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Memoir of Samuel Rogers.
and various passages display uncommon felicity. As a whole, perhaps its chief defect is that it wants vigour, but the deficiency in this quality is made up in correctness and harmony. Rogers is one of the most scrupulous of the sons of the lyre in his metre, and he too often sacrifices that harshness which sets off the smoother passages of a writer's works, and prevents sameness and monotony, to mere cold purity of style. Perhaps
hours to produce. Not satisfied with his own corrections, he repeatedly consulted the taste of some of his friends; one of the most devoted of whom, Richard Sharpe, then a wholesale hatter, and since Member of Parliament, has said that, before the publication of this poem, and while preparing the successive editions for press, they had read it together several hundred times, at home as well as on the Continent, and in every temper of mind that varied company and varied scenery could produce.
THERE seems to be something so repugnant to the pursuits of literature in habits of trade and commerce, that the instances have been very rare in which they have been combined in one individual. The historian of the Medici, and ROGERS the Poet, are almost solitary instances of literary taste and talent being united harmoniously with traffic. Samuel Rogers is a banker in London, and has been for many years at the head of a most respectable firm. His father fol-no poem of equal size ever cost its author so many lowed the same business before him, and amassed considerable wealth, both which became the heritage of the Poet, who was born about the year 1762, in London; but little or nothing is known of the way in which he passed his early years. His education was liberal, no cost having been spared to render him an accomplished scholar. That he improved by thought and reflection upon the lessons of his youth there can be no doubt; and, it is to be presumed, he lost no opportunity of reaping profit from the extraordinary advantages which his station obtained for him. In the year 1798, Rogers published « An EpisHe always kept the best society, both as respect-tle to a Friend, with other Poems,» and in 1812 ed rank and talent, the circle of which in the metropolis of England in his younger days was more than commonly brilliant. His political ideas are what are styled liberal, and no one has ever been able to reproach him with the abandonment of a single principle with which he originally set out in life. Over most of his early friends and companions the grave has now closed, and they included among them many great
The Voyage of Columbus.» Two years afterwards, in conjunction with Lord Byron, or rather printed in the same volume with Byron's Lara, appeared his tale of « Jacqueline;» a poem which displays a strange contrast to the fire and energy of the author of Manfred. Sweet and pleasing rather than striking, "Jacqueline," though well received, contributed little to increase its author's reputation. Human Life," next to the Pleasures of Memory, is the most With a strong attachment for the Muses, after finished production of Rogers. The subject was the excellent education Rogers received, it is not a good one, for it was drawn from universal surprising that he ventured before the public. His nature, and connected with all those rich assofirst work was an «Ode to Superstition, and ciations which increase in attraction as we other Poems, which appeared in 1786. This journey onwards in the path of life. It is was followed by a second publication, Pleasures of Memory," when he had passed the greenness of youth, having attained his thirtieth year. In 1792 this poem was received by the public with universal applause. The subject was happily chosen, coming home to the business and bosoms of all; it was executed with great care,
This gentleman has carried the art of brilliant and interesting conversation to an unprecedented degree of perfection, having in fact reduced it to a matter of mere business, as systematic as Book-Keeping. He keeps an index to his multitudinous common-place books; and has
a debtor and creditor account with his different circles of the jokes let off or the set speeches niade.
an epitome of man from the cradle to the grave, and is executed throughout with the poet's wonted care.
conduct of either, by the regulations of social intercourse.
Our poet has travelled much out of his own country, and he is not less a master of manners in the better classes of society abroad than at home. His Sketches in Italy," prove that he was no unobservant sojourner abroad; and as his opportunities for observation were great, he did not fail to profit by them proportionately.This may be noticed in his conversation, which is always amusing and instructive; and, more particularly when, visiting the circles of his fashion
man on some topic which interests him, and which he sees affording gratification to others.
Rogers never entered upon the stormy ocean of politics. This is singular, from the number of his political friends, and the example set him by his father. The elder Rogers was renowned in the annals of parliamentary elections for a severe contest with Colonel Holroyd, subsequently Lord Sheffield, in dividing the suffrages of the city of Coventry, when the obstinacy of the combat attracted much attention. wisely preferred the gratification of a pure taste, and the interchanges of urbanity, to the stirring hazards of political ambition: notwithstanding which he is a warm partisan of the principles he has chosen, and understands well how to maintain them. What he has done every way proves that he is conscious of his own powers, but careless of indulging them, though much in this respect may no doubt be attributed to his unceasing attention to the calls of business, from which he never allows himself to be diverted.
The friendship of Rogers with Sheridan and with Byron is well known. When the great wit, dramatist, and orator, was near the close of his career, neglected by those who were foremost in the circle of friends when he enjoyed health and prosperity, the individual who relieved the wants of the dying man was Rogers; whose opulence of purse enabled him to do that act of benevolence to his friend, which must ever be one of his most gratifying remi-able or learned friends, he becomes the spokesniscences. It is seldom poets are so well enabled to meet the aspirations of their hearts towards others. A dispute on the appearance of Moore's «Life of Sheridan,» was very warmly kept up connected with this circumstance. It was said that a friend of Sheridan, of no less rank than the present King of England himself, had been among those who, in his last moments, were regardless of the pecuniary necessities of the dying man; that at last, when no longer necessary, sum of money was sent by the royal order, which Sheridan returned, saying that it came too late, a friend having furnished him with all he should require while life remained. Loyalty never lacks defenders, or perhaps the Prince of Wales was not to blame, as tales of distress are always slow in reaching the ears of individuals in august stations. However the matter might have been, the affair was warmly disputed in respect to the implied royal neglect, and remains still in as much uncertainty as ever; but Rogers gloriously carried off the palm of friendship and feeling on the occasion, let the truth lie which side it may, in respect of the tender from a higher quarter. Byron and Rogers were on terms of great intimacy, both in England and during the poet's residence in Italy. In that medley of truth and falsehood, the « Recollections of Byron by Medwin, the noble poet is described as alluding to a singular talent for epigram, which Rogers is made to possess. This talent, however, has been very sparingly employed. Certain buffoons and scribblers in Sunday newspapers, who have been opposed from political principles, or rather whose pay at the moment was on the opposite side to that taken by the venerable poet, impudently ascribed a thousand bons-mots and repartees to Rogers, whom they never saw in their lives, and which they manufactured themselves. His skill in writing epigram, however, is acknowledged; but what he has produced is the work of the scholar and the gentleman; for there is not an individual in existence less likely to trespass on the rules prescribed for the
Rogers is now in the sere and yellow leaf » of human vegetation. He is the kind, agreeable, affable old man; but there is nothing beyond the good and amiable in character depicted upon a countenance by no means the best formed and most impressive of the species, if the features are separately considered. His habits are remarkably regular, and his conduct governed by that urbanity and breeding which show he has been accustomed to mingle most in the best society.-He takes a great interest in all that promotes the improvement of the state and contributes to the comfort and happiness of his fellow-men. In short, Rogers, like all men of genius, if possessing certain eccentricities, is gifted with the impress of high intellect which belongs to that character, and which makes it so distinguished above the herd of mankind. There is about Rogers, however, a sort of otium cum dignitate which seems to repress his energies, and to keep inactive a spirit which, had it been less indebted to good fortune and flung more upon its own re
sources, would have performed greater things. irritability of temper, his general good-nature Among the friends of Rogers were Fox, She- and kindness,-for he shows no tincture of envy ridan, Windham, and a galaxy of distinguish-in his character,-contribute largely to increase ed names, when they were in the zenith of the influence and impression made by his judgtheir glory. To the illustrious nephew of Fox, ment. Such is the sum of all which is known of Sathe well-known Lord Holland, and to his friends of the same political party, Rogers still adheres. muel Rogers,-a poet who never rises to the He is accounted one of the literary coterie at Hol-height of Byron or Campbell, but who is of the land House, the hospitable receptacle of men of same school. He is remarkable principally for talent from all countries and of all creeds. He is the elegance and grace of his compositions, which introduced in the Novel of «Glenarvon» at the he polishes up and smooths off as if he valued court of the Princess of Madagascar (a character only their brilliancy and finish, and forgot that intended for Lady Holland); and perhaps the strength and force are essential to poetic harmoname of no individual is more on the lips of any and the perfection of metrical style. Notwithcertain fashionable order of persons who are at- standing this defect, Rogers will be read and adtached to literary pursuits, than that of Rogers.mired while the English language continues to be His opinion is looked up to, and justly, as one of used or spoken in his native islands. great weight; and though not devoid of a certain