« ZurückWeiter »
well as in public life, Mr. Glover has left none his equal in the city, and some time, it is feared, may elapse before such another citizen shall arise, with eloquence, with character, and with poetry, like his, to assert their rights, or to vindicate with equal powers the just clains of freeborn men. Suffice this testimony at present, as the wellearned meed of this truly virtuous man, whose conduct was carefully marked, and narrowly watched by the writer of the foregoing hasty sketch, for his extraordinary qualities during the long period in human life of upwards of 40 years; and now it is spontaneously offered as a voluntary tribute, unsolicited and unpurchased ; but as it appears justly due to the memory of so excellent a poet, statesman, and true philosopher, in life and death the same.”
Glover's “ Leonidas” amply entitles him to a distinguished place among the poets of his country, but the public has not held it in uniform estimation. From the time of its first appearance in 1737, it went through six, if not seven editions ; but for nearly forty years there has not been a demand for another, although that published in 1770 was highly improved and enlarged. Its history may probably account in part for this singular fate, and public taste muşt explain the rest. On its first publication, it was read and praised with the utmost avidity. Besides the encomiums it drew from Lyttelton and Pemberton, its fame reached Ireland, where it was reprinted, and became as much in fashion as it had been in England. “Pray who is that Mr. Gloyer,” says Swift to Pope, in one of his letters, ” who writ the epic poem called Leonidas, which is reprinting here, and bath great .vogue?” Unfortunately, sping however, the whole of this tribute of praise was not paid in to the intrinsic merit of the poem. It became the adopted favourite of the party in opposition (to sir Robert Walpole) who had long endeavoured to persuade the nation that public ļiberty was endangered by the measures of that minister, and that they formed the chosen band who occupied the straits of Thermopylæ in defiance of the modern Xerxes. Leonidas therefore was recommended, to rouse an oppressed and enslaved people to the vindication of their vights. That this should be attempted is less wonderful than that it should succeed. We find very few passages in this poem which will apply to the state of public affairs in England at that time, if we except the common-place censure of courts and courtiers, and even that is appropriated
with so strict historical fidelity to the court of Xerxes, that it does not seem easy to borrow it for any other purpose. 56 Nothing else,” however, Dr. Warton informs us, was read or talked of at Leicester-house,” the illustrious owner of which extended his patronage to all poets who fanned the sacred flame of patriotism. The consequence of all this was, that Leonidas, which might have laid claim to à considerable rank among English poems of the higher order, was pushed beyond it, and when the purposes for which it had been extolled were either answered, or no longer desirable, it fell lower than it deserved. This is the more justly to be regretted, as we have no reason to think the author solicited the injudicious praise of his friends and patrons, or had any hand in building the airy edifice of popular fame. He was, indeed, a lover of liberty, which has ever been the favourite theme of poets, but he did not write for a temporary purpose. Leonidas had been the fruit of very early ambition to be known to posterity, and when he had outlived the party who pressed his poem into their service, he corrected and improved it for a generation that knew nothing of the partialities which first extended its fame. If his object, however, in this epopee, had been solely to inculcate a love of liberty, a love of our country, and a resolute determination to perish with its freedom, he could not have chosen a subject, at least from ancient times, so happily adapted to elevate the mind. The example was unparalleled in history, and therefore the more capable of admitting the embellishments and attractions that belong to the epic province. Nor does it appear that he undertook a task to which his powers were in, adequate, when he endeavoured to interest his readers in the fate of his gallant hero and faithful associates. He is not deficient either in the sublime or the pathetic, although in these essentials he may not bear an uniform comparison with the great masters of the passions. The characters are varied with much knowledge of the human heart. Each has his distinctive properties, and no one is raised beyond the proportion of virtue or talent which may be supposed to correspond with the age he lived in, or the station he occupied.
His comparisons, as lord Lyttelton remarks, are original and striking, although sometimes not sufficiently dignified: His descriptions are minutely faithful, and his episodes are in general so interesting, that no critical exceptions would
probably induce the reader to part with them, or to suppose that they are not indispensable to the main action. He has likewise this peculiar excellence, that neither his speeches or descriptions are extended to such lengths as, in some attempts of the epic kind, become tiresome, and are the strongest indication of want of judgment. He paints the rapid energies of a band of freemen, in a barbarous age, struggling for their country, strangers to the refined deliberation of later ages, and acquainted with that eloquence only which leads to prompt decision.
His “ Athenaid” was published in 1787, 'exactly as it. was found among bis papers. It consists of the unusual number of thirty books, but evidently was left without the corrections which he would probably have bestowed had he revised it for the press. It is intended as a continua. tion, or second part to “ Leonidas,” in which the Greeks are conducted through the vicissitudes of the war with Xerxes to the final emancipation of their country from his invasions. As an epic it seems defective in many respects. Here is no hero in whose fate the mind is exclusively engaged, but a race of heroes who demand our admiration by turns; the events of history, too, are so closely followed, as to give the whole the air of a poetical chronicle. i Of his smaller poems, that on sir Isaac Newton is cers tainly an extraordinary production from a youth of sixteen, but the theme was probably given to him. Such an acquaintance with the state of philosophy and the improvements of our immortal philosopher, could not have been acquired at his age. “ Hosier's Ghost” was long one of the most popular English ballads ; but his “ London," if intended for popular influence, was probably read and understood by few. In poetical merit, however, it is not unworthy of the author of " Leonidas.” Fielding wrote a very long encomium on it in his “Champion,” and predicted rather too rashly, that it would ever continue to be the delight of all that can feel the exquisite touch of poetry, or be roused with the divine enthusiasm of public spirit.
Since the above sketch of Glover was abridged from a more full account drawn up for another work, the attention of the public has been recently called to his history by the publication of a diary, or part of a diary, written by him. This, which appeared in 1813, is entitled “ Memoirs of a distinguished Literary and Political Character, from the resignation of sir Robert Walpole in 1742 to the establish
roversy, whough this is not er was the au
ment of lord Chatham's second administration in 1957." It was immediately followed by “ An Inquiry concerning the Author of the Letters of Junius, with reference to the Memoirs of a celebrated literary and political character," the object of which is to prove that Glover was the author of these Letters; and although this is not the place to enter into this controversy, we are inclined to think with the author of this “Inquiry," that no one yet named as the author of Junins, and whose claim has been at all sup. ported by facts, has much chance to stand in competition with Glover.'
GLOVER (THOMAS), a herald and heraldic writer, was the son of Thomas Glover, of Ashford in Kent, the place of his nativity. He was first made Portcullis Poursuivant, and afterwards in 1571, Somerset herald.. Queen Eliza. beth permitted him to travel abroad for improvement. In 1582, he attended lord Willoughby with the order of the garter, to Frederick II. of Denmark. In 1584, he waited with Clarenceux on the earl of Derby, with that order to the king of France. No one was a greater ornament to the college than this gentleman; the suavity of his manners was equal to his integrity and skill: he was a most excellent, and very learned man, with a knowledge in his profession
which has never been exceeded, perhaps been paralleled; · to this, the best writers of his own and more recent times
bear testimony. He left two treatises, one “ De Nobili. tate politica vel civili;" the other " A Catalogue of Ho. nour;" both of which were published by his nephew, Mr. Thomas Milles, the former in 1608, the latter in 1610, both folio, to " revive the name and learned memory of his deceased friend and uncle, whose private studies for the public good deserved a remembrance beyond forgetful tiine." His answer to the bishop of Ross's book, in which
Mary queen of Scots' claim to the crown was asserted, was · never published. He made great collections of what had
been written by preceding heralds, and left of his own labours relative to arms, visitations of twenty-four counties, and miscellaneous matters belonging to this science, all written by himself. He assisted Camden in his pedigrees for his Britannia ; communicated to Dr. David Powell, a copy of the history of Cambria, translated by H. Lloyd; made a collection of the inscriptions upon the funeral mo
1 Johnson and Chalmera's English Poets, 1910.
numents in Kent; and, in 1584, drew up a most curious survey of Herewood castle, in Yorkshire. Mr. Thoresby had his collection of the county of York taken in 1584, and his catalogue of northern gentry whose surnames ended in son. He died in London, says Stow, April 14, (Lant and others, 10), 1588, aged only forty-five years, and was buried in St. Giles's church, Cripplegate. His loss was severely felt by all our lovers of English antiquities. His “ Ordinary of Arms" was augmented and improved by Edmondson, who published it in the first volume of his Body of Heraldry.
GLUCK (CHRISTOPHER), a musical composer of great originality, was born in the palatinate, on the frontiers of Bohemia, “in 1712, or as Dr. Burney says, in 1716. His father, a man in poor circumstances, removed, during the infancy of his son, into Bohemia, where he died, leaving his offspring in early youth, without any provision, so that bis education was totally neglected. He had, however, an instinctive love for music, which is taught to all children, with reading and writing, in the Bohemian schools. Having acquired this knowledge, he travelled about from town to town, supporting himself by his talents, till he had worked his way to Vienna, where he met with a nobleman who became his patron, took him into his service, and carried him into Italy, where he procured him lessons in counterpoint, at Naples, by which he profited so well, that before he left Italy he composed several dramas for different theatres. These acquired him reputation sufficient to be recommended to lord Middlesex as a composer to the opera house in the Haymarket, then under his lordship's direction. He arrived in England in 1745, and, in that year and the following, produced his operas of “ Artamene” and “ La Caduta de Giganti," with indifferent success.
From London he returned to Italy, and composed several operas in the style of the times, and afterwards engaged with the Italian poet Calsabigi, with whom he joined in a conspiracy against the poetry and music of the melo-drama then in vogue in Italy and all over Europe. In 1764, when the late emperor Joseph was crowned king of the Romans, Gluck was the composer, and Guadagni the principal singer. It was in this year that a species of
1 Noble's Coll. of Arms.-Gent. Mag. LXIIL p. 311.-Puller's Worthies.