Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
Part 11 out of 20
Were soon appeased by such grave men as those:
This mine and thine, that we so cavil for,
Was then not heard of; he that was most poor
Was rich in his content, and lived as free
As they whose flocks were greatest; nor did he
Envy his great abundance, nor the other
Disdain the low condition of his brother,
But lent him from his store to mend his state,
And with his love he quits him, thanks his fate;
And, taught by his example, seeks out such
As want his help, that they may do as much.
Their laws, e'en from their childhood, rich and poor
Had written in their hearts, by conning o'er
The legacies of good old men, whose memories
Outlive their monuments, the grave advice
They left behind in writing;--this was that
That made Arcadia then so blest a state;
Their wholesome laws had linked them so in one,
They lived in peace and sweet communion.
Peace brought forth plenty, plenty bred content,
And that crowned all their plans with merriment.
They had no foe, secure they lived in tents,
All was their own they had, they paid no rents;
Their sheep found clothing, earth provided food,
And labour dressed them as their wills thought good;
On unbought delicates their hunger fed,
And for their drink the swelling clusters bled;
The valleys rang with their delicious strains,
And pleasure revelled on those happy plains;
Content and labour gave them length of days,
And peace served in delight a thousand ways.
THEALMA, A DESERTED SHEPHERDESS.
Scarce had the ploughman yoked his horned team,
And locked their traces to the crooked beam,
When fair Thealma, with a maiden scorn,
That day before her rise, outblushed the morn;
Scarce had the sun gilded the mountain-tops,
When forth she leads her tender ewes.
* * * * *
Down in a valley, 'twixt two rising hills,
From whence the dew in silver drops distils
To enrich the lowly plain, a river ran,
Hight Cygnus, (as some think, from Leda's swan
That there frequented;) gently on it glides,
And makes indentures in her crooked sides,
And with her silent murmurs rocks asleep
Her watery inmates; 'twas not very deep,
But clear as that Narcissus looked in, when
His self-love made him cease to live with men.
Close by the river was a thick-leafed grove,
Where swains of old sang stories of their love,
But unfrequented now since Colin died--
Colin, that king of shepherds, and the pride
Of all Arcadia;--here Thealma used
To feed her milky droves; and as they browsed,
Under the friendly shadow of a beech
She sat her down; grief had tongue-tied her speech,
Her words were sighs and tears--dumb eloquence--
Heard only by the sobs, and not the sense.
With folded arms she sat, as if she meant
To hug those woes which in her breast were pent;
Her looks were nailed to earth, that drank
Her tears with greediness, and seemed to thank
Her for those briny showers, and in lieu
Returns her flowery sweetness for her dew.
* * * * *
'O my Clearchus!' said she, and with tears
Embalms his name: 'oh, if the ghosts have ears,
Or souls departed condescend so low,
To sympathise with mortals in their woe,
Vouchsafe to lend a gentle ear to me,
Whose life is worse than death, since not with thee.
What privilege have they that are born great
Move than the meanest swain? The proud waves beat
With more impetuousness upon high lands,
Than on the flat and less-resisting strands:
The lofty cedar, and the knotty oak,
Are subject more unto the thunder-stroke,
Than the low shrubs that no such shocks endure;
Even their contempt doth make them live secure.
Had I been born the child of some poor swain,
Whose thoughts aspire no higher than the plain,
I had been happy then; t'have kept these sheep,
Had been a princely pleasure; quiet sleep
Had drowned my cares, or sweetened them with dreams:
Love and content had been my music's themes;
Or had Clearchus lived the life I lead,
I had been blest!'
PRIESTESS OF DIANA.
Within a little silent grove hard by,
Upon a small ascent, he might espy
A stately chapel, richly gilt without,
Beset with shady sycamores about:
And ever and anon he might well hear
A sound of music steal in at his ear
As the wind gave it being; so sweet an air
Would strike a syren mute.--
* * * * *
A hundred virgins there he might espy
Prostrate before a marble deity,
Which, by its portraiture, appeared to be
The image of Diana; on their knee
They tendered their devotions, with sweet airs,
Offering the incense of their praise and prayers.
Their garments all alike; beneath their paps
Buckled together with a silver claps,
And 'cross their snowy silken robes, they wore
An azure scarf, with stars embroidered o'er.
Their hair in curious tresses was knit up,
Crowned with a silver crescent on the top.
A silver bow their left hand held, their right,
For their defence, held a sharp-headed flight
Drawn from their broidered quiver, neatly tied
In silken cords, and fastened to their side.
Under their vestments, something short before,
White buskins, laced with ribanding, they wore.
It was a catching sight for a young eye,
That love had fired before. He might espy
One, whom the rest had sphere-like circled round,
Whose head was with a golden chaplet crowned.
He could not see her face, only his ear
Was blessed with the sweet sounds that came from her.
THEALMA IN FULL DRESS.
----Tricked herself in all her best attire,
As if she meant this day to invite desire
To fall in love with her; her loose hair
Hung on her shoulders, sporting with the air;
Her brow a coronet of rosebuds crowned,
With loving woodbines' sweet embraces bound.
Two globe-like pearls were pendant to her ears,
And on her breast a costly gem she wears,
An adamant, in fashion like a heart,
Whereon Love sat, a-plucking out a dart,
With this same motto graven round about,
On a gold border, 'Sooner in than out.'
This gem Clearchus gave her, when, unknown,
At tilt his valour won her for his own.
Instead of bracelets on her wrists, she wore
A pair of golden shackles, chained before
Unto a silver ring, enamelled blue,
Whereon in golden letters to the view
This motto was presented, 'Bound, yet free,'
And in a true-love's knot, a T and C
Buckled it fast together; her silk gown
Of grassy green, in equal plaits hung down
Unto the earth; and as she went, the flowers,
Which she had broidered on it at spare hours,
Were wrought so to the life, they seemed to grow
In a green field; and as the wind did blow,
Sometimes a lily, then a rose, takes place,
And blushing seems to hide it in the grass:
And here and there good oats 'mong pearls she strew,
That seemed like spinning glow-worms in the dew.
Her sleeves were tinsel, wrought with leaves of green
In equal distance spangeled between,
And shadowed over with a thin lawn cloud,
Through which her workmanship more graceful showed.
DWELLING OF THE WITCH ORANDRA.
Down in a gloomy valley, thick with shade,
Which two aspiring hanging rocks had made,
That shut out day, and barred the glorious sun
From prying into the actions there done;
Set full of box and cypress, poplar, yew,
And hateful elder that in thickets grew,
Among whose boughs the screech-owl and night-crow
Sadly recount their prophecies of woe,
Where leather-winged bats, that hate the light,
Fan the thick air, more sooty than the night.
The ground o'ergrown with weeds and bushy shrubs,
Where milky hedgehogs nurse their prickly cubs:
And here and there a mandrake grows, that strikes
The hearers dead with their loud fatal shrieks;
Under whose spreading leaves the ugly toad,
The adder, and the snake, make their abode.
Here dwelt Orandra; so the witch was hight,
And hither had she toiled him by a sleight:
She knew Anaxus was to go to court,
And, envying virtue, she made it her sport
To hinder him, sending her airy spies
Forth with delusion to entrap his eyes,
As would have fired a hermit's chill desires
Into a flame; his greedy eye admires
The more than human beauty of her face,
And much ado he had to shun the grace;
Conceit had shaped her out so like his love,
That he was once about in vain to prove
Whether 'twas his Clarinda, yea or no,
But he bethought him of his herb, and so
The shadow vanished; many a weary step
It led the prince, that pace with it still kept,
Until it brought him by a hellish power
Unto the entrance of Orandra's bower,
Where underneath an elder-tree he spied
His man Pandevius, pale and hollow-eyed;
Inquiring of the cunning witch what fate
Betid his master; they were newly sate
When his approach disturbed them; up she rose,
And toward Anaxus (envious hag) she goes;
Pandevius she had charmed into a maze,
And struck him mute, all he could do was gaze.
He called him by his name, but all in vain,
Echo returns 'Pandevius' back again;
Which made him wonder, when a sudden fear
Shook all his joints: she, cunning hag, drew near,
And smelling to his herb, he recollects
His wandering spirits, and with anger checks
His coward fears; resolved now to outdare
The worst of dangers, whatsoe'er they were;
He eyed her o'er and o'er, and still his eye
Found some addition to deformity.
An old decrepit hag she was, grown white
With frosty age, and withered with despite
And self-consuming hate; in furs yclad,
And on her head a thrummy cap she had.
Her knotty locks, like to Alecto's snakes,
Hang down about her shoulders, which she shakes
Into disorder; on her furrowed brow
One might perceive Time had been long at plough.
Her eyes, like candle-snuffs, by age sunk quite
Into their sockets, yet like cats' eyes bright:
And in the darkest night like fire they shined,
The ever-open windows of her mind.
Her swarthy cheeks, Time, that all things consumes,
Had hollowed flat into her toothless gums.
Her hairy brows did meet above her nose,
That like an eagle's beak so crooked grows,
It well-nigh kissed her chin; thick bristled hair
Grew on her upper lip, and here and there
A rugged wart with grisly hairs behung;
Her breasts shrunk up, her nails and fingers long;
Her left leant on a staff, in her right hand
She always carried her enchanting wand.
Splay-footed, beyond nature, every part
So patternless deformed, 'twould puzzle art
To make her counterfeit; only her tongue,
Nature had that most exquisitely strung,
Her oily language came so smoothly from her,
And her quaint action did so well become her,
Her winning rhetoric met with no trips,
But chained the dull'st attention to her lips.
With greediness he heard, and though he strove
To shake her off, the more her words did move.
She wooed him to her cell, called him her son,
And with fair promises she quickly won
Him to her beck; or rather he, to try
What she could do, did willingly comply,
With her request. * * *
Her cell was hewn out of the marble rock
By more than human art; she did not knock,
The door stood always open, large and wide,
Grown o'er with woolly moss on either side,
And interwove with ivy's nattering twines,
Through which the carbuncle and diamond shines.
Not set by Art, but there by Nature sown
At the world's birth, so star-like bright they shone.
They served instead of tapers to give light
To the dark entry, where perpetual Night,
Friend to black deeds, and sire of Ignorance,
Shuts out all knowledge, lest her eye by chance
Might bring to light her follies: in they went,
The ground was strewed with flowers, whose sweet scent,
Mixed with the choice perfumes from India brought,
Intoxicates his brain, and quickly caught
His credulous sense; the walls were gilt, and set
With precious stones, and all the roof was fret
With a gold vine, whose straggling branches spread
All o'er the arch; the swelling grapes were red;
This Art had made of rubies, clustered so,
To the quick'st eye they more than seemed to grow;
About the wall lascivious pictures hung,
Such as were of loose Ovid sometimes sung.
On either side a crew of dwarfish elves
Held waxen tapers, taller than themselves:
Yet so well shaped unto their little stature,
So angel-like in face, so sweet in feature;
Their rich attire so differing; yet so well
Becoming her that wore it, none could tell
Which was the fairest, which the handsomest decked,
Or which of them desire would soon'st affect.
After a low salute they all 'gan sing,
And circle in the stranger in a ring.
Orandra to her charms was stepped aside,
Leaving her guest half won and wanton-eyed.
He had forgot his herb: cunning delight
Had so bewitched his ears, and bleared his sight,
And captivated all his senses so,
That he was not himself; nor did he know
What place he was in, or how he came there,
But greedily he feeds his eye and ear
With what would ruin him;--
* * * * *
Next unto his view
She represents a banquet, ushered in
By such a shape as she was sure would win
His appetite to taste; so like she was
To his Clarinda, both in shape and face;
So voiced, so habited, of the same gait
And comely gesture; on her brow in state
Sat such a princely majesty, as he
Had noted in Clarinda; save that she
Had a more wanton eye, that here and there
Rolled up and down, not settling any where.
Down on the ground she falls his hand to kiss,
And with her tears bedews it; cold as ice
He felt her lips, that yet inflamed him so,
That he was all on fire the truth to know,
Whether she was the same she did appear,
Or whether some fantastic form it were,
Fashioned in his imagination
By his still working thoughts, so fixed upon
His loved Clarinda, that his fancy strove,
Even with her shadow, to express his love.
Very little is known of the life of this lady-poet. She was born in
1631. Her maiden name was Fowler. She married James Phillips, Esq., of
the Priory of Cardigan. Her poems, published under the name of "Orinda,"
were very popular in her lifetime, although it was said they were
published without her consent. She translated two of the tragedies of
Corneille, and left a volume of letters to Sir Charles Cotterell. These,
however, did not appear till after her death. She died of small-pox
--then a deadly disease--in 1664. She seems to have been a favourite
alike with the wits and the divines of her age. Jeremy Taylor addressed
to her his "Measures and Offices of Friendship;" Dryden praised her; and
Flatman and Cowley, besides imitating her poems while she was living,
paid rhymed tributes to her memory when dead. Her verses are never
commonplace, and always sensible, if they hardly attain to the measure
and the stature of lofty poetry,
1 If we no old historian's name
Authentic will admit,
But think all said of friendship's fame
But poetry or wit;
Yet what's revered by minds so pure
Must be a bright idea sure.
2 But as our immortality
By inward sense we find,
Judging that if it could not be,
It would not be designed:
So here how could such copies fall,
If there were no original?
3 But if truth be in ancient song,
Or story we believe;
If the inspired and greater throng
Have scorned to deceive;
There have been hearts whose friendship gave
Them thoughts at once both soft and grave.
4 Among that consecrated crew
Some more seraphic shade
Lend me a favourable clew,
Now mists my eyes invade.
Why, having filled the world with fame,
Left you so little of your flame?
5 Why is't so difficult to see
Two bodies and one mind?
And why are those who else agree
So difficultly kind?
Hath Nature such fantastic art,
That she can vary every heart?
6 Why are the bands of friendship tied
With so remiss a knot,
That by the most it is defied,
And by the most forgot?
Why do we step with so light sense
From friendship to indifference?
7 If friendship sympathy impart,
Why this ill-shuffled game,
That heart can never meet with heart,
Or flame encounter flame?
What does this cruelty create?
Is't the intrigue of love or fate?
8 Had friendship ne'er been known to men,
(The ghost at last confessed)
The world had then a stranger been
To all that heaven possessed.
But could it all be here acquired,
Not heaven itself would be desired.
1 Love, nature's plot, this great creation's soul,
The being and the harmony of things,
Doth still preserve and propagate the whole,
From whence man's happiness and safety springs:
The earliest, whitest, blessed'st times did draw
From her alone their universal law.
2 Friendship's an abstract of this noble flame,
'Tis love refined and purged from all its dross,
The next to angels' love, if not the same,
As strong in passion is, though not so gross:
It antedates a glad eternity,
And is an heaven in epitome.
* * * * *
3 Essential honour must be in a friend,
Not such as every breath fans to and fro;
But born within, is its own judge and end,
And dares not sin though sure that none should know.
Where friendship's spoke, honesty's understood;
For none can be a friend that is not good.
* * * * *
4 Thick waters show no images of things;
Friends are each other's mirrors, and should be
Clearer than crystal or the mountain springs,
And free from clouds, design, or flattery.
For vulgar souls no part of friendship share;
Poets and friends are born to what they are.
MARGARET, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE.
This lady, if not more of a woman than Mrs Phillips, was considerably
more of a poet. She was born (probably) about 1625. She was the daughter
of Sir Charles Lucas, and became a maid-of-honour to Henrietta Maria.
Accompanying the Queen to France, she met with the Marquis, afterwards
Duke of Newcastle, and married him at Paris in 1645. They removed to
Antwerp, and there, in 1653, this lady published a volume, entitled
'Poems and Fancies.' The pair aided each other in their studies, and the
result was a number of enormous folios of poems, plays, speeches, and
philosophical disquisitions. These volumes were, we are told, great
favourites of Coleridge and Charles Lamb, for the sake, we presume, of
the wild sparks of insight and genius which break irresistibly through
the scholastic smoke and bewildered nonsense. When Charles II. was
restored, the Marquis and his wife returned to England, and spent their
life in great harmony. She died in 1673, leaving behind her some
beautiful fantasias, where the meaning is often finer than the music,
such as the 'Pastime and Recreation of Fairies in Fairy-land.' Her
poetry, particularly her contrasted pictures of Mirth and Melancholy,
present fine accumulations of imagery drawn direct from nature, and
shewn now in brightest sunshine, and now in softest moonlight, as the
change of her subject and her tone of feeling require.
MELANCHOLY DESCRIBED BY MIRTH.
Her voice is low, and gives a hollow sound;
She hates the light, and is in darkness found;
Or sits with blinking lamps, or tapers small,
Which various shadows make against the wall.
She loves nought else but noise which discord makes,
As croaking frogs, whose dwelling is in lakes;
The raven's hoarse, the mandrake's hollow groan,
And shrieking owls which fly i' the night alone;
The tolling bell, which for the dead rings out;
A mill, where rushing waters run about;
The roaring winds, which shake the cedars tall,
Plough up the seas, and beat the rocks withal.
She loves to walk in the still moonshine night,
And in a thick dark grove she takes delight;
In hollow caves, thatched houses, and low cells,
She loves to live, and there alone she dwells.
MELANCHOLY DESCRIBING HERSELF.
I dwell in groves that gilt are with the sun;
Sit on the banks by which clear waters run;
In summers hot, down in a shade I lie;
My music is the buzzing of a fly;
I walk in meadows, where grows fresh green grass;
In fields, where corn is high, I often pass;
Walk up the hills, where round I prospects see,
Some brushy woods, and some all champaigns be;
Returning back, I in fresh pastures go,
To hear how sheep do bleat, and cows do low;
In winter cold, when nipping frosts come on,
Then I do live in a small house alone;
Although 'tis plain, yet cleanly 'tis within,
Like to a soul that's pure, and clear from sin;
And there I dwell in quiet and still peace,
Not filled with cares how riches to increase;
I wish nor seek for vain and fruitless pleasures;
No riches are, but what the mind intreasures.
Thus am I solitary, live alone,
Yet better loved, the more that I am known;
And though my face ill-favoured at first sight,
After acquaintance, it will give delight.
Refuse me not, for I shall constant be;
Maintain your credit and your dignity.
Thomas Stanley, like Thomas Brown in later days, was both a philosopher
and a poet; but his philosophical reputation at the time eclipsed his
poetical. He was the only son of Sir Thomas Stanley of Camberlow Green,
in Hertfordshire, and was born in 1620. He received his education at
Pembroke College, Oxford; and after travelling for some years abroad,
he took up his abode in the Middle Temple. Here he seems to have spent
the rest of his life in patient and multifarious studies. He made
translations of some merit from Anacreon, Bion, Moschus, and the
'Kisses' of Secundus, as well as from Marino, Boscan, Tristan, and
Gongora. He wrote a work of great pretensions as a compilation, entitled
'The History of Philosophy,' containing the lives, opinions, actions,
and discourses of philosophers of every sect, of which he published the
first volume in 1655, and completed it in a fourth in 1662. It is rather
a vast collection of the materials for a history, than a history itself.
He is a Cudworth in magnitude and learning, but not in strength and
comprehension, and is destitute of precision and clearness of style.
Stanley also wrote some poems, which discover powers that might have
been better employed in original composition than in translation.
His style, rich of itself, is enriched to repletion by conceits, and
sometimes by voluptuous sentiments and language. He adds a new flush to
the cheek of Anacreon himself; and his grapes are so heavy, that not a
staff, but a wain were required to bear them. Stanley died in 1678.
1 Roses in breathing forth their scent,
Or stars their borrowed ornament;
Nymphs in their watery sphere that move,
Or angels in their orbs above;
The winged chariot of the light,
Or the slow, silent wheels of night;
The shade which from the swifter sun
Doth in a swifter motion run,
Or souls that their eternal rest do keep,
Make far less noise than Celia's breath in sleep.
2 But if the angel which inspires
This subtle flame with active fires,
Should mould this breath to words, and those
Into a harmony dispose,
The music of this heavenly sphere
Would steal each soul (in) at the ear,
And into plants and stones infuse
A life that cherubim would choose,
And with new powers invert the laws of fate,
Kill those that live, and dead things animate.
SPEAKING AND KISSING.
1 The air which thy smooth voice doth break,
Into my soul like lightning flies;
My life retires while thou dost speak,
And thy soft breath its room supplies.
2 Lost in this pleasing ecstasy,
I join my trembling lips to thine,
And back receive that life from thee
Which I so gladly did resign.
3 Forbear, Platonic fools! t'inquire
What numbers do the soul compose;
No harmony can life inspire,
But that which from these accents flows.
LA BELLE CONFIDANTE.
You earthly souls that court a wanton flame
Whose pale, weak influence
Can rise no higher than the humble name
And narrow laws of sense,
Learn, by our friendship, to create
An immaterial fire,
Whose brightness angels may admire,
But cannot emulate.
Sickness may fright the roses from her cheek,
Or make the lilies fade,
But all the subtle ways that death doth seek
Cannot my love invade.
1 Yet ere I go,
Disdainful Beauty, thou shalt be
So wretched as to know
What joys thou fling'st away with me.
2 A faith so bright,
As Time or Fortune could not rust;
So firm, that lovers might
Have read thy story in my dust,
3 And crowned thy name
With laurel verdant as thy youth,
Whilst the shrill voice of Fame
Spread wide thy beauty and my truth.
4 This thou hast lost,
For all true lovers, when they find
That my just aims were crossed,
Will speak thee lighter than the wind.
5 And none will lay
Any oblation on thy shrine,
But such as would betray
Thy faith to faiths as false as thine.
6 Yet, if thou choose
On such thy freedom to bestow,
Affection may excuse,
For love from sympathy doth flow.
NOTE ON ANACREON.
Let's not rhyme the hours away;
Friends! we must no longer play:
To more ravishing delights.
Let's give o'er this fool Apollo,
Nor his fiddle longer follow:
Fie upon his forked hill,
With his fiddlestick and quill;
And the Muses, though they're gamesome,
They are neither young nor handsome;
And their freaks in sober sadness
Are a mere poetic madness:
Pegasus is but a horse;
He that follows him is worse.
See, the rain soaks to the skin,
Make it rain as well within.
Wine, my boy; we'll sing and laugh,
All night revel, rant, and quaff;
Till the morn, stealing behind us,
At the table sleepless find us.
When our bones, alas! shall have
A cold lodging in the grave;
When swift Death shall overtake us,
We shall sleep and none can wake us.
Drink we then the juice o' the vine
Make our breasts Lyaeus' shrine;
Bacchus, our debauch beholding,
By thy image I am moulding,
Whilst my brains I do replenish
With this draught of unmixed Rhenish;
By thy full-branched ivy twine;
By this sparkling glass of wine;
By thy Thyrsus so renowned:
By the healths with which th' art crowned;
By the feasts which thou dost prize;
By thy numerous victories;
By the howls by Moenads made;
By this haut-gout carbonade;
By thy colours red and white;
By the tavern, thy delight;
By the sound thy orgies spread;
By the shine of noses red;
By thy table free for all;
By the jovial carnival;
By thy language cabalistic;
By thy cymbal, drum, and his stick;
By the tunes thy quart-pots strike up;
By thy sighs, the broken hiccup;
By thy mystic set of ranters;
By thy never-tamed panthers;
By this sweet, this fresh and free air;
By thy goat, as chaste as we are;
By thy fulsome Cretan lass;
By the old man on the ass;
By thy cousins in mixed shapes;
By the flower of fairest grapes;
By thy bisks famed far and wide;
By thy store of neats'-tongues dried;
By thy incense, Indian smoke;
By the joys thou dost provoke;
By this salt Westphalia gammon;
By these sausages that inflame one;
By thy tall majestic flagons;
By mass, tope, and thy flapdragons;
By this olive's unctuous savour;
By this orange, the wine's flavour;
By this cheese o'errun with mites;
By thy dearest favourites;
To thy frolic order call us,
Knights of the deep bowl install us;
And to show thyself divine,
Never let it want for wine.
This noble-minded patriot and poet, the friend of Milton, the Abdiel of a
dark and corrupt age,--'faithful found among the faithless, faithful only
he,'--was born in Hull in 1620. He was sent to Cambridge, and is said
there to have nearly fallen a victim to the proselytising Jesuits, who
enticed him to London. His father, however, a clergyman in Hull, went
in search of and brought him back to his university, where speedily, by
extensive culture and the vigorous exercise of his powerful faculties,
he emancipated himself for ever from the dominion, and the danger of the
dominion, of superstition and bigotry. We know little more about the early
days of our poet. When only twenty, he lost his father in remarkable
circumstances. In 1640, he had embarked on the Humber in company with a
youthful pair whom he was to marry at Barrow, in Lincolnshire. The weather
was calm; but Marvell, seized with a sudden presentiment of danger, threw
his staff ashore, and cried out, 'Ho for heaven!' A storm came on, and the
whole company perished. In consequence of this sad event, the gentleman,
whose daughter was to have been married, conceiving that the father had
sacrificed his life while performing an act of friendship, adopted young
Marvell as his son. Owing to this, he received a better education, and
was sent abroad to travel. It is said that at Rome he met and formed a
friendship with Milton, then engaged on his immortal continental tour.
We find Marvell next at Constantinople, as Secretary to the English
Embassy at that Court. We then lose sight of him till 1653, when he was
engaged by the Protector to superintend the education of a Mr Dutton at
Eton. For a year and a half after Cromwell's death, Marvell assisted
Milton as Latin Secretary to the Protector. Our readers are all familiar
with the print of Cromwell and Milton seated together at the council-table,
--the one the express image of active power and rugged grandeur, the other
of thoughtful majesty and ethereal grace. Marvell might have been added as
a third, and become the emblem of strong English sense and incorruptible
integrity. A letter of Milton's was, not long since, discovered, dated
February 1652, in which he speaks of Marvell as fitted, by his knowledge
of Latin and his experience of teaching, to be his assistant. He was not
appointed, however, till 1657. In 1660, he became member for Hull, and was
re-elected as long as he lived. He was absent, however, from England for
two years, in the beginning of the reign, in Germany and Holland. After-
wards he sought leave from his constituents to act as Ambassador's
Secretary to Lord Carlisle at the Northern Courts; but from the year 1665
to his death, his attention to his parliamentary duties was unremitting.
He constantly corresponded with his constituents; and after the longest
sittings, he used to write out for their use a minute account of public
proceedings ere he went to bed, or took any refreshment. He was one of
the last members who received pay from the town he represented; (2s.
a-day was probably the sum;) and his constituents were wont, besides, to
send him barrels of ale as tokens of their regard. Marvell spoke little
in the House; but his heart and vote were always in the right place. Even
Prince Eupert continually consulted him, and was sometimes persuaded by
him to support the popular side; and King Charles having met him once in
private, was so delighted with his wit and agreeable manners, that he
thought him worth trying to bribe. He sent Lord Danby to offer him a mark
of his Majesty's consideration. Marvell, who was seated in a dingy room
up several flights of stairs, declined the proffer, and, it is said,
called his servant to witness that he had dined for three successive days
on the same shoulder of mutton, and was not likely, therefore, to care
for or need a bribe. When the Treasurer was gone, he had to send to a
friend to borrow a guinea. Although, a silent senator, Marvell was a
copious and popular writer. He attacked Bishop Parker for his slavish
principles, in a piece entitled 'The Rehearsal Transposed,' in which he
takes occasion to vindicate and panegyrise his old colleague Milton. His
anonymous 'Account of the Growth of Arbitrary Power and Popery in England'
excited a sensation, and a reward was offered for the apprehension of the
author and printer. Marvell had many of the elements of a first-rate
political pamphleteer. He had wit of a most pungent kind, great though
coarse fertility of fancy, and a spirit of independence that nothing could
subdue or damp. He was the undoubted ancestor of the Defoes, Swifts,
Steeles, Juniuses, and Burkes, in whom this kind of authorship reached its
perfection, ceased to be fugitive, and assumed classical rank.
Marvell had been repeatedly threatened with assassination, and hence,
when he died suddenly on the 16th of August 1678, it was surmised that
he had been removed by poison. The Corporation of Hull voted a sum to
defray his funeral expenses, and for raising a monument to his memory;
but owing to the interference of the Court, through the rector of the
parish, this votive tablet was not at the time erected. He was buried in
'Out of the strong came forth sweetness,' saith the Hebrew record. And
so from the sturdy Andrew Marvell have proceeded such soft and lovely
strains as 'The Emigrants,' 'The Nymph complaining for the Death of her
Fawn,' 'Young Love,' &c. The statue of Memnon became musical at the dawn;
and the stern patriot, whom no bribe could buy and no flattery melt, is
found sympathising in song with a boatful of banished Englishmen in the
remote Bermudas, and inditing 'Thoughts in a Garden,' from which you might
suppose that he had spent his life more with melons than with men, and was
better acquainted with the motions of a bee-hive than with the contests of
Parliament, and the distractions of a most distracted age. It was said
(not with thorough truth) of Milton, that he could cut out a Colossus from
a rock, but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones--a task which his
assistant may be said to have performed in his stead, in his small but
delectable copies of verse.
1 Where the remote Bermudas ride,
In the ocean's bosom unespied,
From a small boat that rowed along,
The listening winds received this song.
2 'What should we do but sing His praise
That led us through the watery maze,
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own!
3 'Where he the huge sea-monsters racks,
That lift the deep upon their backs;
He lands us on a grassy stage,
Safe from the storms and prelates' rage.
4 'He gave us this eternal spring
Which here enamels everything,
And sends the fowls to us in care,
On daily visits through the air.
5 'He hangs in shades the orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night:
* * * * *
And in these rocks for us did frame
A temple where to sound his name.
6 'Oh, let our voice his praise exalt
Till it arrive at heaven's vault,
Which then perhaps rebounding may
Echo beyond the Mexique bay.'
7 Thus sung they in the English boat,
A holy and a cheerful note;
And all the way, to guide their chime,
With falling oars they kept the time.
THE NYMPH COMPLAINING FOR THE DEATH OF HER FAWN.
The wanton troopers riding by
Have shot my fawn, and it will die.
Ungentle men! they cannot thrive
Who killed thee. Thou ne'er didst alive
Them any harm; alas! nor could
Thy death to them do any good.
I'm sure I never wished them ill;
Nor do I for all this; nor will:
But, if my simple prayers may yet
Prevail with Heaven to forget
Thy murder, I will join my tears,
Rather than fail. But, O my fears!
It cannot die so. Heaven's King
Keeps register of every thing,
And nothing may we use in vain:
Even beasts must be with justice slain.
* * * * *
Inconstant Sylvio, when yet
I had not found him counterfeit,
One morning (I remember well)
Tied in this silver chain and bell,
Gave it to me: nay, and I know
What he said then: I'm sure I do.
Said he, 'Look how your huntsman here
Hath taught a fawn to hunt his deer.'
But Sylvio soon had me beguiled.
This waxed tame while he grew wild,
And, quite regardless of my smart,
Left me his fawn, but took his heart.
Thenceforth I set myself to play
My solitary time away
With this, and very well content
Could so my idle life have spent;
For it was full of sport, and light
Of foot and heart; and did invite
Me to its game; it seemed to bless
Itself in me. How could I less
Than love it? Oh, I cannot be
Unkind to a beast that loveth me!
Had it lived long, I do not know
Whether it too might have done so
As Sylvio did; his gifts might be
Perhaps as false, or more, than he.
But I am sure, for aught that I
Could in so short a time espy,
Thy love was far more better than
The love of false and cruel man.
With sweetest milk and sugar first
I it at my own fingers nursed;
And as it grew, so every day
It waxed more white and sweet than they:
It had so sweet a breath; and oft
I blushed to see its foot more soft
And white, shall I say, than my hand?
Nay, any lady's of the land.
It is a wondrous thing how fleet
'Twas on those little silver feet;
With what a pretty skipping grace
It oft would challenge me the race;
And when't had left me far away,
'Twould stay, and run again, and stay;
For it was nimbler much than hinds,
And trod as if on the four winds.
I have a garden of my own,
But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you would it guess
To be a little wilderness,
And all the spring-time of the year
It only loved to be there.
Among the beds of lilies I
Have sought it oft where it should lie,
Yet could not, till itself would rise,
Find it, although before mine eyes;
For in the flaxen lilies' shade
It like a bank of lilies laid;
Upon the roses it would feed,
Until its lips e'en seemed to bleed;
And then to me 'twould boldly trip,
And print those roses on my lip.
But all its chief delight was still
On roses thus itself to fill,
And its pure virgin limbs to fold
In whitest sheets of lilies cold.
Had it lived long, it would have been
Lilies without, roses within. * * *
ON PARADISE LOST.
When I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In slender book his vast design unfold,
Messiah crowned, God's reconciled decree,
Rebelling angels, the forbidden tree,
Heaven, Hell, Earth, Chaos, all; the argument
Held me a while misdoubting his intent,
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to fable and old song;
(So Sampson groped the temple's posts in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.
Yet as I read, still growing less severe,
I liked his project, the success did fear;
Through that wild field how he his way should find,
O'er which lame Faith leads Understanding blind;
Lest he'd perplex the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.
Or if a work so infinite be spanned,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And, by ill imitating, would excel)
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.
Pardon me, mighty poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinced, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not missed one thought that could be fit.
And all that was improper dost omit;
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.
That majesty, which through thy work doth reign,
Draws the devout, deterring the profane.
And things divine thou treat'st of in such state
As them preserves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horror on us seize,
Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease;
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The bird named from that Paradise you sing,
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.
Where couldst thou words of such a compass find?
Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind?
Just Heaven thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well mightst thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure;
While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells,
And like a pack-horse tires without his bells:
Their fancies like our bushy points appear;
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear.
I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And while I meant to praise thee, must commend.
Thy verse created, like thy theme, sublime,
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.
THOUGHTS IN A GARDEN.
1 How vainly men themselves amaze,
To win the palm, the oak, or bays!
And their incessant labours see
Crowned from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close,
To weave the garlands of repose.
2 Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear?
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men.
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow.
Society is all but rude
To this delicious solitude.
3 No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name.
Little, alas, they know or heed,
How far these beauties her exceed!
Fair trees! where'er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found.
4 What wondrous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head.
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine.
The nectarine, and curious peach,
Into my hands themselves do reach.
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
5 Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
Withdraws into its happiness.
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.
6 Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
Then whets and claps its silver wings,
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.
7 Such was the happy garden state,
While man there walked without a mate:
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises are in one,
To live in paradise alone.
8 How well the skilful gard'ner drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new!
Where, from above, the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run:
And, as it works, the industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?
SATIRE ON HOLLAND.
Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
As but the offscouring of the British sand;
And so much earth as was contributed
By English pilots when they heaved the lead;
Or what by the ocean's slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrecked cockle and the mussel-shell;
This indigested vomit of the sea
Fell to the Dutch by just propriety.
Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
They, with mad labour, fished the land to shore:
And dived as desperately for each piece
Of earth, as if't had been of ambergris;
Collecting anxiously small loads of clay,
Less than what building swallows bear away;
Or than those pills which sordid beetles roll,
Transfusing into them their dunghill soul.
How did they rivet, with gigantic piles,
Thorough the centre their new-catched miles;
And to the stake a struggling country bound,
Where barking waves still bait the forced ground;
Building their watery Babel far more high
To reach the sea, than those to scale the sky.
Yet still his claim the injured Ocean laid,
And oft at leap-frog o'er their steeples played;
As if on purpose it on land had come
To show them what's their _mare liberum_.
A daily deluge over them does boil;
The earth and water play at level-coil.
The fish oft-times the burgher dispossessed,
And sat, not as a meat, but as a guest;
And oft the Tritons, and the sea-nymphs, saw
Whole shoals of Dutch served up for Cabillau;
Or, as they over the new level ranged,
For pickled herring, pickled heeren changed.
Nature, it seemed, ashamed of her mistake,
Would throw their land away at duck and drake,
Therefore necessity, that first made kings,
Something like government among them brings.
For, as with Pigmies, who best kills the crane,
Among the hungry he that treasures grain,
Among the blind the one-eyed blinkard reigns,
So rules among the drowned he that drains.
Not who first see the rising sun commands,
But who could first discern the rising lands.
Who best could know to pump an earth so leak,
Him they their lord, and country's father, speak.
To make a bank was a great plot of state;
Invent a shovel, and be a magistrate.
Hence some small dikegrave unperceived invades
The power, and grows, as 'twere, a king of spades;
But, for less envy some joined states endures,
Who look like a commission of the sewers:
For these half-anders, half-wet and half-dry,
Nor bear strict service, nor pure liberty.
'Tis probable religion, after this,
Came next in order; which they could not miss.
How could the Dutch but be converted, when
The apostles were so many fishermen?
Besides, the waters of themselves did rise,
And, as their land, so them did re-baptize;
Though herring for their God few voices missed,
And Poor-John to have been the Evangelist.
Faith, that could never twins conceive before,
Never so fertile, spawned upon this shore
More pregnant than their Marg'ret, that laid down
For Hands-in-Kelder of a whole Hans-Town.
Sure, when religion did itself embark,
And from the east would westward steer its ark,
It struck, and splitting on this unknown ground,
Each one thence pillaged the first piece he found:
Hence Amsterdam, Turk, Christian, Pagan, Jew,
Staple of sects, and mint of schism grew;
That bank of conscience, where not one so strange
Opinion, but finds credit, and exchange.
In vain for Catholics ourselves we bear:
The universal church is only there. * * *
This amiable enemy of the finny tribe was born in Stafford, in August
1593. We hear of him first as settled in London, following the trade
of a sempster, or linen-draper, having a shop in the Royal Burse, in
Cornhill, which was 'seven feet and a half long, and five wide,' and
where he became possessed of a moderate fortune. He spent his leisure
time in fishing 'with honest Nat and R. Roe.' From the Royal Burse, he
removed to Fleet Street, where he had 'one half of a shop,' a hosier
occupying the other half. In 1632, he married Anne, the daughter of
Thomas Ken of Furnival's Inn, and sister of Dr Ken, the celebrated
Bishop of Bath and Wells. Through her and her kindred, he became
acquainted with many eminent men of the day. His wife, 'a woman of
remarkable prudence and primitive piety,' died long before him. He
retired from business in 1643, and lived, for forty years after, a life
of leisure and quiet enjoyment, spending much of his time in the houses
of his friends, and much of it by the still waters, which he so dearly
loved. Walton commenced his literary career by writing a Life of Dr
Donne, and followed with another of Sir Henry Wotton, prefixed to his
literary remains. In 1653 appeared his 'Complete Angler,' four editions
of which were called for before his decease. He wrote, in 1662, a Life
of Richard Hooker; in 1670, a Life of George Herbert; and, in 1678, a
Life of Bishop Sanderson--all distinguished by _naïveté_ and heart. In
1680, he published an anonymous discourse on the 'Distempers of the
Times.' In 1683, he printed, as we have seen, Chalkhill's 'Thealma and
Clearchus;' and on the 15th of December in the same year, he died at
Winchester, while residing with his son-in-law, Dr Hawkins, Prebendary
of Winchester Cathedral.
Walton is one of the most loveable of all authors. Your admiration of
him is always melting into affection. Red as his and is with the blood
of fish, you pant to grasp it and press it to yours. You go with him
to the fishing as you would with a bright-eyed boy, relishing his
simple-hearted enthusiasm, and leaning down to listen to his precocious
remarks, and to pat his curly head. It is the prevalence of the
childlike element which makes Walton's 'Angler' rank with Bunyan's
'Pilgrim,' 'Robinson Crusoe,' and White's 'Natural History of Selborne,'
as among the most delightful books in the language. Its descriptions of
nature, too, are so fresh, that you smell to them as to a green leaf.
Walton would not have been at home fishing in the Forth or Clyde, or in
such rivers as are found in Norway, the milk-blue Logen, or the grass-
green Rauma, uniting, with its rich mediation, Romsdale Horn to the
tremendous Witch-Peaks which lower on the opposite side of the valley;
--the waters of his own dear England, going softly and somewhat drowsily
on their path, are the sources of his inspiration, and seem to sound like
the echoes of his own subdued but gladsome spirit. Johnson defined angling
as a rod with a fish at one end, and a fool at the other; in Walton's
case, we may correct the expression to 'a rod with a fish at one end, and
a fine old fellow--the "ae best fellow in the world"--at the other'--
'In wit a man, simplicity a child.'
We have given a specimen of the verse he intersperses sparingly in a
book which _is itself a complete poem._
THE ANGLER'S WISH.
1 I in these flowery meads would be:
These crystal streams should solace me,
To whose harmonious bubbling noise
I with my angle would rejoice:
Sit here and see the turtle-dove
Court his chaste mate to acts of love:
2 Or on that bank feel the west wind
Breathe health and plenty: please my mind
To see sweet dew-drops kiss these flowers,
And then washed off by April showers!
Here hear my Kenna sing a song,
There see a blackbird feed her young,
3 Or a leverock build her nest:
Here give my weary spirits rest,
And raise my low-pitched thoughts above
Earth, or what poor mortals love;
Or, with my Bryan and my book,
Loiter long days near Shawford brook:
4 There sit by him and eat my meat,
There see the sun both rise and set,
There bid good morning to next day,
There meditate my time away,
And angle on, and beg to have
A quiet passage to the grave.
 Probably his dog.
JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER
We hear of the Spirit of Evil on one occasion entering into swine, but,
if possible, a stranger sight is that of the Spirit of Poesy finding a
similar incarnation. Certainly the connexion of genius in the Earl of
Rochester with a life of the most degrading and desperate debauchery is
one of the chief marvels of this marvellous world.
John Wilmot was the son of Henry, Lord Rochester, and was born April 10,
1647, at Ditchley in Oxfordshire. He was taught grammar at the school of
Burford. He then 'entered a nobleman' into Wadham College, when twelve
years old, and at 1661, when only fourteen, he was, in conjunction with
some others of rank, made M.A. by Lord Clarendon in person. Pursuing his
travels in France and Italy, he went in 1665 to sea with the Earl of
Sandwich, and distinguished himself at Bergen in an attack on the Dutch
fleet. Next year, while serving under Sir Edward Spragge, his commander
sent him in the heat of an engagement with a reproof to one of his
captains--a duty which Wilmot gallantly accomplished amidst a storm of
shot. With this early courage some of his biographers have contrasted
his subsequent reputation for cowardice, his slinking away out of
street-quarrels, his refusing to fight the Duke of Buckingham, &c. This
diversity at different periods may perhaps be accounted for on the
ground of the nervousness which continued dissipation produces, and
perhaps from his poetical temperament. A poet, we are persuaded, is
often the bravest, and often the most pusillanimous of men. Byron was
unquestionably in general a brave, almost a pugnacious man; and yet he
confesses that at certain times, had one proceeded to horsewhip him,
he would not have had the hardihood to resist. Shelley, who, in a
tremendous storm, behaved with dauntless heroism, and who would at any
time have acted on the example of his own character in 'Prometheus,'
who, in a shipwreck,
'gave an enemy
His plank, then plunged aside to die,'
was yet subject to paroxysms of nervous horror, which made him perspire
and tremble like a spirit-seeing steed. Rochester had the same
temperament, and a similar creed, with these men, although inferior to
them both in _morale_ and in genius.
His character was certainly very depraved. He told Burnet on his
deathbed that for five years he had not known the sensation of sobriety,
having been all that time either totally drunk, or mad through the dregs
of drunkenness. He on one occasion, while in this state, erected a stage
on Tower Hill, and addressed the mob as a naked mountebank. Even after
he became more temperate, he continued and even increased his
licentiousness--one devil went out, and seven entered in. He pursued low
amours in disguise; he practised occasionally as a quack doctor; and at
other times he retired to the country, and, like Byron, amused himself
by libelling all his acquaintances--every line in each libel being a
lie. Notwithstanding all this, he was a favourite with Charles II., who
made him one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, and comptroller of
Woodstock Park. In his lucid intervals he recurred to his studies, wrote
occasional verses, read in French Boileau and in English Cowley, and is
called by Wood the best scholar among all the nobility.
At last, ere he was thirty-one, the 'dreary old sort of feel,' and the
'rigid fibre and stiffening limbs,' of which Byron and Burns, when
scarcely older, complained, began to assail Rochester. He had exhausted
his capacity of enjoyment by excess, and had deprived himself of the
consolations of religion by infidelity. His unbelief was not like
Shelley's--the growth of his own mind, and the fruit of unbridled,
though earnest, speculation;--it was merely a drug which he snatched
from the laboratories of others to deaden his remorse, and enable him to
look with desperate calmness to the blotted Past and the lowering
Future. At this stage of his career, he became acquainted with Bishop
Burnet, who has recorded his conversion and edifying end in a book
which, says Johnson, 'the critic ought to read for its elegance, the
philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.' To this,
after Johnson's example, we refer our readers. Eochester died July 26,
1680, before he had completed his thirty-fourth year. He was married,
and left three daughters and a son named Charles, who did not long
survive his father. With him the male line ceased, and the title was
conferred on a younger son of Lord Clarendon. His poems appeared in the
year of his death, professing on the title-page to be printed at
Antwerp. They contain much that is spurious, but some productions that
are undoubtedly Rochester's. They are at the best, poor fragmentary
exhibitions of a vigorous, but undisciplined mind. His songs are rather
easy than lively. His imitations are distinguished by grace and spirit.
His 'Nothing' is a tissue of clever conceits, like gaudy weeds growing
on a sterile soil, but here and there contains a grand and gloomy image,
'And rebel Light obscured thy reverend dusky face.'
His 'Satire against Man' might be praised for its vigorous misanthropy,
but is chiefly copied from Boileau.
Rochester may be signalised as the first thoroughly depraved and vicious
person, so far as we remember, who assumed the office of the satirist,
--the first, although not, alas! the last human imitator of 'Satan
accusing Sin.' Some satirists before him had been faulty characters,
while rather inconsistently assailing the faults of others; but here,
for the first time, was a man of no virtue, or belief in virtue whatever,
(his tenderness to his family, revealed in his letters, is just that of
the tiger fondling his cubs, and seeming, perhaps, to _them_ a 'much-
misrepresented character,') and whose life was one mass of wounds,
bruises, and putrefying sores,--a naked satyr who gloried in his shame,
--becoming a severe castigator of public morals and of private character.
Surely there was a gross anomaly implied in this, which far greater
genius than Rochester's could never have redeemed.
1 Too late, alas! I must confess,
You need not arts to move me;
Such charms by nature you possess,
'Twere madness not to love ye.
2 Then spare a heart you may surprise,
And give my tongue the glory
To boast, though my unfaithful eyes
Betray a tender story.
1 My dear mistress has a heart
Soft as those kind looks she gave me,
When with love's resistless art,
And her eyes, she did enslave me.
But her constancy's so weak,
She's so wild and apt to wander,
That my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.
2 Melting joys about her move,
Killing pleasures, wounding blisses:
She can dress her eyes in love,
And her lips can warm with kisses.
Angels listen when she speaks,
She's my delight, all mankind's wonder;
But my jealous heart would break,
Should we live one day asunder.
THE EARL OF ROSCOMMON.
Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon, was the son of James Dillon and
Elizabeth Wentworth. She was the sister of the infamous Strafford, who
was at once uncle and godfather to our poet. In what exact year Dillon
was born is uncertain, but it was some time about 1633. His father had
been converted from Popery by Usher; and when the Irish Rebellion broke
out, Strafford, afraid of the fury of the Irish, sent for his godson,
and took him to his own seat in Yorkshire, where he was taught Latin
with great care. He was sent afterwards to Caen, where he studied under
Bochart. It is said that while playing extravagantly there at the
customary games of boys, he suddenly paused, became grave, and cried
out, 'My father is dead,' and that a fortnight after arrived tidings
from Ireland confirming his impression. Johnson is inclined to believe
this story, and we are more than inclined. Since the lexicographer's
day, many of what used to be called his 'superstitions' have been
established as certain facts, although their explanation is still
shrouded in darkness. Roscommon was then only ten years of age.
From Caen he travelled to Italy, where he obtained a profound knowledge
of medals. At the Restoration he returned to England, where he was made
Captain of the Band of Pensioners, and subsequently Master of the Horse
to the Duchess of York. He became unfortunately addicted to gambling,
and, through this miserable habit, he got embroiled in endless quarrels,
as well as in pecuniary embarassments.
Business compelled him to visit Ireland, where the Duke of Orrnond made
him Captain of the Guards. On his return to England in 1662, he married
the Lady Frances, daughter of the Earl of Burlington. By her he had no
issue. His second wife, whom he married in 1674, was Isabella, daughter
of Matthew Beynton of Barmister, in Yorkshire.
Roscommon now began to meditate and execute literary projects. He
produced an 'Essay on Translated Verse,' (in 1681,) a translation of
Horace's 'Art of Poetry,' and other pieces. He projected, in conjunction
with his friend Dryden, a plan for refining our language and fixing its
standard, as if Time were not the great refiner, fixer, and enricher of
a tongue. While busy with these schemes and occupations, the troubles of
James II.'s reign commenced. Roscommon determined to retire to Rome,
saying, 'It is best to sit near the chimney when the chamber smokes.'
Death, however, prevented him from reaching the beloved and desired
focus of Roman Catholic darkness. He was assailed by gout, and an
ignorant French empiric, whom he consulted, contrived to drive the
disease into the bowels. Roscommon expired, uttering with great fervour
two lines from his own translation of the 'Dies Irae,'--
'My God, my Father, and my Friend,
Do not forsake me in my end.'
This was in 1684. He received a pompous interment in Westminster Abbey.
Roscommon does not deserve the name of a great poet. He was a man of
varied accomplishments and exquisite taste rather than of genius. His
'Essay on Translated Verse' is a sound and sensible, not a profound and
brilliant production. In one point he went before his age. He praises
Milton's 'Paradise Lost,' although unfortunately he selects for encomium
the passage in the sixth book describing the angels fighting against
each other with fire-arms--a passage which most critics have considered
a blot upon the poem.
FROM "AN ESSAY ON TRANSLATED VERSE."
Immodest words admit of no defence;
For want of decency is want of sense.
What moderate fop would rake the park or stews,
Who among troops of faultless nymphs may choose?
Variety of such is to be found:
Take then a subject proper to expound;
But moral, great, and worth a poet's voice;
For men of sense despise a trivial choice;
And such applause it must expect to meet,
As would some painter busy in a street,
To copy bulls and bears, and every sign
That calls the staring sots to nasty wine.
Yet 'tis not all to have a subject good:
It must delight us when 'tis understood.
He that brings fulsome objects to my view,
As many old have done, and many new,
With nauseous images my fancy fills,
And all goes down like oxymel of squills.
Instruct the listening world how Maro sings
Of useful subjects and of lofty things.
These will such true, such bright ideas raise,
As merit gratitude, as well as praise:
But foul descriptions are offensive still,
Either for being like, or being ill:
For who, without a qualm, hath ever looked
On holy garbage, though by Homer cooked?
Whose railing heroes, and whose wounded gods
Make some suspect he snores, as well as nods.
But I offend--Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down:
My blushing Muse with conscious fear retires,
And whom they like implicitly admires.
On sure foundations let your fabric rise,
And with attractive majesty surprise;
Not by affected meretricious arts,
But strict harmonious symmetry of parts;
Which through the whole insensibly must pass,
With vital heat to animate the mass:
A pure, an active, an auspicious flame;
And bright as heaven, from whence the blessing came:
But few, oh! few souls, preordained by fate,
The race of gods, have reached that envied height.
No rebel Titan's sacrilegious crime,
By heaping hills on hills can hither climb:
The grizzly ferryman of hell denied
Aeneas entrance, till he knew his guide.
How justly then will impious mortals fall,
Whose pride would soar to heaven without a call!
Pride, of all others the most dangerous fault,
Proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought.
The men who labour and digest things most,
Will be much apter to despond than boast:
For if your author be profoundly good,
'Twill cost you dear before he's understood.
How many ages since has Virgil writ!
How few are they who understand him yet!
Approach his altars with religious fear:
No vulgar deity inhabits there.
Heaven shakes not more at Jove's imperial nod,
Than poets should before their Mantuan god.
Hail, mighty Maro! may that sacred name
Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame,
Sublime ideas and apt words infuse;
The Muse instruct my voice, and thou inspire the Muse!
What I have instanced only in the best,
Is, in proportion, true of all the rest.
Take pains the genuine meaning to explore!
There sweat, there strain: tug the laborious oar;
Search every comment that your care can find;
Some here, some there, may hit the poet's mind:
Yet be not blindly guided by the throng:
The multitude is always in the wrong.
When things appear unnatural or hard,
Consult your author, with himself compared.
Who knows what blessing Phoebus may bestow,
And future ages to your labour owe?
Such secrets are not easily found out;
But, once discovered, leave no room for doubt.
Truth stamps conviction in your ravished breast;
And peace and joy attend the glorious guest.
Truth still is one; Truth is divinely bright;
No cloudy doubts obscure her native light;
While in your thoughts you find the least debase,
You may confound, but never can translate.
Your style will this through all disguises show;
For none explain more clearly than they know.
He only proves he understands a text,
Whose exposition leaves it unperplexed.
They who too faithfully on names insist,
Rather create than dissipate the mist;
And grow unjust by being over nice,
For superstitious virtue turns to vice.
Let Crassus' ghost and Labienus tell
How twice in Parthian plains their legions fell.
Since Rome hath been so jealous of her fame
That few know Pacorus' or Monaeses' name.
Words in one language elegantly used,
Will hardly in another be excused;
And some that Rome admired in Caesar's time,
May neither suit our genius nor our clime.
The genuine sense, intelligibly told,
Shows a translator both discreet and bold.
Excursions are inexpiably bad;
And 'tis much safer to leave out than add.
Abstruse and mystic thought you must express
With painful care, but seeming easiness;
For truth shines brightest through the plainest dress.
The Aenean Muse, when she appears in state,
Makes all Jove's thunder on her verses wait;
Yet writes sometimes as soft and moving things
As Venus speaks, or Philomela sings.
Your author always will the best advise,
Fall when he falls, and when he rises, rise.
Affected noise is the most wretched thing,
That to contempt can empty scribblers bring.
Vowels and accents, regularly placed,
On even syllables (and still the last)
Though gross innumerable faults abound,
In spite of nonsense, never fail of sound,
But this is meant of even verse alone,
As being most harmonious and most known:
For if you will unequal numbers try,
There accents on odd syllables must lie.
Whatever sister of the learned Nine
Does to your suit a willing ear incline,
Urge your success, deserve a lasting name,
She'll crown a grateful and a constant flame.
But if a wild uncertainty prevail,
And turn your veering heart with every gale,
You lose the fruit of all your former care,
For the sad prospect of a just despair.
A quack, too scandalously mean to name,
Had, by man-midwifery, got wealth and fame;
As if Lucina had forgot her trade,
The labouring wife invokes his surer aid.
Well-seasoned bowls the gossip's spirits raise,
Who, while she guzzles, chats the doctor's praise;
And largely, what she wants in words, supplies,
With maudlin eloquence of trickling eyes.
But what a thoughtless animal is man!
How very active in his own trepan!
For, greedy of physicians' frequent fees,
From female mellow praise he takes degrees;
Struts in a new unlicensed gown, and then
From saving women falls to killing men.
Another such had left the nation thin,
In spite of all the children he brought in.
His pills as thick as hand grenadoes flew;
And where they fell, as certainly they slew:
His name struck everywhere as great a damp,
As Archimedes' through the Roman camp.
With this, the doctor's pride began to cool;
For smarting soundly may convince a fool.
But now repentance came too late for grace;
And meagre famine stared him in the face:
Fain would he to the wives be reconciled,
But found no husband left to own a child.
The friends, that got the brats, were poisoned too:
In this sad case, what could our vermin do?
Worried with debts, and past all hope of bail,
The unpitied wretch lies rotting in a jail:
And there, with basket-alms scarce kept alive,
Shows how mistaken talents ought to thrive.
I pity, from my soul, unhappy men,
Compelled by want to prostitute their pen;
Who must, like lawyers, either starve or plead,
And follow, right or wrong, where guineas lead!
But you, Pompilian, wealthy, pampered heirs,
Who to your country owe your swords and cares,
Let no vain hope your easy mind seduce,
For rich ill poets are without excuse;
'Tis very dangerous tampering with the Muse,
The profit's small, and you have much to lose;
For though true wit adorns your birth or place,
Degenerate lines degrade the attainted race.
No poet any passion can excite,
But what they feel transport them when they write.
Have you been led through the Cumaean cave,
And heard the impatient maid divinely rave?
I hear her now; I see her rolling eyes;
And panting, 'Lo! the God, the God,' she cries:
With words not hers, and more than human sound,
She makes the obedient ghosts peep trembling through the ground.
But, though we must obey when Heaven commands,
And man in vain the sacred call withstands,
Beware what spirit rages in your breast;
For ten inspired, ten thousand are possess'd:
Thus make the proper use of each extreme,
And write with fury, but correct with phlegm.
As when the cheerful hours too freely pass,
And sparkling wine smiles in the tempting glass,
Your pulse advises, and begins to beat
Through every swelling vein a loud retreat:
So when a Muse propitiously invites,
Improve her favours, and indulge her flights;
But when you find that vigorous heat abate,
Leave off, and for another summons wait.
Before the radiant sun, a glimmering lamp,
Adulterate measures to the sterling stamp,
Appear not meaner than mere human lines,
Compared with those whose inspiration shines:
These, nervous, bold; those, languid and remiss;
There cold salutes; but here a lover's kiss.
Thus have I seen a rapid headlong tide,
With foaming waves the passive Saone divide;
Whose lazy waters without motion lay,
While he, with eager force, urged his impetuous way.
Hearty, careless 'Charley Cotton' was born in 1630. His father, Sir
George Cotton, was improvident and intemperate in his latter days, and
left the poet an encumbered estate situated at Ashbourne, in Derbyshire,
near the river Dove. This place will recall the words quoted by O'Connell
in Parliament in reference to the present Lord Derby:--
'Down thy fair banks, romantic Ashbourne, glides
The Derby dilly, with its six insides.'
Charles studied at Cambridge; and after travelling abroad, married the
daughter of Sir Thomas Owthorp in Nottinghamshire, who does not appear
to have lived long. His extravagance keeping him poor, he was compelled
to eke out his means by translating works from the French and Italian,
including those of a spirit somewhat kindred to his own--Montaigne. At
the age of forty, he obtained a captain's commission in the army, and
went to Ireland. There he met with his second wife, Mary, Countess
Dowager of Ardglass, the widow of Lord Cornwall. She possessed a
jointure of £1500 a-year, secured, however, after marriage, from her
husband's imprudent and reckless management. He returned to his English
estate, where he became passionately fond of fishing,--intimate with
Izaak Walton, whom he invited in a poem, although now eighty-three years
old, to visit him in the country--and where he built a fishing-house,
with the initials of Izaak's name and his own united in ciphers over
the door; the walls, too, being painted with fishing scenes, and the
portraits of Cotton and Walton appearing upon the beaufet. Poor Charles
had a less fortunate career than his friend, dying insolvent at
Westminster in 1687.
Careless gaiety and reckless extravagance, blended with heart, sense,
and sincerity, were the characteristics of Cotton as a man, and were, as
is usually the case, transferred to his poetry. He squandered his pence
and his powers with equal profusion. His travestie of the 'Aeneid' is
pronounced by Christopher North (who must have read it, however,) a
beastly book. Campbell says, with striking justice, of another of
Cotton's productions, 'His imitations of Lucian betray the grossest
misconception of humorous effect, when he attempts to burlesque that
which is ludicrous already.' It is like trying to turn the 'Tale of
a Tub' into ridicule. But Cotton's own vein, as exhibited in his
'Invitation to Walton,' his 'New Year,' and his 'Voyage to Ireland,'
(which anticipates in some measure the style of Anstey in the 'New Bath
Guide,') is very rich and varied, full of ease, picturesque spirit, and
humour, and stamps him a genuine, if not a great poet.
INVITATION TO IZAAK WALTON.
1 Whilst in this cold and blustering clime,
Where bleak winds howl, and tempests roar,
We pass away the roughest time
Has been of many years before;
2 Whilst from the most tempestuous nooks
The dullest blasts our peace invade,
And by great rains our smallest brooks
Are almost navigable made;
3 Whilst all the ills are so improved
Of this dead quarter of the year,
That even you, so much beloved,
We would not now wish with us here:
4 In this estate, I say, it is
Some comfort to us to suppose,
That in a better clime than this,
You, our dear friend, have more repose;
5 And some delight to me the while,
Though Nature now does weep in rain,
To think that I have seen her smile,
And haply may I do again.
6 If the all-ruling Power please
We live to see another May,
We'll recompense an age of these
Foul days in one fine fishing day.
7 We then shall have a day or two,
Perhaps a week, wherein to try
What the best master's hand can do
With the most deadly killing fly.
8 A day with not too bright a beam;
A warm, but not a scorching sun;
A southern gale to curl the stream;
And, master, half our work is done.
9 Then, whilst behind some bush we wait
The scaly people to betray,
We'll prove it just, with treacherous bait,
To make the preying trout our prey;
10 And think ourselves, in such an hour,
Happier than those, though not so high,
Who, like leviathans, devour
Of meaner men the smaller fry.
11 This, my best friend, at my poor home,
Shall be our pastime and our theme;
But then--should you not deign to come,
You make all this a flattering dream.
A VOYAGE TO IRELAND IN BURLESQUE.
The lives of frail men are compared by the sages
Or unto short journeys, or pilgrimages,
As men to their inns do come sooner or later,
That is, to their ends, to be plain in my matter;
From whence when one dead is, it currently follows,
He has run his race, though his goal be the gallows;
And this 'tis, I fancy, sets folks so a-madding,
And makes men and women so eager of gadding;
Truth is, in my youth I was one of these people
Would have gone a great way to have seen a high steeple,
And though I was bred 'mongst the wonders o' th' Peak,
Would have thrown away money, and ventured my neck
To have seen a great hill, a rock, or a cave,
And thought there was nothing so pleasant and brave:
But at forty years old you may, if you please,
Think me wiser than run such errands as these;
Or had the same humour still run in my toes,
A voyage to Ireland I ne'er should have chose;
But to tell you the truth on 't, indeed it was neither
Improvement nor pleasure for which I went thither;
I know then you'll presently ask me for what?
Why, faith, it was that makes the old woman trot;
And therefore I think I'm not much to be blamed
If I went to the place whereof Nick was ashamed.
O Coryate! thou traveller famed as Ulysses,
In such a stupendous labour as this is,
Come lend me the aids of thy hands and thy feet,
Though the first be pedantic, the other not sweet,
Yet both are so restless in peregrination,
They'll help both my journey, and eke my relation.
'Twas now the most beautiful time of the year,
The days were now long, and the sky was now clear,
And May, that fair lady of splendid renown,
Had dressed herself fine, in her flowered tabby gown,
When about some two hours and an half after noon,
When it grew something late, though I thought it too soon,
With a pitiful voice, and a most heavy heart,
I tuned up my pipes to sing _'loth to depart;_'
The ditty concluded, I called for my horse,
And with a good pack did the jument endorse,
Till he groaned and he f----d under the burden,
For sorrow had made me a cumbersome lurden:
And now farewell, Dove, where I've caught such brave dishes
Of over-grown, golden, and silver-scaled fishes;
Thy trout and thy grayling may now feed securely,
I've left none behind me can take 'em so surely;
Feed on then, and breed on, until the next year,
But if I return I expect my arrear.
By pacing and trotting betimes in the even,
Ere the sun had forsaken one half of the heaven,
We all at fair Congerton took up our inn,
Where the sign of a king kept a King and his queen:
But who do you think came to welcome me there'?
No worse a man, marry, than good master mayor,
With his staff of command, yet the man was not lame,
But he needed it more when he went, than he came;
After three or four hours of friendly potation,
We took leave each of other in courteous fashion,
When each one, to keep his brains fast in his head,
Put on a good nightcap, and straightway to bed.
Next morn, having paid for boiled, roasted, and bacon,
And of sovereign hostess our leaves kindly taken,
(For her king, as 'twas rumoured, by late pouring down,
This morning had got a foul flaw in his crown,)
We mounted again, and full soberly riding,
Three miles we had rid ere we met with a biding;
But there, having over-night plied the tap well,
We now must needs water at a place called Holmes Chapel:
'A hay!' quoth the foremost, 'ho! who keeps the house?'
Which said, out an host comes as brisk as a louse;
His hair combed as sleek as a barber he'd been,
A cravat with black ribbon tied under his chin;
Though by what I saw in him, I straight 'gan to fear
That knot would be one day slipped under his ear.
Quoth he (with low conge), 'What lack you, my lord?'
'The best liquor,' quoth I, 'that the house will afford.'
'You shall straight,' quoth he; and then calls out, 'Mary?
Come quickly, and bring us a quart of Canary.'
'Hold, hold, my spruce host! for i' th' morning so early,
I never drink liquor but what's made of barley.'
Which words were scarce out, but, which made me admire,
My lordship was presently turned into 'squire:
'Ale, 'squire, you mean?' quoth he nimbly again,
'What, must it be purled'--'No, I love it best plain.'
'Why, if you'll drink ale, sir, pray take my advice,
Here's the best ale i' th' land, if you'll go to the price;
Better, I sure am, ne'er blew out a stopple;
But then, in plain truth, it is sixpence a bottle.'
'Why, faith,' quoth I, 'friend, if your liquor be such,
For the best ale in England, it is not too much:
Let's have it, and quickly.'--'o sir! you may stay;
A pot in your pate is a mile in your way:
Come, bring out a bottle here presently, wife,
Of the best Cheshire hum he e'er drank in his life.'
Straight out comes the mistress in waistcoat of silk,
As clear as a milkmaid, as white as her milk,
With visage as oval and sleek as an egg,
As straight as an arrow, as right as my leg:
A curtsey she made, as demure as a sister,
I could not forbear, but alighted and kissed her:
Then ducking another, with most modest mien,
The first word she said was, 'Will 't please you walk in?
I thanked her; but told her, I then could not stay,
For the haste of my business did call me away.
She said, she was sorry it fell out so odd,
But if, when again I should travel that road,
I would stay there a night, she assured me the nation
Should nowhere afford better accommodation:
Meanwhile my spruce landlord has broken the cork,
And called for a bodkin, though he had a fork;
But I showed him a screw, which I told my brisk gull
A trepan was for bottles had broken their skull;
Which, as it was true, he believed without doubt,
But 'twas I that applied it, and pulled the cork out.
Bounce, quoth the bottle, the work being done,
It roared, and it smoked, like a new-fired gun;
But the shot missed us all, or else we'd been routed,
Which yet was a wonder, we were so about it.
Mine host poured and filled, till he could fill no fuller:
'Look here, sir,' quoth he, 'both for nap and for colour,
Sans bragging, I hate it, nor will I e'er do 't;
I defy Leek, and Lambhith, and Sandwich, to boot.'
By my troth, he said true, for I speak it with tears,
Though I have been a toss-pot these twenty good years,
And have drank so much liquor has made me a debtor,
In my days, that I know of, I never drank better:
We found it so good and we drank so profoundly,
That four good round shillings were whipt away roundly;
And then I conceived it was time to be jogging,
For our work had been done, had we stay'd t' other noggin.
From thence we set forth with more metal and spright,
Our horses were empty, our coxcombs were light;
O'er Dellamore forest we, tantivy, posted,
Till our horses were basted as if they were roasted:
In truth, we pursued might have been by our haste,
And I think Sir George Booth did not gallop so fast,
Till about two o'clock after noon, God be blest,
We came, safe and sound, all to Chester i' th' west.
And now in high time 'twas to call for some meat,
Though drinking does well, yet some time we must eat:
And i' faith we had victuals both plenty and good,
Where we all laid about us as if we were wood:
Go thy ways, Mistress Anderton, for a good woman,
Thy guests shall by thee ne'er be turned to a common;
And whoever of thy entertainment complains,
Let him lie with a drab, and be poxed for his pains.
And here I must stop the career of my Muse,
The poor jade is weary, 'las! how should she choose?
And if I should further here spur on my course,
I should, questionless, tire both my wits and my horse:
To-night let us rest, for 'tis good Sunday's even,
To-morrow to church, and ask pardon of Heaven.
Thus far we our time spent, as here I have penned it,
An odd kind of life, and 'tis well if we mend it:
But to-morrow (God willing) we'll have t' other bout,
And better or worse be 't, for murder will out,
Our future adventures we'll lay down before ye,
For my Muse is deep sworn to use truth of the story.
After seven hours' sleep, to commute for pains taken,
A man of himself, one would think, might awaken;
But riding, and drinking hard, were two such spells,
I doubt I'd slept on, but for jangling of bells,
Which, ringing to matins all over the town,
Made me leap out of bed, and put on my gown.
With intent (so God mend me) t' have gone to the choir,
When straight I perceived myself all on a fire;
For the two forenamed things had so heated my blood,
That a little phlebotomy would do me good:
I sent for chirurgeon, who came in a trice,
And swift to shed blood, needed not be called twice,
But tilted stiletto quite thorough the vein,
From whence issued out the ill humours amain;
When having twelve ounces, he bound up my arm,
And I gave him two Georges, which did him no harm:
But after my bleeding, I soon understood
It had cooled my devotion as well as my blood;
For I had no more mind to look on my psalter,
Than (saving your presence) I had to a halter;
But, like a most wicked and obstinate sinner,
Then sat in my chamber till folks came to dinner:
I dined with good stomach, and very good cheer,
With a very fine woman, and good ale and beer;
When myself having stuffed than a bagpipe more full,
I fell to my smoking until I grew dull;
And, therefore, to take a fine nap thought it best,
For when belly full is, bones would be at rest:
I tumbled me down on my bed like a swad,
Where, oh! the delicious dream that I had!
Till the bells, that had been my morning molesters,
Now waked me again, chiming all in to vespers:
With that starting up, for my man I did whistle,
And combed out and powdered my locks that were grizzle;
Had my clothes neatly brushed, and then put on my sword,
Resolved now to go and attend on the word.
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