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Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud Aspiring mountain, or descending cloud; [flight Paul's, the late theme of such a Muse *, whose Has bravely reach'd and soar'd above thy height; Now shalt thou stand, though sword, or time, or fire,
Or zeal, more fierce than they, thy fall conspire,
Secure, whilst thee the best of poets sings,
Preserved from ruin by the best of kings.
Under his proud survey the city lies,
And like a mist beneath a hill doth rise,
Whose state and wealth, the business and the crowd,
Seems at this distance but a darker cloud,
And is, to him who rightly things esteems,
No other in effect than what it seems;
Where, with like haste, though several ways they
Some to undo, and some to be undone ; [run,
While luxury and wealth, like war and peace,
Are each the other's ruin and increase;
As rivers lost in seas, some secret vein
Thence reconveys, there to be lost again.
Oh! happiness of sweet retired content!
To be at once secure and innocent.
Windsor the next (where Mars with Venus dwells,
Beauty with strength) above the valley swells
Into my eye, and doth itself present
With such an easy and unforced ascent,
That no stupendous precipice denies
Access, no horror turns away our eyes;
But such a rise as doth at once invite
A pleasure and a reverence from the sight:
Thy mighty master's emblem, in whose face
Sat meekness, heighten'd with majestic grace;
Such seems thy gentle height, made only proud
To be the basis of that pompous load,
Than which a nobler weight no mountain bears,
But Atlas only, which supports the spheres.
When Nature's hand this ground did thus advance,
'Twas guided by a wiser power than Chance ;
Mark'd out for such an use, as if 'twere meant
T' invite the builder, and his choice prevent.
Nor can we call it choice, when what we choose
Folly or blindness only could refuse.
A crown of such majestic towers doth grace
The gods' great mother, when her heav'nly race
Do homage to her; yet she cannot boast,
Among that num'rous and celestial host,
More heroes than can Windsor ; nor doth Fame's
Immortal book record more noble names.
Not to look back so far, to whom this isle
Owes the first glory of so brave a pile,
Whether to Cæsar, Albanact, or Brute,
The British Arthur, or the Danish C'nute;
(Though this of old no less contèst did move
Than when for Homer's birth seven cities strove)
(Like him in birth, thou should'st be like in fame,
As thine his fate, if mine had been his flame)
But whosoe'er it was, Nature design'd
First a brave place, and then as brave a mind.
Not to recount those sev'ral kings to whom
It gave a cradle, or to whom a tomb;
But thee, great Edward! and thy greater son,
(The lilies which his father wore he won)
And thy Bellona, who the consort came
Not only to thy bed but to thy fame,
She to thy triumph led one captive king,
And brought that son which did the second bring;
Then didst thou found that Order (whether love
Or victory thy royal thoughts did move :)
Each was a noble cause, and nothing less
Than the design has been the great success,
Which foreign kings and emperors esteem
The second honour to their diadem.
Had thy great destiny but given thee skill
To know, as well as pow'r to act her will,
That from those kings, who then thy captives were,
In after-times should spring a royal pair
Who should possess all that thy mighty pow'r,
Or thy desires more mighty, did devour;
To whom their better fate reserves whate'er
The victor hopes for or the vanquish'd fear :
That blood which thou and thy great grandsire
And all that since these sister nations bled, [shed,
Had been unspilt, and happy Edward known
That all the blood he spilt had been his own.
When he that patron chose in whom are join'd
Soldier and martyr, and his arms confined
Within the azure circle, he did seem
But to foretel and prophecy of him
Who to his realms that azure round hath join'd,
Which nature for their bound at first design'd;
That bound which to the world's extremest ends,
Endless itself, its liquid arms extends.
Nor doth he need those emblems which we paint,
But is himself the soldier and the saint.
Here should my wonder dwell, and here my praise;
But my fix'd thoughts my wand'ring eye betrays,
Viewing a neighb'ring hill, whose top of late
A chapel crown'd, till in the common fate
Th' adjoining abbey fell. (May no such storm
Fall on our times, where ruin must reform !)
Tell me, my Muse! what monstrous dire offence,
What crime, could any Christian king incense
To such a rage? Was't luxury or lust?
Was he so temperate, so chaste, so just? [more;
Were these their crimes? they were his own much
But wealth is crime enough to him that's poor,
Who having spent the treasures of his crown,
Condemns their luxury to feed his own;
And yet this act, to varnish o'er the shame
Of sacrilege, must bear devotion's name.
No crime so bold but would be understood
A real, or at least a seeming good.
Who fears not to do ill, yet fears the name,
And, free from conscience, is a slave to fame.
Thus he the church at once protects and spoils;
But princes' swords are sharper than their styles:
And thus to th' ages past he makes amends,
Their charity destroys, their faith defends.
Then did Religion in a lazy cell,
In empty airy contemplations dwell,
And like the block unmoved lay; but ours,
As much too active, like the stork devours.
Is there no temp'rate region can be known
Betwixt their frigid and our torrid zone?
Could we not wake from that lethargic dream,
But to be restless in a worse extreme?
And for that lethargy was there no cure
But to be cast into a calenture?
Can knowledge have no bound, but must advance
So far, to make us wish for ignorance,
And rather in the dark to grope our way,
Than led by a false guide to err by day?
Who sees these dismal heaps but would demand
What barbarous invader sack'd the land?
But when he hears no Goth, no Turk, did bring
This desolation, but a Christian king;
When nothing but the name of zeal appears
"Twixt our best actions and the worst of theirs ;
What does he think our sacrilege would spare,
When such th' effects of our devotions are?
Parting from thence 'twixt anger, shame, and
Those for what's past, and this for what's too near,
My eye, descending from the Hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays.
Thames the most loved of all the Ocean's sons,
By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity;
Though with those streams he no resemblance
Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold *:
His genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,
O'er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
And hatches plenty for th' ensuing spring;
Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
Like mothers which their infants overlay ;
Nor with a sudden and impetuous wave,
Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
No unexpected inundations spoil
The mower's hopes, nor mock the ploughman's toil;
But godlike his unwearied bounty flows;
First loves to do, then loves the good he does.
Nor are his blessings to his banks confined,
But free and common as the sea or wind;
When he, to boast or to disperse his stores,
Full of the tributes of his grateful shores,
Visits the world, and in his flying tow'rs
Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours;
Finds wealth where 'tis, bestows it where it wants,
Cities in deserts, woods in cities, plants.
So that to us no thing, no place, is strange, While his fair bosom is the world's Exchange. O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream My great example, as it is my theme!
[* Originally :
And though his clearer sand no golden veins Like Tagus or Pactolus stream containswhich we quote to make good the couplet in Waller :
Poets lose half the praise they should have got, Could it be known what they discreetly blot.]
Though deep yet clear, though gentle yet not dull;
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full *.
Heav'n her Eridanus no more shall boast,
Whose fame in thine, like lesser current, 's lost :
Thy nobler streams shall visit Jove's abodes,
To shine among the stars, and bathe the gods.
Here Nature, whether more intent to please
Us for herself with strange varieties,
(For things of wonder give no less delight
To the wise Maker's than beholder's sight;
Though these delights from several causes move,
For so our children, thus our friends, we love)
Wisely she knew the harmony of things,
As well as that of sounds, from discord springs.
Such was the discord which did first disperse
Form, order, beauty, through the universe;
While dryness moisture, coldness heat resists,
All that we have, and that we are, subsists;
While the steep horrid roughness of the wood
Strives with the gentle calmness of the flood,
Such huge extremes when Nature doth unite,
Wonder from thence results, from thence delight.
The stream is so transparent, pure, and clear,
That had the self-enamour'd youth gazed here,
So fatally deceived he had not been,
While he the bottom, not his face had seen.
But his proud head the airy mountain hides
Among the clouds; his shoulders and his sides
A shady mantle clothes; his curled brows
Frown on the gentle stream, which calmly flows,
While winds and storms his lofty forehead beat;
The common fate of all that's high or great.
Low at his foot a spacious plain is placed,
Between the mountain and the stream embraced,
Which shade and shelter from the Hill derives,
While the kind river wealth and beauty gives,
And in the mixture of all these appears
Variety, which all the rest endears.
This scene had some bold Greek or British bard
Beheld of old, what stories had we heard
Of fairies, satyrs, and the nymphs their dames,
Their feasts, their revels, and their am'rous flames?
'Tis still the same, although their airy shape
All but a quick poetic sight escape.
There Faunus and Sylvanus keep their courts,
And thither all the horned host resorts
[* Swift has ridiculed the herd of imitators of these noble lines:
"If Anna's happy reign you praise,
Pray not a word of halcyon days!
Nor let my votaries show their skill
In'aping lines from Cooper's Hill;
For, know I cannot bear to hear
The mimicry of deep yet clear.' "—Apollo's Edict.
In this, one of the earliest of our descriptive poems, Denham from time to time made great alterations and additions, and every insertion and every change was made with admirable judgment. Pope collated his copy with an early edition, and marked the variations; thinking it, as he said in a note at the end of the volume, "a very useful lesson for a poet to compare the editions, and consider at each alteration how and why it was altered."
The four famous lines on the Thames were an after insertion, and in Mr. Moore's opinion one of the happiest of recorded instances.-Life of Byron, vol. ii. p. 193.]
To graze the ranker mead; that noble herd
On whose sublime and shady fronts is rear'd
Nature's great masterpiece, to show how soon
Great things are made, but sooner are undone.
Here have I seen the King, when great affairs
Gave leave to slacken and unbend his cares,
Attended to the chase by all the flow'r
Of youth, whose hopes a nobler prey devour;
Pleasure with praise and danger they would buy,
And wish a foe that would not only fly.
The stag now conscious of his fatal growth,
At once indulgent to his fear and sloth,
To some dark covert his retreat had made,
Where nor man's eye, nor heaven's should invade
His soft repose; when th' unexpected sound
Of dogs and men his wakeful ear does wound.
Roused with the noise, he scarce believes his ear,
Willing to think th' illusions of his fear
Had given this false alarm, but straight his view
Confirms that more than all he fears is true.
Betray'd in all his strengths, the wood beset,
All instruments, all arts of ruin met,
He calls to mind his strength, and then his speed,
His winged heels, and then his armed head;
With these t' avoid, with that his fate to meet ;
But fear prevails, and bids him trust his feet.
So fast he flies, that his reviewing eye
Has lost the chasers, and his ear the cry;
Exulting, till he finds their nobler sense
Their disproportion'd speed doth recompense;
Then curses his conspiring feet, whose scent
Betrays that safety which their swiftness lent:
Then tries his friends; among the baser herd,
Where he so lately was obey'd and fear'd,
His safety seeks: the herd, unkindly wise,
Or chases him from thence or from him flies.
Like a declining statesman, left forlorn
To his friends' pity, and pursuers' scorn,
With shame remembers, while himself was one
Of the same herd, himself the same had
Thence to the coverts and the conscious groves,
The scenes of his past triumphs and his loves,
Sadly surveying where he ranged alone,
Prince of the soil, and all the herd his own,
And like a bold knight-errant did proclaim
Combat to all, and bore away the dame,
And taught the woods to echo to the stream
His dreadful challenge, and his clashing beam;
Yet faintly now declines the fatal strife,
So much his love was dearer than his life.
Now ev'ry leaf, and ev'ry moving breath
Presents a foe, and ev'ry foe a death.
Wearied, forsaken, and pursued, at last
All safety in despair of safety placed,
Courage he thence resumes, resolved to bear
All their assaults, since 'tis in vain to fear.
And now, too late, he wishes for the fight
That strength he wasted in ignoble flight;
But when he sees the eager chase renew'd,
Himself by dogs, the dogs by men pursued,
[* Originally, our Charles.]
He straight revokes his bold resolve, and more Repents his courage than his fear before; Finds that uncertain ways unsafest are,
And doubt a greater mischief than despair.
Then to the stream, when neither friends, nor force,
Nor speed, nor art, avail, he shapes his course;
Thinks not their rage so desp'rate to essay
An element more merciless than they.
But fearless they pursue, nor can the flood
Quench their dire thirst: alas! they thirst for
So t'wards a ship the oar-finn'd galleys ply,
Which wanting sea to ride, or wind to fly,
Stands but to fall revenged on those that dare
Tempt the last fury of extreme despair.
So fares the stag; among th' enraged hounds
Repels their force, and wounds returns for
And as a hero, whom his baser foes
In troops surround, now these assails, now those,
Though prodigal of life, disdains to die
By common hands; but if he can descry
Some nobler foe approach, to him he calls,
And begs his fate, and then contented falls.
So when the king a mortal shaft lets fly
From his unerring hand, then glad to die,
Proud of the wound, to it resigns his blood,
And stains the crystal with a purple flood.
This a more innocent and happy chase
Than when of old, but in the self-same place,
Fair Liberty pursued, and meant a prey
To lawless power, here turn'd, and stood at bay;
When in that remedy all hope was placed
Which was, or should have been at least, the last.
Here was that Charter seal'd wherein the crown
All marks of arbitrary power lays down;
Tyrant and slave, those names of hate and fear,
The happier style of king and subject bear:
Happy when both to the same centre move,
When kings give liberty and subjects love.
Therefore not long in force this Charter stood;
Wanting that seal, it must be seal'd in blood.
The subjects arm'd, the more their princes gave,
Th' advantage only took the more to crave;
Till kings, by giving, give themselves away,
And ev'n that power that should deny betray.
"Who gives constrain'd, but his own fear reviles,
Not thank'd, but scorn'd; nor are they gifts, but
Thus kings, by grasping more than they could hold,
First made their subjects by oppression bold;
And popular sway, by forcing kings to give
More than was fit for subjects to receive,
Ran to the same extremes; and one excess
Made both, by striving to be greater, less.
When a calm river, raised with sudden rains,
Or snows dissolved, o'erflows th' adjoining plains,
The husbandmen with high-raised banks secure
Their greedy hopes, and this he can endure;
But if with bays and dams they strive to force
His channel to a new or narrow course,
No longer then within his banks he dwells,
First to a torrent, then a deluge, swells;
Stronger and fiercer by restraint, he roars,
And knows no bound, but makes his pow'r his
ON THE EARL OF STRAFFORD'S TRIAL AND DEATH.
GREAT Strafford! worthy of that name, though all
Of thee could be forgotten but thy fall,
Crush'd by imaginary treason's weight,
Which too much merit did accumulate.
As chemists gold from brass by fire would draw,
Pretexts are into treason forged by law.
His wisdom such, at once it did appear
Three kingdoms' wonder, and three kingdoms' fear,
[* This poem by Denham, though it may have been exceeded by later attempts in description, yet deserves the highest applause, as it far surpasses all that went before it. The concluding part, though a little too much crowded, is very masterly.-GOLDSMITH.]
CHLORIS, 'twill be for either's rest
Truly to know each other's breast;
I'll make th' obscurest part of mine
Transparent, as I would have thine:
If you will deal but so with me,
We soon shall part, or soon agree.
MR. RITSON, in his Collection of English Songs, supposes John Bulteel to have been secretary to the Earl of Clarendon, and to have died in 1669. He was the collector of a small miscellany, published about the middle of the seventeenth century.
Whilst single he stood forth, and seem'd, although
Each had an army, as an equal foe;
Such was his force of eloquence, to make
The hearers more concern'd than he that spake,
Each seem'd to act that part he came to see,
And none was more a looker-on than he.
So did he move our passions, some were known
To wish, for the defence, the crime their own.
Now private pity strove with public hate,
Reason with rage, and eloquence with fate.
Now they could him, if he could them, forgive;
He's not too guilty, but too wise, to live:
Less seem those facts which treason's nickname
Though I a thousand times had sworn My passion should transcend your scorn; And that your bright triumphant eyes
Than such a fear'd ability for more.
They after death their fears of him express,
His innocence and their own guilt confess.
Their legislative frenzy they repent,
Enacting it should make no precedent.
This fate he could have 'scaped, but would not lose
Honour for life, but rather nobly chose
Death from their fears than safety from his own,
That his last action all the rest might crown.
Mr. Park makes a query whether he was not the gentleman mentioned by Wood (Fasti) as having translated from French into English "A General Chronological History of France, before the reign of Pharamond."
Create a flame that never dies;
Yet, if to me you proved untrue,
Those oaths should prove as false to you.
If love I vow'd to pay for hate,
'Twas, I confess, a mere deceit ;
Or that my flame should deathless prove,
"Twas but to render so your love:
I bragg'd, as cowards use to do,
Of dangers they'll ne'er run into.
And now my tenets I have show'd,
If you think them too great a load;
T' attempt your change were but in vain,
The conquest not being worth the pain:
With them I'll other nymphs subdue; 'Tis too much to lose time and you.
[Born, 1588. Died, 1667.]
GEORGE WITHER, the descendant of a family who had for several generations possessed the property of Manydowne, in Hampshire, was born in that county, at Bentworth, near Alton. About the age of sixteen he was sent to Oxford, where he had just begun to fall in love with the mysteries of logic, when he was called home by his father, much to his mortification, to hold the plough. He was even afraid of being put to some mechanical trade, when he contrived to get to London, and with great simplicity had proposed to try his fortune at court. To his astonishment, however, he found that it was necessary to flatter in order to be a courtier. To show his independence he therefore wrote his "Abuses whipt and stript," and instead of rising at court, was committed for some months to the Marshalsea*. But if his puritanism excited enemies, his talents and frankness gained him friends. He appears to have been intimate with the poet Browne, and to have been noticed by Selden. To the latter he inscribed his translation of the poem on the Nature of Man, from the Greek of Bishop Nemesius, an ancient father of the church. While in prison he wrote his "Shepherd's Hunting," which contains perhaps the very finest touches that ever came from his hasty and irregular pen, and besides those prison eclogues, composed his "Satire to the King,"a justification of his former satires, which, if it gained him his liberation, certainly effected it without retracting his principles.
It is not probable that the works of Wither will ever be published collectively, curious as they are, and occasionally marked by originality of thought but a detailed list of them is given in the "British Bibliographer." From youth to age George continued to pour forth his lucubrations, in prophesy, remonstrance, complaint and triumph, through good and evil report, through all vicissitudes of fortune: at one time in command among the saints, and at another scrawling his thoughts in gaol, when pen and ink were denied
* He was imprisoned for his "Abuses whipt and stript:" yet this could not have been his first offence, as an allusion is made to a former accusation. [It was for the Scourge (1615) that his first known imprisonment took place. He had dealt, as he tells us in after life, in particulars not in season to be touched upon, and the greatest fault of what he said was that it savoured more of honesty than discretion. Vice in high places was then more than ordinarily sensitive and suspicious, and satire when dealing in generals, like Hate, Envy, Lust and Avarice, was always individualized by the reader; and men appropriated, as Lamb says, the most innocent abstractions to themselves. Ben Jonson complains of this in more than one place.]
him, with red ochre upon a trencher. It is generally allowed that his taste and genius for poetry did not improve in the political contest. Some of his earliest pieces display the native amenity of a poet's imagination; but, as he mixed with the turbulent times, his fancy grew muddy with the stream. While Milton in the same cause brought his learning and zeal as a partisan, he left the Muse behind him, as a mistress too sacred to be introduced into party brawlings; Wither, on the contrary, took his Muse along with him to the camp and the congregation, and it is little to be wondered at that her cap should have been torn and her voice made hoarse in the confusion.
Soon after his liberation from prison he published the Hymns and Songs of the Church, one edition of which is dedicated to King James, in which he declares that the hymns were printed under his majesty's gracious protection. One of the highest dignitaries of the church also sanctioned his performance; but as it was Wither's fate to be for ever embroiled, he had soon after occasion to complain that the booksellers, "those cruel bee-masters," as he calls them, "who burn the poor Athenian bees for their honey," endeavoured to subvert his copy-right; while some of the more zealous clergymen complained that he had interfered with their calling, and slanderous persons termed his hymns needless songs and popish rhymes. From any suspicion of popery his future labours were more than sufficient to clear im. James, it appears, encouraged him to finish a translation of the Psalms, and was kindly disposed towards him. Soon after the decease of his sovereign, on remembering that he had vowed a pilgrimage to the Queen of Bohemia, he travelled to her court to accomplish his vow, and presented her highness with a copy of his Psalms.
In 1639 he was a captain of horse in the expedition against the Scots, and quarter master general of his regiment, under the Earl of Arundel. But as soon as the civil wars broke out he sold his estate to raise a troop of horse for the parliament, and soon afterwards rose to the rank of major. In the month of October of the same year, 1642, he was appointed by parliament captain and commander of Farnham Castle, in Surrey; but his government was of short duration, for the castle was ceded on the first of December to Sir William Waller. Wither says, in his own justification, that he was advised by his superiors to quit the place; while his enemies alleged that he deserted it. The defence of his conduct which