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But when Isabella came,
But in her place I then obey'd
Gentle Henrietta then,
And a third Mary, next began:
But should I now to you relate
The strength and riches of their state,
If I should tell the politic arts
But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me.
In a deep vision's intellectual scene,
Of the black yew's unlucky green,
[* Written on the rigid censures passed upon his comedy called 'Cutter of Coleman-street.'"He'published his pretensions and his discontent," says Johnson, “in an Ode called The Complaint;' in which he styles himself the melancholy Cowley. This met with the usual fortune of complaints, and seems to have excited more contempt than pity."]
The melancholy Cowley lay;
And, lo! a Muse appear'd to his closed sight
And with loose pride it wanton'd in the air.
A crown was on her head, and wings were on her
She touch'd him with her harp and raised him from
The shaken strings melodiously resound.
But when I meant t' adopt thee for my son,
Had to their dearest children done;
Of human lusts, to shake off innocence;
Business! the thing which I of all things hate,
Go, renegado! cast up thy account,
Thy foolish gains by quitting me :
The sale of knowledge, fame, and liberty,
The fruits of thy unlearn'd apostasy.
Thou thoughtst, if once the public storm were past,
But whilst thy fellow-voyagers I see,
Such was the glorious entry of our king;
Enriching moisture dropp'd on every thing:
One of old Gideon's miracles was shown,
And upon all the quicken'd ground
The fruitful seed of heaven did brooding lie,
(The men whom thro' long wanderings he had led,) That he would give them even a heaven of brass : They look'd up to that heaven in vain,
That bounteous heaven! which God did not restrain
The Rachel, for which twice seven years and more,
Of fairer and of richer wives before,
And not a Leah left, thy recompense to be.
Into the court's deceitful lottery:
Thou to whose share so little bread did fall
Thus spake the Muse, and spake it with a smile,
"Ah, wanton foe! dost thou upbraid
The ills which thou thyself hast made?
When in the cradle innocent I lay,
Thou, wicked spirit! stolest me away,
Into thy new-found worlds, I know not where,
And ever since I strive in vain
My ravish'd freedom to regain;
Which, if the earth but once it ever breeds,
The foolish sports I did on thee bestow
When my new mind had no infusion known, Thou gavest so deep a tincture of thine own, That ever since I vainly try
To wash away th' inherent dye :
Long work, perhaps, may spoil thy colours quite, But never will reduce the native white.
To all the ports of honour and of gain
I often steer my course in vain ;
Thy gale comes cross, and drives me back again. Thou slacken'st all my nerves of industry,
By making them so oft to be
The tinkling strings of thy loose minstrelsy.
As they who only heaven desire
This was my error, this my gross mistake,
Thus with Sapphira and her husband's fate,
The fertile soil will a full harvest bear :
Thine, thine is all the barrenness, if thou
Makest me sit still and sing when I should plough.
His long misfortune's fatal end;
How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear,
I ought to be accursed if I refuse
To wait on his, O thou fallacious Muse!
Shouldst not reproach rewards for being small or Thou! who rewardest but with pop'lar breath, And that, too, after death!"
FROM FRIENDSHIP IN ABSENCE.
A THOUSAND pretty ways we'll think upon
Alas! ten thousand will not do;
But knocks against the breast to get away.
And when no art affords me help or ease,
It sits and sings, and so o'ercomes its rage.
BENEATH this gloomy shade,
By Nature only for my sorrows made,
By love so vainly fed ;
So lust of old the deluge punished.
Ah, wretched youth, said I ;
Ah, wretched youth! twice did I sadly cry;
When thoughts of love I entertain,
I meet no words but Never, and, In vain :
In vain! torments the present and the past:
In vain, in vain! twice did I sadly cry;
No more shall fields or floods do so,
All this world's noise appears to me
A dull ill-acted comedy:
No comfort to my wounded sight,
In the sun's busy and impert'nent light.
Then down I laid my head,
Down on cold earth, and for awhile was dead,
And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled.
Ah, sottish soul! said I,
When back to its cage again I saw it fly:
Where it condemn'd and destined is to burn!
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
THY maid! Ah! find some nobler theme
Alas! she makes thee shine so fair,
That her dim lamp must disappear
Three hours each morn in dressing thee
Maliciously are spent,
And make that beauty tyranny,
Th' adorning thee with so much art
'Tis like the pois'ning of a dart,
The min'st'ring angels none can see ;
I pray to her only to pray to thee.
SHE loves, and she confesses too;
What is this, ye gods! what can it be?
Noisy nothing! stalking shade!
Sure I shall rid myself of thee
TELL me, O tell! what kind of thing is Wit,
For the first matter loves variety less;
London, that vends of false ware so much store,
For men, led by the colour and the shape,
And sometimes, if the object be too far,
Hence 'tis a wit, that greatest word of fame,
'Tis not to force some lifeless verses meet
All ev'rywhere, like man's, must be the soul,
Such miracles are ceased; and now we see
Yet 'tis not to adorn and gild each part;
If there be nothing else between.
Hail the poor Muse's richest manor-seat !
Ye country houses and retreat,
That for you oft they quit their bright and great
Here Nature does a house for me erect,
Who those fond artists does despise
Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
Men doubt, because they stand so thick i' th' sky, Nor be myself, too, mute.
"Tis not when two like words make up one noise,
In which who finds out wit, the same may see
Such dross the fire must purge away; 'tis just
'Tis not such lines as almost crack the stage,
And force some odd similitude.
What is it then, which, like the Power Divine,
In a true piece of wit all things must be,
As in the ark, join'd without force or strife,
(If we compare great things with small,)
HAIL, old patrician trees, so great and good!
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food
[* This is Cowley's very fault: wit to an excess :-
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Ah! wretched, and too solitary he,
Oh, Solitude! first state of humankind!
As soon as two, alas! together join'd,
Though God himself, through countless ages, thee
Thee, sacred Solitude! alone,
Before the branchy head of number's tree
Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Which else would know no settled pace,
Making it move, well managed by thy art,
Thou the faint beams of reason's scatter'd light
Dost, like a burning glass, unite,
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks I see
I should at thee, too, foolish city!
Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
DAVENANT's personal history is sufficiently curious without attaching importance to the insinuation of Wood, so gravely taken up by Mr. Malone, that he was the son of Shakspeare. He was the son of a vintner at Oxford, at whose house the immortal poet is said to have frequently lodgedt. Having risen to notice by his tragedy of Albovine, he wrote masques for the court of Charles I. and was made governor of the king and queen's company of actors in Drury-lane. In the civil wars we find the theatric manager quickly transmuted into a lieutenant-general of Ordnance, knighted for his services at the siege of Gloucester, and afterwards negotiating between the king and his advisers at Paris. There he began his poem of Gondibert, which he laid aside for a time for the scheme of carrying a colony from France to Virginia; but his vessel was seized by one of the parliament ships, he was thrown into prison, and owed his life to friendly interference, it is said to that of Milton, whose friendship he returned in kind. On being liberated, his ardent activity was shown in attempting to restore theatrical amusements in the very teeth of bigotry and puritanism, and he actually succeeded so far as to open a theatre in the Charter[ There is other testimony to what Malone took up too gravely besides Wood's insinuation-there is the Betterton belief preserved in Spence from Pope's relation.]
house Yard. At the Restoration he received the patent of the Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's Inn, which he held till his death.
Gondibert has divided the critics. It is undeniable, on the one hand, that he showed a high and independent conception of epic poetry, in wishing to emancipate it from the slavery of ancient authority, and to establish its interest in the dignity of human nature, without incredible and stale machinery. His subject was well chosen from modern romantic story, and he strove to give it the close and compact symmetry of the drama. Ingenious and witty images, and majestic sentiments, are thickly scattered over the poem. But Gondibert, who is so formally described, has certainly more of the cold and abstract air of an historical, than of a poetical portrait, and, unfortunately, the beauties of the poem are those of elegy and epigram, more than of heroic fiction. It wants the charm of free and forcible narration; the life-pulse of interest is incessantly stopt by solemn pauses of reflection, and the story works its way through an intricacy of superfluous fancies, some beautiful and others conceited, but all, as they are united, tending to divert the interest, like a multitude of weeds upon a stream, that entangle its course while they seem to adorn it.