1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gilbert Cooper

Anonymous, "Criticism: John Gilbert Cooper" Port Folio [Philadelphia] NS 4 (25 July, 1 August, 5 September 1807) 53-56, 73-75, 145-48.



John Gilbert Cooper, Esquire, who has been honoured with the title of The English Anacreon, was the son of Gilbert Cooper, Esq. of Thugarton Priory, in Northamptonshire, and was born in 1723. The family estate which he inherited was granted at the dissolution of the religious houses by Henry VIII, to William Cooper, one of his ancestors. He received his education at Westminster School, and in 1743, became a fellow commoner of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he resided two or three years, at the end of which he married Susanna, daughter of William Wright, Esq. son of the lord keeper Wright, and some time recorder of Leicester, and settled at his family seat. In the year 1763, he served the office of high sheriff of the county of Nottingham, as his father had done in 1749. He was in the commission of the peace, and about this time constantly attended and frequently spoke at the meetings of the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, and was for a short time one of the Committee of Polite Arts. It was an ambition with him to be chosen a vice president of that most respectable and useful society, but, not being elected, his dissatisfaction induced him to discontinue his attendance. He died at his father's house, in Mayfair, London, after a long and excruciating illness, arising from the stone, April 14th, 1769, in the forty-sixth year of his age.

Mr. Cooper was a man of an agreeable appearance, polite address, and elegant manners; an active and useful magistrate; and a genteel and ingenious writer. He has left compositions both in prose and verse, of which the following is a catalogue:

1. The Life of Socrates, collected from the Memorabilia of Xenophon and the Dialogues of Plato, and illustrated further Aristotle, Diodorus Siculus, Cicero, Proclus, Apuleius, Maximus Tyrius, Boethius, Diogenes, Laertius, Aulus Gellius, and others. 1745.
2. The Power of Harmony, a poem in two books.
3. Cursory Remarks on Mr. Warburton's new edition of Pope's Works, in a letter to a friend. 1751.
4. Letters on Taste. 1754.
5. The Tomb of Shakspeare, a Vision. 1755.
6. The Genius of Great Britain. 1756.
7. Epistles to the Great, from Aristippus in Retirement. 1758.
8. The Call of Aristippus, Epistle, &c. to Mark Akenside, M.D. 1758.
9. A Father's Advice to his Son.
10. Ver-Vert, or the Nunnery Parrot, an heroick poem, in two cantos, inscribed to the Abbess of D—. Translated from the French of M. Gresset.

Besides the above, he wrote several fugitive pieces; among which are essays and poems under the signature of Philalethes, in Dodsley's Museum a few of the numbers of The World, and a Translation of the King of Prussia's Epistle to Voltaire, which last was printed in the Annual Register for 1758.

In reviewing his Letters on Taste, a small volume which appears to contribute more peculiarly to his reputation, Dr. Johnson has drawn a picture of his powers: "Mr. Cooper's genius appears to shine more in description than in definition; he has more of imagery than of speculation; his imagination is the strongest talent of his mind; and if he have not attempted to offer any thing new on the subject of Taste, he is always so entertaining, spirited, and splendid in his diction, that the reader who is not instructed by him cannot fail of being pleased and diverted."

The Power of Harmony is the poem which demands our first attention, both on account of its earlier date of publication, and superiour pretensions to fame; but its merit is far from considerable. It is more satisfactory to read The Design, than the poem: It is observable that whatever is true, just, and harmonious, whether in nature or morals, gives an instantaneous pleasure to the mind, exclusive of reflection. For the Great Creator of all things, infinitely wise and good, ordained a perpetual agreement between the faculties of moral perfection, the powers of fancy, and the organs of bodily sensation, when they are free and undistempered. Hence is deducible the most comfortable as well as the most true philosophy that ever adorned the world; namely, a constant admiration of the beauty of the creation, terminating in the adoration of the First Cause, which naturally leads mankind cheerfully to cooperate with his grand design for the promotion of universal happiness.

"Hence our authour was led to draw that analogy between natural and moral beauty; since the same faculties which render us susceptible of pleasure from the perfection of the creation, and the excellence of the Arts afford us delight in the contemplation of dignity and justice in characters and manners. For what is virtue but a just regulation of our affections and appetites, to make them correspond to the peace and welfare of society? so that good and beauty are inseparable.

"From this true relish of the soul, this harmonious association of ideas, the ancient philosophers, and their disciples among the moderns, have enlivened their imaginations and writings in this amicable intercourse of adding moral epithets to natural objects, and illustrating their observations upon the conduct of life by metaphors drawn from the external scenes of the world: So we know, that by a beautiful action, a consonant behaviour, is meant the generous resignation of private advantage by some individual, to submit and adapt his single being to the whole community or some part of it. And, in like manner, when we read of a solemn grave, where horrour and melancholy reign, we entertain an idea of a place that creates such thoughts in the mind, by reason of its solitary situation, want of light, or any other circumstance analogous to those dispositions, so termed in human nature."

This then is the design of the poem, To show that a constant attention to what is perfect and beautiful in nature will by degrees harmonize the soul to responsive regularity and sympathetick order.

The same feebleness of touch which is manifest in the conception and language of this sketch, prevails throughout the poem, where, however, it is still more offensive. It is a very indifferent imitation of a great original, The Pleasures of Imagination. Its most poetical passage occurs in the description of the influence of painting, of which it is the poet's object to show, that, in common with the other Arts, it may be made subservient to the cause of virtue or to that of vice:

Is love the object of thy glowing thoughts?
Or dreamst thou of a bliss exceeding far
Elysian pleasures. Wouldst thou taste again
The heart-enfeebling transports, when the soul,
Big with celestial triumph, through the vales
Of am'rous fancy led the sportive hours,
To soft Idalian airs, whilst wanton loves
Strew'd round the roses of eternal bloom,
And fann'd the sultry breeze with golden plumes?
See, where beneath a myrtle bow'r reclin'd,
Which on the canvas casts its cooling shade,
Encircled in each other's arms, yon beauteous pair
In dulcet dalliance lie; the rigid frown
Of care ne'er low'rs, but ever cheerful smiles
Effuse, like vernal suns, their genial beams,
To warm their mutual hearts; whilst rapt'rous sighs
Sweeter than aromatick winds which blow
O'er spicy groves in intermingled gales,
Are wafted to th' impending queen of love.

But, burns thy heart with more refin'd delight?
And wouldst thou through the faithful colours view
Calm Chastity and Justice blend their charms
Like gleams from op'ning heav'n? Yon radiant throne
Presents great Cyrus, as the Magi fam'd
The snowy-vested Mythras, from the east
Descending, in effulgent rays of light,
To guide the virtuous to th' ethereal plains
Where joy forever dwells. Before him stands
A trembling captive, with dejected looks,
As conscious of her form: upon her cheeks
The rose of beauty fades, with paler hue
The lily sickens, and each flow'r declines
Its drooping head. But see! how he revives,
With unexpected hopes her tortur'd breast,
And Joy's soft blush appears! So the blest wings
Of western zephyrs, o'er the Arabian coast
Sprinkle their heavenly dew; the wither'd Plants
Incline their sun-parch'd bosoms to imbibe
The renovating moisture, till anon
The pristine bloom, through vegitative pores
Returning, smiles in ev'ry flow'ry vale,
And decks the neighb'ring hills with verdant pride.

In this passage, besides a general languor, in spite of the ornamental diction, we may observe the unclassical expression of "WESTERN zephyrs," and the poverty of invention which suffers a repetition of the same simile within so short a number of lines. But to do the utmost justice to the authour, let us make an extract from his second book:

The fields and woods, and silver-winding streams,
Ye lilied vallies and resounding rocks,
Where faithful echo dwells; ye mansions blest
Where Nature reigns throughout the wide expanse,
In majesty serene of op'ning heav'n;
Or, humbler seated, in the blushing rose;
The virgin vi'let, or the creeping moss,
Or winding round the mouldering ruin's top,
With no unpleasing horrour sits array'd,
In venerable ivy: hail, thrice hail,
Ye solitary seats! where wisdom seeks
Beauty and good, th' inseparable pair,
Sweet offspring of the sky, those emblems fair
Of the Celestial Cause, whose tuneful word
From discord and from chaos rais'd this globe,
And all the wide effulgence of the day.

From Him begins this beam of gay delight,
When aught harmonious strikes th' attentive mind;
In Him shall end: for He attun'd the frame
Of passive organs with internal sense,
To feel an instantaneous glow of joy,
When Beauty, from her native seat of heav'n,
Cloth'd in ethereal mildness, on our plains
Descends, e'er Reason, with her tardy eye,
Can view the form divine; and through the world
The heav'nly boon to every being flows.
Why, when the genial Spring, with chaplets crown'd,
Of daisies, pinks, and vi'lets wakes the Morn
With placid whispers, do the turtles coo,
And call their consorts from the neighb'ring groves
With softer musick? Why exalts the lark
His matin warbling with redoubled lays?
Why stands th' admiring herds with joyful gaze
Facing the dawn of day, or frisking bound
O'er the soft surface of the verdant meads
With unaccustom'd transport? 'Tis the ray
Of beauty, beaming its benignant warmth
Through all the brute creation! hence arise
Spontaneous off'rings of unfeigned love
In silent praises. And shall man alone,
Shall man with blind ingratitude neglect
His Maker's bounty? Shall the lap of Sloth
With soft insensibility, compose
His useless soul, whilst unregarded blooms
The renovated lustre of the world?

See! how eternal Hebe onward leads
The blushing Morn, and o'er the smiling globe,
With Flora join'd, flies gladsome to the bow'r:
Where, with the Graces, and Idalian Loves,
Her sister, Beauty, dwells. The glades expand.
The blossom'd fragrance of their new-blown pride
With gay profusion: and the flow'ry lawns
Breathe forth ambrosial odours; whilst, behind,
The Muse, in never-dying hymns of praise
Pursues the triumph, and responsive airs,
Symphonious, warble through the vocal groves,
Till playful Echo, in each hill and dale
Joins the glad chorus, and improves the lay.

It were endless to point out all the defects observable in these verses; and yet, upon the whole, they possess a share of beauty. "CELESTIAL cause," is not very happy; but, "eternal Hebe," resembling Milton's "universal Pan," is a pleasing image. The whole passage displays no great portion of taste. Groves, lays, echo, flowers, warble, warbling, and all the words that have a hold upon the fancy, are heaped together. We have "Echo" and the "Morn" twice over. "Blushing morn," "brute creation," are tamely employed; and "beauty clothed in ethereal mildness," and "pursue the triumph," are mean and injudicious transcriptions. In concluding the second paragraph, the poet draws an inference truly common place, when his argument requires, and his examples inculcate, a valuable and less obvious truth. He means, or ought to mean, that if the sight of physical beauty fill the brutes with emotion, if it in reality ennoble their character, it is reasonable to suppose it capable of producing similar and more than equal effects upon man....

Mr. Cooper's reputation as a poet arises from his translation of the Ver-Vert of Gresset, and his original poems conceived in the spirit of that and some of the elegant poets of France. This part of his works shall form the subject of a separate paper. In concluding the present, the principal poem that deserves our attention is his Father's Advice to his Son. In the Tomb of Shakspeare, &c. there appears nothing above mediocrity: Of two songs one is vulgar and the other vapid; but the Father's Advice, though the sentiments are sufficiently commonplace, deserves to stand in the highest reputation for the extraordinary sweetness of its numbers, and that tender cadence which is consistent with the design of the poem. This elegy is an imitation of the old song to Winifreda, with which Mr. Cooper brought the publick acquainted in his Letters on Taste:

Deep in a grove by cypress shaded,
Where mid-day sun had seldom shone,
Or noise the solemn scene invaded,
Save some afflicted Muse's moan,

A swain, tow'rd full-aged manhood wending,
Sat sorrowing at the close of day;
At whose fond side a boy attending
Lisp'd half his father's cares away:

The father's eyes no object wrested,
But on the smiling prattler hung,
Till, what his throbbing heart suggested,
These accents trembled from his tongue:

My youth's first hope, my manhood's treasure,
My prattling innocent, attend!
Nor fear rebuke, nor sour displeasure!
A father's loveliest name is friend.

Some truths, from long experience flowing,
Worth more than royal grants receive:
For truths are wealth of heav'n's bestowing,
Which kings have seldom power to give.

Since from an ancient race descended,
You boast an unattainted blood,
By yours be their fair fame attended,
And claim by birthright to be good.

In love for ev'ry fellow creature,
Superiour rise above the crowd;
What most ennobles human nature
Was ne'er the portion of the proud.

Be thine the generous heart that borrows
From others' joys a friendly glow,
And from each hapless neighbour's sorrows
Throbs with a sympathetick wo.

This is the temper most endearing,
Tho' wide proud pomp her banners, spreads,
An heav'nlier pow'r good nature bearing,
Each part in willing thraldom leads.

Taste not from Fame's uncertain fountain
The peace-destroying streams that flow;
Nor from Ambition's dang'rous mountain
Look down upon the world below:

The princely pine, on hills exalted,
Whose lofty branches cleave the sky,
By winds, long brav'd, at last assaulted,
Is headlong whirl'd, in dust to lie.

Whilst the mild rose, more safely growing
Low in its unaspiring vale,
Amidst retirement's shelter blowing,
Exchanges sweets with ev'ry gale.

Wish not for Beauty's darling features,
Moulded by Nature's fondling pow'r;
For fairest forms 'mong human creatures
Shine but the pageants of an hour:

I saw the pride of all the meadow,
At noon, a guy Narcissus blow
Upon a river's bank, whose shadow
Bloom'd in the silver waves below:

By noontide's heat its youth was wasted;
The waters, as they past, complain'd
At eve, its glories all were wasted,
And not one former tint remain'd.

Nor let vain Wit's deceitful glory
Lead you from Wisdom's path astray;
What genius lives renown'd in story
To happiness who found the way.

In yonder mead behold that vapour
Whose vivid beams illusive play,
Far off, it seems a friendly taper,
To guide the trav'ller on his way;

But should some hapless wretch pursuing
Tread where the treach'rous meteors glow,
He'd find, too late his rashness rueing,
That fatal quicksands lurk below.

In life, such bubbles nought admiring
Gilt with false light, and fill'd with air,
Do you, from pageant crowds retiring,
To Peace, in Virtue's cot, repair;

There seek the never-wasted treasure
Which mutual love and friendship give;
Domestick comfort, spotless pleasure,
And bless'd and blessing you shall live.

If Heav'n with children crown your dwelling,
As mine its bounty does with you,
In fondness fatherly excelling,
Th' example you have felt pursue.

He paused — for, tenderly caressing
The darling of his wounded heart,
Looks had means only of expressing
Thoughts language never could impart.

Now, Night her sable mantle spreading,
Had rob'd with black th' horizon round,
And, dank dews from her tresses shedding,
With genial moisture bath'd the ground,

When back to city follies flying,
Midst Custom's slaves he liv'd resign'd;
His face, array'd in smiles, denying
The true complexion of his mind;

For seriously around surveying
Each character, in youth and age,
Of fools betray'd, and knaves betraying,
That play'd upon this human stage,

(Peaceful himself, and undesigning)
He loath'd the scenes of guile and strife,
And felt each secret wish inclining
To leave this fretful farce of life.

Yet, to whate'er above was fated,
Obediently he bow'd his soul;
For what all-bounteous Heav'n created,
He thought Heav'n only should control.

This poem will not bear the ordeal of verbal criticism, which is what, however, every poem should. Its appeal is to the heart, and there it will always find a favourable judge. The construction of the sentences is sometimes awkward; as that beginning "Now, Night;" and there is one serious contempt of syntax:

I saw the pride of all the meadow,
At noon, a gay Narcissus blow
Upon a river's bank, whose shadow
Bloom'd in the silver waves below.

The poet means, that the shadow of the Narcissus bloomed in the silver waves below; but he says, that it was the shadow of the "river's bank."...

"When he speaks of himself," says an amiable French writer, in defence of the egotism of Rousseau, "when he speaks of himself, he speaks of me;" and it is to be confessed that, whatever an authour may lose in dignity, by making himself the subject of his compositions, he gains in the interest he bestows upon them. He presents us with true pictures from among the multitude that may be drawn of the human heart; he draws from the life; even though the prominent feature may be affectation. We may say, affectation; because, if man falsely describe, for instance, his ruling passion, still this mistake, or this affectation, is an object of curiosity.

Mr. Cooper, in adopting the sentiments and numbers of Chapelle, Gresset, and others, has also learned the French habit of speaking much of himself. The precept "know thyself," is justly reckoned one of the wisest; but to speak of ourselves is not to be done without some caution. Mr. Cooper has occasionally so spoken of himself, both in prose and verse, as to inspire his readers with the unpleasant idea of a certain vanity in his composition, but it is by no means intended to apply this censure to every thing he has said of his own character, a theme, however, on which, it will be found, he is fond of dilating. In his first Epistle he thus describes his literary ease:

On me, my Lord, on humble me,
The intellectual train attends;
Science oft seeks my company,
And Fancy's children are my friends.
Here, blest with independent ease,
I look with pity on the great;
For who that with enjoyment sees
The Laughs and Graces at his gate,
And little Loves attending nigh
Or fondly hov'ring o'er his heed,
To wing his orders through the sky,
Whilst warbling Muses round him shed.
Sweet flow'rs which on Parnassus blow—
Would wish these thorny paths to tread
Which slaves and courtiers only know.

Thanks to my ancestors and heav'n,
To me the happier lot is giv'n,
In calm retreat my time to spend
With far, far better company
Than those who on the court attend,
In honourable drudgery.
Warriours and statesmen of old Rome
Duly observe my levee-day,
And wits from polish'd Athens come
Occasional devoirs to pay.
With me great Plato often holds
Discourse upon immortal pow'rs,
And attick Xenophon unfolds
Rich honey from Lyceum's flow'rs;
Caesar and Tully oft tend me;
Anacreon rambles in my grove;
Sweet Horace drinks Falernian wine,
Catullus makes; on haycocks, love:
With these, and some akin to these,
The living few who grace our days,
I live, in literary ease;
My chief delight their taste to please
With and unaffected lays.
Thus, to each vot'ry's wish, kind Fate
Divides the world with equal line,
She bids ambition, care, and state,
Be the high portion of the great,
Peace, friendship, love, and bliss, be mine!

In the Apology of Aristippus, he thus pleads for his attachment to the lighter Muse:

But, should you ask me, why I choose,
Of all the laurel'd sisterhood
Th' inhabitants of Pindus' wood,
The least considerable Muse?
The vi'lets round the mountain's feet,
Whose humble gems unheeded blow,
Are to the shepherd's smell more sweet
Than lofty cedars on its brow.
Let the loud epic sound th' alarms
Of dreadful war, and heroes sprung
From some immortal ancestry,
Clad in th' impenetrable arms,
By Vulcan forg'd! my lyre is strung
With softer chords; my Muse, more free,
Wanders through Pindus' humbler ways,
In amiable simplicity:
Unstudied are her artless lays,
She asks no laurel for her brows;
Careless of censure or of praise,
She haunts where tender myrtle grows;
Fonder of happiness than fame,
To the proud bay prefers the rose,
Nor barters pleasure for a name.
On Nature's lap reclined at ease,
I listen to her heavenly tongue,
From her derive the pow'r to please,
From her receive th' harmonious tune,
And what the goddess makes my song,
In unpremeditated rhyme,
Mellifluous flows; whilst young Desire,
Cull'd from the Elysian bloom of spring,
Strews flowers immortal round my lyre,
And Fancy's sportive children bring
From blossom'd grove and lilied mead
Fresh fragrant chaplets for my head.
The most, though softest of the nine,
Euterpe, Muse of gayety,
Queen of heart-soft'ning melody,
Allur'd my ear with notes divine.
Be my retreat Euterpe plays,
Where Science, garlanded with flow'rs,
Enraptur'd listens to her lays
Beneath the shade of myrtle bow'rs.

To which he adds this final defence:

If still the cynick censor says,
That Aristippus' useless days
Pass in melodious foolery,
This is my last apology:
Whatever has the pow'r to bless,
By living, having learnt to prize,
Since Wisdom will afford me less
Than what from harmless follies rise,
I cannot spare from happiness
A single moment to be wise.

In the Temper of Aristippus is an avowed imitation of Gresset, in a passage which such of our readers as are acquainted with the French language will be pleased to compare with the original:

A la sombre misanthropie
Je ne dois pas ces sentimens;
D'une fausse philosophie
Je hais les vains raisonnemens,
Et jamais la bigoterie
Ne decida mes jugemens.
Une indifference, supreme,
Voila mon principe et ma loi;
Tout lieu, tout destin, tout systeme,
Par-la, devient egal pour moi;
Ou je vois naitre la journee,
La, content j'en attend la fin,
Pret a partir le lendemain,
Si l'ordre de la destinee
Vient m'ouvrir un nouveau chemin.

Sans m'opposer un goat rebelle
A ce domaine souverain,
Je me suis fait du sort humain
Une peinture trop fidelle;
Souvent dans les champetres lieux
Ce portrait frappera vos yeux.
En promenant vos reveries
Dans he silence des prairies,
Vous voyez un foible rameau,
Qui, par les jeux du vague Eole
Enleve de quelque arbrisseau,
Quitte sa tige, tombe, vole
Sur la surface d'un ruisseau;
La, par une invincible perte,
Force d'errer et de changer,
Ill flotte an gre de l'onde errante;
Et, d'un mouvement etranger,
Souvent il paroit, il surnage,
Souvent il est au fond des eaux;
Il rencontre stir son passage
Tous les jours des pays nouveaux
Tantot un rivage sauvage
Et ses deserts abondonnes;
Parmi ses erreurs continues
II fuit, il vogue jusqu'au jour
Qui l'ensevelit a son tour
Au sein de ses mers inconnues
Ou tout s'abyme sans retour.

Thus, not by black misanthropy
ImpeII'd, to caves or rocks I fly;
But when by chance or humour led,
My wandering feet those regions tread,
Taught by philosophy so sweet
To shun the fellowship of ease,
Far from the world I go, to meet
Such pleasures as inhabit there.
With rebel will I'll ne'er oppose
The current of my destiny,
But, pliant, as the torrent flows,
Receive my course implicitly.
As, from some shaded river's side
If chance a tender osier's blown
Subject to the controling tide,
The obedient shrub is carried down.
Awhile it floats upon the streams,
By whirlpools now is forc'd below,
Then mounts again where Titan's beams
Upon the shining waters glow.
Sweet flow'ry vales it passes by,
Cities and solitudes by turns,
Or where a dreary desert burns
In sorrowful obscurity.
For many a league the wand'rer's borne,
By forest, wood, mead, mountain, plain,
Till, carried never to return,
'Tis buried in the boundless main.
Thus Aristippus forms his plan,
To ev'ry change of times and fates
His temper he accommodates;
Not where he will, but where he can,
A daily bliss he celebrates.
An osier on the stream of time,
This philosophick wanderer,
Floating through ev'ry place and clime,
Finds some peculiar blessing there.
Where'er the winding current strays,
By prosp'rous mount or adverse plain,
He'll sport till all his jocund days
Are lost in life's eternal main.

The verses which commence this poem convey a very agreeable idea of what the authour professes to describe, his temper:

I've oft, Melissa, heard you say,
"The world observes I never wear
An aspect gloomy or severe;
That, constitutionally gay,
Whether the clouds obscure the sky,
Or Phoebus gilds the face of day,
In Pleasure's true philosophy,
I pass the winged hours away."

In the Apology is a flattering tribute to the French Muses, in which the name of Gresset is conspicuous, particularly as that of the authour of Ver-Vert:

From silver Lema's transparent streams
With roses and with lilies crown'd,
Breathing the same heart-easing themes,
And tun'd in amicable sound,
Sweet bards of kindred spirit, blow
Soft Lydian notes on Gallick reeds,
Whose songs instruct us how to know
Truth's flow'rs from Affectation's weeds.
Chapelle leads up the festive band;
Lafarre and Chaulieu, hand in hand,
Close follow their poetick sire,
Hot with the Teian grape and fire.
But, hark! as sweet as western wind
Breathes from the vi'lets' fragrant beds
When balmy dews Aurora sheds,
Gresset's clear pipe, distinct behind,
Symphoniously combines in one
Each former bard's mellifluous tone.
Gresset, in whose harmonious verse
The Indian bird shall never die;
Though Death may perch on Ver-Vert's hearse,
Fame's tongue immortal shall rehearse
His variable loquacity.

Ver-Vert has long been ranked among the most elegant of the mock-heroick poems. It has not the dignity and strong satire of the Lutrin, nor the rich invention of the Rape of the Lock: but it is distinguished by its lightness, gayety, and ease. Gresset was bred a Jesuit; but his wit procured him a dismission from that society. The story of the poem is briefly this: Ver-Vert is a parrot, belonging to the Visitandines of Nevera, and an extraordinary favourite with the whole sisterhood. The young novices treat him with sugarplums and sweet-meats; the mothers teach Ave-Marias and Pater-Nosters. So much does he profit by his instructions, that his fame spreads to a convent of the same order at Nantes, the nuns of which send an earnest request that the edifying bird may be permitted to pay them a visit. He is accordingly sent to them by the Loire; but, during the voyage, having for his fellow-passengers two or three dragoons, and other persons not overnice in their language, he unfortunately forgets all the pious aspirations of the convent, and learns the reprobate discourse of his new companions, in which he accosts the nuns of Nantes. The latter, struck with horrour at his graceless conversation, so different from what they had been taught to expect, send him back to Nevers, where the change in his manners excites equal dismay. Ver-Vert, in consequence of the most lenient of the sentences proposed to be passed against him, is condemned to a penitentiary cell, and bread and water; and when, from his early reformation, the period of his disgrace is shortened, the joy and affection of the younger nuns lead them to feast him so profusely that he is literally killed with kindness. Such is the outline of the tale. Gresset has given infinite spirit, by having thrown so much of character into his hero, and who appears in the first part a novice, innocent and demure, and after his transformation, a lively rake.