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Sometimes his proud green waves in order set, One after other flow into the shore,
Which when they have with many kisses wet,
And to make known his courtly love the more,
He oft doth lay aside his three-fork'd mace,
The poem on Dancing is said to have been written in fifteen days. It was published in 1596. The Nosce Teipsum, or Poem on the Immortality of the Soul, bears the date (as appears from the dedication to the Queen) of 1602. The fame of these works introduced Sir John Davies to James I., who made him successively solicitor-general and attorney-general for Ireland. He was also a judge of assize, and was knighted by the king in 1607. The first Reports of Law Cases, published in Ireland, were made by this able and accomplished man, and his preface to the volume is considered the best that was ever prefixed to a law-book.'
[Reasons for the Soul's Immortality.]
Again, how can she but immortal be,
All moving things to other things do move
And as the moisture which the thirsty earth Sucks from the sea to fill her empty veins, From out her womb at last doth take a birth, And runs a lymph along the grassy plains,
Long doth she stay, as loath to leave the land,
Yet nature so her streams doth lead and carry As that her course doth make no final stay, Till she herself unto the sea doth marry, Within whose wat'ry bosom first she lay.
E'en so the soul, which, in this earthly mould,
At first her mother earth she holdeth dear,
Yet under heaven she cannot light on aught That with her heavenly nature doth agree; She cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought, She cannot in this world contented be.
For who did ever yet, in honour, wealth,
Then, as a bee which among weeds doth fall,
So, when the soul finds here no true content, And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take, She doth return from whence she first was sent, And flies to him that first her wings did make.
[The Dignity of Man.]
Oh! what is man, great Maker of mankind! That thou to him so great respect dost bear; That thou adorn'st him with so bright a mind, Mak'st him a king, and even an angel's peer? Oh! what a lively life, what heav'nly pow'r, How great, how plentiful, how rich a dow'r What spreading virtue, what a sparkling fire,
Dost thou within this dying flesh inspire! Thou leav'st thy print in other works of thine, But thy whole image thou in man hast writ; There cannot be a creature more divine,
Except, like thee, it should be infinite: But it exceeds man's thought, to think how high God hath rais'd man, since God a man became ; The angels do admire this mystery,
And are astonish'd when they view the same: Nor hath he given these blessings for a day,
Nor made them on the body's life depend; The soul, though made in time, survives for aye; And though it hath beginning, sees no end.
JOHN DONNE was born in London in 1573, of a Catholic family; through his mother he was related to Sir Thomas More and Heywood the epigrammatist. He was educated partly at Oxford and partly at Cambridge, and was designed for the law, but relinquished the study in his nineteenth year. About this period of his life, having carefully considered the controversies between the Catholics and Protestants, he became convinced that the latter were right, and became a member of the established church. The great abilities and amiable character of Donne were early distinguished. The Earl of Essex, the Lord Chancellor Egerton, and Sir Robert Drury, successively befriended and employed him; and a saying of the second of these eminent persons respecting him is recorded by his biographers--that he was fitter to serve a king than a subjec He fell, nevertheless, into trouble, in consequence of secretly marrying the daughter of Sir George Moore, lord lieutenant of the Tower. This step kept him for several years in poverty, and by the death of his wife, a few days after giving birth to her twelfth child, he was plunged into the greatest grief. At the age of forty-two, Donne became a clergyman, and soon attaining distinction as a preacher, he was preferred by James I. to the deanery of St Paul's; in which benefice he continued till his death in 1631, when he was buried honourably in Westminster Abbey.
The works of Donne consist of satires, elegies religious poems, complimentary verses, and epigrams: they were first collected into one volume by Tonson in 1719. His reputation as a poet, great in his own day, low during the latter part of the seventeenth, and the whole of the eighteenth centuries, has latterly in some degree revived. In its days of abasement, critics spoke of his harsh and rugged versification, and his leaving nature for conceit: Dryden even hints at the necessity of translating him into numbers and English. It seems to be now acknowledged that, amidst much rubbish, there is much real poetry, and that of a high order, in Donne. He is described by a recent critic as 'imbued to saturation with the learning of his age,' endowed with a most active and piercing intellect -an imagination, if not grasping and comprehensive, most subtle and far-darting-a fancy, rich,
vivid, and picturesque—a mode of expression terse, it is a mere conceit. Perhaps we should not be far simple, and condensed—and a wit admirable, as well from the truth, if we were to represent this style as for its caustic severity, as for its playful quickness the natural syniptoms of the decline of the brilliant -and as only wanting sufficient sensibility and taste school of Sackville, Spenser, and Shakspeare. All to preserve him from the vices of style which seem the recognised modes, subjects, and phrases of poetry,
introduced by them and their contemporaries, were now in some degree exhausted, and it was necessary to seek for something new. This was found, not in a new vein of equally rich ore, but in a continuation of the workings through adjoining veins of spurious metal.
It is at the same time to be borne in mind, that the quality above described did not characterise the whole of the writings of Donne and his followers. These men are often direct, natural, and truly poetical—in spite, as it were, of themselves. Donne, it may be here stated, is usually considered as the first writer of that kind of satire which Pope and Churchill carried to such perfection. But his satires, to use the words of a writer already quoted, are rough and rugged as the unhewn stones that have just been blasted from the quarry.
The specimens which follow are designed only to exemplify the merits of Donne, not his defects :
Address to Bishop Valentine, on the day of the marriage
of the Elector Palatine to the Princess Elizabeth.
The household bird with his red stomacher ;
Thou mak'st the blackbird speed as soon, to have beset him. Donne is usually considered as This day more cheerfully than ever shine;
As doth the goldfinch or the halcyon ; the first of a series of poets of the seventeenth cen; This day which might intame thyself, old Valentine ! tury, who, under the name of the Metaphysical Poets, fill a conspicuous place in Erglish literary nistory. The directness of thought, the naturalness of description, the rich abundance of genuine poeti
• Valediction-Forbidding Mourning. cal feeling and imagery, which distinguish the poets As virtuous men pass mildly away, of Elizabeth's reign, now begin to give way to cold And whisper to their souls go; and forced conceits, mere vain workings of the in- Whilst some of their sad friends do say, tellect, a kind of poetry as unlike the former as The breath goes now—and some say, no; punning is unlike genuine wit. To give an idea of these conceits-Donne writes a poem on a familiar
So let us melt, and make no noise, popular subject, a broken heart." Here he does not
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move; advert to the miseries or distractions which are pre
'Twere profanation of our joys sumed to be the causes of broken hearts, but starts
To tell the laity our love. off into a play of conceit upon the phrase. He Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears, entered a room, he says, where his mistress was Men reckon what it did, and meant; present, and
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent. love, alas ! At one first blow did shiver it (his heart) as glass.
Dull, sublunary lover's love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit Then, forcing on his mind to discover by what means
Absence, because it doth remove the idea of a heart broken to pieces, like glass, can
Those things which alimented it. be turned to account in making out something that But we're by love so much refined, will gingle on the reader's imagination, he proceeds That ourselves know not what it is ;! thus :
Inter-assured of the mind, Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Careless eyes, lips, and hands to miss. Nor any place be empty quite,
Our two souls, therefore (which are one) Therefore I think my breast hath all
Though I must go, endure not yet Those pieces still, though they do not unite :
A breach, but an expansion, And now, as broken glasses show
Like gold to airy thinness beat. A hundred lesser faces, so
If they be two, they are two so My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
As stiff twin compasses are two ; But after one such love can love no more.
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do. There is here, certainly, analogy, but then it is an analogy which altogether fails to please or move :
"That is, abucnce.
And though it in the centre sit,
Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
My constancy I to the planets give;
To Jesuits; to Buffoons my pensiveness;
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
Which were my friends; mine industry to foes;
To Nature all that I in rhyme have writ!
And to my company my wit: Thou, Love, by making me adore
To him for whom the passing bell next tolls
My brazen medals, unto them which live
For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.
Than a sun-dial in a grave.
Stranger than seven antiquaries' studies-
Sleeveless his jerkin was, and it had been
But pedants' motley tongue, soldiers' bombast,
[A Character from Donne's Satires.]
He names me, and comes to me. I whisper, God!
Her who begot this love in me before,
To teach by painting drunkards doth not last
Taught'st me to make as though I gave, when I do but No more can prince's courts (though there be few
To Babel's bricklayers, sure the tower had stood.'
Better pictures of vice) teach me virtue.'
He, like a high-stretch'd lutestring, squeak'd, 'O, Sir,
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all Crossing hurt me. To fit my sullenness
He to another key his style doth dress,
And asks, What news? I tell him of new plays;
When the queen frown'd or smil'd, and he knows what
He knows who hath sold his land, and now doth beg
JOSEPH HALL, born at Bristow Park, in Leicestershire, in 1574, and who rose through various church preferments to be bishop of Norwich, is more distinguished as a prose writer than as a poet: he is, however, allowed to have been the first to write satirical verse with any degree of elegance. His satires, which were published under the title of Virgidemiarum, in 1597-9, refer to general objects, and present some just pictures of the more remarkable anomalies in human character: they are also written in a style of greater polish and volubility than most of the compositions of this age. Bishop Hall, of whom a more particular notice is given elsewhere, died in 1656, at the age of eighty-two.
[Selections from Hall's Satires.]
A gentle squire would gladly entertain
Seest thou how gaily my young master goes,*
This is the portrait of a poor gallant of the days of Elizabeth. In St Paul's Cathedral, then an open public place, there was a tomb erroneously supposed to be that of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, which was the resort of gentlemen upon town in that day, who had occasion to look out for a dinner. When unsuccessful in getting an invitation, they were said to dine with Duke Humphrey.
† An allusion to the church service to be heard near Duke Humphrey's tomb.
So nothing in his maw? yet seemeth by his belt,
In 1616, BEN JONSON collected the plays he had then written, and published them in one volume, folio, adding, at the same time, a book of epigrams, and a number of poems, which he entitled The Forest, and The Underwood. The whole were comprised in oue folio volume, which Jonson dignified with the title of his Works, a circumstance which exposed him to the ridicule of some of his contemporaries.* It is only with the minor poetry of Jonson that we have to deal at present, as the dramatic productions of this stern old master of the manly school of English comedy will be afterwards described. There is much delicacy of fancy, fine feeling, and sentiment, in some of Jonson's lyrical and descriptive effusions. He grafted a classic grace and musical expression on parts of his masques and interludes, which could hardly have been expected from his massive and ponderous hand. In some of his songs he equals Carew and Herrick in picturesque images, and in portraying the fascinations of love. A taste for nature is strongly displayed in his fine lines on Penshurst, that ancient seat of the Sidneys. It has been justly remarked by one of his critics, that Jonson's dramas do not lead us to value highly enough his admirable taste and feeling in poetry; and when we consider how many other intellectual excellences distinguished him-wit, observation, judgment, memory, learning-we must acknowledge that the inscription on his tomb, “O rare Ben Jonson!" is not more pithy than it is
1 Long, or low.
An epigram addressed to him on the subject is as follows:
On behalf of Jonson an answer was returned, which seems to glance at the labour which Jonson bestowed on all his produc
The author's friend thus for the author says—
(From The Forest.') Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine ; Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
Doth ask a drink divine ;
I would not change for thine.
Not so much honouring thee,
It could not wither'd be.
And sent'st it back to me;
Not of itself, but thee.
[From The Forest.')
Lest I be sick with seeing;
Lest shame destroy their being.
For then their threats will kill me; Nor look too kind on my desires,
For then my hopes will spill me. Oh do not steep them in thy tears,
For so will sorrow slay me; Nor spread them as distraught with fears ;
Mine own enough betray me.
The Sweet Neglect.
[From The Silent Woman.] Still to be neat, still to be drest, As you were going to a feast; Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd : Lady, it is to be presum'd, Though art's hid causes are not found, All is not sweet, all is not sound. Give me a look, give me a face, That makes simplicity a grace; Robes loosely flowing, hair as free ; Such sweet neglect more taketh me Than all th' adulteries of art : They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
[From the same.) Kiss me, sweet! the wary lover Can your favours keep and cover, When the common courting jay All your bounties will betray. Kiss again; no creature comes ; Kiss, and score up wealthy sums On my lips, thus hardly sunder'd While you breathe. First give a hundred, Then a thousand, then another Hundred, then unto the other Add a thousand, and so more, Till you equal with the store, All the grass that Romney yields, Or the sands in Chelsea fields, Or the drops in silver Thames, Or the stars that gild his streams In the silent summer nights, When youths ply their stol'n delights ; That the curious may not know How to tell them as they flow, And the envious when they find What their number is, be pined,
Hymn to Diana.
(From 'Cynthia's Revels. ] Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep ; Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep. Hesperus intreats thy light, Goddess excellently bright ! Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose ; Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close ; Bless us then with wished sight, Goddess excellently bright ! Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver : Give unto the flying hart,
Space to breathe, how short soever ; Thou that mak'st a day of night, Goddess excellently bright!
Wherein my lady rideth !
And well the car love guideth.
Unto her beauty;
But enjoy such a sight,
All that love's world compriseth |
As love's star when it riseth !
Than words that soothe her!
Sheds itself through the face,
Before rude hands have touch'd it
Before the soil hath smutch'd it !
Or swan's down ever ?
Or the 'nard in the fire ?
To Night. (From "The Vision of Delight) Break, Phantasy, from thy cave of cloud,
And spread thy purple wings; Now all thy figures are allow'd,
And various shapes of things ;
To all the senses here,
Or music in their ear.