pious endeavour of mitigating Lord 
Northeik's deep anguifh for the lofs of his 
Lady, which had induced him inflexibly 
to renounce all fociety, except with his 
own family. That might be faid of Ethic 
Houfe which Dr. Johnfon faid of the 
Ifle of Raafay, in the Hebrides. " Without 
" were the dark rocks, the roaring winds, 
" and tumultuous deep ;" but, alas fof 
Lady Marianne ! it could not alfo be faid, 
12, as 


as of Raafay, that " within were the 
" focial comforts, the voice of gaiety, the 
" dance, and the fong." Yet did me fup- 
port, with uncomplaining patience, in the 
flower of her youth, this deep folitudc ; 
this monotony of natural objects, in which 
little variety could be found, beyond the 
change of fmiling and frowning feas, the 
hufhed and the bellowing waters. 

In the autumn of this year Mrs. Pole of 
Radburn was taken ill ; her difbrder a vio- 
lent fever. Dr, Darwin was called in, and 
perhaps never, fmce the death of Mrs. Dar- 
win, prefcribed with fuch deep anxiety. 
Not being requefted to continue in the 
houfe through the enfuing night, which 
he apprehended might prove critical, he 
paffed the remaining hours till day-dawn 
beneath a tree oppofite her apartment, 
watching the paffing and repaffing lights 
in the chamber. During the period in 
which a life he fo paffionately valued was 

3 in 


in danger, he paraphrafed Petrarch's cele- 
brated fonnet, narrating a dream, whofe 
prophecy was accomplifhed by the death 
of Laura. It took place the night on 
which the vrfion arofe amid his flumber. 
Dr. Darwin extended the thoughts of that 
fonnet into the following elegy. 

Dread Dream, that, hovering in the midnight air, 
Clafp'd, with thy dufky wing, my aching head, 
While, to Imagination's ftartled ear, 
Toll'd the ilow bell, for bright Eliza dead. 

Stretch'd on her fable bier, the grave betide, 

A fnow-white fhroud her breathlefs bofom bound, 

O'er her wan brow the mimic lace was tied, 

And Loves, and Virtues, hung their garlands round. 

From thofe cold lips did fofteft accents flow ? 
Round that pale mouth did fwecteft dimples play ? 
On this dull cheek the rofe of beauty blow, 
And thofe dim eyes difTufe celeHial day ? 

Did this cold hand unafldng want relieve, 
Or wake the lyre to every rapturous found ? 
How fad, for other's woe, this breaft would heave ! 
How light iliis heart, for other's tranfport, bound ! 

i 3 Beats 


Beats not the bell again ? Heav'ns I do I wake? 
Why heave my fighs, why gum my tears anew ? 
Unreal forms my trembling doubts miftake, 
And 'frantic Sorrow fears the vilion true. 

Dream ! to Eliza bend thy airy flight, 
Go, tell my charmer all my tender fears, 
How Love's fond woes alarm the filent night, 
And fteep my pillow in unpitied tears. 

The fecond verfe of this charming elegy 
affords an inflance of Dr. Darwin's too ex- 
cluiive devotion to diftincl picture in poe- 
try ; that it fometimes betrayed him into 
bringing objects fo precifely to the eye, as 
to lofe in fuch precifion their power of link- 
ing forcibly upon the heart. The pathos in 
that fecond verfe is injured by the words, 
t( mimic lace" which allude to the perforated 
borders of the fhroud. The expreffion is 
too minute for the folemnity of the fubjecl. 
Certainly it cannot be natural for a fhocked 
and agitated mind to obferve, or to de- 
fcribe with fuch petty accuracy. Befides 



the alluiion is not fufficiently obvious. 
The reader paufes to confider what the 
poet means by " mimic lace" Such paufes 
deaden fenfation, and break the courfe of 
attention. A friend of the Doclor's 
pleaded ftrongly that the line might run 

" On her wan brow thtJJiadoivy crape was tied j" 

but the alteration was rejected. Inatten- 
tion to the rules of grammar in the firft 
v.erfe, was alfo pointed out to him at the ' 
fame time. The dream is addrefled, 

" Dread dream, that clafped my aching head," 

but nothing is faid to it ; and therefore 
the fenfe is left unfinished, while the 
elegy proceeds to give a picture of the 
lifelefs beauty. The fame friend fuggefted 
a change, which would have remedied the 
defeft, thus, 

" Dread iv;.$ the dream, that, in the midnight air, 
" Clafp'd, with it's dulky wing, my aching head, 
While to, &c." 

I 4 Hence, 


Hence, not only the gramm^tic error would 
have been dene away, but the grating 
found, produced by the near alliteration 
of the harfh dr, in " <fread ^/rearn," re- 
moved, by placing thofe words at a greater 
diftance from each other. 

This alteration was, for the fame reafon, 
rejected. The Doftor would not fpare the 
word hovering) which he faid ftrengthened 
the piAure ; but furely the image ought 
not to be elaborately precife, by which a 
dream is transformed into an animal, with 
black wings. 

Soon after Mrs. Pole's recovery from 
her dangerous illnefs, Dr. Darwin wrote 
the following little poem. 


Written in a romantic Falley near its source. 

Derwcnt, what fcenes thy wandering waves behold, 
As burfting from thine hundred fprings they ftray, 
And down thefe vales, in founding torrents roll'd, 

Seek to the fhining Eaft their mazy Way ! 


DR. DARWIN. 121 

Here duiky alders, leaning from the cliff, 
Dip their long arms, and wave their branches wide j 
There, as the loofe rocks thwart my bounding (kiff, 
White moonbeams tremble on the foaming tide. 

Pafs on, ye waves, where, drefs'd in lavifli pride, 
'Mid rofeate bowers, the gorgeous Chatfworth beams, 
Spreads her fmooth lawns along your willowy fide, 
And eyes her gilded turrets in your ftreams. 

Pafs on, ye waves, where Nature's rudefl child, 
Frowning incumbent o'er the darkeu'd floods, 
Rock rear'd on rock, mountain on mountain pil'd, 
Old Matlock fits, and (hakes his crefl of woods. 

But when fair Derby's ftately towers you view, 
"Where his bright meads your fparkling currents drmk> 
O ! fhould Eliza prefs the morning (Jew, 
And bend her graceful footfteps to your brink, 

Uncurl your eddies, all your gales confine, 
And, as your fcaly nations gaze around, 
Bid your gay nymphs pourtray, with pencil fine, 
Her radiant form upon your filver ground/ 

With playful malice, from her kindling cheek 
Steal the warm blufli, and tinge your paffing ilream -, 
Mock the fweet traniient dimples, as (he fpeaks, 
And, as (he turns her eye, reflect the beam ! 



And tell her, Dcrwent, as you murmur by, 
How in thefe wilds with hopelefs love I burn, 
Teach your lone vales and echoing caves to figh, 
And mix my briny forrows with your urn ? 

This elegiac ode is rich in poetic beauty. 
The epithet willowy, in the third ftanza, 
appeared queftionable, till it was recollected 
that it is the weeping willow that was 
meant, with which art has adorned the 
Derwent in his courfe through the lawns of 
Chatfworth. The common fpecies of that 
tree has no fpontaneous growth on the 
edge of rivers which alternately rum and 
flow through their rocky channel in moun- 
tainous countries. Common willows bor- 
der the heavy, iluggim ftreams of flat and 
fwampy fituations. Dwarf- alders, nut- * 
trees, and other bufhes of more ftinted 
height, and darker verdure, fringe the 
banks of the Derwent, the Wie, and the 
JL/arkin, on their paflage through the Peak- 


DR. DARWIN. 123 

fcenery, and form a more rich and beauti- 
ful curtain than the taller, the ftraggling, 
and pale-hued willow. 

Matlock is not juftly called Nature's 
rudeft child. If his rocks were without 
clothing, he might properly be fo called. 
Rude gives an idea of barrenneis, and Mat- 
lock is luxuriantly umbraged ; much more 
luxuriantly than Dove- Dale ; while every 
traveller through Derbyshire muft recollect, 
how rich and fmiling the Matlock-fcenery, 
compared to the favage magnificence of 
Eyam-Dale, commonly, though not pro- 
perly, called Middleton-Dale. 

There, indeed, we fee rocks piled on 
rocks, unfoliaged and frowning. They 
form a wall, of vaft height, on either 
fide the white limeftone bottom of that 
deep and narrow valley, with the little 
fparkling rill which fpeeds through it. 

In feveral reaches of the curves, made 
by this Salvatorial Dale, it is from the 


temperature of the air alone that the 
feafons can be afcertained ; fmce there 
are no trees, to mark by their foliage the 
reign of fylvan beauty; no grafs, to 
denote it by its lively hue. Nothing but 
the grey, the barren, and lonely rock?, 
with, perhaps, a few ftraggling Scotch firs 
waving on the tops of the cliffs above ; 
and their dufky fprays neither winter ftrips 
nor fpring enlivens. 

This dale is, indeed, " Peak's rudeft 
" child." Of late years, injury has been 
done to the towery and fantaftic forms 
of many of the rocks, from their having 
been broken in pieces by gunpowder ex- 
plofion, for the fake of mending the turn- 
pike roads. The mills, for fmelting the 
lead-ore in this dale, blot the fummer 
noon, and increafe its fultrinefs by thofe 
volumes of black fmoke which pour out 
from their chimnies ; but in the night 
they have a grand effecl:, from the flare 



of the pointed flames, which ftream amid 
the fmoke, and appear like fo many fmall 

Mr. Longfton, of Eyam, has adorned a 
part of this fcene by a hanging garden 
and imitative fort. The fteep, winding 
paths of the garden are planted with wild 
ihrubs, natives of the fteril foil, and which 
root their fibres in the failures of the 
rocks. The effecl, in defcending thofe 
paths from the cliffs above, is very ftrik- 
ing. They command the ftupendous 
depths of the vale below and a confider- 
able portion of its curve. 

About the year 1777, Dr. Darwin pur- 
chafed a little, wild, umbrageous valley, a 
mile from Lichfield, amongft the only 
rocks which neighbour that city fo nearly. 
It was irriguous from various fprings, and 
fwampy from their plenitude. A mofly 
fountain, of the pureft and col deft water 
imaginable, had, near a century back, in- 


duced the inhabitants of Lichfield tb build 
a cold bath in the bofom of the vale. 
That, till the doftor took it into his pof- 
feffion, was the only mark of human 
int\uftry which could be found in the 
tangled and fequeftered fcene. 

One of its native features had long 
excited the attention of the curious ; a 
rock, which, in the central depth of the 
glen, drops perpetually, about three times 

in a minute. Aquatic plants border its 
top and branch from its fnTures. No 
length of fummer drought abates, no rains 
increafe its humidity, mr froft congeals its 
droppings. The Doftor cultivated this 

" And Paradife was open'd in the wild." 

In fome parts he widened the brook 
into fmall lakes, that mirrored the valley ; 
in others, he taught it to wind between 
fhrubby margins. Not only with trees of 


DR. DARWIN. 127 

various growth did he adorn the borders of 
the fountain, the brook, and the lakes, 
but with various claffies of plants, uniting 
the Linnean fcience with the charm of 

For the Naiad of the fountain, he wrote 
the following infcription. 


Jf the meek flower of .bafhful dye, 
Attract not thy incurious eye j 
Jf the foft, murmuring rill to reft 
Encharm not thy tumultuous bread, 
Go, where Ambition lures the vain, 
Or Avarice barters peace for gain ! 


Dr. Darwin reftrained his friend Mifs 
Seward's fteps to this her always favourite 
fcene till it had aflumed its new beau- 
ties from cultivation. He purpofed ac- 
companying her on her firft vifit to his 
botanic garden, but a medical fummons 
into the country deprived her of that 



pleafure. She took her tablets and pen- 
cil, and, feated on a flower-bank, In the 
midft of that luxuriant retreat, wrote the 
following lines, while the fun was gilding 
the glen, and w r hile birds, of every plume, 
poured their fong from the boughs. 

O, come not here, ye Proud; whofe breafts infold 

Th' infatiate wifli of glory, or of gold ; 

O come not ye, whofe branded foreheads wear 

Th' eternal frown of envy, or of care ; 

For you no Dryad decks her fragrant bowers 1 , 

For you her fparkling urn no Naiad pours ; 

Unmark'd by you light Graces fkim the green, 

And hovering Cupids aim their (hafts unfeen. 

But, thou ! whofe mind the well-attemper'd rajr 
Of Tafte, and Virtue, lights with purer day ; 
Whofe finer fenfe each foft vibration owns, 
Mate and unfeeling to difcorded tones j 
Like the fair flower that fpreads its -lucid form 
To meet the fun, but fliuts it to the fiorm ; 
For thee my borders nurfe the glowing wreath, 
My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe - f 
My painted birds their vivid plumes unfold, 
And infect armies wave their wings of gold. 



And if with thee fome haplefs maid fhould ftray, 

Difaftrous love companion of her way, 

O lead her timid ftep to yonder glade, 

Whofe weeping rock incumbent alders made ! 

There, as meek Evening wakes the temperate breeze, 

And moonbeams glimmer through the trembling trees, 

The rills, that gurgle round, mall footh her ear, 

The weeping rock fliall number tear for tearj 

And as fad Philomel, alike forlorn, 

Sings to the night, reclining on her thorn, 

While, at fweet intervals, each falling note 

Sighs in the gale, and whifpers round the grot, 

The fifter-woe fhail calm her aching breaft, 

And fofteft lumbers fleal her cares to reft. 

Thus fpoke the * Genius as he ftept along-, 
And bade thefe lawns to Peace and Truth belong j 
Down the fteep flopes he led, with modeft {kill, t 
The grafly pathway and the vagrant rill ; 
Stretch'd o'er the marfliy vale the willowy mound, 
Where mines the lake amid the cultur'd ground 3 
Rais'd the yo*mg woodland, fmooth'd the wavy green, 
And gave to Beauty all the quiet fcene. 

O! may no ruder ftep thefe bowers prophane, 
No midnight waflailers deface the plain; 

* By the Genius of the place is meant it* firft cultivator, Dr. 
Darwin , 

K And 


And when the tempefts of the wintry day 
Blow golden Autumn's varied leaves away, 
Winds of the North, reftrain your icy gales, 
Nor chill the boibrn of thefe HALLOWED VALES ! * 

When Mifs Seward gave this little 
poem to Dr. Darwin, he feemed pleafed 
with it, and faid, " I fliall fend it to the. 
" periodical publications ; but it ought to 
" form the exordium of a great work. 
" The Linnean Syftem is unexplored poetic 
"ground, and an happy fubjeft for the 
" mufe. It affords fine fcope for poetic 
" landfcape ; it fuggefls metamorphofes 
" of the Ovidian kind, though reverfed. 
*' Ovid made men and women into flowers, 
" plants, and trees. You fhould make 

* Thefe verfes, in their original ftate, as infcribed here, will be 
found in Mr. Shaw's Hiftory of Staffordfhire, published in 17Q8, near 
four years before the death of Dr. Darwin ; fee Artiele Lichfield y page 347. 
Their author chofe to affert her claim to them in the Doftor's lifetime, 
fmce they had appeared in the periodical Publications many years before 
the Botanic Garden puffed. the prefs,-and had borne her fignature. 

" flowers, 


ff flowers^ plants, and trees, into men and 
" women. I," continued he, " will write 
" the notes, which muft be fcientific ; and 
<( you mall write the verfe." 

Mifs S. obferved, that, befides her want 
of botanic knowledge, the plan was not 
ftridly proper for a female pen ; that me 
felt how eminently it was adapted to the 
efflorefcence of his own fancy. 

He objected the profeffional danger of 
coming forward an acknowledged poet. 
It \vas pleaded, that on his firft com- 
mencing medical profeffor, there might 
have been no danger ; but that, beneath 
the unbounded confidence his experienced 
fkill in medicine had obtained from the 
public, all rifque of injury by reputation 
flowing in upon him from a new fource 
was precluded ; efpecially fince the fubjecl; 
of the poetry, and ftill more trie notes, 
would be connected with pathology. 

Dr. Darwin took his friend's advice, 
K 2, and 


and very foon began his great poetic 
work ; but previoufly, a few weeks after 
they were compofed, fent the vcrfes Mift 
S. wrote in his Botanic Garden, to the 
Gentleman's Magazine, and in her name, 
From thence they were copied in the 
Annual Regifter ; but, without confulting 
her, he had fubftituted for the laft fix 
lines, eight of his own. He afterwards, 
and again without the knowledge of their 
author, made them the exordium to the 
firft part of his poem, publifhed, for cer- 
tain reafons, fbme years after the fecond 
part had appeared. No acknowledgment 
\vas made that thofe verfes were the 
work of another pen. Such acknowledg- 
ment ought to have been made, efpecially 
fmce they pafled the prefs in the name of 
their real author. They are fomewhat 
Altered in the exordium to Dr. Darwin's: 
Poem, and eighteen lines of his own are 
interwoven with them. 



In September 1780, a playful corre- 
fpondence pafled between Dr. Darwin and 
Mifs Seward, in the name of their refpeo 
tive cats. The fubjecl: was ludicrous as it 
was fingular, but the mock-heroic refult 
pleafed very generally, as the permiffion 
of taking copies had been folicitcd and 
obtained by feveral of their acquaintance. 
Some literary friends of the writer of 
thefe pages, remembering the bagatelles 
with pleafure, perfuaded her to infert 
them. She is apprehenfive that they may 
be confidered as below the dignity which 
a biographic Iketch of deceafed Eminence 
ought perhaps to preferve ; yet, as in this 
whimfically gay effufion, Dr. Darwin ap- 
pears in a new light of comic wit and 
fportive ingenuity, ihe ventures to comply 
with their requeft. 



From the Perfian Snow, at Dr. Dar- 
win's, to Mils Po Felina, at the 
Palace, Lichfteld. 

Lichfiekl Vicarage, Sept. /, 1760. 

Dear Mifs Pufley, 

As I fat, the other day, bafking my- 
felf in the Dean's Walk, I faw you, in 
your ftately palace, wafliing your beau- 
tiful round face, and elegantly bonded 
cars, with your velvet paws, and wh ilk ing 
about, with graceful fmuofity, your mean- 
dering tail. That treacherous hedgehog, 
Cupid, concealed himfelf behind your 
tabby beauties, and darting one of his 
too well aimed quills, pierced, O cruel 
imp ! my fluttering heart. 

Ever fince that fatal hour have I 
watched, day and night, in my balcony, 
hoping that the ftillnefs of the ftarlight 



evenings might induce you to take the 
air on the leads of the palace. Many 
ferenades have I fung under your win- 


dows ; and, when you failed to appear, 
with the found of my voice made the 
vicarage re-echo through all its winding 
lanes and dirty alleys. All heard me but 
my cruel Fair-one ; me, wrapped in fur, fat 
purring with contented infenfibility, or 
flept with untroubled dreams. 

Though I cannot boaft thofe delicate 
varieties of melody with which you fbme- 
times ravim the ear of night, and flay 
the liftening ftars ; though you fleep 
hourly on the lap of the favourite of the 
mufes, and arc patted by thofe fingers 
which hold the pen of fcicnce ; and every 
day, with her permiffion, dip your white 
whiikers in delicious cream; yet am I 
not deftitute of all advantages of birth, 
education, and beauty. Derived from 
Periian kings, my fnowy fur yet retains 
K 4 the 


the whitenefs and fplendor of their 

This morning, as I fat upon the Doctor's 
tea-table, and faw my reflected features in 
the flop-baim, my long white whifkers, 
ivory teeth, and topaz eyes, I felt an 
agreeable prefentiment of my fuit; and 
certainly the flop-baiin did not flatter me, 
which fhews the azure flowers upon its 
borders lefs beauteous than they are. 

You know not, dear Mifs Pufley Po, the 
value of the addrefs you neglecl. New 
milk have I, in flowing abundance, and 
mice pent up in twenty garrets, for your 
food and amufement. 

Permit me, this afternoon, to lay at 
your divine feet the head of an enormous 
Norway Rat, which has even now ftained 
my paws with its gore. If you will do 
me the honor to fmg the following fong, 
which I have taken the liberty to write, 
as expreffing the fentiments I wifh you to 


DR. DAHWIN. 137 

entertain, I will bring a band of catgut 
and catcall, to accompany you in chorus. 

Air : fpirituofi. 

Cats I fcorn, who, fleek and fat, 
Shiver at a Norway rat ; 
Bough and hardy, bold and free, 
Be the cat that's made for me ! 
He, whofe nervous paw can take 
My lady's lapdog by the neck ; 
With furious hifs attack the hen, 
And fnatch a chicken from the pen. 
If the treacherous fwain (hould prove 
^Rebellious to my tender love, 
My fcorn the vengeful paw fhall dart, 
Shall tear his fur, and pierce his heart. 

Qu-ow wow, quail, wawl, moon. 

Deign, moft adorable charmer, to pur 
your affent to this my requeft, and believe 
me to be with the profoundeft refpecl, 

your true admirer. 

Snow 7 *. 

* The cat, to whom the above letter was addrefled, 
jhad been broken of her prcpenfity to kill birds, and lived 




Palace, Lichfield, 
Sept. 8, 1780. 

I am but too fenfible of the charms of 
Mr. Snow ; but while I admire the fpotlefs 
whitenefs of his ermine, and the tyger- 
ftrength of his commanding form, I figh 
in fecret, that he, who fucked the milk 
of benevolence and philofophy, fhould yet 
retain the extreme of that fiercenefs, too 
juftly imputed to the Grimalkin race. 
Our hereditary violence is perhaps com- 
mendable when we exert it againft the 
foes of our protectors, but deferves much 
blame when it annoys their friends. 

The happincfs of a refined education 

feveral years without molefting a dove, a tame lark, and 
a redbreaft, all which ufed to fly about the room where 
the cat was daily admitted. The dove frequently fat on 
: puffey's backhand the little birds would .peck fearlefsly 
from the plate in which (he was eating. 


DR. DARWIN. 139 

was mine ; yet, dear Mr. Snow., my ad- 
vantages in that refpeci were not equal 
to what yours might have been: but, 
while you give unbounded indulgence to 
your carnivorous defircs, I have fo far 
fubdued mine, that the lark pours his 
mattin fong, the canarybird warbles wild 
and loud, and the robin pipes his farewell 
fong to the fetting fun, unmolefted in my 
prefence ; nay, the plump and tempting 
dove has repofed fecurely upon my foft 
back, and bent her gloffy neck in grace- 
ful curves as ilie walked around me. 

But let me haften to tell thee how my 
feniibilities in thy favor were, lalt month, 
unfortunately reprefled. Once, in the noon 
of one of its moft beautiful nights, I 
was invited abroad by the ferenity of the 
amorous hour, fecretly ftimulated by the 
hope of meeting my admired Perfian. 
With filent fteps I paced around the 
dimly-gleaming leads of the palace. I had 



acquired a taftc for fcenic beauty and 
poetic imagery, by liftening to ingenious 
obfervations upon their nature from the 
lips of thy own lord, as I lay purring at 
the feet of my miftrefs, 

I admired the lovely fcene, and breathed 
my fighs for thee to the liftening moon. 
She threw the long fliadows of the ma- 
jeftic cathedral upon the filvered lawn, I 
beheld the pearly meadows of Stow Valley, 
and the lake in its bofom, which, reflect- 
ing the lunar rays, feemed a fheet of 
diamonds. The trees of the Dean's \Valk, 
"which the hand of Dulnefs had been re- 
ftrained from torturing into trim and 
dcteftable regularity, met each other in a 
thoufand various and beautiful forms. 
Their liberated boughs danced on the 
midnight gale, and the edges of their 
leaves \vere whitened by the moonbeams. 
I defcended to the lawn, that I might 
throw the beauties of the valley into 



perfpeclive through the graceful arches, 

formed by their meeting branches. Sud- 

denly my ear was ftartled, not by the 

voice of my lover, but by the loud and 

diflbnant noife of the war-fong, which 

lix black grimalkins were railing in honor 

of. the numerous victories obtained by the 

Perfian, Snow ; compared with which, 

they acknowledged thofe of Englifh cats 

rud little brilliance, eclipfed, like the un- 

important victories of the Howes, by the 

puiffant Clinton and Arbuthnot, and the 

ftill more puiffant Cornwallis. It fung 

that thou didll owe thy matchlefs might 

to thy lineal defcent from the invincible 

Alexander, as he derived his more than 

mortal valour from his mother Olympia's 

illicit commerce with Jupiter. They 

fung that, amid the renowned fiege of 

Perfepolis, while Iloxana and Statira were 

contending for the honour of his atten- 

tions, the conqueror of the . world deigned 

I to 


to beftow them upon a large white female 
cat, thy grandmother, warlike Mr. Snow, in 
the ten thoufandth and ninety-ninth afcent. 

Thus far their triumphant din was 
mufic to my ear ; and even when it fung 
that lakes of milk ran curdling into whey, 
within the ebon concave of their pan- 
ch'eons, w T ith terror at thine approach ; 
that mice fquealed from all the neighbour- 
ing garrets ; and that whole armies of 
Norway rats, crying out amain, " the 
* f devil take the hindmoft," ran violently 
info the minfter-pool, at the firft gleam of 
thy white mail through the flirubs of Mr. 
Howard's garden. 

But O ! when they fung, or rather yelled, 
of larks warbling on funbeams, fafcinated 
fuddenly by the glare of thine eyes, and 
falling into thy remorfelefs talons ; of 
robins, w f arbling foft and folitary upon the 
leaflefs branch, till the pale cheek of winter 
dimpled into joy ; of hundreds of thofe 


DR. DARWIN, 143 

bright breafted fongfters, torn from their 
barren fprays by thy pitilefs fangs ! Alas ! 
my heart died within me at the idea of fb 
prepofterous a union ! 

Marry you, Mr. Snow, I am afraid I 
cannot ; fince, though the laws of our 
community might not oppofe our connec- 
tion, yet thofe of principle, of delicacy, 
of duty to my miftrefs, do very powerfully 
oppofe it. 

As to prefiding at your concert, if you 
extremely wifh it, I may perhaps grant 
your requeft ; but then you muft allow me 
to nhg a fong of my own compofition, 
applicable to our prefent fituation, and fet 
to mufic by my fifter Sophy at Mr. Brown's 
the organift's, thus,. 

Air : affettuofo. 
He, whom Puffy Po detains 
A captive in her filken chains, 
Muft curb the furious thirft of prey, 
Nor rend the warbler from his fpray ! 


144- MEMOIRS dF 1 

Nor let his wild, ungenerous rage 
An unprotected foe engage. 

O, mould cat of Darwin prove 
Foe to pity, foe to love ! 
Cat, that liftens day by day, 
To mercy's mild and honied lay, 
Too furely would the dire difgrace 
More deeply brand our future race, 
The fligma fix, where'er they range, 
That cats can ne'er their nature change. 

Should I confent with thee to wed, 
Thefe fanguine crimes upon thy head, 
And ere the wifh'd reform I fee, 
Adieu to lapping Se ward's tea ! 
Adieu to purring gentle praife 
Charrml as me quotes thy mailer's lays '. 
Could I, alas ! our kittens bring 
Where fweet her plumy favorites fing, 
Would not the watchful nymph efpy 
Their father's fiercenefs in their eye, 
And drive us far and wide away, 
In cold and lonely barn to ftray ? 
Where the dark owl, with hideous fcream, 
Shall mock our yells for forfeit cream, 
As on ftarv'd mice we fwearing dine, 
And grumble that our lives are nine, 

Chorus : largo. 
Waal, woee, trone, moan, mall, oil, moule. 


DR. DARWIN. 145 

The ftill too much admired Mr. Snow 
will have the goodnefs to pardon the 
freedom of thefe expostulations, and ex- 
cufe their imperfections . The morning, 
O Snow ! had been devoted to this my 
correfpondence with thee, but I was in- 
terrupted in that employment by the vifit 
of two females of our fpecies, who fed 
my ill-ftarred paffion by praifing thy wit 
and endowments, exemplified by thy ele- 
gant letter, to which the delicacy of my 
fentiments obliges me to fend fo inauf- 
picious a reply. 

I am, dear Mr. Snow, 
Your ever obliged, 

Po Felina. 



DURING the courfe of the year 1780, 
died ' Colonel Pole. Dr. Darwin, more 
fortunate than Petrarch, whofe deftiny 
his own had refembled in poetic endow- 
ment and hopelefs love, then faw his 
adored Laura free, and himfelf at liberty 
to court her favor, whofe coldnefs his 
mufe had recorded ; to " drink fofter effu- 
" fion from thofe eyes," which duty and 
difcretion had rendered repulfive. He 
foon, however, faw her furrounded by 
rivals, whofe time of life had nearer parity 
with her own, yet in its fummer bloom, 
while his age nearly approached its hair 
century ; whofe fortunes were affluent and 
L 2, patri- 


patrimonial ; while his were profeffional ; 
who were jocund bachelors, while he had 
^children for whom he muft provide. 

Colonel Pole had numbered twice the 
years of his fair wife. His temper was 
faid to have been peeviih and fufpicious, 
yet not beneath thofe circumftances had 
her kind and cheerful attentions to him 
grown cold or remifs. He left her a 
jointure of fix hundred pounds per annum ; 
a fon to inherit his eftate, and two female 
children amply portioned. 

Mrs. Pole, it has already been remarked, 
had much vivacity and fportive humor, 
with very engaging frank nefs of temper 
and manners. Early in her widowhood 
Ihe was rallied in a large company upon 
Dr. Darwin's paflion for her, and was afked 
what Ihe would do with her captive 
philofopher. " He is not very fond of 
" churches, I believe, and if he would go 
** there for my fake, I Ihall fcarcely fol- 

" low 

DR. DARWIN. 149 

" low him. He is too old for me." 
" Nay, madam, what are fifteen years on 
" the right fide ?" She replied, with an 
arch fmile, " I have had fb much of that 
" right fide !"" 

"tfhe confeffion was thought inaufpicious 
to tife Dodor's hopes ; but it did not 
prove 1> ; the triumph of intellect was 
completed. Without that native perception 

and awSk^ned tafte for literary excellence, 

- / 
which 9 the firft charming Mrs. Darwin 

poflefled, this lady became tenderly fen- 
fible of the flattering difference between the 
attachment of a man of genius, and wide 
celebrity, and that of young fox-hunting 
efquires; dafliing militaries, and pedantic 
gownfmen ; for fhe was faid to have fpe- 
cimens of all thefe clafles in her train. 
They could fpeak their own paffion, but 
could not immortalize her charms. How- 
ever benevolent, friendly, and fweet-tem- 
pered, fhe was not perhaps exadly the 
woman to, have exclairjied with Akenfide, 

L 3 " Mind, 

150 MEMOIRS or 

" Mind, mind alone, bear witnefs earth and heaven ! 
" The living fountain in itlelf contains 
t( Of beauteous and fublime ! 

Yet did her choice fupport his axiom 
when fhe took Dr. Darwin for her huf- 
band. Darwin, never handfome, or per- 
fonally graceful, with extremely impeded 
utterance ; with hard features on a rough 
furface ; older much in appearance than 
in reality ; lame and clumfy ! and this, 
when half the wealthy youth of Derby- 
fhire were faid to have difputed the prize 
with him. 

But it was not without fome ffipula- 
tions, apparently hazardous to his pecuniary 
intereft, that Mrs. Pole was perfuaded to 
defcend from her Laura-eminence to wife- 
hood, and probably to filence for ever, 
in the repofe of pofleffion, thofe tender 
ftrains, which romantic love and defpair, 
and afterwards the ftimulating reftleflhefs of 
doubtful hope, had occafionally awakened. 


DR. DARWIN. 151 

During that viiit to Dr. Darwin, in 
which Mrs. Pole had brought her fick 
children to be healed by his {kill, {he had 
taken a diflike to. Lichfield, and decidedly 
faid, nothing could induce her to live 
there, His addreffes did not fubdue that 

After fo long and profperous a refidence, 
to quit that city, central in the Mercian 
diftrict, from whence his fame had dif- 
fufed itfelf through the circling counties, 
feemed a great facrifice ; but the phi- 
lofbpher w r as too much in love to hefi- 
tate one moment. He married Mrs. Pole 
in 1781, and removed dire<5lly to Derby. 
His reputation and the unlimited con- 
fidence of the public followed him thither, 
and would have followed him to the me- 
tropolis, or to any provincial town, to which 
he might have chofen to remove. 

Why he conftantiy, from time to time, 
withftood felicitations from countlefs fami- 
lies of rank and opulence, to remove to 
L 4 London, 


London, was never exadlly underftood by 
the writer of thefe memoirs. She knows 
that the moft brilliant profpects of fuccefs 
in the capital were opened to him, from 
various quarters, early on his refidence at 
Lichfield, and that his attention to them 
was perpetually requefted by eminent 
people. Undoubtedly thofe profpeds 
acquired added ftrength and luftre each 
year beneath the ever-widening fpread 
of his fame. Confcious of his full habit 
of body, he probably thought that the 
eftablifhed cuftom of imbibing changed 
and pure air by almoft daily journies into 
the country, eflential to his health ; per- 
haps to the duration of his life. In allu- 
fion to that perpetual travelling, a gentle- 
man once humoroufly directed a letter 
" Dr. Darwin upon the road." When 
himfelf wrote to Dr. Franklin, compli- 
menting him on having united philofophy 
to modern fcience, he directed his letter 


DR. DARWIN. 153 

merely thus, " Dr. Franklin, America ;" 
and faid, he felt inclined to make a ftill 
more flattering fiiperfcription. " Dr. 
" Franklin, the World." His letter 
reached the fage, who firft difarmed the 
lightning of its fatal power, for the anfwer 
to it arrived, and was fliown in the Dar- 
winian circles ; in which had been quef- 
tioned the likelihood of Dr. Franklin ever 
receiving a letter of fuch general fuper- 
fcription as the whole weftern empire. Its 
fafe arrival was amongft the triumphs of 
genius combined with exertion, " they 
<( make the world their country." 

From the time of Dr. Darwin's marriage 
and removal to Derby, his limited bio- 
grapher can only trace the outline of his 
remaining exiftence ; remark the dawn 
and expanfion of his poetic fame, and 
comment upon the claims which fecure 
its immortality. The lefs does fhe regret 
this limitation, as Mr. Dewhuift Bilfbury, 



his pupil in infancy, his confidential friend, 
and frequent companion through ripened 
youth, is now writing at large, the life of 
Dr. Darwin, who once more became an 
happy hufband, with a fccond family of 
children, fpringing fail around him. To 
thole children the Mifs Poles, as them- 
felves grew up to womanhood, w r ere very 
jneritorioufly attentive and attached. The 
eldeft Mifs Pole married Mr. Bromley, and 
is faid to be happy in her choice of a 
worthy and amiable man. The fecond 
Mifs Pole gave her lovely felf to Mr. John 
Gifborne, younger brother to the cele- 
brated moralift and poet of that name. 

Mr. John Gifborne's philofophic ener- 
gies, poetic genius, extenfive benevolence, 
ingenuous modefty, and true piety, render 
him a pattern for all young men of fortune, 
and an honor to human nature. In the 
year 1797* he publifhed a fpirited and ele- 
gant local poem, entitled, " The Vales of 


1>R. DARWIN. 155 

Weaver." It is evidently of the Darwinian 
fchool, though in a fhorter meafure, and 
has genius to fupport the peculiar manner 
of poetic writing which it emulates and 
has caught. In this poem we meet appro- 
priate and vivid landfcape. Some of the 
epithets are perhaps exceptionable, and too 
free ufe is made of the word glory in feve- 
ral inftances, particularly in its application 
to moon-light. Pope's faulty, though ad- 
mired fimile, in the laft paflage of the 8th 
book of the Iliad, has milled fucceeding 
poets ; inducing them to lavifh upon the 
lunar effufions thofe terms of fuperlative 
fplendor which they fliould referve for the 
fun in his ftrength. The Bard of Twick- 
enham, fo generally difcriminating, is in- 
difcriminate when he ftyles the moon 
" refulgent lamp of night/' and its 
white and modcft beams " a flood of 
" glory." Scholars fay, he found no ex- 
ample in the original paflage for this fun- 


defrauding magnificence. We do not 
find it for the moon in Cowper's more 
literal tranflation of the Homeric land- 
fcape, two fins againft truth pardoned, 
and the fcene, as penciled by Cowper, is 
beautiful ; thus : 

As when around the clear, bright moon, the ftars 
Shine in full fplendor, and the winds are huuYd, 
The groves, the mountain tops, the headland heights, 
Stand all apparent j not a vapor ftreaks 
The boundlefs blue, but aether, open'd wide, 
- All glitters, and the fhepherd's heart is cheer'd. 

Surely the original does not fandlion an 
image which nature never prefents, fince, 
when the moon is clear and bright, the 
ftars do not fpangle the firmament plen- 
teoufly, or fplendidly. A few ftars, and 
never more than a few, fometimes glimmer 
through her flood of fnowy and abforbing 
light. At any rate, fplendor is a falfe 
term. When the night is cloudlefs, and 
the moon abfent, the ftellar hoft glows 


DR, DARWIN. 157 

and fparkles very brightly ; but it's refulting 
mafs df light by no means amounts to 

Nature hallows, and poetry confecrates 
all the moon-light fcenery in Milton. It 
is never more charming than in the fol- 
lowing inflance. 

Now glow'd the firmament 

With living faphirs. Hefperus, that led 
The ftarry hoft, rode brightest, till the moon, 
Rifing in clouded majefty, o'er all 
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerlefs light, 
And o'er the dark her lilver mantle threw. 

Since Pope and Cowper, as translators 
of Homer, have been brought into a degree 
of comparifon on thefe pages, the writer 
of them cannot refift the avowal of her 
opinion, that, on tke whole, and confidered 
merely as poems, great fuperiority is with 
Pope, as to perfpicuity, elegance, and in- 
tereft ; the grace of picture, and the har- 


mony of numbers. In a few ftriking paf- 
fages Cowper may be the nobler, but his 
mufe is for ever vifibly and awkwardly 
ftruggling for literality, where he fliould 
have remembered the painter's adage, " It 
" is better to fin againft truth than 
* ( beauty," fo long as the fenfe is not per- 
verted, and nature is not outraged by in- 
appropriate epithets, which muft always 
injure the diftinftnefs of imagery and 

If, in the preceding inftance, Cowper's 
moon-light is chafter than Pope's, fee how 
much more grandly the rhyme tranflation, 
gives the remaining lines of that clofing 

So numerous feemM thofe fires, the bank between 
Of Zanthus, blazing, and the fleet of Greece, 
la profpecl all of Troy; a thoufand fires 
Each watch'd by fifty warriors, feated near. 
The ileeds befide the chariot Hood, their corn 
Chewing, and waiting till the golden-thron'4 
Aurora ihould reftore the light of day. 

COWPER'S HOMER, Firfl Edition, 



Nothing can be more confufed and un-* 
happy than the language of this paflage. 
It is left doubtful whether it is the fires 
that are blazing, or the river that by re- 
flection blazes ; and, " the bank between," 
is ftrange language for " between the 
banks." Chewing feems below the dig- 
nity of heroic verfe, and the compound 
epithet golden-thron'd, fine in itfelf, is 
ruined as to effecl, by clofing the line when 
its fubftantive begins the next, Obferve 
how exempt from all thefe faults is Pope's 
tranflation of the fame paragraph, 

So many flames before proud Ilion blaze, 
And lighten glimmering Zanthus with their rays. 
The long reflection of the diftant fires 
Gleam on the walls, and tremble on the fpires. 
A thoufand piles the dufky horrors gild, 
And fhoot a (hady luftre o'er the field. 
Full fifty guards each flaming pile attend, 
Whofe umber'd arms, by fits, thick flafhes fend. 
Loud neigh the courfers o'er their heaps of corn, 
ardent warriors wait the rifing morn. 



Poetry has no pidure more exquifitc 
than we meet in the fecond, third, and 
fourth lines ; but an infinite number, 
equally vivid and beautiful, rife to the 
reader's eye, as it explores the pages of 
Doc~lor Darwin's Botanic Garden. 

While the powers of metrical landfcape- 
painting are the theme, not unwelcome to 
thofe who feel its inchantment, will be 
inftances which muft prove that they are 
poflefled by Mr. John Gifborne in a degree 
which would difgrace the national tafte if 
they fliould be fuffered to pafs away with- 
out their fame. " The Vales of Weaver" 
is this young man's firft publication. Be- 
neath thanklefs neglecl the efflorefcence 
of a rich imagination will probably fink 
blighted, like the opening flowers of the 
fpring before an eaftern mildew, no more 
to rife in future compofitions to the view 
of that public which had eftimated fo 
coldly the value of the firft. 


DR, DARWIN. l6l 

We have read various defcriptions of a 
winter's night, and it's enfuing' morning ; 
but the following fketch is not borrowed 
from any of them. We feel that it was 
drawn beneath a lively remembrance of 
real impreffion made on the author's mind 
by the cireumftances themfelves ; therefore, 
it will not fail to touch the vibrating chords 
of recollefted fenfation in every reader of 
fenfibility. Book-made defcriptions are 
trite and vapid ; but nature is inexhauftible 
in her varieties, and will always prefent to 
the eye of genius either new images, or fuch 
combination of images as muft render them 
new ; and they will rife on his page in the 
morning freflinefs of originality. Thefe 
facred arcana me referves for the poet, and 
leaves the mere verfifier to his dull thefts. 


O Wootton ! oft I love to hear 
Thy wintry whirlwinds, loud and clear ; 
With dreadful pleafure bid them fill 
My liftening ear, my bofom chill. 

M As 



As the fonorons North aflails 
Weaver's bleak wilds, and leaflefs vales, 
With awful majefty of might 
He burfts the billowy clouds of night j 
Booms* the refounding glens among, 
And roaring rolls his fnows along. 
In clouds againft my groaning fafti 
Broad, feathery flakes inceflant dafh, 
Or wheel below, and mingling form 
The frolic pageants of the ftorm. 
Hark ! with what aggravated roar 
Echo repeats her midnight lore; 
Rends her dark folitudes and caves, 
And bellowing {hakes the mighty graves f < 

Couch'd on her feat the timid hare 
Liftens each boifterous fweep of air ; 
Or peeps, yon blafted furze between, 
And eyes the fnow- bewildered fcene; 
Jnftant retraces her fhuddering head, 
And neftles clofer in her bed. 
All fad and ruffled, in the grove 
The fieldfare wakes from dreams of love ; 
Hears the loud north and fieety fnow, 
And views the drifted brakes below ; 

* A word admirably expreffing the noife of winds, and applied to 
it kerc for the firft time in poetry. 

*} Th numerous tumuli on Weaver and the adjacent hills. 


DR. DARWIN. 163 

Swift to her wing returns her beak, 
And mivers as the tempefts break. 
Up ftarts the village-dog aloof, 
And howls beneath his rifted roof ; 
Looks from his den, and blinking hears 
The driving tumult at his ears ! 
Inftant withdraws his fearful breaft, 
Shrinks from the ftorm, and deals to reft. 
So* {brinks the pining fold, and fleeps 
Beneath the valley's vaulted deeps 5 
Or crops the fefcue's dewy blade, 
And treads unfeen the milky glade ; 
Forms by it's breath fair opening bovvers, 
Tranfparent domes, and pearly (bowers. 

Thus night rolls on till orient dawn 
Unbars the purple gates of morn, 
Unfolds each vale and fnow-clad grove, 
Mute founts and gloffy banks above. 

* So flirinks the pining fold,'] It often happens that fheep in 
this and in the Peak country, are immerfed many feet deep in fnow 
for feveral days before they are difcovered. The perpetual fleam from 
their noftrils keeps the fnow, immediately over their heads, in a dif- 
folving ftate, and hence a tunnel is conftantly forming through the 
heaps above. This tunnel greatly facilitates their difcovery, and fup- 
plies them with abundance of frefh air. The warmth of thefe animals 
foon diffolves the furrounding fnow, and at length the drift is fo com- 
pletely vaulted, that they are able to ftretch their limbs, and fearch for 
fubfiftence. It is afierted that fheep have been frequently found alive 
after having been entombed -in the fnow during a fortnight. 

M 2 Thin 


Thin ftreaky clouds,, convex'd by ftorms, 
Slowly expand their tiffued forms 5 
Long bars of grey and erimfon bright 
Divert the golden threads of light j 
Till glory's nafcent curve difplays 
One fplendid orb, a world of rays ! 
Then lightens heaven's etherial bound, 
And all the fpangled country glows around. 

Now that we have obferved what power 
this author poffefles to bring back to our 
recolle&ion a ftormy night .in winter, fuc- 
ceeded by a ruddy dawn, blazing upon it's 
frofted landscape, let us turn to his mifty 
morning, in the fame feafon, gradually 
clearing up into a mild and funny day. 

When Winter's icy hand 
Whitens Britannia's fhivering land, 
Then flow the billowy vapors glide, 
And roll their lazy oceans wide. 
Oft have I mark'd from Mathfield's brow, 
Her mift-embofom'd realms below, 
While, here and there, a foaring tree 
Waded amid the vapory fea, 
And Alh bourn's fpire to diftant fight 
Tower'd, like a maft, in dubious light. 



If, through the paly gloom, the fun 
With ftruggling beams his journey won, 
Soon as he rais'd his crimfon eye 
With tranfport flafli'd th' illumin'd iky ; 
The vane, rekindling at his blaze, 
Shot, like a meteor, through the ha?,e j 
The trees in liquid luftre flovv'd, 
And all the dim tranfparencc glow'd, 

The ruftic, on his fields below, 
Shoves from his lot the melting fnowj 
Salutes the welcome change, and feems 
To tafte of life's diviner ftreams; 
Breathes with delight the temperate air, 
And views, with half-clos'd eyes, the boundlefs 

What a pretty fummer fcene rifes in 
the following verfes from the fame poem ! 

Wide fpread 

An elm uprears his reverend head ; 

* A Lapland fcene, which fucceeds to the laft line, is omitted, not 
from its want of poetic beauty ? but merely to (horten the quotation. 

M3 His 


His front the whifpering breeze receives, 
The blue iky trembles through it's leaves j 
A cottage group beneath his fhade, 
Their locks with flowers and rufhes braid j 
And, gurgling round dark beds of fedge, 
A brook juft fhows it's filver edge. 

But now, turning from The Vales of 
Weaver, let us feek the Botanic Garden. 
The commencement of that poem in 1779 
has been previoully mentioned, with the 
circumftance which gave it birth. It con- 
fifts of two parts ; the firil contains the 
Economy of Vegetation, the fecond the 
Loves of the Plants. Each is enriched by 
a number of philofophical notes. They 
ftate a great variety of theories and experi- 
ments in botany, chemiftry, electricity, 
mechanics, and in the various fpecies of 
air, falubrious, noxious, and deadly. The 
difcoveries of the modern profeflbrs in all 
thofe fciences, are frequently mentioned 
with praiie highly gratifying to them. In 


DR. DARWIN. 167 

thefe notes explanations are found of every 
perfonified plant, it's generic hiftory, it's 
local fituation, and the nature of the foil 
and climate to which it is indigenous; it's 
botanic and its common name. 

The verfe corrected, polimed, and mo- 
dulated with the moft fedulous attention ; 
the notes involving fuch great diverfity of 
matter relating to natural hiftory ; and the 
competition going forward in the Ihort re- 
cefles of profeffional attendance, but chiefly 
in his chaife, as he travelled from one place 
to another, the Botanic Garden could not 
be the work of one, two, or three years ; 
it was ten from its primal lines to its firft 
publication. The immenfe price which 
the bookfeller gave for this work, was 
doubtlefs owing to confiderations which' 
infpired his trutt in it's popularity. Bo- 
tany was, at that time, and ftill continues 
a very fafhionableftudy. Not only philoib- 
phers, but fine ladies and gentlemen, fought 
M 4 to 


to explore it's arcana. This poem, there- 
fore, involved two claffes of readers by 
whom it would probably be purchafed. 
Every fkilful Botanift, every mere Tyro in 
the fcience, would wifh to poflefs it for 
the fake of the notes, though infenfible, 
perhaps, as the verieft ruftic, to the charms 
of poetry ; while every reader, awakened 
to them, muft be ambitious to fee fuch a 
conftellation of poetic ftars in his library ; 
all that gave immortality to Ovid's fame, 
without the flighteft imitation of his man- 
ner, the leaft debt to his ideas; fince, 
though Dr. Darwin often retells that poet's 
ftories, it is always ^vith new imagery and 
heightened intereft. 

Certainly it was by an inverfion of all 
cuftom that Dr. Darwin published the fe- 
cond part of his poem firft. The reafon 
given for fo extraordinary a manoeuvre in 
that advertifement which led the younger 
fitter before the elder on the field of pub- 

DR. DARWIN. 169 

lie exhibition, is this, that the appearance 
of the firft part had been deferred till ano- 
ther year, for the purpofe of repeating fome 
experiments in vegetation. 

The Doclor was accufto'med to remark, 
that whenever a ftrange ftep had been taken, 
if any way obnoxious to cenlure, the alleged 
reafon was fcarcely ever the real motive, 
His own fingular management in this in- 
ftance, and the way in which he accounted 
for it, proved a cafe in point. He was 
confcious that the fecond part of his work 
would be more level than the firft to the 
comprehenfion, more congenial to the tafte 
of the fuperficial reader, from it's being 
much lefs abftrad: and metaphyfic, while 
it pofleffed more than fufficient poetic 
matter to entertain and charm the enlight- 
ened and judicious few. They, however, he 
well knew, when his firft part mould appear, 
would feel it's fuperiority to the earlier pub- 
lication, it's grander conceptions, it's more 



fplendid imagery, though lefs calculated 
to amufe and to be underflood by common 
readers. Thofe of that laft number who 
had purchafed the firft part would not like 
to poflefs the poem incomplete, and there- 
fore would purchafe the fecond. The ob- 
fervations of this paragraph refer to the 
poetry of the work, and to the two claffes 
of readers who would value it chiefly on 
that account. The notes to each part 
muft render them equally valuable t6 the 
votaries of botany, and other modern 

It is with juft and delicate criticifm that 
Mr. Fellowes again obferves of Dr. Dar- 
win's poetry : " In perfpicuity, which is 
" one of the firft excellences in poetic as 
" well as profe compofition, this author 
" has perhaps few equals. He is clear, 
" even when defcribing the moil intricate 
" operations of nature, or the moil com- 
" plex works of art ; and there is a lucid 



" tranfparency in his ftyle through which 
" we fee objects in their exact figure an4 
" proportion ; but Dr. Darwin's poetry 
" wants fenfation ; .that fort of excellence 
" which, while it enables us to fee dif- 
" tinctly the objects defcribed, makes us 
" feel them acting on our nerves." 

A little reflection is, perhaps, neceflary 
precifely to underftand this criticifm, dif- 
tinguifliing between vivid poetry which 
does not excite fenfation, and vivid poetry 
which does excite it. Inftances will beft 
elucidate the diftinction. See the tw r o 
following defcriptions of a wintery even^ 
ing, late in autumn. 


Then o'er the cultur'd lawns and dreary wafte, 
Retiring Autumn flings her howling blaft, 
Bends in tumultuous waves the ftruggling woods, 
And ihowers her leafy honors on the floods, 
, In withering heaps colle&s the flowery fpoil, 
And each chill infeft fleeps beneath the foil. 



Quoted from a fonnet of Mr. C. Lloyd's 
published with Mr. Colridge's poems. 

Di final November ! me it fooths to view, 
At parting day, the fcanty foliage fall 
From the wet fruit-tree, or the grey Hone wall, 

Whofe cold films gliften with unwholefome dew; 

To watch the fweepy mifts from the dank earth 
Enfold the neighbouring copfe, while, as they pafs, 
The filent rain-drop bends the long, rank grafs, 

Which wraps fome bloflbm's immatured birth $ 

And, through my cot's lone lattice, glimmering grey, 
Thy damp chill evenings have a charm for me, 

Difmal November ! 

The pi&ure is equally juft and ftriking 
in both the above quotations ; but the firft, 
though more dignified, does not thrill our 
nerves, and the fecond does. We admire 
in the former the power and grace of the 
poet ; in the latter we forget the poet and 
his art, and only yearn to fee images re- 
flefted in his mirror, which we have annu- 
ally, and many times fliuddered to furvey 
in real life. 


DR. DAKWIN. 173 

When Dr. Darwin defcribes the glow- 
worm, fuppofing it's light to be phofphoric, 
he thus exhorts his allegoric perfonages* 
the nymphs of fire, meaning the ele&rical 

Warm, on her morTy couch, the radiant worm, 
Guard from cold dews her love-illumin'd form,' 
From leaf to leaf condud the virgin light, 
Star of the earth, and diamond of the night ! 

Nothing can be more poetic, more bril- 
liant than this pi&ure; yet, when Shake- 

fpear fays, 

" The glow-worm fliows the morning to be near, 
" And 'gins to pale his ineffectual fire," 

we feel fenfation which the more refplen- 
dent pidture of this infeft had failed to in- 
fpire, notwithftanding the pleafure it had 
given us, the admiration it had excited. 
Probably the reafon why Dr. Darwin's 



poetry, while it delights the imagination, 
leaves the nerves at reft, may be, that he 
feldom mixes with the picturefque the (as 
it is termed in criticifm) moral epithet, 
.meaning that quality of the thing men- 
tioned, which pertains more to the mind, 
or heart, than to the eye, and which, in- 
ftead of picture, excites fenfation. Shake- 
fpear gives no diftincT: picture of the glow- 
worm, lince the only epithet he ufes for it 
is not defcriptive of its appropriate luftre, 
which has a tint fpecified in the enfuing 

" From the bloom that fpreads 

" Refplendent in the lucid morn of May, 
tr To the green light the little glow-worm fheds 
'* On mofly banks, when midnight glooms prevail, 
" And Silence broods o'er all the (helter'd dale." 

If Dr. Darwin alfo omits to mention the 
particular hue of this infect, when it is 
luminous, he conveys that hue to the 


DR. DARWIN, 175 

imagination when he fays, " Star of the 
<( earth," fince the largeft and brighteft 
ftars have the fame mafter-tint. Offian 
fays, " Night is dull and dark, no ftar 
" with its green, trembling beams -I" 

But Shakefpear's moral epithet, ineffec- 
tual, does better than paint it's object. It 
excites a fort of tender pity for the little 
infecl, mining without either warmth or 
ufeful light, in the dark and lonely hours. 


Anr? now the riling moon, with luftre pale, 
O'er heaven's dark arch unfurls her milky veil, 

This pi<5iure is charming: yet when 
Milton paints the fame object thus, 

" Now reigns, 

" Full orb'd, the moon, and with more pleafant Jight, 
" Shadowy, fets off the face of things/- 
the charm is on the nerves, as well as on 



the eye. The moral epithet pkafant, 
excites fenfation, while the pifturefque 
epithet, Jhadowy, has all the truth, the 
grace, and power of the pencil. It is that 
charm on the nerves to which Mr. Fellowes 
fo well applies the word, fenfation. It 
feems a new term in criticifm, and is ufe- 
ful to exprefs what pathos would exprefs 
too ftrongly, and therefore with lefs accu- 
racy. Pathos is the power of affecling the 
heart ; by fenfation is meant that of acling 
upon the nerves. 

Beneath their torpor, the heart, ,or the 
paffions, cannot be affected ; but the nerves 
may be awakened to lively, or penfive plea- 
fure, by compofition which, not exciting 
any pofitive paffion, may not act upon the 
heart in a degree to juftify the application 
of the word, pathetic ; and for this gentler, 
fubtler, and more evanefcent influence, 
which almoft imperceptibly touches the 


DR. >AR\YIN. . 1/7 

paffions without agitating them, Mr. F.'s 
term is happy. 

Dr. Darwin's excellence confifts in de- 
lighting the eye, the tafte, and the fancy, 
by the ftrength, diftinclnefs, elegance, and 
perfect originality of his pictures ; and in 
delighting the ear by the rich cadence of 
his numbers ; but the paffions are generally 
afleep, and feldom are the nerves thrilled 
by his imagery, impreffive and beauteous 
as it is, or by his landfcapes, with all their 
vividnefs. , 

It may, however, be juftly pleaded for 
his great work, that it's ingenious and novel 
plan did not involve any claim upon the 
affections. We are prefented with an 
highly imaginative and fplendidly defcrip- 
tive poem, whofe fucceffive pi&ures alter- 
nately poffefs the fublimity of Michael 
Angelo, the correclnefs and elegance of 
Raphael, with the glow of Titian ; whofe 
landfcapes have, at times, the ftrength of 
N Salvator, 


Salvator, and at others the foftnefs of 
Claude; whofe numbers are of ftately 
grace, and artful harmony ; while its allu- 
fions to ancient and modern hiftory and 
fable, and its inteffperiion of recent and 
extraordinary anecdotes, render it extremely 
entertaining. Adapting the paft and re- 
cent difcoveries in natural and fcientific 

philosophy to the purpofes of heroic 
verfe, the Botanic Garden forms a new 
clafs in poetry, and by fo doing, gives to 
the Britifh Parnaflus a wider extent than 
it poflcfled in Greece, or in ancient, or 
modern Rome. 

Nor is it only that this compofltion takes 
unbeaten ground, and forms an additional 
order in the fanes of the Mufes, it forms 
that new order fo brilliantly, that though 
it may have many imitators, it will proba- 
bly never have an equal in it's particular 
clafs ; neither would it's ftyle apply happily 
to fubjecls lefs intrinfically pidurefque. The 


t>R. DARWIN. 179 

fpcies of praife here given to this work 
is all that it's author defired to excite. 
We have no right to complain of any 
writer, or to cenfure him for not pofleffing 
thofe powers at which he did not aim, and 
which are not neceffarily connected with 
his plan. 

To the fubj eft Dr. Darwin chofe, his 
talents were eminently calculated. Nei- 
ther Pope nor Gray would have executed 
it fo well; nor would Darwin have written 
fo fine an Eflay on Man, fo inwerefting a 
Churchyard, or fo lovely an Ode on the 
profpecl: of the fchool at which he was 
educated, had that fchool been Eaton. 
He would not have fucceeded fo trantcend- 
ently on themes, which demanded cither 
pathos, or that fort of tender and delicate 
feeling in the poet, which excites in the 
reader fympathetic fenfation ; or yet in the 
facred morality of ethic poetry, which 
however it may admit, or require that 
N 3 fancy 


fancy adorn it with fome rare, and lovely 
flowers, " allows to ornament but a fecond 
" place, and always renders it iubordinate 
" to intrinfic worth and juft defign." To 
whomfocver he might have been practically 
inferior on themes he has left unattempted, 
he is furely not inferior to Ovid ; and if 
poetic tafte is not much degenerated, or 
fliall not hereafter degenerate, the Botanic 
Garden will live as long as the Metamor- 

That in his poetic ftyle Dr. Darwin is a 
mannerift cannot be denied; but fo was 
Milton, in the Paradife Loft ; fo was Young, 
in the Night Thoughts ; fo was Akenfide, 
in the Pleafures of Imagination. The Dar- 
winian peculiarity is in part formed by the 
very frequent ufe of the imperative mood, 
generally beginning the couplet either with 
that, or with the verb aclive, or the noun 
perfonal. Hence, the accent lies oftener 
on the firft fyllable of each couplet in his 
i verfe 

DR. DARWIN. l8i 

verfe than in that of any other rhymift ; 
and it is, in confequence, peculiarly fpirited 
and energetic. Dr. Darwin's ftyle is alfb 
distinguished by the liberal ufe of the fpon- 
dee, viz. * two monofyllables, equally ac- 
cented, following each other inftantly in 
fome part of the line. 

Spondees, judicioufly ufed, vary and in* 
creafe the general harmony in every fpecies 
of verfe, whether blank or rhyme. They 
preferve the numbers from too lufcious 
fweetnefs, from cloying famenefs, from 
feeble elegance, and that, by contracting 
the fmoothnefs of the daclyls, and the 
rich melodies of the iambic accents. So 
difcords refblving into concords, infpirit 
the ftrains of muiical composition. But 
it is poffible to make too frequent ufe of 
the fpondee in poetry, as of the difcord in 
mufic. Dr. Darwin's ear preferved him 

* This explanation is for the ladies. 

N 3 from 


from that exuberance; but Mr. Bowles, one 
of the fineft poets of this day, often renders 
his verification, which is, at times, moft 
exquifitely fweet, harfh, by the too fre~ 
quently-recurring fpondee. 

From that gentleman's verfe a couple of 
inftances may be felecled, to fhow, in one, 
that harmony may be improved by a fpar^ 
ing ufe of that accent, and injured in the 
other, by ufmg it too freely. 


But lufty Enterprife, with looks of glee, 
- Approach'd the drooping youth, as he would fay> 
Come to the wild ivoods and the hills with me, 
And throw thy fullen myrtle wreath away ! 


Haft thou * not vifited that pleafant place, 

Where in this hard world I have happieft been, 

A.nd fhall I tremble at thy lifted mace, 

That hath fiercd all on which tifefeenid to lean ? 

* Death. 


DR. DARWIN. 183 

The recurrence of two equally accented 
words three times in the ftanza, and twice 
in the laft line, incumbers the verification, 
while the fmgle ufe of the fpondee in the 
preceding four lines, from Hope, gives it 
grace and beauty. Dr. Darwin, in the 
following paflage, has ufed it frequently, 
without producing any fuch dead weight 
upon the verfe. The quotation is from 
the charge of the Botanic Queen to the 
Nymphs of Fire, a poetic alleg6ry for the 
influence of the fluid matter of heat in for- 
warding the germination and growth of 

Pervade, pellucid forms, their cold retreat ! 
Ray, from bright orbs, your viewlefs floods of heat ! 
From earth's deep ivaftes electric torrents pour, 
Or fhed from heav'n the fcintillating ihower! 
Pierce the dull root ', relax its fibre trains, 
Thaw the thick blood that lingers in its veins ! 
Melt with 'warm breath, the fragrant gums that bind 
Tk' expanding foliage in its fcaly rind 1 

N 4 And 


And as in air the laughing leaflets play. 
And turn their fhining boforas to the ray, 
Nymphs, TN\\hfweeifmile, each opening flower invite, 
And on its damaik eyelids pour the light ! 

On reflection, it fhould feem that it is 
the fituation of thefe twin accents in the 
line, which prevents their frequent recur- 
rence from producing harfhnefs. It will 
be obferved in the laft quotation, that all 
the many fporidees are preceded by two 
lyllables ; and that it is only when they 
are preceded by an odd fyllable, either one 
or three, that they increafe the harmony 
by their fparing, and injure it by their 
frequent appearance. One fyllable only 
goes before the fpondee in this line from 
the Botanic Garden. 

The wanjlars glimmering through the filver train. 

Three iyllables in this verfe from the fame 

Where now the South-feat heaves its wafle of froft. 




LoudJJtrieks the lone thrujli from his leaflet's thorn. 

And, in that laft inftance, the fpondee re- 
curring twice in one line, harihnefs is the 
refult. Once ufed only, and the harihnefs 
had been avoided; thus, 

And Ihrieks the lone thrufo from the leaflefs thorn. 

The following is a couplet where the 
fpondee fucceeding to three monofyllables 
has an exquisite effect of found echoing 


With paler luftre where Aquarius burns, 
And Ihowers thejtil/fnoiv from his hoary urns. 

We find another ftriking peculiarity in 
Dr, Darwin's ftyle, that of invariably pre- 



fenting a clafs by an imperfonified indivi- 
dual ; thus, 

Where, nurs'd in night, incumbent Tempeft (hrouds 
The feeds of thunder in circumfluent clouds. 


Where, with chill frown, enormous Alps alarms 
A thoufand realms horizon'd in his arms. 


Sailing in air, when dark Monfoon enmrouds 
His trophic mountains in a night of clouds. 

Similar inftances crowd the pages of 
the Botanic Garden. There is extreme 
fublimity in the whole of that paflage, 
which converts the monfoon winds into 
an individual monfter, 

That fhowers on Afric all his thoufand urns. 

Dr. Johnfon, Mr. Burke, and Dr. Parr, 
have the fame habit in their profe ; " Cri- 
" ticifm pronounces/' inftead of " Critics 

" pronounce/" 

R. DARWIN, 187 

" pronounce." " Malignance will not 
" allow," inftead of " Malignant people 
" will not allow." " Good-nature refufes 
" to liften," inftead of " a good natured 
" man refufes to liften," and fo on. 

This manner of writing, whether in 
verfe or profe, fweeps from the polilhed 
marble of poetry and eloquence, a number 
of the flicks and ftraws of our language ; 
its articles, conjunctives, and p repetitions. 
Addifon's ferious Eflays are fo littered 
with them and with idioms, as to ren- 
der it ftrange that they fhould ftill be 
confidered as patterns of didadic oratory. 
No man of genius, however, adopts their 
diffufe and feeble ftyle, now that the 
ftrength, the grace, and harmony of profe - 
writing, on the dignified examples of our 
later eflayifts, fenators, and pleaders, give 
us better examples. Thefe obfervations 
relate folely to the grave compofitions of 
the celebrated Atticus. The quiet, eafy, 



elegant gaiety of his comic papers in the 
Spectator, remains unrivalled. 

It has been already obferved in the courfe 
of this tract, that Dr. Darwin's mufe ranges 
through nature and art, through hiftory, 
fable, and recent anecdote, to vary, infpirit> 
and adorn this her luxuriant work. If fhe 
imperfonizes' too lavifhly ; if devoted to 
picture, fhe covers every inch of the walls 
of her manfion with landfcapes, allegoric 
groups, and with fmgle figures ; if no in- 
fterfticial fpace is left to increafe the effect 
of thefe fplendid forms of the imagination ; 
yet be it remembered, that it is always in 
the reader's power to draw each picture 
from the mafs, and to infulate it by his 
attention. It will recompenfe by its gran- 
deur, its beauty, or its terrific grace, the 
pains he may take to view it in every light, 
ere he proceeds to examine other objects 
in the work, which he will find of equal 
force and fkill in their formation. 


DR. DARWIN. 189 

Dr. Darwin gives us, in this poem, 
claffic fables from Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, 
and fo gives them, places the perfbns of 
each little drama in fuch new and intereft- 
ing fituations and attitudes, that he muft 
indeed be a dull profe-man who lhall ex- 
claim undelighted, " This is an old ftory." 




ANALYSIS of the firft part of the Botanic 


After that landfcape of the fcene which 
forms the exordium, the Goddefs of Botany 
defcends in gorgeous gaiety. 

She comes ! the Goddefs ! thro* tke whifpering air, 
Bright as the morn., defcends her blulhing car 3 
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers entwines; 
And gemm'd with flowers the filken harnefs (nines j 
The golden bits with flowery ftuds are deck'd, 
And knots of flowers the crimfon reins connect. 
And now on earth the lilver axle rings, 
And the fhell finks upon it's flender fprings j 
Light from her airy feat the Goddefs bounds, 
And fteps celeftial prefs the panfied grounds. 



Spring welcomes her with fragrance and 
with fbng, and, to receive her commiffions, 
the four Elements attend. They are alle- 
gorifed as 'Gnomes, Water-Nymphs, Sylphs, 
and Nymphs of Fire. Her addrefs to each 
clafs, and the bufinefs fhe allots to them, 
form the four Cantos of this firft part of 
the poem. 

The Ladies of Ignition receive her pri- 
mal attention. The picture with which 
her addrefs commences, is of confummate 
brilliance and grace ; behold it, reader, and 
judge if this praife be too glowing ! 

Nymphs of primeval fire, your veftal train 
Hung with gold trelTes o'er the vafl inane ; 
Pierc'd with your filver Ihafts the throne of night, 
And charm'd young Nature's opening eyes with light, 
When Love Divine, with brooding wings unfurl'd, 
Call'd from the rude abyfs the living world. 


The Darwinian creation, which enfues, 
charms us infinitely, even while we recoi- 


DR. DARWIN. 193 

lecl; its fimpler greatnefs on the page of 
Mofes, and on its fublime paraphrafe in the 
[ Paradife Loft. The creation in this poem 
is aftronomic, and involves the univerfe ; 
and as fuch is of excellence yet unequalled 
in its kind, and never to be excelled in the 
grandeur of its conceptions* 

Let there be light, proclaim'd th' Almighty Lord, 
A fionim'd Chaos heard the potent word j 
Through all his realms the kindling ether runs, 
And the mafs Harts into a million funs. 
Earths round each fun, with quick explofion, burll, 
And fecond planets iffue from the firft $ * 
JBend, as they journey, with projectile force, 
Jn bright ellipfis, their reluctant courfe ; 
Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll, 
And form, felf-balanc'd, one revolving whole; 
Onward they move, amid their bright abode, 
Space without bound, the bofom of their God. 

The word of the Creator, by an allufion to 
theeffeds of a fparkupongunpowder,fetting 
into inftant and universal blaze the ignited 
particles in Chaos, till they burft into count- 

o lefs 

194 MEM O1HS OF 

lefs funs, is an idea fublirne in the firft 

The fubfequent comments of the God- 
defs on the powers of the nymphs of fire, 
introduce lovely pictures of the lightning 
and the rainbow ; the exterior fky, the 
twilight, the meteor, and the aurora-bore- 
alis ; of the planets, the comet, and all the 
etherial blazes of the univerfe. 

She next exhibits them as fuperintend- 
ing the fubterranean and external volcanos. 

You, from deep cauldrons and unmeafur'd caves, 
Blow flaming airs, or pour vitrefcent waves) 
O'er fhining oceans ray volcanic light, 
Or hurl innocuous embers through the night. 

She compares them to Venus and her 
Nymphs, after they had dcfcended to the 
cave of Vulcan. The claffic fable forms a 
varied and lively little drama. The God- 
defs proceeds to remind her hand-maids of 
their employments ; fays, they lead their 


DR DAK WIN. 195 

glittering bands around the finking day, 
and when the fun retreats, confine, with 
folds of air, his lingering fires to the cold 
bofom of earth. 

O'er eve's pale forms diffufe phoiphoric light, 
And deck with lambent flames the (brine of night. 

Surely there cannot be a more beautiful 
defcription of a vernal twilight. The phof- 
phorefcent quality of the Bolognian ftone, 
Beccari's prifmatic fhells, and the harp of 
Memnon, which is recorded to have 
breathed fpontaneous chords when fhone 
upon by the rifmg fun, are all compared to 
the twilight glimmerings of the horizon ; 
fo alfo the luminous infecls, the glow- 
worm, the fire-flies of the tropics, the fa- 
bulous ignis fatuus, and the gymnotus elec- 
tricus, brought to England from Surinam 
in South America, about the year 1783 ; 
a fifh, whofe eleclric power is, on provo- 
cation, mortal to his enemy. He is com- 
o 2, pared 

t<j6 MEMOIRS op 

pared to the Olympic eagle, that bears the 
lightning in it's talons. 

Dr. Darwin considers the difcovery of 
the ufes of fire, as the earlieft and moft 
important of the artificial comforts. Hence, 
the Goddefs praifes her nymphs of that 
element, as the primal inftruclers of 
favage man. Its dangerous excellence is 
illuftrated by the fevere beauty of the fer- 
pent-haired Medufa, as it blazes on the 
fhield of Minerva. 

They are next addreffed as the patron- 
effes of chemiftry ; teaching the ufes of 
gunpowder, and infpiring Captain Savery 
with the invention of the fteam- engine. 
The unpoetical name renders this intro- 
duction of a real perfbn amidft allegoric 
beings, unhappy ; efpecially fince no dra- 
matic circumftance in his deftiny recom- 
penfes the infelicity. A defcription of that 
eminently-ufeful machine is given with 


DR. DARWIN. 197 

the accuracy of a mechanic philofopher, 
and the dignity of a great poet. A pro- 
phecy follows, that it's powers will, in fu* 
tare times, be applied to the purpofes of 
facilitating land and water carriage, and 
in navigating balloons. 

The wonderful effeds of this vaft ma- 
chine are fuppofed to referable the exploits 
of Hercules, and feveral of thofe exploits 
are very finely pictured. 

All the operations of electricity next pafs 
in review ; a lovely female receiving the 
fliock on a waxen elevation ; alfo a circle 
of young men and women electrified. 
Their refulting fenfations are described 
with perfecl truth and elegance*, and the 
effefts of this difcovery in paralytic cafes 
nre thus exquifitely mentioned, 

Palfy's .cold hands the fierce concuffion own, 
And Life clings trembling on her tottering throne. 

o 3 Such 


Such powers in this artful lightning are 
compared to thofe of the natural; its de- 
leterious excefs, to the fire of heaven that 
fcathes the oak ; its milder degree, to the 
fairy rings, which the poet believes to have 
been imprinted by the flalhes of the thun- 
der {term darting on the grafs and. circu- 
larly blighting it. 

The difaftrous fate of profeflbr Richman, 
at Peterfburgh, purfuing electric expert 
ment with fatal temerity, rifes to the eye, 
and makes the reader a fhuddering fpec- 
tator of its progrefs and refult. 

Dr. Franklin, with his preferving rods, 
is compared to the celebrated Florentine 
gem, Cupid fnatching the lightnings from 
Jupiter, which the poet confiders as a 
noble allegory, representing Divine Juftice 
difarmed by Divine Love. The poetic 
fcene, from the Gem, is one of the fweeteft 
little dramas of this poem ; fo fweet, there 



is no refilling the temptation of here exhi- 
biting it to thofe to whom the work itfelf 
may not inftantly be acceffible. 

Thus when, on wanton wing, intrepid Love 

Snatch'd the rais'd lightning from the arm of Jove, 

Quick o'er his knee the triple bolt he bent, 

The clufter'd darts and forky arrows rent j 

Snapp'd, with illumin'd hands, each flaming ftiaft, 

His tingling fingers (hook, and ftamp'd, and langh'd. 

Bright o'er the floor the fcatter'd fragments blaz'd, 

And Gods, retreating, trembled as they gaz'd. 

Th' immortal Sire, indulgent to his child, 

Bow'd his ambrofial locks, and Heav'n relenting, fmil'd. 

Of the great fuperiority of poetic to 
actual piclure, this paflage is one of the 
countlefs proofs, perceived by every reader 
who has power to meet the ideas of the 
Bard. Suppofe the fubjecT: of this little 
fable to be engraven, or painted with the 
utmoft excellence, yet the exquifitely natu- 
ral action of the infant god fhaking his 
fingers, and laughing and ftamping, from 
that degree of pain experienced on flightly 
o 4 touching 



touching an ignited fubftance ; the feat- 
tering over the floor the broken darts and 
arrows of the lightning ; the alarmed dei- 
ties retreating, and the indulgent nod and 
increasing fmile of Jupiter, are all progref- 
five circumftances which genius may paint 
on the imagination, but not on the canvafs. 
The Goddefs next adverts to the influ- 
ence of her nymphs on animat circulation, 
from the theory of the phofphoric acid 
colouring and warming the blood, and 
hence becoming an indifpenfable ingredient 
in vital formation 

From the crovvn'd forehead to the proftrate weed c 

This theory is illuftrated by the noble 
fable of Eros, or Divine Love, ifluing from 
the great egg of night,, floating in chaos ; 
but furely the image of this celeftial love 
is too gay for the fublimity of its birth ; 
" gaudy wings, foft fmiles, golden curls, 



" and filver darts," might fuit the cyprian 
but not the hieroglyphic Cupid. 

- Higher far 
And with myfterious reverence we deen. 

Her Nymphs thus eulogized, 

The Goddefs paus'd, admir'd, with confclous pride, 
Th' effulgent legions marlhall'd by her fide, 
Forms ipher'd in fire, with trembling light array d, 
JEns- without weight^ and fubftance without ftade, 

It may be obferved of the two laft lines 
that the imagination, which could with 
fuch appropriate and novel beauty inveft 
its ideal perfonages, cannot be too highly 
appreciated, and we might as well difdain 
the fun for often dazzling us with excefs 
of fplendor, as to fuffer the occafional re- 
dundance of ornament in this extraordinary 
work, to make us cold and infenfible to it's 
original, bold, and, in their clafs, peerlefs 

\ The 


The ufe of words entirely Latin has 
been objected to this poem, as ens for life, 
in the laft verfe of the above quotation. 
Nieenefs of ear probably induced its tub- 
ftitution, and that from the proximity of 
the word light in the preceding line, which 
would have been of too iimilar found to 
life, had life been uied inftead cf it's Latin 
iynonifm, ens. 

The Botanic Queen now proceeds to 
appoint the nymphs of fire their taiks. 
She bids them awaken the weft wind, chafe 
his -wan cheeks, and wring the rain-drops 
from his hair; bids them blaze around the 
frofted rills, and ftagnant waters, and 
charm the Naiad from her filent cave, 
where me fits enfhrined in ice, clafping her 
empty urns. She is compared to Niobe. 

Our Poet feems to have forgotten him- 
felf in thus throwing the year back into 
the fkirts of winter ; fince, in opening this 



Canto, he had defer! bed the iprirg in all 
her glory, \vhen the Botanic " Queen de- 
fcended, and the imperfomzed elements 
received her. 

The nymphs are alfo commanded to 
affail the fiend of froft; to break his white 
towers and cryftal mail ; to drive him to 
Zembla, and chain him to the northern 
bear. A fimile enfues, in which the gram- 
pus, and the fcene of the whale fifhery, in 
all the ftrength of poetic colouring, meets 
the attention of the reader, 

Suppofed influence of the principle of 
internal heat in vegetation induces a com- 
mand to thefe its agents to pour electric 
torrents from the deep waftes of earth, 
which may pierce the root, relax the fibres, 
and thaw the fap of plants, flowers, and 
trees. The ailerted confequence of their 
obedience to this command produces a 
noble fketch of the umbrageous wilds of 


204 M E A J O I R S O F 

Canada. Their operations are oddly com- 
pared to the effects 'of the fympathetie 
inks, and of a picture drawn in them ; and 
a receipt to make them is given in a note. 
The nymphs are now exhorted to quit 
the fummer-regions when the dog-ftar 
ihall prefide in them. It's often blighting 
influence on the fruits of the earth is illuf- 
trated by an alluiion to the fate of Semele. 
Then rifes an iceland fcene, and an aftro- 
nomic perfonification. Look at it, cour- 
teous reader, and if with eyes of Indiffer- 
ence, arraign the power of prejudice in 
thy mind, or fufpecl: thy want of tafte for 
the higher orders of poetry. 

There, in her azure coif, and ftarry flol^, 
Grey Twilight fits, and rules the {lumbering Polrj 
Bends the pale moon-bearrr round the fparkling co:Ui 
And ftrews with livid hands eternal froft. 

An agency of the ignited particles in 
creation, that of feparating the ice-iflands, 
fancifully induces a commahd from the 


Dft. DARWIN. 2C 

Goddefs, that her nymphs Ihould float their 
broken mafles of ice to the torrid climates, 
It is adorned with the fcripture incident, 
Elijah, on mount Carmel, invoking ^fire 
from heaven, and the incident is given 
with all the Darwinian power. 

This Canto terminates with the obedi- 
ence of the nymphs, and a iimile for their 
departure. They ftart from the foil, and 
wing their duteous flight, 

While vaulted ikies, with ft reams of tranlient rays, 
Shine as they pals, and earth and ocean blaze. 

A comparative description of the fire- 
works exhibited in great cities for the re- 
turn of peace and liberty, after the cruel 
oppreffions of war, is of the moft accurate 
precifion ; but it is faulty as a iimile, from 
it's extreme inferiority to the imaginary 
objects which it is meant to illuftrate. The 
nymphs of fire, flying on their appointed 
errands., in every direction, illuminating, 



with evanefcent flafhes, the whole horizon, 
the fea, and the land, is fo grand an idea, 
that the wheels, the dragons, the ferpents, 
the mock ftars, and funs, of that ever 
childifh exhibition, become ludicrous, as 
fucceeding to a picture of fuch gay fub- 
limity ; for fublimity is not always confined 
to fombre obje&s. Proofs that it is not, are 
found in the Paradife Loft. When Adam 
obferves to Eve, on the approach of the 
angel Michael, that the glorious fhape feerns 
another morning rifen oil mid- noon, the 
idea is no lefs fublime than it is gay. 

This apprehended injudicioufnefs of the 
fire- work fimile fuggefts the remark, that 
a few fuch erratic luxuriances of a pic- 
turefque fancy, together with the peculiar 
conftruclion of the Darwinian verfe, and 
it's lavifh perfonification, enabled an highly 
ingenious fatirift to burlefque the Loves of 
the Plants, by the Loves of the Triangles. 
Eminently fortunate for it's purpofe was 



the thought of transforming cubes, and 
cones, and cylinders, and other technical 
terms of mathematic and mechanic fcience, 
into nymphs and fwains, enamoured of 
each other. The verfe of this ironical 
poem is not only Darwinian, but it is 
beautifully Darwinian. The very flightly 
allufive power of feveral of the fimilies in 
the Botanic Garden, is ridiculed with, in- 
finite fubtlenefs and wit ; while the little 
ftories in this hurlefque, fo comic in their 
fcantinefs of refemblance, are very elegantly 
told. That brilliant fatire amply refutes 
Lord Shaftefbury's fyftem, that ridicule is 
the teft of truth, and that it is impoffible 
to ridicule with eftecl what is intrinfically 
excellent. The warmeft admirers of Dr. 
Darwin's fplendid poem, and of the inge- 
nious theories and ftated experiments of 
the notes, muft yet be amufed with fuch 
grotefque imitation of each ; juft as they 



are diverted with the burlefque, in the 
Critic, of the death of Hotfpur, and of 
Eve's beautiful proteft to Adam* 

Sweet is the breath of morn, &c. 

On the fubjecl of this fatire, Dr. Dar- 
win wanted prefence of mind. Inftead of 
pretending, as he did, never to have feen or 
heard of the Loves of the Triangles, when 
queftioned on the fubject, he mould volun* 
tarily have mentioned that fatire every 
where, and praifed it's wit and ingenuity, 
He ought to have triumphed in a juft con- 
fcioufnefs, that his poem could lofe none 
of it's charms with the few, whofe praife 
is fame, by the artful refemblance of this 
falfe Florimel ; fecure that it's mock graces, 
brilliant as they are, would foon melt away, 
like the Nymph of Snow in the Fairie 
Queen, while the genuine charms of his 
rnufe muil endure fo long as the Englifh 



language lhall exift ; nay, fliouldthat perifh, 
Tranflation would preferve the Botanic 
Garden as one of ks gems ; if not in ori- 
ginal brightnefs, would at leaft retain all 
that hoft of beauties which do not depend 
upon the perhaps intransfufable felicities 
of verbal expreffion. The lavifh magnifi- 
cence of the imagery in this work, Genius 
alone, bold, original, creative, and fertile 
in the extreme, could have produced. 
It's profufion may cloy the faftidious, it's 
/pleridor may dazzle the poetically weak 
of fight ; but ftill it is the refult of that 
power, which Shakefpear chara&erifes 
when he fays, 

The Poet's eye, in a fine phrenzy rolling, 

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, 

And as Imagination bodies forth 

The form of things unknown, the Poet's pen 

Turns them to lhape, and gives to airy nothing 

A local habitation, and a name. 




Opens with the charge of the Botanic 
Queen to her Gnomes, who are here re- 
ftored to that benevolent character allotted 
to them by Roficrufms, and which, to fuit 
his purpofe, Pope rendered malignant, in 
the Rape of the Lock. She addrefles them 
as miniftrant fpirits to fubterranean vege- 
tation, and fpectators of all the aftrono- 
mic and terraqueous wonders of creation ; 
of the Sun exploding our planet, the Earth, 
from his crater. 

Except to introduce an extremely fine 
defcription of the fun's figns in the zodiac, 
it would be difficult to guefs why the 
Gnomes fliould be fuppofed to have pur- 
fued the flying fphere, and encircled the 
year's flarry girdle. Thoie fliould feem 
employments better fuited to the allotted 
nature of the Nymphs of Ignition, or at 
Icaft of the Sylphs, than of thefe their 


DR. DARWIN. 211 

iubterranean fitters. The epithet ardent, 
" your ardent troops," is a feldom-found 
inftance of inaccuracy in this poem, cor- 
rected and polifhed with fuch elaborate 
care ; eager, active, any thing rather than 
an adjective metaphorically taken from 
fire, the affigned element of the nymphs 
recently difmifled. 

Next rifes the golden age, and Earth is 
invefted with Edenic privileges and ex- 
emptions. We are told, in a note, that 
there is an ancient gem, reprefenting Venus 
rifing out of the fea, fupported by two 
Tritons ; that the allegory was originally an 
hieroglyphic pi&ure, before letters were 
invented, defcriptive of the formation of 
the earth from the ocean. The poet takes 
this opportunity of prefenting to his readers 
the moft beautiful portrait of Venus, firft 
emerging from her parent deep, that has 
been given by any Bard, ancient or modern ; 
and it's features are unborrowed as they 
p 2, are 


are peerles. She has about her the trace* 
of the humid element, from which flic 
rifes, and they increafe her general lovcli- 
nefs and grace ; wringing, with rofy 
fingers, her golden trefles, as they hang 
uncurled around her fair brows, while 
bright drops of water roll from her lifted 
arms, wander round her neck, ftand in 
pearls upon her polifhed fhoulders and 
back, and ftar with glittering brine her 
whole lucid form. Thus the Darwinian 

O'er the fmooth furge, on filver fandals flood, 
And look'd enchantment on the dazzled flood. 

The firft terreftrial volcano is next de- 
fcribed ; an earthquake of incalculable 
magnitude, producing continents and 
iflands on the before united and level earth, 
with feparating oceans rolling between 
them. The birth of the Moon is now 
reprefented as thrown from the Earth near 


DR. DARWIN. 213 

the fouth-pole, in confequence of this 
primal convulfion, by the explofion of 
water, or other vapors of greater power. 
The lunar birth is thus beautifully prefent- 
ed to the eye, 

When rofe the continents, and funk the main, 
And Earth's huge fphere, exploding, burft in twain, 
Gnomes, how you gaz'd, when from her wounded fide, 
Where now the South-fea rails its wafte of tide, 
Rofe, on fwift wheels, the Moon's refulgent car, 
Circling the folar orb, a lifter ftar -, 
Dimpled with vales, with fhining hills embofs'd, 
And roird round Earth her airlefs realms of froft. 

The difficulty of introducing theii 
charming images any other way than by 
reminding the Gnomes of what they are 
fuppofed to have feen, gives us, in this ad- 
drefs, the noun perfonal in apoftrophe, with 
a frequency which, far from being graceful, 
becomes almoft ludicrous ; as, " Gnomes, 
" how you gaz'd ! &c." " Gnomes, 
" how you fhriek'd !" " Gnomes 
p 3 <f how 


" how you trembled !" but infinite is 
the poetic fancy with which the hypo- 
thefis is maintained, of the earth being 
ftruck from the crater of the fun, and the 
moon from the firft terreftrial volcano. 

The Goddefs now reminds her fubter- 
ranean hand-maids of their affiftance in 
having formed into marble and other petri- 
fic fubftances, the diflblving fhells which 
covered the prominent parts of the earth, 
thrown up from her ocean in that firft 
convulfion, by fub- marine fires. Sculpture 
is here introduced, and poetic cafts of the 
famous ancient ftatues, the Hercules, An- 
tinous, Apollo, and Venus, rife from the 
page, Roubilliac, unqueftionably the firft 
ftatuary of the modern world, is praifed 
with enthufiafm ; and Mrs. Darner, the 
ingenious miftrefs of the chifel, with 

To the Gnomes is next imputed the 
power of extra&ing the faline particles 


DR. DARWIN. 215 

from different kinds of earths; from prof- 
trate woods, and from morafles ; and this 
introduces the defcription of a town in the 
immenfe falt-mines of Poland. Witb his 
peculiar ingenuity, this Bard of Fancy ihows 
us the faline city ; and that, and the ftatue 
fuppofed to be Lot's wife, the river and 
temple, gleam and fparkle on the imagi- 
nation of every reader who has imagination. 
To thofe who have it not, the magnificent 
pageantries of this poem will pafs unreflecT;- 
ed, unimpreffive, 

And, like the bafelefs fabric of a vifion, 
Leave not a wreck behind. 

Perfonification is furely carried too far 
l^hen, in the next paffage, azotic gas is 
made the love of the virgin air, and fird 
transformed into a jealous rival, indignant 
of the treacherous courtfliip. The trio arc 
compared to Mars, Venus, and Vulcan, : 
and the Homeric tale, of the enmefhed- 
P 4 ' pair, 


pair, is told again. The mechanifm of the 
net; the ftruggles of the guilty goddefs to 
efcape; her impatient exhortations to her 
nymphs, to difunite the links of the iron 
net- work; her efforts to conceal her beau- 
ties from the furrounding deities, have all 
that truth to nature with which criticifm 
has juftly obferved, Shake/pear draws the 
manners of his imaginary beings. With 
much more of that appropriate verity has 
Darwin told this ftory than Homer, and 
not more voluptuoufly. This is the only 
paflage in the Botanic Garden which can 
juftly be taxed with voluptuoufnefs, and 
with Homer its author mares the cenfure. 
Homer, whofe morality has been fo loudly, 
but fo partially applauded, fince his deities 
are all either libertine or unjuft ; and of 
his heroes, only one is in himfelf a virtu- 
ous man, and he defends the caufe of his 
guilty brother, and does not once urge the 
reiteration of the ftolen wife to her in- 

DR. DARWIN. 217 

jured hufband, an atonement not only in 
itfelf due, but which muft have raifed the 
fiege, faved the city, and fpared immenfe 
effufion of human blood. The ftory, if 
really founded on hiftoric circumftances, 
might not have authorifed the reftoration 
of Helen, but it was in the poet's power 
to have made Hector urge it. 

If the Homeric fable of Mars and Venus, 
in Vulcan's net, repeated by Darwin with 
new circumftances, more pifturefque, not 
more indelicate, forms one fomewhat li- 
centious paffage in the Botanic Garden, 
the Iliad contains feveral which are equally- 
voluptuous, even after Pope has chaftened 
them. As to the amours of the Plants and 
Flowers, it is a burlefque upon morality to 
make them refponfible at its tribunal. The 
floral harems do not form an imagi- 
nary but a real fyftem, which philofophy 
has difcovered, and with which poetry 
fports. The impurity is in the imagination 



of the reader, not on the pages of the poet, 
when the Botanic Garden is considered on 
the whole, as an immodeft competition. 

From the net of Vulcan, and the lovers 
it entangles, the Poet leads us to his forge, 
after the mention of iron, as produced by 
the decompofition of vegetable bodies. 
To perceive the ftrength and truth of the 
Forge-picture, no power of imagination, 
on the part of the reader, is neceflary ; 
memory is iufficient. Who has not feen 
a blackfmith's mop, and heard its din ? 
Here it blazes and refounds on the page. 
The formation of magnetic bars enfues. 
Though the power of the magnet has been 
known and applied to ufe from very early 
times, yet the Poet imputes thefe artificial 
magnets to their laft improver, the per- 
fonal friend of his youth, Mr. Michel], 
mentioned early in thefe memoirs. Of 
Mr. Michell's procefs in this improvement 
Dr. Darwin has formed another poetic 


DR. DARWIN. 219 

defcription, fo diftincT: that the operation 
may be performed from perufing it atten- 

And now we meet an animated apof- 
trophe to Steel, praifmg its ufe in navigation, 
agriculture, and war. This applaufive 
addrefs is one of the grandeft in the poem, 
where fo many are grand. What has 
poetry more noble than thefe firft fix lines 
of that eulogium ? 

Hail adamantine Steel ! magnetic Lord, 

King of the prow, the ploughfhare, and the fword ! 

True to the pole, by thee the pilot guides 

His fteady courfe amid the ftruggling tides ! 

Braves, with broad fail, th' immeafurable fea, 

Cleaves the dark air, and afks no flar but thec! 

A defcription of Gems lucceeds to that 
apoftrophe, as a work of the Gnomes, by 
whom, from marine acids mixed with the 
fhells of marine animals, and of calcareous, 
and argillaceous earths, they are here flip- 



pofed to be, from time to time, produced. 
Thcfe natural transformations are com- 
paratively illuftrated by thofe of Ovidian 
fable ; and Proteus-gallantries are retold 
even more beautifully than Ovid has told 
them, particularly the flory of Europa. It 
is here, beyond all poffible tranfcendence, 
exquifite, and it clofes with a ipirited com- 
pliment to the natives of Europe. 

Returning to the fubjecT:, the Goddefs 
reminds her Gnomes of having feen the 
fubterranean volcanos forming the various 
fpecies of clay ; from the porcelain of 
China, and of ancient Etruria, to thofe 
ufed in the beautiful productions of its 
modern namefake, brought to fo much 
perfection by the late Mr. Wedgewood. 
The mechanifm of the porcelain of China, 
with its ungraceful forms and gaudy orna- 
ments, rifes on the page. The fuperiority, 
in the two laft circumftances, of our Eng- 
lifh Etruria, is aflerted, as producing " un- 

" copied 

t>R. DARWIN. 421 

" copied beauty and ideal grace ;" and its 
mechanifm is alfo given, but in terms fo 
technical as to fpoil the harmony of the 
verfe in that paflage. Satire has caught 
hold of the feldom harfhnefs, triumphantly 
difplaying it in the Loves of the Triangles* 
Mr. Wedgewood is addrefled as at once 
the friend of Art and Virtue. His me- 
dallion of the Negro-flave in chains, im- 
ploring mercy, is mentioned as reproach- 
ing our great national fin againft juftice 
and mercy, fo long refilling the admo- 
nitions of Benevolence and Piety, in tho 
fenate ; alfo another medallion of Hope, 
attended by Peace, and Art, and Labour, 
" It was made of clay from Botany Bay, 
" and many of them were fent thither, to 
" fliow the inhabitants what their materials 
" would do, and to encourage their in- 
*' duftry." The emblematic figures on 
the Portland Vafe, fo finely imitated in our 
new Etruria, next appear in all the charms 



of poetry, while the truth of their ingeni- 
ous conftruclion is fupported in the notes 
with wonderful learning and precifion, fo 
as to leave no doubt on the unprejudiced 
mind, that the Bard of Linneus has ex- 
plained their real defign. This addrefs 
to Mr. Wedge wood clofes with the aflerted 
immortality of his productions. 

Coal, Jet, and Amber, are next imperfon- 
ized, an individual for the fpecies. The 
latter is placed on his " electric throne," 
as a material, the natural properties of 
which were the fource of the difcoveries 
in el e <Sri city, and from which the name 
of that branch of modern fcience is derived, 
electron being the Greek word for amber. 
Led by its phofphoric light, Dr. Franklin 
comes forward in the. aft of difarming the 
lightning of its dire effects, by his electrical 
rods. His influence in procuring the free- 
dom of America is applauded with much 
poetic imagery. The Ihort-lived freedom 


DR. DARWIN. . 223 

of Ireland, in her acquirement of felf-legif- 
lation, is allegorized by " the warrior Li- 
" berty, helming his cqurfe to her fhores." 
Another bold figure of Liberty fucceeds, 
prefented as a giant form, flumbering with- 
in the iron cage and marble walls of the 
French Baftile, unconfcious of his chains, 
till, touched by the patriot flame, he rends 
his flimly bonds, lifts his coloffal form, 
and rears his hundred arms over his foes ; 
calls to the good and brave of every country, 
with voice that echoes like the thunder of 
heaven, to the polar extremities ; 

Gives to the winds his banner broad unfurl'd, 
And gathers in its fhade the living world ! 

This lublime fally of a tco-confidig 
imagination has made the poet and his 
work countlefs foes. They triumph ovef 
him on a refult fo contrary ; on the mortal 
wounds given by French crimes to real 
liberty. They forget, or choofe to forget, 



that this part of the poem (though pub- 
lifhed after the other) appeared in 1791, 
antecedent to the dire regicide, and to all 
thofe unprecedented fcenes of fanguinary 
cruelty inflicled on France by three of her 
republican tyrants, compared to whom the 
moft remorfelefs of her monarchs was mild 
and merciful. 

The Botanic Queen now reminds her 
Gnomes of the means they had ufed to 
produce metallic fubftances ; and, from the 
mention of filver and gold, me ftarts into 
a fpirited and noble exclamation over the 
cruelties committed by catholic fuperfti- 
tion, in the Eaft and Weft Indies ; and 
from them me turns, with equal indigna- 
tion, to the Slave Trade, that plague-fpot 
on the reputation of our national huma- 
nity ! that crying fin in the practice of our 
national religion! Greatly is it to the honor 
of our Englim poets, within the laft twenty 
years, that, w 7 ith very few exceptions, the 
2 ' beft 

DR. DARWIN. 225 

beft and moft highly-gifted of them have 
fought their way to fame beneath the ban- 
ners of Freedom and Mercy, whofe eternal 
nature no national or individual abufe, no 
hypocritical affumption, can change. 

Thefe inftances of unchriftian barbarity 
lead to the ftory of the cruel and impious 
Cambyfeson his march tofubdue Ethiopia, 
after having deftroyed the temples and de- 
vafted the country of Thebes, and mafTa- 
cred its inhabitants. The fate of that 
army is defcribed which he fent to plunder 
the temple of Jupiter, and which perifhed 
in the defert overwhelmed by fand. The 
Gnomes are confidered as minifters of that 
juft vengeance, and of the famine by which 
it was preceded ; and this, by withholding 
the dews, and blafting vegetation, and by 
fummoning the whirlwinds which caufe 
the fatal rife of the fand-tornados. The 
iucceffive horrors that overtook this army 
are depided W 7 ith the higheft intereft and 
Q grandeur, 


grandeur. They rife in climax till the 
final overwhelming is thus brought to the 
fhuddering imagination of the reader. 

awhile the living hill 

Heav'd with con vul five throes, and all was ftill ! 

language has nothing of more genuine 

Turning from this dread tragedy, the 
Botanic Queen aflumes a livelier ftrain, 
and compares her little minifters to the 
planets in an orrery. That beautiful ma- 
chine is defcribed with it's fairy-mimicry 
of the ftellar evolutions. She exhorts her 
nymphs to the practice of feveral benevo- 
lent operations, guarding againft the mif- 
chiefs of elementary excefs. Hannibal's 
renowned march over the Alps, againft 
tyrannic Rome, and the fuppofed means 
by which Ke facilitated his progrefs, are 
held up to their imitation. To this fuc- 
ceeds an exhortation to feed the embryons, 


DR. DARWIN. 227 

and forward the parturition of trees, plants, 
and flowers. For thofe offices a medical 
fimile occurs, and afterwards a fcripture 
ftory is told, Peter releafed from prifon by 
an angel, and to that angel the illuftri- 
oufly benevolent Howard is compared. 

Imputed affiftance, on the. part of thefc 
fubterranean nymphs, in the chemical 
decompofition of animal and vegetable 
fubftances, introduces the ancient fable of 
the flaughtered, buried, and affurgent 
Adonis. His ftory is told with not lefs 
added poetic excellence than, with accef- 
fion of perfonal beauty, he is faid to have 
arifen from the dark manfions of Profer- 
pine, and to have returned to Venus. Dr. 
Darwin's reafons, given in the note to this 
paflage, for rejecting former interpretations 
of that allegory, are convincing ; and his 
fubftituted folution is not only highly in- 
genious, but deeply philofophic ; and good 
ienfe fanclions the conjecture. 

Q 2, This 


This fable clofes the addrefs of the 
Goddefs to her Gnomes. Their elfin flight 
on their appointed errands, is defcribed 
with playful elegance, and compared to 
the fucceffive fhadows that pafs over a 
funny vale beneath the light clouds. With 
that comparifon the fecond Canto termi- 
nates. If the Gnomes make their exit 
with lefs poetic fplendor than their prede- 
ceflbrs, it muft be confidered that the 
Nymphs of Fire are perfonages of more 
mtrinfic dignity. 


Opens with a charge to the Water 
Nymphs, and we are told that the Goddefs 
gives it in tones fo fweet and fbnorous as 
to fliake the wrinkling fountains, curl the 
deep wells, rimple the lakes, and thrill the 

The three firft words felefted to exprefs 
the different kind of aclual vibration on the 


DR. DARWIN. 229 

fountains, wells, and lakes, are inftances of 
that nice difcrimination which imparts fo 
much vitality to verfe, and gives back to 
the reader his faded recollection of the ob- 
jeCts of nature in their comparative dif- 
tinftions. Though he may have viewed 
them often with unexamining eyes, yet no 
fooner do they arife before him on the 
poetic page than he recognifes their truth 
with the thrill of delight ; for who that 
looks into the records of the Mufes, how- 
ever infenfible to the creations of Fancy, 
can view without pleafure the faithfully 
reflefled image of nature in the fubtle 
variety of her lineaments. 

Thick as the dews which deck the morning flowers* 
' Or rain-drops twinkling in the fun-bright fhowers, 
Fair nymphs, emerging in pellucid bands, 
Rife, as me turns, and whiten all the lands. 

Their miftrefs tells them alfo, how much 
flue is confcious of their power and ufe, in 
the formation, fuftenance, and protection of 


the vegetable world. In the exordium of 
this charge we meet a couplet rivalling in 
pifturefque beauty the lines in Collins' 
charming, though rhymelefs Ode to Even- 
ing, when he tells the grey-ftoled per- 
fonage, that, from his hut on the mountain 
fide, he loves to contemplate, in a fliowery 

The hamlets brown, and dim-difcover'd fpires, 
And hear their limple bells, and mark o'er all 

Her dewy fingers draw 

The gradual, dufky veil. 

The Botanic Queen fays to her aqueous 
mmiftry in thefe rival lines, 

Your lucid hands condenfe, with fingers chill, 
The blue mift hovering round the gelid hill. 

This charge has one harm line ; thus, 

And as below fhe braids her hyaline hair. 

The employment gentle, the attitude 
graceful, that harfhnefs of meafure which 


BR. DARWIN. 231 

is often fkilful when ufed to exprefs violent 
exertion, is here cenfurable. 

Thefe new vicegerents are praifed as 
feeding the harveft, filling the wide-ribbed 
arch with hurrying torrents, to affift the 
operation of the mill and the progrefs of 
the barge, and leading the refluent water 
to it's parent main. Thefe operations on 
the water induce a fimile for the progref- 
five and returning courfe of the blood. 
The purpureal tint it gives to the fair com- 
plexion of youthful beauty ; the warm 
glow to her hair, the laugh of health to 
her lip, and it's lightning to her eyes, form 
a lovely piclure in this fimile ; and it clofes 
with a medical obfervation in a fine poetic 

Juft difcernment will not ceafe to ad- 
mire the facile fuccefs and artful grace 
with which this Poet fubdues the difficulty 
of rendering all forts of fcience fubfervient 
to the purpofes of high heroic verfe ; or 
to obferve how feldom even the moft 
Q 4 technical 


technical terms diminifh the harmony 
of his meafure, or the elegance of his 

Mighty fvvay is attributed to the aque- 
ous ladies over thofe realms of fcale and 
fhell, which are covered by the fea ; and 
they are coniidered as architects of the 
pearly palaces of the fifli. The modern 
experiment of fmoothing rough waves 
with oil, is coniidered as their fuggeftion ; 
alfo various fub- marine and benevolent in- 
fluences. To them the birth of rivers, 
from the Alpine fnows. The Danube, the 
Rhine, and the Tiber, are mentioned ; the 
laft as flowing through his degenerate 
realms with diminifhed waters. The fea- 
tures of that degeneracy are marked ; the 
race of patriots, heros, and legillators, long 
iince become fingers, dancers, and monks ; 
and the paffage concludes with this fublime 
picture of the prefent ftate of that long- 
yenowned river : 

Parts with chill ftream, the dim religious bower, 
Time- mouldered baftion, and difmantled tower 5 


an. DARWIN^ 

By alter'd fanes, and namelefs villas glides, 
And claflic domes, that tremble on his fides 5 
Sighs o'er each broken urn and yawning tomb, 
And mourns the fall of Liberty and Rome. 

Rivers being the iubjecT:, the Nile and 
it's annual overflow, gives rile to grand 
allegoric imagery, and to nobly-imagined 
fcenes. That overflow is afcribed to the 
monfoon winds, which deluge Nubia and 
Abyflinia with rain. 

Sailing in air, when dark Monfoon enmrouds 
His tropic mountains in a night of clouds 5 
Or, drawn by whirlwinds, from the Line returns, 
And fhowers on Afric all his thoufand urns j 
High o'er his head the beams of Sirius glow, 
And, dog of Nile, Anubis, barks below. 
Nymphs, you from cliff to cliff attendant guide, 
In headlong cataracts, the impetuous tide ; 
Or lead o'er waftes of Abyffmian fands 
The bright expanfe to Egypt's iliowerlefs lands. 

Her towns, her temples, and fultry plains 
are contrafted with a fublime description 
of Hecla and his burning mountain. It's 
column of boiling water is transformed into 

a ma- 


a malignant Sorcerefs, whofe baleful fpells 
had been broken by the power of thefe 
benevolent Naiads. 

The hypothecs, that warm falubrious 
fprings are produced by fteam arifing from 
water falling on fubterranean fires, and 
that this fteam is condenfed between the 
ftrata of incumbent mountains, and col- 
lected into fprings, occafions a fportive 
addrefs to Buxton. It is fucceeded by an 
elegant compliment to the Duchefs of 
Devonfhire, leading a train of Graces from 
Chatfworth to that tepid fountain. From 
the epithet fairy given to legions, we fhould 
fuppofe thefe Graces a part of the machinery 
of the Poet ; but, as the paflage proceeds, 
it defcribes beautiful young women bath- 
ing with fuch exquifite precifion, that the 
fcene of action coniidered, it becomes im- 
poffible to contemplate them as ideal per- 
fonages, efpecially as the laft couplet is 
utterly at war with aerial fubftance ; thus, 




Round each fair Nymph her dropping mantle clings, 
And Loves emerging (hake their fhowery wings. 

The Loves, which are indifputably ma- 
chinery, confufe the picture, if the Nymphs 
alfo are of that fpecies. The expreffion, 
fairy legions, is to be regretted ; it renders 
the lively and lovely defcription ame- 
nable to Dr. Johnfon's cenfure of a pafTage 
in one of our poets, " that it is metaphoric 
" in one point of view, and literal in 
(< another." 

The Duke of Devonlhire's public fpirit 
and architectural tafte, next become the 
theme, and they involve a charming pic- 
ture of the Crefcent, that gem of Grecian 
art in Britain ; and of the new plantations 
which furround it. Derbyfhire ftone has an 
amber tint, and hence the Buxton Qrefcent 
rifes a golden palace in the defert. 

The Goddefs next congratulates her 
Water Nymphs on having celebrated the 



odd nuptials of pure Air and inflammable 
Gas. We had heard of their courtihip 
earlier in the poem. That courtfhip, and 
this their marriage, forms one of the wild- 
eft extravagances of the work ; but the 
Homeric fable, which illuftrates the airy 
bride and groom, is charming in the firft 
degree. Juno, attired by Venus, to cap- 
tivate Jove. With the moft luxuriant 
fancy, and with new circumftances, this 
little drama rifes again on the Darwinian 
page. It will not lofe, but gain in a juft 
eftimation of poetic merit, by comparifon 
with the tranilations, by Cowper and Pope, 
of this celebrated part of the Greek Poet's 
machinery. Let them be compared, and 
firft Cowper's literal tranilation, firft edition. 

Firft, (he lav'd all o'er 

Her beauteous body with ambrofial lymph; 
Then polifh'd it with richeft oil divine, 
Of boundlefs fragrance. Oil, that in the courts 
Eternal only fhaken through the ikies 


DR. DARWIN. 237 

Breath'd odours, and through all the diftant earth *. 
Her whole fair body with thefe fweets bedew'd, 
She pafs'd the comb through her ambrofial hair, 
And braided her light locks ftreaming profufe 
From her immortal brows ; with golden fluds 
She made her gorgeous mantle fail before j 
Etherial texture, labour of the hands 
Of Pallas, beautified with various arts, 
And brac'd it with a zone, fring'd all around 
An hundred fold j her pendants, triple gemm'd, 
Luminous, graceful in her ears me hung f- . 
And covering all her glories with a veil 
Sun-bright, new woven, bound to her fair feet 
Her fandals elegant. Thus full attir d 
In all her ornaments, me iflued forth, 
And beck'ning Venus from the other powejfll 
Of Heav'n apart, the Goddefs thus befpake. 

Pope's tranflation of the fame pafTage. 

Here firft me bathes, and round her body pours 
Soft oils of fragrance, and ambrofial mowers. 
The winds perfum'd, the balmy gale convey 
Through heav'n, through earth, and all th' aerial way, 
Spirit divine I whofe exhalation greets 
The fenfe of Gods with more than mortal fweets. 

Obfcure and very awkward expreffion. f Moil unpoetic. 


Thus, while (he breath'd of heav'n, with decent pride 

Her artful hands the radiant treffes tied ; 

Part o'er her head in (Inning ringlets roll'd, 

Part o'er her (houlders wav'd like melted gold 5 

Around her neck a heavenly mantle flow'd 

That rich with Pallas' labour'd colours glow'd ; 

Large clafps of gold the foldings gather'd round $ 

A golden zone her fwelling bofom hound ; 

Far-beaming pendants tremble in her car, 

Each gem illumin'd with a triple (tar; 

Then o'er her head (he cafts a veil more white 

Than new fall'n fnow, and dazzling as the light} 

Laft, her fair feet celeftial fan dais grace. 

Thus ifluing radiant, with majeftic pace, 

Forth from the dome th 1 imperial Goddefs moves, 

And calls the mother of the Smiles and Loves. 

Pope has mown better tafte in female 
drefs than his mafter. A zone with an 
hundred folds of fringe upon it, mud be a 
very heavy and inelegant ornament. The 
zone of plain gold, fubftituted by the 
rhyme tranflator, is grander and more 
graceful as well as more fimple. 

Darwin, who gives this fable after his 
own manner, tells us, that Venus not only 


DR. DARWIN. 239 

lent the ceftus, but attired the Goddefs 
herfelf ; and paffing over the claffic cere- 
mony of the bath, and the operation of the 
oils, which perhaps he thought too Hotten- 
totifli, he defcribes more concifely, yet not 
lefs brilliantly, this magnificent labour of 
the toilette; thus, 

So, rob'd by Beauty's Queen, with fofter charms, 
Saturn! a woo'd the Thunderer to her arms j 
O'er her fair limbs a veil of light (he fpread, 
And bound a ftarry diadem on her head j 
Long braids of pearls her golden trefles grac'd, 
And the charm'd ceftus fparkled round her waift. 

The ceftus is here a vifible and brilliant 
ornament, inftead of being, as Homer af- 
terwards tells us, hid in Juno's bofbm. 
Pope, in a note to this paffage, obferves, 
that, by this difpofal, the Poet meant to 
convey an idea of the matron-like modefty 
of Juno, who conceals what is to render 
her engaging ; while Venus, wearing the 
ceftus in open fight, oftentatioufly difplays 
the means by which me captivates : but 
7 this 


this fort of lefler morality belonged not 
to the times in which Homer lived ; nei- 
ther is peculiar delicacy at all characleriftic 
of the Juno he has drawn. His more 
probable reafon for making her hide this 
ornamental fpell, was the danger that Jupi- 
ter, if he faw the borrowed zone, fo often 
feen on the perfon of his daughter, would 
know it, and, confcious of it's power to 
excite paffion, would have been aware of 
the defign of his wife, and either not al- 
lowed of the interview, or difarmed the- 
girdle of it's magic. Supreme wifdom muft 
have foiled difcavercd art. Neither of thefe 
fuppofitions occurred to Dr. Darwin, or 
perhaps his Juno alfo had hidden her gay 

Homer exprefsly fays, Juno did not take 
her chariot on this conjugal vifit; but Dar- 
win allots her that mode of conveyance, 
and the change enabled him to affign to 
the Emprefs of Heaven her due pomp and 



{lately retinue. Upon this imperial and 
celeftial equipage the modern poet has 
laviflied all the fplendorsof his imagination. 
Cupid is the charioteer, and Zephyr flies 
before, fhowcring rofes from his wings ; 
Naiads and Dryads, Fawns and Wood-Boys 
are in the train. The reader is empowered, 
by diftinctnefs of poetic dcfcription, to pur- 
fue the chariot with his eye, as it afcends . 
the fteeps of Ida, now loft in it's thick 
woods, now in full blaze, winding around 
it's rocks. 

But furely there is an error of judgment 
in making Cupid w r ing an arrow to the 
breaft of Jove, as the retinue approaches, 
fince that mode of awakening the paffions 
of Jupiter for his queen, renders the charm- 
ed ceftus a fuperfluous gift. And again, this 
gay car is reprefented as drawn by doves ; 
from- which it fhould feem that Venus had 
lent her equipage, as well as her girdle, on 
that occafion. 

R The 


The addrefs of the God to his Goddefi 
is incomparably more elegant in the verfe 
of Darwin than in the tranflation of Cow- 
per, or even of Pope. Thus fays Cowper, 
\vith all that cramp literality which hob- 
bles through his verfion. 

Soon he accofted her, and thus inquir'd : 
" Juno, what region feeking, haft thou left 
" Th' Olympian fummit, and haft here arriv'd 
" With neither fteeds nor chariot in thy train ?" 


Fix'd on her eyes he fed his eager look, 
Then prefs'd her hand, and thus tranfported fpoke : 
" Why comes my Goddefs from th' etherial Iky, 
" And not her fteeds, and flaming chariot nigh ?*" 


Pierc d on his throne, the darting Thund'rer turns. 
Melts with foft fighs, with kindling rapture burns j 
Clafps her fair hand, and eyes, in fond amaze, 
The bright Intruder with enamour'd gaze ; 
" And leaves my Goddefs, like a blooming bride, 
" The fanes of Argos, for the rocks of Ide j 
M Her gorgeous palaces, and amaranth bos^crs, 
" For clirT-top'd mountains, and aerial towers ?" 

3 But 


But to refume the Botanic Goddefs and 
her enumeration of the interefting employ- 
ments of her third clafs of Nymphs ; their 
difpofal of all thofe bright waters which 
make Britain irriguous, verdant, and fertile. 
We find this beautiful couplet in the courfe 
of the paflage : 

You, with nice ear, in tiptoe trains pervade 
Dim walks of morn *, or evening's filent (hade, 

She then places them on the fhore, 
liftening to it's paufmg murmurs, and to 
the fong of the Nereid, as on her playful 
fea-horfe fhe glides over the twilight- main. 
Another exquifite pidure arifes, profefledly 
from an antique gem. Great fkill is fhown 
in varying the attitude, appearance, and 
employments of this beautiful Sea-Nymph, 
on her voyage, from thofe of Europa, 
croffing the fea on her bull, in the preced- 

* What exquifite picture ! 

R 3- ing 


ing Canto. Her's is a day, and this is a 
night voyage. Europa draws up her feet 
beneath her robe, fearful of touching the 
water ; thcjecure Nereid drops them care- 
lefsly down. Europa clings timidly round 
the neck of her Taurus, and refts her cheek 
upon the curls of his forehead, while her 
mantle floats unheeded on the breeze. The 
Nereid has no apprehenfion ; flie and her 
fteed are both in their element. She gives 
him the rein, lifts her eyes to the evening 
ftar, and fmgs the birth of Venus. She 
reftrains her arching veil, with her hands, 
from floating on the gales of night, while 
the mantle of, Europa was abandoned to 
the day-breeze. The Nereid is without 
fear, and therefore attends to the prefer- 
vation of her drefs ; Europa is fomewhat 
frightened, and therefore pays no attention 
to hers. Thefe differences, however ap- 
parently, are not really trivial. The mere 
verfifier knows not how to create them. 


DR. DARWIN. 24$ 

The Poet knows their importance; how 
much they will infpirit his portraits, and 
diftinguiih them from each other. In the 
progrefs of this epifode the Nereid loofes 
her veil (we may conclude the wind had 
fallen) and we meet the following defcrip- 
tion of a very graceful operation, that of a 
lovely female combing her lavifh treffes : 

O'er her fair brow her pearly comb unfurls 
Her beryl locks, and parts the waving curls ; 
Each tangled braid, with/glift'ning teeth unbinds, 
And with the floating treafure mulks the winds. 

This is not a repetition of the employ- 
ment of the new- born Venus, in the fecond 
Canto. She had recently /emerged, and 
therefore her hair muft neceffarily hang 
uncurled, and flie is in the attitude of 
wringing the water from her golden trefles; 
than which no pofition can be more fa- 
vourable to female fymmetry. 

Do&or Darwin's poem paints every 

attitude and employment which, in either 

R3 fex, 


fex, can be rendered elegant. No author 
ever had a mind more keenly awakened 
to grace in all its varieties, or could more 
exquifitely paint it. 

That perception, and that talent, the, in 
his clafs of compofition, peerlefs Richardfon 
poflefled in an equal degree. No profe- 
writer ever was, or perhaps ever will be, fb 
great a painter ; and to that power what a 
conftellation of other endowments contri- 
buted to immortalize the pages of ClarhTa 
and Grandifon ! Novels no longer, but 
Englifli Claffics, tranflated into every Eu- 
ropean language, and in all foreign countries 
confidered as fome of the nobleft efforts of 
Britifh Genius, , 

But the Darwinian Nereid has been left 
a, little before hey time; other eircum- 
fiances attend her, too poetic to remain 
unnoticed. Her fong " thrills the waves ;" 
and the lhadowy Forms of Night gleam on 
the margin of the fliore, " with pointed 

ears/ 1 

DR. DARWIN. 247 

" ears/' to denote the a<5l of liftening. 
Perhaps that chara&eriftic had been better 
omitted, fmce it belongs to brute, not to 
human animals, and is at war with the 
imaginary grace of thefe twilight forms. 
The Moon paufes, and the Stars ihoot from 
their fpheres to liften. That laft circum- 
ftance is evidently from Shakefpear's alle- 
gory in The Midfummer Night's Dream, 
alluding to the confpiracies formed in favor 
of the imprifoned Queen of Scotland, by 
the Duke of Norfolk, and other noblemen 
of the court of Elizabeth. This is the 
allegory : 

I faw a Mermaid on a Dolphin's back 
Uttering fuch dulcet and harmonious founds, 
That tlje rude fea grew civil at her fong, 
And certain ftars ihot madly from their fpheres, 
To hear the Sea-Maid's mufic. 

That he might guard againft the dif- 
pleafure of Elizabeth for this fally, it is 
immediately followed by as high an allego- 
ric compliment paid to herfelf. 

R 4 On 


On the Poet's difmiflal of the Nereid, 
the death of Mrs. French of Derby, is 
introduced as a fubjecl: of forrow to the 
Water- Nymphs of its riv^er. This picture 
of Milcena is very lovely, ftraying with her 
infants on the banks of the Derwent, and 
pondering, with fcientific eye, the infefls 
and plants on the fhores of that flream. 
There is a tender ftrain of morality in this 
pafTage ; but the annexed epitaph on Mrs. 
French, however beautiful as poetry, is by 
no means fit for it's originally purpofed 
fituation, a tombftone in the great church 
at Derby. The author of thefe memoirs 
is ignorant whether, or not, it is there in- 
fcribed. " Clouds of filver, and Beauty 
" pleading for her hufband's errors at the 
" throne of God/' may form a very poeti- 
cal, but it is a very heathenim refurre&ion. 

The mention of Brindley, the Father of 

commercial Canals, has propriety as well 

as happinefs. Similitude for their courfe, 

I to 

DR. DARWIN. 249 

to the finuous track of a ferpent, pro- 
duces a fine piclure of a gliding animal of 
that fpecies, and it is fucceeded by thefe 
fupremely happy lines : 

So, with flrong arm, immortal Brindley leads 
His long canals, and parts the velvet meads $ 
Winding in lucid lines, the watery mafs 
Mines the firm rock, or loads the deep morafs ; 
With riling locks a thoufand hills alarms, 
Flings o'er a thoufand ftreams it's filver arms $ 
Feeds the long vale, the nodding woodland laves, 
And Plenty,, Arts, and Commerce, freight the waves. 

Nymphs, who erewhile on Brindley's early bier, 
On fnow-white bofoms (hower'd th' incefTant tear, 
Adorn his tomb! Oh, raife the marble bu ft, 
Proclaim his honors, and protect his duft ! 
With urns inverted, round the facred flirine 
Their ozier wreaths let weeping Naiads twine, 
While on the top mechanic Genius ftands, 
Counts the fleet waves, and balances the fands! 

There is a note to this paflage, which 
urges the duty of erecting a monument to 
Brindley in Lichfield Cathedral. Certainly 
it would be to the credit of thofe who 


250 M KM (MRS OF 

fhould iubfcribe to raife it, fince the county 
of Stafford has been fo materially benefited 
by his fuccefsful plans ; but in the above 
eulogium, Dr. Darwin has given him a 
more enduring memorial than ftone or 
marble could beftow. 

The mechanifm of the pump is next 
defcribed with curious ingenuity. Com- 
mon as is the machine, it is not unworthy 
of a place in this fplendid compofition, as 
being, after the finking of wells, the earlieft 
of thofc inventions, which, in fituations 
of exterior aridnefs, gave ready acceffion to 
water. This familiar object is illuftrated 
by a picture of Maternal Beauty adminif- 
tering fuftenance to her Infant. To that 
fucceeds an energetic reproof, and pathetic 
admonition to mothers in affluent life, 
whom indolence, or diflipation, feduces to 
the unnatural neglect of that delightful 
duty. For an infant flumbering on the 
maternal bofom which has nourished him, 



there is the following allegoric fimile, of no 
common elegance : 

Thus, charm'd to fweet repofe, when twilight hours 
Shed their foft influence on celeftial bowers, 
The cherub, Innocence, with fmile divine, 
Shuts his white wings, and fleeps on Beauty's flyine. 

The Ode to Morning, in Elfrida, con* 
tains a nearly refembling image ; thus : 

Away, ye Elves, away, 

Shrink at ambrofial morning's living ray ! 
That living ray, whofe power benign 

Unfolds this fcene of glory to our eye, 

Where, thron'd in artlefs majefty, 
The cherub Beauty fits on Nature's ruftic flirine. 

Probably to the involuntary plagiarism 
of forgotten impreffion, we owe this fifter- 
piflure on the page of Dr. Darwin, 

The ufe of water by the fire-engine next 
occurs. Poetry has nothing more fublime 
than this, the preceding pidure of a Town 
on Fire : 

From dome to dome when flames infuriate ciimb, ; 
Sweep the long tfreet. inveft the tower fublirne ; 


?52 MEMOIB5- OF j 

Gild the tail vanes amid th' aftonifh'd night, 
And reddening heaven returns the fanguine light j 
While, with vaft ftrides and briflling hair, aloof 
Pale Danger glides along the falling roof; 
And giant Terror, howling in amaze, 
Moves his dark limbs acrofs the lurid blaze : 
Nymphs, you firft taught the gelid waves to rife,, 
Hurl'd in refplendent arches to the ikies j 
In iron cells cqndens'd the airy fpring, 
And imp'd the torrent with unfailing wing ; 
On the fierce flame the fliower impetuous falls, 
.And fudden darknefs fhrouds the fhatterd walls j 
Steam., fmoke, and dufl, in blended volumes roll, 
And Night and Silence repoffefs the pole. 

Dryden, in his Annus Mirabilis, has 
defcribed the great fire in London. Some 
very fine lines occur in that defcription, 
but it is prolix and feeble in comparifbri 
with the above. 

The melancholy circumftances of the 
Woodmafon family, and that of Lady 
Molefworth, each of whom fuffered dread- 
fully by fire, are next pourtrayed with 
much pathetic folemnity, and the Water- 


DR. DARWIN. 253 

Nymphs are reproached for not having 
.prevented thofe evils. 

After this mournful little drama, the 
Botanic Queen allots new tafks to thefe 
her hand-maids in the care of vegetation, 
and they are beautifully fpecified. To 
them fucceeds an highly interefting pic- 
ture of Sympathy in a female form, bend- 
ing over a rock to affift the fhip- wrecked 
mariners ; fhe is Ihown afterwards as fup- 
porting feeble Age on her arm, pouring 
balm into the wounds of Sorrow ; match- 
ing the dagger from Defpair ; lulling Envy 
to fieep, and while fhe repofes, .ftealing her 
envenomed arrows from her quiver. An 
animated eulogium on a benevolent young 
lady of Ireland, diverfifies thefe commif- 
fions; alfo three of Hercules' labors. A 
flooded country, is prefented in the deluged 
Etolia ; and the Water Fiend, who caufed 
the inundation, and whom Hercules fub- 
dues a fecond time, when affuming the 


254 MEMOIRS or 

form of a make, it attempts tb efcape from 
the hero. It is thus admirably pictured : 

Then to a fnake the finny Demon turn'd, 
His lengthen'd form, with fcales of filver burn'd ; 
Lafh'd, with refiftlefs fweep, his dragon-train, 
And (hot meandering o'er th' affrighted plain. 

Perhaps the defcription of the Fiend's 
next transformation into a Bull, is not 
eminently judicious ; the terms " filver 
" hoofs," and " flowery meadows," which 
might well have fuited the gentle bull of 
Europa, are too nice and gay to harmonize 
well with the enraged monfter, one of 
whofe horns was torn off by Hercules, 
Of the habits and manners of that formi- 
dable Brute, when incenfed, a very inferior 
Poet, lately deceafed, has given a more 
impreffive picture. We fometimes find 
one or two good paflages in the writings of 
ordinary verifiers. Sternhold's and Hop- 
kins' nonfenfical and vulgar tranflation of 
the Pfalms, contain eight lines which Pope 


DR, DARWIN. 255 

profefled to envy. Though Hurdis was 
chofen Profeflbr of Poetry in Oxford con- 
trary to Pope's precept, 

Let fuch teach others who themfelves excel* 

yet he has given a defcription of the 
only very terrific Engliih animal, which, 
when weeded of a long interrupting di- 
greffion in the middle of it, about a thun- 
der-ftorm, forms the moft natural portrait 
of a malicious Bull that can perhaps be 
found in any of our poets ; thus, 

Tis pleafure to approach, 

And, by the ftrong fence mielded, view fecure 
Thy terrors, Nature, in the favage Bull. 
Soon as he marks me, be the tyrant fierce, 
To earth defcends his head ; hard breathe his lungs 
Upon the dufiy fod. A fulky leer 
Gives double horror to the frowning curls 
That wrap his forehead j and ere long is heard, 
From the deep cavern of his lordly throat, 
The growl infufferable. * Tramples then 

* Hire comes in the impertinent thunder ftorm. 



The furly Brute, impatient of difdain, 
And fpurns the foil with irritated hoofj 
Himfelf inhaler of the dufty fod; 
Himfelf infulted by the pebbly mower, 
Which his vain fury raifes. Nothing fear'd, 
Let him, incens'd, from agitated lungs 
Blow his fhrill trump acute till echo ring, 
And, with a leer of malice, deal away, 
Affault and vengeance fwearing ere be long ! 

The laft com'mand of the Botanic God- 
defs to her Water- Nymphs, enforces their 
duties to plants and flowers ; to render the 
vales irriguous, and to feed with their rills 
the floral and herbaceous roots. To the 
courfe of this moift nutriment through the 
vegetable fibres, is compared that of the 
chyle through the human frame ; and to 
that, another fimile fucceeds. As the firft 
is fcientific, fb is the fecond pi<flurefque ; 
it is a Turkifli pilgrimage to Mecca, con- 
fifting of various caravans on their road 
over the fultry and fandy defert, and meet- 
ing with a pure rill, which, defcending 
from diflant rocks, had taken it's courfe 


bR. DARWIN. 257 

through the wafte plain. The parched 
Travellers alight, kneel on the brink in 
grateful joy, and, bending over it, afluage 
their third. This rill fomewhat fud~ 
denly becomes a lake, and reflects the eager 
and delighted multitude. With this little 
fcenethe com miffions to the Water-Nymphs 
Conclude, and their obedient flight is 
fcarcely lefs poetically featured than that 
of the Nymphs of Fire. The fimilies, 
which illuftrate the flight of the aqueous 
minifters, are the evolutions of the water- 
fpider, and the exercife of Ikaiting amongft 
the natives of northern climates. The laft 
is thus admirably defcribed : 

So where the North congeals his watry mafs, 
Piles high his fnows, and floors his feas with glafs, 
While many a month, unknown to warmer rays, 
Marks it's flow chronicle by lunar days ; 
Stout youths and ruddy maids, a fportive. train, 
Leave the white foil and rufti upon the main. 
From ifle to ifle the moon-bright fquadrons ftray, 
And win, in graceful curves, their eafy way ; 

s On 


On ftep alternate borne, with balance nice 
Hang o'er the gliding fteel, and hifs along the ice. 


Confifts of a charge to the Sylphs, as be- 
nevolent fpirits, to protecl the vegetable 
fubftances, after they had emerged to light 
and air ; to defend them from all the malig- 
nant operations of nature, and to cherifh 
and affift the influence they may receive 
from all her vital and benign powers. 

The deadly and falubrious winds ; the 
volcanic and peftilential airs ; the Tornado, 
dreadful to mariners, &c. ; every thing here 
has animal life and confcioufnefs. It was 
the author's plan, and he could not, at leaft 
in his own idea, depart from it with pro- 
priety. Hence, the Sylphs alfo are re- 
minded of having prefided at the nuptials 
of the pureft of the Airs with Light. The 
paffage which ulhers in this whimfical 



marriage, is very beautiful, the expreffion, 
" fimpering lips," excepted ; but it was 
difficult to find variety of terms equally 
happy where the effect of pleafurable fen- 
fations on the countenance mufl fo often 
be defcribed. From thefe aerial nuptials 
vital fpirit is fuppofed to proceed, which 
pervades and animates all nature. The 
loves and marriage of Cupid and Piyche 
are prefented, poetically pictured from the 
well-known gems. This life-infufing air 
is contrafted with the Syroc of Italy, and 
the Simoon of the African defert. The 
laft is prefented as a Demon. Univerfal 
perfonification was the order of the Mufe 
in this work, not to be infringed ; elfe, 
when circumftances are in themfelves fub- 
lime (and moft things terrible in nature 
become fublime in poetry), they are more 
likely to be of diminimed than increafed 
force, by the addition of fabled endow- 
ment. A comparifon between the Simoon 
s 3 defcribed 


defcribed literally by Southey, in his Joan 
of Arc, and figuratively by Darwin, will 
perhaps evince the truth of this obfer- 

The Botanic Queen fays to her Sylphs, 

Arreft Simoon amid his wafle of fand, 
The poifon'd javlin balanced in his hand ! 
Fierce on blue ftreams he rides the tainted air, 
Points his keen eye, and waves his whirling hair j 
While, as he turns, the undulating foil 
Rolls it's red waves, and billowy deferts boil. 

This is a fine picture of the Demon ot 
Peftilence. The fpeed of his approach is 
marked by the ftrong current of air in 
which he pafled, and by the term whiffling 
annexed to his hair. The winds have 
hitherto, almoft exclufively, poffeffed that 
term. Here transferred to the lifted hair 
of the Demon, it increafes the terrific powder 
of his approach. But let the Simoon be 
viewed where it's terrible graces are native, 


DR. DARWIN. 26l 

and no attempt made to heighten them by 



Ominous fear 

Seizes the traveller o'er the tracklefs fands, 
Who marks the dread Simoon acrofs the wafte 
Sweep it's fwift peflilence. To earth he falls, < 
Nor dares give utterance to the inward prayer, 
Deeming the Genius of the defert breathes 
The purple blaft of Death. 

We are informed by travellers, that to 
inhale the leaft portion of this mephitic 
blafl is fatal. They therefore fall on their 
faces, and hold their breath till it has parfed 
over them. 

But the Darwinian perfonification of 
the Tornado fublimely heightens the hor- 
ror of that watry peft. It fucceeds that of 
the Simoon; and the Fog, invefted with 
animality, forms an immediate and ftrik- 
ing contraft to the preceding monfters. 
It is drawn with fuch fmgular felicity of 
s 3 imagi- 


imagination that there is no refilling 'the 
defire of quoting the paffage here : 

Sylphs, with light (hafts, you pierce the drowfy Fog, 
That lingering (lumbers on the fedge-wove bog, 
And with webb'd feet o'er midnight meadows creeps, 
Or flings his hairy limbs o'er ftagnant deeps. 

The benevolent little fpirits are then 
exhorted to combat Contagion, ftealing 
from charnel-vaults to bring death to the 
people. The plague, which in 1636 raged 
in Holland, is here introduced, with a 
beautiful ftory of faithful Love prevailing 
over the defire of felf-prefervation. A 
young maid is firft feized in a, till then, un- 
infected family. This admirable line de- 
notes the dread of it's other individuals to 
approach, affift, or comfort her, 

And ftarting Friendmip fhunn'd her as me pafs'd. 

Perceiving herfelf deferted, and fearing 
to fpread the infe&ion amongft thofe fhe 
loved, Ihe feeks the garden, determined to 


DR. DARWIN. 263 

die there. Her betrothed lover hears of 
her fituation, and purfues her thither; 
raifes a tent ; procures her food, covering, 
and medicines ; binds her fevered brows, 
and ftrews aromatic herbs and flowers upon 
her pillow. He efcapes the contagion 
himfelf, and reftores his beloved miftrefs to 
health. The Poet has very fweetly told 
this interefting tale ; a fmgle epithet is 
perhaps the only word it contains which 
could be altered to advantage. It is in the 
following line, 

And clafp'd the bright infection in his arms. 

The adjeclive bright is too gay for it's 
fituation ; fair, or kvd, would be more 
fubdued, and in better keeping with the 
mournful tendernefs of the narration. 

Lefs bold, fays the Poet, was Leander, 
eying, as he fwam, the love-lighted tower. 
Lefs bold alfo, Tobias, inftrucled by an 
angel to drive away the demon from the 
fatal bride. 

s 4 The 


The Sylphs are now applauded by their 
Queen for having inftrufted Torricelli and 
Boyle, concerning the properties of air, 
it's preflure and elafticity. The operations 
of the weather-glafs and air-pump are 
defcribed with philofophic accuracy and 
poetic elegance. Young Roffiere's dire 
.fate, precipitated from his flaming mont- 
golfier, comes forward here, and is pictured 
\vith great poetic ftrength ; nor is the il- 
luftration of that lamentable event, by the 
fable of Icarus, lefs happy in it's novel and 
mournful graces ; his faithlefs and fcattered 
plumage dancing on the wave ; the Mer- 
maids decking his watry tomb, ftrewing 
over his corfe the pearly fea-flowers, and 
{hiking, in the coral towers, the paufing 
bell, which echos through the caves of 
Ocean ! Surely it is not poffible to admire 
too fondly the beautiful and exhauftlefs 
varieties of this darling Bard of Fancy. 

Critics have aflerted, that the poetic 


DR. DARWIN. 265 

mind has little effiorefcence after middle 
life ; that, however the judgment may 
ftrengthen, the vivid luxuriance of the 
imagination abates. Milton's Paradife Loft, 
Darwin's Botanic Garden, and Cowper's 
Talk, each began after life had many years 
declined from it's meridian, confute the 
dogma. Dr. Johnfon has combated it's 
fallacy, and with more truth obierved, that 
fo long as the understanding retains it's 
ftrength, the fancy, from time to time, 
acquires added vigor and new ftores of 
imagery. Nor does the extreme poetic 
inferiority of the Paradife Ptegained to the 
Paradife Loft, at all difprove the converfe 
proportion. We are to look for that in- 
feriority in the fo much more reftraining 
nature of the Jubje? t for poetry, above all 
others, improper. Poetry ! to whofe very 
exiftence, if it is to deferve it's name, an 
infinitely larger portion of inventive and * 
figurative ornament is neceffary than the 



hallowed fobriety of the New Teftament 
and it's myfteries, can admit without the 
moil revolting impropriety. It's choice, as 
the theme of an Epic Poem, was a radical 
error, which neceflarily involved thofe long 
trains of comparative profaicifm, over which 
we yawn, however fometimes awakened 
by noble paflages to recognife ftrength, 
which, though feldom put forth, we feel 
to be undiminifhed ; to difcern fome rays 
of light which, amidft their infrequency, 
we yet perceive to be unfaded. 

Frefh commendation is next given to the 
Sylphs for their infpirations in the mind of 
Dr. Prieftley, concerning his analyfis of the 
atmofphere. The paflage is moft poetic, 
although purely chemical. Air calcining 
the phlogiftic ores is termed the marriage 
of Ether with the Mine. Thefe nuptials 
are illuftrated by the retold ftory of Pluto 
and Proferpine. There is much propriety 
in this illuftration, fince Lord Bacon has 


DR. DARWIN, 267 

explained that fable as an hieroglyphic 
allufion, to fignify " the combination, or 
" marriage of etherial fpirit with earthly 
" materials." 

A whimfical pofiibility is next fuppofed ; 
that Dr. Prieftley's difcoveries will here- 
after enable adventurers to travel beneath 
the ocean in large inverted fhips and div- 
ing balloons. A note to this paffage afferts, 
that the experiment was fuccefsfully made 
'by a Frenchman in the reign of James the 
Firft, and it ftates the particulars. A fplen- 
did fub-marine voyage next occurs. It 
is to the warm tropic feas and lhadowy 
ice-ifles of the polar regions, and to be 
performed by Britannia. Her tears are to 
flow as Ihe pafles over the fad and vifible 
remains of fliip-wrecked lovers, mercantile 
and fcientific adventurers, particularly thofe 
of Day and Spalding, who each perilhed in 
their diving-bells. Here the deplored fate 



of Captain Pierce, his family and fellow- 
voyagers, thus forms a tragic drama: 

Oft o'er thy lovely daughters, haplefs Pierce ! 

Her fighs mall breathe, her forrows dew their hearfe. 

With brow upturned to heav'n, " We will not part/' 

He cried, and clafp'd them to his aching heart. 

Dam'd in dread conflict on the rock,y grounds, 

Crafh the ihock'd marls, the daggering wreck rebounds ; 

Through gaping feams the rufhing deluge fwims ; 

Chills their pale bofoms, bathes their fhuddering limbs ; 

Climbs their white fhoulders, buoys their flreaming hair, 

And the laft fea-mriek bellows in the air. 

Each, with loud fobs, their tender (ire carefs'd, 

And gafping, ftrain'd him clofer to her breaft. 

Stretch'd on one bier they fleep beneath the brine, 

And their white bones with ivory arms entwine. 

The third, fourth, and fifth, couplets of 
the above quotation, are extremely fine 
pictures, and " found never echoed fenfe" 
with more folemn horror than " and the 
" laft fea-fhriek bellowed in the air." The 
defcription ought to have clofed with that 
line, and the next couplet fhould have im- 

BR. DARWIN. 269 

mediately folio wed the paternal exclamation. 
Beyond the utmoft power of the pencil do 
the fix grand verfes of this paflage image 
death by fhipwreck ; but the " white bones 
and " ivory arms"of the concluding line, are 
every way exceptionable. They difturb the 
awful impreffion made on the mind by the 
laft fea-fliriek. Aiming to be pathetic they 
are in reality ludicrous, the ivory arms of 

bones ! The bones of ivory arms we might 
underftand, though it would be affecled 
expre-ffion, but the converfe terms feem 
nonfenfe. One of the firft of our exifting 
poets, Mr. Crowe, public orator at Oxford, 
whofe compofitions, by their genuine ex- 
cellence, atone for their too limited quan- 
tity, has told this fad ftory with folemn 
and fimple beauty in his Lewefdon Hill, 
one of the nobleft local poems in our 
language. In his narration we find no- 
thing which can ftrictly be termed pidtu- 
refque, though the four introduttory lines 



are highly fo ; but we find a great deal of 
Milton's manner in the progrefs of the 
tale, written in view of the rocks on which 
the Halfewell {truck. 


See how the fun,, here clouded, afar off 
Pours down the golden radiance of his light 
Upon th' enridged fea, where the black fliip 
Sails on the phofpher-feaming waves. So fair, 
But falfely flattering, was yon furface calm, 
"When forth for India fail'd, in evil hour, 
That vefiel, whofe difaftrous fate, when told, 
Fill'd every breail with horror, and each eye 
With piteous tears, fo cruel was the lofs ! 
Methiiiks I fee her, by the wintry ftorm 
Shattcr'd and driven along paft yonder ifle ' 
She drove, her lateft hope by ftrength or art, 
To gain the port within it j or at worft, 
To fhun that harbourlefs and hollow coaft, 
From Portland eaftward to the Promontory, 
Where (till St. Albans high-built chapel Hands. 
But art nor ftrength avail her, on flie drives, 
In ftorm and darknefs, to that fatal coaft ! 
And there, mid rocks and high o'erhanging cliffs, 
Dafti'd piteoufly, with all her precious freight 


DR. DARWIN. 271 

Was loft, by Neptune's wild and foamy jaws 
Swallow'd up quick ! The i ichlieft laden {hip 
Of fpicy Ternate, or that, annual fent 
To the Philippines o'er the fouthern main 
From Acapulco, carrying marTy gold, 
Were poor to this; freighted with hopeful youth 
And beauty, and high courage undifmay'd 
By mortal terrors j and paternal love, 
Strong and unconquerable, even in death. 
Alas ! they perifii'd all, all in ONE HOUR ! 

Refuming the principal fubjecT: of thefe 
ftridures, we find the harmonic difcoveries 
attributed to the aerial hand-maids. Their 
miftrefs fuppofes them to have breathed 
their grand and exquifite infpirations into 
the ear of Handel; to wake the tones on 
the fliell of Echo ; to melt in fweet chords 
upon the Eolian harp ; and on the lips of 
Cecilia to breathe the fong. Another 
lovely picture arifes here, from an ancient 
gem, Cupid on a Lion's back, playing on a 

The Goddefs proceeds to confider her 



Nymphs of Air as Minifters of Divine Ven- 
geance on the Guilty, through the medium 
of tempefts, and the peftilential winds of 
the Eaft, as Samiel, Harmattan, &c. and 
the fcripture ftory of the fate of Senacherib 
is told. The ravage of death, produced 
by thofe peftilential gales, forms a fublime 
perfonification ; thus, 

Hark ! o'er the camp the venom'd teirrpeft fings ! 
Man falls on man j on buckler buckler rings ; 
Groan anfwers groan 5 to anguifh anguilh yields, 
And death's dread accents {hake the tented fields, 
High rears the Fiend his grinning jaws, and wide 
Spans the pale nations with coloflal ftride : 
Waves his broad falchion with uplifted hand, 
And his vaft ihadow darkens all the land ! 

Whether by coincidence or plagiarifm 
on the part of Dr. Darwin, is uncertain, 
but in Mr, Sergeant's noble prophetic Ode 
on the Woes of the Houfe of Stuart, com- 
mencing with fair unfortunate Mary's cala- 
mities, we find the laft fublime image, thus, 

i From 

DR, DARWIN. 273 

From Orkney's flormy fteep 
The fpirit of ths ifles infuriate came ; 

Round him flam'd the ar&ic flame, 
His dark cloud lhadow'd the contentious deep ! 

This Ode was publiflied in 1788. The 
Economy of Vegetation in 1791. 

That poem proceeds with another ex- 
hortation to the etherial Cohorts to protecl 
the vernal children ; impart the talifman 
which guides the veering winds, and, by 
it's influence, enchain Boreas and Eurus, 
fo often fatal to early luxuriance, vegetable 
and animal. Thus mall they, (he beau- 
tifully fays, 

Rock th' uncurtain'd cradle of the year. 

The deftrudion and reproduction of the 
aoofphere, is allegorifed by a monfter of 
magnitude more immenfe than that of 
Satan, when, on the page of Milton, he 
{hides from hill to hill. This is a Came- 
lion beneath the northern conftellation. 
T We,. 


We find much grandeur of fancy in this 
aerial giant. His groan is the thunder, his 
figh' the tempeft, as he fleers his courfe to 
the fouth, and fpreads his iliadowy limbs 
over the line, with froft and famine in his 
track. The Sylphs are adjured to direct 
his courfe .to benevolent purpofes ; to cool 
Arabian vales with his antarctic breathing ; 
and, in the following harmonious line, 

To fcatter rofes o'er Zelandic fnows. 

This allegory concludes unhappily, with 
a perfonal compliment to Mr. Kirwan, 
(i who has publiflied a valuable Treatife 
" on the/temperature of Climates." Thofe 
Compliments to ingenious profeffors would 
often find their more proper place in the 
notes, except where they form a fimile ; 
but, as in this inftance, a living man placed 
between the dragon wings of an imaginary 
and immeasurable moniler, is a ridiculous 


DR. DARWIN. 275 

idea. Often, through the courfe of this 
work, does fuch intermixture of adual and 
ideal beings difturb and interrupt, rather 
than agreeably diverfifjr, the courfe of the 
allegory. The foon-enfuing mention of 
the celebrated Herfchel, and his ftellar dif- 
coveries, is made in the form of a fimile, 
and is therefore unexceptionable ; and it 
p'affes on to the following charming apof- 
trophe to the Stars. 

Roll on, ye Stars ! exult in youthful prime, 

Mark, with bright curves, the printlefs fteps of Time! 

Near, and more near, your beamy cars approach, 

And lefiening orbs on lefiening orbs incroach. 

Flowers of the Iky ! ye too to age muft yield, 

Frail as your filken filters of the field j 

Star after {tar from heavn's high arch lhall rufh, 

Suns (ink on funs, on fyftems fyftems rufti^ 

Headlong, extin6t, to one dark centre fall, 

And Death, and Night, and Chaos cover all 5 

Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the ftorm, 

Immortal nature lifts her changeful form; 

Mounts from the funeral pyre on wings of flame, 

And foars, and fhines, another and the fame. 

T 2 Returning 


Returning to the vegetable embryons, 
of which the Goddefs, between her men- 
tion of Kirwan and Herfchel had fpoken, 
fhe thus beautifully fays : 

Lo ! n each feed, within it's tender rind, 
Life's golden threads, in endlefs circles wind j 
Maze within maze the lucid webs are roll'd, 
And, as they burfl, the living flames unfold. 

The whole paflage is equally fine, and 
clofes thus : 

Life buds, or breathes, from Indus to the Poles, 
t And the vail furface kindles as it rolls. 

We find the fame image applied to 
Light in the firft Canto, as it is here to 
Vitality. Speaking of Chaos the Poet 
fays : 

Through all his realms the kindling Ether runs; 

Yet, far from ceniuring the very infre- 
quent repetitions, which we may find 
through this great work, wonder and praife 


DR. DARWIN. 277 

will rife in the mind of every true lover of 
the poetic art, contemplating that ex- 
hauftlefs variety of ideas, imagery and 
expreffion, which light up the fubjeci with 
a thoufand torches, kindled at the orb of 

Skilful blendings of philosophic know- 
ledge with poetic fancy, now occur in the 
birth and growth of plants and flowers. 
They are compared to the kindling and 
expanfion of animal life in the Crocodile, 
burfting from it's egg on the fhores of 
the Nile. It is a grand picture, though 
of fomewhat forced introduction. The 
charge on it's progrefs contains inftruction 
to gardeners, though it is addrefled to the 
Sylphs, and adorned by the parable of 
Aaron's rod. The banilhment of noxious 
infects by their cares, is enforced by the 
example of the Cyprepedia, a flower curi- 
oufly refembling the large American Spider. 
Linneus aflerts, that it catches fmall birds 

T3 - as 


as well as infeSs, and has the venomous 
bite of a ferpent ; and a French naturalift 
narrates, that it catches the humming bird 
in it's ftrong nets. The circumftance is 
thus elegantly pifiured in the Botanic 
Queen's horticultural adjurations, 

So where the humming-bird, in Chili's bowers, 
On r rmuring pinions robs the pendent flowers j 
Seeks where fine pores their dulcet balms diftill, 
And fucks the treafure with probofcis bill, 
Fell Cyprepedia, &c. 

The difeafes of plants are next pointed 
out, and they are illuftrated by a curious 
facl in glafs-making. The pictures of 
various flowers next rife on the page, in 
botanic difcrimination, and in all the hues 
of poetry. The exotic wealth of the Royal 
Garden at Kew is celebrated ; and the con- 
fcious pride of it's river, on the occafion, is 
thus fweetly fancied : 

Delighted Thames through tropic umbrage glides, 
The flowers antartic bending o'er his fides ; 
Drinks the new tints, the fcents unknown inhales, 
And calls the Sons of Science to the vales, 



Poetic homage is then paid to our King 
and Queen, to their virtues, their tafte for 
Botanic 'Science, and to the fair human 
Scions which themfelves have raifed. 

The Goddefs compliments her aerial 
Legions on attending the chariot of the 
Morning round the earth, on leading the 
gay Hours along the horizon ; on fhower- 
ing the light on every dun meridian, and 
on purfuing, from zone to zone, the per- 
ennial journey of the Spring. She commif- 
{ions them, on this their radiant tour, to 
bring her rich balms from the hallowed 
glades of Mecca, Arabian flowers, Italian 
fruits, and the tea-plants of China; alfo 

Each fpicy rind which fultry India boafts, 
Scenting the night-air round her breezy coafts ; 
Roots, whofe bold ftems in bleak Siberia blow, 
And gem with many a tint th' eternal fnowj 
Barks, whofe broad umbrage high in ether waves 
O'er Ande's fteeps, and hides his golden caves. 

Thus, with happy art, the Poet diverfifies 
T 4 and 

280 MEMOIRS or 

and animates floral enumeration with 
gleams of every-regioned landfcape. 

The Sylphs are then commanded to raife 
an altar to Hygeia ; to call to it's rites the 
difperfed Sifterhood, the Water Nymphs, 
from their floating clouds, their waves and 
fountains; to ftamp with charmed foot, 
and convoke the Gnomes from their fub- 
terranean palaces ; and to beckon from 
their fpheres the veftal forms of fire ; that 
thus, in full congregation, they may win 
the Goddefs of Health with unwearied 
vows. The pidurefque attitudes of fupplU 
cation, which ihe dictates, are eminently 
beautiful ; and, with a patriotic apoftrophe 
to Hygeia, the Britifh Queen of Botany 
concludes her embafly. 

O wave, Hygeia, o'er Britannia's throne 
Thy ferpent-wand, and mark it for thy own ! 
Lead round her breezy coafts thy guardian trains, 
Her nodding forefts, and her waving plains ! 
Shed o'er her peopled realms thy beamy fmile, 
And with thy airy temple crown her ifle I 


DR. DARWIN. 281 

The Goddefs of Botany now afcends 
with as much elegance as fhe had defcend- 
ed, and with more magnificence. If the 
reader is fufceptible of poetic beauty ; if he 
can feel that what never can be feen in 
reality, may yet be painted naturally ; a 
ftricT: furvey of this poetical afcenfion will 
enable him to perceive, what indeed count^ 
lefs other inftances in this Poem evince, 
that it's Author moft eminently poffefled 
that rare talent. 

The Goddefs ceas'd, and calling from afar 
The wandering Zephyrs, joins them to her car 5 
Mounts with light bound, and graceful as fhe bends, 
Whirls the long lalh, the flexile rein extends 5 
On whifpering wheels the filver axle Hides, 
Climbs into air, and cleaves the cryftal tides $ 
Burft from it's pearly chains, her amber hair 
Streams o'er her ivory fhoulders, buoy'd in air; 
Swells her white veil, with ruby clafp confin'd 
Round her fair brow, and undulates behind 5 
The leflening courfers rife in fpiral rings, 
Pierce the flow-failing clouds, and tfretch their Ihadowy 



If we could fee a light vehicle mount the 
horizon, it's wheels would whifper, it's axle 
ilide ; fo would it climb into air, fo divide 
the etherial currents, as a boat divides the 
waves of the river or the fea ; the courfers 
would rife in fpiral rings and pervade the 
clouds ; their wings would appear fhadowy 
till they melted into air. Thus concludes 
the Economy of Vegetation. 


DR. DARWIN. 283 

C H A P T E R VI. 

WE now come to yet more playful com- 
pofition in the fecond part of this Poem, 
as the floral fyftem is a lighter and lefs 
important theme than the elementary pro- 
perties, however generally gay the robes in 
which poetic imagination has drefled them 
both ; but let it never be forgotten that 
the fexual nature of plants has a demon- 
ftrated existence. 

The Preface to this fecond part is a 
compendium .of the Linnean fyftem. The 
Poem makes lively, yet very modeft claims 
for the fucceeding metamorphofes, amid 
whofe lighter graces we meet with paffages 
of intrinfic grandeur and fublimity. 




In which the Poet ordains that the Mufe 
of Botany fhall fucceed to it's afcended 
Emprefs, as hiftorian of the fcene, and 
didlatrefs to it's dramatis perfonas. He 
introduces her by invoking, in his own per- 
fbn, the attentive filence of the winds, the 
waters, and the trees, and by requefting the 
infefts to paufe upon their wings. Eight 
different infecls are mentioned, and each 
forms a ftriking picture of it's whole fpe- 
cies, by the Poet having feized and exhi- 
bited it's mofl characleriftic feature. He 
next apoftrophifes the Mufe who " led the 
" Swedim Sage by her airy hand," intreating 
her to fay how tiny Graces dwell on every 
leaf, and how the Pleafures laugh in the 
bell of a bloflbm. 

The Ovidian metamorphofis of the 

flowers then commences. The floral ladies, 

and their harems, rife to the amufed eye 

7 in 

' DR. DARWIKT. 28$ 

in all the glow of poetic colouring. At- 
tentive to diverfify them by the varieties 
of landfcape, we generally find this Pqet 
producing contrafted fcenery by the intro- 
duction of flowers or plants which arc 
indigenous to climates ftrikingly the reverfe 
of each other. Much of that happy fldll 
has been difplayed in the Economy of 
Vegetation, and inftances may be feleded 
from this it's brilliant precurfor, After 
feveral plants and flowers have pafled be- 
fore us in the femblance of beautiful wo- 
men, with their trains of adoring lovers, 
we find the folio wing fketches of contrafted 
landfcape attached to the feiftory of the 
focial heath-plant, Anthoxa, or vernal grafs, 
and the lonely Ofmunda, which grows on 
moift rocks and in their caverns. 

Two gentle fhepherds, and their lifter wives, 
With thee, Anthoxa, lead ambrofial lives $ 
Where the wide heath it's purple bed extends, 
And fcatter'd furze it's golden luftre blends, 



Clos'd in a green recefs, unenvied lot! 
The blue fmoke rifes fromlheir tnrf-built cot> 
Bofom'd in fragrance bluih their infant train, 
Eye the warm fun, and drink the filver rain. 

Beauteous Oimunda feeks the n'lent del), 
The ivy canopy, the dripping cell. 

In the defcription of the Chondrilla and 
her five amicable lovers, we find, in their 
accordant iympathy \vith each other, a 
fuppofed refemblance to the unifon-ftrings 
of the Eolian harp ; and there is a fweet 
enumeration of the excellences of it's varied 
ftvre of tones and expreffion. 

To the picture of the Lychnis fucceeds 
that of Gloriofa Superba, with her fuc- 
ceffive train of lovers, the fecond number 
rifing to maturity when the firlt periili. 
This libertine lady of the groves introduces 
the. ftory of the celebrated female Volup- 
tuary, in the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, 
Ninon de L'EncIos, whofe beauty and 
graces are recorded to have been trium- 
i phant 


pliant over the power of Time. The ftory 
of that paffion, fo terrible in it's confe- 
<juences, with which me unintentionally 
infpired her natural fon by Lord Jerfey of 
England, is finely told in this part ; that 
fon, totally unconfcious of his birth and 
fatal nearnefs of blood to the charming 
Madam de L'Enclos ! In the firft edition 
of the Loves of the Plants this extraor- 
dinary woman received both perfonal and 
mental injuftice from the prelude to that 
{lory. She is there reprefented by the 
Poet, as wrinkled, grey, and paralytic ; 
circumftances incompatible with the poffi- 
bility of the attachment, and contrary to 
the rcprefentation of her biographers. 
Upon their teftimony we learn that Ninon 
retained a large portion of her perfonal 
beauty and graces to an almoft incredible 
period ; that it was confiderable enough 
to procure her young lovers at the age of 



eighty, whofe paffion for her, however 
inconceivable, could not be interefted, as 
file was not rich, and much too delicate 
in her fentiments to purchafe the attention 
of the other fex. 

When her fon, by Lord Jerfey, was a 
young officer about Court, known to her 
but unknown to himfelf, Madame de 
L'Enclos was fcarcely forty years old, a 
period at which a very captivating degree 
of beauty and grace is fometimes found 
in the female fex. Of their exiftence at 
a confiderably later pefiod, the Englifh 
fafhionable circles, at this hour, exhibit 
fome remarkable inftances, 

In the firft edition of this Poem what is 
here fatal fmiles was harlot fmiles, an 
epithet moft injurious to Madame de 
L'Enclos. Her attentions to her ion, 
however affectionate, muft have been 
purely maternal, though fo deplorable in 



their confequcnces. The declaration by 
which fhe repulfes his impious fait, entirely 
acquits her of the leaft defign to infpire him 
with paflion. Dr. Darwin was influenced 
by the author of this Memoir to refcue 
the form of Ninon from the unreal decre- 
pitude he had imputed to it, and her prin- 
ciples from fuch unnatural excels of de- 

If we may credit her hiftorians, Ninon 
was an exception to a maxim of the Duke 
de Rochefaucault, which has perhaps very 
few exceptions, viz. " Generally fpeaking, 
" the leaft fault of an unchafte woman is 
" her unchaftity." Confidering this remark 
as an axiom, the reafon probably is, that 
chaftity being the point of honor, as well 
as of virtue in women, it's violation has a 
ftrong tendency to engraft deceit and ma- 
lignity upon the fecret confcioufnefs of 
felf-abafement ; a confcioufnefs more fatal 
to the exifience of other good qualities 

U than 


than voluptuoufnefs itfelf ; a confcioufnefs 
too likely to produce hatred and envy to- 
wards people of fpotlefs reputation, toge- 
ther with a defire to reduce others to their 
own unfortunate level. The great Moral- 
ift of the Old Teftarnent, fays, " There is 
" no wickednefs like the wickednefs of a 
" woman;" not becaufe the weaker fex 
are naturally more depraved, but from the 
improbability that a fallen female iliould 
ever, even upon the fincereft repentance, 
regain the efteem and confidence of fociety, 
while it pardons a male libertine the inftant 
he feems difpofed to forfake his vice, and 
too often during it's full career. 

But the fault of Madam de L'EncIos 
was fingle, and furrounded by folid virtues. 
Truth, fmcerity/ difinterefted friendfhip, 
economy, generofity, and ftrid pecuniary 
juftice, marked her commerce with the 
world, and fecured to her the friendfhip 
and countenance of the moft eminent 


DR. DARWIN. 291 

people of that epoch, both as to talents and 

The rigid and pious Madame de Main- 
tenon never ceafed to be her avowed and 
intimate friend, as appears from a moft 
interefting dialogue which pafled between 
them after Maintenon became the wife of 
Louis the Fourteenth. It will be found 
in the Memoirs of Madame de L'Enclos, 
which are elegantly tranflated from the 
French into our language, and were pub- 
liftied by Dodfley in 1761. It is a very 
brilliant and entertaining work. 

After the animation of the Silene, or 
Catch Fly, as an enchantrefs ; after that 
of the Amarylis, illuftrated by a beautiful 
pifture of a church vane in the fetting fun, 
the Ilex, or Holly, corries forward with her 
giant lovers, grafping their thoufand arrows. 
With this metamorphofis we find involved 
a lovely allufion to Needwood Foreft, the 
late pride and glory of Staffordmire, now 
u 3 facrificing, 


facrific'mg, with all it's proftrate honors, to 
a popular fcheme of apprehended utility. 

Mr. Wright's pictures are here introduced 
as a fimile ; but it muft be confefled that 
not the moft diftant firnilitude can be 
traced between them and the Ilex, or Holly, 
which, as enchanters and giants, guard the 
Foreft; but the poetic copy of thefe un- 

allulive landfcapes is tranfcendent. 


The immenfe Kleinhovia, indigenous to 
the plains of Orixa, is prefented as an ama- 
zonian nymph ; and as the male parts or 
the tree are, in nature, fupported by the 
female, me is pourtrayed in Herculean 
beauty, bearing in her arms her puny 
lovers, trembling beneath the confcioufnefs 
of her fuperior ftrength. A grand picture 
of the Grecian Thaleftris, appropriate to 
the fubje&j thus illuftrates the transform- 
ation : 

So bright Thaleftris fhook her plumy creft, 
And bound in rigid mail her Dwelling breaft, 


DR. DARWIN. 293 

Pois'd her long lance amid the walks of war, 
And Beauty thunder'd from Bellona's car; 
Greece, arm'd in vain ; her captive heroes wove 
The chains of conqueft with the wreaths of love. 

The noble landfcape of the late and 
wintered period of Autumn, quoted in an 
early part of thefe Memoirs, introduces the 
perfonification of the Tulip. The bul- 
bous root of flowers is termed by Linneus 
the hybernacky or winter-lodge of the young 
plant. He fays, " Each bulb contains the 
" leaves and flowers in miniature, which 
" are to be expanded in the enfuing fpring." 
The fame embryon miniatures are found 
in the buds of the Hepatica, the Daphne- 
Mezereon, and at the bafe of Ofmunda- 
Lunaria. The Tulip, in poetic animation, 
is a beautiful Matron, flying from the chill 
and ilormy feafon to a lone cavern. She 
is then prefented as fitting in that retreat, 
and nurfmg her infant on her bofom till 
warmer days lhall come. A pretty allufi ye 
u 3 defcription 


defcription of the Dor-moufe, and it's 
half-year's flumber, adorns that paflage. 

Colchicum Autumnale, or Autumnal* 
meadow- fweet, afcends amid the troubled 
air, with her attendant lovers. Thus emi- 
nent in beauty is the flellar fimile for that 
flower : 

So {nines, with filver guards, the Georgian flar, 
And drives, on Night's blue arch, his glittering car j 
Hangs o'er the billowy clouds his lucid form, 
Wades through the mill, and dances in the ftorm. 

The Helianthus, or Sun-flower, becomes 
a Dervife, and leads his devout trains to 
worfhip the rifmg orb of day. Since the 
head of that majeftic plant always, and by 
nutation, follows the courfe of the fun, it 
properly aflumes the name and habits of a 
Dervife or Bramin. With this and the 
three fucceeding metamorphofes, in them- 
felves full of beauty and grace, the Drofera, 
or Sun-dew, the Lonicera, or Honey-fuckle, 
the Alpine Draba, fweet traits of con- 


DR. DARWIN. 295 

trafted landfcape are blended ; with Heli- 
anthus, the warm unfhadowed lawns of 
morning ; with Drofera the moid, the 
rufh-enwoven and mofly fcenes in which 
me wantons; with Draba, the icy caves 
and volcanos of Tenerif, amid which flie 
builds her eyry, 

Afpiring Draba builds her eagle neft ; 

and we are told that, 

Her tall fliadow waves o'er the diflant land. 

When we learn, from the note on this 
paflage, that Draba is one of the Alpine 
graffes, we wonder that fo minute and 
dwarfifli a plant mould become fo vaftj, 
commanding, and imperial in her tranf- 
formation. The Poet next exercifes his 
Proteus art upon Vifcum, Mifletoe, which 
never grows upon the ground, but grafts 
itfelf upon the branches of trees. This 
aerial nymph is fhown as an angel of air, 
feeking amongft it's clouds her foaring 


u 4 When 


WTien Zoftera, GrafTwrack, (which gr 
at the bottom of the ocean, aud, rifmg to it's 
top, covers many leagues with it's, leaves,) 
comes forth from beneath the wand of this 
potent magician, we meet one of the hap- 
pieft fallies of his fportive pen. She is 
fhown as Queen of the coral groves ; her 
palace in the fea, fupported on cryftal 
columns ; it's turrets roofed with lucid 
{hells, which dart their every-coloured rays 
afar into the deep; the fhadows on it's 
floor, philofophically defcribed from the 
rifing and breaking of the exterior billows ; 
the rrierrnaid-:tram enweaving orient pearls 
in her hair ; her fhooting up to the furface 
like a meteor ; afcending the ftrand, and 
fummoning, by a loud-ftruck fhell, her 
fea-born lovers to attend her progrefs ; 
creative imagination, the high and peculiar 
province of the genuine Poet, has few 
more beautiful creations than this marine 
pidure and fcene, 


DR. DARWIN. 297 

That curious plant of the polar regions, 
the Barometz, from it's exterior refemblance 
to a fheep or lamb, is, by poetic magic, 
transformed into that animal, and to it the 
Whale is compared ; furely on no other 
poffible relation, than as both the odd 
plant and the fea-monfter, are natives of 
the ardic regions. The Whale, however, 
makes a grand poetic picture : 

Since then, the thing itfelf is rich and rare, 
Exclaim not, f( How the d 1 came it there*!" 

Mimofa, Seniltive-plant, becomes a 
nymph of infinite delicacy. The objects 
aptly chofen to illuftrate the nervous fenfi- 
bility with which that plant recedes from 
the approaching hand, are thus defcribed, 
and furely with no common happinefs : 

So finks, or riles, with the changeful hour, 
The liquid filver in it's glaffy tower 5 
So turns the needle to the pole it loves, 
With fine vibrations quivering as it moves, 

* Parody of Pope's lines on the Amber. 



The Anemone and her modern-lite ob- 
jefts of comparifon, by no means form one 
of the gems of this poem, however har- 
monious the lines. A lady's calafh and a. 
landau are out of their place in high heroic 
numbers. The Anemone and her triviali- 
ties, are fublimely contrafted by the rock- 
born Lichen, both in fcenery and accom- 
plifliment. She has too much dignity 
from her furrounding landfcape to have, or 
to want an illuftrative fimile. Her habita- 
tion is on the top of Snowdon, nodding 
over the tumultuous river Conway ; the 
hour midnight ; the ftars and cold moon 
gilding the rifted rocks ; the whirlwind 
and dark thunder-florin rolling and burft- 
ing below the fummit of the mountain. 
From it's topmoft ftone the transformation 
of the Dipfaca conveys us to a valley 
glowing beneath the long prevalence of the 
dog-ftar, when the channel of every rill is 
dry, and the parched earth gapes. The 


DR. DARWIN. 299 

perfonification of the plant has every grace- 
ful charm of a languid, beauty. 

The Rubia, Madder, a plant ufed for the 
purpofe of making a crimfon dye, is com- 
pared to Medea bending over her caldron, 
in which youth was reftored by immerfion. 
It is an apt allufion to the faded beauty, 
who reftores her loft bloom by rouge. 

Vallifner, a curious aquatic plant of the 
Rhone, apoftrophifes, when, in her human 
form, the ftars and moon, filming at mid- 
night on the ihores of her watery home ; and 
the fea-wecd, Ulva, with her young family, 
guarded on the deep by Halcyons, ferves to 
introduce the famous Galatea in her Ihelly 
chariot, dsawn by Dolphins over the Ocean. 
She has more ftate and more fuperb at- 
tendants on her maritime progrefs, than 
Europa, in the fecond Canto of the Eco- 
nomy of Vegetation, or than the Nereid, 
in the third ; though in the piclure of 



Galatea there is perhaps a lefs degree ol 

But, upon the transformation of the 
Tremella, Star-jelly, (a fungus often found 
in the ftate of tranfparent jelly, after it has 
been frozen in autumnal mornings,) the 
Poet has lavifhed fome of the fineft effu- 
fions of his fancy. It is furely the tranf- 
cendent paflage of this fecond part of Dr. 
Darwin's Poem. No eye has fcen, or ever 
can fee a beautiful Nymph frozen into an 
ice-ftatue ; but admit the poffibility, and 
every circumftance of the gradual petrifica- 
tion is no lefs natural than it is lovely ; nor 
can any degree of admiration be too high 
for the beauty and grace of the defcription, 
It is fuperior to the Ovidian Daphne. 

This Canto now prepares to clofe ; the 
Mufe of Botany perceives a tempeft ap- 
proaching, and fhe is led by Wood-Nymphs 
into their moft fequeftered bowers. They 
fufpend her lyre upon their laurel trees, and 



bind her brow with myrtles. If flie had 
no other claim, the Tremella alone ought 
to give her wreath unperifhahle bloom. 
Symptoms of the impending fliower are 
given with that accuracy, with w 7 hich, 
on every occafion, this genuine Poet ob~ 
ferved the objects of nature, thus : 

1 Now the light fwallow, with her airy brood, 
Skims the green meadow and the .dimpled flood. 
Loud flirieks the lone thrum on herleaflefs thorn; 
Th' alarmed beetle blows his bugle horn 5 
Each pendant fpider weaves/ with fingers fine, 
Her ravdl'd clue, and climbs along the line ; 
Gay Gnomes, in glittering circles, Hand aloof 
Beneath a fpreading's ample roof; 
Swift bees> returning, feek their waxen cells, 
And Sylphs hang quivering in the lily's bells 5 
Through the ftill air defcend the genial (bowers, 
And pearly rain-drops deck the laughing flowers. 

An Interlude in profe fucceeds to this 
Canto. It is a fuppofed dialogue between 
the Poet and his Bookfeller, in which the 
former gives us his ideas of the conftitution 


302 MEMOIRS or 

of true Poetry. His firft fpeech, " I am 
" only a flower-painter, or occafionally 
" attempt a landfcape," is neither true, nor 
did Dr. Darwin defire that it fhould be 
confidered as veritable. 

In the courfe of this Interlude he will 
be found making much higher claims for 
himfelf, and too exclufively limiting poetry 
to the fphere of picturefque expreffion ; 
yet his criticifm on this line in Pope's 
Windfor Foreft is perfectly juft, 

And Kennet fwift, for filver Eels renown'd. 

Since, whenever objects are introduced 
in verfe, which, plainly mentioned, can 
excite no intereft, it is queflionlefs the 
Poet's duty to awaken interesting remem- 
brance of them by little piclurefque touches, 
fuch as we find in the Doctor's fuggefted 
change of that line, to 

And Kennet fwift, where filver graylings play. 

His ftriclure upon Burke's ftyle in profe, 


. DR. DARWIN. 303 

as much too ornamented, has furely little 
juftice. Eloquence can only be produced 
by a ftricl union of ftrength and ornament. 
The Corinthian pillar is not lefs ftable than 
the Doric ; not lefs firm on account of it's 
flowers. Dr. Darwin here feems to wifh 
that profe mould be precluded by it's 
plainnefs from Hiing into eloquence. He 
wifhed to keep profe too plain, and his warm- 
eil admirers will furely acknowledge that 
he infifts upon poetry being drefled with 
too elaborate magnificence. We find him 
in this Interlude s very ingenious on the fub- 
jecT: of allegoric figures,, alfo on that of 
dreams, and in his comparifon of them t@ 
the reveries which the true Poet excites 
in his intelligent readers; but he is greatly 
indeed miftaken when he reprefents tfye 
art of exciting fuch rapt and abftrafted fen- 
fations as folely confifting in pi<flurefque 
writing. Inftrudion, pathos, all the gran- 
deur and beauty of moral and religious 



ientiment, are here turned over to the 
profe writer, as if they were not equally 
capable of giving fafcinating power to 
verfe, as well as to oratory. The follow- 
ing paffages are not piclurefque ; but no 
pi&ures ever prefented by the rrmfes, are 
more potent to imprefs, thrill, and capti- 
vate that mind which is alive to the magic 
influence of their art : 

Some fay, that, ever 'gainft the feafon comes 
At which our Savior's birth is celebrated, 
The bird of dawning fingeth all night long; 
And then, they fay, no fpirit walks abroad; 
The nights are wholefome ; then no planets firike, 
No fairy takes, no witch hath power to charm, 
So hallow'd and fo gracious is the time! 


I fled, and cried out Death j 

Hell trembled at the hideous name, and figh'd 
Through all her caves, and back refounded Death 


if prayers 

Could alter high decrees, I to heaven's throne 
Would fpeed before thee, aad be louder heard 


DR. DARWIN. 305 

That on my head all might be vifited. 
Thy frailty and infirmer fex forgiven, 
By me committed, and by me expos'd. 


Remember March ! the ides of March remember ! 
Did not great Julius bleed for juftice' fake ? 
What villain touch' d his body, that did flab, 
And not for juftice ? What ! fhall one of us, 
That ft ruck the foremoft man in all the world 
But for fupporting robbers, fhall we now 
Contaminate our fingers with bafe bribes, 
And fell the mighty fpace of our large honors 
For as much tram as may be grafped thus ? 
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, 

Than fuch a Roman. 


Plac'd on this ifthmus of a middle ftate, 
A Being darkly wife and rudely great j 
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic fide, 
With too much weaknefs for the Stoic's pride, 
He hangs between, in doubt to act or reft, 
In doubt to deem himfelf a god or beaft 5 
In doubt his mind or body to prefer, 
Born but to die, and reafoning but to err ; 
Sole judge of truth, in endlefs error hurl'd, 
The glory,, jeft, and riddle of the world. 

POPS, on the Conftru&ion of Man, 

x Not 


Not e'en a fpot unfought the hero gave, 
No ! till his foes had earn'd it, not a grave ! 

WESLEY, of King William the Third, 

Reflect, that leflen'd fame is ne'er regain'd, 
That virgin honor once is always ftain'd ! 
Timely advis'd the growing danger fliun, 
Better not do the deed than weep it done ! 
No penance can abfolve a guilty flame, 
Nor tears, that walh out fin, can wafh out fhame. 


Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more ! 
Macbeth doth murder fleep ! the innocent lleep \ 
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd fleeve of care, 
The death of each day's grief, fore labour's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds, chief nourimer in life's feaft 1 

Still it cried, Sleep no more, to all the houfe, 
'Glamis hath murder'd lleep, and therefore Cawdor 
Shall fleep no more, Macbeth mall fleep no more! 

Who will call thefc paflages profaic ? 
Who are they that will not confefs them 
to be poetry, -and fuch poetry as requires no 
aid from picture to eftahliih it's claims ? 


DR. DARWIN. 307 

Perhaps Dr. Darwin would not have deem- 
ed them fufficiently adorned, fince all there 
is to the heart and nothing to the eye. To 
be coniiftent with the criticifm of this his 
Interlude, he muft have aflerted their de- 
ficiency, and thus have proved that, while 
his imagination was fo richly exuberant ; 
while fublimity, as well as beauty, attended 
the commanding march of his Mufe, there 
was a radical defect in his poetic lyftem, 
which would for ever have incapacitated 
him from being a firft-rate Epic or Dra- 
matic w 7 riter ; but as nature hovered over 
the cradle of Shakefpear, and gave him her 
golden keys, to unlock the gates of the 
Paffions, fo did Imagination over that of 
Dr. Darwin, and put into his grafp her 
magic wand, and fpread over his form her 
every-coloured robe. 


Again the Goddefs (hikes the golden lyre, 
And tunes to wilder notes the warbling wire, 

x 2 With 


With foft, fufpended Hep Attention moves, 
And Silence hovers o'er the liftening groves. 

The fecond line of the paflage is too alli- 
terative, and therefore palls upon the ear. 
Alliteration is an edge tool in the Poet's 
hand, improving or injuring his verfe, as it 
is judicioufly or injudicioufly ufed. Homer, 
Virgil, Ovid, Spenfer, Milton, and all the 
beft poets, have employed it to admirable 
cffeft ; and to admirable effecl has Dr. Dar- 
win frequently employed it, though not in 
this inftance. It often increafes, and fome- 
times entirely constitutes, that power which, 
by a metaphoric expreffion that literal 
terms would neither fo concifely nor fo 
well explain, is called pi&urefque found. 
To increafe the harmony of verfe, allitera- 
tion muft be \vith the vowels, the liquid 
letter /, or by the fonorous letters m and n, 
and even with them it's too frequent ufe in 
a poem, or too lavifli repetition in a fingle 
line or couplet, will injure what it is defigned 

7 to 


to improve, as in the above fecond line 
of this fecond Canto. Dryden, in his 
noble Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, has alli- 
terated with the hiffing f, in two lines, 
which he meant fhould be peculiarly 
mufical ; thus, 

Softly fweet in Lydian raeafures 
Soon he footh'd the foul to pleafures. 

A foreign ear would not endure the 
lines, which, however lively, are certainly 
not tender, not harmonious ; yet the^ and 
all the harfher confonants, are capable of 
producing, by fkilful application, that 
" echo of found to fenfe," which is fo 
eminently defirable in poetry. When Mil- 
ton obferves in the Paradife Loft, 

So talk'd the fpirited fly fnake, 

the line attains, folely by alliteration, the 
perfect hifs of the ferpent ; and Pope, in 
his Homer, by a mafterly intermixture of 
the vowels and the fonorous confonants 
x 3 with 


with his alliteration of the letter^ has 
nobly conveyed to our ear the peculiar noifc 
of the ocean- waves when they are loud on 

the beach ; thus, 


Silent he wander'd by the founding main. 

The murmur of a calm fea has been well 
exprefled by the alliteration of the follow- 
ing line : 

Slow on the damp and fhelly (bore (lie flray'd. 

There is fomewhere a line, in which a 
poetafter, mentioning the violet, fays, 

Where blue it blooms with balmy breath. 

He thought he had hammered out an im- 
menfely fine verfe, though in facl it is to 
the ear no whit more agreeable than, 

Three blue beans in one blue bladder. 

The letters b and p make miferable alli- 
teration. Milton has ufed the harm letter 
r, to very fine efFecl in the following lines : 


DR. DARWIN. 311 

Vex'd Scylla, bathing in the fea that parts 
Calabria from the hoarfe Trinacrian ftiore. 

Dr. Beattie, in his charming Minftrel, 
has fo ufed alliteration as to produce two 
of the moft harmonious verfes in our 

Young Edwin, lighted by the evening ftar, 
Lingering and liftening, wander'd down the vale. 

This digreffion into general criticifm will 
not be thought irrelevant to the peculiar 
theme of tbefe pages, when it is confidered 
that, for the prefumption of cenfuring, even 
in one inftance, the eminently harmonious 
numbers of the Botanic Garden, it was 
requifite to juftify fuch cenfure by examin- 
ing the ufe or abufe of that habit of ftyle, 
which ftrengthens or enfeebles, adorns or 
mifbecomes the verfe, as the good or bad 
tafte of the writer fliall direft it's appli- 
cation. Churchill has ridiculed alliteration 
in a line of fingular felicity, for an unworthy 
x 4 purpofe, 


purpofe, a fatirical paffage on the beautiful 
poetry of Mafon ; thus, 

. I, who never pray'd 

For apt alliteration's artful aid. 

But the ridicule intended for the fwect 
Swan of the Humber, falls equally on 
the elder claffics of Greece, Rome, and 

The firft transformation of this fecond 
Canto is the Carline Thiftle. We learn, 
from a note on the paffage, that it's feeds 
are furnifhed with a plume, by which they 
are borne through the air. Carlina, in 
human fhape, is reprefented as fabricating 
Dasdalion wings for herfelf and offspring, 
with moft ingeniously defcribed mechanifm, 
and with happier fuccefs than thofe of the 
renowned mechanic in ancient fable. 

And now fucceeds, in happy fimilitude, 
a balloon-voyage, exacT: and accurate to the 
circumftances of aerial journeying in the 
firft inftance, and fublime in the imagi- 

DR. DARWIN. 313 

native part, the aftronomic allufions : they 
are thus given : 

Rife, great Mongolfier! urge thy venturous fligh* 
High o'er the moon's pale, ice-reflected light ; 
High o'er the pearly ftar, whofe beamy horn 
Hangs in the eaft, gay harbinger of morn $ 
-Leave the red eye of Mars on rapid wing, 
Jove's iilver guards, and Saturn's dufky ringj 
Leave the fair beams, that, ifluing from afar, 
Play, with new lurtre, round the Georgian ftar; 
Shun, with ftrcng oars, the fun's attractive throne, 
The fparkling zodiac, and the milky zone, 
"Where headlong comets, with increafing force, 
Through other fyflems bend their blazing courfe \ 
For thee Caffiope her chair withdraws, 
For thee the Bear retrads his lhaggy paws. 
High o'er the north thy golden orb (hall roll, 
And blaze eternal round the wondering pole. 
So Argo, rifing from the fouthern main, 
Lights with new fiars the blue, etherial plain ; 
With favoring beams the mariner protects, 
And the bold courfe, which firft it fteer'd, dire&s. 

So beautifully does this high priefl of 
Fancy choofe to conftellate the firft ad- 
yenturous Aeronaut. 



In the animation of Linum Flax we 
are prefented with the exa6teft-poffible 
defcription of the machinery, and the art 
of weaving ; and in that of Goffipiam, 
Cotton Plant, the late Sir Richard Ark- 
wright's apparatus at Matlock, with the 
whole progrefs of it's operations, is brought 
distinctly before the eye, recalling them to 
thofe by whom they have been examined, 
and inftructing in their progrefs thofe who 
never beheld them. 

So, in the perfonification of Cyperus 
Papyrus, under the name of Papyra, ano- 
ther art, that of printing, pafles before us 
with equal precision. The leaves of this 
plant were firft ufed in Egypt for paper, 
and gave the name, which it retains to this 
day ; fo, leaf, or folium, for the fold of a 
book. We have here, in fweet verfifica- 
tion, the whole procefs of that ineftimable 
invention, which paints thoughts, founds, 
and numbers, in myilic and imperilhable 

characters ; 

DR. DARWIN. 315 

characters; imperifhable, at leaft, during 
the reign of Time. Yes, it was the en- 
couragement given by that art to the fci- 
ences, which enabled this Bard to throw 
over them all his fplendid robe of defcrip- 
tive poefy. The venerable and celebrated 
Mrs. Delany, fometime deceafed, and her 
miraculous Hortus Siccus, are here intro- 
duced as a fimile to Papyra ; but defcrib- 
ing a totally different art from hers, even 
that of a mere artificial flower- maker, this 
fimile, which bears fb little refemblance to 
writing and printing, forms one of the 
moft cenfurable paflages in the whole poem. 
Mrs.Delany, in her reprefentation of plants 
and flowers, native and exotic, and w r hich 
fill ten immenfe folio volumes, ufed nei- 
ther the wax, mofs, or wire, attributed to 
her in this entirely falfe defcription of her 
art. She employed no material but paper, 
which flie herfelf, from her knowledge of 
chemiftry, was enabled to dye of all hues, 



and in every fhade of each ; no implement 
but her fcifibrs, not once her pencil ; yefc 
never did painting prefent a more exacl 
reprefentation of flowers of every colour, 
fize, and cultivation, from the fimple hedge 
ajid field-flower, to the moft complicated 
foliage that Horticulture has multiplied. 
This lady, once Mrs. Pendarvis, the friend 
and correfpondent of Swift, and in her 
later years honored by the friendfhip and 
frequent viilts at Windfor, of the King, 
Queen, and Princefles, began this her af- 
tonifhing felf-invented work at the age of 
feventy-four. The Poet here mifreprefents 
her as being affifted by her virgin train. She 
had no afliftant ; no hands, but her own, 
formed one leaf or flower of the ten vo- 
lumes. Her family were mortified by a 
defcription which they juftly thought de- 
graded her peculiar art; and remonftrated 
with Dr. Darwin on the occafion, exprefl*- 
ing a wifh that future editions might con- 


DR. DARWIN. 317 

tain it's more juft pilure on his poetic 
page. He faid, the defcription in the note 
was accurate ; but that truth in this, as in 
many other inftances, being lefs favourable 
to poetry than ficlion, he did not chofe to 
alter the text. 

The Lepfana, the Nymphea alba, and 
the Calendula, whofe flowers, as do many 
other flowers, open and fhut at certain 
hours of the rifing and declining day, are 
transformed into elegant female watch- 
makers. Linneus calls the forty-fix flow- 
ers of this order, the Horologe, orWatch of 
Flora. This transformation involves an 
highly poetic defcription of the art that 
traces the march of Time. The progreffivc 
mechanifm which completes a watch, is 
traced with accuracy, and, in the men- 
tion of it's ornamental trophies, we meet 

iublime imagery; fuch as Time dafhing 
Superftition from it's baft, and the Hours 
leading their trains around the wreck ; but 



the Moments are imperfonized with too 
much quaint prettinefs. The whole of 
this imagery is an imitation, as indeed the 
Author afterwards acknowledges, of the fol- 
lowing paffage in Young's Night Thoughts, 

Each Moment has it's fickle, emulous 

Of Time's enormous fey the, whofe ample fweep 

Strikes empires from the root; each Moment plies 

His little weapon in the narrower fphere 

Of fweet domeftic comfort, and cuts do&n 

Our faireft blooms of fublunary blifs. 

The Hours leading their trains around 
the wrecks their parent had made, and 
planting amidft them the growth of fci- 
ence and tafte, is an original and beautiful 
addition in Dr. Darwin's imitative paflage. 
The Moments are obnoxious to his own 
criticifm in the firft Interlude ; they be- 
come unpleafing from being too diftinftly 
defcribed, with their kifles and their baby 
hands. Perhaps the perfonified Moments 
are not lefs diftinclly pourtrayed in the 


DR, BARWIN. 319 

above paffage from the Night Thoughts ; 
but there, a penfive interesting morality 
cafts over them a foftening veil ; while 
their gayer appearance and employment 
on the Darwinian page, brings them into 
glaring, and perhaps almoft ludicrous view. 
That unpleailng change, which takes 
place in the Helleborus after impreg- 
nation, produces, in it's metamorphofis, a 
fair nymph, fuddenly fmitten by a loath- 
fome diftemper, which utterly deftroys her 
charms. An odd comparifon enfues, the 
fuppofed aclual transformation of Nebu- 
chadnezzar into a beaft ; whereas the" 
Scripture only fays, that he dwelt with the 
beafts of the field, and took their prone 
habits. His imputed change into their 
Jhape is ingenioufly, but fomewhat ludi- 
croufly painted ; and we are apt to fancy 
the Euphrates flandered in thefe lines, 
which finely defcribe a river of fluggim 
and fullied current : 



Lolls his red tongue, and from the reedy fide 
Of flow Euphrates laps the muddy tide. 

That harmonioufly-named river of the 
Eaft, has too long rolled through our ima- 
gination in beautiful and lucid currents, 
for us to like this reverfe picture of it's 
ftreams. One of our poets, probably Mil- 
ton, has fomewhere faid, 

. and by the verdant fide 

Of palmy Euphrates. 

At laft, fince the {Ituation of Babylon 
was certainly flat and marfhy, Dr. Darwin 
is probably corre<fl in this inftance, how- 
ever obftinately our /enfations may refufe 
to grant that one of the rivers which en- 
circled Paradife can deferve to be fo de- 
fcribed; but there, as it was nearer it's 
fource in the mountain Niphates, it would 
certainly be more pure ; befides, that it 
may be fuppofed to have become polluted 


DR. DARWIN. 321 

by it's progrefs through lefs hallowed earth* 
The laft line of the Nebuchadnezzar-tranf- 
formation is burlefque, by reafon of the 
epithet pendant ** 

Nor Flattery's felf can pierce his pendant ears. 

And the alliterating p makes the found of 
the line difpleafing as is the image it 

The Menifpernum, Indian-berry, which 
intoxicates fifh, being of the clafs two fe- 
males, twelve males, here affumes the 
form of two Sifter Nymphs, fcatteririg 
their inebriating berries on the waters* 
The Popifh legend of St. Anthony preach- 
ing' to the fiih, and converting them to 
Chriftianity, forms the whimfical and not 
very pleating illuftration. It's language 
violates the third commandment deplor- 

The Papaver, Poppy, becomes a drowfy 

Enchantrefs of malignant operation ; but 

Y her 


her fomnifcrous palace is defcribed in thefe 
lovely numbers : 

Sopha'd on filk, amid her charm-built towers, 
Her meads of afphodel, and amaranth bowers, 
Where Sleep and Silence guard the foft abodes, 
In fullen apathy, Tapaver nods. 
Faint o'er her couch, in fcintillating ftreams, 
Fafs the light forms of Fancy and of Dreams. 

Her enchantments are poetically given 
from old Tales of the Genii, and fhe i? 
compared to Hermes driving the Ghofts to 
the ihores of Erebus ; and again his em- 
ployment to the drawings of Mifs Emma 
Crew, a compliment of very forced intro- 

The Ciftus, a plant whofe tranfient, but 
plenteous Sowers expand in fucceffion 
on the firfl warmth of May, becomes a 
Nymph, who calls her train to choir the 
birth of that month. She is obeyed, and 
a very exquifite fong enfues, in which the 
altered meafure relieves the ear. Without 


DR. DARWIN. 323 

any perceivable chain of thought, the fud- 
den death of the fair Cifta, ferves to ufher 
in a fine piture of an hoar-froft landfcape, 
diflblving inftantaneoufly beneath a change 
of keen to foft wind, accompanied by the 
emerging fun. 

Cinchona, Peruvian bark tree, paffes 
before us as a Peruvian Maid, on her way 
to the altar, which, in Quito, me had raifed 
to the goddefs Hygeia, and of which Ihe 
is the adminiftrant prieftefs. Her progrefs 
thither, and her ceremonies at the ihrine, 
and her prayer to the Goddefs, are beauti- 
ful ; the perfonified Difeafes fublime, par- 
ticularly Ague. The accidental manner, 
in which, it is well known, the medicinal 
virtues of the bark were firft difcovered, is 
here conveyed to the reader with the hap- 
pieft ingenuity, as a dictate of Hygeia to 
her Prieftefs, in anfwer to the prayer. 
Cinchona is commanded to yield her fa- 
cred forefts to the axe, and to ftrew their 
f z bitter 


bitter foliage on the rivers. She obeys ; 
her lovers fell the trees, and impregnate the 
waters with the leaves, while pale infe&ed 
fquadrons kneel on the margin, and health 
and bloom return as they drink. All this 
forms a complete and charming little 
drama. It needed no illustration, but it 
has a very ferious one, that of Mofes in the 
Wilderncfs, ftriking the rock, " fo that 
" the waters flowed out." 

To the bark-metamorphofis fucceeds 
that of the Digitalis, Fox-glove, of whofc 
now experienced, though not infallible vir- 
tue, in dropfical cafes, Dr. Darwin claims 
the iirft difcovery. The bloated and cada- 
verous form of Dropfy appears, and his un- 
quenchable thirft is compared to that of 
Tantalus in thefe four admirable lines: 

So bends tormented Tantalus to drink, 

While frgm his lips the refluent waters (brink ; 

Again the riling ft ream his bofom laves, 

Aud thirft confumes him 'mid circumfluent waves. 


DR, DARWIN. 325 

Hygeia affumes the form of Digitalis; 
waves over the difeafed her ferpent- wreathed 
wand, " and charms the ihapelefs monfter 
'' into man." 

To her is compared the good Bifliop of 
Marfeilles, when the plague raged in that 
city; alfo the generous and aclive Mayor 
of London, when London was under firm- 
3ar vifitation. From him the Poet fiides 
into a moft animated contemplation of the 
great Howard's virtue, and afferts that the 
rays of philan trophy 

Dart round the globe from Zembla to the Line 5 
O'er each dark prifon plays the cheering light, 
As northern luftres o'er the vault of night j 
From realm to realm, by crofs or crefcent crown'd, 
Where'er mankind and mifery are found, 
O'er burning fancis, deep waves, or wilds of fnow, 
Thy Howard, journeying, feeks the houfe of woe; 
Down many a winding ftep to dungeons dank, 
Where anguifh wails, and galling fetters clank; 
To caves beftrew'd with many a mouldering bone, 
And cells, whole echoes only learn to groan j 
Where no kind bars a wbifpering friend diiclofe, 
Ko fun-beam enters, and no zephyr blows, 



He treads inemulous of fame 6r wealth, 

Profufe of toil, and prodigal of health ; 

With foft perfuafive eloquence expands 

Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching handsj 

Leads ftern-ey'd Juftice to the dark domains, 

If not to fever, to relax the chains j 

Or guides awaken'd Mercy through the gloom, 

And (hows the prifon fitter to the tomb ; 

Gives to her babes the felf-devoted wife, 

To her fond huiband, liberty and life ! 

The fpirits of the good, who bend from high, 
Wide o'er thefe earthly fcenes* their partial eye, 
When firft, array 'd in Virtues pure>ft robe, 
They faw her Howard traverfing the globe j 
Saw round his brow the fun-bright glory blaze 
In arrowy circles of unwearied rays, 
Miftook a mortal for an angel gueft, 
And alk'd what feraph-foot the earth imp reft. 
Onward he moves, Difeafe and Death retire, 
And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire. 

If praife for a fmgle verbal beauty may 
not degrade the exalted merit of the above 
quotation, the biographer would obferve 

that it's word inemulous has a fvveet effect, 


and that, flie believes, it is there in firft 


DR, DARWIN. 327 

coinage. Unambitious, the word in com- 
mon ufe for that meaning, is comparatively 
hard and cumbrous in verfe. 

This citation conftitutes far the fublim- 
eft eulogy by which Poetry has immortal- 
ized the matchlefs Howard, Mr. Hayley's 
noble Ode alone excepted. That was the 
earlieft tribute to his high worth, and it is 
admirable in a degree which only Darwin 
has equalled, and which perhaps no Poet 
can excel. 

The Gnomes now fufpend the again 
iilent lyre on the ftrine of Hygeia ; the 
Sylphs flacken the firings, and catch the 
rain-drops on their fhadowy pinions, while 
a Naiad prepares the tea-urn. The lad 
Canto clofed with a Ihower. That it 
ihould rain alfo in the termination of this, 
is a famenefs which furprifes us from an 
imagination fo various. Then furclj there 
is too flrong a contrail between the folernn 
and dignified praife of Howard, imrnedi- 
y 4 ately 


ately preceding, and the light and frolic 
idea which places a Mufe, the recent Hif- 
torian of virtue fo truly great, at the tea- 
table ! It is out of keeping, as the painters 

We meet ingenious and juft criticifm in 
the Interlude to this fecond Canto. Aware 
of the frequent want of evident refem- 
blance between his fubjeds and their fimi- 
lies, Dr. Darwin fhelters himfelf under the 
authority of Homer, which perhaps will 
not entirely fecure his practice from cen- 
fure ; fmce, if Homer's fimilies do not often 
touch the object with which they are com- 
pared, at all points, yet are they never fo 
utterly without connexion with it, as 
feveral which may be found in this poem. 
That a poetic fimile mould not be precife 
in it's refemblance is certain, at leaft that 
it is the more fublime, or more beautiful, 
for not quadrating exactly ; yet it ought to 
poffefs fuch a degree of affinity with the 


R. DARWIN. 329 

fubjcct, that when the theme and \Cs 
illuftration are viewed together, we may 
feel, though we cannot verbally demoii- 
ftrate the perfect juftnefs of the fimilitude. 

Thus, in general, are the families of 
Homer conftructed, and thus Milton's, 
feveral of which, in the Paradife Loft, are 
grander than moft of thofe in the Iliad and 
Odyfley. A deceafed modern Poet has 
given one of extreme beauty, which, from 
it's aptnefs without precifion, bears exactly 
that relation to the object it illuftrates 
which a poetic firnile ought to bear. 
There is no obvious connexion between 
our idea of youthful beauty, paled and 
fhadowed over by death, and a vernal day- 
fpring, which rifes cold and rainy : 

Her face was like an April morn 
Clad iu a wintry cloud: 

yet when Poetry connects them, we are 
immediately fenfible of their interefting 



affinity. Death itfelf cannot at firft conceal, 
however it may fhroud the traits of youth, 
and of what once was lovelinefs ; neither 
ean the dull iky and nipping wind prevent 
our perceiving the youth of the year, when 
April has put forth her frefh grafs and 
rerdant fprays. 

In the courfe of Dr. Darwin's fecond 
Interlude, there is fine difcrimination be- 
tween the tragic and the difguftingly hor- 
rid; and his cenfiire of the painters for 
their frequent choice of difagreeable fub- 
jefts for their pencil, fiich as torture and 
carnage, is perfectly juft. 


From the penfive graces of this exor- 
dium refult extended ground of cenfure 
for the undignified fituation of the Mufe 
at the clofe of the fecond Canto ; /mce her 
modern Tea-table is here converted into a 
grafly throne, bedewed with tears, around 


DR. DARWIN. 331 

\vhich float the thin forms of Sorrows and 
Apprehenfions, of Sighs whifpering to the 
chords of her lyre, and Indignations, half 
unfheathing their fvvords. Thefe fame 
Indignations are new allegoric perfonages, 
and may be of dubious welcome. The 
Paffions, with fuoords by their fides, form 
imagery which is liable to give a ludicrous 
impreffion ; yet we fhould remember, that 
Milton puts a fword into the hand of the 
archangel, Michael, in the 6th book of the 
Paradife Loft, and Pope into that of a Ghoft 
in his Elegy to the Memory of an unfor- 
tunate Lady ; but Milton gives the weapon 
dignity by inverting it with flames, on the 
authority of Scripture, and Pope foftens 
off the literality by it's imputed indiftincT:- 
nefs, and by the epithet vtfionary. " VV'hy 
" dimly gleams the vifionary fword ?" 

Circea, Enchanter's Nightihade, is the 
firft transformation in this Canto. We 
learn from the note to the paflage, that 



it grows among the mouldering bones 
and decayed coffins of Sleaford Church, 
I^icolniliire, and that it was celebrated in 
the myfteries of witchcraft, and for the 
purpofe of raifmg the devil. 

As the Tremella is the moft beautiful, 
fo is Circea the fublimeft transformation 
of the four Cantos. Her marriage with 
the two Fiends ; it's portentous figns which 
precede the fatanic nuptials ; the fcream- 
ing bats, the owls, and the dog of midnight 
howling the epithalamium ; the burfting 
ground ; the afcending Demons ; their pro- 
grefs with the grim Bride to the violated 
temple ; thofe fhapelefs fpeclres, which, 
by glimpfes of the moon through the co- 
loured glafs, are feen to quiver on the walls, 
as Circea and her horrid bridegrooms pafs 
along the ailes, that difmally echo their 
fteps ; the unbleffed wine with which they 
pollute the chalice ; their hideous laugh 



which difturbs the filence of the choir ; and 
the impious mummery of the nuptial rites; 
all thefe circurnftances were conceived, and 
are expreffed with prodigious ftrength of 

The Laura- cerafus, twenty males, one 
female, appears next, as the Pythian prieft- 
efs * delivering her oracles. This is her 
grand portrait : 

A vaunt ye vulgar ! from her facred groves, 
With maniac tfep, the Pythian Laura moves 5 
Full of the God her labouring bofom fighs, 
Foam on her lips, and fury in her eyes, 
Strong writhe her limbs j her wild difhevell'd hair 
Starts from her laurel wreath, and fwims in air, 
While twenty prietfs the gorgeous Ihrine furround, 
Cin&ur'd with ephods and with garlands crown'd, 
Contending holts, and trembling nations wait 
The firm immutable behefts of fate ; 
She fpeaks in thunder from her golden throne, 
With words unwill'd, and wifdom not her own. 

* The Pythian prieftefs is fuppbfed to have been made drunk 
with the infufion of laurel leaves, when fhe delivered her oracle*. 
The intoxicatior. or inspiration, is finely defcribed by Virgil. 

? To 


To the Pythian Laura is compared the 
diftrefs of a beautiful nymph in flumber^ 
beneath the influence of the night- mare. 
It is a poetic picture after Fufeli. The 
fquab and grinning Fiend, as he fits on the 
bofbm of the fleeping Maid, and his moon- 
eyed mare, looking in through the bed- 
curtains, are pictures of ludicrous horror. 
They are drawn with rival ftrength by the 
Poet and Painter ; and are contracted by 
the lovely form of the agitated ilumberer ; 
but tliefocciffion of her convulfive appear- 
ances which the Poet brings to the eye, 
affords another inftance of the fuperior 
power of the pen to that of the pencil, 
when each are directed by the impulfe of 
true genius. 

The perfonification of the Indian fig- 
tree is made a vehicle of introduction for 
the fcenery of Dovedale and Ham, the cave 
of Thor, the Saxon God, and all the fan- 
guinary -fublimities of his dru^dical rites. 


BR.. DARWltf. 33J 

The only connexion between the fubjc& 
and it's illuftration is, that " each branch 
" of the large fig-tree of India, emits a 
" flender, flexile, depending appendage 
" from it's fummit, like a cord, and which 
" roots into the earth, and rifes again ; 
" and the Hamps arid Manifold, rivers of 
" the Dovedale vicinity, in their courfe 
" over a romantic moor, fink fuddenly 
" into the earth, and rife again in Ham 
" gardens, after their fubterranean pafTage 
" of three miles." 

Impatiens, Touch-me-not, from the pe- 
culiar nature of the plant, and the elaftic 
motion by which it throws it's feeds to a 
great diftance, has, in it's transformation, 
fufficient affinity to the ftory of Medea, 
here introduced as it's fimile. Nowhere 
is that ftriking poetic legend fo finely told. 
The paffions of jealoufy and defpair, ex- 
cited by the mercenary ingratitude of Jafbn, 
are here painted in their ftrongeft colours, 



rifmg in power and force, till the dire 
filiacide clofes the epifode. 

Thofe eleclrical properties of the Die- 
tamnus, Fraxinella, aflerted by Dr. Darwin 
as having witnefled them in the ftill fum- 
mer nights after long draught, induces him 
to transform her alfo into an enchantrefs, 
and the hour and feafon in which me cele- 
brates her magical rites, is thus fweetly 
fpecified : 

What time the Eve her gauze pellucid fprcads 
O'er the dim flowers, and veils the mifty meads, 
Slow o'er the twilight fands and leafy walks, 
In gloomy dignity, Di&amna ftalks. 

The deleterious tree, the Mancinelia : 
the Urtica, Englim nettle, and the Lobelia 
longiflora, a deadly plant of the Weft In- 
dies, form a continuation of Enchant reflcs. 
and their metamorphofe is attended by ftill 
darker traits of demonifm. As the firft and 
laft of thefe three vegetables have life-de- 
ftroying properties, and the Englim nettle 
only inflicts a ilight and tranfient pain, ih<: 


DR. DARWIN. 337 

ought not to have appeared in fuch com- 
pany. Her comparative infignificance is 
that of a wafp between a cobracapella and 
a rattle-make. The ruins of Palmira are 
described as a fimile to the mifchiefs of the 
four preceding witches, but why or where- 
fore defies all poetic guefs; however, the 
fault of utter inconneclion is atoned by 
the grandeur of this fombre pi<flure. 

To that fucceeds the embrutality of the 
Upas Tree, now fuppofed to be of fabulous 
exiftence. It is preceded by a beautiful 
landfcape of the Ifle of Java, in the centre 
of which this dreadful tree was aflerted to 
have flood. The feas of glafs, the noble 
rocks, the ever-fummered gales, and the 
fylvan graces which zone that large ifland, 
form an exquifite contraft in this paflage, 
to the defolation round the Hydra Tree of 
Death, as it's author fublimely calls it. The 
Upas Tree becomes a terrific monfter under 
the wand of our potent magician. The 
z enormous 


enormous dragon is grand, with his un- 
numbered heads extending over ten fquarc 
leagues, and with many infant ferpents 
growing out of him, like thofe of Sin in 
the Paradiie Loft ; a dragon, that 

Looks o'er the clouds, and hiffes in the florin. 

Into a monfter the Upas muft be made. 
This Poet's fyftem of vegetable animality 
would not permit it to remain in that fo 
much more impreffive though quieter 
horror, with which it is defcribed in the 
Dutch furgeon's narrative. A lonely tree 
by the fide of a rivulet, in a barren and (tony 
valley, circled round by vail and Iterile 
mountains; no tree but itfelf! no hedge! 
no blade of grafs ! no wing of bird ! no- 
thing that breathes to difturb the dreadful 
iilence ! dead bodies fcattered about the 
wafte in every various ftage of putridity ; 
and the tree itfelf exhaling a viiible and 
poifonous vapor, inftantly fatal to every 


DR. DARWIN. 239 

living thing which breathes the air it taints 
within a diameter of fifteen miles! what 
furious dragon, even from the pen of Dr. 
Darwin, but lofes it's terrors before this 
ftill, this ghaftly defolation ! 

The profe narration, taken from the 
London Magazine, is inferted in the clofe 
of the additional notes to the Loves of the 
Plants. It has fuch an air of fimple ve- 
racity, that we do violence to our feelings 
when, on reflection, we refufe to give it 
credit. The gum of this tree is there 
afferted to be of high price, and ufed to 
envenom the Indian arrows; that it is 
procured by Criminals under fentence of 
death, who redeem their lives if they can 
bring from the Upas a box of it's gum ; 
an experiment of immenfe hazard, fince 
the poffibility of returning depends upon 
the perpetually veering winds blowing a 
fteady gale towards the tree as the delin- 
quent approaches it, in a progrefs of at 

z 2, leaft 


leaft fifteen miles. The feldomnefs with 
which that happens, and the frequency 
of the attempt, ftrew the circumjacent 
plains with the dead. Faith in this won- 
derful tale has melted away in fubfequent 
inquiry. Many have faid that Dr. Darwin 
certainly believed the > account. He cer- 
tainly writes as if he believed it ; yet that 
was but to ferve a poetic purpofe; credulity 
was not one of his propenfities. 

The Orchis Morio, the parent root of 
which fhrivels' up and dies as the young 
one increafes, is transformed into a fond 
mother, nurfing her infant at the expence 
of her own health and life. This ani- 
mation is fliort, and, compared to many of 
the others, has little intereft ; but it's two 
illuftrations have every intereft, and the 
fecond forms a very fweet and mournful 
epifode. The firft is a lovely picSure of a 
wounded deer, efcaping from her ambufhcd 
archer, and flying, with her fawn, to the 

w r oodlands, 

DR. DARWIN. 341 

woodlands, over plains fpotted with her 
blood ; and, amid thick fhades, hanging 
over her young, and weeping her life away. 
Then, in fucceffive fimile, comes the 
thrice interefling ftory. An Officer's Wife 
with her infants, watching,- from a near 
hill, the battle of Minden, in which her 
hufband was engaged, is mortally wounded 
by a random fliot. We find this incident 
related with fo much pathos as almoft to 
diffipate the apprehenfion, that Dr. Dar- 
win's rage for the pi&urefcjue would, in a 
fubjecT: of genuine intereft for the human 
paffions, have proved deftruclive to his 
powers of awakening them. The mourn- 
ful truth of one line in this epifode ought 
to fink deep in every human heart, viz. 

The angel Pity fhuns the walks of War. 

Truly honourable is it to the Poets of 

this reign, that the beft of thecn have never 

ftimulated, but, on the contrary, have 

z 3 cndea- 


endeavoured to meliorate and abate that 
belligerent fpirit, always injurious to the 
true intereft of this country, and fruitful 
in the extreme of human mifery. A fpirit, 
by which Britain looks over the Atlantic, 


fhorn of her continental beams ; a fpirit, to 
whofe unwarned and perfifting violence in 
later years, the lives of the foldiery, and 
the comforts of millions of families, were 
lavilhed in defiance of the Gofpel, which 
preaches peace on earth, and good-will 
towards men. 

But to return to the epifode ; the lifp^ 
ing boy, on his father's approach. 

Speak low, he cries, and gives his little hand j 
Eliza fleeps upon the dew-cold fand j 
Poor weeping babe, with bloody fingers prefs'd, 
And tried, with pouting lips, the milklefs breaft. 
Alas ! we both with cold and hunger quake, 
Why do you weep ? Mamma will foon awake ! 
She'll wake no more ! the haplefs mourner faid ! 

Nothing can be more natural and more 
affecting than the ideas in this fpeech of 


DR. DARWIN. v 343 

the child, only that dew-cold and milkkfs 
are not infantine expreffions. 

The Cufcuta, Dodder, four males two 
females. It does not root itfelf in the 
earth, but afcends the vegetables in it's 
neighbourhood, and ultimately deflroys 
the plant on which it had grown to ma- 
turity. In this fyftem of animality it is 
reprefented as two treacherous coquets, 
fmiling to betray ; and, from the circum- 
ftance of the plant twining round the 
fhrub or tree, which it finally kills, the 
ungrateful beauties are compared to the 
ferpents, which ftrangled Lac-Toon and his 
fons. That ftory here forms a faithful 
poetic picture of the celebrated ftatue. 

In the transformation of the Vine into a 
Bacchanalian Female,the Doctor introduces, 
and enforces his juft and favorite fyftem, of 
confidering the free ufe of vinous fluid, in 
all it's ftages, as the fource of our mofl 
fatal chronic difeafes. They are very 
z 4 poetically 


poetically imperfonifed as they hover round 
the fedudive nymph, Vitis, while Chemia 
mingles poifon in her bowl. This, fell 
group is admirably illuftrated by an image 
of Prometheus chained to a rock, with a 
vulture devouring his liver. The many 
diforders of the liver, fo torturing and 
fo fatal, which ebriety caufes, are nobly 
allegorized in this fable of him, who is 
reprefented as being thus punilhed for hav- 
ing ftolen fire from heaven. Dr. Darwin's 
note to this paffages deferves to be engraven 
on every man's memory, fince it is the 
atteftation of a great Phyfician, founded on 
an extenfive - practice of nearly half a 

The Cyclamen, Shewbread or Sowbread, 
which, " when it's feeds are ripe, gradually 
" twifts it's ftalk fpirally downward, till it 
" touches the earth, and there inferts it's 
" offspring," is changed into a tender 
matron, refigning her departed infants to 


DR. DARWIN. 345 

the grave, and breathing a pious hope of 
their refurre&ion. The fimile on this oc- 
fion is perhaps the fublimeft paflage in the 
whole work ; it's real, and, in former ages, 
often exifting horrors, tranfcend in ftrength 
all Imagination has formed, or can form, 
with her train of fpedres, witches, and 
demons : 

So when the Plague, o'er London's gafping crowds. 
Shook her dank wing, and fteer'd her murky clouds j 
When o'er the friendlefs bier no rites were read, 
No dirge {low chanted, and no pall outfpread j 
While Death and Night pil'd up the naked throng, 
And Silence drove their ebon cars along, 
Six * lovely daughters, and their father, fwept 
To the throng'd grave, Cleone faw, and wept. 
Her tender mind, with meek religion fraught, 
Prank, all-refign'd, Affliction's bitter draught j 

* During the laft great plague in London, one pit, to receive the 
dead, was dug in the Charter Houfe, forty feet long, fixteen feet wide, 
and twenty feet deep, and in two weeks received 1114 bodies. During 
this dire calamity there were inftances of mothers carrying their own 
children to thofe public graves ; arid of people delirious, or in defpair 
for the lofs of friends, who threw themfelves alive into thefe pits. 
See Journal of the Plague in 1665, printed for E. Nutt, Royal Ex- 



Alive, and liftening to the whifper'd groan 
Of other's woes, unmindful of her own. 
One fmiling boy, her laft fweet hope, flic warms, 
Hufh'd on her bofom, cradled in her arms. 
Paughter of woe ! ere morn, in vain carefs'd, 
CJung the cold babe upon thy milklefs breaftj 
With feeble cries thy lafl fad aid requir'd, 
Stretch'd it's fliff limbs, and on thy lap expir'd ! 
Long, with wide eye-lids, on her child fhe gaz'd, 
And long to heav'n their tearlefs orbs (he rais'd ; 
Then, with quick foot and throbbing heart, Ihe found 
Where Chartreufe open'd deep his holy ground j 
Bore her laft treafure through the midnight gloom, 
And kneeling dropp'd it in the mighty tomb. 
" I follow next !" the frantic mourner faid, 
,And living plung'd amid the fettering dead. 

It appears to the author of this memoir, 
that, in the above folemn, great, and im- 
preffive epifode, only two words, an epithet 
and it's fubftantive, " ebon cars," could be 
changed to advantage. Ebony has a gloffy 
and polifhed black, and is therefore of un- 
fuitable refemblance to that vehicle of hor- 
ror. Then amid the dreadful truths of the 


DR. DARWIN. 347 

defcription, the dead cart fliould have been 
called by it's fimple name ; car, has g. fine 
triumphant found, which fomewhat dif- 
turbs the awful horror of the impreffion. 
Surely the vehicle without nominal alter- 
ation, and with a ftronger epithet prefixed, 
that fliould not fpecify it's complexion, 
would be better, 

While Death and Night pil'd up the naked throng. 
And Siknce drove their ghaftly carts along. 

From the banks of the Ontario we have 
the Caffia. It is one of thofe American fruits 
which are annually thrown on the coaft 
of Norway, in wonderful emigration. Dr. 
Darwin accounts for it by a fuppofed ex- 
iftence of under currents in the depth of 
the ocean, or from vortexes of water paff- 
ing from one country to another through 
caverns of the earth. The Caffia, ten 
males one female, is reprefented as a fair 
American matron, who, alarmed by the 



rifing tempeft, trufts her children to the 
floods. The Scripture tradition of Mofes, 
committed to the Nile by his Hebrew 
mother, is here told with aptnefs to the 
fubjecT:, with piclurefque beauty, and with 
pathetic fweetnefs. This child, refcued 
from the flood, and rifing into an ambaf- 
fador of Heaven, a mighty Prophet, that 
wrefted the fcourge from the oppreffor's 
hand, and broke the iron bonds of his na- 
tion's flavery, nobly and religioufly clofes 
the paffage ; and in that clofe awfully con- 
trafts the tendernefs of the opening. From 
thence the Poet pafles into another fublime 
philippic on the plague-fpot in the moral 
and religious health of Britain, her cruel 
Slave Trade, and makes this ftriking appeal 
to our fenators : 

E'en now, e'en now,, on yonder weftern fhores, 
Weeps pale Defpair, and writhing Anguifh roars : 
E'en now in Afric's groves, with hideous yell, 
Fierce Slavery (talks, and flips the dogs of hell 5 


DR. DARWIN. 349 

From vale to vale the gathering cries rebound, 
And fable nations tremble at the found ! 

Ye bands of fenators, whofe fuffrage fways 
Britannia's realms 5 whom either Ind obeys 5 
Who right the injur'd, and reward the brave, 
Stretch your ffrong arm, for ye have power to fave ! 
Thron'd in the vaulted heart, his dread reforr, 
Inexorable Conscience holds his court ; 
With ftill fmall voice the plots of guilt alarms, 
Bears his malk'd brow, his lifted hands difarms ; 
But wrapp'd in night, with terrors all his own, 
He fpeaks in thunder when the deed is done. 
Hear him, ye fenates ! hear this truth fublime, 
He who allows opprefiion, mares the crime. 

No radiant pearl, which crefted Fortune wears, 
No gem, that fparkling hangs from Beauty's ears ; 
Not the bright liars which night's blue arch adorn ; 
Not riling funs that gild the vernal morn, 
Shine with fuch luftre as the tear, that breaks, 
For other's woe, down Virtue's manly cheeks. 

So admirably does this Bard drop the 
curtain of moral truth and humanity over 
the tuTues of his fancy, in this the grandeft 
of his fecond-part Cantos. 

The Mufe of Botany now retires with 



much more ferious grace from her choir 
than fhe had done in the preceding Cantos, 
and it becomes her well, from the more 
fombre nature of it's recent themes. 

Alike ingenious and juft are the critical 
obfervations with which this third Inter- 
lude commences ; they are on the relation 
between the arts of Poetry and Painting. 
In theprogreft of it's ftri&ures Dr. Darwin 
has not fucceeded fo well. When he 
would eftablifh affinity between the mea- 
fures of metrical and muiical competition, 
it was owing to his total want of know- 
ledge in muiical fcience that he is vifionary, 
abftrufe, and^ incomprehenfible. The in- 
itances he gives of fancied triple and com- 
mon time in our verfe, by no means fup- 
port his theory, after all the pains which 
can be taken to comprehend it by thofe who 
understand both the arts. His fuggefted 
poffibility of luminous harmony, accordant 
to that which is vocal, feems metaphyfical 


DR. DARWIN. 351 

in as wild extreme as the fuppofed analogy 
between the meafures of poetry, and the 
time of mufic, had been unfuccefsfully ma- 

A pleafing inftance of paternal eulogy 
occurs in this Interlude concerning the 
ingenious difcovery on the harmony of co- 
lours, by Dr. Darwin of Shrewfbury. The 
demonftrated exiftence of that harmony 
gives, as our Poet juftly obferves, Mufic 
and Painting undoubted right to borrow 
metaphors from each other; " Muficians, 
to fpeak of the brilliancy of founds, and 
the light and made of a concerto ; and 
Painters, of the harmony of colours and 
" the tone of a picture ;" but, when he 
feeks to extend in our fenforium thefe real 
affinities between the nature of colours 
and of mufical founds, into an equal re- 
lationlhip between the poetical and the 
mufical meafures, he becomes incompre- 
henfible to thofe who know the nature of 



each too well to believe it poffible that the 
mechanical divifions of mufical time have 
their correfponding rules in the formation 
of Englifh verfe, whether blank or in 
rhyme. Perhaps the fyftem may, as he 
afferts, extend to the poffibility of fetting 
pictures, as well as verbal expreffions, to 
mufic, but not, furely, as Dr. Darwin fup- 
pofes, with better effect than when mufic is 
adapted to the fentiments or the imagery 
of verfe. The love of novelty only could 
have induced fuch a preference. It is con- 
ceivable that a picture, whether hiftoric or 
fcenic, might be exhibited while fuch har- 
monic ftrains are played by a band, as 
fiiould well exprefs the paffions and feel- 
ings of the hiftoric group before us, or the 
particular character of the landfcape ; but 
as the picflure has only it's moment, fo 
muft the correfponding melody and har- 
mony of inftruments have only one {train ; 
no fucceffive and contrafted movements. 



Poetry and Mufic are both progreflive, 
Painting is ftationary, therefore the natural 
union is between the two firft ; and pic- 
tures can be worth nothing to the mufician 
in his imitative art, in companion with 
poetry, whofe paffions and fcenes are 
changeful, often contracted, and always 

Again, the poetic Critic emerges into 
truth and day-light, when he compares the 
nature and privileges of the Greek and 
Latin languages with thofe of our own. 
Silent about the tones of each, where fu- 
periority is univerfally confefled to be with 
the two former, he proves that the confti- 
tution of the Englifh language is, from it's 
power of more varioufly compounding it's 
terms, and from it's greater facility in pro- 
ducing perfonifications, better calculated 
for poetry than the Greek and Latin. Ac- 
cordingly our poetry has more imagery than 
that of either of thofe languages. From 
this comparifon the author Hides into the 
2, A fubjecl 


fubjecT: of plagiarifm from the Ancients, and 
from former Bards of this nation. He dif- 
tinguiflies well what is, and what is not 
amenable to that cenfure, and acknow- 
ledges the few paflages of borrowed ideas 
in the three preceding Cantos. He fays, 
" Where the fentiment and expreffion are 
" taken from other writers without due 
" acknowledgment, an author is guilty of 
" plagiarifm, but not on the teftimony of 
" fmgle words and cafual phrafes ;" and 
adds, " they are lawful game, wild by, 
" nature^ the property of all who can 
" capture them. Perhaps a few common 
" flowers of fpeech may be gathered as 
" we pafs over our neighbour's ground, 
" but we muft not plunder his cultivated 
" fruit." Dr. Darwin forgot that juft 
reftraint when he took, unacknowledged, 
forty-fix entire lines, the publifhed verfes 
of his friend, for the exordium of the firft 
part of his work. That extraordinary, and 


DR. DARWIN. 355 

in a Poet of fb much genius, unprecedent- 
ed inftance of plagiarifm excepted, not one 
great Poet of England is more original than 
Darwin. His defign, his ideas, his ftyle, 

his manner, are wholly his own. 

" Bright forms that glitter in the Mufe's ray, 
" With orient hues, v aborrow'd of the fun." 


Opens with a fun-rife and a rain-bow, 
each of Homeric excellence. The Mufe 
of Botany gazes enchanted on the fcene, 
and fwells the fong of Paphos to fofter 
chords. Her Poet adds : 

Long ailes of oak return'd the lilver found, 
And amorous Echoes talk'd along the ground. 

This is almoft verbatim from Pope's 

And more than Echoes talk along the walls. 


Plagiarifm is atoned when it improves 

upon it's original, and that is always to be 

2 A 2, expe&ed 


expected from genius rich as Dr. Darwin's ; 
but in the prefent inftance we are difap- 
pointed. This generally fo very accurate 
defcriber, here indolently facrifices the 
verifimilitude of the circumftance, rather 
than change his rhymes. Echoes talk in 
the air and along walls^ but we never hear 
their voice at our feet. They are there in 
double inaccuracy, iincc if the oaken viftas 
returned the found, that found is echo ; fb 
we have firft a literal echo, and, immedi- 
ately after, a plurality of perfonified echoes 
creeping on all four, and telling their imi- 
tative tales where no " Nymph of the airy 
" cell," as Milton beautifully terms the 
echo, ever deigned even to whifper. 

Long ailes of oak the filver founds retain, 

And all their echoes breath'd the amorous ftrain. 

Dr. Darwin proceeds to recall his readers 
to the local fituation of his Mufe : 


DR. DARWIN. 357 

Pleas' d Lichfield liften'd from her facred bowers, 
Bow'd her tall groves, and {hook her flately towers. 

The firft transformation of this Canto is 
the Cereus grandiflora, of Jamaica, twenty 
males one female. It flowers and becomes 
odoriferous during a few hours in the night, 
and then clofes to open no more. The 
Cerea becomes a Maid of Night, contem- 
plating it's " ftellar funs :" and fhe is 
compared to the Fairy Queen of Mr. 
Mundy's Poem, Need wood Foreft, in a 
lovely ftrain, defcriptive of the Elfin So- 
vereign/* Of fuch a pleating perfonage a 
fecond portrait is welcome. The reader 
may be gratified by comparing on this page 
the pictures of Titania from two Poets of 
whom StafFordfliire may be proud. 


Hark the foft lute ! along the green 
Moves, with majeftic ftep ; the Queen. 

2 A 3 Attendant 


Attendant Fays around her throng, 
And trace the dance, or raife the fong; 
Or touch die ftirill reed as they trip, 
With finger light and ruby lip. 

High on her brow fublime is borne 
One fcarlet woodbine's tremulous horn ; 
A gaudy bee-bird's ample plume 
Sheds o'er her neck it's wavy gloom ; 
With filvery goflamer entwin'd, 
Stream the luxuriant locks behind. 
Thin folds of tangled net- work break, 
In airy waves adown her neck j 
Warp'd in his loom, the fpider fpread 
The far diverging rays of thread. 
One rofe-leaf forms her crimfon veft, 
The loofe edge crofies o'er her breaft, 
And one tranflucent fold, which fell 
From a tall lily's ample bell, 
Forms, with fweet grace, her fnowy train, 
Flows, as fhe fteps, and fweeps the plain. 
Silence and Night enchanted gaze, 
And Hefper hides his vanquifh'd rays. 


Thus, when old Needwood's hoary fcenes the Night 
Paints with blue ihadow, and with milky light j 
Where Mundy pour'd, the liflening nymphs among, 
Loud to the echoing vales his parting fong, 


DR. DARWIN. 359 

With meafur'd flep the Fairy Sovereign treads, 
Shakes her high plume, and glitters o'er the meads $ 
Round each green holly leads her fportive train, 
And little footfteps mark the circled plain j 
Each haunted rill with filver voices rings, 
And Night's fweet bird in livelier accent, tings. 

The next floral animation, the Tropoe* 
olum Majus, Garden Nafturtion, eight 
males one female, is introduced by thefe 
lovely lines : 

Ere the bright Star which leads the morning Iky 
Hangs o'er the milky Eaft it's diamond eye, 
The chafte Tropceo leaves her fecret bed j 
A faint-like glory trembles round her head j 

alluding to the " eleftric flafhes, which 
" Mifs E. C. Linneus firft obferved about 
" this flower in a fummer morning, before 
" fun-rife." Aplenty and pompofilluf- 
tration is allotted to this flower ; firft the 
fire-fly of the tropics ; next the ignis-fatuus, 
which Dr. Darwin had deemed fabulous ; 
and laft the intrepid Youths of Judea, con- 
2, A 4 demned 


demned by Nebuchadnezzar to the burn- 
ing fiery furnace. 

With fublime fimplicity has the Prophet 
Daniel told that ftory. Beneath every 
remembrance in favor of the infpired hif- 
torian, we are here imprefled and charmed 
anew by grandeur of imagery and piclure, 
fuited to the miraculous greatnefs of the 
fcene. We again behold the blazing de- 
luge, the fiery cavern, white with feven- 
fold heat ; the three Heroes in the midft : 

And now a fourth, with Seraph-beauty bright, 
Defcends 5 accofts them ; and outfhines the light, 
Fierce flames innocuous, as they ftep, retire, 
And flow they move amid a world of fire ! 

How beautiful is the latter part of the 
fecond line ! 

The Avena, Oat, three males two fe- 
males, becomes a pair of mufical nymphs, 
alluding to the oaten pipes of early times, 
perhaps the firft invented instrument of the 


DR. DARWIN. 361 

harmonious fcience. The fifter 'Avenas 
fmg a lovely paftoral ballad, whofe Ihorter 
meafure again, as twice before, in the courfe 
of this poem, agreeably relieves the ear. 

Cannabis, Chinefe Hemp, is introduced 
by this fine appropriate landfcape, where 

O'er defert fands, deep gulphs, and hills sublime 
Extends her mafly wall from clime to clime; 
With bells and dragons crefts her Pagod -bowers, 
Her fil ken palaces, and porcelain towers 3 
With long canals a thoufand nations laves, 
Plants all her wilds, and peoples all her waves j 
Slow treads fair Cannabis the breezy ftrand, 
The diftaff ftreams diflievell'd in her hand. 

The female form is always attractive 
from the poetic pencil of Darwin. Even 
the homely diftaff becomes elegant, as in 
the hand of a fair Nymph, it's flax is buoy- 
ant on the gales of morning. Cannabis 
proceeds in her fpinning, and the Graces 
hover around her wheel; yet to her is 
" ftern Clotho" compared, who weaves 



the web of Human Deftiny, " the cradle 
" and the coffin binding it's ends;" but the 
Lady is here in her kindeft mood, aufpi- 
cious Fortune turning the giddy wheel ; 

But if fweet Love, with baby- fingers, twines, 
And wets, with dewy lips, the lengthening lines, 
Skein after Ikein celeftial tints unfold, 
And all the filken tiflue fliines with gold. 

Galanthus Nivalis, Snow-drop, fix males 
one female, is introduced as a delicate and 
fprightly lady, playing amidft a wintery 
fcene of filent floods, white hills, and glit- 
tering meadows. She chides the tardy 
Spring, and commands the Weft Wind to 
ftretch his folded pinions. She awakens 
the hoarfe Cuckow in his gloomy cavern, 
calls the wondering Dormoufe from his 
temporary grave ; bids the mute Redbreaft 
enliven the budding groves, and the plighted 
Ringdove coo. The Redbreaft, however, 
is not mute amid the hybernal filence of 
nat ire, he warbles on the hoary fpray. 


DR. DARWIN. 363 

Bellis Prolifera, Hen and Chicken Daify, 
next becomes an affectionate matron, fur- 
rounded by" her happy infants. Their 
childiih. fports, with the infects of the ad- 
vanced Spring, and with the harebells and 
primrofes, form a domeftic fcene of tender 
and lively intereft. In the courfe of it a 
compound epithet for the Snail brings that 
reptile inilantly to the eye : 

Admire his eye-tipp'd horns and painted mail -, 

alfo, by the adverb, paufing, " the paufmg 
" butterfly," is that gay infect recalled to 
us on it's airy evolutions. Venus and her 
Loves making arrows for Cupid in Vul- 
can's forge, is given as a fimile to that 
fcene ; if fimile it may be called which 
fimilitude has none. However, the me- 
chanifm of bow and arrow-making is pre- 
fented with very amufmg precifion. 

Evidently to fupport a fplendid prelufive 
defcription of Matlock, and the theory of 



the warmth of it's fountain proceeding 
from internal volcano, is the aquatic plant, 
the Fucus, introduced, which, we are told, 
foon appears in all bairns that contain 
water. The Fucus is reprefented as a 
beauteous youth, who bathes his fair fore- 
head in the flreaming fountain. The 
fcriptural Angel who fhook his plumes over 
the pool of Bethefda, illuftrates the Fucus, 
prefiding over the falubrious fprings of 
Matlock. This fimile has much pro- 
priety, fmce Dr. Prieftley informs us that 
great quantities of pure dephlogifticated 
air are given up in water at the points 
of the Fucus, particularly in the fun- 
" ihine, and that hence it contributes to 
" preferve the water in refervoirs from 
" becoming putrid." 

Trapa, four males one female, another 
aquatic plant, comes before us ; thus, 

Amphibious Nymph, from Nile's prolific bed 
Emerging Trapa, lifts her pearly head. 


DR. DARWIN. 365 

Fair glows her virgin cheek and modeft breaft, 

A panoply of fcales deforms the reft; 

Her quivering fins and panting gills fhe hides, 

But fpreads her filver arms upon the tides $ 

Slow as fhe fails, her ivory neck fhe laves, 

And makes her golden trefles o'er the waves. 

Charm'd round the Nymph, in circling gambols glide 

Four Nereid forms, or fhoot along the tide 5 

Now, all as one, they rife with frolic fpring, 

And beat the wondering air on humid wing; 

Now all defcending plunge beneath the main, 

And lafh it's foam with undulating train ; 

Above, below, they wheel, retreat, advance, 

In air and ocean weave the mazy dance ; 

Bow their quick heads, and point their diamond eyes, 

And twinkle to the fun with ever changing dyes. 

By this picture we are reminded of the 
figure of Sin at the gates of hell. 

The one feeni'd woman to the waift, and fair, 
But ended foul in many a fcaly fold, 

Voluminous and vaft ! 

MILTON'S Paradife Loft. 

The enfuing transformation conveys us 
from the flat fliores of the Nile to the bafe 
of the Andes. The plant is the Ocymum 



Salinum, Saline Bafil, two males two fe- 
males. She is complimented with chaftity 
as having but one lover. Her fituation 
prefents a fine landfcape, and her form is 
arrayed in every feminine and modeft at- 
traction. The fpray of ocean bathes her 
delicate limbs, uncurls her amber-hued 
trefles, and encrufts her perfon with faline 
films, through which, as from amidft a 
Ihrine of cryftal, her beauty beams. To 
this faline plant belongs a note extremely 
worth the attention of the reader, fince it 
contains an opinion of univerfal medical 
importance, from one of the moft difcern- 
ing phyficians which perhaps the world 
has produced. It relates to, by him, fup- 
pofed pernicious effect of too free indul- 
gence in that moft agreeable of all the arti- 
ficial taftes, the love of fait with our food. 
The transformation of the Ocymum Sa- 
linum brought to the Poet's memory the 
unfortunate wife of Lot, whofe ftory is 


DR. DARWIN. 367 

here told with great and pathetic beauty. 
Herfelf and hufband are compared to Or- 
pheus and Eurydice, to ^Eneas and Creufa. 
The ftory concludes with a fine verifi- 
cation of the fcriptural piciure of the ruins 
of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps it will 
be found fomewhat inferior to Mafon's 
paraphrafe of the defolation of Babylon. 
The reader will compare the paflages, and 
judge for himfelf. 


Oft the lone Pilgrim, that his road forfakes, 

Marks the wide ruins and the fulphur'd lakes; 

On mouldering piles, amid afphaltic mud, 
Hears, the hoarfe Bittern where Gomorrah flood ; 
Recalls th' unhappy pair, with lifted eye, 
Leans on the cryftal tomb, and breathes the lilent 



Where yon proud City flood 
Now fpreads the ftagnant mud ; 
And there the Bittern in the fedge'fhall lurk, 



Moaning with fallen ftrain, 
While fweeping o'er the plain, 
Deftru6tion ends her work. 

Arum, of the clafs Gynandria, or mafcu- 
line ladies, becomes an Amazon, in the 
modern military garb, and it's appendages. 
Dejanira exchanging her diftaff for the 
lion-fpoils of her mighty lover, illuftrates 
the Haram in a beautiful poetic picture. 

The mule-flower, produced from the union 
of the Dianthus Superbus, Proud Pink, and 
the Caryophillus, Clove, produces, in the 
transformation of it's parent flowers, a 
whimfical but highly ingenious companion 
to the Periian fable of the amours of the 
Nightingale and the Rofe. With roman- 
tic, but exquifite fancy is this amour, and 
it's beautifully- monftered offspring, made 
out. That curious plant, the Chundali 
Borrum, whofe hiftory and ftrange habits 
are defcribed in a note to the paflage, is 
preceded by an African landfcape of fublime 
features, beneath the rage of the Summer 


DR. DARWIN. 369 

Solftice, and the poifonous breath of the 
Harmattan, the only gale that flits over 
the tawny hills. Gafping panthers arc 
rolling in the duft, and dying ferpents are 
writhing in foamy folds; the woods on 
Atlas, blafted by the heats, and the waters 
of the Gambia ilirinking in their channels ; 
Ocean rolling to land his ilck flioals, and 
Contagion (talking along the fhore. Amid 
the fultry wafte rifes the graceful nymph, 
Chunda, with her brow unturbaned, and 
with loofened zone. Her ten lovers are 
employed in mitigating for their fajr mif- 
trefs the ardors of the climate, with the 
umbrella and the fan. 

Of equal excellence, a Greenland picture 
contracts, in the utmoft poffible extreme, 
the preceding landfcape. A da) lefs horizon, 
{Ireaming with the milky light of the 
Aurora Borealis, and all the white moun- 
tains gleaming to the moon ; Bears {talk- 
ing ^flpwly over the printed fnows ; and vaft 
2 B ribs 


ribs of ice, burfting with the noife of loud- 
eft thunder. Then is fhown the vernal 
difiblution of this fcene, beneath the rifmg 
of the pale, frx-months day ; and the Muf- 
chus, Coral-Mofs, in the form of an Arcliic- 
regioned lover, awakens his Fair One, and 
defcribes the fymptoms of returning Spring. 
The lake and fea-plant, -5ga, Conferva 
^Egagropila, is next introduced by thi* 
beautiful line, 

Night's tinfel beams on fmooth Locti-Lomond dance, 

Where the charms of poetic found are felt, 
tliat is one of the lines which, after perufaf, 
takes poffeffion of the memory, and lingers 
on the ear. We are tolcf, in a note, that 
this vegetable is found loofe in. many lakes-; 
that it is of a globular form, from the fize 
of a walnut to that of a melo-n ; does not 
adhere to any thing, but rolls from one part 
of the lake to the other. HCTQ it becomes a 
fair maid, fitting en the banks .of Loch- 

DR. DARWIN. 371 

Lomcfnd, expecting her lover to fwim to 
her from the centre of the water, and 
exploring, with anxious eyes, every paffing 
wave. Since a number of aquatic plants 
had been previouily humanized, it is pro- 
bable this is indebted for fuch diftin&ion 
to the inclination of the Poet to retell 
the celebrated ftory of Hero and Leander, 
after Ovid. As a fimile it is perfectly 
comparative to the dcfcribed fituation 
and folicitude of JEga. Dr. Darwin was 
confcious of ^is rarely-equalled talent in 
defcriptive ftory ; of his power to bring 
objects full and diftincl on the reader's eye, 
by attitudes, looks, and employments, pe- 
culiar to their fituation. Ovid fays, Hero 
hung her lamp in a tower which overlooked 
the Hellefpont, that her lover, as he fwam 
acrofs the flood, might Tee to fteer his courfe 
by it's light. The art of glafs-making, un- 
known in thofe times, the danger of the 
lamp being blown out muft have been 
2 F 2, imminent. 


imminent. It is therefore natural that 
Hero fliould affiduoufly ftrive to guard it 
from the wind. Of that pi&urefquc cir- 
cumftance Ovid did not avail himfelf. Our 
modern Bard has been happier. 

So, on her fea-girt tower, fair Hero flood 
At parting day, and mark'd the dafliing flood, 
"While high in air, the glimmering roeks above, 
Shone the bright lamp, the pilct-ffor of love. 
With robe out-fpread, the waving flame behind, 
She kneels, and guards it from the rifing wind j 
Breathes to her Goddels * all her vows, and guide? 
Her bold Leander o'er the dufky tides ; 
Wrings his v/et hair, his briny bofom warms, 
And clafps her daring lover in her arms. 

The charm of appropriation, as evinced 
in the third couplet of the above paifage r 
exifb only with the genuine Poet. Merc 
tuneful verfifiers krjow nothing of it, they 
reft in general defcription, and general de~ 
fcription has been long fince exhaufled. 

* Hero \vr,s a Priefteft of V 



Genius knows this; he feizes the peculiar 
circumftance of the fituation ; pours all his 
ftrength and light tfjSon that, and leaves to. 
the reader to conceive the whole by that 
diftincl and luminous part ; but for which, 
the fcene would pafs unimpreffive over the 
mind of the examiner, and probably in no 
hour of recollection return to it again. 

The" Truffle, a well known fungus, 
which never appears above ground, now 
meets our attention as a fine lady, married 
to a Gnome, ftretched on beds of filvery a- 
beftos, beneath a grand fubterianean palace ; 
foothed by the mufic of the Eolian ftrings, 
which make love to tender Echoes in the 
circumjacent caves; while Cupids hover 
round and fliake celeftial day from their 
bright lamps. It mud be confeffed that 
the Emprefs of this proud palace has not 
the claim of birthright to her fplendor. 

This perfonification is fucceeded by that 

of Caprifica, Wild Fig, as a Nymph who 

2, B 3 (lumbers 


flumbcrs away her life on a downy couch. 
She is betrothed to a Sylph. Her awak- 
ening is compared to that of the infect in 
a nut, and to a young linnet on the in- 
ftant of it's firft flight from the neft. 
Caprifica ftrikes a talifman, and her airy 
hufband flies to her on the wings of a gnat. 
This flight is painted with la vim play of 
fancy ; it's fwiftnefs is compared to that 
of the electric aura ; it's impatient con-- 
ftancy to that of the- polar needle. The 
Byflus of the northern fhores, which floats 
on their feas by day, and is found in their 
caverns, we fee ufliered to our notice by a "* 
fublime poetic picture of Fingall's Cave, of 
which Pennant's Tour to the Ht-brides 
contains an engraving. The male and fe- 
male of this vegetable become a Youth and 
Maid of thofe regions, purfuing their amo- 
rous voyage by night, in a boat with green 
fails, and lighted to their cave by the ftar 
9f Venus. 


DR. DARWIN. 375 

Conferva Poiymorpha, found on the 
Englifh fliores, from the changeful appear- 
ance of the fubftance, is termed a Proteus 
Lover, and is reprefented after that fable. 
Beneath this fancy we fee him a Dolphin, 
a fpotted Pard, a Swan ; and traits of the 
manners of each of thofe animals give po- 
etic value to the transformations. 

Adonis, many males many females in 
the fame flower. Here is the final meta- 
morphofis of this great work ,,qf Imagina- 
tion. The multifarious florets in each in- 
dividual flower of that fpecies, are made to 
affume the human figure, and to become a 
band of libertine lovers, who plight their 
promifcuoushymencals. To them is com- 
pared that licentious inftitution, the Areoi 
of Otaheite, as recorded in Cook's Voyages. 

And now the Mufe of Botany difmiffes 
her minifters, and clofcs her inchantmcnts, 
thus : 



Here ceas'd the Goddefs. O'er the filent firings 
Applauding Zephyrs fvvept their fluttering wings ; 
Enraptur'd Sylphs arofe in murmuring crowds, 
To air-wove canopies and pillowy clouds ; 
Each Gnome, relu&ant fought his earthly cell, 
And each bright floret cloth'd her velvet bell. 
Then, on foft tiptoe, Night, approaching near, 
Hung o'er the tunelefs lyre his fable ear $ 
Gemm'd with bright ftars the ftill, etherial plain, 
And bade his nightingales repeat the drain. 

Thefe laff verfes drop the curtain, with 
ferene dignity, over a brilliant little world 
of Genius and it's creations. The paflage 
may not poffefs the fpirit and fublimity 
which attach to a number of others in 
this divifion. Probably the Poet remem- 
bered the plainnefs with which Homer, 
.Virgil, and Milton, clofed their Epics, and 
chofe to diffufe over his farewell lines an 
emulous fobriety. Perhaps the whole 
Canto, with all it's mafs of pidurefque ele- 
gance, has more famenefs, lefs grandeur, 
lefs fublimity, than any of it's predeceffors 
in either part of this magnificent Poem. 

3 & 

DR. DARWIN. 3/7 

It fcems to bear that fpecks and degree of 
inferiority to the three former Cantos, as 
the Loves of the Plants, confidered as an 
whole, bears to the fublimer firft part, the 
Economy of Vegetation ; where we find 
imperfonifed each various elementary pro- 
perty of Creation, as a race of miniftrant 
Beings, endowed with fcientific intelli- 
gence and benevolent powers. They rife 
before us, the Handmaids of Nature, or- 
dained to watch over all her operations 
and productions, on earth and beneath it ; 
in air and in ocean ; as Nature herfelf ap- 
pears in the femblarice of the Goddefs of 

Perhaps it would have been better if her 
proper and general name, Nature, had been 
afligned to her in the Economy of Vege- 
tation, and the botanic title been referved 
exclufively for the Mufe ia the Second Part, 
who records the transformations and the 
Jovs of the Plants *nd 'Flowers. In that 



cafe, to her alfo would have been refigncd 
the floral car and it's gay defcent, and a 
vehicle of graver magnificence fupplied it's 
place to the " Mighty mother/' immortal 
Nature. Nymph, or Goddefs of Botany, 
implies empire only over the vegetable part 
of creation ; while, in the Economy of 
Vegetation, flie prefides over the aftrono- 
mic, eleftric, aerial, and mineralogic pro- 
perties. Into fo wide a field has the union 
of Philofophy with Poetry conducted this 
daring Bard. The light of his imagina- 
tion will fhine with increafing luftre in the 
eyes of future generations, fo long as dif- 
cerning Tafte fhall be the Veftal to watch 
and fuppiort it's fires. 

Nor let it once be thought that any 
error in Dr. Darwin's poetic fyftem ; any 
occafional deviation from perfection in the 
plan, arrangement, or execution of this his 
complicated work, ought to prevent it's 
facing confidered as one of the richeft ef- 


PR. DARWIN. 379 

fufions of the poetic mind, that has fhed 
luftre over Europe in the eighteenth cen- 

, Human ability never did, and probably 
never will', produce an abfolutely perfect 
compofition. The author of this memoir 
has, from infancy, fedqlouily ftudied and 
compared the writings of the diftinguiflied 
Bards of her nation, together with the beft 
translations of thofe of Greece, Rome, and 
modern Italy. She has prefumed to def- 
cant upon what appeared to her the grace? 
and defecls of the Botanic Garden ; induced 
by a convicYion that the unbiaffed mixture 
of candid objection with due praife, better 
ferves the intereft of every fcience than 
blind unqualified encomium upon it's pro- 
feffors. Hence, rifing Genius may be 
guarded againft the betraying influence of 
enthufiaftic homage ; which, charmed by 
general excellence, melts down particular 
dcfecl in it's fhining rnafs. Sp doing, th 



inexperienced and ardent fancy is full as 
liable to adopt the faults as to attain the 
merits of the author it emulates. 

By unprejudiced inveftigation, that fickly, 
partial, and faftidious tafte which confines 
it's attention and it's praife to a few chofen 
and darling writers, may be induced to 
reflect, that if, after a juft balance of beauty 
and defect, the firft outweighs the latter in 
immenfe degree, then attention, love, and 
applaufe is due to that work as an whole, 
in which fuch preponderance is found. 

Pofterity, if not always, yet generally acts 
upon that fair principle in the meafure of 
fame it allots, when the mifts of preju- 
dice, from caufes foreign to the intrinfic 
claims of an author, lhall difperfe. Thofc 
compofitions which, with a confiderable 
degree of genius, are yet level to the com- 
prehenfion of ordinary minds, immediately 
attain their full meafure of celebration ; 
but it is feldom that poetry of the higher 


Dtl. DARWIN. 381 

orders is exempt from thofe mifts ; it muft 

ftruggle through them into full and uni- 

Yerfal day. 

The flowly-accumulating fuffrages of 
thofe difeerning and generous readers who 
delight in fertile and daring Genius, will 
accumulate for the Botanic Garden, as 
they have for many other poems, whofe 
early appreciation was dubious ; whofe 
celebration, during the life of their authors, 
was far from being uncontroverted. When 
that time fhall come, the querulous and 
difdainful tones of peevifh prejudice w r ill 
not venture to affail the ear of an admiring 
Nation, proud of it's diftinguifhed Sons. 
Then, however imperfection may ftill be 
perceived in this as in all other works of 
bold imagination, it will be obferved without 
acrimony, and with grateful delight in it's 
plenteous atonement. 

No eminent Poet has fo many paffages 
which are every way exceptionable, as the 



raofl eminent Poet that this, or perhaps 
any other nation has produced from the 
morning of Time, our great, our glorious 


. BARAVltf. 


BEFORE Dr. Darwin flood forth a candi- 
date for the Delphic laurels, he was extremely 
alive to the beauties of poetic literature, 
as it rofe and expanded around him. No 
perfon could be more ready to difcern and 
to praife it's graces ; but, from the com- 
mencement of the Botanic Garden, the 
jealous fpirit of authorifm darkened his 
candor. When, with avowed delight in 
the poetic powers of Cowper's Tafk, the 
writer of thefe ftridures, in converfation 
with Dr. Darwin and Sir Brooke Boothby, 
afked their opinion of that poem, each de- 
clared they could not read it through; 
each taxed it with egotifm, with profaicifm, 
with a rough and flovenly ftyle, and with 



utter want of regular defign. Perhaps 
thofe cenfures, unbalanced by juft praife, 
ihould not, however, be imputed folely to 
unworthy jealoufy in either of thofe gentle- 
men ; certainly not to Sir Brooke, at any 
rate, who, with all his native brilliance of 
fancy, was never tenacious of the Mufes* 
favors. Both had always preferred rhyme 
to blank verfe, aflerting that it better fuit- 
ed the nature of our language. Dr. Dar- 
win had ever maintained a preference of 
Akenfide's blank verfe to Milton's ; declared 
that it was of higher polifh, of more claffic 
purity, and more dignified conftruclion. 
This preference may fairly allow us to 
place his blindnefs to the charms of the 
Talk to the fcore of tafie fomcwhat ener- 
vated by too much refinement, rather than 
to forenefs under rival reputation. A {till 
more fcrupulous attachment to claffic ele- 
gance attaches to the opinions of Sir Brooke, 
refpeding Poetry. It. was thence, .duubt- 


DR. DARWIN. 38$ 

lefs, that he became difgufted by the plan- 
lefs wanderings of Cowper's Mufe, in her 
principal work, and by the occafional 
roughnefs and profaicifm of it's ftyle. 
Another prejudice in the minds of each 
was likely to have operated in producing 
this injuftice to Cowper. Previous to the 
Tafk he had publifhed poems in rhyme, 
into which they had probably looked. In 
thofe poems, whatever flrength of thought 
may be found, the poetic effentials cer- 
tainly are not, inharmonious as is their 
verification ; barren as they are of landfcape 
and picture, metaphor and imagery. 

The author of the Tafk was morejuftto 

Darwin than he had been to that fpirited, 

that interefting, that often fublime, though 

not faultlefs compofition. About the year 

1793, Mr. Cowper fent Dr. Darwin a lively 

and pleafing encomium in verfe upon the 

Botanic Garden. This agreeable eulogy 

juitly fays, no Poet who can refufe to 

2 o beftovr 


beftow a wreath on Darwin deferves to 
obtain one for himfelf. It was accom- 
panied by another poetic tribute from Mr. 
Hayley, of yet warmer praife and more 
brilliant grace. 

Mr. Polwhele alfb addreffed a fine ion- 
net to Dr. Darwin on his Botanic Garden, 
who, by inferting it in his work, proved 
that he thought highly of it's merit, and 
that he confidered fuch praife as genuine 
fame. The neglecT: of Mr. Polwhele's poetic 
writings is a difgrace to the prefent period 
of Englifh literature. 

Our botanic Poet had in general no tafte 
for Sonnets, and particularly difliked Mil- 
ton's. The characleriftic beauties of the le- 
gitimate fonnet, it's nervous condenfation of 
idea, the graceful undulation of it's varied 
paufe, which blends with the fweetnefs of 
rhyme the dignity of blank verfe, were all 
loft on Dr. Darwin, at leaft from the time 
in which he entertained the defign of be- 

DR. DARWIN. 387 

coming a profeffed poet. Abforbed in the 
refolve of bringing the couplet-meafure to 
a degree of fonorous perfection, which 
fhould tranfcend the numbers of Dryden 
and Pope, he fought to confine poetic ex- 
cellence exclufively to that ftyle. 

" Defiring much the letter'd world might own 
* The countlefs forms of beauty only one." 

From the time at which Dr. Darwin 
left Lichfield to refide at Derby, on the 
irrefiftible injunction of Love, the author 
of thefe memoirs will not attempt to trace 
more than the outline of his deftiny, not 
poffeffing the means of giving it's interior 
parts with fufficient precifion. 

The pen which on thefe leaves has pur- 
fued him through his afcending day to it's 
meridian, may yet remark that Dr. Dar- 
win's reputation as a poet firft emanated 
from Derby, though his delphic inspirations 
commenced at Lichfield ; that as a phy- 
fician his renown ftill increafed as time 
* c 3 rolled 


rolled on, and his mortal life declined from 
it's noon. Patients reforted to him, more 
and more, from every part of the kingdom, 
and often from the Continent. All ranks, 
all orders of fociety, all religions leaned 
upon his power to ameliorate difeafe, and 
to prolong exiftence. The rigid and 
fternly pious, who had attempted to re- 
nounce his aid from a fuppofition that no 
bleffing would attend the prefcriptions of a 
fceptic, facrificed, after a time, their fuper- 
flitious fcruples to their involuntary con- 
fcioufnefs of his mighty {kill. 

Wealth muft have flowed in rapidly 
beneath employment of unprecedented 
extent, at leaft in any country practitioner ; 
and from the large fums for which he fold 
the copy-right of his writings, poetic and 
philofophic. The fweet temper and bene- 
volence of that long adored wife, for whofe 
fake he had changed his fphere of action ; 
the numerous young family which rofe 



and bloomed around him, rendered the 
Lares of his hearth not lefs aufpicious to 
Darwin than he had found the gifts of 
Fortune and the voice of Renown. His fon 
Erafmus, by the former wife, had fettled 
at Derby nearly as foon as himfelf went 
thither, and in the profeffion of the law 
obtained confiderable practice, with fair 
reputation. The talents and virtues of his 
youngeft fon, by the firft marriage, were 
making every promife of that profperity 
which has fmce been amply fulfilled. 

The Zoonomia, of fo much elder birth 
than the Botanic Garden, fuffered her 
poetic younger fifter to precede her on 
their entrance into the world of letters, and 
did not herfelf appear till the year 1794. 
Of the Zoonomia fufficient has been laid 
in the former part of this biography, con- 
fidering the writer's limited powers to 
fpeak of it's excellences and defects. 

About thirteen or fourteen years after 
20 Dr, 


Pr. Darwin's fecond marriage, the Mifs 
Parkers, his relations, opened a female 
boaiding-fchool at Alhbourn in Derbyfhirc. 
To the education of thofe ingenious and 
good young women he had paid fome 
general attention, and had feduloufly and 
warmly, by recommendation and by other 
means, exerted himfelf to ferve them. 
To promote the fuccefs of their undertak- 
ing he publiflied, on it's commencement, a 
fmall tract on Female Education. The 
precife time of it's appearance is not re- 
collected. The compofition was by no 
means worthy of Dr. Darwin's exalted 
abilities. It's fubject cannot be fuppofed 
to have employed much of his confider- 

The fyftem of his whole life on thaf 
theme had been at war with all fort of re- 
ftraint on the time, the amufements, and 
the diet of children. Irony was the only 
corrective weapon he had ever ufed to his 


DR. DARWIN. 391 

own. The docility of them all, and the 
talents and good qualities of his three 
eldeft fons, one, alas ! cut off in the dawn 
of manhood and of fame, and the happy 
profpects of the other two, had confirmed 
his difdain of incefiant attention to young 
people. He always faid, " If you would 
" not have your children arrogant, con- 
" ceited, and hypocritical, do not let them 
" perceive that you are continually watch- 
" ing and attending to them ; nor can you 
" keep that perpetual watch ^without their 
" perceiving it. Infpire them with a dil- 
" dain of meannefs, falfehood, and promife- 
" breaking ; but do not try to effecl this 
" jpurpofe by precept and declamation, but, 
" as occafion arifes, by exprefled contempt 
" of fuch^as commit thofe faults, whether 
" it be themfelves or others. Teach thera 
" benevolence and induitry by your own 
" example, for children are emulous to 
<< acquire the habits of advanced life, and 
304 " attach 


" attach to them an idea of dignity and 
" importance." 

Perhaps, if Dr. Darwin had to this 
incomplicate and fo eafily practicable fyf- 
tem, added the infpiration of religion by the 
fame means, viz. exprefled contempt for 
impiety, and daily example of grateful de- 
votion, it would better anfwer the end of 
making wife and good men and women, 
than all the laboured Treatifes on Educa- 
tion which have, of late years, been poured 
from the prefs ; Treatifes fo univerfally 
read, fo feldom, if ever, even in theflighteft 
degree, reduced to practice ! In truth they 
muft be found impracticable, inconfrftent 
as they are with the eftabliihed habits, of 
fociety. Obedience to their directions muft 
devote every prefent generation, at leaft the 
maternal part of every prefent generation, 
to preparing the future. Every mother 
muft be wholly abforbed in word- watching, 
and look -watching, and all this by 'hook 


DR. DARWIN. 393 

Yet was Dr. Darwin aware that thefc 
voluminous receipts to make human angels ; 
or to make practical philofophers of every 
boy and girl in the higher and middle 
clafles of life, were too popular for him, 
without facrificing the defign of his Tract, 
to bring againft them his own concifer 
plan ; which, if rational, does away the 
utility of them all. His little work could 
not ferve Mifs Parkers if it combated the 
educating metaphyficians and their unobey- 
ing admirers. Avoiding fuch combat, his 
Treatife would certainly call the attention 
of the neighbourhood to the feminary for 
which it was written. Some good rules 
for promoting the health of growing chil- 
dren will be found on it's pages, and they 
promifed unfeed attention from it's author 
to the difeafed in that fchool. On the 
whole, however, it is a meagre work, of 
little general intereft, thofe rules excepted, 
with an odd recommendation of certain 



novels of no eminence, to the perufal of 
young people. That was one of thofe follies 
of the wife, which daily prefent them- 
felves to our furprifed attention. 

In the year 1791 a fplendid archery* 
meeting was held at Drakelow in Stafford* 
fhire, the feat of Sir Nigel Grefley. Mifs 
Sufan Sneyd *, of Belmont, was diftinguifti- 
ed by her fkill and fuccefs in the contefl 
of that day. Honoured by Dr. Darwin's 
celebration, her name and her unerring 
arrow, are on permanent record. The verfes 
he wrote on that occafion appeared in the 
Derby paper anonymoufly. There were 
people who pretended to be judges of verfe, 
and yet were in doubt concerning their 
author. Before Dr. Darwin acknowledged 
them, they were attributed to various verfi- 
fiers ; and when the writer of this Trad:, 
who faw the Darwinian ftamp on the lines 
at one glance, declared they muft be his, 

* Now Mrs. Bronghton. 


DR. DARWIN. 395 

her aflertion was repeatedly combated, as if 
the peculiar ftyle and manner of his mufe 
were not inftantly apparent. 


"With fylvan bow, on Drakelow's fliadowy green, 

Arm'd like Diana, trod the Cyprian Queen. 

O'er her fair brow the beamy crefcent fhone, 

And ftarry fpangles glitter'd round her zone j 

Love's golden fhafts her fnow-white fhoulders prefs'd, 

And the fring'd ribbon crofs'd upon her breaft. 

With carelefs eye (he view'd the central ring, 
Stretch'd her white arms, and drew the iilken firing! 
Mute wonder gaz'd the brazen ftuds betwixtj 
Full in the bofs the flying arrow fix'd ! 
Admiring circles greet the yictor-fair, 
And fliouts of triumph rend the breezy air j 
Trent, with loud echoes thrills the flowery grounds, 

And Burton's towers return applauiive founds. 


The graceful Huntrefs eyes the gaudy grove, 
And bends again th* unerring bow of Love. 
Now guard your hearts, with playful malice cries, 
And wing'd with fmiles the fhining arrow flies j 
With random aim the dazzled crowd me wounds, 
The quiver'd heroes ftrow the velvet grounds j 

*"" Beau 


Beau after beau expiring, prints the plain, 
And Beauty triumphs o'er the archer train. 

Now, with light bound, fhe mounts her wreathed car, 
Rolls her blue eyes, and waves her golden hair. 
Fond youths bow homage as the wheels proceed, 
Sigh as they gaze, and call the goddefs, SNEYD ! 

There are beautiful lines in this little 
compofition, but it is not faultlefs. The 
fourth and fifth couplet form the moft 
ftriking and elegant picture which poetrj 
can exhibit of a graceful young woman 
employed in arrow-mooting. The epithet 
carelefs has the accuftomed felicity of this 
author, in giving character to his portraits ; 
fince it implies that perfect confcioufnefs 
of fkill which precludes all ftrain and effort 
of attitude, fo prejudicial to grace ! In thefe 
verfes Mifs Sneyd is defcribed as fending 
the arrow from the yew, as Dry den makes 
Cleopatra caft from her eyes the darts of 
Love, on her voyage down the Cydnus ; 

DR. DARWIN. 397 

As if fecure of all Beholders' hearts, 
Neglecting Ihe might take them. 

The metaphoric fliooting which fuc- 
eceds to acclamations for the fair-one's vic- 
tory, had perhaps better have been omitted. 
" Beau after beau," founds equivocally to 
the ear, in a fcene thronged with bows and 
arrows ; befides, beau is in itfelf an effemi- 
nate and unchara&eriftic title for a number 
of young men in the uniform of Wood- 
men, and in manly fport with a weapon, 
dignified by it's- ancientry, and by which 
Britons of old not only flew the wild boar 
and the flag, but repelled their foes when 
warriors cried aloud in the battle, 

Draw, Archers, draw your arrows to the head! 

There is alfo fornewhat too much fplendor 
in the departure of the Conquerefs, for why 
Ihould her vehicle be wreathed? A filver 
arrow, and not a garland, is the coftume of 
archery reward. However, the final couplet 


398 MfiMOIRS OF 

is elegant; the eulogy clofing with the 
name of 'it's fubjed has an happy effeft. 

Soon after the death of that varioufly- 
charming Poet, Mafon, Dr. Darwin wrote 
an Epitaph which he defigned fhould be 
engraven on his monument. We may be 
certain, however, that it has not there been 
infcribed. As an infcription for an urn in 
a garden or grove, alter a few of the 
lines for that purpofe, and the verfes are 
excellent, though, from being utterly with- 
out religious hope or truft, they are impro- 
per for a tomb-ftone. 


Thefe aweful manfions of the honor'd Dead 
Oft (hall the Mufe of Melancholy tread $ 
The wreck of Virtue and of Genius mourn, 
And point, with pallid hand, to Mafon's urn. 
Oft fhall fhe gather from his garden bowers * 
F;6titious foliage and ideal flowers -, 

* Alluding to the poem, Ecjglifli Garden. 



Weave the bright wreath, to worth departed juft, 
And hang unfading chaplets on his buft ; 
While pale Elfrida, bending o'er his bier, 
Breathes the Toft figh and flieds the graceful tear; 
And ftern Caraftacns, with brow deprefs'd, 
Clafps the cold marble to his mailed breaft. 
In Incid troops (hall choral Virgins throng, 
With voice alternate channt their Poet's fong, 
And, O ! in golden characters record 
Each firm, immutable, immortal word ! 

Thofc laft two lines from the final chorus 
of Elfrida, admirably clofe this tribute to the 
memory of him who (lands fecond to Gray 
as a lyric Poet; whofe Engliih Garden is 
one of the happieft efforts of didaftic verfe ; 
containing the pureft elements of horticul- 
tural tafte ; dignified by fentiments of free* 
dom and virtue ; rendered interefting by 
epifode, and given in thofe energetic and 
undulating meafures which render blank 
verfe excellent ; whofe unowned fatires, 
yet certainly his, the Heroic Epiftle to Sir 
William Chambers, and it's Poflfcript, art 



1 - * 

at once original in their ftyle, harmonious 
in their numbers, and pointed in their ridi- 
cule ; whofe Tragedies are the only pathetic 
Tragedies which have been written in our 
language upon the fevere Greek model. 
The Samfon Agoniftes bears marks of a 
ftronger, but alfo of an heavier hand, and is 
unqueftionably lefs touching than the fweet 
Elfrida ; and the fublime Caraclacus. 

Since thefe pages were in the prefs, an 
Epitaph on General Wolfe firft met their 
author's eye in a collection of manufcript 
poetry ; and it bears Dr. Darwin's figna- 
ture. Perfectly in his manner, fhe cannot 
doubt it's authenticity ; elfe the names 
of deceafed people of eminence are fo 
often affixed to compositions they never 
framed, that we ought to look jealoufly at 
all which do not carry to the mind of the 
reader internal evidence of their imputed 
origin. But for fuch evidence the enfuing 
lines had found no place on thefe pages. 


BK. DARWIN. 401 


Thy trembling hills, Quebec, when Viftory trod, 
Shook her high plume, and wav'd her banner broad 5 
Saw Wolfe advance j heard the dire din of War, 
And Gallia's genius fhrieking from afar, 
With fatal hade th' aftonifti'd Goddefs flew, 
To weave th' immortal chaplet for his brow. 
Cyprefs fhe gather'd with the facrA bays, 
And weav'd the afp of Death amorig' the fprays. 
They fly ! they fly ! th' expiring Hero cried, 
Hung his wreath'd head $ thank'd the kind Gods, and 

Will the reader again extend indulgence 
to the fpirit of authorifm, tenacious be- 
neath a fenfe of recent injury ? As in the 
courfe of this little work it's writer has 
claimed her own verfes from the fplendid 
poem fhe analyfed, fo will he now permit 
her to difclaim other verfes, that, by iingu- 
lar effrontery (her exiftence confidered) 
have been printed fince, with her name 
affixed. In the Spring 1803, fhe fent thefe 
memoirs to Mr. Johnibn for publication ; 
ihe now, January 1804, but firft dif- 
2, D covered 


covered an illegitimate Sonnet in one of 
the Gentleman's Magazines for Auguft or 
September laft, with her fignature at full 
length. It is addreffed to Mr. Dimond, of 
whofe poetic exiftence flie had never heard, 
and it praifes a poem of his which flie has 
never feeri. One line of the forged fonnet 
begins, " Bright Dimond," thus making a 
miferable pun from an unfortunate name ; 
and the writer's ear was defective enough to 
induce his alliterating with the harlh th 


Young joys awake in many a /^rilling t/trong ; 

which laft words form completely the 
Gander's hifs. 

She finds alfo that thefe alternately-rhym- 
ing ftanzas, which call themfelves fonnet^ 
are interpolated, and given as her's, in the 
6th Vol. of Public Characters, recently 
publiihed; fee page 554 of that Vol. They 
clofe anecdotes of her, that have been 
chiefly collected from previous traces 
in the monthly publications. All are 


DR. DARWIN. 403 

;'" ^'.~-'i 

of much too partial defcription; and 
ftrangely indeed is the talent of finging 
agreeably attributed 1 to her, who, confcious 
of total want of voice, never attempted to 
fmg in her whole life. Amid thefe lateft 
anecdotes a ftanza is quoted from her 
" Ode to General Elliot on his return from 
" Gibraltar," and the quotation has two 
grofs mifprints, " mduflrious foldier" for //- 
htftrious foldier, and " honour to the lap of 
" peace," inftead of, honour on the lap of 

When this fonnet- forgery was contrived, 
it's writer forgot that (he, whofe name was 
affixed to it, had, in her Preface to the 
Centenary oflegitimate Sonnets, which me 
publifhed in 1798, denied to three alter- 
nately rhyming ftanzas, clofing w r ith a 
couplet, all right to the name of that pe- 
culiar and ftricl: order of verfe. It was 
therefore moft unlikely that me Ihould hqr- 
felf affume it for fourteen lines, written on 
the feeble model which fhehad reprobated. 
5 D 3 But 


But it is time to refume a more inte- 
refting fubjecT;. 

The clofe of the year 1/99 brought a 
fevere trial to the ftoical fortitude of Dr. 
Darwin. From the period of his fecond 
marriage all had been funfhine in his for- 
tune, his fame, and dorneftic connexions;, 
but then a ftorm defceadcd upon his peace \ 
unforefeen, fudden, dreadful ! His eldeft 
fon, Mr. Darwin, fo profpcroufly fituated, 
without one adequate caufe-for even, tran- 
fient affliction, became the vicYim of fecret 
and utter defpair. It had often been ob- 
lerved that any more than ordinary recur- 
rence of profelTional bufmefs perplexed and 
oppreffed him. A demand w r as made that 
lie lliould arrange and fettle fome compli- 
cated accounts, which a difpofition to pra- 
craftinate had too long delayed. A difpo- 
fition which is always, in a greater or left 
degree, punilhed by it's confequences. 
Though a remote,, it is the moil frequent 


DR. DARWIN. 405 

caufe of fuicide, accumulating debts till 
their entanglement becomes inextricable, 
their weight too heavy to be borne. But 
in this cafe it had produced only an accu- 
mulation of bufmefs. From the neceffity 
of entering upon it Mr. Darwin had feemed 
to mrink with fo much dejeftion of fpirit 
as to induce his partner to intreat that he 
would leave the infpe&ion folcly to his 
management. He declined the propofal, 
faying, in a faint voice, that it was im* 

This was on a December evening, cold 
And ftorrny. The river Derwent, which 
ran at the bottom of his garden, was par- 
tially frozen. About feveii o'clock he ient 
his partner out of the way on bufmefs, real 
or pretended. Mr. Darwin was on the 
couch complaining of the head-ach. Soon 
after eight his partner returning found 
the parlour vacant. He went to Mr. D/s 
upftair apartment; vacant alfo: inquired 
2 D 3 of 


of the fervants ; they had not ' feen their 
mafter fince this gentleman went out, an 
hour before. He waited a few minutes ex- 
peeling his friend's return from the garden. 
Not appearing, a degree of apprehenfion 
feized his mind. He ran thither, and in 
the walk which leads to the river, he found 
Mr. Darwin's hat and neckcloth. Alarm 
was immediately given, and boats were fent 
out. Dr. Darwin had been fummoned. He 
{laid a long time on the brink of the water, 
Apparently calm and collected, but doubt- 
lei's fuffering the moft torturing anxiety. 
The body could not be found till the next 
day. When the Doftor received informa- 
tion that it was f^und, he exclaimed in a 
low voice, " Poor infane coward !" and it 
is faid never afterv/ards mentioned the 

Mr. Darwin died in very good circum- 
fiances, leaving an untainted reputation 
for probity and benevolence ; beloved, re- 


DR. DARWIN. 407 

fpeded, and mourned by all who knew 
him. He never married ; had purchafed a 
pretty eftate near Derby, which, with all 
his other effecls, he left to his father. The 
accounts, whofe apprehended embarraff- 
ment had proved fatal to him, were fettled 
after his death to the fatisfa&ion of all 

Though this unfortunate victim of caufe- 
lefs defpondency had a gentle, ingenuous, 
and affeclionate heart, he attained middle 
life without any known or luipecled attach- 
ment of the impaffioned kind. There feem- 
ed a want of energy in his character, and too 
extreme a delicacy of feeling on the occur- 
rence of every thing which was in the 
flighteft degree repulfive. He had never 
loved bufmefs, and his attention to it appear- 
ed a force upon his inclinations. While his 
profeffion was undetermined, he exprefled 
a wiih to go into the Church rather than 
the Law. That preference was repulfed 
304 by 


by paternal farpafms upon it's indolence 
and imputed effeminacy. From infancy to 
Ins laft day, Mr. Darwin had fhrunk, with 
pained fenfibility, from his father's irony. 
Probably from the lefs a dive, lefs fcientific 
difpofition of Erafmus, in comparifon with 
that of his brothers, Charles and Rqbert, 
Dr. Darwin had always appeared colder 
towards him than to his other children. 
Doubtlefs it w r as that inferior degree of 
attachment which made the leflbn of ftoi- 
cifm fomewhat more practicable on this 
trying, this dire occafion. It excited, how- 
ever, univerfal furprife to fee him walking 
along the ftreets of Derby the day after 
the funeral of his fon, with a ferene coun- 
tenance and his ufual cheerfulnefs of ad- 
drefs. This felf-command enabled him 
to take immediate pofleffion of the premifes 
bequeathed to him ; to lay plans for their 
improvement ; to take pleafure in defcrib- 

DR. DARWIN. 435 

ing thofe plans to his acquaintance, and to 
determine to make it his future refidence; 
and all this without feeming to recoiled: 
to how fad an event he owed their pof- 
feffion ! 

The folly of fuffering our imagination to 
dwell on paft and irretrievable misfortunes, 
and of indulging fruitlefs grief, he often 
pointed out, and always cenfured. He re- 
lied much on felf-difcipline in that refpect, 
and difdained, from deference to what he 
termed the prejudices of mankind, to dif- 
play the outward femblance of unavailing 
forrow, fmce he thought it wifdom to 
combat it's reality. On occafions and fub- 
jecls which he coniidered trivial, he profiled 
to indulge human prejudice ; but whenever 
by mock affent, he extended that indulgence, 
a flight fatiric laugh and a gay difdain lurk-r 
ing in his eye, counteracted the aflumed 
Coincidence. OR circumftanees which 



touched him nearly, he acled fteadily upon 
his own principles. 

And there were fubjects out of himfelf 
on which he was always ferioufly and 
earneftly ingenuous. Politics was one. He 
hated war, and thought the motives few 
indeed, which could vindicate it's homicide, 
efpecially in this commercial and fea-de- 
fended country. That of forcing America 
into internal, unreprefented taxation, and of 
interfering, through jealoufy of her prin- 
ciples, with the internal government of 
France, he utterly difapproved. The event 
of both thofe contefts accomplifhed his 
prophecies, and juftified his diiapprobation. 

Early in the year, 1800, Dr. Darwin 
publifhed another large quarto volume, 
intitled, Phytologia, or the Philofophy of 
Agriculture and Gardening. The writer 
of thefe -pages does not prefume to fpeak 
her opinion of this production as a.n whole ; 



the fubjecl: did not induce her to read it 
regularly. Incompetent therefore to declared 
opinion as her pemfal may have been, it has 
yet convinced her that in parts, at leaft, it 
is highly ingenious. Dr. Darwin's convic- 
tion that vegetables are remote links in the 
chain of fentient exiftence, often hinted in 
the notes to the Botanic Garden, is here 
avowed as a regular fyftem. The Phyto- 
logia infifts that plants have vital organiz- 
ation, fenfation, and even volition ; and a 
number of inftances are adduced, which 
feem firmly to fupport the theory. Cer- 
tainly thofe appear to fleep which clofc 
their petals at -fun-fet, and unfold them in 
the riiing day. Dr. Darwin tells us that 
plants poflefs low heat and cold blood, like 
winter-fleeping animals, and like them 
continue the defcending fcale of exiftence. 
From this theory of vegetable fenfation 
fome good may proceed, and no evil can 



flow. If the affluent improver of his pa- 
ternal or purchafed domain, lhall be im- 
preffed with it's belief, fuch impreffion 
rnuft augment his pleafure in attending to 
the fuftcnance, the growth, and comfort of 
his trees, his grain, his Ihrubs, and his 
flowers. He will fay to himfelf, " It is I 
' who enable this little world of vegetation, 
" by my care, attention, and kindnefs, to 
" fmile upon the fun, and bait delighted 
v in it's rays." The labourer in the field 
and garden, aflured that the grain and the 
plants he is cultivating will not only nur- 
ture his fellow r creatures, but are themfelves 
eapable of receiving comfort or difcornfort 
while yet they grow on the earth, will 
thence feel an additional motive to become 
worthy of his hire. Every honeft heart is 
gratified by the idea of contributing to the 
common flock of happinefs. It is an idea 
which produces falf-refpecl in the mind^ 


DR. DARWIN. 413 

which, when founded in benevolence, and 
not in haughtinefs, is the faireft and moft 
productive foil in which the virtues can 
grow, whether thofe virtues be lowly and 
plain in ignorance and poverty, or height- 
ened and refined by knowledge and af- 

Of this theory, however, Dr. Darwin is 
neither the fource, nor the firft who drew 
the fcattered hints of former philofophers 
concerning it, into a regular fyftem. The 
ingenious and excellent Dr. Percival, of 
Manchefter, preceded him in maintaining 
that fyftem from the prefs. Congeniality 
on it's fubjecl between a mild, a temperate, 
and religious fage, and a bold philofopher 
of the modern fchool, who pofleffed the 
eye of a lynx for nature's arcana, leave 
us little reafon to doubt that it is veritable. 
Why fliould we fuppofe the chain of ex- 
iftence broken at the laft, inert clafs of 



animals, fmce it's continuity is perfectly 
confonant to the order of creation ? 

The chain that leads from infinite to man, 

From man to nothing. 


The nourifhment of plants is next 
confidered with a view to their health 
and increafe ; and ingenious experiments 
are ftatcd. The decompofition of water is 
afferted to be one of the moil important 
difcoveries of modern fcience. Thence 
was demonftrated the immenfe proportion 
of oxygene or vital air, with which water 
is impregnated, in comparifon with air 
which is lefs pure. A plentiful fupply of 
water abiblutely neceffary to fertilize foil. 
The wifdom afferted, and the means 
pointed out, of giving artificial and falu- 
tary moifture to arid fituations. On the 
contrary, where the ground is naturally 
too wet and fvvampy, the neceffity of fub- 
terranean and fuperficial drains is enforced. 



Sudden and violent fhowers extremely 
detrimental, from their wafhing down the 
ditfufable and foluble parts of the foil into 
muddy rivers. It is obferved, that every 
fuch ihower conveys through thofe chan- 
nels into the fea, many thoufand pounds- 
worth of fertilizing matter, thus confider- 
ably diminilhing the food of terreflrial 
animals, however it may add to the fuf- 
tenance of the aqueous tribes. Great at- 
tention is neceffary to counteract the mif- 
chief of thefe impetuous and impelling 

rains, equally noxious to the dry foil and 

fituation, as to thofe which are irriguous. 

To fuch end we are informed that all hills 
fhould be ploughed horizontally, and not 
in afcending and defcending furrows ; alfb, 
that Hoping fields of pafture-land might be 
laid in tranfverfe ridges and deprefiions, 
Thus the water of thefe partial inundations 
would remain fome hours in the horizon- 
tal furrows of the ploughed hills, and in 



the tranfverfe hollows of inclined plains, 
that are grafs-land. Thefe little detain- 
ing refervoiis muft be a great advantage in. 
parched iituations, while in thofe which 
are wet and fpongy, they might be opened 
into each other by the fpade fo as to pre- 
vent that lofs of foil which rnuft refuft 
from the downward rufh and fpee'dy pair- 
ing away of the temporary deluge. 

The great wafte in towns and cities, of 
fubftances capable of being converted into 
manure, is obferved and deplored ; and 
in that refpecl the better police of China 
held up to imitation. The author al- 
leges, that fimilar practice in Europe 
would at once promote the purity and 
confequent health of towns, and contri- 
bute to the economy and fertility of their 
furrqunding countries. He explains the 
means of accomplifuing purpofes fo de- 
fir able . 

Here let the biographic pen arreft it's 


DR. DARWIN. 417 

courfe, nor attempt to follow this pene- 
trating and excurfive mind through the 
wide and complicated mazes of agricul- 
tural dhTertatioru Returning back to the 
verge of this vaft field of treafured obfer- 
vation and fcientific literature, the memo- 
rialift may be allowed to obferve what 
never-flumbering attention to the opera- 
tions of nature and the prefent Hate of 
cultivation; what unwearied refearch into 
the records of other philofophers, this book 
evinces ! A man of fuch immenfe profef- 
fional engagements as Dr. Darwin, cornpof- 
ing and publifhing this work only, had built 
his lettered reputation upon no narrow or 
unftable bafis. But when we confider it as' 
a brother-produclion to the Zoonomia, two 
large quartos, as bulimy, as fmall a type, and 
as crowded writing as the Phytologia ; when 
we confider alfo his fplendid poetic work, 
with it's hoft of philofophic notes ; there 
is furely no partiality to him, no want of 
2, E candor 


candor to others, in maintaining that it 
can only be from native littlenefs or ac- 
quired warp of mind, where the greatnefs 
and energy of Dr. Darwin's genius and 
knowledge are denied. Yet let it be re- 
membered, that it is poetic eminence, not 
pre-eminence, which has here been de- 
manded for his mufe. Superlative epi- 
thets have found no place in his eulogium 
on thefe pages ; for their author remem- 
bers and reveres the exalted claims of his 
poetic predeceffors and contemporaries of 
the eighteenth century. Incomparable, 
unrivalled, matchlefs, are terms of applaufe 
which can only be, with truth, applied to 
three men of genius in times paft or pre- 
fent ; to Shakeipear as a dramatic poet ; 
to Newton as a philosopher ; to Handel as 
a mufician ; not to Homer, not to Milton, 
fince they ftand abreaft with each other, 
and divide the epic palm. Perhaps, with- 
out trefpafs on literacy truth, Gray might 


DR. DARWIN. 419 

alfo be termed peerlefs, as a lyric poet, fince 
he equals Pindar in the dignity of his 
language, in the fublimity of his imagery, 
and in the interwoven morality, alternately 
aweful and tender ; and fmce he chofe fub- 
jecSs fo much more exalted than the Pin- 
daric themes, for thofe two great Odes 
which place him firil at the goal of the 
Lyric Mufe. Their meafures are magnifi- 
cent and harmonious to the utmoft power 
of the Englifh tongue. Pindar could not 
carry that excellence higher in the Greek 
language ; therefore if any fuperiority re- 
mains to the ancient claffic, refpecting his 
metre, it muft refult from the more fono- 
rous tones of the Greek, not from tran- 
fcendence of genius in it's great lyrift, 
compared with the Britifh poet. What- 
ever importance the faihion of that period 
might attach to Pindar's themes, however 
mythologic and hifloric allufion might give 
them auxiliar elevation, yet the foot-races 
2 E 3 Of 


'of children, though the fons of princes, 
and the chariot-races of youthful heroes, 
poffefs no eternity of attraclion compared 
to the fubjecl of Gray's Progrefs of Poefy, 
'and of his Bard. For the firft, the phyll- 
cal and moral powers of the mufes; their 
univerfal influence, in different degrees, in 
every clime ; the three great feats of their 
"empire, Greece, Italy, and England, Dra- 
matic, Epic, and Lyric Poetry, fupported 
in Britain by Shakefpear, Milton, and 
Dry den. 

For the fecond, and ftlll greater Ode, 
the fanguinary crime againft the Mufes 
committed by an otherwife illuftrious mo- 
narch, the fuppofed confequences of that 
crime, a train of misfortunes to the remain- 
ing line of the Plantagenets ; it's re^al 

Another and another gold-bound brow, 

paffing before us in the awful obfcurity, the 
" darknefs vifible" of poetic prophecy ; the 


..DR. DARWIN. 421 

^icceffion of another royal houfe, in which 
the rival rofes were entwined ; the brilliant 
reign of it's virgin queen, who was to 
carry the profperity and the renown of a 
great nation to it's utmoft line ; the day 
of poefy, funk in eclipfe from the period of 
the maffacre, riling again with redoubled 
fplendor in that epoch ; the exultation of 
the Cambrian Bard who thus forefees the 
reftored glory of his art in the genius of 
'him who fung the fairy region, and by that 
of the mighty mafter of the fock and buf- 
kin ; the continuance of that glory through 
future times by the Song of Eden, and the 
ilra'ms of fucceffive warblers ; the exulta- 
tion doling by the plunge of the injured 
Bard amid Conway's deep and tumultuous 
flood ! Can pedeftrian fpeed, and the dexte- 
rity of the whip and rein, by any effort of 

talent, be raifed to the intrinfic grandeur 


of themes like thefe ? Ah ! when will 

our fchools and univerfities; exchange 

3 E 3 claffical 


claffical partiality for patriotifm, and be- 
come juft to the exalted merits of the 
Englifh Poets ? To that fmcere and ardent 
patriotifm the author of thefe memoirs 
hopes will be remitted her tributary digref- 
fion to the fame of Gray. 

Sunday, the eighteenth of April, 1803, 
deprived Derby and it's vicinity, and the 
encircling counties, of Dr. Darwin ; the 
lettered world of his genius. During a 
few preceding years he had been fubjecl: to 
fudden and alarming diforders of the cheft, 
in which he always applied the lancet in- 
ftantly and freely ; he had repeatedly rifen 
in the night and bled himfelf. It was faid 
that he fufpeclcd angina pe^ons to be the 
caufe of thofe his fudden paroxyfms, and 
that it would produce fudden death. The 
converfation which he held with Mrs. Dar- 
win and her friend, the night before he 
died, gave colour to the report. In the 
preceding year he had a very dangerous 

DR. DARWIN, 423 

illnefs. It originated from a fevere cold 
caught by obeying the fummons of a pa- 
tient in Derby, after he had himfelf taken 
ftrong medicine. His {kill, his courage, 
his exertion, ftruggled vehemently with 
his difeafe. Repeated and daring ufe of 
the lancet at length fubdued it, but, in all 
likelihood, irreparably weakened the fyftem. 
He never looked fo well after as before 
hisfeizure; increafed debility of ftep, and 
a certain wannefs of countenance, awak* 
ened thofe fears for him which great num^ 
bers felt who calculated upon his affiftance 
when hours of pain and danger might 
come. Jt was faid, that during his illnefs 
he reproved the fenfibility and tears of 
Mrs. Darwin A and bid her remember that 
fhe was the wife of a philofopher. . ' /. f f I 
The public papers and magazines record*- 
ed, with tolerable accuracy, the nature of 
his final feizure ; the converfation he held 
in the garden of his new refidence, the 
E 4 Priory, 


Priory, with Mrs. Darwin and her female 
friend ; the idea which he communicated 
to them, that he was not likely to live to 
fee the effect of thofe improvements he 
had planned ; Mrs. Darwin affectionately 
combating that idea by observing, that he 
looked remarkably well that evening; his 
reply that he had generally found himfelf 
in his beft health a few days preceding his 
attacks; the fpirits and ftrength with 
"Which he arofe the next morning at fix to 
write letters; the large draught of cold 
butter-milk, which, according to his ufual 
cuftom, he had fwallowed. All thefe cir- 
cumftances early met the public eye ; and, 
in the imperfecT: fketches of his life which 
'accompanied them, a ftrange habit was 
imputed to Dr. Darwin, which prefents 
Tttch an exterior of idiot-feeming indelicacy 
that the author of this tracl is tempted 
"to exprefs her intire difbelief of it's truth; 
Viz. that his' tongue was generally hanging 



cut of his mouth as he walked along. She 
has often, cf late years, met him in the 
ftreets of Lichfield, alone and rnufing, and 
never witnefled a cuftom fo indecent. 
From the early lofs of his teeth he looked 
much 'older than he was. That lofs ex- 
pofes the tongue to view while fpeaking, 
and Dr. Darwin's mouth certainly thus 
difclofed the ravages of time, but by no 
means in any offenfive degree. 

It was the general opinion that a glafi 
of brandy might have faved him for that 
time. It's effecls would have been more 
powerful from his utter difufe of fpirits; 
but fiich was the abhorrence in which he 
held them, that it is probable no intreatics 
could have induced him to have fwallowed 
a dram, though furely, on any fudden chill 
of the blood, it's effecT;, fo injurious on 
habitual application, might have proved 

. On that laft morning, he had written 



one page of a very fprightly letter to Mr. 
Edgeworth, defcribing the Priory, and his 
purpofed alterations there, when the fatal 
fignal was given. He rang the bell, and 
ordered his fervant to s fend Mrs. Darwin 
to him. She came immediately, with his 
daughter, Mifs Emma Darwin. They 
law him Ihivering and pale. He defired 
them to fend diredlly to Derby for his 
furgeon, Mr. Hadley. They did fo ; but 
all was over before he could arrive. 

It was reported at Lichfield, that, per- 
ceiving himfelf growing rapidly worfe, he , 
faid to Mrs. Darwin, My dear, you muft 
" bleed me inftantly." " Alas, I dare 
" not, left; " " Emma, will you ? There 
" is no time to be loft." " Yes, my dear 
" father, if you will direct me." At that 
moment he funk into his chair, and ex- 
pired ! 

The body was opened, but it was faid 
the furgeons found no traces of peculiar 

difeafe j 

DR. DARWIN. 427 

difeafe ; that the ftate of the vifcera indi- 
cated a much more protracted exiftence ; 
yet thus, in one hour, was extinguifhed 
that vital light which the preceding hour 
had fhone in flattering brightnefs, promif- 
Jng duration ; fuch is often the " cunning 
flattery of nature ;" that light, which, 
through half a century, had diffufed it's 
radiance and it's warmth fo widely ; that 
light, in which Penury had been cheered, 
in which Science had expanded ; to whofe 
orb Poetry had brought all her images; 
before whofe influence Difeafe had con- 
tinually retreated, and Death fo often 
turned afide his levelled dart ! 

Awful is the leflbn of fuch an extinc- 
tion ; trebly awful in it's fuddennefs. Let 
no one fay that it is not more awful than 
the iimilar defliny of ordinary human 
beings ; for the impreffion made by unex- 
pected, immediate, and everlafting abfence, 
will be diffufive, will be ftrong, in propor- 


tion-to the abilities and ufefulnefs of thofe 
>vho vanifh at once from fociety. We 
feel the folemn leflbn fink deep into our 
hearts \vhen minds, fo largely endowed- and 
adorned, evince, in their fate, the truths 
uttered by that fublime Poet *, who made 
the threats and the promifes of the Gofpel 
the theme of his midnight itrains ; and 
thus they admonifh, 

By nature's law, what muft be, may be nova -, 
There's no prerogative in human hours. 
In human hearts what bolder tboughtican rife 
Than man's prefnmption on to-morrow's dawn ? 
Where is to-morrow ? In another world ! 
For numbers this is certain, the reverfe 
Is fare to none ; and yet, on this perhaps, 
This peradventure, infamous for lies, 
As on a rock of adamant, we build; 
Though every dial warns us as we pafs, 
Portentous as the written wall, that turn'd, 
O'er midnight bowls, the proud Afiyrian pale! 

Another, and x the laft poetic work of 
Dr. Darwin, is now in the prefs. The 
* Dr. Young. 


DR. DARWIN. 429 

Temple of Nature. His memorialift, oil 

thefe pages, has not feen a line of the com- 

pofition. The curiofity of the ingenious 

muft be ardently excited to view the fetting 

-emanation of this brilliant day-ftar ; they 

muft hope that neither age, difeafe, nor 

'the dread calamity he had endured, in 

December 1/99, flicd mift or cloud upon 

it's rays. 

Dr. Darwin died in 'his ilxty-ninth year. 

This TracT: is prefented to the Public 
beneath it's author's idea, that it may pro- 
bably difpleafe two clalTes of readers, fhould 
it attracl their notice; the.. dazzled idola- 
ters of the late Dr. Darwin, who will not 
allow that there were any fpots in his fun ; 
and that much larger clafs, w r ho, from party 
prejudice, religious zeal, or literary envy, 
or a combination 'of all thofe motives, are 
unjuft to his high claims; at leaft as a 
Philofopher and Poet. There is another 
clafs of readers, who, if thefe faithful re- 
cords fhall be honored by their perufal, 



will feel gratified to fee one diftinguiflied 
character of thefe times, neither varnifhed 
by partiality, nor darkened by prejudice. 
They muft be confcious that human beings, 
whatever may have been their talents, 
whatever their good qualities, are feldom 
found perfect, except on the pages of their 
eulogifts ; confcious alfo, that, while the 
intellectual powers of the wife and the 
renowned, excite admiration, their errors 
may not lefs ufefully be contemplated a* 
warnings, than their virtues as examples. 


April 13, 18Q3. 


T. Bensley, Printer, Bolt Couit, Fleet Street. 


Page 19, 1. 5. after " reafoner," infert while." 

do, 1." refiftance, only juft," 1. 7- read" their refinance." 
21, 1. 7, for That," read The refult." 
31, 1. 5, for Thefe" read " There." 
93, 1. 18, for " proficience" read " proficiency.'* 
109, 1. 10. for that they would," read " to." 
215,1. 17, for "love" read " lover." 
233, 1. 2, from bottom, for " his" read " it's." 
243 note, read, "what an." 

3 ;oTo LEWISDON HILL add a Note. This poem was printed at 
the Clarendon Prefs Oxford, 1788, and fold by Prince and 
Cookeof that city, and Cadell, Rivington, and Faulder, London. 
32fi, 1. 1. place a comma after trea<is." 



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