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Wisdom reply'd, he tore and burnt my Where she was seen her face was scarcely
Mercy reply'd, I'll draw it out again.
All words are lost in thought at such a
'Tis time for Freewill to resign his charge,
Four thousand years Mercy seem'd in
So dimly did the light of nature shine.
The siren's song still ringing in the ear
What must he do to storm or charm the
Could human wisdom find a method out,
If innocence hath charms, here is her
If truth hath force, here is her magazine.
If mercy's beams can melt, here is her sun.
Where in suspence nothing but justice By miracle unto the world he came,
WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.
WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE was the son of the Rev. Alexander Meikle, parish minister of Langholm, in Dumfriesshire. He was born in 1734, and received the rudiments of his education at the school of his native village. He is said to have shown a very early predilection for poetry, Spenser being his favourite poet.
About the year 1747, his father went to reside in Edinburgh, leaving an assistant to discharge the duties of his parish. Young Mickle was sent to the High School to finish his education; and continued to attend it till his fifteenth year. A relative of the family, who carried on a brewery in the city, having died about this time, Mickle's
father resolved to continue the business; and after some time it was made over to William, who for some time previously took part in its management,
Family considerations, rather than the attractions of the profession, determined his choice, and in a short time his affairs became embarrassed. This need not excite much surprise, when it is affirmed that he was often heard to declare, that before he was eighteen, he committed two tragedies and half an epic poem to the flames.
His first published pieces appeared in the Scots Magazine-one of them being a description of the scenes of riot and drunkenness witnessed at midnight in the Parliament Close, Edinburgh. In 1762, he issued anonymously, through a London publisher, a poem entitled "Providence," but it did not take with the reading public. He however adopted the expedient of sending a copy, under an assumed name, to Lord Lyttleton, then one of the chief patrons of literature, asking his opinion of the poem, and requesting permission to dedicate a new and improved edition to his lordship.
In 1763, the embarrassments of his business compelled him, to avoid arrest, to seek an asylum in London, where his younger brother wrought as a printer. On his arrival, he had a letter from Lord Lyttleton, commending his poetic genius, and inviting him to Hagley Park. At their interview the peer gave him such advice and encouragement as made Mickle sanguine over his literary prospects; but in the meantime he was mostly dependent on his brother; and when, after about two years' efforts
to dress up as many of his poems as might form a volume, to be issued under Lord Lyttleton's patronage, he was dissuaded from making the venture, his disappointment was so great, that he resolved to abandon literature and his country at the same time, and seek his fortune in the colonies. With this view, he waited on Lord Lyttleton once more, requesting a letter to his brother, then governor of Jamaica. His lordship dissuaded him from his purpose of emigrating, and, possibly not aware of the poet's circumstances, dismissed him with his advice and good wishes.
Having heard that a reader was wanted for the Clarendon Press, Oxford, Mickle applied and obtained the situation; and accordingly he removed to that celebrated centre of learning in 1765. This year he published "Pollio," an elegy on the death of one of his brothers, written in a wood near Roslin Castle, and two years after "The Concubine," in imitation of Spenser's manner and language. The success of "The Concubine was the first gale of popular favour that blew upon him; and, being anonymous, its authorship was ascribed to some of the best poets of the day. Mickle's next venture was of a different cast-" A Defence of Christianity against the Arianism of a New Translation of the New Testament by Dr Harwood." It ingratiated him with the orthodox party, but is now sunk in the mare magnum of religious controversy, along with many more pretentious crafts. Yet these things seldom fail in their object; and Mickle, encouraged by the reception of his pamphlet, again entered the theological lists-this time
selecting a more renowned adversary of the faith. "Voltaire in the Shades; or, a Dialogue on the Deistical Controversy," was the title of his polemical attack upon the great Frenchman. Yet these aberrations from his true sphere into a field where, if the laurels are easily won, they soon fade, were only transitory, and his mind soon became set upon the greatest poetical labour of his life-the translation of the Lusiad of Camoens. The thought of it seems to have occupied his mind for a long time, and the labour of fitting himself for its accomplishment is the highest testimony to his intellectual and poetical gifts. He fully persuaded himself of the transcendent merits of his subject, and, like a true devotee, stuck to his task with a diligence and faith that elicits our admiration. Having fairly seen his way to commence his undertaking, he resigned his situation, went to reside at a farmhouse at Forest Hill, five miles from Oxford, and, with his subscriptions paid in advance, maintained himself for about three years at his task, till, in 1775, it appeared in a quarto volume printed at Oxford. Its success realized his ex
which he at first meant to publish under the title of Cumnor Hall.
The success of The Lusiad induced Mickle's friends, among whom he numbered Boswell, the Wartons, and Home, the author of Douglas, to urge him to try a tragedy. He chose as his subject the “Siege of Marseilles." On its completion, he offered it to Garrick, but it was rejected for want of "stage effect." This fault he tried, with the assistance of his friend Thomas Warton, to remedy; yet neither Warton's nor Boswell's influence could prevail upon Garrick to give the piece a trial. Mickle was so incensed that he threatened retaliation; and it was only on the strong remonstrances of his friends that he was dissuaded from so silly a proceeding. His friends now tried to procure him a pension from the Crown, but failed; and an offer of promotion in the Church he declined himself.
In 1779, he published a pamphlet opposing Adam Smith's views on the monopoly of the East India Company's charter; and when Smith's Life of Hume appeared, he showed his detestation of the Scotch philosophers in some
pectations, and brought him a thousand | undignified doggrel, which Sim, his
independent; and he hastened to clear off his debts in Scotland, and make provision for the members of his family whom his misfortunes affected. He then married Mary Tomkins, the daughter of Robert Tomkins of Forest Hill, in whose family he resided when he translated The Lusiad.
He did not write much after his marriage, having become involved in some litigations which prevented his enjoying that repose which his fortune was expected to yield. His last poem was "Eskdale Braes," a song on the scenes of his boyhood. He died at Forest Hill in 1788, and was buried in the parish churchyard, having completed his fiftyfourth year.
It must be evident that, as a man, Mickle wanted self-reliance and decision of character; and to these weaknesses are to be attributed his early misfortunes. His morbid dislike of the philosophical giants of his native country was also due to an intellectual confusion, which is always the source of moral timidity; but his promptitude in remedying the results of his errors is sufficient proof of the rectitude of his moral principles.
The intellectual defects referred to account for his want of force and originality as a poet; for had his taste and fancy been sustained by corresponding vigour and grasp of mind, his original compositions would not have constituted his secondary claims to fame.
It was his wish to have a collected edition of these published with his own corrections, and he made considerable progress in revising them for this purpose, when he was suddenly cut off.