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*You charmed me not with that fair face,
Though it was all divine;
That makes me wish you mine.
Who like young monarchs fight,
Which is another's right.
To pull up every bar;
A dull defensive war.
In hope to get our store :
Which made us brave before.' The Muse who could mourn to such purpose for Anne Killigrew might have been expected to soar high in celebrating and lamenting Charles II., parts of whose history and character certainly lent themselves to poetry. Whether from haste, indifference, or whatever reason, Dryden was clearly unable to penetrate himself with the subject, and it is perhaps to his honour that his composition should so little simulate an inspiration he was evi. dently far from feeling. The choice of subjects is judi. cious, but the treatment is in general inanimate and perfunctory, except when the poet is going to say something absurd, and then his motto is Pecca fortiter. There is, perhaps, nothing nearer burlesque in all Dryden's rhyming plays than this couplet :
• Ere a prince is to perfection brought,
He costs Omnipotence a second thought.' The poet is also weighted by having to flatter Charles and his successor at the same time. The concluding lines, however, eulogizing James's care for the navy, will always echo in the heart of Britain :
Behold even the remoter shores
This latter fine phrase had occurred already in Astraea
Andrew Marvell, though unequal, is an excellent lyric poet. His best song, Where the remote Bermudas ride, is such a household word that we select a less known piece:
Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The nightingale does sit so late,
Her matchless songs does meditate;
No war nor prince's funeral,
Than to presage the grass's fall ;
To wandering mowers shows the way,
And after foolish fires do stray ;
Since Juliana here is come;
That I shall never find my home.'
Motteux, and, strange to say, the Dryasdust Rymer, which have found a harbour in Mr. Arthur Bullen's Musa Proterva ; a few songs of Rochester's and Aphra Behn's; some few carols in Mr. Ebsworth's collections; and the elegant and animated To all you ladies now at land of Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1637-1706), less known for his occasional verses, these excepted, than as the arbiter of taste and the benefactor of needy men of letters.
It was but natural that the lyrists, like the dramatists, should endeavour to make up in bombastic extravagance for their deficiencies in simplicity and truth to nature. An appropriate instrument was at hand in the Pindaric ode, the miscreation of a true poet, Cowley. So little were the genuine characteristics of Pindaric versification then understood even by scholars, that it is no wonder that Cowley should have conceived them to be equivalent to absolute irregularity. His own compositions are not within our province; but it may be remarked that they are distinguished from the Pindarics of Charles II.'s time by the preponderance of what was then called wit, which we should describe as a perverse ingenuity in discovering superficial resemblances between dissimilar things. It is impossible not to admire in a measure some of the feats of this kind performed by Cowley, Crashaw, and Donne; but common sense intimates that the real criterion of the merit of a comparison is its justice. The movement, nevertheless, had considerable significance as indicating the exhaustion of the old forms of poetry. It had triumphed in Italy and in Spain in the persons of Marino and Gongora, with most disastrous effects on the literature of those countries. Fortunate it was for England that this fashion arrived late, and before it could take much root was dislodged by the saner methods of France. Pindaries, however, went on existing, but with comparatively little wit, and even less
poetry. Sprat, of whom we shall have to speak as the
* Along he brought the sparkling coal
And as he hastened down,
And seemed as if they were burnt for the theft.'
• An ancient sigh he sits upon,
And purposely annihilated for his throne.'
• Let all be hushed, each softest motion cease,
i It should be noted that this word is not so absurd as it may appear to the modern reader. Chimney (Fr. cheminée) here means the fireplace, not the flue. *The mantle of the chimney in his hall.'—WALTON, Life of George Herbert.