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A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
And brought three yards of velvet and three quarters,
He, that precisely knew what was enough,
Master, remember how you saw the vision !
Peace, knave ! quoth he, I did not see one rag Except a quiet, still, transparent flood :
Of such a colour'd silk in all the flag.
SIR HENRY WOTTON.
SIR HENRY WOTTON, less famed as a poet than as All the large desert in his bosom held,
a political character in the reigns of Elizabeth and And through the grove one channel passage found ; James I., was born at Bocton Hall, the seat of his This in the wood, that in the forest dwellid :
ancestors, in Kent, in 1568. After receiving his Trees clad the streams, streams green those trees aye education at Winchester and Oxford, and travelling made,
for some years on the continent, he attached himser And so exchang'd their moisture and their shade.
SIR JOHN HARRINGTON,
The first translator of Ariosto into English was SIR John HARRINGTON, a courtier of the reign of Elizabeth, and also god-son of the queen. He was the son of John Harrington, Esq., the poet already noticed. Sir John wrote a collection of epigrams, and a Brief View of the Church, in which he reprobates the marriage of bishops. He is supposed to have died about the year 1612. The translation from Ariosto is poor and prosaic, but some of his epigrams are pointed.
Against Writers that carp at other Men's Books.
Of a Precise Tailor.
Sir Henry Wotton. to the service of the Earl of Essex, the favourite of Elizabeth, but had the sagacity to foresee the fate of that nobleman, and to elude its consequences by withdrawing in time from the kingdom. Having afterwards gained the friendship of King James, by communicating the secret of a conspiracy formed against him, while yet only king of Scotland, he was employed by that monarch, when he ascended the English throne, as ambassador to Venice. A versatile and lively mind qualified Sir Henry in an eminent degree for this situation, of the duties of which we have his own idea in the well-known punning expression, in which he defines an ambassador to be an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.' He ultimately took orders, to qualify himself to be provost of Eton, in which situation he died in 1639, in the seventy-second year of his age. His writings were published in 1651, under the title of Reliquia Wottonianæ ; and a memoir of his very curious life has been published by Izaak Walton.
To his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia.
That poorly satisfy our eyes
You common people of the skies !
What are you, when the sun shall rise !
That warble forth dame Nature's lays,
By your weak accents ! what's your praise
You violets that first appear,
Wriotliesley, Earl of Southampton. “I know not,' By your pure purple mantles known,
says the modest poet, in his first dedication, how Like the proud virgins of the year,
I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to As if the spring were all your own!
your lor iship, nor how the world will censure me What are you, when the rose is blown? for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a So, when my mistress shall be seen
burthen; only, if your honour seem but pleased, I In form and beauty of her mind;
account myself highly praised, and vow to take adBy virtue first, then choice, a Queen!
vantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you Tell me, if she were not design'd
with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my Th' eclipse and glory of her kind ?
invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so
noble a godfather, and never after ear (till] so A Farewell to the Vanities of the World. barren a land.' The allusion to idle hours' seems Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles ; to point to the author's profession of an actor, in Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles ! which capacity he had probably attracted the attenFame's but a hollow echo; gold pure clay;
tion of the Earl of Southampton; but it is not so Honour the darling but of one short day;
easy to understand how the Venus and Adonis was Beauty, th' eye's idol, but a damask'd skin;
the first heir of his invention,' unless we believe State but a golden prison to live in,
that it had been written in early life, or that his And torture free-born minds; embroider'd trains dramatic labours had then been confined to the Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins ; adaptation of old plays, not the writing of new ones, And blood allied to greatness, is alone
for the stage. There is a tradition, that the Earl of Inherited, not purchased, nor our own :
Southampton on one occasion presented Shakspeare Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blond, and birth, with L.1000, to complete a purchase which he Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
wished to make. The gift was munificent, but the
sum has probably been exaggerated. The Venus Welcome, pure thoughts, welcome, ye silent groves, and Adonis is a glowing and essentially dramatic These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves : version of the well-known mythological story, full Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing
of fine descriptive passages, but objectionable on the My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring: score of licentiousness. Warton has shown that it A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass, gave offence, at the time of its publication, on acIn which I will adore sweet Virtue's face.
count of the excessive warmth of its colouring. The Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares,
Rape of Lucrece is less animated, and is perhaps an No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears : inferior poem, though, from the boldness of its figuThen here I'll sigh, and sigh my hot lore's folly, rative expressions, and its tone of dignified pathos And learn t' affect an holy melancholy ;
and reflection, it is more like the hasty sketch of a And if Contentment be a stranger then,
great poet. I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven again.
The sonnets of Shakspeare were first printed in The Character of a Happy Life.
1609, by Thomas Thorpe, a bookseller and publisher
of the day, who prefixed to the volume the following How happy is he born and taught,
enigmatical dedication :- To the only begetter of That serveth not another's will;
these ensuing sonnets, Mr W. H., all happiness and Whose armour is his honest thought,
that eternity promised by our ever-living poet, And simple truth his utmost skill!
wisheth the well-wishing adventurer in setting Whose passions not his masters are,
forth, T. T.' The sonnets are 154 in number. They Whose soul is still prepared for death,
are, with the exception of twenty-eight, addressed Untied unto the worldly care
to some male object, whom the poet addresses in a Of public fame, or private breath ;
style of affection, love, and idolatry, remarkable, even Who envies none that chance doth raise,
in the reign of Elizabeth, for its extravagant and Or vice ; who never understood
enthusiastic character. Though printed continuHow deepest wounds are given by praise ;
ously, it is obvious that the sonnets were written at Nor rules of state, but rules of good :
different times, with long intervals between the Who hath his life from rumours freed,
dates of composition ; and we know that, previous to Whose conscience is his strong retreat ;
1598, Shakspeare had tried this species of composiWhose state can neither flatterers feed,
tion, for Meres in that year alludes to his “sugared Nor ruin make oppressors great ;
sonnets among his private friends. We almost wish,
with Mr Hallam, that Shakspeare had not written Who God doth late and early pray,
these sonnets, beautiful as many of them are in More of his grace than gifts to lend ;
language and imagery. They represent him in a And entertains the harmless day
character foreign to that in which we love to regard With a religious book or friend;
him, as modest, virtuous, self-confiding, and indeThis man is freed from servile bands
pendent. His excessive and elaborate praise of Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;
youthful beauty in a man seems derogatory to his Lord of himself, though not of lands;
genius, and savours of adulation; and when we find And having nothing, yet hath all.
him excuse this friend for robbing him of his mis. tress-a married female--and subjecting his noble
spirit to all the pangs of jealousy, of guilty love, and SHAK SPEARE.
blind misplaced attachment, it is painful and diffi. SHAKSPEARE, as a writer of miscellaneous poetry, cult to believe that all this weakness and fully can claims now to be noticed, and, with the exception of be associated with the name of Shakspeare, and still the Faery Queen, there are no poems of the reign more, that he should record it in verse which he beof Elizabeth equal to those productions to which lieved would descend to future agesthe great dramatist affixed his name.
Not marble, not the gilded monuments when the poet was in his twenty-ninth year, ap- Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme. peared his Venus and Adonis, and in the following some of the sonnets may be written in a feigned year his Rape of Lucrece, both dedicated to Henry character, and merely dramatic in expression; but
in others, the poet alludes to his profession of an For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, actor, and all bear the impress of strong passion and Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings. deep sincerity. A feeling of premature age seems to have crept on Shakspeare
[Venus's Prophecy after the Death of Adonis.] That time of year thou may'st in me behold
Since thou art dead, lo ! here I prophesy,
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend ;
Ne'er settled equally, but high or low :
That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe. Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud, In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
Bud and be blasted in a breathing while, That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
The bottom poison, and the top o'erstraw'd As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
With sweets that shall the truest sight beguile. Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
The strongest body shall it make most weak, This thou perceivist, which makes thy love more strong, Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak To love that well which thou must leave ere long. It shall be sparing, and too full of riot, He laments his errors with deep and penitential Teaching decrepit age to tread the measures ; sorrow, summoning up things past to the sessions The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet, of sweet silent thought,' and exhibiting the depths Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures ; of a spirit 'solitary in the very vastness of its sym- Make the young old, the old become a child.
It shall be raging mad, and silly mild, pathies.' The.W. H.' alluded to by Thorpe, the publisher, has been recently conjectured to be It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear ; William Herbert, afterwards Earl of Pembroke, who It shall not fear, where it should most mistrust; (as appears from the dedication of the first folio of It shall be merciful, and too severe, 1623) was one of Shakspeare's patrons. This con- And most deceiving when it seems most just : jecture has received the assent of Mr Hallam and Perverse it shall be, when it seems most toward, others; and the author of an ingenious work on the Put fear to valour, courage to the coward. sonnets, Mr C. Armitage Brown, has supported It shall be cause of war, and dire events, it with much plausibility. Herbert was in his And set dissension 'twixt the son and sire : eighteenth year, when Meres first notices the son. Subject and servile to all discontents, nets in 1598; he was learned, of literary taste, and As dry combustious matter is to fire. gallant character, but of licentious life. The son- Sith in his prime, death doth my love destroy, nets convey the idea that the person to whom they They that love best, their love shall not enjoy. were addressed was of high rank, as well as personal beauty and accomplishments. We know of only one objection to this theory—the improbability that the
(Selections from Shakspeare's Sonnets.] publisher would address William Herbert, then Earl When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, of Pembroke, and a Knight of the Garter, as •Mr I all alone beweep my outcast state, W. H.' Herbert succeeded his father in the earl- | And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, dom in 1601, while the sonnets, as published by And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Thorpe, bear the date, as already stated, of 1609. Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
The composition of these mysterious productions Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess’d, evinces Shakspeare's great facility in versification Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, of a difficult order, and they display more intense With what I most enjoy contented least ; feeling and passion than either of his classical Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, poems. They have the conceits and quaint turns of Haply I think on thee—and then my state expression, then common, particularly in the sonnet; (Like to the lark at break of day arising but they rise to far higher flights of genuine poetry From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate ; than will be found in any other poet of the day, and For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings, they contain many traces of his philosophical and That then I scorn to change my state with kings. reflective spirit.
Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, (The Horse of Adonis.)
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear, Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
Made old offences of affections new. In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth His art with Nature's workmanship at strife,
Askance and strangely; but, by all above, As if the dead the living should exceed :
These blenches gave my heart another youth, So did this horse excel a common one
And worst essays prov'd thee my best of love. In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end : Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Mine appetite I never more will grind Broad brcast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide, On newer proof, to try an older friend, High crest, short ears, strait legs, and passing strong, A God in love, to whom I am confined. Thin manc, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, Look what a horse should have, he did not lack, E’en to thy pure and most most loving breast. Save a proud rider on so proud a back.
O for my sake do thou with fortune chide, Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, Anon he starts at stirring of a feather.
That did not better for my life provide, To bid the wind a basel he now prepares,
Than public means, which public manners breeds. And whe'r he run, or fly, they know not whether. Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, I to bid the wind a base: i.e. to challenge the wind to con
And almost thence my nature is subdued tond with him in speed: base--prison-base, or prison-bars, was
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. A rustic game, consisting chiefly in running.
Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd ;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Ah! do not, when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow,
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
From you have I been absent in the spring,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,
My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming;
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
[Selections from Shakspeare's Songs.]
As man's ingratitude!
Heigh, ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly,
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky, That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot! Though thou the waters warp, Thy sting is not so sharp As friend remember'd not. Heigh, ho! &c. &c.
[At the end of Love's Labour Lost."] When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw, And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw; When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl, Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whoo! Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note, While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
Fear no more the heat o' th' sun,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
To thee the reed is as the oak. The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust. Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor th' all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash,
Thou hast finished joy and moan. All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
SIR JOHN DAVIES.
SIR JOHN DAVIES (1570-1626), an English barrister, at one time Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, was the author of a long philosophical poem, On the Soul of Man and the Immortality thereof, supposed to have been written in 1598, and one of the earliest poems of that kind in our language. Davies is a profound thinker and close reasoner: in the happier parts of his poem,' says Campbell, 'we come to logical truths so well illustrated by ingenious similes, that we know not whether to call the thoughts more poctically or philosophically just.
The judgment and fancy are reconciled, and the imagery of the poem seems to start more vividly from the surrounding shades of abstraction.' The versification of the poem (long quatrains) was afterwards copied by Davenant and Dryden. Mr Southey has remarked that Sir John Davies and Sir William Davenant, avoiding equally the opposite faults of too artificial and too careless a style, wrote in numbers which, for precision, and clearness, and felicity, and strength, have never been surpassed.' The compact structure of Davies's verse is indeed remarkable for his times. In another production, entitled Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing, in a Dialogue between Penelope and One of her Wooers, he is much more fanciful. He there represents Penelope as declining to dance with Antinous, and the latter as proceeding to lecture her upon the antiquity of that elegant exercise, the merits of which he describes in verses partaking, as has been justly remarked, of the flexibility and grace of the subject. The following is one of the most imaginative passages:
[The Dancing of the Air.]
And now behold your tender nurse, the air,
For what are breath, speech, echoes, music, winds,
For all the words that from your lips repair,
That dances to all voices she can hear :
And yet her hearing sense is nothing quick,
And thou, sweet Music, dancing's only life,
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech, Loadstone of fellowship, charming rod of strife,
The soft mind's paradise, the sick mind's leech, With thine own tongue thou trees and stones can teach,
That when the air doth dance her finest measure, Then art thou born, the gods' and men's sweet pleasure.
Lastly, where keep the Winds their revelry,
Where she herself is turn'd a hundred ways,
Yet in this misrule, they such rule embrace, As two at once encumber not the place.
Afterwards, the poet alludes to the tidal influence of the moon, and the passage is highly poetical in expression:
For lo, the sea that fleets about the land,
Music and measure both doth understand: