Part 1 out of 7
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SPECIMENS WITH MEMOIRS OF THE LESS-KNOWN BRITISH POETS.
With an Introductory Essay,
THE REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.
IN THREE VOLS.
SECOND PERIOD--FROM SPENSER TO DRYDEN.
Epistle addressed to the Honourable W. E.
To his Noblest Friend, J. C., Esq.
A Description of Castara
JOSEPH HALL, BISHOP OF NORWICH
Song--To Althea, from Prison
A Loose Saraband
The Kiss: A Dialogue
The Mad Maid's Song
Corinna's going a-Maying
The Country Life
SIR RICHARD FANSHAWE
The Spring, a Sonnet--From the Spanish
The Chronicle, a Ballad
Upon the Shortness of Man's Life
On the Praise of Poetry
The Motto--'Tentanda via est,' &c
The Plagues of Egypt
From 'The Shepherd's Hunting'
The Shepherd's Resolution
The Steadfast Shepherd
From 'The Shepherd's Hunting'
SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT
From 'Gondibert'--Canto II
From 'Gondibert'--Canto IV
DR HENRY KING
Thealma, a Deserted Shepherdess
Priestess of Diana
Thealma in Full Dress
Dwelling of the Witch Orandra
MARGARET, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE
Melancholy described by Mirth
Melancholy describing herself
Speaking and Kissing
La Belle Confidante
Note on Anacreon
The Nymph complaining of the Death of her Fawn
On 'Paradise Lost'
Thoughts in a Garden
Satire on Holland
The Angler's Wish
JOHN WILMOT, EARL or ROCHESTER
THE EARL OP ROSCOMMON
From 'An Essay on Translated Verse'
Invitation to Izaak Walton
A Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque
DR HENRY MORE
Opening of Second Part of 'Psychozoia'
Exordium of Third Part
Destruction and Renovation of all things
A Distempered Fancy
Soul compared to a Lantern
Argalia taken Prisoner by the Turks
On a Charnel-house
On Gombauld's 'Endymion'
Apostrophe to Fletcher the Dramatist
Picture of the Town
The Golden Age
Resurrection and Immortality
Man's Fall and Recovery
Rules and Lessons
Mount of Olives
St Mary Magdalene
The Seed Growing Secretly (Mark iv. 26)
Jacob's Pillow and Pillar
DR JOSEPH BEAUMONT
To the Memory of his Wife
Imperial Borne Personified
FROM ROBERT HEATH--
What is Love?
Protest of Love
BY VARIOUS AUTHORS--
My Mind to me a Kingdom is
The Old and Young Courtier
There is a Garden in her Face
Hallo, my Fancy
The Fairy Queen
* * * * *
SPECIMENS WITH MEMOIRS OF THE LESS-KNOWN BRITISH POETS.
SECOND PERIOD--FROM SPENSER TO DRYDEN. (CONTINUED.)
* * * * *
This poet might have been expected to have belonged to the 'Spasmodic
school,' judging by his parental antecedents. His father was accused of
having a share in Babington's conspiracy, but was released because he
was godson to Queen Elizabeth. Soon after, however, he was imprisoned a
second time, and condemned to death on the charge of having concealed
some of the Gunpowder-plot conspirators; but was pardoned through the
interest of Lord Morley. His uncle, however, was less fortunate,
suffering death for his complicity with Babington. The poet's mother,
the daughter of Lord Morley, was more loyal than her husband or his
brother, and is said to have written the celebrated letter to Lord
Monteagle, in consequence of which the execution of the Gunpowder-plot
Our poet was born at Hindlip, Worcestershire, on the very day of the
discovery of the plot, 5th November 1605. The family were Papists, and
William was sent to St Omers to be educated. He was pressed to become
a Jesuit, but declined. On his return to England, his father became
preceptor to the poet. As he grew up, instead of displaying any taste
for 'treasons, stratagems, and spoils,' he chose the better part, and
lived a private and happy life. He fell in love with Lucia, daughter of
William Herbert, the first Lord Powis, and celebrated her in his long
and curious poem entitled 'Castara.' This lady he afterwards married,
and from her society appears to have derived much happiness. In 1634,
he published 'Castara.' He also, at different times, produced 'The Queen
of Arragon,' a tragedy; a History of Edward IV.; and 'Observations upon
History.' He died in 1654, (not as Southey, by a strange oversight,
says, 'when he had just completed his fortieth year,') forty-nine years
of age, and was buried in the family vault at Hindlip.
'Castara' is not a consecutive poem, but consists of a great variety of
small pieces, in all sorts of style and rhythm, and of all varieties of
merit; many of them addressed to his mistress under the name of Castara,
and many to his friends; with reflective poems, elegies, and panegyrics,
intermingled with verses sacred to love. Habington is distinguished by
purity of tone if not of taste. He has many conceits, but no obscenities.
His love is as holy as it is ardent. He has, besides, a vein of sentiment
which sometimes approaches the moral sublime. To prove this, in addition
to the 'Selections' below, we copy some verses entitled--
'NOX NOCTI INDICAT SCIENTIAM.'--_David_.
When I survey the bright
So rich with jewels hung, that Night
Doth like an Ethiop bride appear,
My soul her wings doth spread,
And heavenward flies,
The Almighty's mysteries to read
In the large volume of the skies;
For the bright firmament
Shoots forth no flame
So silent, but is eloquent
In speaking the Creator's name.
No unregarded star
Contracts its light
Into so small a character,
Removed far from our human sight,
But if we steadfast look,
We shall discern
In it, as in some holy book,
How man may heavenly knowledge learn.
It tells the conqueror
That far-stretch'd power,
Which his proud dangers traffic for,
Is but the triumph of an hour;
That, from the furthest North,
Some nation may,
Yet undiscover'd, issue forth,
And o'er his new-got conquest sway,--
Some nation, yet shut in
With hills of ice,
May be let out to scourge his sin
Till they shall equal him in vice;
And then they likewise shall
Their ruin brave;
For, as yourselves, your empires fall,
_And every kingdom hath a grave_.
Thus those celestial fires,
Though seeming mute,
The fallacy of our desires,
And all the pride of life, confute;
For they have watch'd since first
The world had birth,
And found sin in itself accurst,
And nothing permanent on earth.
There is something to us particularly interesting in the history of this
poet. Even as it is pleasant to see the sides of a volcano covered with
verdure, and its mouth filled with flowers, so we like to find the
fierce elements, which were inherited by Habington from his fathers,
softened and subdued in him,--the blood of the conspirator mellowed into
that of the gentle bard, who derived all his inspiration from a pure
love and a mild and thoughtful religion.
EPISTLE ADDRESSED TO THE HONOURABLE W.E.
He who is good is happy. Let the loud
Artillery of heaven break through a cloud,
And dart its thunder at him, he'll remain
Unmoved, and nobler comfort entertain,
In welcoming the approach of death, than Vice
E'er found in her fictitious paradise.
Time mocks our youth, and (while we number past
Delights, and raise our appetite to taste
Ensuing) brings us to unflatter'd age,
Where we are left to satisfy the rage
Of threat'ning death: pomp, beauty, wealth, and all
Our friendships, shrinking from the funeral.
The thought of this begets that brave disdain
With which thou view'st the world, and makes those vain
Treasures of fancy, serious fools so court,
And sweat to purchase, thy contempt or sport.
What should we covet here? Why interpose
A cloud 'twixt us and heaven? Kind Nature chose
Man's soul the exchequer where to hoard her wealth,
And lodge all her rich secrets; but by the stealth
Of her own vanity, we're left so poor,
The creature merely sensual knows more.
The learned halcyon, by her wisdom, finds
A gentle season, when the seas and winds
Are silenced by a calm, and then brings forth
The happy miracle of her rare birth,
Leaving with wonder all our arts possess'd,
That view the architecture of her nest.
Pride raiseth us 'bove justice. We bestow
Increase of knowledge on old minds, which grow
By age to dotage; while the sensitive
Part of the world in its first strength doth live.
Folly! what dost thou in thy power contain
Deserves our study? Merchants plough the main
And bring home th' Indies, yet aspire to more,
By avarice in the possession poor.
And yet that idol wealth we all admit
Into the soul's great temple; busy wit
Invents new orgies, fancy frames new rites
To show its superstition; anxious nights
Are watch'd to win its favour: while the beast
Content with nature's courtesy doth rest.
Let man then boast no more a soul, since he
Hath lost that great prerogative. But thee,
Whom fortune hath exempted from the herd
Of vulgar men, whom virtue hath preferr'd
Far higher than thy birth, I must commend,
Rich in the purchase of so sweet a friend.
And though my fate conducts me to the shade
Of humble quiet, my ambition paid
With safe content, while a pure virgin fame
Doth raise me trophies in Castara's name;
No thought of glory swelling me above
The hope of being famed for virtuous love;
Yet wish I thee, guided by the better stars,
To purchase unsafe honour in the wars,
Or envied smiles at court; for thy great race,
And merits, well may challenge the highest place.
Yet know, what busy path soe'er you tread
To greatness, you must sleep among the dead.
TO HIS NOBLEST FRIEND, J.C., ESQ.
I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet
I love the silence; I embrace the wit
And courtship, flowing here in a full tide,
But loathe the expense, the vanity, and pride.
No place each way is happy. Here I hold
Commerce with some, who to my care unfold
(After a due oath minister'd) the height
And greatness of each star shines in the state,
The brightness, the eclipse, the influence.
With others I commune, who tell me whence
The torrent doth of foreign discord flow;
Relate each skirmish, battle, overthrow,
Soon as they happen; and by rote can tell
Those German towns, even puzzle me to spell.
The cross or prosperous fate of princes they
Ascribe to rashness, cunning, or delay;
And on each action comment, with more skill
Than upon Livy did old Machiavel.
O busy folly! why do I my brain
Perplex with the dull policies of Spain,
Or quick designs of France? Why not repair
To the pure innocence o' the country air,
And neighbour thee, dear friend? Who so dost give
Thy thoughts to worth and virtue, that to live
Blest, is to trace thy ways. There might not we
Arm against passion with philosophy;
And, by the aid of leisure, so control
Whate'er is earth in us, to grow all soul?
Knowledge doth ignorance engender, when
We study mysteries of other men,
And foreign plots. Do but in thy own shad
(Thy head upon some flow'ry pillow laid,
Kind Nature's housewifery,) contemplate all
His stratagems, who labours to enthrall
The world to his great master, and you'll find
Ambition mocks itself, and grasps the wind.
Not conquest makes us great. Blood is too dear
A price for glory. Honour doth appear
To statesmen like a vision in the night;
And, juggler-like, works o' the deluded sight.
The unbusied only wise: for no respect
Endangers them to error; they affect
Truth in her naked beauty, and behold
Man with an equal eye, not bright in gold,
Or tall in little; so much him they weigh
As virtue raiseth him above his clay.
Thus let us value things: and since we find
Time bend us toward death, let's in our mind
Create new youth, and arm against the rude
Assaults of age; that no dull solitude
O' the country dead our thoughts, nor busy care
O' the town make us to think, where now we are,
And whither we are bound. Time ne'er forgot
His journey, though his steps we number'd not.
A DESCRIPTION OF CASTARA.
1 Like the violet which, alone,
Prospers in some happy shade,
My Castara lives unknown,
To no looser's eye betray'd,
For she's to herself untrue,
Who delights i' the public view.
2 Such is her beauty, as no arts
Have enrich'd with borrow'd grace;
Her high birth no pride imparts,
For she blushes in her place.
Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good.
3 Cautious, she knew never yet
What a wanton courtship meant;
Nor speaks loud, to boast her wit;
In her silence eloquent:
Of herself survey she takes,
But 'tween men no difference makes.
4 She obeys with speedy will
Her grave parents' wise commands;
And so innocent, that ill
She nor acts, nor understands:
Women's feet run still astray,
If once to ill they know the way.
5 She sails by that rock, the court,
Where oft Honour splits her mast:
And retiredness thinks the port
Where her fame may anchor cast:
Virtue safely cannot sit,
Where vice is enthroned for wit.
6 She holds that day's pleasure best,
Where sin waits not on delight;
Without mask, or ball, or feast,
Sweetly spends a winter's night:
O'er that darkness, whence is thrust
Prayer and sleep, oft governs lust.
7 She her throne makes reason climb;
While wild passions captive lie:
And, each article of time,
Her pure thoughts to heaven fly:
All her vows religious be,
And her love she vows to me.
JOSEPH HALL, BISHOP OF NORWICH.
This distinguished man must not be confounded with John Hall, of whom
all we know is, that he was born at Durham in 1627,--that he was
educated at Cambridge, where he published a volume of poems,--that he
practised at the bar, and that he died in 1656, in his twenty-ninth
year. One specimen of John's verses we shall quote:--
THE MORNING STAR.
Still herald of the morn: whose ray
Being page and usher to the day,
Doth mourn behind the sun, before him play;
Who sett'st a golden signal ere
The dark retire, the lark appear;
The early cooks cry comfort, screech-owls fear;
Who wink'st while lovers plight their troth,
Then falls asleep, while they are both
To part without a more engaging oath:
Steal in a message to the eyes
Of Julia; tell her that she lies
Too long; thy lord, the Sun, will quickly rise.
Yet it is midnight still with me;
Nay, worse, unless that kinder she
Smile day, and in my zenith seated be,
I needs a calenture must shun,
And, like an Ethiopian, hate my sun.
John's more celebrated namesake, Joseph, was born at Bristowe Park,
parish of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, in 1574. He studied and
took orders at Cambridge. He acted for some time as master of the school
of Tiverton, in Devonshire. It is said that the accidental preaching of
a sermon before Prince Henry first attracted attention to this eminent
divine. Promotion followed with a sure and steady course. He was chosen
to accompany King James to Scotland as one of his chaplains, and
subsequently attended the famous Synod of Dort as a representative of
the English Church. He had before this, while quite a young man, (in
1597,) published, under the title of 'Virgidemiarum,' his Satires. In
the year 1600 he produced a satirical fiction, entitled, 'Mundus alter
et idem;' in which, while pretending to describe a certain _terra
australis incognita_, he hits hard at the existent evils of the actual
world. Hall was subsequently created Bishop of Exeter, where he exposed
himself to obloquy by his mildness to the Puritans. 'Had,' Campbell
justly remarked, 'such conduct been, at this critical period, pursued by
the High Churchmen in general, the history of a bloody age might have
been changed into that of peace; but the violence of Laud prevailed over
the milder counsels of a Hall, an Usher, and a Corbet.' Yet Hall was a
zealous Episcopalian, and defended that form of government in a variety
of pamphlets. In the course of this controversy he carne in collision
with the mighty Milton himself, who, unable to deny the ability and
learning of his opponent, tried to cover him with a deluge of derision.
Besides these pamphlets, the Bishop produced a number of Epistles
in prose, of Sermons, of Paraphrases, and a remarkable series of
'Occasional Meditations,' which became soon, and continue to be,
Hall, who had in his early days struggled hard with narrow circumstances
and neglect, seemed to reach the climax of prosperity when he was, in
1641, created by the King Bishop of Norwich. But having, soon after,
unfortunately added his name to the Protest of the twelve prelates
against the authority of any laws which should be passed during their
compulsory absence from Parliament, he was thrown into the Tower, and
subsequently threatened with sequestration. After enduring great
privations, he at last was permitted to retire to Higham, near Norwich,
where, reduced to a very miserable allowance, he continued to labour as
a pastor, with unwearied assiduity, till, in 1656, death closed his
eyes, at the advanced age of eighty-two. Bishop Hall, if not fully
competent to mate with Milton, was nevertheless a giant, conspicuous
even in an age when giants were rife. He has been called the Christian
Seneca, from the pith and clear sententiousness of his prose style. His
'Meditations,' ranging over almost the whole compass of Scripture, as
well as an incredible variety of ordinary topics, are distinguished by
their fertile fancy, their glowing language, and by thought which, if
seldom profound, is never commonplace, and seems always the spontaneous
and easy outcome of the author's mind. In no form of composition does
excellence depend more on spontaneity than in the meditation. The ruin
of such writers as Hervey, and, to some extent, Boyle, has been, that
they seem to have set themselves elaborately and convulsively to extract
sentiment out of every object which met their eye. They seem to say,
'We will, and we must meditate, whether the objects be interesting or
not, and whether our own moods be propitious to the exercise, or the
reverse.' Hence have come exaggeration, extravagance, and that shape
of the ridiculous which mimics the sublime, and has been so admirably
exposed in Swift's 'Meditation on a Broomstick.' Hall's method is, in
general, the opposite of this. The objects on which he muses seem to
have sought him, and not he them. He surrounds himself with his thoughts
unconsciously, as one gathers burs and other herbage about him by the
mere act of walking in the woods. Sometimes, indeed, he is quaint and
fantastic, as in his meditation
'UPON THE SIGHT OF TWO SNAILS.'
'There is much variety even in creatures of the same kind. See these
two snails: one hath a house, the other wants it; yet both are snails,
and it is a question whether case is the better; that which hath a
house hath more shelter, but that which wants it hath more freedom;
the privilege of that cover is but a burden--you see if it hath but a
stone to climb over with what stress it draws up that artificial load,
and if the passage proves strait finds no entrance, whereas the empty
snail makes no difference of way. Surely it is always an ease and
sometimes a happiness to have nothing. No man is so worthy of envy as
he that can be cheerful in want.'
In a very different style he discourses
'UPON HEARING OF MUSIC BY NIGHT.'
'How sweetly doth this music sound in this dead season! In the daytime
it would not, it could not so much affect the ear. All harmonious
sounds are advanced by a silent darkness: thus it is with the glad
tidings of salvation. The gospel never sounds so sweet as in the night
of preservation or of our own private affliction--it is ever the same,
the difference is in our disposition to receive it. O God, whose praise
it is to give songs in the night, make my prosperity conscionable and
my crosses cheerful!'
Hall fulfilled one test of lofty genius: he was in several departments
an originator. He first gave an example of epistolary composition in
prose,--an example the imitation of which has produced many of the most
interesting, instructive, and beautiful writings in the language. He
is our first popular author of Meditations and Contemplations, and a
large school has followed in his path--too often, in truth, _passibus
iniquis_. And he is unquestionably the father of British satire. It is
remarkable that all his satires were written in youth. Too often the
satirical spirit grows in authors with the advance of life; and it is a
pitiful sight, that of those who have passed the meridian of years and
reputation, grinning back in helpless mockery and toothless laughter
upon the brilliant way they have traversed, but to which they can return
no more. Hall, on the other hand, exhausted long ere he was thirty the
sarcastic material that was in him; and during the rest of his career,
wielded his powers with as much lenity as strength.
Perhaps no satirist had a more thorough conception than our author of
what is the real mission of satire in the moral history of mankind;
--_that_ is, to shew vice its own image--to scourge impudent imposture
--to expose hypocrisy--to laugh down solemn quackery of every kind--to
create blushes on brazen brows and fears of scorn in hollow hearts--to
make iniquity, as ashamed, hide its face--to apply caustic, nay cautery,
to the sores of society--and to destroy sin by shewing both the ridicule
which attaches to its progress and the wretched consequences which are
its end. But various causes prevented him from fully realising his own
ideal, and thus becoming the best as well as the first of our satirical
poets. His style--imitated from Persius and Juvenal--is too elliptical,
and it becomes true of him as well as of Persius that his points are
often sheathed through the remoteness of his allusions and the perplexity
of his diction. He is very recondite in his images, and you are sometimes
reminded of one storming in English at a Hindoo--it is pointless fury,
boltless thunder. At other times the stream of his satiric vein flows
on with a blended clearness and energy, which has commanded the warm
encomium of Campbell, and which prompted the diligent study of Pope.
There is more courage required in attacking the follies than the vices of
an age, and Hall shews a peculiar daring when he derides the vulgar forms
of astrology and alchymy which were then prevalent, and the wretched
fustian which infected the language both of literature and the stage.
Whatever be the merits or defects of Hall's satires, the world is
indebted to him as the founder of a school which were itself sufficient
to cover British literature with glory, and which, in the course of ages,
has included such writers as Samuel Butler, with his keen sense of the
grotesque and ridiculous--his wit, unequalled in its abundance and
point--his vast assortment of ludicrous fancies and language--and his
form of versification, seemingly shaped by the Genius of Satire for his
own purposes, and resembling heroic rhyme broken off in the middle by
shouts of laughter;--Dryden, with the ease, the _animus_, and the
masterly force of his satirical dissections--the vein of humour which
is stealthily visible at times in the intervals of his wrathful mood
--and the occasional passing and profound touches, worthy of Juvenal,
and reminding one of the fires of Egypt, which ran along the ground,
scorching all things while they pursued their unabated speed;--the
spirit of satire, strong as death, and cruel as the grave, which became
incarnate in Swift;--Pope, with his minute and microscopic vision
of human infirmities, his polish, delicate strokes, damning hints,
and annihilating whispers, where 'more is meant than meets the ear;'
--Johnson, with his crushing contempt and sacrificial dignity of scorn;
--Cowper, with the tenderness of a lover combined in his verse with the
terrible indignation of an ancient prophet;--Wolcot, with his infinite
fund of coarse wit and humour;--Burns, with that strange mixture of jaw
and genius--the spirit of a _caird_ with that of a poet--which marked all
his satirical pieces;--Crabbe, with his caustic vein and sternly-literal
descriptions, behind which are seen, half-skulking from view, kindness,
pity, and love;--Byron, with the clever Billingsgate of his earlier, and
the more than Swiftian ferocity of his later satires;--and Moore, with
the smartness, sparkle, tiny splendour, and minikin speed of his witty
shafts. In comparison with even these masters of the art, the good Bishop
does not dwindle; and he challenges precedence over most of them in the
purpose, tact, and good sense which blend with the whole of his satiric
Time was, and that was term'd the time of gold,
When world and time were young, that now are old,
(When quiet Saturn sway'd the mace of lead,
And pride was yet unborn, and yet unbred;)
Time was, that whiles the autumn fall did last,
Our hungry sires gaped for the falling mast
Of the Dodonian oaks;
Could no unhusked acorn leave the tree,
But there was challenge made whose it might be;
And if some nice and liquorous appetite
Desired more dainty dish of rare delight,
They scaled the stored crab with clasped knee,
Till they had sated their delicious eye:
Or search'd the hopeful thicks of hedgy rows,
For briary berries, or haws, or sourer sloes:
Or when they meant to fare the fin'st of all,
They lick'd oak-leaves besprint with honey fall.
As for the thrice three-angled beech nutshell,
Or chestnut's armed husk, and hide kernel,
No squire durst touch, the law would not afford,
Kept for the court, and for the king's own board.
Their royal plate was clay, or wood, or stone;
The vulgar, save his hand, else he had none.
Their only cellar was the neighbour brook:
None did for better care, for better look.
Was then no plaining of the brewer's 'scape,
Nor greedy vintner mix'd the stained grape.
The king's pavilion was the grassy green,
Under safe shelter of the shady treen.
Under each bank men laid their limbs along,
Not wishing any ease, not fearing wrong:
Clad with their own, as they were made of old,
Not fearing shame, not feeling any cold.
But when by Ceres' huswifery and pain,
Men learn'd to bury the reviving grain,
And father Janus taught the new-found vine
Rise on the elm, with many a friendly twine:
And base desire bade men to delven low,
For needless metals, then 'gan mischief grow.
Then farewell, fairest age, the world's best days,
Thriving in all as it in age decays.
Then crept in pride, and peevish covetise,
And men grew greedy, discordous, and nice.
Now man, that erst hail-fellow was with beast,
Wox on to ween himself a god at least.
Nor aery fowl can take so high a flight,
Though she her daring wings in clouds have dight;
Nor fish can dive so deep in yielding sea,
Though Thetis' self should swear her safëty;
Nor fearful beast can dig his cave so low,
As could he further than earth's centre go;
As that the air, the earth, or ocean,
Should shield them from the gorge of greedy man.
Hath utmost Ind ought better than his own?
Then utmost Ind is near, and rife to gone,
O nature! was the world ordain'd for nought
But fill man's maw, and feed man's idle thought?
Thy grandsire's words savour'd of thrifty leeks,
Or manly garlic; but thy furnace reeks
Hot steams of wine; and can aloof descry
The drunken draughts of sweet autumnitie.
They naked went; or clad in ruder hide,
Or home-spun russet, void of foreign pride:
But thou canst mask in garish gauderie
To suit a fool's far-fetched livery.
A French head join'd to neck Italian:
Thy thighs from Germany, and breast from Spain:
An Englishman in none, a fool in all:
Many in one, and one in several.
Then men were men; but now the greater part
Beasts are in life, and women are in heart.
Good Saturn self, that homely emperor,
In proudest pomp was not so clad of yore,
As is the under-groom of the ostlery,
Husbanding it in work-day yeomanry.
Lo! the long date of those expired days,
Which the inspired Merlin's word foresays;
When dunghill peasants shall be dight as kings,
Then one confusion another brings:
Then farewell, fairest age, the world's best days,
Thriving in ill, as it in age decays.
Seest thou how gaily my young master goes,
Vaunting himself upon his rising toes;
And pranks his hand upon his dagger's side,
And picks his glutted teeth since late noontide?
'Tis Ruffio: Trow'st thou where he dined to-day?
In sooth I saw him sit with Duke Humphray.
Many good welcomes, and much gratis cheer,
Keeps he for every straggling cavalier,
And open house, haunted with great resort;
Long service mix'd with musical disport.
Many fair younker with a feather'd crest,
Chooses much rather be his shot-free guest,
To fare so freely with so little cost,
Than stake his twelvepence to a meaner host.
Hadst thou not told me, I should surely say
He touch'd no meat of all this livelong day.
For sure methought, yet that was but a guess,
His eyes seem'd sunk for very hollowness;
But could he have (as I did it mistake)
So little in his purse, so much upon his back?
So nothing in his maw? yet seemeth by his belt,
That his gaunt gut no too much stuffing felt.
Seest thou how side it hangs beneath his hip?
Hunger and heavy iron makes girdles slip;
Yet for all that, how stiffly struts he by,
All trapped in the new-found bravery.
The nuns of new-won Calais his bonnet lent,
In lieu of their so kind a conquerment.
What needed he fetch that from furthest Spain.
His grandam could have lent with lesser pain?
Though he perhaps ne'er pass'd the English shore,
Yet fain would counted be a conqueror.
His hair, French-like, stares on his frighted head,
One lock, Amazon-like, dishevelled,
As if he meant to wear a native cord,
If chance his fates should him that bane afford.
All British bare upon the bristled skin,
Close notched is his beard both lip and chin;
His linen collar labyrinthian set,
Whose thousand double turnings never met:
His sleeves half hid with elbow pinionings,
As if he meant to fly with linen wings.
But when I look, and cast mine eyes below,
What monster meets mine eyes in human show?
So slender waist with such an abbot's loin,
Did never sober nature sure conjoin,
Lik'st a strawn scarecrow in the new-sown field,
Rear'd on some stick, the tender corn to shield;
Or if that semblance suit not every deal,
Like a broad shake-fork with a slender steel.
Despised nature, suit them once aright,
Their body to their coat, both now misdight.
Their body to their clothës might shapen be,
That nill their clothës shape to their body.
Meanwhile I wonder at so proud a back,
Whiles the empty guts loud rumblen for long lack:
The belly envieth the back's bright glee,
And murmurs at such inequality.
The back appears unto the partial eyne,
The plaintive belly pleads they bribed been:
And he, for want of better advocate,
Doth to the ear his injury relate.
The back, insulting o'er the belly's need,
Says, Thou thyself, I others' eyes must feed.
The maw, the guts, all inward parts complain
The back's great pride, and their own secret pain.
Ye witless gallants, I beshrew your hearts,
That sets such discord 'twixt agreeing parts,
Which never can be set at onement more,
Until the maw's wide mouth be stopt with store.
This unlucky cavalier and bard was born in 1618. He was the son of Sir
William Lovelace, of Woolwich, in Kent. He was educated some say at
Oxford, and others at Cambridge--took a master's degree, and was
afterwards presented at Court. Anthony Wood thus describes his personal
appearance at the age of sixteen:--'He was the most amiable and
beautiful person that eye ever beheld,--a person also of innate modesty,
virtue, and courtly deportment, which made him then, but especially
after when he retired to the great city, much admired and adored by the
fair sex.' Soon after this, he was chosen by the county of Kent to
deliver a petition from the inhabitants to the House of Commons, praying
them to restore the King to his rights, and to settle the government.
Such offence was given by this to the Long Parliament, that Lovelace was
thrown into prison, and only liberated on heavy bail. His paternal
estate, which amounted to £500 a-year, was soon exhausted in his efforts
to promote the royal cause. In 1646, he formed a regiment for the
service of the King of France, became its colonel, and was wounded at
Dunkirk. Ere leaving England, he had formed a strong attachment to a
Miss Lucy Sacheverell, and had written much poetry in her praise,
designating her as _Lux-Casta_. Unfortunately, hearing a report that
Lovelace had died at Dunkirk of his wounds, she married another, so
that, on his return home in 1648, he met a deep disappointment; and to
complete his misery, the ruling powers cast him again into prison, where
he lay till the death of Charles. Like some other men of genius, he
beguiled his confinement by literary employment; and in 1649, he
published a book under the title of 'Lucasta,' consisting of odes,
sonnets, songs, and miscellaneous poems, most of which had been
previously composed. After the execution of the King, he was liberated;
but his funds were exhausted, his heart broken, and his constitution
probably injured. He gradually sunk; and Wood says that he became very
poor in body and purse, was the object of charity, 'went in ragged
clothes, and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places.' Alas for the
Adonis of sixteen, the beloved of Lucasta, and the envied of all! Some
have doubted these stories about his extreme poverty; and one of his
biographers asserts, that his daughter and sole heir (but who, pray, was
his wife and her mother?) married the son of Lord Chief-Justice Coke,
and brought to her husband the estates of her father at Kingsdown, in
Kent. Aubrey however, corroborates the statements of Wood; and, at all
events, Lovelace seems to have died, in 1658, in a wretched alley near
There is not much to be said about his poetry. It may be compared to his
person--beautiful, but dressed in a stiff mode. We do not, in every
point, homologate the opinions of Prynne, as to the 'unloveliness of
love-locks;' but we do certainly look with a mixture of contempt and
pity on the self-imposed trammels of affectation in style and manner
which bound many of the poets of that period. The wits of Charles II.
were more disgustingly licentious; but their very carelessness saved
them from the conceits of their predecessors; and, while lowering the
tone of morality, they raised unwittingly the standard of taste. Some of
the songs of Lovelace, however, such as 'To Althea, from Prison,' are
exquisitely simple, as well as pure. Sir Egerton Brydges has found out
that Byron, in one of his be-praised paradoxical beauties, either
copied, or coincided with, our poet. In the 'Bride of Abydos' he says of
'The mind, the _music_ breathing from her face.'
Lovelace had, long before, in the song of 'Orpheus Mourning for his
Wife,' employed the words--
'Oh, could you view the melody
Of every grace,
And _music of her face_,
You'd drop a tear;
Seeing more harmony
In her bright eye
Than now you hear.'
While many have praised, others have called this idea nonsense;
although, if we are permitted to speak of the harmony of the tones of a
cloud, why not of the harmony produced by the consenting lines of a
countenance, where every grace melts into another, and the various
features and expressions fluctuate into a fine whole? Whatever, whether
it be the beauty of the human face, or the quiet lustre of statuary, or
the mild glory of moonlight, gives the effects of music, and, like that
'Pours on mortals a beautiful disdain,'
may surely become music's metaphor and poetic analogy.
TO ALTHEA, FROM PRISON.
1 When Love, with unconfined wings,
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at my grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fetter'd to her eye,
The birds, that wanton in the air,
Know no such liberty.
2 When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free,
Fishes, that tipple in the deep,
Know no such liberty.
3 When, like committed linnets, I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my king;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.
4 Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.
 Charles I., in whose cause Lovelace was then in prison.
1 Amarantha, sweet and fair,
Forbear to braid that shining hair;
As my curious hand or eye,
Hovering round thee, let it fly:
2 Let it fly as unconfined
As its ravisher, the wind,
Who has left his darling east,
To wanton o'er this spicy nest.
3 Every tress must be confess'd
But neatly tangled at the best,
Like a clew of golden thread
Most excellently ravelled:
4 Do not then wind up that light
In ribands, and o'ercloud the night;
Like the sun in his early ray,
But shake your head and scatter day.
A LOOSE SARABAND.
1 Ah me! the little tyrant thief,
As once my heart was playing,
He snatch'd it up, and flew away,
Laughing at all my praying.
2 Proud of his purchase, he surveys,
And curiously sounds it;
And though he sees it full of wounds,
Cruel, still on he wounds it.
3 And now this heart is all his sport,
Which as a ball he boundeth,
From hand to hand, from breast to lip,
And all its rest confoundeth.
4 Then as a top he sets it up,
And pitifully whips it;
Sometimes he clothes it gay and fine,
Then straight again he strips it.
5 He cover'd it with false belief,
Which gloriously show'd it;
And for a morning cushionet
On's mother he bestow'd it.
6 Each day with her small brazen stings
A thousand times she raced it;
But then at night, bright with her gems,
Once near her breast she placed it.
7 Then warm it 'gan to throb and bleed,
She knew that smart, and grieved;
At length this poor condemned heart,
With these rich drugs reprieved.
8 She wash'd the wound with a fresh tear,
Which my Lucasta dropped;
And in the sleeve silk of her hair
'Twas hard bound up and wrapped.
9 She probed it with her constancy,
And found no rancour nigh it;
Only the anger of her eye
Had wrought some proud flesh nigh it.
10 Then press'd she hard in every vein,
Which from her kisses thrilled,
And with the balm heal'd all its pain
That from her hand distilled.
11 But yet this heart avoids me still,
Will not by me be owned;
But, fled to its physician's breast,
There proudly sits enthroned.
This poet--a bird with tropical plumage, and norland sweetness of song
--was born in Cheapside, London, in 1591. His father, was an eminent
goldsmith. Herrick was sent to Cambridge; and having entered into holy
orders, and being patronised by the Earl of Exeter, he was, in 1629,
presented by Charles I. to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire.
Here he resided for twenty years, till ejected by the civil war. He
seems all this time to have felt little relish either for his profession
or parishioners. In the former, the cast of his poems shews that he must
have been 'detained before the Lord;' and the latter he describes as a
'wild, amphibious race,' rude almost as 'salvages,' and 'churlish as the
seas.' When he quitted his charge, he became an author at the mature age
of fifty-six--publishing first, in 1647, his 'Noble Numbers; or, Pious
Pieces;' and next, in 1648, his 'Hesperides; or, Works both Human and
Divine of Robert Herrick, Esq.'--his ministerial prefix being now laid
aside. Some of these poems were sufficiently unclerical--being wild and
licentious in cast--although he himself alleges that his life was,
sexually at least, blameless. Till the Restoration he lived in Westminster,
supported by the rich among the Royalists, and keeping company with the
popular dramatists and poets. It would seem that he had been in the habit
of visiting London previously, while still acting as a clergyman, and had
become a boon companion of Ben Jonson. Hence his well-known lines--
Say how or when
Shall we, thy guests,
Meet at those lyric feasts,
Made at the "Sun,"
The "Dog," the "Triple Tun,"
Where we such clusters had
As made us nobly wild, not mad?
And yet each verse of thine
Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine.
Or come again,
Or send to us,
Thy wit's great overplus.
But teach us yet
Wisely to husband it;
Lest we that talent spend,
And having once brought to an end
That precious stock, the store
Of such a wit, the world should have no more.'
With the Restoration, fortune began again to smile on our poet. He was
replaced in his old charge, and seems to have spent the rest of his life
quietly in the country, enjoying the fresh air and the old English
sports--'repenting at leisure moments,' as Shakspeare has it, of the
early pruriencies of his muse; or, as the same immortal bard says of
Falstaff, 'patching up his old body' for a better place. The date of his
death is not exactly ascertained; but he seems to have got considerably
to the shady side of seventy years of age.
Herrick's poetry was for a long time little known, till worthy Nathan
Drake, in his 'Literary Hours,' performed to him, as to some others,
the part of a friendly resurrectionist. He may be called the English
Anacreon, and resembles the Greek poet, not only in graceful, lively,
and voluptuous elegance and richness, but also in that deeper sentiment
which often underlies the lighter surface of his verse. It is a great
mistake to suppose that Anacreon was a mere contented sensualist and
shallow songster of love and wine. Some of his odes shew that, if he
yielded to the destiny of being a Cicada, singing amidst the vines of
Bacchus, it was despair--the despair produced by a degraded age and a
bad religion--which reduced him to the necessity. He was by nature an
eagle; but he was an eagle in a sky where there was no sun. The cry of
a noble being, placed in the most untoward circumstances, is here and
there heard in his verses, and reminds you of the voice of one of the
transmuted victims of Circe, or of Ariel from that cloven pine, where he
'howl'd away twelve winters.'
Herrick might be by constitution a voluptuary,--and he has unquestionably
degraded his genius in not a few of his rhymes,--but in him, as well as
in Anacreon, Horace, and Burns, there lay a better and a higher nature,
which the critics have ignored, because it has not found a frequent or
full utterance in his poetry. In proof that our author possessed profound
sentiment, mingling and sometimes half-lost in the loose, luxuriant
leafage of his imagery, we need only refer our readers to his 'Blossoms'
and his 'Daffodils.' Besides gaiety and gracefulness, his verse is
exceedingly musical--his lines not only move but dance.
1 Gather the rose-buds, while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
2 The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
3 The age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse and worst
Times, still succeed the former.
4 Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, whilst ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry;
Full and fair ones; come, and buy!
If so be you ask me where
They do grow? I answer, there,
Where my Julia's lips do smile;
There's the land or cherry isle,
Whose plantations fully show,
All the year, where cherries grow.
THE KISS: A DIALOGUE.
1. Among thy fancies, tell me this:
What is the thing we call a kiss?--
2. I shall resolve ye what it is:
It is a creature, born and bred
Between the lips, all cherry red;
By love and warm desires 'tis fed;
_Chor_.--And makes more soft the bridal bed:
2. It is an active flame, that flies
First to the babies of the eyes,
And charms them there with lullabies;
_Chor_.--And stills the bride too when she cries:
2. Then to the chin, the cheek, the ear,
It frisks and flies; now here, now there;
'Tis now far off, and then 'tis near;
_Chor_.--And here, and there, and everywhere.
1. Has it a speaking virtue?--2. Yes.
1. How speaks it, say?--2. Do you but this,
Part your join'd lips, then speaks your kiss;
_Chor_.--And this love's sweetest language is.
1. Has it a body?--2. Aye, and wings,
With thousand rare encolourings;
And, as it flies, it gently sings,
_Chor_.--Love honey yields, but never stings.
1 Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon:
Until the hast'ning day
But to the even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along!
2 We have short time to stay, as you;
We have as short a spring,
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything:
As your hours do; and dry
Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning dew
Ne'er to be found again.
1 Why do ye weep, sweet babes? Can tears
Speak grief in you,
Who are but born
Just as the modest morn
Teem'd her refreshing dew?
Alas! you have not known that shower
That mars a flower;
Nor felt the unkind
Breath of a blasting wind;
Nor are ye worn with years;
Or warp'd, as we,
Who think it strange to see
Such pretty flowers, like to orphans young,
To speak by tears before ye have a tongue.
2 Speak, whimpering younglings; and make known
The reason why
Ye droop and weep.
Is it for want of sleep,
Or childish lullaby?
Or that ye have not seen as yet
Or brought a kiss
From that sweetheart to this?
No, no; this sorrow shown
By your tears shed,
Would have this lecture read,
'That things of greatest, so of meanest worth,
Conceived with grief are, and with tears brought forth.'
1 Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here awhile
To blush and gently smile
And go at last.
2 What, were ye born to be
An hour or half's delight,
And so to bid good night?
'Tis pity Nature brought ye forth
Merely to show your worth,
And lose you quite.
3 But you are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride,
Like you, awhile, they glide
Into the grave.
Thus to a grove
Sometimes devoted unto love,
Tinsell'd with twilight, he and they,
Led by the shine of snails, a way
Beat with their num'rous feet, which by
Many a neat perplexity,
Many a turn, and many a cross
Tract, they redeem a bank of moss,
Spongy and swelling, and far more
Soft than the finest Lemster ore,
Mildly disparkling like those fires
Which break from the enjewell'd tires
Of curious brides, or like those mites
Of candied dew in moony nights;
Upon this convex all the flowers
Nature begets by the sun and showers,
Are to a wild digestion brought;
As if Love's sampler here was wrought
Or Cytherea's ceston, which
All with temptation doth bewitch.
Sweet airs move here, and more divine
Made by the breath of great-eyed kine
Who, as they low, impearl with milk
The four-leaved grass, or moss-like silk.
The breath of monkeys, met to mix
With musk-flies, are the aromatics
Which cense this arch; and here and there,
And further off, and everywhere
Throughout that brave mosaic yard,
Those picks or diamonds in the card,
With pips of hearts, of club, and spade,
Are here most neatly interlaid.
Many a counter, many a die,
Half-rotten and without an eye,
Lies hereabout; and for to pave
The excellency of this cave,
Squirrels' and children's teeth, late shed,
Are neatly here inchequered
With brownest toadstones, and the gum
That shines upon the bluer plumb.
* * * * *
Wise hand enchasing here those warts
Which we to others from ourselves
Sell, and brought hither by the elves.
The tempting mole, stolen from the neck
Of some shy virgin, seems to deck
The holy entrance; where within
The room is hung with the blue skin
Of shifted snake, enfriezed throughout
With eyes of peacocks' trains, and trout--
Flies' curious wings; and these among
Those silver pence, that cut the tongue
Of the red infant, neatly hung.
The glow-worm's eyes, the shining scales
Of silvery fish, wheat-straws, the snail's
Soft candlelight, the kitling's eyne,
Corrupted wood, serve here for shine;
No glaring light of broad-faced day,
Or other over-radiant ray
Ransacks this room, but what weak beams
Can make reflected from these gems,
And multiply; such is the light,
But ever doubtful, day or night.
By this quaint taper-light he winds
His errors up; and now he finds
His moon-tann'd Mab as somewhat sick,
And, love knows, tender as a chick.
Upon six plump dandelions high-
Rear'd lies her elvish majesty,
Whose woolly bubbles seem'd to drown
Her Mabship in obedient down.
* * * * *
And next to these two blankets, o'er-
Cast of the finest gossamer;
And then a rug of carded wool,
Which, sponge-like, drinking in the dull
Light of the moon, seem'd to comply,
Cloud-like, the dainty deity:
Thus soft she lies; and overhead
A spinner's circle is bespread
With cobweb curtains, from the roof
So neatly sunk, as that no proof
Of any tackling can declare
What gives it hanging in the air.
* * * * *
Shapcot, to thee the fairy state
I with discretion dedicate;
Because thou prizest things that are
Curious and unfamiliar.
Take first the feast; these dishes gone,
We'll see the fairy court anon.
A little mushroom table spread;
After short prayers, they set on bread,
A moon-parch'd grain of purest wheat,
With some small glittering grit, to eat
His choicest bits with; then in a trice
They make a feast less great than nice.
But, all this while his eye is served,
We must not think his ear was starved;
But there was in place, to stir
His spleen, the chirring grasshopper,
The merry cricket, puling fly,
The piping gnat, for minstrelsy.
And now we must imagine first
The elves present, to quench his thirst,
A pure seed-pearl of infant dew,
Brought and besweeten'd in a blue
And pregnant violet; which done,
His kitling eyes begin to run
Quite through the table, where he spies
The horns of pap'ry butterflies,
Of which he eats; and tastes a little
Of what we call the cuckoo's spittle:
A little furze-ball pudding stands
By, yet not blessed by his hands--
That was too coarse; but then forthwith
He ventures boldly on the pith
Of sugar'd rush, and eats the sag
And well-bestrutted bee's sweet bag;
Gladding his palate with some store
Of emmets' eggs: what would he more
But beards of mice, a newt's stew'd thigh,
A bloated earwig, and a fly:
With the red-capp'd worm, that is shut
Within the concave of a nut,
Brown as his tooth; a little moth,
Late fatten'd in a piece of cloth;
With wither'd cherries; mandrakes' ears;
Moles' eyes; to these, the slain stag's tears;
The unctuous dewlaps of a snail;
The broke heart of a nightingale
O'ercome in music; with a wine
Ne'er ravish'd from the flatt'ring rine,
But gently press'd from the soft side
Of the most sweet and dainty bride,
Brought in a dainty daisy, which
He fully quaffs up to bewitch
His blood to height? This done, commended
Grace by his priest, the feast is ended.
THE MAD MAID'S SONG.
1 Good-morrow to the day so fair;
Good-morning, sir, to you;
Good-morrow to mine own torn hair,
Bedabbled with the dew:
2 Good-morning to this primrose too;
Good-morrow to each maid,
That will with flowers the tomb bestrew
Wherein my love is laid.
3 Ah, woe is me; woe, woe is me!
Alack, and well-a-day!
For pity, sir, find out this bee
Which bore my love away.
4 I'll seek him in your bonnet brave,
I'll seek him in your eyes;
Nay, now I think they've made his grave
I' th' bed of strawberries:
5 I'll seek him there; I know ere this
The cold, cold earth doth shake him;
But I will go, or send a kiss
By you, sir, to awake him.
6 Pray hurt him not; though he be dead,
He knows well who do love him,
And who with green turfs rear his head,
And who do rudely move him.
7 He's soft and tender, pray take heed,
With bands of cowslips bind him,
And bring him home;--but 'tis decreed
That I shall never find him!
CORINNA'S GOING A-MAYING.
1 Get up, get up for shame; the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn:
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree:
Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
Above an hour since; yet you are not drest;
Nay, not so much as out of bed;
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns; 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation, to keep in;
When as a thousand virgins on this day,
Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May!
2 Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown, or hair:
Fear not, the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept:
Come and receive them, while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night,
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying;
Few beads are best, when once we go a-Maying!
3 Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green, and trimm'd with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough,
Or branch; each porch, each door, ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is
Made up of whitethorn newly interwove,
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields, and we not see't?
Come, we'll abroad; and let's obey
The proclamation made for May,
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying!
4 There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May:
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with whitethorn laden home:
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream,
Before that we have left to dream;
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
Many a green gown has been given;
Many a kiss, both odd and even;
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament;
Many a jest told of the key's betraying
This night, and locks pick'd; yet we're not a-Maying!
5 Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,
And take the harmless folly of the time:
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty:
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun:
And, as a vapour, or a drop of rain,
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
So when or you, or I, are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drown'd with us in endless night.
Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying!
1 O thou, the wonder of all days!
O paragon and pearl of praise!
O Virgin Martyr! ever bless'd
Above the rest
Of all the maiden train! we come,
And bring fresh strewings to thy tomb.
2 Thus, thus, and thus we compass round
Thy harmless and enchanted ground;
And, as we sing thy dirge, we will
And other flowers lay upon
The altar of our love, thy stone.
3 Thou wonder of all maids! list here,
Of daughters all the dearest dear;
The eye of virgins, nay, the queen
Of this smooth green,
And all sweet meads, from whence we get
The primrose and the violet.
4 Too soon, too dear did Jephthah buy,
By thy sad loss, our liberty:
His was the bond and cov'nant; yet
Thou paid'st the debt,
Lamented maid! He won the day,
But for the conquest thou didst pay.
5 Thy father brought with him along
The olive branch and victor's song:
He slew the Ammonites, we know,
But to thy woe;
And, in the purchase of our peace,
The cure was worse than the disease.
6 For which obedient zeal of thine,
We offer thee, before thy shrine,
Our sighs for storax, tears for wine;
And to make fine
And fresh thy hearse-cloth, we will here
Four times bestrew thee every year.
7 Receive, for this thy praise, our tears;
Receive this offering of our hairs;
Receive these crystal vials, fill'd
With tears distill'd
From teeming eyes; to these we bring,
Each maid, her silver filleting,
8 To gild thy tomb; besides, these cauls,
These laces, ribands, and these fauls,
These veils, wherewith we used to hide
The bashful bride,
When we conduct her to her groom:
All, all, we lay upon thy tomb.
9 No more, no more, since thou art dead,
Shall we e'er bring coy brides to bed;
No more at yearly festivals
We cowslip balls
Or chains of columbines shall make
For this or that occasion's sake.
10 No, no; our maiden pleasures be
Wrapt in a winding-sheet with thee;
'Tis we are dead, though not i' th' grave,
Or if we have
One seed of life left,'tis to keep
A Lent for thee, to fast and weep.
11 Sleep in thy peace, thy bed of spice,
And make this place all paradise:
May sweets grow here! and smoke from hence
Let balm and cassia send their scent
From out thy maiden-monument.
12 May no wolf howl or screech-owl stir
A wing upon thy sepulchre!
No boisterous winds or storms
To starve or wither
Thy soft, sweet earth! but, like a spring,
Love keep it ever flourishing.
13 May all thy maids, at wonted hours,
Come forth to strew thy tomb with flowers:
May virgins, when they come to mourn,
Upon thine altar! then return
And leave thee sleeping in thy urn.
THE COUNTRY LIFE.
Sweet country life, to such unknown
Whose lives are others', not their own!
But serving courts and cities, be
Less happy, less enjoying thee!
Thou never plough'st the ocean's foam
To seek and bring rough pepper home;
Nor to the Eastern Ind dost rove,
To bring from thence the scorched clove:
Nor, with the loss of thy loved rest,
Bring'st home the ingot from the West.
No: thy ambition's masterpiece
Flies no thought higher than a fleece;
Or how to pay thy hinds, and clear
All scores, and so to end the year;
But walk'st about thy own dear bounds,
Not envying others' larger grounds:
For well thou know'st, 'tis not the extent
Of land makes life, but sweet content.
When now the cock, the ploughman's horn,
Calls forth the lily-wristed morn,
Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go,
Which though well-soil'd, yet thou dost know
That the best compost for the lands
Is the wise master's feet and hands.
There at the plough thou find'st thy team,
With a hind whistling there to them;
And cheer'st them up by singing how
The kingdom's portion is the plough.
This done, then to th' enamell'd meads,
Thou go'st; and as thy foot there treads,
Thou seest a present godlike power
Imprinted in each herb and flower;
And smell'st the breath of great-eyed kine,
Sweet as the blossoms of the vine.
Here thou behold'st thy large sleek neat
Unto the dewlaps up in meat;
And, as thou look'st, the wanton steer,
The heifer, cow, and ox, draw near,
To make a pleasing pastime there.
These seen, thou go'st to view thy flocks
Of sheep, safe from the wolf and fox;
And find'st their bellies there as full
Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool;
And leav'st them as they feed and fill;
A shepherd piping on a hill.
For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy eves and holidays;
On which the young men and maids meet,
To exercise their dancing feet;
Tripping the comely country round,
With daffodils and daisies crown'd.
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast;
Thy May-poles too, with garlands graced;
Thy morris-dance, thy Whitsun-ale,
Thy shearing feast, which never fail;
Thy harvest-home, thy wassail-bowl,
That's toss'd up after fox i' the hole;
Thy mummeries, thy Twelfth-night kings
And queens, thy Christmas revellings;
Thy nut-brown mirth, thy russet wit;
And no man pays too dear for it.
To these thou hast thy times to go,
And trace the hare in the treacherous snow;
Thy witty wiles to draw, and get
The lark into the trammel net;
Thou hast thy cockrood, and thy glade
To take the precious pheasant made;
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pitfalls, then,
To catch the pilfering birds, not men.
O happy life, if that their good
The husbandmen but understood!
Who all the day themselves do please,
And younglings, with such sports as these;
And, lying down, have nought to affright
Sweet sleep, that makes more short the night.
SIR RICHARD FANSHAWE.
This gallant knight was son to Sir Henry Fanshawe, who was Remembrancer
to the Irish Exchequer, and brother to Thomas Lord Fanshawe. He was born
at Ware, in Hertfordshire, in 1607-8. He became a vehement Royalist, and
acted for some time as Secretary to Prince Rupert, and was, in truth, a
kindred spirit, worthy of recording the orders of that fiery spirit--the
Murat of the Royal cause--to whom the dust of the _mêlée_ of battle was
the very breath of life. After the Restoration, Fanshawe was appointed
ambassador to Spain and Portugal. He acted in this capacity at Madrid in
1666. He had issued translations of the 'Lusiad' of Camoens, and the
'Pastor Fido' of Guarini. Along with the latter, which appeared in 1648,
he published some original poems of considerable merit. He holds
altogether a respectable, if not a very high place among our early
translators and minor poets.
THE SPRING, A SONNET.
FROM THE SPANISH.
Those whiter lilies which the early morn
Seems to have newly woven of sleaved silk,
To which, on banks of wealthy Tagus born,
Gold was their cradle, liquid pearl their milk.
These blushing roses, with whose virgin leaves
The wanton wind to sport himself presumes,
Whilst from their rifled wardrobe he receives
For his wings purple, for his breath perfumes.
Both those and these my Caelia's pretty foot
Trod up; but if she should her face display,
And fragrant breast, they'd dry again to the root,
As with the blasting of the mid-day's ray;
And this soft wind, which both perfumes and cools,
Pass like the unregarded breath of fools.
The 'melancholy' and musical Cowley was born in London in the year 1618.
He was the posthumous son of a worthy grocer, who lived in Fleet Street,
near the end of Chancery Lane, and who is supposed, from the omission of
his name in the register of St Dunstan's parish, to have been a
Dissenter. His mother was left poor, but had a strong desire for her
son's education, and influence to get him admitted as a king's scholar
into Westminster. His mind was almost preternaturally precocious, and
received early a strong and peculiar stimulus. A copy of Spenser lay in
the window of his mother's apartment, and in it he delighted to read,
and became the devoted slave of poetry ever after. When only ten he
wrote 'The Tragical History of Pyramus and Thisbe,' and at twelve
'Constantia and Philetus.' Pope wrote a lampoon about the same age as
Cowley these romantic narratives; and we have seen a pretty good copy of
verses on Napoleon, written at the age of seven, by one of the most
distinguished rising poets of our own day. When fifteen (Johnson calls
it thirteen, but he and some other biographers were misled by the
portrait of the poet being, by mistake, marked thirteen) Cowley
published some of his early effusions, under the title of 'Poetical
Blossoms.' While at school he produced a comedy of a pastoral kind,
entitled, 'Love's Riddle,' but it was not published till he went to
Cambridge. To that university he proceeded in 1636, and two years after,
there appeared the above-mentioned comedy, with a poetical dedication to
Sir Kenelm Digby, one of the marvellous men of that age; and also
'Naufragium Joculare,' a comedy in Latin, inscribed to Dr Comber, master
of the college. When the Prince of Wales afterwards visited Cambridge,
the fertile Cowley got up the rough draft of another comedy, called 'The
Guardian,' which was repeated to His Royal Highness by the scholars.
This was afterwards, to the poet's great annoyance, printed during his
absence from the country. In 1643 he took his degree of A.M., and was,
the same year, through the prevailing influence of the Parliament,
ejected, with many others, from Cambridge. He took refuge in St John's
College, Oxford, where he published a satire, entitled 'The Puritan and
Papist,' and where, by his loyalty and genius, he gained the favour of
such distinguished courtiers as Lord Falkland. During this agitated
period he resided a good deal in the family of the Lord St Albans; and
when Oxford fell into the hands of the Parliament he followed the Queen
to Paris, and there acted as Secretary to the same noble lord. He
remained abroad about ten years, and during that period made various
journeys in the furtherance of the Royal cause, visiting Flanders,
Holland, Jersey, Scotland, &c. His chief employment, however, was
carrying on a correspondence in cipher between the King and the Queen.
Sprat says, 'he ciphered and deciphered with his own hand the greatest
part of the letters that passed between their Majesties, and managed a
vast intelligence in other parts, which, for some years together, took
up all his days and two or three nights every week.' This does not seem
employment very suitable to a man of genius. He seems, however, to have
found time for more congenial avocations; and, in 1647, he published his
'Mistress,' a work which seems to glow with amorous fire, although
Barnes relates of the author that he was never in love but once, and
then had not resolution to reveal his passion. And yet he wrote 'The
Chronicle,' from which we might infer that his heart was completely
tinder, and that his series of love attachments had been an infinite
In 1556, being of no more use in Paris, Cowley was sent back to England,
that 'under pretence of privacy and retirement he might take occasion of
giving notice of the posture of things in this nation.' For some time he
lay concealed in London, but was at length seized by mistake for another
gentleman of the Royal party; and being thus discovered, he was continued
in confinement, was several times examined, and ultimately succeeded,
although with some difficulty, in obtaining his liberation, Dr Scarborough
becoming his bail for a thousand pounds. In the same year he published a
collection of his poems, with a querulous preface, in which he expresses
a strong desire to 'retire to some of the American plantations, and to
forsake the world for ever.' Meanwhile he gave himself out as a physician
till the death of Cromwell, when he returned to France, resumed his former
occupation, and remained till the Restoration. In 1657 he was created
Doctor of Medicine at Oxford. Having studied botany to qualify himself for
his physician's degree, he was induced to publish in Latin some books on
plants, flowers, and trees.
The Restoration brought him less advantage than he had anticipated.
Probably he expected too much, and had expressed his sanguine hopes in a
song of triumph on the occasion. He had been promised, both by Charles
I. and Charles II., the Mastership of the Savoy, (a forgotten sinecure
office;) but lost it, says Wood, 'by certain persons, enemies to the
Muses.' He brought on the stage at this time his old comedy of 'The
Guardian,' under the title of 'Cutter of Coleman Street;' but it was
thought a satire on the debauchery of the King's party, and was received
with coldness. Cowley, according to Dryden, 'received the news of his
ill success not with so much firmness as might have been expected from
so great a man.' There are few who, like Dr Johnson, have been able to
declare, after the rejection of a play or poem, that they felt 'like the
Monument.' Cowley not only entertained, but printed his dissatisfaction,
in the form of a poem called 'The Complaint,' which, like all selfish
complaints, attracted little sympathy or attention. In this he calls
himself the 'melancholy Cowley,' an epithet which has stuck to his
He had always, according to his own statement, loved retirement. When he
was a young boy at school, instead of running about on holidays, and
playing with his fellows, he was wont to steal from them, and walk into
the fields alone with a book. This passion had been overlaid, but not
extinguished, during his public life; and now, swelled by disgust, it
came back upon him in great strength. He seems, too, if we can believe
Sprat, to have had an extraordinary attachment to Nature, as it 'was
God's;' to the whole 'compass of the creation, and all the wonderful
effects of the Divine wisdom.' At all events, he retired first to Barn
Elms, and then to Chertsey in Surrey. He had obtained, through Lord St
Albans and the Duke of Buckingham, the lease of some lands belonging to
the Queen, which brought him in an income of £300 a year. Here, then,
having, at the age of forty-two, reached the peaceful hermitage,' he set
himself with all his might to enjoy it. He cultivated his fields, and
renewed his botanical studies in his woods and garden. He wrote letters
to his friends, which are said to have been admirable, and might have
ranked with those of Gray and Cowper, but unfortunately they have not
been preserved. He renewed his intimacy with the Greek and Latin poets,
and he set himself to retouch the 'Davideis,' which he had begun in
early youth, but which he never lived to finish, and to compose his
beautiful prose essays. But he soon found that Chertsey, no more than
Paris, was Paradise. He had no wife nor children. He had sweet solitude,
but no one near him to whom to whisper 'how sweet this solitude is!' The
peasants were boors. His tenants would pay him no rent, and the cattle
of his neighbours devoured his meadows. He was troubled with rheums and
colds. He met a severe fall when he first came to Chertsey, of which he
says, half in jest and half in earnest--'What this signifies, or may
come to in time, God knows; if it be ominous, it can end in nothing less
than hanging.' Robert Hall said of Bishop Watson that he seemed to have
wedded political integrity in early life, and to have spent all the rest
of his days in quarrelling with his wife. So Cowley wedded his long-
sought-for bride, Solitude, and led a miserable life with her ever
after. Fortunately for him, if not for the world, his career soon came
to a close.
One hot day in summer, he stayed too long among his labourers in the
meadows, and was seized with a cold, which, being neglected, carried him
off on the 28th of July 1667. He was not forty-nine years old. He died
at the Porch House, Chertsey, and his remains were buried with great
pomp near Chaucer and Spenser; and King Charles, who had neglected him
during life, pronounced his panegyric after death, declaring that 'Mr
Cowley had not left behind him a better man in England.' It was in
keeping with the character of Charles to make up for his deficiency in
action, by his felicity of phrase.
If we may differ from such a high authority as 'Old Rowley,' we would
venture to doubt whether Cowley was the best--certainly he was not the
greatest--man then in England. Milton was alive, and the 'Paradise Lost'
appeared in the very year when the author of the 'Davideis' departed.
Cowley gives us the impression of having been an amiable and blameless,
rather than a good or great man. At all events, there was nothing
_active_ in his goodness, and his greatness could not be called
magnanimity. He was a scholar and a poet misplaced during early life;
and when he gained that retirement for which he sighed, he had, by his
habits of life, lost his capacity of relishing it. 'He that would enjoy
solitude,' it has been said, 'must either be a wild beast or a god;' and
Cowley was neither. How different his grounds of dissatisfaction with
the world from those of Milton! Cowley was wearied of ciphering, and his
'Cutter of Coleman Street' had been cut; that was nearly the whole
matter of his complaint; while Milton had fallen from being the second
man in England into poverty, blindness, contempt, danger, and the
disappointment of the most glorious hopes which ever heaved the bosom of
patriot or saint.
We find the want of greatness which marked the man characterising the
poet. Infinite ingenuity, a charming flexibility and abundance of fancy,
a perception of remote analogies almost unrivalled, great command of
versification and language, learning without bounds, and an occasional
gracefulness and sparkling ease (as in 'The Chronicle') superior to even
Herrick or Suckling, are qualities that must be conceded to Cowley. But
the most of his writings are cold and glittering as the sun-smitten
glacier. He is seldom warm, except when he is proclaiming his own
merits, or bewailing his own misfortunes. Hence his 'Wish,' and even his
'Complaint,' are very pleasing and natural specimens of poetry. But his
'Pindaric Odes,' his 'Hymn to Light,' and most of his 'Davideis,' while
displaying great power, shew at least equal perversion, and are more
memorable for their faults than for their beauties. In the 'Davideis,'
he describes the attire of Gabriel in the spirit and language of a
tailor; and there is no path so sacred or so lofty but he must sow it
with conceits,--forced, false, and chilly. His 'Anacreontics,' on the
other hand, are in general felicitous in style and aerial in motion. And
in his Translations, although too free, he is uniformly graceful and
spirited; and his vast command of language and imagery enables him often
to improve his author--to gild the refined gold, to paint the lily, and
to throw a new perfume on the violet, of the Grecian and Roman masters.
In prose, Cowley is uniformly excellent. The prefaces to his poems,
especially his defence of sacred song in the prefix to the 'Davideis,'
his short autobiography, the fragments of his letters which remain, and
his posthumous essays, are all distinguished by a rich simplicity of
style and by a copiousness of matter which excite in equal measure
delight and surprise. He had written, it appears, three books on the
Civil War, to the time of the battle of Newbury, which he destroyed. It
is a pity, perhaps, that he had not preserved and completed the work.
His intimacy with many of the leading characters and the secret springs
of that remarkable period,--his clear and solid judgment, always so
except when he was following the Daedalus Pindar upon waxen Icarian
wings, or competing with Dr Donne in the number of conceits which he
could stuff, like cloves, into his subject-matter,--and the bewitching
ease and elegance of his prose style, would have combined to render it
an important contribution to English history, and a worthy monument of
its author's highly-accomplished and diversified powers.
THE CHRONICLE, A BALLAD.
1 Margarita first possess'd,
If I remember well, my breast,
Margarita first of all;
But when a while the wanton maid
With my restless heart had play'd,