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proof of the qualifications of Randolph. In such company, and with such pursuits as this volume shews, he blazed out his life and died, at Blatherwyke, in Northamptonshire, in the year 1635; it is said in great poverty, but biographers, and especially the cynical Antony Wood, are so fond of plunging poets into excesses, misery, and wretchedness, that we know not what credit to give to the report. In the university he was a fellow on one of the most wealthy and considerable foundations : when he died, he had a brother at Christ Church, Oxford : his death took place at the house of an ancient family in Staffordshire, with the ancestors of whom he was buried, and had a monument erected to his memory, at the charge of his friend, Lord Hatton.-So that we will venture to hope, that the close of a short life of great industry and high enjoyment was not embittered by the pains of want and neglect. This volume of poems, which was published after his death by his brother, is ushered in by a number of recommendatory verses, which speak the language of affection and respect, and encourage the hope that those who lamented his death, protected his life.
« Such was his genius, like the quick eyes' work,
He could write sooner than another think;
His play was fancy's flame, a lightning wit,
So shot, that it could sooner pierce than hit."
These lines are from a much greater number of verses written on Randolph's death, by his friend Owen Feltham, the author of the Resolves, and if we may trust them, and the other elegies, particularly those by his brother, the great learning, quick genius, and various accomplishments of this extraordinary man, make us deeply regret that he lived to finish nothing more than this volume contains. He appears to have been not only a wit and poet, but to have filled the office of moderator in the schools of Cambridge, in such a manner as to attract the notice of the oldest and subtlest logicians.
“The grave divines stood gazing, as if there
In words was colour, or in the eye an ear,
To hear him they would penetrate each other,
Embrace a throng, and love a noisome smother. His ready eloquence and lively fancy seem to have been as serviceable at court, as his ingenuity and learning in the schools.
“ Was he at court? his compliments would be
Rich wrought with fancy's best embroidery;
Which the spruce gallants echo-like would speak
So oft, as they'd be thread-bare in a week;
They lov'd even his abuses, the same jeer,
So witty 'twas, would sting and please the ear.” His skill in language too is thus finely recorded by Feltham, though in the language of panegyric.
“Nor could he only in his native speech
Robe his ripe thoughts, but even the copious, rich,
And lofty Greek, with Latin, did appear
In him, as orient in their proper sphere:
That when in them, he pleas'd himself to express,
The ravish'd hearer could not but confess
He might as well old Rome, or Athens, claim
For birth, as Britain, circled with the main.
'Tis true, we have these languages still left,
But spoken, as apparell, got by theft,
Is worn, disguis'd and shadow'd. Had he
Liv'd with us, till grave maturity,
Though we should ever in his change have lost,
We might have gain'd enough, whereof to boast
Our nation's better genius, but now
Our hopes are nipp'd, ere they began to blow." The qualifications of Randolph as a poet, we fortunately need not rest on the word of a panegyrist. The poems speak for themselves. In listening to their voice, however, it should be remembered, that they appear without the stamp of his authority, and are not entitled to be considered as undoubted testimonies of his poetical talent. He himself did not publish them, nor write them for publication, doubtless reserving himself for some effort worthy of his gifted muse. Such as they are, they bear evidence of a most varied and highly-endowed nature; for they are full of lively sallies of wit and fancy, deep learning, shrewd observations on man, and eloquent descriptions of passions. It is to be lamented that their only fault is one of very constant recurrence, which unfortunately casts a shade on too many of the productions of this writer's time. They are not only marked by a coarseness of language and plainness of expression, but too common among his contemporaries, but likewise indulge in warm and highly-coloured descriptions, and dwell upon themes of an indelicate nature. While we regret that our poet should have thus given the reins to a prurient imagination, it must be recollected that he intended the circulation of his poems to be limited, and that many were probably written in moments of elevation, and thrown aside, and forgotten until after his death, when they were raked together by his brother,
for the purpose of publication. Being, however, disfigured by this blemish, and rendered unfit for general perusal, while at the same time there is much which is deserving of notice and admiration, they come precisely within the plan of our work, whose principle it is to rescue the remains of neglected genius from oblivion, and whose pride it will ever be, while it promotes the cause of literature, never to forget the interests of virtue and morality.
This volume consists of two parts, the first being a collection of miscellaneous poems; the second, plays and dramatic pieces; from each of which we will proceed to make our extracts. The first poem in the book, on “ The inestimable content he enjoys in the Muses; to those of his friends who dehort him from poetry,” is a most ingenious and eloquent composition beginning with a very amusing specimen of the poetical wisdom, in praise of poverty, which unfortunately holds only in verse, and proceeding to some very fine vigorous satire on the folly of hoarding, written with all the strength, without the grossness, of Juvenal.
“ Lord of my self in chief; when they that have
More wealth, make that their Lord, which is my slave.
Yet I as well as they, with more content,
Have in myself a household government.
My intellectual soul hath here possest
The steward's place to govern all the rest.
my eyes two ushers are,
And dutifully walk before me bare.
My legs run footmen by me. Go or stand
My ready arms wait close on either hand :
My lips are porters to the dangerous door :
And either ear a trusty auditor.
And when abroad I go, fancy shall be
My skilful coachman, and shall hurry me
Through heaven and earth, and Neptune's watry plain,
And in a moment drive me back again.
The charge of all my cellar, thirst, is thine;
Thou butler art, and
Stomach the cook, whose dishes best delight,
Because their only sauce is appetite.
My other cook, digestion; where to me
Teeth carve, and palate will the taster be.
And the two eye-lids, when I go to sleep,
Like careful grooms my silent chamber keep,
Where, lest a cold oppress my vital part,
A gentle fire is kindled by the heart.
And lest too great a heat procure my pain,
The lungs fan wind to cool those parts again.
Within the inner closet of my brain
Attend the nobler members of my train.
Invention, master of my mint grows there,
And memory, my faithful treasurer.
And though in others ’tis a treacherous part,
My tongue is secretary to my heart.
And then the pages of my soul and sense,
Love, anger, pleasure, grief, concupiscence,
And all affections else, are taught t' obey
Like subjects, not like favourites to sway,
This is my manor-house, and men shall see
There I live master of my family.
Say then, thou man of wealth ; in what degree
May thy proud fortunes over-balance me?
Thy many barks plough the rough ocean back;
And I am never frighted with a wrack.
Thy flocks of sheep are numberless to tell,
And with one fleece I can be cloth'd as well.
Thou hast a thousand several farms to let,
And I do feed on ne'er a tenant's sweat.
Thou hast the commons to inclosure brought;
And I have fixt a bound to my vast thought.
Variety is sought for to delight
Thy witty and ambitious appetite,
Three elements at least dis-peopled be,
To satisfy judicious gluttony.
And yet for this I love my commons here,
Above the choicest of thy dainty cheer.
No widow's curse caters a dish of mine,
I drink no tears of orphans in my wine.
Thou may’st perchance to some great office come,
And I can rule a commonwealth at home,
And that pre-eminence enjoy more free,
Than thou, puft up with vain authority.
What boots it him a large command to have,
Whose every part is some poor vice's slave?
Which over him as proudly lords it there,
As 'o'er the rustic he can domineer.
Whilst he poor swains doth threat, in his own eyes
Lust and concupiscence do tyrannize.
Ambition racks his heart with jealous fear,
And bastard flatt'ry captivates his ear.
He on posterity may fix his care,
And I can study on the times that were.
He stands upon a pinnacle, to show
His dangerous height, whilst I sit safe below,
Thy father hoards up gold for thee to spend,
When death will play the office of a friend,
And take him hence, which yet he thinks too late :
My nothing to inherit is a fate
Above thy birth-right, should it double be;
No longing expectation tortures me.
I can my father's reverend head survey,
And yet not wish that every hair were gray.
My constant genius says, I happier stand
And richer in his life, than in his land,
And when thou hast an heir that for thy gold
Will think each day makes thee a year too old ;
And ever gaping to possess thy store,
Conceives thy age to be above fourscore
'Cause his is one and twenty, and will pray
The too slow hours to haste, and every day
Bespeaks thy coffin, cursing every bell
That he hears toll, 'cause 'tis another's knell :
(And justly at thy life he may repine,
For his is but a wardship during thine.)
Mine shall have no such thoughts, if I have one,
He shall be more a pupil than a son;
And at my grave weep truth, and say death's hand,
That bountifully unto thine gave land,
But robb’d him of a tutor; cursed store !
There is no piety but amongst the poor.
Go then confess which of us fathers be
The happier made in our posterity;
I in my orphan that hath nought beside
His virtue, thou in thy rich parricide.
the comfort of a life
Is in the partner of your joys, a wife.
You have made choice of brides, you need not woo
The rich, the fair; they both are profer'd you:
But what fond virgin will my love prefer,
That only in Parnassus jointure her?
Yet thy base match I scorn, an honest pride
I harbour here, that scorns a market bride.
Neglected beauty now is priz’d by gold;