1740 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Boyse

Henry Fielding?, Review of Boyse, The Deity; The Champion 1 (12 February 1740) 266-67.



Last Week a Poem was publish'd, with the simple but all-comprehensive Title of Deity; which, 'tis presum'd, will excite but little Curiosity, and therefore, will be but little read: Not that it does not deserve a Reading, or will not afford the serious Mind a very elevated Entertainment, — but because few Readers can be entertain'd with what is serious, or care to be made so themselves. 'Tis divided into as many Sections, as we ascribe to the Godhead; is wrote in a clear and elegant Stile, the Versification smooth and flowing, but, by being cramp'd within almost perpetual Distichs, allows very little Variety of Cadence, and Period: And that it is not void of the Sublime, let the following Passage demonstrate.

From thee all humane Actions take their Springs,
The Rise of Empires, and the Falls of Kings!
See the vast Theatre of Time display'd,
While o'er the Scene, succeeding Heroes tread!
With Pomp the shining Images succeed,
What Leaders triumph! and what Monarchs bleed!
Perform the Parts thy Providence assign'd,
Their Pride, their Passions to thy Ends inclin'd:
A while they glitter in the Face of Day,
Then, at thy Nod, the Phantoms pass away;
No Traces left of all the busy Scene,
But that Remembrance says — The Things have been!

In short, tho' the Scheme of this Piece, is far from being unexceptionable, and the Author treats his Antagonists with a true Orthodox Pride, "Go, Sceptic-Mole, Vain Sceptic," &c. and tho' he now and then sinks into a flagrant Anticlimax, (as in the Description of God's Descent to Sinai,

When shrunk the Earth from thy approaching Face,
And the Rock trembled to it's rooted Base.

Hardly any one has succeeded better on the Subject; and the Church in particular, owes him great Obligations; which, 'tis to be hop'd, its Rulers will not be backward to acknowledge.