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Of this rude pile we carry, as the soul
And France shall echo to his shame or innocence.
Their way, and crystal Heaven return to chaos;
[Born, 1620. Died, 1666.]
ALEXANDER BROME was an attorney in the Lord Mayor's Court. From a verse in one of his poems, it would seem that he had been sent once in the civil war (by compulsion no doubt), on the parliament side, but had staid only three days, and never fought against the king and the cavaliers. He was in truth a strenuous loyalist, and the bacchanalian songster of his party. Most of the songs and epigrams that were published against the Rump have been ascribed to him. He had besides a share in a translation of Horace, with Fanshawe, Holiday, Cowley, and others, and published a single comedy, the Cunning Lovers,
which was acted in 1651, at the private house in Drury. There is a playful variety in his metre, that probably had a better effect in song than in reading. His thoughts on love and the bottle have at least the merit of being decently jovial, though he arrays the trite arguments of convivial invitation in few original images. In studying the traits and complexion of a past age, amusement, if not illustration, will often be found from the ordinary effusions of party ridicule. In this view the Diurnal, and other political satires of Brome, have an extrinsic value as contemporary caricatures.
Our drowsy metheglin
Was only ordain'd to inveigle in
The novice that knows not to drink yet,
But they won't long endure you.
The bagrag and Rhenish
You must with ingredients replenish ;
"Tis a wine to please ladies and toys with,
In his high-shoes he'll have her;
'Tis this that advances the drinker and drawer: Though the father came to town in his hobnails and leather,
He turns it to velvet, and brings up an heir,
TO A COY LADY.
I PRITHEE leave this peevish fashion, Don't desire to be high prized; Love's a princely noble passion,
And doth scorn to be despised. Though we say you're fair, you know We your beauty do bestow, For our fancy makes you so.
HERRICK'S vein of poetry is very irregular; but where the ore is pure, it is of high value. His song beginning, "Gather ye rose-buds, while ye may," is sweetly Anacreontic. Nichols, in his History of Leicestershire, has given the fullest account of his history hitherto published, and reprinted many of his poems, which illustrate his family connexions. He was the son of an eminent goldsmith in Cheapside, was born in London, and educated at Cambridge. Being patronised by the Earl of Exeter, he was, in 1629, presented by Charles I. to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire, from which he was ejected during the civil war, and then having assumed the habit of a layman, resided in Westminster. After the Restoration he was replaced in his vicarage.
To his Hesperides, or works human and divine*, he added some pieces on religious subjects, where his volatile genius was not in her ele
[* What is Divine' has much of the essence of poetry; that which is human, of the frailty of the flesh. Some are playfully pastoral, some sweetly Anacreontic, some in the higher key of religion, others lasciviously wanton and unclean. The whole collection seems to have passed into oblivion till about the year 1796, and since then we have had a separate volume of selections, and two complete reprints. His several excellences have preserved his many indecencies, the divinity of his verse (poetically speaking) the dunghill of his obscener moods. Southey, admitting the perennial beauty of many of his poems, has styled him, not with too much severity, a coarseminded and beastly writer.' Jones' Attempts in Verse, p. 85; see also Quar. Rev. vol. iv. p. 171.]
GATHER ye rose-buds, while ye may,
Old Time is still a flying;
And this same flower that smiles to-day
The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The age is best which is the first,
And, whilst ye may, go marry ; For having lost but once your prime, You may for ever tarry.
Flies no thought higher than a fleece;
And, as thou look'st, the wanton steer,
For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
On which the young men and maids meet,
ABRAHAM COWLEY was the posthumous son of a grocer in London. His mother, though left a poor widow, found means to get him educated at Westminster School, and he obtained a scholarship at Cambridge. Before leaving the former seminary, he published his Poetical Blossoms. He wrote verses while yet a child; and amidst his best poetry as well as his worst, in his touching and tender as well as extravagant passages, there is always something that reminds us of childhood in Cowley. From Cambridge he was ejected, in 1643, for his loyalty; after a short retirement, he was induced by his principles to follow the queen to Paris, as secretary to the Earl of St. Albans, and, during an absence of
ten years from his native country, was employed in confidential journeys for his party, and in deciphering the royal correspondence. The object of his return to England, in 1656, I am disposed to think, is misrepresented by his biographers: they tell us that he came over, under pretence of privacy, to give notice of the posture of affairs. Cowley came home indeed, and published an edition of his poems, in the preface to which he decidedly declares himself a quietist under the existing government, abjures the idea of all political hostility, and tells us that he had not only abstained from printing, but had burnt the very copies of his verses that alluded to the civil wars. "The enmities of fellow-citizens," he continues, "should
be like those of lovers, the redintegration of their amity." If Cowley employed this language to make his privacy the deeper pretence for giving secret intelligence, his office may be worthily named that of a spy; but the manliness and placidity of his character render it much more probable that he was sincere in those declarations; nor were his studious pursuits, which were chiefly botanical, well calculated for political intrigue. He took a doctor's degree, but never practised, and was one of the earliest members of the philosophical society. While Butler's satire was unworthily employed in ridiculing the infancy of that institution, Cowley's wit took a more than ordinary stretch of perversion in the good intention of commending it. Speaking of Bacon, he calls him
the mighty man,
Whom a wise king and nature chose
To be the chancellor of both their laws.
At his first arrival in England he had been imprisoned, and obliged to find bail to a great amount. On the death of Cromwell, he considered himself at liberty, and went to France, where he stopt till the Restoration. event, when men who had fought under Cromwell were rewarded for coming over to Charles II., Cowley was denied the mastership of the Savoy on pretence of his disloyalty, and the Lord Chancellor told him that his pardon was his reward. The sum of his offences was, that he had lived peaceably under the usurping
government, though without having published a word even in his amiable and pacific preface, that committed his principles. But an absurd idea prevailed that his Cutter of Coleman-street was a satire on his party, and he had published an ode to Brutus! It is impossible to contrast this injured honesty of Cowley with the successful profligacy of Waller and Dryden, and not to be struck with the all-prevailing power of impudence. In such circumstances it is little to be wondered at that Cowley should have sighed for retirement, and been ready to accept of it even in the deserts of America. Misanthropy, as far as so gentle a nature could cherish it, naturally strengthened his love of retirement, and increased that passion for a country life which breathes in the fancy of his poetry, and in the eloquence of his prose. By the influence of Buckingham and St. Albans, he at last obtained a competence of about 300l. a year from a lease of the queen's lands, which enabled him to retire, first to Barnes Elms, and afterwards to Chertsey, on the Thames. But his health was now declining, and he did not long experience either the sweets or inconveniences of rustication. He died, according to Dr. Sprat, in consequence of exposing himself to cold one evening that he staid late among his labourers. Another account ascribes his death to being benighted in the fields, after having spent too convivial an evening with the same Dr. Sprat.
THE CHRONICLE, A BALLAD*.
MARGARITA first possess'd,
But when a while the wanton maid
Martha soon did it resign
Eliza till this hour might reign,
[*The Chronicle' is a composition unrivalled and alone: such gaiety of fancy, such facility of expression, such varied similitude, such a succession of images, and such a dance of words, it is in vain to expect except from Cowley. To such a performance, Suckling could have brought the gaiety, but not the knowledge; Dryden could have supplied the knowledge, but not the gaiety. -JOHNSON.]
Mary then, and gentle Anne,
And sometimes Mary was the fair,
And sometimes Anne the crown did wear, And sometimes both I' obey'd.
Another Mary then arose,
A mighty tyrant she!
Long, alas! should I have been Under that iron-sceptred queen, Had not Rebecca set me free.
When fair Rebecca set me free,
One month, three days, and half an hour,