Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
George Gilfillan

Part 6 out of 20

'Cause I did suffer, I must suffer pain.
The hydroptic drunkard, and night-scouting thief,
The itchy lecher, and self-tickling proud,
Have th' remembrance of past joys for relief
Of coming ills. To poor me is allow'd
No ease; for long yet vehement grief hath been
The effect and cause, the punishment and sin.


Oh! my black soul! now thou art summoned
By sickness, death's herald and champion,
Thou 'rt like a pilgrim which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which, till death's doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison;
But damn'd, and haul'd to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned:
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh! make thyself with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might,
That, being red, it dyes red souls to white.


I am a little world, made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite;
But black sin hath betrayed to endless night
My world's both parts, and oh! both parts must die.
You, which beyond that heaven, which was most high,
Have found new spheres, and of new land can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it, if it must be drowned no more:
But oh! it must be burnt; alas! the fire
Of lust and envy burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord! with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.


This is my play's last scene; here Heavens appoint
My pilgrimage's last mile; and my race,
Idly yet quickly run, hath this last pace,
My span's last inch, my minute's latest point,
And gluttonous Death will instantly unjoint
My body and soul, and I shall sleep a space:
But my ever-waking part shall see that face
Whose fear already shakes my every joint.
Then as my soul to heaven, her first seat, takes flight,
And earth-born body in the earth shall dwell,
So fall my sins, that all may have their right,
To where they're bred, and would press me to hell.
Impute me righteous; thus purged of evil,
For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.


At the round earth's imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels! and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall, overthrow;
All whom war, death, age, ague's tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain; and you whose eyes
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord! and me mourn a space;
For if above all these my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace
When we are there. Here on this holy ground
Teach me how to repent, for that's as good
As if thou hadst sealed my pardon with thy blood.


If faithful souls be alike glorified
As angels, then my father's soul doth see,
And adds this even to full felicity,
That valiantly I hell's wide mouth o'erstride;
But if our minds to these souls be descried
By circumstances and by signs that be
Apparent in us not immediately,
How shall my mind's white truth by them be tried?
They see idolatrous lovers weep and mourn,
And style blasphemous conjurors to call
On Jesus' name, and pharisaical
Dissemblers feign devotion. Then turn,
O pensive soul! to God, for he knows best
Thy grief, for he put it into my breast.


If poisonous minerals, and if that tree
Whose fruit threw death on (else immortal) us;
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious,
Cannot be damn'd, alas! why should I be?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous?
And mercy being easy and glorious
To God, in his stern wrath why threatens he?
But who am I that dare dispute with thee!
O God! oh, of thine only worthy blood,
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown in it my sins' black memory:
That thou remember them some claim as debt,
I think it mercy if thou wilt forget!


Death! be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death! nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be,
Much pleasure, then, from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness, dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou, then?
One short sleep past we wake eternally;
And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Spit in my face, you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet and scoff, scourge and crucify me,
For I have sinned, and sinned, and only he
Who could do no iniquity hath died,
But by my death cannot be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews' impiety:
They killed once an inglorious man, but I
Crucify him daily, being now glorified.
O let me then his strange love still admire.
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment;
And Jacob came, clothed in vile harsh attire,
But to supplant, and with gainful intent:
God clothed himself in vile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to surfer woe.


Why are we by all creatures waited on?
Why do the prodigal elements supply
Life and food to me, being more pure than I,
Simpler, and further from corruption?
Why brook'st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?
Why do you, bull and boar, so sillily
Dissemble weakness, and by one man's stroke die,
Whose whole kind you might swallow and feed upon?
Weaker I am, woe's me! and worse than you:
You have not sinned, nor need be timorous,
But wonder at a greater, for to us
Created nature doth these things subdue;
But their Creator, whom sin nor nature tied,
For us, his creatures and his foes, hath died.


What if this present were the world's last night?
Mark in my heart, O Soul! where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether his countenance can thee affright;
Tears in his eyes quench the amazing light;
Blood fills his frowns, which from his pierced head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell
Which prayed forgiveness for his foes' fierce spite?
No, no; but as in my idolatry
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty of pity, foulness only is
A sign of rigour, so I say to thee:
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned;
This beauteous form assumes a piteous mind.


Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend,
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh! to no end:
Reason, your viceroy in me, we should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue;
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me; for I,
Except you enthral me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


Wilt thou love God as he thee? then digest,
My Soul! this wholesome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his temple in thy breast.
The Father having begot a Son most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne'er begun.)
Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption,
Co-heir to his glory, and Sabbath's endless rest:
And as a robbed man, which by search doth find
His stol'n stuff sold, must lose or buy 't again;
The Sun of glory came down and was slain,
Us, whom he had made, and Satan stole, to unbind.
'Twas much that man was made like God before,
But that God should be made like man much more.


Father, part of his double interest
Unto thy kingdom thy Son gives to me;
His jointure in the knotty Trinity
He keeps, and gives to me his death's conquest.
This Lamb, whose death with life the world hath blest,
Was from the world's beginning slain, and he
Hath made two wills, which, with the legacy
Of his and thy kingdom, thy sons invest:
Yet such are these laws, that men argue yet
Whether a man those statutes can fulfil:
None doth; but thy all-healing grace and Spirit
Revive again what law and letter kill:
Thy law's abridgment and thy last command
Is all but love; oh, let this last will stand!



I sing the progress of a deathless Soul,
Whom Fate, which God made, but doth not control,
Placed in most shapes. All times, before the law
Yoked us, and when, and since, in this I sing,
And the great World to his aged evening,
From infant morn through manly noon I draw:
What the gold Chaldee or silver Persian saw,
Greek brass, or Roman iron, 'tis in this one,
A work to outwear Seth's pillars, brick and stone,
And, Holy Writ excepted, made to yield to none.


Thee, Eye of Heaven, this great Soul envies not;
By thy male force is all we have begot.
In the first east thou now beginn'st to shine,
Suck'st early balm, and island spices there,
And wilt anon in thy loose-reined career
At Tagus, Po, Seine, Thames, and Danow, dine,
And see at night this western land of mine;
Yet hast thou not more nations seen than she
That before thee one day began to be,
And, thy frail light being quench'd, shall long, long outlive thee.


Nor holy Janus, in whose sovereign boat
The church and all the monarchies did float;
That swimming college and free hospital
Of all mankind, that cage and vivary
Of fowls and beasts, in whose womb Destiny
Us and our latest nephews did install,
(From thence are all derived that fill this all,)
Didst thou in that great stewardship embark
So diverse shapes into that floating park,
As have been moved and inform'd by this heavenly spark.


Great Destiny! the commissary of God!
Thou hast marked out a path and period
For everything; who, where we offspring took,
Our ways and ends seest at one instant: thou
Knot of all causes; thou whose changeless brow
Ne'er smiles nor frowns, oh! vouchsafe thou to look,
And shew my story in thy eternal book,
That (if my prayer be fit) I may understand
So much myself as to know with what hand,
How scant or liberal, this my life's race is spann'd.


To my six lustres, almost now outwore,
Except thy book owe me so many more;
Except my legend be free from the lets
Of steep ambition, sleepy poverty,
Spirit-quenching sickness, dull captivity,
Distracting business, and from beauty's nets,
And all that calls from this and t'other's whets;
Oh! let me not launch out, but let me save
The expense of brain and spirit, that my grave
His right and due, a whole unwasted man, may have.


But if my days be long and good enough,
In vain this sea shall enlarge or enrough
Itself; for I will through the wave and foam,
And hold, in sad lone ways, a lively sprite,
Make my dark heavy poem light, and light:
For though through many straits and lands I roam,
I launch at Paradise, and sail towards home:
The course I there began shall here be stayed;
Sails hoisted there struck here, and anchors laid
In Thames which were at Tigris and Euphrates weighed.


For the great Soul which here amongst us now
Doth dwell, and moves that hand, and tongue, and brow,
Which, as the moon the sea, moves us, to hear
Whose story with long patience you will long,
(For 'tis the crown and last strain of my song;)
This Soul, to whom Luther and Mohammed were
Prisons of flesh; this Soul,--which oft did tear
And mend the wrecks of the empire, and late Rome,
And lived when every great change did come,
Had first in Paradise a low but fatal room.


Yet no low room, nor then the greatest, less
If, as devout and sharp men fitly guess,
That cross, our joy and grief, (where nails did tie
That All, which always was all everywhere,
Which could not sin, and yet all sins did bear,
Which could not die, yet could not choose but die,)
Stood in the self-same room in Calvary
Where first grew the forbidden learned tree;
For on that tree hung in security
This Soul, made by the Maker's will from pulling free.


Prince of the orchard, fair as dawning morn,
Fenced with the law, and ripe as soon as born,
That apple grew which this soul did enlive,
Till the then climbing serpent, that now creeps
For that offence for which all mankind weeps,
Took it, and t' her, whom the first man did wive,
(Whom and her race only forbiddings drive,)
He gave it, she to her husband; both did eat:
So perished the eaters and the meat,
And we, for treason taints the blood, thence die and sweat.


Man all at once was there by woman slain,
And one by one we're here slain o'er again
By them. The mother poison'd the well-head;
The daughters here corrupt us rivulets;
No smallness 'scapes, no greatness breaks, their nets:
She thrust us out, and by them we are led
Astray from turning to whence we are fled.
Were prisoners judges 't would seem rigorous;
She sinned, we bear: part of our pain is thus
To love them whose fault to this painful love yoked us.


So fast in us doth this corruption grow,
That now we dare ask why we should be so.
Would God (disputes the curious rebel) make
A law, and would not have it kept? or can
His creatures' will cross his? Of every man
For one will God (and be just) vengeance take?
Who sinned? 'twas not forbidden to the snake,
Nor her, who was not then made; nor is 't writ
That Adam cropt or knew the apple; yet
The worm, and she, and he, and we, endure for it.


But snatch me, heavenly Spirit! from this vain
Reck'ning their vanity; less is their gain
Than hazard still to meditate on ill,
Though with good mind; their reasons like those toys
Of glassy bubbles which the gamesome boys
Stretch to so nice a thinness through a quill,
That they themselves break, and do themselves spill.
Arguing is heretics' game, and exercise,
As wrestlers, perfects them. Not liberties
Of speech, but silence; hands, not tongues, and heresies.


Just in that instant, when the serpent's gripe
Broke the slight veins and tender conduit-pipe
Through which this Soul from the tree's root did draw
Life and growth to this apple, fled away
This loose Soul, old, one and another day.
As lightning, which one scarce dare say he saw,
'Tis so soon gone (and better proof the law
Of sense than faith requires) swiftly she flew
To a dark and foggy plot; her her fates threw
There through the earth's pores, and in a plant housed her anew.


The plant, thus abled, to itself did force
A place where no place was by Nature's course,
As air from water, water fleets away
From thicker bodies; by this root thronged so
His spungy confines gave him place to grow:
Just as in our streets, when the people stay
To see the prince, and so fill up the way
That weasels scarce could pass; when he comes near
They throng and cleave up, and a passage clear,
As if for that time their round bodies flatten'd were.


His right arm he thrust out towards the east,
Westward his left; the ends did themselves digest
Into ten lesser strings, these fingers were:
And, as a slumberer, stretching on his bed,
This way he this, and that way scattered
His other leg, which feet with toes upbear;
Grew on his middle part, the first day, hair.
To shew that in love's business he should still
A dealer be, and be used, well or ill:
His apples kindle, his leaves force of conception kill.


A mouth, but dumb, he hath; blind eyes, deaf ears,
And to his shoulders dangle subtle hairs;
A young Colossus there he stands upright;
And, as that ground by him were conquered,
A lazy garland wears he on his head
Enchased with little fruits so red and bright,
That for them ye would call your love's lips white;
So of a lone unhaunted place possess'd,
Did this Soul's second inn, built by the guest,
This living buried man, this quiet mandrake, rest.


No lustful woman came this plant to grieve,
But 'twas because there was none yet but Eve,
And she (with other purpose) killed it quite:
Her sin had now brought in infirmities,
And so her cradled child the moist-red eyes
Had never shut, nor slept, since it saw light:
Poppy she knew, she knew the mandrake's might,
And tore up both, and so cooled her child's blood.
Unvirtuous weeds might long unvexed have stood,
But he's short-lived that with his death can do most good.


To an unfettered Soul's quick nimble haste
Are falling stars and heart's thoughts but slow-paced,
Thinner than burnt air flies this Soul, and she,
Whom four new-coming and four parting suns
Had found, and left the mandrake's tenant, runs,
Thoughtless of change, when her firm destiny
Confined and enjailed her that seemed so free
Into a small blue shell, the which a poor
Warm bird o'erspread, and sat still evermore,
Till her enclosed child kicked, and picked itself a door.


Out crept a sparrow, this Soul's moving inn,
On whose raw arms stiff feathers now begin,
As children's teeth through gums, to break with pain:
His flesh is jelly yet, and his bones threads;
All a new downy mantle overspreads:
A mouth he opes, which would as much contain
As his late house, and the first hour speaks plain,
And chirps aloud for meat: meat fit for men
His father steals for him, and so feeds then
One that within a month will beat him from his hen.


In this world's youth wise Nature did make haste,
Things ripened sooner, and did longer last:
Already this hot cock in bush and tree,
In field and tent, o'erflutters his next hen:
He asks her not who did so taste, nor when;
Nor if his sister or his niece she be,
Nor doth she pule for his inconstancy
If in her sight he change; nor doth refuse
The next that calls; both liberty do use.
Where store is of both kinds, both kinds may freely choose.


Men, till they took laws, which made freedom less,
Their daughters and their sisters did ingress;
Till now unlawful, therefore ill, 'twas not;
So jolly, that it can move this Soul. Is
The body so free of his kindnesses,
That self-preserving it hath now forgot,
And slack'neth not the Soul's and body's knot,
Which temp'rance straitens? Freely on his she-friends
He blood and spirit, pith and marrow, spends;
Ill steward of himself, himself in three years ends.


Else might he long have lived; man did not know
Of gummy blood which doth in holly grow,
How to make bird-lime, nor how to deceive,
With feigned calls, his nets, or enwrapping snare,
The free inhabitants of the pliant air.
Man to beget, and woman to conceive,
Asked not of roots, nor of cock-sparrows, leave;
Yet chooseth he, though none of these he fears,
Pleasantly three; then straitened twenty years
To live, and to increase his race himself outwears.


This coal with over-blowing quenched and dead,
The Soul from her too active organs fled
To a brook. A female fish's sandy roe
With the male's jelly newly leavened was;
For they had intertouched as they did pass,
And one of those small bodies, fitted so,
This Soul informed, and able it to row
Itself with finny oars, which she did fit,
Her scales seemed yet of parchment, and as yet
Perchance a fish, but by no name you could call it.


When goodly, like a ship in her full trim,
A swan so white, that you may unto him
Compare all whiteness, but himself to none,
Glided along, and as he glided watched,
And with his arched neck this poor fish catched:
It moved with state, as if to look upon
Low things it scorned; and yet before that one
Could think he sought it, he had swallowed clear
This and much such, and unblamed, devoured there
All but who too swift, too great, or well-armed, were.


Now swam a prison in a prison put,
And now this Soul in double walls was shut,
Till melted with the swan's digestive fire
She left her house, the fish, and vapoured forth:
Fate not affording bodies of more worth
For her as yet, bids her again retire
To another fish, to any new desire
Made a new prey; for he that can to none
Resistance make, nor complaint, is sure gone;
Weakness invites, but silence feasts oppression.


Pace with the native stream this fish doth keep,
And journeys with her towards the glassy deep,
But oft retarded; once with a hidden net,
Though with great windows, (for when need first taught
These tricks to catch food, then they were not wrought
As now, with curious greediness, to let
None 'scape, but few and fit for use to get,)
As in this trap a ravenous pike was ta'en,
Who, though himself distress'd, would fain have slain
This wretch; so hardly are ill habits left again.


Here by her smallness she two deaths o'erpast,
Once innocence 'scaped, and left the oppressor fast;
The net through swam, she keeps the liquid path,
And whether she leap up sometimes to breathe
And suck in air, or find it underneath,
Or working parts like mills or limbecs hath,
To make the water thin, and air like faith,
Cares not, but safe the place she's come unto,
Where fresh with salt waves meet, and what to do
She knows not, but between both makes a board or two.


So far from hiding her guests water is,
That she shews them in bigger quantities
Than they are. Thus her, doubtful of her way,
For game, and not for hunger, a sea-pie
Spied through his traitorous spectacle from high
The silly fish, where it disputing lay,
And to end her doubts and her, bears her away;
Exalted, she's but to the exalter's good,
(As are by great ones men which lowly stood;)
It's raised to be the raiser's instrument and food.


Is any kind subject to rape like fish?
Ill unto man they neither do nor wish;
Fishers they kill not, nor with noise awake;
They do not hunt, nor strive to make a prey
Of beasts, nor their young sons to bear away;
Fowls they pursue not, nor do undertake
To spoil the nests industrious birds do make;
Yet them all these unkind kinds feed upon;
To kill them is an occupation,
And laws make fasts and lents for their destruction.


A sudden stiff land-wind in that self hour
To sea-ward forced this bird that did devour
The fish; he cares not, for with ease he flies,
Fat gluttony's best orator: at last,
So long he hath flown, and hath flown so fast,
That, leagues o'erpast at sea, now tired he lies,
And with his prey, that till then languished, dies:
The souls, no longer foes, two ways did err.
The fish I follow, and keep no calender
Of the other: he lives yet in some great officer.


Into an embryo fish our Soul is thrown,
And in due time thrown out again, and grown
To such vastness, as if unmanacled
From Greece Morea were, and that, by some
Earthquake unrooted, loose Morea swam;
Or seas from Afric's body had severed
And torn the Hopeful promontory's head:
This fish would seem these, and, when all hopes fail,
A great ship overset, or without sail,
Hulling, might (when this was a whelp) be like this whale.


At every stroke his brazen fins do take
More circles in the broken sea they make
Than cannons' voices when the air they tear:
His ribs are pillars, and his high-arched roof
Of bark, that blunts best steel, is thunder-proof:
Swim in him swallowed dolphins without fear,
And feel no sides, as if his vast womb were
Some inland sea; and ever, as he went,
He spouted rivers up, as if he meant
To join our seas with seas above the firmament.


He hunts not fish, but, as an officer
Stays in his court, at his own net, and there
All suitors of all sorts themselves enthral;
So on his back lies this whale wantoning,
And in his gulf-like throat sucks every thing,
That passeth near. Fish chaseth fish, and all,
Flier and follower, in this whirlpool fall:
Oh! might not states of more equality
Consist? and is it of necessity
That thousand guiltless smalls to make one great must die?


Now drinks he up seas, and he eats up flocks;
He jostles islands, and he shakes firm rocks:
Now in a roomful house this Soul doth float,
And, like a prince, she sends her faculties
To all her limbs, distant as provinces.
The sun hath twenty times both Crab and Goat
Parched, since first launched forth this living boat:
'Tis greatest now, and to destruction
Nearest; there's no pause at perfection;
Greatness a period hath, but hath no station.


Two little fishes, whom he never harmed,
Nor fed on their kind, two, not th'roughly armed
With hope that they could kill him, nor could do
Good to themselves by his death, (they did not eat
His flesh, nor suck those oils which thence outstreat,)
Conspired against him; and it might undo
The plot of all that the plotters were two,
But that they fishes were, and could not speak.
How shall a tyrant wise strong projects break,
If wretches can on them the common anger wreak?


The flail-finned thresher and steel-beaked sword-fish
Only attempt to do what all do wish:
The thresher backs him, and to beat begins;
The sluggard whale leads to oppression,
And t' hide himself from shame and danger, down
Begins to sink: the sword-fish upwards spins,
And gores him with his beak; his staff-like fins
So well the one, his sword the other, plies,
That, now a scoff and prey, this tyrant dies,
And (his own dole) feeds with himself all companies.


Who will revenge his death? or who will call
Those to account that thought and wrought his fall?
The heirs of slain kings we see are often so
Transported with the joy of what they get,
That they revenge and obsequies forget;
Nor will against such men the people go,
Because he's now dead to whom they should show
Love in that act. Some kings, by vice, being grown
So needy of subjects' love, that of their own
They think they lose if love be to the dead prince shown.


This soul, now free from prison and passion,
Hath yet a little indignation
That so small hammers should so soon down beat
So great a castle; and having for her house
Got the strait cloister of a wretched mouse,
(As basest men, that have not what to eat,
Nor enjoy ought, do far more hate the great
Than they who good reposed estates possess,)
This Soul, late taught that great things might by less
Be slain, to gallant mischief doth herself address.


Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant,
(The only harmless great thing,) the giant
Of beasts, who thought none had to make him wise,
But to be just and thankful, both to offend,
(Yet Nature hath given him no knees to bend,)
Himself he up-props, on himself relies,
And, foe to none, suspects no enemies,
Still sleeping stood; vexed not his fantasy
Black dreams; like an unbent bow carelessly
His sinewy proboscis did remissly lie.


In which, as in a gallery, this mouse
Walked, and surveyed the rooms of this vast house,
And to the brain, the Soul's bed-chamber, went,
And gnawed the life-cords there: like a whole town
Clean undermined, the slain beast tumbled down:
With him the murderer dies, whom envy sent
To kill, not 'scape, (for only he that meant
To die did ever kill a man of better room,)
And thus he made his foe his prey and tomb:
Who cares not to turn back may any whither come.


Next housed this Soul a wolf's yet unborn whelp,
Till the best midwife, Nature, gave it help
To issue: it could kill as soon as go.
Abel, as white and mild as his sheep were,
(Who, in that trade, of church and kingdoms there
Was the first type,) was still infested so
With this wolf, that it bred his loss and woe;
And yet his bitch, his sentinel, attends
The flock so near, so well warns and defends,
That the wolf, hopeless else, to corrupt her intends.


He took a course, which since successfully
Great men have often taken, to espy
The counsels, or to break the plots, of foes;
To Abel's tent he stealeth in the dark,
On whose skirts the bitch slept: ere she could bark,
Attached her with strait gripes, yet he called those
Embracements of love: to love's work he goes,
Where deeds move more than words; nor doth she show,
Nor much resist, no needs he straiten so
His prey, for were she loose she would not bark nor go.


He hath engaged her; his she wholly bides;
Who not her own, none other's secrets hides.
If to the flock he come, and Abel there,
She feigns hoarse barkings, but she biteth not!
Her faith is quite, but not her love forgot.
At last a trap, of which some everywhere
Abel had placed, ends all his loss and fear
By the wolf's death; and now just time it was
That a quick Soul should give life to that mass
Of blood in Abel's bitch, and thither this did pass.


Some have their wives, their sisters some begot,
But in the lives of emperors you shall not
Read of a lust the which may equal this:
This wolf begot himself, and finished
What he began alive when he was dead.
Son to himself, and father too, he is
A riding lust, for which schoolmen would miss
A proper name. The whelp of both these lay
In Abel's tent, and with soft Moaba,
His sister, being young, it used to sport and play.


He soon for her too harsh and churlish grew,
And Abel (the dam dead) would use this new
For the field; being of two kinds thus made,
He, as his dam, from sheep drove wolves away,
And, as his sire, he made them his own prey.
Five years he lived, and cozened with his trade,
Then, hopeless that his faults were hid, betrayed
Himself by flight, and by all followed,
From dogs a wolf, from wolves a dog, he fled,
And, like a spy, to both sides false, he perished.


It quickened next a toyful ape, and so
Gamesome it was, that it might freely go
From tent to tent, and with the children play:
His organs now so like theirs he doth find,
That why he cannot laugh and speak his mind
He wonders. Much with all, most he doth stay
With Adam's fifth daughter, Siphatecia;
Doth gaze on her, and where she passeth pass,
Gathers her fruits, and tumbles on the grass;
And, wisest of that kind, the first true lover was.


He was the first that more desired to have
One than another; first that e'er did crave
Love by mute signs, and had no power to speak;
First that could make love-faces, or could do
The vaulter's somersalts, or used to woo
With hoiting gambols, his own bones to break,
To make his mistress merry, or to wreak
Her anger on himself. Sins against kind
They easily do that can let feed their mind
With outward beauty; beauty they in boys and beasts do find.


By this misled too low things men have proved,
And too high; beasts and angels have been loved:
This ape, though else th'rough vain, in this was wise;
He reached at things too high, but open way
There was, and he knew not she would say Nay.
His toys prevail not; likelier means he tries;
He gazeth on her face with tear-shot eyes,
And uplifts subtlely, with his russet paw,
Her kid-skin apron without fear or awe
Of Nature; Nature hath no jail, though she hath law.


First she was silly, and knew not what he meant:
That virtue, by his touches chafed and spent,
Succeeds an itchy warmth, that melts her quite;
She knew not first, nor cares not what he doth;
And willing half and more, more than half wrath,
She neither pulls nor pushes, but outright
Now cries, and now repents; when Thelemite,
Her brother, entered, and a great stone threw
After the ape, who thus prevented flew.
This house, thus battered down, the Soul possessed anew.


And whether by this change she lose or win,
She comes out next where the ape would have gone in.
Adam and Eve had mingled bloods, and now,
Like chemic's equal fires, her temperate womb
Had stewed and formed it; and part did become
A spungy liver, that did richly allow,
Like a free conduit on a high hill's brow,
Life-keeping moisture unto every part;
Part hardened itself to a thicker heart,
Whose busy furnaces life's spirits do impart.


Another part became the well of sense,
The tender, well-armed feeling brain, from whence
Those sinew strings which do our bodies tie
Are ravelled out; and fast there by one end
Did this Soul limbs, these limbs a Soul attend;
And now they joined, keeping some quality
Of every past shape; she knew treachery,
Rapine, deceit, and lust, and ills enough
To be a woman: Themech she is now,
Sister and wife to Cain, Cain that first did plough.


Whoe'er thou beest that read'st this sullen writ,
Which just so much courts thee as thou dost it,
Let me arrest thy thoughts; wonder with me
Why ploughing, building, ruling, and the rest,
Or most of those arts whence our lives are blest,
By cursed Cain's race invented be,
And blest Seth vexed us with astronomy.
There's nothing simply good nor ill alone;
Of every quality Comparison
The only measure is, and judge Opinion.


The author of 'Polyolbion,' was born in the parish of Atherston, in
Warwickshire, about the year 1563. He was the son of a butcher, but
displayed such precocity that several persons of quality, such as Sir
Walter Aston and the Countess of Bedford, patronised him. In his
childhood he was eager to know what strange kind of beings poets were;
and on coming to Oxford, (if, indeed, he did study there,) is said to
have importuned his tutor to make him, if possible, a poet. He was
supported chiefly, through his life, by the Lady Bedford. He paid court,
without success, to King James. In 1593 (having long ere this become
that 'strange thing a poet') he published a collection of his Pastorals,
and afterwards his 'Barons' Wars' and 'England's Heroical Epistles,'
which are both rhymed histories. In 1612-13 he published the first part
of 'Polyolbion,' and in 1622 completed the work. In 1626 we hear of him
being styled Poet Laureate, but the title then implied neither royal
appointment, nor fee, nor, we presume, duty. In 1627 he published 'The
Battle of Agincourt,' 'The Court of Faerie,' and other poems; and, three
years later, a book called 'The Muses' Elysium.' He had at last found an
asylum in the family of the Earl of Dorset; whose noble lady, Lady Anne
Clifford, subsequently Countess of Pembroke, and who had been, we saw,
Daniel's pupil, after Drayton's death in 1631, erected him a monument,
with a gold-lettered inscription, in Westminster Abbey.

The main pillar of Drayton's fame is 'Polyolbion,' which forms a poetical
description of England, in thirty songs or books, to which the learned
Camden appended notes. The learning and knowledge of this poem are exten-
sive, and many of the descriptions are true and spirited, but the space
of ground traversed is too large, and the form of versification is too
heavy, for so long a flight. Campbell justly remarks,--'On a general
survey, the mass of his poetry has no strength or sustaining spirit equal
to its bulk. There is a perpetual play of fancy on its surface; but the
impulses of passion, and the guidance of judgment, give it no strong
movements or consistent course.'

Drayton eminently suits a 'Selection' such as ours, since his parts are
better than his whole.


When Phoebus lifts his head out of the winter's wave,
No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,
At such time as the year brings on the pleasant spring,
But hunts-up to the morn the feather'd sylvans sing:
And in the lower grove, as on the rising knoll,
Upon the highest spray of every mounting pole,
Those choristers are perch'd with many a speckled breast.
Then from her burnish'd gate the goodly glitt'ring east
Gilds every lofty top, which late the humorous night
Bespangled had with pearl, to please the morning's sight:
On which the mirthful choirs, with their clear open throats,
Unto the joyful morn so strain their warbling notes,
That hills and valleys ring, and even the echoing air
Seems all composed of sounds, about them everywhere.
The throstle, with shrill sharps; as purposely he sung
T'awake the lustless sun, or chiding, that so long
He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill;
The woosel near at hand, that hath a golden bill;
As nature him had mark'd of purpose, t'let us see
That from all other birds his tunes should different be:
For, with their vocal sounds, they sing to pleasant May;
Upon his dulcet pipe the merle doth only play.
When in the lower brake, the nightingale hard by,
In such lamenting strains the joyful hours doth ply,
As though the other birds she to her tunes would draw,
And, but that nature (by her all-constraining law)
Each bird to her own kind this season doth invite,
They else, alone to hear that charmer of the night,
(The more to use their ears,) their voices sure would spare,
That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare,
As man to set in parts at first had learn'd of her.

To Philomel the next, the linnet we prefer;
And by that warbling bird, the wood-lark place we then,
The red-sparrow, the nope, the redbreast, and the wren.
The yellow-pate; which though she hurt the blooming tree,
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she.
And of these chanting fowls, the goldfinch not behind,
That hath so many sorts descending from her kind.
The tydy for her notes as delicate as they,
The laughing hecco, then the counterfeiting jay,
The softer with the shrill (some hid among the leaves,
Some in the taller trees, some in the lower greaves)
Thus sing away the morn, until the mounting sun
Through thick exhaled fogs his golden head hath run,
And through the twisted tops of our close covert creeps
To kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly sleeps.
And near to these our thicks, the wild and frightful herds,
Not hearing other noise but this of chattering birds,
Feed fairly on the lawns; both sorts of season'd deer:
Here walk the stately red, the freckled fallow there:
The bucks and lusty stags amongst the rascals strew'd,
As sometime gallant spirits amongst the multitude.

Of all the beasts which we for our venerial name,
The hart among the rest, the hunter's noblest game:
Of which most princely chase since none did e'er report,
Or by description touch, to express that wondrous sport,
(Yet might have well beseem'd the ancients' nobler songs)
To our old Arden here, most fitly it belongs:
Yet shall she not invoke the muses to her aid;
But thee, Diana bright, a goddess and a maid:
In many a huge-grown wood, and many a shady grove,
Which oft hast borne thy bow (great huntress, used to rove)
At many a cruel beast, and with thy darts to pierce
The lion, panther, ounce, the bear, and tiger fierce;
And following thy fleet game, chaste mighty forest's queen,
With thy dishevell'd nymphs attired in youthful green,
About the lawns hast scour'd, and wastes both far and near,
Brave huntress; but no beast shall prove thy quarries here;
Save those the best of chase, the tall and lusty red,
The stag for goodly shape, and stateliness of head,
Is fitt'st to hunt at force. For whom, when with his hounds
The labouring hunter tufts the thick unbarbed grounds
Where harbour'd is the hart; there often from his feed
The dogs of him do find; or thorough skilful heed,
The huntsman by his slot, or breaking earth, perceives,
On entering of the thick by pressing of the greaves,
Where he had gone to lodge. Now when the hart doth hear
The often-bellowing hounds to vent his secret leir,
He rousing rusheth out, and through the brakes doth drive,
As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive.
And through the cumbrous thicks, as fearfully he makes,
He with his branched head the tender saplings shakes,
That sprinkling their moist pearl do seem for him to weep;
When after goes the cry, with yellings loud and deep,
That all the forest rings, and every neighbouring place:
And there is not a hound but falleth to the chase;
Rechating with his horn, which then the hunter cheers,
Whilst still the lusty stag his high-palm'd head upbears,
His body showing state, with unbent knees upright,
Expressing from all beasts, his courage in his flight.
But when the approaching foes still following he perceives,
That he his speed must trust, his usual walk he leaves:
And o'er the champain flies: which when the assembly find,
Each follows, as his horse were footed with the wind.
But being then imbost, the noble stately deer
When he hath gotten ground (the kennel cast arrear)
Doth beat the brooks and ponds for sweet refreshing soil:
That serving not, then proves if he his scent can foil,
And makes amongst the herds, and flocks of shag-wooled sheep,
Them frighting from the guard of those who had their keep.
But when as all his shifts his safety still denies,
Put quite out of his walk, the ways and fallows tries.
Whom when the ploughman meets, his team he letteth stand
To assail him with his goad: so with his hook in hand,
The shepherd him pursues, and to his dog doth hollo:
When, with tempestuous speed, the hounds and huntsmen follow;
Until the noble deer through toil bereaved of strength,
His long and sinewy legs then failing him at length,
The villages attempts, enraged, not giving way
To anything he meets now at his sad decay.
The cruel ravenous hounds and bloody hunters near,
This noblest beast of chase, that vainly doth but fear,
Some bank or quickset finds: to which his haunch opposed,
He turns upon his foes, that soon have him enclosed.
The churlish-throated hounds then holding him at bay,
And as their cruel fangs on his harsh skin they lay,
With his sharp-pointed head he dealeth deadly wounds.

The hunter, coming in to help his wearied hounds,
He desperately assails; until oppress'd by force,
He who the mourner is to his own dying corse,
Upon the ruthless earth his precious tears lets fall.


Edward Fairfax was the second, some say the natural, son of Sir Thomas
Fairfax of Denton, in Yorkshire. The dates of his birth and of his death
are unknown, although he was living in 1631. While his brothers were
pursuing military glory in the field, Edward married early, and settled in
Fuystone, a place near Knaresborough Forest. Here he spent part of his
time in managing his elder brother, Lord Fairfax's property, and partly in
literary pursuits. He wrote a strange treatise on Demonology, a History of
Edward the Black Prince, which has never been printed, some poor Eclogues,
and a most beautiful translation of Tasso, which stamps him a true poet as
well as a benefactor to the English language, and on account of which
Collins calls him--

'Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind
Believed the magic wonders which he sung.'


1 It was the time, when 'gainst the breaking day
Rebellious night yet strove, and still repined;
For in the east appear'd the morning gray,
And yet some lamps in Jove's high palace shined,
When to Mount Olivet he took his way,
And saw, as round about his eyes he twined,
Night's shadows hence, from thence the morning's shine;
This bright, that dark; that earthly, this divine:

2 Thus to himself he thought: 'How many bright
And splendent lamps shine in heaven's temple high!
Day hath his golden sun, her moon the night,
Her fix'd and wandering stars the azure sky;
So framed all by their Creator's might,
That still they live and shine, and ne'er shall die,
Till, in a moment, with the last day's brand
They burn, and with them burn sea, air, and land.'

3 Thus as he mused, to the top he went,
And there kneel'd down with reverence and fear;
His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent;
His thoughts above all heavens uplifted were--
'The sins and errors, which I now repent,
Of my unbridled youth, O Father dear,
Remember not, but let thy mercy fall,
And purge my faults and my offences all.'

4 Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew
In golden weed the morning's lusty queen,
Begilding, with the radiant beams she threw,
His helm, his harness, and the mountain green:
Upon his breast and forehead gently blew
The air, that balm and nardus breathed unseen;
And o'er his head, let down from clearest skies,
A cloud of pure and precious dew there flies:

5 The heavenly dew was on his garments spread,
To which compared, his clothes pale ashes seem,
And sprinkled so, that all that paleness fled,
And thence of purest white bright rays outstream:
So cheered are the flowers, late withered,
With the sweet comfort of the morning beam;
And so, return'd to youth, a serpent old
Adorns herself in new and native gold.

6 The lovely whiteness of his changed weed
The prince perceived well and long admired;
Toward, the forest march'd he on with speed,
Resolved, as such adventures great required:
Thither he came, whence, shrinking back for dread
Of that strange desert's sight, the first retired;
But not to him fearful or loathsome made
That forest was, but sweet with pleasant shade.

7 Forward he pass'd, and in the grove before
He heard a sound, that strange, sweet, pleasing was;
There roll'd a crystal brook with gentle roar,
There sigh'd the winds, as through the leaves they pass;
There did the nightingale her wrongs deplore,
There sung the swan, and singing died, alas!
There lute, harp, cittern, human voice, he heard,
And all these sounds one sound right well declared.

8 A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
The aged trees and plants well-nigh that rent,
Yet heard the nymphs and sirens afterward,
Birds, winds, and waters, sing with sweet consent;
Whereat amazed, he stay'd, and well prepared
For his defence, heedful and slow forth-went;
Nor in his way his passage ought withstood,
Except a quiet, still, transparent flood:

9 On the green banks, which that fair stream inbound,
Flowers and odours sweetly smiled and smell'd,
Which reaching out his stretched arms around,
All the large desert in his bosom held,
And through the grove one channel passage found;
This in the wood, in that the forest dwell'd:
Trees clad the streams, streams green those trees aye made,
And so exchanged their moisture and their shade.

10 The knight some way sought out the flood to pass,
And as he sought, a wondrous bridge appear'd;
A bridge of gold, a huge and mighty mass,
On arches great of that rich metal rear'd:
When through that golden way he enter'd was,
Down fell the bridge; swelled the stream, and wear'd
The work away, nor sign left, where it stood,
And of a river calm became a flood.

11 He turn'd, amazed to see it troubled so,
Like sudden brooks, increased with molten snow;
The billows fierce, that tossed to and fro,
The whirlpools suck'd down to their bosoms low;
But on he went to search for wonders mo,[1]
Through the thick trees, there high and broad which grow;
And in that forest huge, and desert wide,
The more he sought, more wonders still he spied:

12 Where'er he stepp'd, it seem'd the joyful ground
Renew'd the verdure of her flowery weed;
A fountain here, a well-spring there he found;
Here bud the roses, there the lilies spread:
The aged wood o'er and about him round
Flourish'd with blossoms new, new leaves, new seed;
And on the boughs and branches of those treen
The bark was soften'd, and renew'd the green.

13 The manna on each leaf did pearled lie;
The honey stilled[2] from the tender rind:
Again he heard that wonderful harmony
Of songs and sweet complaints of lovers kind;
The human voices sung a treble high,
To which respond the birds, the streams, the wind;
But yet unseen those nymphs, those singers were,
Unseen the lutes, harps, viols which they bear.

14 He look'd, he listen'd, yet his thoughts denied
To think that true which he did hear and see:
A myrtle in an ample plain he spied,
And thither by a beaten path went he;
The myrtle spread her mighty branches wide,
Higher than pine, or palm, or cypress tree,
And far above all other plants was seen
That forest's lady, and that desert's queen.

15 Upon the tree his eyes Rinaldo bent,
And there a marvel great and strange began;
An aged oak beside him cleft and rent,
And from his fertile, hollow womb, forth ran,
Clad in rare weeds and strange habiliment,
A nymph, for age able to go to man;
An hundred plants beside, even in his sight,
Childed an hundred nymphs, so great, so dight.[3]

16 Such as on stages play, such as we see
The dryads painted, whom wild satyrs love,
Whose arms half naked, locks untrussed be,
With buskins laced on their legs above,
And silken robes tuck'd short above their knee,
Such seem'd the sylvan daughters of this grove;
Save, that instead of shafts and bows of tree,
She bore a lute, a harp or cittern she;

17 And wantonly they cast them in a ring,
And sung and danced to move his weaker sense,
Rinaldo round about environing,
As does its centre the circumference;
The tree they compass'd eke, and 'gan to sing,
That woods and streams admired their excellence--
'Welcome, dear Lord, welcome to this sweet grove,
Welcome, our lady's hope, welcome, her love!

18 'Thou com'st to cure our princess, faint and sick
For love, for love of thee, faint, sick, distress'd;
Late black, late dreadful was this forest thick,
Fit dwelling for sad folk, with grief oppress'd;
See, with thy coming how the branches quick
Revived are, and in new blossoms dress'd!'
This was their song; and after from it went
First a sweet sound, and then the myrtle rent.

19 If antique times admired Silenus old,
Who oft appear'd set on his lazy ass,
How would they wonder, if they had behold
Such sights, as from the myrtle high did pass!
Thence came a lady fair with locks of gold,
That like in shape, in face, and beauty was
To fair Armida; Rinald thinks he spies
Her gestures, smiles, and glances of her eyes:

20 On him a sad and smiling look she cast,
Which twenty passions strange at once bewrays;
'And art thou come,' quoth she, 'return'd at last'
To her, from whom but late thou ran'st thy ways?
Com'st thou to comfort me for sorrows past,
To ease my widow nights, and careful days?
Or comest thou to work me grief and harm?
Why nilt thou speak, why not thy face disarm?

21 'Com'st thou a friend or foe? I did not frame
That golden bridge to entertain my foe;
Nor open'd flowers and fountains, as you came,
To welcome him with joy who brings me woe:
Put off thy helm: rejoice me with the flame
Of thy bright eyes, whence first my fires did grow;
Kiss me, embrace me; if you further venture,
Love keeps the gate, the fort is eath[4] to enter.'

22 Thus as she woos, she rolls her rueful eyes
With piteous look, and changeth oft her chere,[5]
An hundred sighs from her false heart up-flies;
She sobs, she mourns, it is great ruth to hear:
The hardest breast sweet pity mollifies;
What stony heart resists a woman's tear?
But yet the knight, wise, wary, not unkind,
Drew forth his sword, and from her careless twined:[6]

23 Towards the tree he march'd; she thither start,
Before him stepp'd, embraced the plant, and cried--
'Ah! never do me such a spiteful part,
To cut my tree, this forest's joy and pride;
Put up thy sword, else pierce therewith the heart
Of thy forsaken and despised Armide;
For through this breast, and through this heart, unkind,
To this fair tree thy sword shall passage find.'

24 He lift his brand, nor cared, though oft she pray'd,
And she her form to other shape did change;
Such monsters huge, when men in dreams are laid,
Oft in their idle fancies roam and range:
Her body swell'd, her face obscure was made;
Vanish'd her garments rich, and vestures strange;
A giantess before him high she stands,
Arm'd, like Briareus, with an hundred hands.

25 With fifty swords, and fifty targets bright,
She threaten'd death, she roar'd, she cried and fought;
Each other nymph, in armour likewise dight,
A Cyclops great became; he fear'd them nought,
But on the myrtle smote with all his might,
Which groan'd, like living souls, to death nigh brought;
The sky seem'd Pluto's court, the air seem'd hell,
Therein such monsters roar, such spirits yell:

26 Lighten'd the heaven above, the earth below
Roared aloud; that thunder'd, and this shook:
Bluster'd the tempests strong; the whirlwinds blow;
The bitter storm drove hailstones in his look;
But yet his arm grew neither weak nor slow,
Nor of that fury heed or care he took,
Till low to earth the wounded tree down bended;
en fled the spirits all, the charms all ended.

27 The heavens grew clear, the air wax'd calm and still,
The wood returned to its wonted state,
Of witchcrafts free, quite void of spirits ill,
Of horror full, but horror there innate:
He further tried, if ought withstood his will
To cut those trees, as did the charms of late,
And finding nought to stop him, smiled and said--
'O shadows vain! O fools, of shades afraid!'

28 From thence home to the camp-ward turn'd the knight;
The hermit cried, upstarting from his seat,
'Now of the wood the charms have lost their might;
The sprites are conquer'd, ended is the feat;
See where he comes!'--Array'd in glittering white
Appear'd the man, bold, stately, high, and great;
His eagle's silver wings to shine begun
With wondrous splendour 'gainst the golden sun.

29 The camp received him with a joyful cry,--
A cry, the hills and dales about that fill'd;
Then Godfrey welcomed him with honours high;
His glory quench'd all spite, all envy kill'd:
'To yonder dreadful grove,' quoth he, 'went I,
And from the fearful wood, as me you will'd,
Have driven the sprites away; thither let be
Your people sent, the way is safe and free.'

[1] 'Mo:' more.
[2] 'Stilled:' dropped.
[3] 'Dight:' aparelled.
[4] 'Eath:' easy.
[5] 'Chere:' expression.
[6] 'Twined:' separated.


Was born in Kent, in 1568; educated at Winchester and Oxford; and, after
travelling on the Continent, became the Secretary of Essex, but had the
sagacity to foresee his downfall, and withdrew from the kingdom in time.
On his return he became a favourite of James I., who employed him to be
ambassador to Venice,--a post he held long, and occupied with great skill
and adroitness. Toward the end of his days, in order to gain the Provost-
ship of Eton, he took orders, and died in that situation, in 1639, in the
72d year of his age. His writings were published in 1651, under the title
of 'Reliquitae Wottonianae,' and Izaak Walton has written an entertaining
account of his life. His poetry has a few pleasing and smooth-flowing
passages; but perhaps the best thing recorded of him is his viva voce
account of an English ambassador, as 'an honest gentleman sent to LIE
abroad for the good of his country.'


1 Farewell, ye gilded follies! pleasing troubles;
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles;
Fame's but a hollow echo, gold pure clay,
Honour the darling but of one short day,
Beauty, the eye's idol, but a damask'd skin,
State but a golden prison to live in
And torture free-born minds; embroider'd trains
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins;
And blood, allied to greatness, is alone
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own.
Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blood, and birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.

2 I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill;
I would be high, but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke;
I would be rich, but see men too unkind
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind;
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected while the ass goes free;
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud,
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud;
I would be poor, but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass;
Rich, hated; wise, suspected; scorn'd, if poor;
Great, fear'd; fair, tempted; high, still envied more.
I have wish'd all, but now I wish for neither
Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair--poor I'll be rather.

3 Would the world now adopt me for her heir,
Would beauty's queen entitle me 'the fair,'
Fame speak me Fortune's minion, could I vie
Angels[1] with India; with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike Justice dumb
As well as blind and lame, or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs; be call'd great master
In the loose rhymes of every poetaster;
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives:
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign,
Than ever fortune would have made them mine;
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.

4 Welcome, pure thoughts! welcome, ye silent groves!
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves.
Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring;
A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet Virtue's face;
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears:
Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn to affect a holy melancholy;
And if Contentment be a stranger then,
I'll ne'er look for it but in heaven again.

[1] 'Angels:' a species of coin.


O thou great Power! in whom we move,
By whom we live, to whom we die,
Behold me through thy beams of love,
Whilst on this couch of tears I lie,
And cleanse my sordid soul within
By thy Christ's blood, the bath of sin.

No hallow'd oils, no gums I need,
No new-born drams of purging fire;
One rosy drop from David's seed
Was worlds of seas to quench thine ire:
O precious ransom! which once paid,
That _Consummatum est_ was said.

And said by him, that said no more,
But seal'd it with his sacred breath:
Thou then, that has dispurged our score,
And dying wert the death of death,
Be now, whilst on thy name we call,
Our life, our strength, our joy, our all!


This witty and good-natured bishop was born in 1582. He was the son of
a gardener, who, however, had the honour to be known to and sung by Ben
Jonson. He was educated at Westminster and Oxford; and having received
orders, was made successively Bishop of Oxford and of Norwich. He was
a most facetious and rather too convivial person; and a collection of
anecdotes about him might be made, little inferior, in point of wit and
coarseness, to that famous one, once so popular in Scotland, relating to
the sayings and doings of George Buchanan. He is said, on one occasion,
to have aided an unfortunate ballad-singer in his professional duty by
arraying himself in his leathern jacket and vending the stock, being
possessed of a fine presence and a clear, full, ringing voice.
Occasionally doffing his clerical costume he adjourned with his chaplain,
Dr Lushington, to the wine-cellar, where care and ceremony were both
speedily drowned, the one of the pair exclaiming, 'Here's to thee,
Lushington,' and the other, 'Here's to thee, Corbet.' Men winked at
these irregularities, probably on the principle mentioned by Scott, in
reference to Prior Aymer, in 'Ivanhoe,'--'If Prior Aymer rode hard in
the chase, or remained late at the banquet, men only shrugged up their
shoulders by recollecting that the same irregularities were practised by
many of his brethren, who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever to atone
for them.' Corbet, on the other hand, was a kind as well as a convivial
--a warm-hearted as well as an eccentric man. He was tolerant to the
Puritans and sectaries; his attention to his duties was respectable; his
talents were of a high order, and he had in him a vein of genius of no
ordinary kind. He died in 1635, but his poems were not published till
1647. They are of various merit, and treat of various subjects. In his
'Journey to France,' you see the humorist, who, on one occasion, when the
country people were flocking to be confirmed, cried, 'Bear off there, or
I'll confirm ye with my staff.' In his lines to his son Vincent, we see,
notwithstanding all his foibles, the good man; and in his 'Farewell to
the Fairies' the fine and fanciful poet.


1 I went from England into France,
Nor yet to learn to cringe nor dance,
Nor yet to ride nor fence;
Nor did I go like one of those
That do return with half a nose,
They carried from hence.

2 But I to Paris rode along,
Much like John Dory in the song,
Upon a holy tide;
I on an ambling nag did jet,
(I trust he is not paid for yet,)
And spurr'd him on each side.

3 And to St Denis fast we came,
To see the sights of Notre Dame,
(The man that shows them snuffles,)
Where who is apt for to believe,
May see our Lady's right-arm sleeve,
And eke her old pantofles;

4 Her breast, her milk, her very gown
That she did wear in Bethlehem town,
When in the inn she lay;
Yet all the world knows that's a fable,
For so good clothes ne'er lay in stable,
Upon a lock of hay.

5 No carpenter could by his trade
Gain so much coin as to have made
A gown of so rich stuff;
Yet they, poor souls, think, for their credit,
That they believe old Joseph did it,
'Cause he deserved enough.

6 There is one of the cross's nails,
Which whoso sees, his bonnet vails,
And, if he will, may kneel;
Some say 'twas false,'twas never so,
Yet, feeling it, thus much I know,
It is as true as steel.

7 There is a Ianthorn which the Jews,
When Judas led them forth, did use,
It weighs my weight downright;
But to believe it, you must think
The Jews did put a candle in 't,
And then 'twas very light.

8 There's one saint there hath lost his nose,
Another's head, but not his toes,
His elbow and his thumb;
But when that we had seen the rags,
We went to th' inn and took our nags,
And so away did come.

9 We came to Paris, on the Seine,
'Tis wondrous fair,'tis nothing clean,
'Tis Europe's greatest town;
How strong it is I need not tell it,
For all the world may easily smell it,
That walk it up and down.

10 There many strange things are to see,
The palace and great gallery,
The Place Royal doth excel,
The New Bridge, and the statutes there,
At Notre Dame St Q. Pater,
The steeple bears the bell.

11 For learning the University,
And for old clothes the Frippery,
The house the queen did build.
St Innocence, whose earth devours
Dead corps in four-and-twenty hours,
And there the king was kill'd.

12 The Bastille and St Denis Street,
The Shafflenist like London Fleet,
The Arsenal no toy;
But if you'll see the prettiest thing,
Go to the court and see the king--
Oh, 'tis a hopeful boy!

13 He is, of all his dukes and peers,
Reverenced for much wit at's years,
Nor must you think it much;
For he with little switch doth play,
And make fine dirty pies of clay,
Oh, never king made such!

14 A bird that can but kill a fly,
Or prate, doth please his majesty,
Tis known to every one;
The Duke of Guise gave him a parrot,
And he had twenty cannons for it,
For his new galleon.

15 Oh that I e'er might have the hap
To get the bird which in the map
Is call'd the Indian ruck!
I'd give it him, and hope to be
As rich as Guise or Liviné,
Or else I had ill-luck.

16 Birds round about his chamber stand,
And he them feeds with his own hand,
'Tis his humility;
And if they do want anything,
They need but whistle for their king,
And he comes presently.

17 But now, then, for these parts he must
Be enstyled Lewis the Just,
Great Henry's lawful heir;
When to his style to add more words,
They'd better call him King of Birds,
Than of the great Navarre.

18 He hath besides a pretty quirk,
Taught him by nature, how to work
In iron with much ease;
Sometimes to the forge he goes,
There he knocks and there he blows,
And makes both locks and keys;

19 Which puts a doubt in every one,
Whether he be Mars' or Vulcan's son,
Some few believe his mother;
But let them all say what they will,
I came resolved, and so think still,
As much the one as th' other.

20 The people too dislike the youth,
Alleging reasons, for, in truth,
Mothers should honour'd be;
Yet others say, he loves her rather
As well as ere she loved her father,
And that's notoriously.

21 His queen,[1] a pretty little wench,
Was born in Spain, speaks little French,
She's ne'er like to be mother;
For her incestuous house could not
Have children which were not begot
By uncle or by brother.

22 Nor why should Lewis, being so just,
Content himself to take his lust
With his Lucina's mate,
And suffer his little pretty queen,
From all her race that yet hath been,
So to degenerate?

23 'Twere charity for to be known
To love others' children as his own,
And why? it is no shame,
Unless that he would greater be
Than was his father Henery,
Who, men thought, did the same.

[1] Anne of Austria.


1 Farewell, rewards and fairies,
Good housewives now may say,
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they.
And though they sweep their hearths no less
Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late, for cleanliness,
Finds sixpence in her shoe?

2 Lament, lament, old Abbeys,
The fairies lost command;
They did but change priests' babies,
But some have changed your land;
And all your children sprung from thence
Are now grown Puritans;
Who live as changelings ever since,
For love of your domains.

3 At morning and at evening both,
You merry were and glad,
So little care of sleep or sloth
These pretty ladies had;
When Tom came home from labour,
Or Cis to milking rose,
Then merrily went their tabor,
And nimbly went their toes.

4 Witness those rings and roundelays
Of theirs, which yet remain,
Were footed in Queen Mary's days
On many a grassy plain;
But since of late Elizabeth,
And later, James came in,
They never danced on any heath
As when the time hath been.

5 By which we note the fairies
Were of the old profession,
Their songs were Ave-Maries,
Their dances were procession:
But now, alas! they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;
Or further for religion fled,
Or else they take their ease.

6 A tell-tale in their company
They never could endure,
And whoso kept not secretly
Their mirth, was punish'd sure;
It was a just and Christian deed,
To pinch such black and blue:
Oh, how the commonwealth doth need
Such justices as you!


As 'rare Ben' chiefly shone as a dramatist, we need not recount at
length the events of his life. He was born in 1574; his father, who had
been a clergyman in Westminster, and was sprung from a Scotch family
in Annandale, having died before his birth. His mother marrying a
bricklayer, Ben was brought up to the same employment. Disliking this,
he enlisted in the army, and served with credit in the Low Countries.
When he came home, he entered St John's College, Cambridge; but his stay
there must have been short, since he is found in London at the age of
twenty, married, and acting on the stage. He began at the same time to
write dramas. He was unlucky enough to quarrel with and kill another
performer, for which he was committed to prison, but released without
a trial. He resumed his labours as a writer for the stage; but having
failed in the acting department, he forsook it for ever. His first hit
was, 'Every Man in his Humour,' a play enacted in 1598, Shakspeare being
one of the actors. His course afterwards was chequered. He quarrelled
with Marston and Dekker,--he was imprisoned for some reflections on the
Scottish nation in one of his comedies,--he was appointed in 1619 poet-
laureate, with a pension of 100 marks,--he made the same year a journey
to Scotland on foot, where he visited Drummond at Hawthornden, and they
seem to have mutually loathed each other,'--he fell into habits of
intemperance, and acquired, as he said himself,

'A mountain belly and a rocky face.'

His favourite haunts were the Mermaid, and the Falcon Tavern, Southwark.
He was engaged in constant squabbles with his contemporaries, and died
at last, in 1637, in miserably poor circumstances. He was buried in
Westminster Abbey, under a square tablet, where one of his admirers
afterwards inscribed the words,

'O rare Ben Jonson!'

Of his powers as a dramatist we need not speak, but present our readers
with some rough and racy specimens of his poetry.


Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death! ere thou hast slain another,
Learn'd and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee!


Sitting, and ready to be drawn,
What make these velvets, silks, and lawn,
Embroideries, feathers, fringes, lace,
Where every limb takes like a face?

Send these suspected helps to aid
Some form defective, or decay'd;
This beauty, without falsehood fair,
Needs nought to clothe it but the air.

Yet something to the painter's view,
Were fitly interposed; so new,
He shall, if he can understand,
Work by my fancy, with his hand.

Draw first a cloud, all save her neck,
And, out of that, make day to break;
Till like her face it do appear,
And men may think all light rose there.

Then let the beams of that disperse
The cloud, and show the universe;
But at such distance, as the eye
May rather yet adore, than spy.



Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show
Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polish'd pillars, or a roof of gold:
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told;
Or stair, or courts; but stand'st an ancient pile,
And these grudged at, are reverenced the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks of soil and air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.
Thou hast thy walks for health as well as sport;
Thy mount to which the dryads do resort,
Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made
Beneath the broad beech, and the chestnut shade;
That taller tree which of a nut was set
At his great birth where all the Muses met.
There, in the writhed bark, are cut the names
Of many a Sylvan token with his flames.
And thence the ruddy Satyrs oft provoke
The lighter Fauns to reach thy Ladies' Oak.
Thy copse, too, named of Gamage, thou hast here
That never fails, to serve thee, season'd deer,
When thou would'st feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed:
The middle ground thy mares and horses breed.
Each bank doth yield thee conies, and the tops
Fertile of wood. Ashore, and Sidney's copse,
To crown thy open table doth provide
The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side:
The painted partridge lies in every field,
And, for thy mess, is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat, aged carps that run into thy net,
And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,
As both the second draught or cast to stay,
Officiously, at first, themselves betray.
Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land,
Before the fisher, or into his hand.
Thou hast thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.
The early cherry with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come:
The blushing apricot and woolly peach
Hang on thy walls that every child may reach.
And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They're rear'd with no man's ruin, no man's groan;
There's none that dwell about them wish them down;
But all come in, the farmer and the clown,
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
The better cheeses, bring them, or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands; and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves, in plum or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provision, far above
The need of such? whose liberal board doth flow
With all that hospitality doth know!
Where comes no guest but is allow'd to eat
Without his fear, and of thy lord's own meat:
Where the same beer, and bread, and selfsame wine
That is his lordship's shall be also mine.
And I not fain to sit (as some this day
At great men's tables) and yet dine away.
Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by,
A waiter doth my gluttony envy:
But gives me what I call, and lets me eat;
He knows below he shall find plenty of meat;
Thy tables hoard not up for the next day,
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livery: all is there,
As if thou, then, wert mine, or I reign'd here.
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
This found King James, when hunting late this way
With his brave son, the Prince; they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every hearth, as the desires
Of thy Penates had been set on flame
To entertain them; or the country came,
With all their zeal, to warm their welcome here.
What (great, I will not say, but) sudden cheer
Did'st thou then make them! and what praise was heap'd
On thy good lady then, who therein reap'd
The just reward of her high housewifery;
To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was far; and not a room but drest
As if it had expected such a guest!
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all;
Thy lady's noble, fruitful, chaste withal.
His children * * *
* * have been taught religion; thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each morn and even they are taught to pray,
With the whole household, and may, every day,
Head, in their virtuous parents' noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.


To draw no envy, Shakspeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such
As neither man nor Muse can praise too much,
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For silliest ignorance on these would light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urges all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.
But thou art proof against them, and, indeed,
Above the ill fortune of them, or the need.
I therefore will begin: Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further off, to make thee room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses,
I mean with great but disproportion'd Muses:
For if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers,
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd or Marlow's mighty line,
And though thou had small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee I will not seek
For names; but call forth thund'ring Aeschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To live again, to hear thy buskin tread,
And shake a stage: or when thy socks were on
Leave thee alone for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury, to charm!
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines,
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of nature's family,
Yet must I not give nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part,
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion; and, that he
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same,
And himself with it, that he thinks to frame;
Or for the laurel, he may gain a scorn;
For a good poet's made as well as born,
And such wert thou! Look how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well-turned and true-filed lines;
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames
That so did take Eliza and our James!


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