Page images

repine at fortune, and almost at nature, that seem to set so little store by their greatest favourites. The life of poets is, or ought to be (judging of it from the light it lends to ours), a golden dream, full of brightness and sweetness, lapt in Elysium; and it gives one a reluctant pang to see the splendid vision, by which they are attended in their path of glory, fade like a vapour, and their sacred heads laid low in ashes, before the sand of common mortals has run out. Fletcher, too, was prematurely cut off by the plague.'*

The sun (which doth the greatest comfort bring
To absent friends, because the self-same thing
They know, they see, however absent) is
Here, our best haymaker (forgive me this,
It is our country's style) in this warm shine
I lie, and dream of your full Mermaid wine.
Oh, we have water mix'd with claret lees,
Drink apt to bring in drier heresies
Than beer, good only for the sonnet's strain,
With fustian metaphors to stuff the brain,
So mixed, that, given to the thirstiest one,
"Twill not prove alms, unless he have the stone.
I think, with one draught man's invention fades:
Two cups had quite spoil'd Homer's Iliades.
"Tis liquor that will find out Sutcliff's wit,

Lie where he will, and make him write worse yet;
Fill'd with such moisture in most grievous qualms,
Did Robert Wisdom write his singing psalms;
And so must I do this: And yet I think

It is a potion sent us down to drink,
By special Providence, keeps us from fights,

Makes us not laugh when we make legs to knights.

"Tis this that keeps our minds fit for our states,

A medicine to obey our magistrates:

For we do live more free than you; no hate,

No envy at one another's happy state,
Moves us; we are all equal: every whit
Of land that God gives men here is their wit,
If we consider fully, for our best

And gravest men will with his main house-jest

Lectures on the Age of Elizabeth, &c., p. 227.

Here she lies, whose spotless fame
Invites a stone to learn her name:
The rigid Spartan that denied
An epitaph to all that died,


Unless for war, in charity
Would here vouchsafe an elegy.

She died a wife, but yet her mind,
Beyond virginity refined,

From lawless fire remain'd as free

As now from heat her ashes be:

Keep well this pawn, thou marble chest ;
Till it be call'd for let it rest;
For while this jewel here is set,
The grave is like a cabinet.


THOMAS CAREW (1589-1639) was the precursor and representative of a numerous class of poetscourtiers of a gay and gallant school, who to personal accomplishments, rank, and education, united a taste and talent for the conventional poetry then most popular and cultivated. Their influence may be seen even in Cowley and Dryden: Carew and Waller were perhaps the best of the class: Rochester was undoubtedly the most debased. Their visions of fame were in general bounded by the circle of the court and the nobility. To live in future generations, or to sound the depths of the human heart, seems not to have entered into their contemplations. A loyal panegyric was the epic strain of their ambition; a rosy cheek or coral lip' formed their ordinary theme. The court applauded; the lady was flattered or appeased by the compliment; and the poet was praised for his wit and gallantry; while all the time the heart had as little to do with the poetical homage thus tendered and accepted, as with the cold abstractions and rare poesies' on wax or ivory. A foul taint of immorality and irreligion often lurked under the flowery surface, and insidiously made itself known and felt. Carew sometimes went beyond this strain of heartless frivolity, and is graceful in sentiment as well as style-piling up stones of lustre from the brook;' but he was capable of far higher things; and in him, as in Suckling and Sedley, we see only glimpses of a genius which might have been ripened into permanent and beneficial excellence. Carew was descended from an ancient Gloucestershire family. He was educated at Oxford, then travelled abroad, and on his return, obtained the notice and patronage of Charles I. He was appointed gentleman of the privy chamber, and sewer in ordinary to the king. His after life was that of a courtierwitty, affable, and accomplished-without reflection; and in a strain of loose revelry which, according to Clarendon, the poet deeply repented in his latter days. He died,' says the state historian, with the greatest remorse for that license, and with the greatest manifestation of Christianity, that his best friends could desire.'

The poems of Carew are short and occasional. His longest is a masque, written by command of the king, entitled Calum Britannicum. It is partly in prose; and the lyrical pieces were set to music by Dr Henry Lawes, the poetical musician of that age.* The short amatory pieces and songs of Carew were exceedingly popular, and are now the only productions of his which are read. They are often indelicate, but rich in expression. Thirty or forty years later, he would have fallen into the frigid style of the court poets after the Restoration; but at the time he wrote, the passionate and imaginative vein of the Elizabethan period was not wholly exhausted. The 'genial and warm tints' of the elder muse still coloured the landscape, and were reflected back in some measure by Carew. He abounded, however,

* Of the peculiar composition called the masque, an account is given in the sequel.

in tasteless conceits, even on grave elegiac subjects. In his epitaph on the daughter of Sir Thomas Wentworth, he says—

And here the precious dust is laid,
Whose purely-tempered clay was made
So fine that it the guest betray'd.
Else the soul grew so fast within,
It broke the outward shell of sin,
And so was hatch'd a cherubin !


Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauties, orient deep,
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither do stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters, and keeps warm her note.
Ask me no more if east or west
The Phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies!

The Compliment.

I do not love thee for that fair
Rich fan of thy most curious hair;
Though the wires thereof be drawn
Finer than the threads of lawn,
And are softer than the leaves
On which the subtle spider weaves.

I do not love thee for those flowers
Growing on thy cheeks (love's bowers);
Though such cunning them hath spread,
None can paint them white and red:
Love's golden arrows thence are shot,
Yet for them I love thee not.

I do not love thee for those soft
Red coral lips I've kiss'd so oft;
Nor teeth of pearl, the double guard
To speech, whence music still is heard;
Though from those lips a kiss being taken,
Might tyrants melt, and death awaken.

I do not love thee, oh ! my fairest,
For that richest, for that rarest
Silver pillar, which stands under
Thy sound head, that globe of wonder;
Tho' that neck be whiter far
Than towers of polish'd ivory are.


Would you know what's soft? I dare
Not bring you to the down or air;
Nor to stars to show what's bright,
Nor to snow to teach you white..

Nor, if you would music hear,
Call the orbs to take your ear;
Nor to please your sense bring forth
Bruised nard or what's more worth.

Or on food were your thoughts plac'd,
Bring you nectar, for a taste:
Would you have all these in one,
Name my mistress, and 'tis done.

A Pastoral Dialogue. Shepherd, Nymph, Chorus.

Shep. This mossy bank they press'd. Nymph. That aged oak

Did canopy the happy pair

All night from the damp air.

Cho. Here let us sit and sing the words they spoke,
Till the day breaking, their embraces broke.

Shep. See, love, the blushes of the morn appear,
And now she hangs her pearly store,
(Robb'd from the eastern shore,)

I' th' cowslip's bell, and rose's ear:
Sweet, I must stay no longer here.

Nymph. Those streaks of doubtful light usher not day,
But show my sun must set; no morn
Shall shine till thou return;

The yellow planets, and the gray
Dawn, shall attend thee on thy way.

Shep. If thine eyes gild my paths, they may forbear
Their useless shine. Nymph. My tears will quite
Extinguish their faint light.

Shep. Those drops will make their beams more clear, Love's flames will shine in ev'ry tear.

Cho. They kiss'd and wept ; and from their lips and eyes, In a mix'd dew of briny sweet,

Their joys and sorrows meet;

But she cries out. Nymph. Shepherd, arise,
The sun betrays us else to spies.

Cho. The winged hours fly fast, whilst we embrace;
But when we want their help to meet,
They move with leaden feet.

Nymph. Then let us pinion time, and chase
The day for ever from this place.

Shep. Hark! Nymph. Ay, me, stay! Shep. For ever.
Nymph. No, arise,

We must be gone. Shep. My nest of spice.
Nymph. My soul. Shep. My paradise.

Cho. Neither could say farewell, but through their eyes
Grief interrupted speech with tears' supplies.


Mediocrity in Love Rejected.

Give me more love, or more disdain ;
The torrid or the frozen zone
Bring equal ease unto my pain,

The temperate affords me none;
Either extreme of love or hate
Is sweeter than a calm estate.

Give me a storm; if it be love,

Like Danae in that golden shower, I swim in pleasure; if it prove

Disdain, that torrent will devour My vulture hopes; and he's possess'd Of heaven that's but from hell releas'd; Then crown my joys or cure my pain; Give me more love or more disdain.

Persuasions to Love.

Think not, 'cause men flatt'ring say,
Y'are fresh as April, sweet as May,
Bright as is the morning star,
That you are so; or, though you are,
Be not therefore proud, and deem
All men unworthy your esteem ;
Nor let brittle beauty make
You your wiser thoughts forsake :
For that lovely face will fail;
Beauty's sweet, but beauty's frail !
'Tis sooner past, 'tis sooner done,
Than suramer's rain or winter's sun;

Most fleeting when it is most dear;
"Tis gone while we but say-'tis here.
These curious locks, so aptly twin'd,
Whose every hair a soul doth bind,
Will change their auburn hue, and grow
White and cold as winter's snow.
That eye, which now is Cupid's nest,
Will prove his grave, and all the rest
Will follow; in the cheek, chin, nose,
Nor lily shall be found, nor rose ;
And what will then become of all
Those whom now you servants call?
Like swallows, when your summer's done,
They'll fly, and seek some warmer sun.
Then wisely choose one to your friend
Whose love may (when your beauties end)
Remain still firm; be provident,
And think, before the summer's spent,
Of following winter; like the ant,
In plenty hoard for time of scant.
For when the storms of Time have moved
Waves on that cheek which was beloved;
When a fair lady's face is pined,

And yellow spread where red once shin'd;
When beauty, youth, and all sweets leave her,
Love may return, but lovers never :
And old folks say there are no pains
Like itch of love in aged veins.
O love me then, and now begin it,
Let us not lose this present minute;
For time and age will work that wrack
Which time or age shall ne'er call back.
The snake each year fresh skin resumes,
And eagles change their aged plumes;
The faded rose, each spring, receives
A fresh red tincture on her leaves :
But if your beauties once decay,
You never know a second May.
Oh, then, be wise, and whilst your season
Affords you days for sport, do reason;
Spend not in vain your life's short hour,
But crop in time your beauties' flower,
Which will away, and doth together
Both bud and fade, both blow and wither.

Disdain Returned.

He that loves a rosy cheek,
Or a coral lip admires,
Or from star-like eyes doth seek
Fuel to maintain his fires;
As old Time makes these decay,
So his flames must waste away.
But a smooth and steadfast mind,
Gentle thoughts and calm desires;
Hearts with equal love combined,
Kindle never-dying fires.
Where these are not, I despise
Lovely cheeks, or lips, or eyes!

No tears, Celia, now shall win

My resolv'd heart to return;

I have search'd thy soul within,
And find nought but pride and scorn;
I have learn'd thy arts, and now
Can disdain as much as thou.
Some power, in my revenge, convey
That love to her I cast away.

[Approach of Spring.]

Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or calls an icy cream
Upon the silver lake, or crystal stream;

But the warm sun thaws the benumb'd earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble bee;
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods, in rich array,
Welcome the coming of the long'd for May.
Now all things smile.


These brother poets were sons of Dr Giles Fletcher, and cousins of Fletcher the dramatist; both were clergymen, whose lives afforded but little variety of incident. Phineas was born in 1584, educated at Eton and Cambridge, and became rector of Hilgay, in Norfolk, where he died in 1650. Giles was younger than his brother, but the date of his birth has not been ascertained. He was rector of Alderton, in Suffolk, where he died, it is supposed, some years before his brother.

[ocr errors]

deserving of much praise; they were endowed with minds eminently poetical, and not inferior in imagination to any of their contemporaries. But an injudicious taste, and an excessive fondness for a style which the public was rapidly abandoning, that of allegorical personification, prevented their powers from being effectively displayed.' Mr Campbell remarks, They were both the disciples of Spenser, and, with his diction gently modernised, retained much of his melody and luxuriant expression. Giles, inferior as he is to Spenser and Milton, might be figured, in his happiest moments, as a link of connexion in our poetry between these congenial spirits, for he reminds us of both, and evidently gave hints to the latter in a poem on the same subject with Paradise Regained." These hints are indeed very plain and obvious. The appearance of Satan as an aged sire slowly footing' in the silent wilderness, the temptation of our Saviour in the 'goodly garden,' and in the Bower of Vain Delight, are outlines which Milton adopted and filled up in his second epic, with a classic grace and force of style unknown to the Fletchers. To the latter, however, belong the merit of original invention, copiousness of fancy, melodious numbers, and language at times rich, ornate, and highly poetical. If Spenser had not previously written his Bower of Bliss, Giles Fletcher's Bower of Vain Delight would have been unequalled in the poetry of that day; but probably, like his master Spenser, he copied from Tasso.

The works of PHINEAS FLETCHER consist of the Purple Island, or the Isle of Man, Piscatory Eclogues, and miscellaneous poems. The Purple Island was published in 1633, but written much earlier, as appears from some allusions in it to the Earl of Essex. The name of the poem conjures up images of poetical and romantic beauty, such as we may suppose a youthful admirer and follower of Spenser to have drawn. A perusal of the work, however, dispels this illusion. The Purple Island of Fletcher is no sunny spot amid the melancholy main,' but is an elaborate and anatomical description of the body and mind of man. He begins with the veins, arteries, bones, and muscles of the human frame, picturing them as hills, dales, streams, and rivers, and describing with great minuteness their different meanderings, elevations, and appearances. It is admitted that the poet was well skilled in anatomy, and the first part of his work is a sort of lecture fitted for the dissecting room. Having in five cantos exhausted his physical phenomena, Fletcher proceeds No Syrian worms he knows, that with their thread to describe the complex nature and operations of the Draw out their silken lives: nor silken pride : mind. Intellect is the prince of the Isle of Man, and His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need, he is furnished with eight counsellors, Fancy, Me-Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed: mory, the Common Sense, and five external senses. The Human Fortress, thus garrisoned, is assailed by the Vices, and a fierce contest ensues for the possession of the human soul. At length an angel interposes, and insures victory to the Virtues, the angel being King James I., on whom the poet condescended to heap this fulsome adulation. From this sketch of Fletcher's poem, it will be apparent that its worth must rest, not upon plot, but upon isolated passages and particular descriptions. Some of his stanzas have all the easy flow and mellifluous sweetness of Spenser's Faery Queen; but others are marred by affectation and quaintness, and by the tediousness inseparable from long-protracted allegory. His fancy was luxuriant, and, if better disciplined by taste and judgment, might have rivalled the softer scenes of Spenser.

Happiness of the Shepherd's Life.

[From the Purple Island.]
Thrice, oh thrice happy, shepherd's life and state!
When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns!
His cottage low and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune with her scorns and fawns :
No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep,
Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

GILES FLETCHER published only one poetical production of any length-a sacred poem, entitled Christ's Victory and Triumph. It appeared at Cambridge in 1610, and met with such indifferent success, that a second edition was not called for till twenty years afterwards. There is a massive grandeur and earnestness about Christ's Victory' which strikes the imagination. The materials of the poem are better fused together, and more harmoniously linked in connexion, than those of the Purple Island. Both of these brothers,' says Mr Hallam,' are

No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
Nor begging wants his middle fortune bite :
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.
Instead of music, and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise;
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes:
In country plays is all the strife he uses;
Or sing, or dance unto the rural Muses;
And but in music's sports all difference refuses.
His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content:
The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noon-tide rage is spent ;
His life is neither toss'd in boist'rous seas
Pleas'd and full blest he lives, when he his God can
Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease:

His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face:
Never his humble house nor state torment him:
Less he could like, if less his God had sent him;
And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, con-
tent him.

[Decay of Human Greatness.]
[From the same.]

Fond man, that looks on earth for happiness,
And here long seeks what here is never found!
For all our good we hold from heav'n by lease,
With many forfeits and conditions bound;
Nor can we pay the fine, and rentage due:
Though now but writ, and seal'd, and giv'n anew,
Yet daily we it break, then daily must renew.
Why shouldst thou here look for perpetual good,
At ev'ry loss 'gainst heaven's face repining?
Do but behold where glorious cities stood,
With gilded tops and silver turrets shining;
There now the hart fearless of greyhound feeds,
And loving pelican in fancy breeds :

There screeching satyrs fill the people's empty stedes.
Where is the Assyrian lion's golden hide,
That all the east once grasp'd in lordly paw?
Where that great Persian bear, whose swelling pride
The lion's self tore out with rar'nous jaw?
Or he which 'twixt a lion and a pard,
Through all the world with nimble pinions far'd,
And to his greedy whelps his conquer'd kingdoms


Hardly the place of such antiquity,

Or note of these great monarchies we find :
Only a fading verbal memory,

And empty name in writ is left behind :

But when this second life and glory fades,

And sinks at length in time's obscurer shades,

A second fall succeeds, and double death invades.

That monstrous beast, which, nurs'd in Tiber's fen,
Did all the world with hideous shape affray;
That fill'd with costly spoil his gaping den,
And trode down all the rest to dust and clay :
His batt'ring horns, pull'd out by civil hands
And iron teeth, lie scatter'd on the sands;
Back'd, bridled by a monk, with seven heads yoked

And that black vulture, which with deathful wing
O'ershadows half the earth, whose dismal sight
Frighten'd the Muses from their native spring,
Already stoops, and flags with weary flight:
Who then shall look for happiness beneath?

Choice nymph! the crown of chaste Diana's train,
Thou beauty's lily, set in heavenly earth;
Thy fairs, unpattern'd, all perfection stain:
Sure Heaven with curious pencil at thy birth
In thy rare face her own full picture drew:
It is a strong verse here to write, but true,
Hyperboles in others are but half thy due.
Upon her forehead Love his trophies fits,
A thousand spoils in silver arch displaying:
And in the midst himself full proudly sits,
Himself in awful majesty arraying:

Upon her brows lies his bent ebon bow,
And ready shafts; deadly those weapons show;
Yet sweet the death appear'd, lovely that deadly blow.

A bed of lilies flow'r upon her cheek,
And in the midst was set a circling rose ;
Whose sweet aspect would force Narcissus seek
New liveries, and fresher colours choose
To deck his beauteous head in snowy 'tire;
But all in vain: for who can hope t' aspire
To such a fair, which none attain, but all admire?
A troop of pearls, which march in goodly row:
Her ruby lips lock up from gazing sight
But when she deigns those precious bones undight,
Soon heavenly notes from those divisions flow,
And with rare music charm the ravish'd ears,
Daunting bold thoughts, but cheering modest fears:
The spheres so only sing, so only charm the spheres.
Yet all these stars which deck this beauteous sky
By force of th' inward sun both shine and move;
Thron'd in her heart sits love's high majesty;
In highest majesty the highest love.

As when a taper shines in glassy frame,
The sparkling crystal burns in glittering flame,
So does that brightest love brighten this lovely dame.

[ocr errors][merged small]

[From the Temptation and Victory of Christ. By Giles Fletcher.]

High in the airy element there hung
Another cloudy sea, that did disdain,
As though his purer waves from heaven sprung,
To crawl on earth, as doth the sluggish main:

Where each new day proclaims chance, change, and But it the earth would water with his rain,


And life itself 's as flit as is the air we breathe.

[Description of Parthenia, or Chastity.]
With her, her sister went, a warlike maid,
Parthenia, all in steel and gilded arms;
In needle's stead, a mighty spear she sway'd,
With which in bloody fields and fierce alarms,
The boldest champion she down would bear,
And like a thunderbolt wide passage tear,
Flinging all to the earth with her enchanted spear.
Her goodly armour seem'd a garden green,
Where thousand spotless lilies freshly blew ;
And on her shield the lone bird might be seen,
Th' Arabian bird, shining in colours new ;
Itself unto itself was only mate;
Ever the same, but new in newer date :
And underneath was writ 'Such is chaste single state.
Thus hid in arms she seem'd a goodly knight,
And fit for any warlike exercise:

But when she list lay down her armour bright,
And back resume her peaceful maiden's guise;
The fairest maid she was, that ever yet
Prison'd her locks within a golden net,
Or let them waving hang, with roses fair beset.
? The Turk.

1 Places.

That ebb'd and flow'd as wind and season would;
And oft the sun would cleave the limber mould
To alabaster rocks, that in the liquid roll'd.
Beneath those sunny banks a darker cloud,
Dropping with thicker dew, did melt apace,
And bent itself into a hollow shroud,
On which, if Mercy did but cast her face,
A thousand colours did the bow enchase,
That wonder was to see the silk distain'd
With the resplendence from her beauty gain'd,
And Iris paint her locks with beams so lively feign'd.
About her head a cypress heaven she wore,
Spread like a veil, upheld with silver wire,
In which the stars so burnt in golden ore,
As seem'd the azure web was all on fire:
But hastily, to quench their sparkling ire,
A flood of milk came rolling up the shore,
That on his curded wave swift Argus wore,
And the immortal swan, that did her life deplore.
Yet strange it was so many stars to see,
Without a sun to give their tapers light;
Yet strange it was not that it so should be;
For, where the sun centres himself by right,
Her face and locks did flame, that at the sight
The heavenly veil, that else should nimbly move,
Forgot his flight, and all incensed with love,
With wonder and amazement, did her beauty prove.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »