« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
a subject of verse.' In this volume, we have two poems dedicated to the memory of the unfortunate limb, and more than two allusions to it. The following is worthy of the occasion :
“ Arithmetic, nine digits and no more
Admits of, then I still have all my store,
For what mischance hath taken from my left hand,
It seems did only for a cypher stand.
But this I'll say for thee, departed joint,
Thou wert not given to steal, or pick, or point
At any in disgrace, but thou didst go
Untimely to thy death, only to show
The other members what they once must do,
Hand, arm, leg, thigh, and all must follow too.
Oft didst thou scan my verse, where if I miss,
Henceforth I will impute the cause to this ;
A finger's loss (I speak it not in sport)
Will make a verse sometimes a foot too short :
Farewell, dear finger, much I grieve to see
How soon mischance hath made a hand of thee.”
Out of thirty-seven" precepts of wisdom,” we think two are written with much force and spirit, though we fear the first is slightly tainted with the coarseness of expression which prevails over some of his poems. Like part of the first ex. tract, it smacks of the spirit of Juvenal.
“ Fly, drunkenness, whose vile incontinence
the reason and the sense,
Till with Circæan cups thy mind's possest,
Leaves to be man, and wholly turns a beast.
Think whilst thou swallowest the capacious bowl,
Thou let'st in seas to wreck and drown the soul.
That hell is open, to remembrance call,
And think how subject drunkards are to fall.
Consider how it soon destroys the grace
Of human shape, spoiling the beauteous face:
Puffing the cheeks, blearing the curious eye,
Studding the face with vitious heraldry.
What pearls and rubies doth the wine disclose,
Making the purse poor to enrich the nose?
How does it nurse disease, infect the heart,
Drawing some sickness into every part !
The belly swells, the foot can hardly stand
Lam'd with the gout; the palsy shakes the hand.
And through the flesh sick waters sinking in,
Do, bladder-like, puff up the dropsy'd skin.
It weaks the brain, it spoils the memory,
Hasting on age, and wilful poverty.
It drowns thy better parts, making thy name
To foes a laughter, to thy friends a shame.
'Tis virtue's poison, and the bane of trust,
The match of wrath, the fuel unto lust.
Quite leave this vice, and turn not to't again,
Upon presumption of a stronger brain.
For he that holds more wine than others can,
I rather count à hogshead than a man."
The other is on imprudent marriages.
“Let not thy impotent lust so powerful be,
Over thy reason, soul, and liberty,
As to enforce thee to a married life,
E're thou art able to maintain a wife.
Thou canst not feed upon her lips and face,
She cannot clothe thee with a poor embrace.
Thy self being yet alone, and but one still,
With patience couldst endure the worst of ill.
When fortune frowns, one to the wars may go
To fight against his foes and fortunes too.
But, oh! the grief were treble for to see
Thy wretched bride half pin'd with poverty.
To see thy infants make their dumb complaint,
And thou not able to relieve their want.
The poorest beggar when he's dead and gone,
As rich as he that sits upon the throne.
But he who having no estate whilst wed,
Starves in his grave, being wretched when he's dead."
Next follows" a platonick elegy," which contains parts of great purity and beauty.
“ Love, give me leave to serve thee, and be wise
To keep thy torch in, but restore blind eyes.
I will a flame into thy bosom take,
That martyrs court when they embrace the stake:
Not dull and smoky fires, but heat divine,
That burns not to consume, but to refine.
I have a mistress for perfection, rare
In every eye, but in my thoughts most fair.
Like tapers on the altar shine her eyes ;
Her breath is the perfume of sacrifice.
And wheresoe'er my fancy would begin,
Still her perfection lets religion in.
I touch her like my beads, with devout care,
And come into my courtships as my prayer.
We sit and talk, and kiss away the hours
As chastly as the morning dews kiss flowers.
Go, wanton lover, spare thy sighs and tears,
Put on thy livery which thy dotage wears,
And call it love; where heresy gets in,
Zeal's but a coal to kindle greater sin.
We wear no flesh, but one another greet,
As blessed souls in separation meet.
Looking into my breast, her form I find
That like my guardian angel keeps my mind
From rude attempts; and when afflictions stir,
I calm all passions with one thought of her.
Nor is this barren love; one noble thought
Begets another, and that still is brought
To bed of more; virtues and grace increase,
And such a numerous issue ne'er can cease,
Where children, though great blessings, only be
Pleasures repriv'd to some posterity.
Beasts love like men, if men in lust delight,
And call that love which is but appetite.
When essence meets with essence, and souls join
In mutual knots, that's the true nuptial twine ;
Such, lady, is my love, and such is true,
All other love is to your sex, not you.”
The “ lines upon his picture," turn a very obvious thought into a fine moral lesson. 66 When
hath made me what I am not now,
And every wrinkle tells me where the plough
Of time hath furrowed; when an ice shall flow
Through every vein, and all my head be snow:
When death displays his coldness in my cheek,
And I myself in my own picture seek,
Not finding what I am, but what I was ;
In doubt which to believe, this or my glass :
Yet though I alter, this remains the same
As it was drawn, retains the primitive frame,
And first complexion; here will still be seen
Blood on the cheek, and down
Here the smooth brow will stay, the lively eye,
The ruddy lip, and hair of youthful dye.
Behold what frailty we in man may see,
Whose shadow is less given to change than he.”
If we had space, we should certainly quote his “ Ode to Mr. Antony Stafford, to hasten him into the country.” It was at the house of this gentleman that our poet died, and perhaps these were the last lines he wrote in London. They tell of weariness, disgust, and impatience for quiet and innocence, and a warm anticipation of once more tasting the pure joys of a country life. But we must turn to the last poem in the first part, “ In the praise of women in general,” and make room for our dramatic extracts.
“ He is a parricide to his mother's name,
And with an impious hand murders her fame,
That wrongs the praise of women; that dares write
Libels on saints, or with foul ink requite
The milk they lent us; better sex,
To your defence my more religious hand
At sword, or pen; yours was the nobler birth,
For you of man were made, man but of earth,
The son of dust; and though your sin did breed
His fall, again you rais’d him in your seed:
Adam in's sleep a gainful loss sustain'd
That for one rib a better self regain'd;
Who had he not your blest creation seen,
An anchorite in Paradise had been.
Why in this work did the creation rest,
But that eternal Providence thought you best
Of all his six days' labour; beasts should do
Homage to man, but man should wait on you.
You are of comlier sight, of daintier touch,
A tender flesh, a colour bright, and such
As Parians see in marble, skin more fair,
More glorious head, and far more glorious hair,
Eyes full of grace and quickness, purer roses
Blush in your cheeks, a milder white composes
Your stately fronts, your breath more sweet than his
Breathes spice, and nectar drops at every kiss.
Your skins are smooth, bristles on theirs do grow
Like quills of porcupines, rough wool doth flow
O'er all their faces; you approach more near
The form of angels, they like beasts appear :
If, then, in bodies, where the soul do dwell,
You better us, do then our souls excel?
No, we in souls equal perfection see,
There can in them nor male nor female be.
Were blind as fortune, should she choose the poor
Rough cottage man to live in, and despise
To dwell in you the stately edifice.
Thus you are prov'd the better sex, and we
Must all repent that in our pedigree
We chose the father's name, where should we take
The mother's, a more honour'd blood 'twould make,
Our generation sure and certain be,
And I'd believe some faith in heraldry.
Thus, perfect creatures, if detraction rise
Against your sex, dispute but with your eyes,
Your hand, your lip, your brow, there will be sent
So subtle and so strong an argument,
Will teach the Stoic his affection too,
And call the Cynic from his tub to woo."
We will only add to this a simile, which we separate from its context for the sake of the happiness of its language.
“ So I at Charing-Cross have beheld one,
A statue cut out of the Parian stone,
To figure great Alcides : which, when well
The artist saw it was not like to sell,
He takes his chisel, and away pares
Part of his sinewy neck, shaving the hairs
Off his rough beard and face, smoothing the brow,
And making that look amorous which but now
Stood wrinkled with his anger; from his head
He poles the shaggy locks, that had o'erspread
His brawny shoulders with a fleece of hair,
And works instead more gentle tresses there,
And thus his skill, exactly to express,
Soon makes a Venus of a Hercules."
And also the following amusing verses, on a subject that