Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Sometimes his proud green waves in order set, One after other flow into the shore,

Which when they have with many kisses wet,
They ebb away in order as before;

And to make known his courtly love the more,

He oft doth lay aside his three-fork'd mace,
And with his arms the timorous earth embrace.

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,
When, with the motions of both will and wit,
She still aspireth to eternity,
And never rests till she attain to it?

*

All moving things to other things do move
Of the same kind, which shows their nature such ;
So earth falls down, and fire doth mount above,
Till both their proper elements do touch.

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,
From whose soft side she first did issue make;
She tastes all places, turns to every hand,
Her flowery banks unwilling to forsake.

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,
The spirit of God doth secretly infuse,
Because at first she doth the earth behold,
And only this material world she views.

At first her mother earth she holdeth dear,
And doth embrace the world and worldly things;
She flies close by the ground, and hovers here,
And mounts not up with her celestial wings:

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,
Or pleasure of the sense, contentment find?
Who ever ceased to wish, when he had health,
Or, having wisdom, was not vex'd in mind?

Then, as a bee which among weeds doth fall,
Which seem sweet flow'rs, with lustre fresh and gay,
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
But, pleased with none, doth rise and soar away.

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.

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,

6

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 :

[graphic]

Address to Bishop Valentine, on the day of the marriage

of the Elector Palatine to the Princess Elizabeth.
Hail Bishop Valentine ! whose day this is,
All the air is thy diocese,
And all the chirping choristers
And other birds are thy parishioners :
Thou marryest, every year,
The lyric lark and the grave whispering dove ;
The sparrow that neglects his life for love,

The household bird with his red stomacher ;
Monumental Effigy of Dr Donne.

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,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circles just,
And makes me end where I begun.

The Will.

Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Great Love, some legacies: I here bequeath
Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see;
If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee;
My tongue to Fame; to ambassadors mine ears;
To women, or the sea, my tears;
Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore,
By making me serve her who had twenty more,
That I should give to none but such as had too much

before.

My constancy I to the planets give;
My truth to them who at the court do live;
Mine ingenuity and openness

To Jesuits; to Buffoons my pensiveness;
My silence to any who abroad have been ;
My money to a Capuchin.

Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
To love there, where no love received can be,
Only to give to such as have no good capacity.

My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
All my good works unto the schismatics
Of Amsterdam; my best civility
And courtship to an university;
My modesty I give to soldiers bare;
My patience let gamesters share;
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her that holds my love disparity,
Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.
I give my reputation to those

Which were my friends; mine industry to foes;
To schoolmen Í bequeath my doubtfulness;
My sickness to physicians, or excess;

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
I give my physic books; my written rolls
Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give;

My brazen medals, unto them which live
In want of bread; to them which pass among
All foreigners, my English tongue:
Thou, Love, by making me love one
Who thinks her friendship a fit portion

For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.
Therefore I'll give no more, but I'll undo
The world by dying, because love dies too.
Then all your beauties will be no more worth
Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth,
And all your graces no more use shall have

Than a sun-dial in a grave.

Stranger than seven antiquaries' studies-
Than Afric monsters-Guiana's rarities-
Stranger than strangers. One who for a Dane
In the Danes' massacre had sure been slain,
If he had lived then; and without help dies
When next the 'prentices 'gainst strangers rise.
One whom the watch at noon scarce lets go by;
One to whom th' examining justice sure would cry,
'Sir, by your priesthood, tell me what you are?'
His clothes were strange, though coarse-and black,
though bare;

Sleeveless his jerkin was, and it had been
Velvet, but 'twas now (so much ground was seen)
Become tuff-taffety; and our children shall
See it plain rash awhile, then not at all.
The thing hath travell'd, and saith, speaks all tongues;
And only knoweth what to all states belongs.
Made of the accents and best phrase of these,
He speaks one language. If strange meats displease,
Art can deceive, or hunger force my taste;

But pedants' motley tongue, soldiers' bombast,
Mountebanks' drug-tongue, nor the terms of law,
Are strong enough preparatives to draw
Me to bear this. Yet I must be content
With his tongue, in his tongue called compliment.

[A Character from Donne's Satires.]
Towards me did run
A thing more strange than on Nile's slime the sun
E'er bred, or all which into Noah's ark came;
A thing which would have posed Adam to name.

He names me, and comes to me. I whisper, God!
How have I sinn'd, that thy wrath's furious rod,
(This fellow) chooseth me? He saith, Sir,
I love your judgment-whom do you prefer
For the best linguist? And I sillily
Said, that I thought, Culepine's Dictionary.
"Nay, but of men, most sweet sir ?'-Beza then,
Some Jesuits, and two reverend men
Of our two academies, I named. Here
He stopt me, and said- Nay, your apostles were
Pretty good linguists, and so Panurge was,
Yet a poor gentleman. All these may pass
By travel.' Then, as if he would have sold
His tongue, he prais'd it, and such wonders told,
That I was fain to say- If you had liv'd, Sir,
Time enough to have been interpreter

Her who begot this love in me before,

To teach by painting drunkards doth not last
Now; Aretine's pictures have made few chaste;

Taught'st me to make as though I gave, when I do but No more can prince's courts (though there be few

restore.

To Babel's bricklayers, sure the tower had stood.'
He adds, If of court-life you knew the good,
You would leave loneness,' I said, 'Not alone
My loneness is, but Spartans' fashion.

Better pictures of vice) teach me virtue.'

He, like a high-stretch'd lutestring, squeak'd, 'O, Sir,
'Tis sweet to talk of kings!' 'At Westminster,
(Said I) the man that keeps the Abbey-tombs,
And, for his price, doth, with whoever comes,
Of all our Harrys and our Edwards talk,
From king to king, and all their kin can walk.
Your ears shall hear nought but kings-your eyes meet
Kings only the way to it is King street?'
He smack'd and cry'd-' He's base, mechanic, coarse,
So are all your Englishmen in their discourse.
Are not your Frenchmen neat? Mine?as you sec,
I have but one, Sir-look, he follows me.
Certes, they are neatly cloth'd. I of this mind am,
Your only wearing is your grogoram.'
'Not so, Sir. I have more.' Under this pitch
He would not fly. I chaf'd him. But as itch
Scratch'd into smart-and as blunt iron ground
Into an edge hurts worse-so I (fool!) found

Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her who doth neglect both me and thee,

To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all Crossing hurt me. To fit my sullenness

three.

He to another key his style doth dress,

And asks, What news? I tell him of new plays;
He takes my hands, and as a still which stays
A semibreve 'twixt each drop, he (niggardly,
As loath to enrich me so) tells many a lie-
More than ten Holinsheds, or Halls, or Stowe
Of trivial household trash he knows. He knows

When the queen frown'd or smil'd, and he knows what
A subtle statesman mày gather from that.
He knows who loves whom; and who by poison
Hastes to an office's reversion.

He knows who hath sold his land, and now doth beg
A licence, old iron, boots, shoes, and egg-
Shells to transport. Shortly boys shall not play
At spancounter, or blow point, but shall pay
Toll to some courtier. And (wiser than all us)
He knows what lady is not painted.

JOSEPH HALL

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
Into his house some trencher-chapelain:
Some willing man that might instruct his sons,
And that would stand to good conditions.
First that he lie upon the truckle-bed,
While his young master lieth o'er his head.
Second, that he do, on no default,
Ever presume to sit above the salt.
Third, that he never change his trencher twice.
Fourth, that he use all common courtesies;
Sit bare at meals, and one half rise and wait.
Last, that he never his young master beat,
But he must ask his mother to define,
How many jerks he would his breech should line.
All these observed, he could contented be,
To give five marks and winter livery.

Seest thou how gaily my young master goes,*
Vaunting himself upon his rising toes;
And pranks his hand upon his dagger's side;
And picks his glutted teeth since late noon-tide?
'Tis Ruffio: Trow'st thou where he dined to-day?
In sooth I saw him sit with Duke Humphrey.
Many good welcomes, and much gratis cheer,
Keeps he for every straggling cavalier;
An open house, haunted with great resort;
Long service mixt with musical disport.+
Many fair younker with a feather'd crest,
Chooses much rather be his shot-free guest,
To fare so freely with so little cost,
Than stake his twelvepence to a meaner host.
Hadst thou not told me, I should surely say
He touch'd no meat of all this live-long day.
For sure methought, yet that was but a guess,
His eyes seem'd sunk for very hollowness,
But could he have (as I did it mistake)
So little in his purse, so much upon his back!

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,
That his gaunt gut no too much stuffing felt.
Seest thou how side it hangs beneath his hip?
Hunger and heavy iron makes girdles slip.
Yet for all that, how stiffly struts he by,
All trapped in the new-found bravery.
The nuns of new-won Calais his bonnet lent,
In lieu of their so kind a conquerment.
What needed he fetch that from farthest Spain,
His grandame could have lent with lesser pain?
Though he perhaps ne'er pass'd the English shore,
Yet fain would counted be a conqueror.
His hair, French-like, stares on his frighted head,
One lock amazon-like dishevelled,
As if he meant to wear a native cord,
If chance his fates should him that bane afford.
All British bare upon the bristled skin,
Close notched is his beard, both lip and chin;
His linen collar labyrinthian set,
Whose thousand double turnings never met:
His sleeves half hid with elbow pinionings,
As if he meant to fly with linen wings.
But when I look, and cast mine eyes below,
What monster meets mine eyes in human show!
So slender waist with such an abbot's loin,
Did never sober nature sure conjoin.
Lik'st a strawn scarecrow in the new-sown field,
Rear'd on some stick, the tender corn to shield,
Or, if that semblance suit not every deal,
Like a broad shake-fork with a slender steel.

BEN JONSON.

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

true.'

1 Long, or low.

An epigram addressed to him on the subject is as follows:
Pray tell us, Ben, where does the mystery lurk,
What others call a play you call a work?

On behalf of Jonson an answer was returned, which seems to glance at the labour which Jonson bestowed on all his produc

tions

The author's friend thus for the author says—
Ben's plays are works, while others' works are plays.

To Celia.

(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.
The thirst, that from the soul doth rise,

Doth ask a drink divine ;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,

I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there

It could not wither'd be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,

And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,

Not of itself, but thee.

Song.

[From The Forest.')
Oh do not wanton with those eyes,

Lest I be sick with seeing;
Nor cast them down, but let them rise,

Lest shame destroy their being.
Oh be pot angry with those fires,

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.

To Celia.

[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,

[ocr errors]

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!

Her Triumph.
See the chariot at hand here of love,

Wherein my lady rideth !
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,

And well the car love guideth.
As she goes all hearts do duty

Unto her beauty;
And enamour'd do wish, so they might

But enjoy such a sight,
That they still were to run by her side,
Through swords, through seas, whither she would ride
Do but look on her eyes, they do light

All that love's world compriseth |
Do but look on her, she is bright

As love's star when it riseth !
Do but mark, her forehead's smoother

Than words that soothe her!
And from her arch'd brows, such a grace

Sheds itself through the face,
As alone there triumphs to the life
All the gain, all the good of the elements' strife.
Have you seen but a bright lily grow,

Before rude hands have touch'd it
Have you mark'd but the fall of the snow,

Before the soil hath smutch'd it !
Have you felt the wool of the beaver,

Or swan's down ever ?
Or have smellid of the bud o' the brier !

Or the 'nard in the fire ?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee !
O so white ! O so soft ! O so sweet is she !

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 ;
Create of airy forms a stream,
It must have blood, and nought of phlegm ;
And though it be a waking dream,
Yet, let it like an odour rise

To all the senses here,
And fall like sleep upon their cyes,

Or music in their ear.

« AnteriorContinuar »