Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
Part 5 out of 20
returned to the verities of the Christian religion. The stains on his
character seem to have arisen chiefly from his position. He was, like
some greater and some smaller men of eminence, undoubtedly, to a certain
extent, a brilliant adventurer--a class to whom justice is seldom done,
and against whom every calumny is believed. He was a _novus homo_, in an
age of more than common aristocratic pretence; sprang, indeed, from an
ancient family, but possessing nothing himself, save his cloak, his
sword, his tact, and his genius. We all know how, in later times, such
spirits, kindred in many points to Raleigh, in some superior, and in
others inferior--as Burke, Sheridan, and Canning--were used, less for
their errors of temper or of life, than because they had gained immense
influence, not by birth or favour, but by the force of extraordinary
talent and no less remarkable address. Raleigh, however, was undoubtedly
imprudent in a high degree. He had once or twice outraged common
morality; his enemies were constantly accusing him of gasconading and of
'pride.' His success at first was too early and too easy, and hence a
reverse might have been anticipated as certain and as remarkable as his
rise had been. His fall ultimately is understood to have been
precipitated by the base complicity of James with the Spaniards, who
were informed by the King of Raleigh's motions in America, and prepared
to counteract them, as well as by the loud-sounding invectives and legal
lies of the unscrupulous instruments of his tyrannical power. With all
his faults and follies, (of 'crimes,' it has been justly said, Raleigh
can hardly be accused,) he stood high in that crowd of giants who
illustrated the reign of the Amazonian Queen. What an age it was! Bacon,
with still brighter powers, and far darker and meaner faults than
Raleigh, was sitting on the woolsack in body, while his spirit was
presiding over the half-born philosophies of the future, and beholding
the cold rod of Induction blossom in an after-day into the Aaronic
flowers and fruits of a magnificent science; Cecil was nodding out
wisdom or transcendental craft in the Cabinet; Sir Philip Sidney was
carrying the spirit of 'Arcadia' into the field of battle; Spenser was
dreaming his one beautiful lifelong Dream; and Shakspeare was holding up
his calm mirror to the heart of man and the universe of nature; while,
on the prow of the British vessel, carrying on those lofty spirits and
enterprises, there appeared a daring mariner, the Poet and 'Shepherd of
the Ocean,' with bright eye, sanguine countenance, step treading the
deck like a throne, and look contemplating the sunset, as if it were the
dawning, and the Evening, as if it were the Morning Star. It was the
hopeful and the brilliant Raleigh, who, while he 'opened up to Europe
the New World, was the historian of the Old.' Alas that this illustrious
'Marinere' was doomed to a life so troubled and a death so dreadful, and
that the glory of one of England's prodigies is for ever bound up with
the disgrace of one of England's and Scotland's princes!
THE COUNTRY'S RECREATIONS.
1 Heart-tearing cares and quiv'ring fears,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldling's sports;
Where strain'd sardonic smiles are glozing still,
And Grief is forced to laugh against her will;
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.
2 Fly from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troop of human misery!
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azured heaven, that smiles to see
The rich attendance of our poverty.
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.
3 Abused mortals, did you know
Where joy, heart's ease, and comforts grow,
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers;
Where winds perhaps our woods may sometimes shake,
But blustering care could never tempest make,
Nor murmurs e'er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.
* * * * *
4 Blest silent groves! oh, may ye be
For ever mirth's best nursery!
May pure contents,
For ever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains,
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains,
Which we may every year
Find when we come a-fishing here.
THE SILENT LOVER.
1 Passions are liken'd best to floods and streams,
The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb;
So when affection yields discourse, it seems
The bottom is but shallow whence they come;
They that are rich in words must needs discover
They are but poor in that which makes a lover.
2 Wrong not, sweet mistress of my heart,
The merit of true passion,
With thinking that he feels no smart
That sues for no compassion.
3 Since if my plaints were not t' approve
The conquest of thy beauty,
It comes not from defect of love,
But fear t' exceed my duty.
4 For not knowing that I sue to serve
A saint of such perfection
As all desire, but none deserve
A place in her affection,
5 I rather choose to want relief
Than venture the revealing;
Where glory recommends the grief,
Despair disdains the healing.
6 Silence in love betrays more woe
Than words, though ne'er so witty;
A beggar that is dumb, you know,
May challenge double pity.
7 Then wrong not, dearest to my heart,
My love for secret passion;
He smarteth most who hides his smart,
And sues for no compassion.
A VISION UPON 'THE FAIRY QUEEN.'
Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
Within that temple where the vestal flame
Was wont to burn: and passing by that way
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love and fairer Virtue kept,
All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen,
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept;
And from thenceforth those Graces were not seen,
For they this Queen attended; in whose stead
Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse.
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce,
Where Homer's sprite did tremble all for grief,
And cursed the access of that celestial thief.
LOVE ADMITS NO RIVAL.
1 Shall I, like a hermit, dwell,
On a rock, or in a cell,
Calling home the smallest part
That is missing of my heart,
To bestow it where I may
Meet a rival every day?
If she undervalue me,
What care I how fair she be?
2 Were her tresses angel gold,
If a stranger may be bold,
To convert them to a braid,
And with little more ado
Work them into bracelets, too;
If the mine be grown so free,
What care I how rich it be?
3 Were her hand as rich a prize
As her hairs, or precious eyes,
If she lay them out to take
Kisses, for good manners' sake,
And let every lover skip
From her hand unto her lip;
If she seem not chaste to me,
What care I how chaste she be?
4 No; she must be perfect snow,
In effect as well as show;
Warming but as snow-balls do,
Not like fire, by burning too;
But when she by change hath got
To her heart a second lot,
Then if others share with me,
Farewell her, whate'er she be!
Joshua Sylvester is the next in the list of our imperfectly-known, but
real poets. Very little is known of his history. He was a merchant-
adventurer, and died at Middleburg, aged fifty-five, in 1618. He is said
to have applied, in 1597, for the office of secretary to a trading
company in Stade, and to have been, on this occasion, patronised by
the Earl of Essex. He was at one time attached to the English Court as
a pensioner of Prince Henry. He is said to have been driven abroad by
the severity of his satires. He seems to have had a sweet flow of
conversational eloquence, and hence was called 'The Silver-tongued.' He
was an eminent linguist, and wrote his dedications in various languages.
He published a large volume of poems, very unequal in their value, and
inserted in it 'The Soul's Errand,' with interpolations, as we have seen,
which prove it not to be his own. His great work is the translation of
the 'Divine Weeks and Works' of the French poet, Du Bartas, which is a
marvellous medley of flatness and force--of childish weakness and soaring
genius--with more _seed poetry_ in it than any poem we remember, except
'Festus,' the chaos of a hundred poetic worlds. There can be little doubt
that Milton was familiar with this work in boyhood, and many remarkable
coincidences have been pointed out between it and 'Paradise Lost.'
Sylvester was a Puritan, and his publisher, Humphrey Lownes, who lived
in the same street with Milton's father, belonged to the same sect; and,
as Campbell remarks, 'it is easily to be conceived that Milton often
repaired to the shop of Lownes, and there met with the pious didactic
poem.' The work, therefore, some specimens of which we subjoin, is
interesting, both in itself, and as having been the _prima stamina_ of
the great masterpiece of English poetry.
1 Religion, O thou life of life,
How worldlings, that profane thee rife,
Can wrest thee to their appetites!
How princes, who thy power deny,
Pretend thee for their tyranny,
And people for their false delights!
2 Under thy sacred name, all over,
The vicious all their vices cover;
The insolent their insolence,
The proud their pride, the false their fraud,
The thief his theft, her filth the bawd,
The impudent, their impudence.
3 Ambition under thee aspires,
And Avarice under thee desires;
Sloth under thee her ease assumes,
Lux under thee all overflows,
Wrath under thee outrageous grows,
All evil under thee presumes.
4 Religion, erst so venerable,
What art thou now but made a fable,
A holy mask on folly's brow,
Where under lies Dissimulation,
Lined with all abomination.
Sacred Religion, where art thou?
5 Not in the church with Simony,
Not on the bench with Bribery,
Nor in the court with Machiavel,
Nor in the city with deceits,
Nor in the country with debates;
For what hath Heaven to do with Hell?
ON MAN'S RESEMBLANCE TO GOD.
(FROM DU BARTAS.)
O complete creature! who the starry spheres
Canst make to move, who 'bove the heavenly bears
Extend'st thy power, who guidest with thy hand
The day's bright chariot, and the nightly brand:
This curious lust to imitate the best
And fairest works of the Almightiest,
By rare effects bears record of thy lineage
And high descent; and that his sacred image
Was in thy soul engraven, when first his Spirit,
The spring of life, did in thy limbs inspire it.
For, as his beauties are past all compare,
So is thy soul all beautiful and fair:
As he's immortal, and is never idle,
Thy soul's immortal, and can brook no bridle
Of sloth, to curb her busy intellect:
He ponders all; thou peizest each effect:
And thy mature and settled sapience
Hath some alliance with his providence:
He works by reason, thou by rule: he's glory
Of the heavenly stages, thou of th' earthly story:
He's great High Priest, thou his great vicar here:
He's sovereign Prince, and thou his viceroy dear.
For soon as ever he had framed thee,
Into thy hands he put this monarchy:
Made all the creatures know thee for their lord,
And come before thee of their own accord:
And gave thee power as master, to impose
Fit sense-full names unto the host that rows
In watery regions; and the wand'ring herds
Of forest people; and the painted birds:
Oh, too, too happy! had that fall of thine
Not cancell'd so the character divine.
But, since our souls' now sin-obscured light
Shines through the lanthorn of our flesh so bright;
What sacred splendour will this star send forth,
When it shall shine without this vail of earth?
The Soul here lodged is like a man that dwells
In an ill air, annoy'd with noisome smells;
In an old house, open to wind and weather;
Never in health not half an hour together:
Or, almost, like a spider who, confined
In her web's centre, shakes with every wind;
Moves in an instant, if the buzzing fly
Stir but a string of her lawn canopy.
 'Peizest:' weighest.
THE CHARIOT OF THE SUN.
Thou radiant coachman, running endless course,
Fountain of heat, of light the lively source,
Life of the world, lamp of this universe,
Heaven's richest gem: oh, teach me where my verse
May but begin thy praise: Alas! I fare
Much like to one that in the clouds doth stare
To count the quails, that with their shadow cover
The Italian sea, when soaring hither over,
Fain of a milder and more fruitful clime,
They come with us to pass the summer time:
No sooner he begins one shoal to sum,
But, more and more, still greater shoals do come,
Swarm upon swarm, that with their countless number
Break off his purpose, and his sense encumber.
Day's glorious eye! even as a mighty king
About his country stately progressing,
Is compass'd round with dukes, earls, lords, and knights,
(Orderly marshall'd in their noble rites,)
Esquires and gentlemen, in courtly kind,
And then his guard before him and behind.
And there is nought in all his royal muster,
But to his greatness addeth grace and lustre:
So, while about the world thou ridest aye,
Which only lives through virtue of thy ray,
Six heavenly princes, mounted evermore,
Wait on thy coach, three behind, three before;
Besides the host of th' upper twinklers bright,
To whom, for pay, thou givest only light.
And, even as man (the little world of cares)
Within the middle of the body bears
His heart, the spring of life, which with proportion
Supplieth spirits to all, and every portion:
Even so, O Sun, thy golden chariot marches
Amid the six lamps of the six low arches
Which seele the world, that equally it might
Richly impart them beauty, force, and light.
Praising thy heat, which subtilly doth pierce
The solid thickness of our universe:
Which in the earth's kidneys mercury doth burn,
And pallid sulphur to bright metal turn;
I do digress, to praise that light of thine,
Which if it should but one day cease to shine,
Th' unpurged air to water would resolve,
And water would the mountain tops involve.
Scarce I begin to measure thy bright face
Whose greatness doth so oft earth's greatness pass,
And which still running the celestial ring,
Is seen and felt of every living thing;
But that fantastic'ly I change my theme
To sing the swiftness of thy tireless team,
To sing how, rising from the Indian wave,
Thou seem'st (O Titan) like a bridegroom brave,
Who, from his chamber early issuing out
In rich array, with rarest gems about,
With pleasant countenance and lovely face,
With golden tresses and attractive grace,
Cheers at his coming all the youthful throng
That for his presence earnestly did long,
Blessing the day, and with delightful glee,
Singing aloud his epithalamie.
Of him we only know that he published several poetical volumes between
1594 and 1598. We give one beautiful piece, 'To a Nightingale,' which
used to be attributed to Shakspeare.
ADDRESS TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
As it fell upon a day,
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made;
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,
Trees did grow, and plants did spring;
Everything did banish moan,
Save the nightingale alone.
She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean'd her breast up-till a thorn;
And there sung the dolefull'st ditty,
That to hear it was great pity.
'Fie, fie, fie,' now would she cry;
'Teru, teru,' by and by;
That, to hear her so complain,
Scarce I could from tears refrain;
For her griefs, so lively shown,
Made me think upon mine own.
Ah! (thought I) thou mourn'st in vain;
None takes pity on thy pain:
Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee,
Ruthless bears they will not cheer thee:
King Pandion he is dead;
All thy friends are lapp'd in lead;
All thy fellow-birds do sing,
Careless of thy sorrowing!
Whilst as fickle Fortune smiled,
Thou and I were both beguiled.
Every one that flatters thee
Is no friend in misery.
Words are easy, like the wind;
Faithful friends are hard to find.
Every man will be thy friend
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend:
But, if store of crowns be scant,
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigal,
Bountiful they will him call;
And with such-like flattering,
'Pity but he were a king.'
If he be addict to vice,
Quickly him they will entice;
But if Fortune once do frown,
Then farewell his great renown:
They that fawn'd on him before
Use his company no more.
He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need;
If thou sorrow, he will weep,
If thou wake, he cannot sleep:
Thus, of every grief in heart
He with thee doth bear a part.
These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.
This Scottish poet was the second son of Patrick, fifth Baron of
Polwarth. He was born about the middle of the sixteenth century, and
died in 1609. He resided for some years, in the early part of his life,
in France. Returning home, he studied law, and then tried his fortune at
Court. Here he was eclipsed by a rival, named Montgomery; and after
assailing his rival, who rejoined, in verse, he became a clergyman in
disgust, and was settled in the parish of Logie. Here he darkened into
a sour and savage Calvinist, and uttered an exhortation to the youth of
Scotland to forego the admiration of classical heroes, and to read no
love-poetry save the 'Song of Solomon.' In another poetic walk, however,
that of natural description, Hume excelled, and we print with pleasure
some parts of his 'Summer's Day,' which our readers may compare with Mr
Aird's fine poem under the same title, and be convinced that the sky of
Scotland was as blue, and the grass as green, and Scottish eyes as quick
to perceive their beauty, in the sixteenth century as now.
THANKS FOR A SUMMER'S DAY.
1 O perfect light which shade away
The darkness from the light,
And set a ruler o'er the day,
Another o'er the night.
2 Thy glory, when the day forth flies,
More vively does appear,
Nor at mid-day unto our eyes
The shining sun is clear.
3 The shadow of the earth anon
Removes and drawis by,
Syne in the east, when it is gone,
Appears a clearer sky.
4 Which soon perceive the little larks,
The lapwing, and the snipe,
And tune their song like Nature's clerks,
O'er meadow, muir, and stripe.
5 But every bold nocturnal beast
No longer may abide,
They hie away both maist and least,
Themselves in house to hide.
* * * * *
6 The golden globe incontinent
Sets up his shining head,
And o'er the earth and firmament
Displays his beams abroad.
7 For joy the birds with boulden throats,
Against his visage sheen,
Take up their kindly music notes
In woods and gardens green.
8 Upbraids the careful husbandman,
His corn and vines to see,
And every timeous artisan
In booths works busily.
9 The pastor quits the slothful sleep,
And passes forth with speed,
His little camow-nosed sheep,
And rowting kye to feed.
10 The passenger, from perils sure,
Goes gladly forth the way,
Brief, every living creäture
Takes comfort of the day.
* * * * *
11 The misty reek, the clouds of rain
From tops of mountain skails,
Clear are the highest hills and plain,
The vapours take the vales.
12 Begaired is the sapphire pend
With spraings of scarlet hue;
And preciously from end to end,
Damasked white and blue.
13 The ample heaven, of fabric sure,
In clearness does surpass
The crystal and the silver, pure
As clearest polish'd glass.
14 The time so tranquil is and clear,
That nowhere shall ye find,
Save on a high and barren hill,
The air of passing wind.
15 All trees and simples, great and small,
That balmy leaf do bear,
Than they were painted on a wall,
No more they move or steir.
16 The rivers fresh, the caller streams,
O'er rocks can swiftly rin,
The water clear like crystal beams,
And makes a pleasant din.
* * * * *
17 Calm is the deep and purple sea,
Yea, smoother than the sand;
The waves, that woltering wont to be,
Are stable like the land.
18 So silent is the cessile air,
That every cry and call,
The hills and dales, and forest fair,
Again repeats them all.
19 The clogged busy humming bees,
That never think to drown,
On flowers and flourishes of trees,
Collect their liquor brown.
20 The sun most like a speedy post
With ardent course ascends;
The beauty of our heavenly host
Up to our zenith tends.
* * * * *
21 The breathless flocks draw to the shade
And freshure of their fauld;
The startling nolt, as they were mad,
Run to the rivers cauld.
22 The herds beneath some leafy trees,
Amidst the flowers they lie;
The stable ships upon the seas
Tend up their sails to dry.
23 The hart, the hind, the fallow-deer,
Are tapish'd at their rest;
The fowls and birds that made thee beare,
Prepare their pretty nest.
24 The rayons dure descending down,
All kindle in a gleid;
In city, nor in burrough town,
May none set forth their head.
25 Back from the blue pavemented whun,
And from ilk plaster wall,
The hot reflexing of the sun
Inflames the air and all.
26 The labourers that timely rose,
All weary, faint, and weak,
For heat down to their houses goes,
Noon-meat and sleep to take.
27 The caller wine in cave is sought,
Men's brothing breasts to cool;
The water cold and clear is brought,
And sallads steeped in ule.
28 With gilded eyes and open wings,
The cock his courage shows;
With claps of joy his breast he dings,
And twenty times he crows.
29 The dove with whistling wings so blue,
The winds can fast collect,
Her purple pens turn many a hue
Against the sun direct.
30 Now noon is gone--gone is mid-day,
The heat does slake at last,
The sun descends down west away,
For three o'clock is past.
* * * * *
31 The rayons of the sun we see
Diminish in their strength,
The shade of every tower and tree
Extended is in length.
32 Great is the calm, for everywhere
The wind is setting down,
The reek throws up right in the air,
From every tower and town.
33 The mavis and the philomeen,
The starling whistles loud,
The cushats on the branches green,
Full quietly they crood.
34 The gloamin comes, the clay is spent,
The sun goes out of sight,
And painted is the occident
With purple sanguine bright.
* * * * *
35 The scarlet nor the golden thread,
Who would their beauty try,
Are nothing like the colour red
And beauty of the sky.
* * * * *
36 What pleasure then to walk and see,
Endlong a river clear,
The perfect form of every tree
Within the deep appear.
37 The salmon out of cruives and creels
Uphauled into scouts;
The bells and circles on the weills,
Through leaping of the trouts.
38 O sure it were a seemly thing,
While all is still and calm,
The praise of God to play and sing
With trumpet and with shalm.
39 Through all the land great is the gild
Of rustic folks that cry;
Of bleating sheep, from they be fill'd,
Of calves and rowting kye.
40 All labourers draw home at even,
And can to others say,
Thanks to the gracious God of heaven,
Who sent this summer day.
 'Shade:' for shaded.
 'Nor:' than.
 'Syne:' then.
 'Maist and least:' largest and smallest.
 'Abread:' abroad.
 'Boulden:' emboldened.
 'Sheen:' shining.
 'Upbraids:' uprises.
 'Timeous:' early.
'Rowting kye:' lowing kine.
'Begaired:' dressed out.
 'Steir:' stir.
 'Caller:' cool.
 'Rin:' run.
 'Woltering:' tumbling.
 'Drown:' drone, be idle.
 'Freshure:' freshness.
 'Fauld:' fold.
 'Tapish'd:' stretched as on a carpet.
 'Beare:' sound, music.
 'Rayons dure:' hard or keen rays.
 'Gleid:' fire.
 'Whun:' whinstone.
 'Caller:' cool.
 'Brothing:' burning.
 'Ule:' oil.
 'Dings:' beats.
 'Reek:' smoke.
 'The mavis and the philomeen:' thrush and nightingale.
 'Cushats:' wood-pigeons.
 'Crood:' coo.
 'Gloamin:' evening.
 'Endlong:' along.
 'Cruives:' cages for catching fish.
 'Creels:' baskets.
 'Scouts:' small boats or yawls.
 'Weills:' eddies.
 'Gild:' throng.
* * * * *
OTHER SCOTTISH POETS.
About the same time with Hume flourished two or three poets in Scotland
of considerable merit, such as Alexander Scott, author of satires and
amatory poems, and called sometimes the 'Scottish Anacreon;' Sir Richard
Maitland of Lethington, father of the famous Secretary Lethington, who,
in his advanced years, composed and dictated to his daughter a few moral
and conversational pieces, and who collected, besides, into a MS. which
bears his name, the productions of some of his contemporaries; and
Alexander Montgomery, author of an allegorical poem, entitled 'The
Cherry and the Slae.'
The allegory is not well managed, but some of the natural descriptions
are sweet and striking. Take the two following stanzas as a specimen:--
'The cushat croods, the corbie cries,
The cuckoo conks, the prattling pies
To geck there they begin;
The jargon of the jangling jays,
The cracking craws and keckling kays,
They deav'd me with their din;
The painted pawn, with Argus eyes,
Can on his May-cock call,
The turtle wails, on wither'd trees,
And Echo answers all.
Repeating, with greeting,
How fair Narcissus fell,
By lying, and spying
His shadow in the well.
'The air was sober, saft, and sweet,
Nae misty vapours, wind, nor weet,
But quiet, calm, and clear;
To foster Flora's fragrant flowers,
Whereon Apollo's paramours
Had trinkled mony a tear;
The which, like silver shakers, shined,
Embroidering Beauty's bed,
Wherewith their heavy heads declined,
In Mayë's colours clad;
Some knopping, some dropping
Of balmy liquor sweet,
Excelling and smelling
Through Phoebus' wholesome heat.'
The 'Cherry and the Slae' was familiar to Burns, who often, our readers
will observe, copied its form of verse.
This ingenious person was born in 1562, near Taunton, in Somersetshire.
His father was a music-master. He was patronised by the noble family
of Pembroke, who probably also maintained him at college. He went to
Magdalene Hall, Oxford, in 1579; and after studying there, chiefly
history and poetry, for seven years, he left without a degree. When
twenty-three years of age, he translated Paulus Jovius' 'Discourse of
Rare Inventions.' He became tutor to Lady Anne Clifford, the elegant
and accomplished daughter of the Earl of Cumberland. She, at his death,
raised a monument to his memory, and recorded on it, with pride, that
she had been his pupil. After Spenser died, Daniel became a 'voluntary
laureat' to the Court, producing masques and pageants, but was soon
supplanted by 'rare Ben Jonson.' In 1603 he was appointed Master of the
Queen's Revels and Inspector of the Plays to be enacted by juvenile
performers. He was also promoted to be Gentleman Extraordinary and Groom
of the Chambers to the Queen. He was a varied and voluminous writer,
composing plays, miscellaneous poems, and prose compositions, including
a 'Defence of Rhyme' and a 'History of England,'--an honest, but somewhat
dry and dull production. While composing his works he resided in Old
Street, St Luke's, which was then thought a suburban residence; but he
was often in town, and mingled on intimate terms with Selden and
Shakspeare. When approaching sixty, he took a farm at Beckington, in
Somersetshire--his native shire--and died there in 1619.
Daniel's Plays and History are now, as wholes, forgotten, although the
former contained some vigorous passages, such as Richard II.'s soliloquy
on the morning of his murder in Pomfret Castle. His smaller pieces and
his Sonnets shew no ordinary poetic powers.
RICHARD II., THE MORNING BEFORE HIS MURDER IN POMFRET CASTLE.
Whether the soul receives intelligence,
By her near genius, of the body's end,
And so imparts a sadness to the sense,
Foregoing ruin, whereto it doth tend;
Or whether nature else hath conference
With profound sleep, and so doth warning send,
By prophetising dreams, what hurt is near,
And gives the heavv careful heart to fear:--
However, so it is, the now sad king,
Toss'd here and there his quiet to confound,
Feels a strange weight of sorrows gathering
Upon his trembling heart, and sees no ground;
Feels sudden terror bring cold shivering;
Lists not to eat, still muses, sleeps unsound;
His senses droop, his steady eyes unquick,
And much he ails, and yet he is not sick.
The morning of that day which was his last,
After a weary rest, rising to pain,
Out at a little grate his eyes he cast
Upon those bordering hills and open plain,
Where others' liberty makes him complain
The more his own, and grieves his soul the more,
Conferring captive crowns with freedom poor.
'O happy man,' saith he, 'that lo I see,
Grazing his cattle in those pleasant fields,
If he but knew his good. How blessed he
That feels not what affliction greatness yields!
Other than what he is he would not be,
Nor change his state with him that sceptre wields.
Thine, thine is that true life: that is to live,
To rest secure, and not rise up to grieve.
'Thou sitt'st at home safe by thy quiet fire,
And hear'st of others' harms, but fearest none:
And there thou tell'st of kings, and who aspire,
Who fall, who rise, who triumph, who do moan.
Perhaps thou talk'st of me, and dost inquire
Of my restraint, why here I live alone,
And pitiest this my miserable fall;
For pity must have part--envy not all.
'Thrice happy you that look as from the shore,
And have no venture in the wreck you see;
No interest, no occasion to deplore
Other men's travails, while yourselves sit free.
How much doth your sweet rest make us the more
To see our misery and what we be:
Whose blinded greatness, ever in turmoil,
Still seeking happy life, makes life a toil.'
Ah, I remember well (and how can I
But evermore remember well?) when first
Our flame began, when scarce we knew what was
The flame we felt; when as we sat and sigh'd
And look'd upon each other, and conceived
Not what we ail'd, yet something we did ail,
And yet were well, and yet we were not well,
And what was our disease we could not tell.
Then would we kiss, then sigh, then look: and thus
In that first garden of our simpleness
We spent our childhood. But when years began
To reap the fruit of knowledge; ah, how then
Would she with sterner looks, with graver brow,
Check my presumption and my forwardness!
Yet still would give me flowers, still would show
What she would have me, yet not have me know.
SELECTIONS FROM SONNETS.
I must not grieve, my love, whose eyes would read
Lines of delight, whereon her youth might smile;
Flowers have time before they come to seed,
And she is young, and now must sport the while.
And sport, sweet maid, in season of these years,
And learn to gather flowers before they wither;
And where the sweetest blossom first appears,
Let love and youth conduct thy pleasures thither,
Lighten forth smiles to clear the clouded air,
And calm the tempest which my sighs do raise:
Pity and smiles do best become the fair;
Pity and smiles must only yield thee praise.
Make me to say, when all my griefs are gone,
Happy the heart that sigh'd for such a one.
Fair is my love, and cruel as she's fair;
Her brow shades frown, although her eyes are sunny;
Her smiles are lightning, though her pride despair;
And her disdains are gall, her favours honey.
A modest maid, deck'd with a blush of honour,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love;
The wonder of all eyes that look upon her:
Sacred on earth; design'd a saint above;
Chastity and Beauty, which are deadly foes,
Live reconciled friends within her brow;
And had she Pity to conjoin with those,
Then who had heard the plaints I utter now?
For had she not been fair, and thus unkind,
My muse had slept, and none had known my mind.
Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born,
Relieve my anguish, and restore the light,
With dark forgetting of my care, return.
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill-advised youth;
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torments of the night's untruth.
Cease, dreams, the images of day-desires,
To model forth the passions of to-morrow;
Never let the rising sun prove you liars,
To add more grief, to aggravate my sorrow.
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain,
And never wake to feel the day's disdain.
SIR JOHN DAVIES.
This knight, says Campbell, 'wrote, at twenty-five years of age, a poem
on the "Immortality of the Soul," and at fifty-two, when he was a judge
and a statesman, another on the "_Art of Dancing_." Well might the
teacher of that noble accomplishment, in Molière's comedy, exclaim, "_La
philosophie est quelque chose--mais la danse!_" This, however, is more
pointed than correct, since the first of these poems was written in
1592, when the author was only twenty-two years of age, and the latter
appeared in 1599, when he was only twenty-nine.
Tisbury, in Wiltshire, was the birthplace of this poet, and 1570 the
date of his birth. His father was a practising lawyer. John was expelled
from the Temple for beating one Richard Martyn, afterwards Recorder, but
was restored, and subsequently elected for Parliament. In 1592, as
aforesaid, appeared his poem, 'Nosce Teipsum; or, The Immortality of the
Soul.' Its fame soon travelled to Scotland; and when Davies, along with
Lord Hunsdon, visited that country, James received him most graciously
as the author of 'Nosce Teipsum.' His history became, for some time, a
list of promotions. He was appointed, in 1603, first Solicitor and then
Attorney-General in Ireland, was next made Sergeant, was then knighted,
then appointed King's Sergeant, next elected representative of the
county of Fermanagh, and, in fine, after a violent contest between the
Roman Catholic and Protestant parties, was chosen Speaker of the House
of Commons in the Protestant interest. While in Ireland he married
Eleanor, a daughter of Lord Audley, who turned out a raving prophetess,
and was sent, in 1649, to the Tower, and then to Bethlehem Hospital, by
the Revolutionary Government. In 1616, Sir John returned to England,
continued to practise as a barrister, sat in Parliament for Newcastle-
under-Lyne, and received a promise of being made Chief-Justice of
England; but was suddenly cut off by apoplexy in 1626.
His poem on dancing, which was written in fifteen days, and left a
fragment, is a piece of beautiful, though somewhat extravagant fancy.
His 'Nosce Teipsum,' if it casts little new light, and rears no
demonstrative argument on the grand and difficult problem of
immortality, is full of ingenuity, and has many apt and memorable
similes. Feeling he happily likens to the
'subtle spider, which doth sit
In middle of her web, which spreadeth wide;
If aught do touch the utmost thread of it,
She feels it instantly on every side.'
In answering an objection, 'Why, if souls continue to exist, do they not
return and bring us news of that strange world?' he replies--
'But as Noah's pigeon, which return'd no more,
Did show she footing found, for all the flood,
So when good souls, departed through death's door,
Come not again, it shows their dwelling good.'
The poem is interesting from the musical use he makes of the quatrain,
a form of verse in which Dryden afterwards wrote his 'Annus Mirabilis,'
and as one of the earliest philosophical poems in the language. It is
proverbially difficult to reason in verse, but Davies reasons, if not
always with conclusive result, always with energy and skill.
INTRODUCTION TO THE POEM ON THE SOUL OF MAN.
1 The lights of heaven, which are the world's fair eyes,
Look down into the world, the world to see;
And as they turn or wander in the skies,
Survey all things that on this centre be.
2 And yet the lights which in my tower do shine,
Mine eyes, which view all objects nigh and far,
Look not into this little world of mine,
Nor see my face, wherein they fixed are.
3 Since Nature fails us in no needful thing,
Why want I means my inward self to see?
Which sight the knowledge of myself might bring,
Which to true wisdom is the first degree.
4 That Power, which gave me eyes the world to view,
To view myself, infused an inward light,
Whereby my soul, as by a mirror true,
Of her own form may take a perfect sight.
5 But as the sharpest eye discerneth nought,
Except the sunbeams in the air do shine;
So the best soul, with her reflecting thought,
Sees not herself without some light divine.
6 O light, which mak'st the light which makes the day!
Which sett'st the eye without, and mind within,
Lighten my spirit with one clear heavenly ray,
Which now to view itself doth first begin.
7 For her true form how can my spark discern,
Which, dim by nature, art did never clear,
When the great wits, of whom all skill we learn,
Are ignorant both what she is, and where?
8 One thinks the soul is air; another fire;
Another blood, diffused about the heart;
Another saith, the elements conspire,
And to her essence each doth give a part.
9 Musicians think our souls are harmonies;
Physicians hold that they complexions be;
Epicures make them swarms of atomies,
Which do by chance into our bodies flee.
10 Some think one general soul fills every brain,
As the bright sun sheds light in every star;
And others think the name of soul is vain,
And that we only well-mix'd bodies are.
11 In judgment of her substance thus they vary;
And thus they vary in judgment of her seat;
For some her chair up to the brain do carry,
Some thrust it down into the stomach's heat.
12 Some place it in the root of life, the heart;
Some in the liver, fountain of the veins;
Some say, she's all in all, and all in every part;
Some say, she's not contain'd, but all contains.
13 Thus these great clerks their little wisdom show,
While with their doctrines they at hazard play;
Tossing their light opinions to and fro,
To mock the lewd, as learn'd in this as they.
14 For no crazed brain could ever yet propound,
Touching the soul, so vain and fond a thought;
But some among these masters have been found,
Which in their schools the selfsame thing have taught.
15 God only wise, to punish pride of wit,
Among men's wits hath this confusion wrought,
As the proud tower whose points the clouds did hit,
By tongues' confusion was to ruin brought.
16 But thou which didst man's soul of nothing make,
And when to nothing it was fallen again,
'To make it new, the form of man didst take;
And, God with God, becam'st a man with men.'
17 Thou that hast fashion'd twice this soul of ours,
So that she is by double title thine,
Thou only know'st her nature and her powers,
Her subtle form thou only canst define.
18 To judge herself, she must herself transcend,
As greater circles comprehend the less;
But she wants power her own powers to extend,
As fetter'd men cannot their strength express.
19 But thou bright morning Star, thou rising Sun,
Which in these later times hast brought to light
Those mysteries that, since the world begun,
Lay hid in darkness and eternal night:
20 Thou, like the sun, dost with an equal ray
Into the palace and the cottage shine,
And show'st the soul, both to the clerk and lay,
By the clear lamp of oracle divine.
21 This lamp, through all the regions of my brain,
Where my soul sits, doth spread such beams of grace,
As now, methinks, I do distinguish plain
Each subtle line of her immortal face.
22 The soul a substance and a spirit is,
Which God himself doth in the body make,
Which makes the man; for every man from this
The nature of a man and name doth take.
23 And though this spirit be to the body knit,
As an apt means her powers to exercise,
Which are life, motion, sense, and will, and wit,
Yet she survives, although the body dies.
THE SELF-SUBSISTENCE OF THE SOUL.
1 She is a substance, and a real thing,
Which hath itself an actual working might,
Which neither from the senses' power doth spring,
Nor from the body's humours temper'd right.
2 She is a vine, which doth no propping need,
To make her spread herself, or spring upright;
She is a star, whose beams do not proceed
From any sun, but from a native light.
3 For when she sorts things present with things past,
And thereby things to come doth oft foresee;
When she doth doubt at first, and choose at last,
These acts her own, without her body be.
4 When of the dew, which the eye and ear do take,
From flowers abroad, and bring into the brain,
She doth within both wax and honey make:
This work is hers, this is her proper pain.
5 When she from sundry acts, one skill doth draw;
Gathering from divers fights one art of war;
From many cases like, one rule of law;
These her collections, not the senses' are.
6 When in the effects she doth the causes know;
And seeing the stream, thinks where the spring doth rise;
And seeing the branch, conceives the root below:
These things she views without the body's eyes.
7 When she, without a Pegasus, doth fly
Swifter than lightning's fire from east to west;
About the centre, and above the sky,
She travels then, although the body rest.
8 When all her works she formeth first within,
Proportions them, and sees their perfect end;
Ere she in act doth any part begin,
What instruments doth then the body lend?
9 When without hands she doth thus castles build,
Sees without eyes, and without feet doth run;
When she digests the world, yet is not fill'd:
By her own powers these miracles are done.
10 When she defines, argues, divides, compounds,
Considers virtue, vice, and general things;
And marrying divers principles and grounds,
Out of their match a true conclusion brings.
11 These actions in her closet, all alone,
Retired within herself, she doth fulfil;
Use of her body's organs she hath none,
When she doth use the powers of wit and will.
12 Yet in the body's prison so she lies,
As through the body's windows she must look,
Her divers powers of sense to exercise,
By gathering notes out of the world's great book.
13 Nor can herself discourse or judge of ought,
But what the sense collects, and home doth bring;
And yet the powers of her discoursing thought,
From these collections is a diverse thing.
14 For though our eyes can nought but colours see,
Yet colours give them not their power of sight;
So, though these fruits of sense her objects be,
Yet she discerns them by her proper light.
15 The workman on his stuff his skill doth show,
And yet the stuff gives not the man his skill;
Kings their affairs do by their servants know,
But order them by their own royal will.
16 So, though this cunning mistress, and this queen,
Doth, as her instruments, the senses use,
To know all things that are felt, heard, or seen;
Yet she herself doth only judge and choose.
17 Even as a prudent emperor, that reigns
By sovereign title over sundry lands,
Borrows, in mean affairs, his subjects' pains,
Sees by their eyes, and writeth by their hands:
18 But things of weight and consequence indeed,
Himself doth in his chamber then debate;
Where all his counsellors he doth exceed,
As far in judgment, as he doth in state.
19 Or as the man whom princes do advance,
Upon their gracious mercy-seat to sit,
Doth common things of course and circumstance,
To the reports of common men commit:
20 But when the cause itself must be decreed,
Himself in person in his proper court,
To grave and solemn hearing doth proceed,
Of every proof, and every by-report.
21 Then, like God's angel, he pronounceth right,
And milk and honey from his tongue doth flow:
Happy are they that still are in his sight,
To reap the wisdom which his lips doth sow.
22 Right so the soul, which is a lady free,
And doth the justice of her state maintain:
Because the senses ready servants be,
Attending nigh about her court, the brain:
23 By them the forms of outward things she learns,
For they return unto the fantasy,
Whatever each of them abroad discerns,
And there enrol it for the mind to see.
24 But when she sits to judge the good and ill,
And to discern betwixt the false and true,
She is not guided by the senses' skill,
But doth each thing in her own mirror view.
25 Then she the senses checks, which oft do err,
And even against their false reports decrees;
And oft she doth condemn what they prefer;
For with a power above the sense she sees.
26 Therefore no sense the precious joys conceives,
Which in her private contemplations be;
For then the ravish'd spirit the senses leaves,
Hath her own powers, and proper actions free.
27 Her harmonies are sweet, and full of skill,
When on the body's instruments she plays;
But the proportions of the wit and will,
Those sweet accords are even the angels' lays.
28 These tunes of reason are Amphion's lyre,
Wherewith he did the Theban city found:
These are the notes wherewith the heavenly choir,
The praise of Him which made the heaven doth sound.
29 Then her self-being nature shines in this,
That she performs her noblest works alone:
'The work, the touchstone of the nature is;
And by their operations things are known.'
 That the soul hath a proper operation without the body.
SPIRITUALITY OF THE SOUL.
1 But though this substance be the root of sense,
Sense knows her not, which doth but bodies know:
She is a spirit, and heavenly influence,
Which from the fountain of God's Spirit doth flow.
2 She is a spirit, yet not like air or wind;
Nor like the spirits about the heart or brain;
Nor like those spirits which alchymists do find,
When they in everything seek gold in vain.
3 For she all natures under heaven doth pass,
Being like those spirits, which God's bright face do see,
Or like Himself, whose image once she was,
Though now, alas! she scarce his shadow be.
4 For of all forms, she holds the first degree,
That are to gross, material bodies knit;
Yet she herself is bodiless and free;
And, though confined, is almost infinite.
5 Were she a body, how could she remain
Within this body, which is less than she?
Or how could she the world's great shape contain,
And in our narrow breasts contained be?
6 All bodies are confined within some place,
But she all place within herself confines:
All bodies have their measure and their space;
But who can draw the soul's dimensive lines?
7 No body can at once two forms admit,
Except the one the other do deface;
But in the soul ten thousand forms do fit,
And none intrudes into her neighbour's place.
8 All bodies are with other bodies fill'd,
But she receives both heaven and earth together:
Nor are their forms by rash encounter spill'd,
For there they stand, and neither toucheth either.
9 Nor can her wide embracements filled be;
For they that most and greatest things embrace,
Enlarge thereby their mind's capacity,
As streams enlarged, enlarge the channel's space.
10 All things received, do such proportion take,
As those things have, wherein they are received:
So little glasses little faces make,
And narrow webs on narrow frames are weaved.
11 Then what vast body must we make the mind,
Wherein are men, beasts, trees, towns, seas, and lands;
And yet each thing a proper place doth find,
And each thing in the true proportion stands?
12 Doubtless, this could not be, but that she turns
Bodies to spirits, by sublimation strange;
As fire converts to fire the things it burns:
As we our meats into our nature change.
13 From their gross matter she abstracts the forms,
And draws a kind of quintessence from things,
Which to her proper nature she transforms,
To bear them light on her celestial wings.
14 This doth she, when, from things particular,
She doth abstract the universal kinds,
Which bodiless and immaterial are,
And can be only lodged within our minds.
15 And thus from divers accidents and acts,
Which do within her observation fall,
She goddesses and powers divine abstracts;
As nature, fortune, and the virtues all.
16 Again; how can she several bodies know,
If in herself a body's form she bear?
How can a mirror sundry faces show,
If from all shapes and forms it be not clear?
17 Nor could we by our eyes all colours learn,
Except our eyes were of all colours void;
Nor sundry tastes can any tongue discern,
Which is with gross and bitter humours cloy'd.
18 Nor can a man of passions judge aright,
Except his mind be from all passions free:
Nor can a judge his office well acquit,
If he possess'd of either party be.
19 If, lastly, this quick power a body were,
Were it as swift as in the wind or fire,
Whose atoms do the one down sideways bear,
And the other make in pyramids aspire;
20 Her nimble body yet in time must move,
And not in instants through all places slide:
But she is nigh and far, beneath, above,
In point of time, which thought cannot divide;
21 She's sent as soon to China as to Spain;
And thence returns as soon as she is sent:
She measures with one time, and with one pain.
An ell of silk, and heaven's wide-spreading tent.
22 As then the soul a substance hath alone,
Besides the body in which she's confined;
So hath she not a body of her own,
But is a spirit, and immaterial mind.
23 Since body and soul have such diversities,
Well might we muse how first their match began;
But that we learn, that He that spread the skies,
And fix'd the earth, first form'd the soul in man.
24 This true Prometheus first made man of earth,
And shed in him a beam of heavenly fire;
Now in their mothers' wombs, before their birth,
Doth in all sons of men their souls inspire.
25 And as Minerva is in fables said,
From Jove, without a mother, to proceed;
So our true Jove, without a mother's aid,
Doth daily millions of Minervas breed.
 That it cannot be a body.
Giles Fletcher was the younger brother of Phineas, and died twenty-three
years before him. He was a cousin of Fletcher the dramatist, and the son
of Dr Giles Fletcher, who was employed in many important missions in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth, and, among others, negotiated a commercial
treaty with Russia greatly in the favour of his own country. Giles is
supposed to have been born in 1588. He studied at Cambridge; published his
noble poem, 'Christ's Victory and Triumph,' in 1610, when he was twenty-
three years of age; was appointed to the living of Alderston, in Suffolk,
where he died, in 1623, at the early age of thirty-five, 'equally loved,'
says old Wood, 'of the Muses and the Graces.'
The poem, in four cantos, entitled 'Christ's Victory and Triumph,' is one
of almost Miltonic magnificence. With a wing as easy as it is strong, he
soars to heaven, and fills the austere mouth of Justice and the golden
lips of Mercy with language worthy of both. He then stoops down on the
Wilderness of the Temptation, and paints the Saviour and Satan in colours
admirably contrasted, and which in their brightness and blackness can
never decay. Nor does he fear, in fine, to pierce the gloom of Calvary,
and to mingle his note with the harps of angels, saluting the Redeemer, as
He sprang from the grave, with the song, 'He is risen, He is risen--and
shall die no more.' The style is steeped in Spenser--equally mellifluous,
figurative, and majestic. In allegory the author of the 'Fairy Queen' is
hardly superior, and in the enthusiasm of devotion Fletcher surpasses him
far. From the great light, thus early kindled and early quenched, Milton
did not disdain to draw with his 'golden urn.' 'Paradise Regained' owes
much more than the suggestion of its subject to 'Christ's Victory;' and is
it too much to say that, had Fletcher lived, he might have shone in the
same constellation with the bard of the 'Paradise Lost?' The plan of our
'Specimens' permits only a few extracts. Let those who wish more, along
with a lengthened and glowing tribute to the author's genius, consult
_Blackwood_ for November 1835. The reading of a single sentence will
convince them that the author of the paper was Christopher North.
Who can forget, never to be forgot,
The time, that all the world in slumber lies:
When, like the stars, the singing angels shot
To earth, and heaven awaked all his eyes,
To see another sun at midnight rise
On earth? was never sight of pareil fame:
For God before, man like himself did frame,
But God himself now like a mortal man became.
A child he was, and had not learned to speak,
That with his word the world before did make:
His mother's arms him bore, he was so weak,
That with one hand the vaults of heaven could shake.
See how small room my infant Lord doth take,
Whom all the world is not enough to hold.
Who of his years, or of his age hath told?
Never such age so young, never a child so old.
And yet but newly he was infanted,
And yet already he was sought to die;
Yet scarcely born, already banished;
Not able yet to go, and forced to fly:
But scarcely fled away, when by and by,
The tyrant's sword with blood is all denied,
And Rachel, for her sons with fury wild,
Cries, O thou cruel king, and O my sweetest child!
Egypt his nurse became, where Nilus springs,
Who straight, to entertain the rising sun,
The hasty harvest in his bosom brings;
But now for drought the fields were all undone,
And now with waters all is overrun:
So fast the Cynthian mountains poured their snow,
When once they felt the sun so near them glow,
That Nilus Egypt lost, and to a sea did grow.
The angels carolled loud their song of peace,
The cursed oracles were stricken dumb,
To see their shepherd, the poor shepherds press,
To see their king, the kingly sophics come,
And them to guide unto his Master's home,
A star comes dancing up the orient,
That springs for joy over the strawy tent,
Where gold, to make their prince a crown, they all present.
Young John, glad child, before he could be born,
Leapt in the womb, his joy to prophesy:
Old Anna, though with age all spent and worn,
Proclaims her Saviour to posterity:
And Simeon fast his dying notes doth ply.
Oh, how the blessed souls about him trace!
It is the fire of heaven thou dost embrace:
Sing, Simeon, sing; sing, Simeon, sing apace.
With that the mighty thunder dropt away
From God's unwary arm, now milder grown,
And melted into tears; as if to pray
For pardon, and for pity, it had known,
That should have been for sacred vengeance thrown:
There too the armies angelic devowed
Their former rage, and all to mercy bowed,
Their broken weapons at her feet they gladly strowed.
Bring, bring, ye Graces, all your silver flaskets,
Painted with every choicest flower that grows,
That I may soon unflower your fragrant baskets,
To strow the fields with odours where he goes,
Let whatsoe'er he treads on be a rose.
So down she let her eyelids fall, to shine
Upon the rivers of bright Palestine,
Whose woods drop honey, and her rivers skip with wine.
SONG OF SORCERESS SEEKING TO TEMPT CHRIST.
Love is the blossom where there blows
Everything that lives or grows:
Love doth make the heavens to move,
And the sun doth burn in love:
Love the strong and weak doth yoke,
And makes the ivy climb the oak;
Under whose shadows lions wild,
Softened by love, grow tame and mild:
Love no medicine can appease,
He burns the fishes in the seas;
Not all the skill his wounds can stench,
Not all the sea his fire can quench:
Love did make the bloody spear
Once a leafy coat to wear,
While in his leaves there shrouded lay
Sweet birds, for love, that sing and play:
And of all love's joyful flame,
I the bud, and blossom am.
Only bend thy knee to me,
The wooing shall thy winning be.
See, see the flowers that below,
Now as fresh as morning blow,
And of all, the virgin rose,
That as bright Aurora shows:
How they all unleaved die,
Losing their virginity;
Like unto a summer-shade,
But now born, and now they fade.
Everything doth pass away,
There is danger in delay:
Come, come gather then the rose,
Gather it, ere it you lose.
All the sand of Tagus' shore
Into my bosom casts his ore;
All the valley's swimming corn
To my house is yearly borne:
Every grape of every vine
Is gladly bruised to make me wine.
While ten thousand kings, as proud,
To carry up my train have bowed,
And a world of ladies send me
In my chambers to attend me.
All the stars in heaven that shine,
And ten thousand more, are mine:
Only bend thy knee to me,
Thy wooing shall thy winning be.
CLOSE OF 'CHRIST'S VICTORY AND TRIUMPH.'
Here let my Lord hang up his conquering lance,
And bloody armour with late slaughter warm,
And looking down on his weak militants,
Behold his saints, midst of their hot alarm,
Hang all their golden hopes upon his arm.
And in this lower field dispacing wide,
Through windy thoughts, that would their sails misguide,
Anchor their fleshly ships fast in his wounded side.
Here may the band, that now in triumph shines,
And that (before they were invested thus)
In earthly bodies carried heavenly minds,
Pitched round about in order glorious,
Their sunny tents, and houses luminous,
All their eternal day in songs employing,
Joying their end, without end of their joying,
While their Almighty Prince destruction is destroying.
Full, yet without satiety, of that
Which whets and quiets greedy appetite,
Where never sun did rise, nor ever sat,
But one eternal day, and endless light
Gives time to those, whose time is infinite,
Speaking without thought, obtaining without fee,
Beholding him, whom never eye could see,
Magnifying him, that cannot greater be.
How can such joy as this want words to speak?
And yet what words can speak such joy as this?
Far from the world, that might their quiet break,
Here the glad souls the face of beauty kiss,
Poured out in pleasure, on their beds of bliss,
And drunk with nectar torrents, ever hold
Their eyes on him, whose graces manifold
The more they do behold, the more they would behold.
Their sight drinks lovely fires in at their eyes,
Their brain sweet incense with fine breath accloys,
That on God's sweating altar burning lies;
Their hungry ears feed on the heavenly noise
That angels sing, to tell their untold joys;
Their understanding naked truth, their wills
The all, and self-sufficient goodness fills,
That nothing here is wanting, but the want of ills.
No sorrow now hangs clouding on their brow,
No bloodless malady empales their face,
No age drops on their hairs his silver snow,
No nakedness their bodies doth embase,
No poverty themselves, and theirs disgrace,
No fear of death the joy of life devours,
No unchaste sleep their precious time deflowers,
No loss, no grief, no change wait on their winged hours.
But now their naked bodies scorn the cold,
And from their eyes joy looks, and laughs at pain;
The infant wonders how he came so old,
And old man how he came so young again;
Still resting, though from sleep they still restrain;
Where all are rich, and yet no gold they owe;
And all are kings, and yet no subjects know;
All full, and yet no time on food they do bestow.
For things that pass are past, and in this field
The indeficient spring no winter fears;
The trees together fruit and blossom yield,
The unfading lily leaves of silver bears,
And crimson rose a scarlet garment wears:
And all of these on the saints' bodies grow,
Not, as they wont, on baser earth below;
Three rivers here of milk, and wine, and honey flow.
About the holy city rolls a flood
Of molten crystal, like a sea of glass,
On which weak stream a strong foundation stood,
Of living diamonds the building was
That all things else, besides itself, did pass:
Her streets, instead of stones, the stars did pave,
And little pearls, for dust, it seemed to have,
On which soft-streaming manna, like pure snow, did wave.
In midst of this city celestial,
Where the eternal temple should have rose,
Lightened the idea beatifical:
End and beginning of each thing that grows,
Whose self no end, nor yet beginning knows,
That hath no eyes to see, nor ears to hear;
Yet sees, and hears, and is all eye, all ear;
That nowhere is contained, and yet is everywhere.
Changer of all things, yet immutable;
Before, and after all, the first, and last:
That moving all is yet immoveable;
Great without quantity, in whose forecast,
Things past are present, things to come are past;
Swift without motion, to whose open eye
The hearts of wicked men unbreasted lie;
At once absent, and present to them, far, and nigh.
It is no flaming lustre, made of light;
No sweet consent, or well-timed harmony;
Ambrosia, for to feast the appetite:
Or flowery odour, mixed with spicery;
No soft embrace, or pleasure bodily:
And yet it is a kind of inward feast;
A harmony that sounds within the breast;
An odour, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.
A heavenly feast no hunger can consume;
A light unseen, yet shines in every place;
A sound no time can steal; a sweet perfume
No winds can scatter; an entire embrace,
That no satiety can e'er unlace:
Ingraced into so high a favour, there
The saints, with their beau-peers, whole worlds outwear;
And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear.
Ye blessed souls, grown richer by your spoil,
Whose loss, though great, is cause of greater gains;
Here may your weary spirits rest from toil,
Spending your endless evening that remains,
Amongst those white flocks, and celestial trains,
That feed upon their Shepherd's eyes; and frame
That heavenly music of so wondrous fame,
Psalming aloud the holy honours of his name!
Had I a voice of steel to tune my song;
Were every verse as smooth as smoothest glass;
And every member turned to a tongue;
And every tongue were made of sounding brass:
Yet all that skill, and all this strength, alas!
Should it presume to adorn (were misadvised)
The place, where David hath new songs devised,
As in his burning throne he sits emparadised.
Most happy prince, whose eyes those stars behold,
Treading ours underfeet, now mayst thou pour
That overflowing skill, wherewith of old
Thou wont'st to smooth rough speech; now mayst thou shower
Fresh streams of praise upon that holy bower,
Which well we heaven call, not that it rolls,
But that it is the heaven of our souls:
Most happy prince, whose sight so heavenly sight beholds!
Ah, foolish shepherds! who were wont to esteem
Your God all rough, and shaggy-haired to be;
And yet far wiser shepherds than ye deem,
For who so poor (though who so rich) as he,
When sojourning with us in low degree,
He washed his flocks in Jordan's spotless tide;
And that his dear remembrance might abide,
Did to us come, and with us lived, and for us died?
But now such lively colours did embeam
His sparkling forehead; and such shining rays
Kindled his flaming locks, that down did stream
In curls along his neck, where sweetly plays
(Singing his wounds of love in sacred lays)
His dearest Spouse, Spouse of the dearest Lover,
Knitting a thousand knots over and over,
And dying still for love, but they her still recover.
Fairest of fairs, that at his eyes doth dress
Her glorious face; those eyes, from whence are shed
Attractions infinite; where to express
His love, high God all heaven as captive leads,
And all the banners of his grace dispreads,
And in those windows doth his arms englaze,
And on those eyes, the angels all do gaze,
And from those eyes, the lights of heaven obtain their blaze.
But let the Kentish lad, that lately taught
His oaten reed the trumpet's silver sound,
Young Thyrsilis; and for his music brought
The willing spheres from heaven, to lead around
The dancing nymphs and swains, that sung, and crowned
Eclecta's Hymen with ten thousand flowers
Of choicest praise; and hung her heavenly bowers
With saffron garlands, dressed for nuptial paramours.
Let his shrill trumpet, with her silver blast,
Of fair Eclecta, and her spousal bed,
Be the sweet pipe, and smooth encomiast:
But my green muse, hiding her younger head,
Under old Camus' flaggy banks, that spread
Their willow locks abroad, and all the day
With their own watery shadows wanton play;
Dares not those high amours, and love-sick songs assay.
Impotent words, weak lines, that strive in vain;
In vain, alas, to tell so heavenly sight!
So heavenly sight, as none can greater feign,
Feign what he can, that seems of greatest might:
Could any yet compare with Infinite?
Infinite sure those joys; my words but light;
Light is the palace where she dwells; oh, then, how bright!
 The author of 'The Purple Island.'
John Donne was born in London, in the year 1573. He sprung from a
Catholic family, and his mother was related to Sir Thomas More and to
Heywood the epigrammatist. He was very early distinguished as a prodigy
of boyish acquirement, and was entered, when only eleven, of Harthall,
now Hertford College. He was designed for the law, but relinquished the
study when he reached nineteen. About the same time, having studied the
controversies between the Papists and Protestants, he deliberately went
over to the latter. He next accompanied the Earl of Essex to Cadiz, and
looked wistfully over the gulf dividing him from Jerusalem, with all its
holy memories, to which his heart had been translated from very boyhood.
He even meditated a journey to the Holy Land, but was discouraged by
reports as to the dangers of the way. On his return he was received by
the Lord Chancellor Ellesmere into his own house as his secretary. Here
he fell in love with Miss More, the daughter of Sir George More, Lord-
Lieutenant of the Tower, and the niece of the Chancellor. His passion
was returned, and the pair were imprudent enough to marry privately.
When the matter became known, the father-in-law became infuriated. He
prevailed on Lord Ellesmere to drive Donne out of his service, and had
him even for a short time imprisoned. Even when released he continued in
a pitiable plight, and but for the kindness of Sir Francis Wooley, a son
of Lady Ellesmere by a former marriage, who received the young couple
into his family and entertained them for years, they would have
When Donne reached the age of thirty-four, Dr Merton, afterwards Bishop
of Durham, urged him to take orders, and offered him a benefice, which
he was generously to relinquish in his favour. Donne declined, on
account, he said, of some past errors of life, which, 'though repented
of and pardoned by God, might not be forgotten by men, and might cast
dishonour on the sacred office.'
When Sir F. Wooley died, Sir Robert Drury became his next protector.
Donne attended him on an embassy to France, and his wife formed the
romantic purpose of accompanying her husband in the disguise of a page.
Here was a wife fit for a poet! In order to restrain her from her
purpose, he had to address to her some verses, commencing,
'By our strange and fatal interview.'
Isaak Walton relates how the poet, one evening, as he sat alone in
Paris, saw his wife appearing to him in vision, with a dead infant in
her arms--a proof at once of the strength of his love and of his
imagination. This beloved and admirable woman died in 1617, a few days
after giving birth to her twelfth child, and Donne's grief approached
When he had reached the forty-second year of his age, our poet, at the
instance of King James, became a clergyman, and was successively
appointed Chaplain to the King, Lecturer to Lincoln's Inn, Dean of St
Dunstan's in the West, and Dean of St Paul's. In the pulpit he attracted
great attention, particularly from the more thoughtful and intelligent
of his auditors. He continued Dean of St Paul's till his death, which
took place in 1631, when he was approaching sixty. He died of consumption,
a disease which seldom cuts down a man so near his grand climacteric.
'He was buried,' says Campbell, 'in St Paul's, where his figure yet
remains in the vault of St Faith's, carved from a painting, for which he
sat a few days' (it should be weeks) 'before his death, dressed in his
winding-sheet.' He kept this portrait constantly by his bedside to
remind him of his mortality.
Donne's Sermons fill a large folio, with which we were familiar in
boyhood, but have not seen since. De Quincey says, alluding partly
to them, and partly to his poetry,--'Few writers have shewn a more
extraordinary compass of powers than Donne, for he combined--what no
other man has ever done--the last sublimation of dialectical subtlety
and address with the most impassioned majesty. Massy diamonds compose
the very substance of his poem on the 'Metempsychosis,'--thoughts and
descriptions which have the fervent and gloomy sublimity of Ezekiel or
Aeschylus; while a diamond-dust of rhetorical brilliances is strewed
over the whole of his occasional verses and his prose.' We beg leave
to differ, in some degree, from De Quincey in his estimate of the
'Metempsychosis,' or 'The Progress of the Soul,' although we have given
it entire. It has too many far-fetched conceits and obscure allegories,
although redeemed, we admit, by some very precious thoughts, such as
'This soul, to whom Luther and Mahomet were Prisons of flesh.'
Or the following quaint picture of the apple in Eden--
'Prince of the orchard, fair as dawning morn,
Fenced with the law, and ripe as soon as born.'
'Nature hath no jail, though she hath law.'
If our readers, however, can admire the account the poet gives of Abel
and his bitch, or see any resemblance to the severe and simple grandeur
of Aeschylus and Ezekiel in the description of the soul informing a
body, made of a '_female fish's sandy roe' 'newly leavened with the
male's jelly_,' we shall say no more.
Donne, altogether, gives us the impression of a great genius ruined by
a false system. He is a charioteer run away with by his own pampered
steeds. He begins generally well, but long ere the close, quibbles,
conceits, and the temptation of shewing off recondite learning, prove
too strong for him, and he who commenced following a serene star, ends
pursuing a will-o'-wisp into a bottomless morass. Compare, for instance,
the ingenious nonsense which abounds in the middle and the close of his
'Progress of the Soul' with the dark, but magnificent stanzas which are
the first in the poem.
In no writings in the language is there more spilt treasure--a more lavish
loss of beautiful, original, and striking things than in the poems of
Donne. Every second line, indeed, is either bad, or unintelligible, or
twisted into unnatural distortion, but even the worst passages discover a
great, though trammelled and tasteless mind; and we question if Dr Johnson
himself, who has, in his 'Life of Cowley,' criticised the school of poets
to which Donne belonged so severely, and in some points so justly,
possessed a tithe of the rich fancy, the sublime intuition, and the lofty
spirituality of Donne. How characteristic of the difference between these
two great men, that, while the one shrank from the slightest footprint of
death, Donne deliberately placed the image of his dead self before his
eyes, and became familiar with the shadow ere the grim reality arrived!
Donne's Satires shew, in addition to the high ideal qualities, the rugged
versification, the fantastic paradox, and the perverted taste of their
author, great strength and clearness of judgment, and a deep, although
somewhat jaundiced, view of human nature. That there must have been
something morbid in the structure of his mind is proved by the fact that
he wrote an elaborate treatise, which was not published till after his
death, entitled, 'Biathanatos,' to prove that suicide was not necessarily
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way;
Despair behind, and death before, doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh,
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain:
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou, like adamant, draw mine iron heart.
As due by many titles, I resign
Myself to thee, O God! First I was made
By thee, and for thee; and when I was decayed
Thy blood bought that, the which before was thine.
I am thy son, made with thyself to shine,
Thy servant, whose pains thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheep, thine image; and, till I betrayed
Myself, a temple of thy Spirit divine.
Why doth the devil then usurp on me?
Why doth he steal, nay, ravish, that's thy right?
Except thou rise, and for thine own work fight,
Oh! I shall soon despair, when I shall see
That thou lov'st mankind well, yet wilt not choose me,
And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.
Oh! might these sighs and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes which I have spent,
That I might, in this holy discontent,
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourned in vain!
In mine idolatry what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste! what griefs my heart did rent!
That sufferance was my sin I now repent;
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