Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I would have been content if he would play,
In that one strain, to pass the night away ;

FRANCIS QUARLES.
But, fearing much to do his patience wrong,

The writings of FRANCIS QUARLES (1592-1644) Unwillingly have ask'd some other song :

are more like those of a divine, or contemplative So, in this diff'ring key, though I could well

recluse, than of a busy man of the world, who held A many hours, but as few minutes tell,

various public situations, and died at the age of Yet, lest mine own delight might injure you,

fifty-two. Quarles was a native of Essex, educated (Though loath so soon) I take my song anew.

at Cambridge, and afterwards a student of Lincoln's Inn. He was successively cup-bearer to Elizabeth,

Queen of Bohemia, secretary to Archbishop Usher, (Night.)

and chronologer to the city of London. He espoused

the cause of Charles I., and was so harassed by the The sable mantle of the silent night

opposite party, who injured his property, and plunShut from the world the ever-joysome light.

dered hini of his books and rare manuscripts, that Care fled away, and softest slumbers please

his death was attributed to the affliction and ill To leave the court for lowly cottages.

health caused by these disasters. Notwithstanding Wild beasts forsook their dens on woody hills,

his loyalty, the works of Quarles have a tinge of And sleightful otters left the purling rills ;

Puritanism and ascetic piety that might have molRooks to their nests in high woods now were flung, And with their spread wings shield their naked young. sist of various pieces —Job Militant, Sion's Elegies,

lified the rage of his persecutors. His poems conWhen thieves from thickets to the cross-ways stir, And terror frights the lonely passenger ;

The History of Queen Esther, Argalus and Parthenia, When nought was heard but now and then the howl

The Morning Muse, The Feast of Worms, and The

Divine Emblems. The latter were published in 1645, Of some vile cur, or whooping of the owl.

and were so popular, that Phillips, Milton's nephew, styles Quarles “the darling of our plebeian judg

ments.' The eulogium still holds good to some ex[Pastoral Employments.]

tent, for the Divine Emblems, with their quaint and

grotesque illustrations, are still found in the cottages But since her stay was long: for fear the sun Should find them idle, some of thein begun

of our peasants. After the Restoration, when every

thing sacred and serious was either neglected or To leap and wrestle, others threw the bar,

made the subject of ribald jests, Quarles seems to Some from the company removed are To meditate the songs they meant to play,

have been entirely lost to the public. Even Pope, Or make a new round for next holiday;

who, had he read him, must have relished his lively

fancy and poetical expression, notices only his Some, tales of love their love-sick fellows told; Others were seeking stakes to pitch their fold.

bathos and absurdity. The better and more tolerant

taste of modern times has admitted the divine emThis, all alone, was mending of his pipe; That, for his lass, sought fruits, most sweet, most ripe. if he does not occupy a conspicuous place, he is at

blemist into the laurelled fraternity of poets,' where, Here (from the rest), a lovely shepherd's boy

least sure of his due measure of homage and atten. Sits piping on a hill, as if his joy Would still endure, or else that age's frost

tion. Emblems, or the union of the graphic and Should never make him think what he had lost,

poetic arts, to inculcate lessons of morality and re. Yonder a shepherdess knits by the springs,

ligion, had been tried with success by Peacham and Her hands still keeping time to what she sings ;

Wither. Quarles, however, made Herman Hugo, a Or seeming, by her song, those fairest hands

Jesuit, his model, and from the ‘Pia Desideria' of this Were comforted in working. Near the sands

author, copied a great part of his prints and mottoes. Of some sweet river, sits a musing lad,

His style is that of his age-studded with conceits, That moans the loss of what he sometime had,

often extravagant in conception, and presenting the His love by death bereft : when fast by him

most outré and ridiculous combinations. There is An aged swain takes place, as near the brim

strength, however, amidst his contortions, and true Of 's grave as of the river.

wit mixed up with the false. His epigrammatic point, uniting wit and devotion, has been considered

the precursor of Young's Night Thoughts. [The Syren's Song.)

Stanzas. [From the 'Inner Temple Masque.']

As when a lady, walking Flora's bower,
Steer hither, steer your winged pines,

Picks here a pink, and there a gilly-flower,
All beaten mariners,

Now plucks a violet from her purple bed,
Here lie undiscover'd mines

And then a primrose, the year's maidenhead, A prey to passengers ;

There nips the brier, here the lover's pansy, Perfumes far sweeter than the best

Shifting her dainty pleasures with her fancy, Which make the phenix urn and nest;

This on her arms, and that she lists to wear Fear not your ships,

Upon the borders of her curious hair;
Nor any to oppose you save our lips ;

At length a rose-bud (passing all the rest)
But come on shore,

She plucks, and bosoms in her lily breast.
Where no joy dies till love hath gotten more.
For swelling waves our panting breasts,

The Shortness of Life.
Where never storms arise,

And what's a life!-a weary pilgrimage,
Exchange; and be awhile our guests ;

Whose glory in one day doth fill the stage
For stars, gaze on our eyes.
The compass, love shall hourly sing,

With childhood, manhood, and decrepit age.
And as he goes about the ring,

And what's a life the flourishing array
We will not miss

Of the proud summer meadow, which to-day
To tell each point he nameth with a kiss. Wears her green plush, and is to-morrow hay:

Read on this dial, how the shades devour
My short-lived winter's day! hour eats up hour;
Alas! the total's but from eight to four.

Behold these lilies, which thy hands have made,
Fair copies of my life, and open laid
To view, how soon they droop, how soon they fade!
Shade not that dial, night will blind too soon ;
My non-aged day already points to noon;
How simple is my suit!--how small my boon!

Nor do I beg this slender inch to wile
The time away, or falsely to beguile
My thoughts with joy: here's nothing worth a smile.

Mors Tua.

Can he be fair, that withers at a blast?

Or he be strong, that airy breath can cast?
Can he be wise, that knows not how to live?
Or he be rich, that nothing hath to give?
Can he be young, that's feeble, weak, and wan?
So fair, strong, wise, so rich, so young is man.
So fair is man, that death (a parting blast)
Blasts his fair flower, and makes him earth at last;
So strong is man, that with a gasping breath
He totters, and bequeaths his strength to death;
So wise is man, that if with death he strive,
His wisdom cannot teach him how to live;
So rich is man, that (all his debts being paid)
His wealth's the winding-sheet wherein he's laid;
So
young is man, that, broke with care and sorrow,
He's old enough to-day, to die to-morrow:
Why bragg'st thou then, thou worm of five feet long?
Thou'rt neither fair, nor strong, nor wise, nor rich, nor
young.

The Vanity of the World.

False world, thou ly'st thou canst not lend
The least delight:
Thy favours cannot gain a friend,
They are so slight:

Thy morning pleasures make an end

To please at night:

Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales
Of endless treasure;
Thy bounty offers easy sales

Of lasting pleasure;

Thou ask'st the conscience what she ails,
And swear'st to ease her:
There's none can want where thou supply'st:
There's none can give where thou deny'st.
Alas! fond world, thou boasts; false world, thou ly'st.
What well-advised ear regards
What earth can say!
Thy words are gold, but thy rewards
Are painted clay:

Thy cunning can but pack the cards,
Thou canst not play:
Thy game at weakest, still thou vy'st;
If seen, and then revy'd, deny'st:

Thou art not what thou seem'st; false world, thou ly'st.

Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint

Of new-coin'd treasure;
A paradise, that has no stint,

No change, no measure;
A painted cask, but nothing in't,
Nor wealt nor pleasure:
Vain earth! that falsely thus comply'st
With man; vain man! that thou rely'st

[blocks in formation]

Poor are the wants that thou supply'st,
And yet thou vaunt'st, and yet thou vy'st
With heaven; fond earth, thou boasts; false world, The highest honours that the world can boast,
thou ly'st.

Are subjects far too low for my desire;
The brightest beams of glory are (at most)
But dying sparkles of thy living fire:

The loudest flames that earth can kindle, be
But nightly glow-worms, if compared to thee.
Without thy presence wealth is bags of cares;
Wisdom but folly; joy disquiet-sadness:
Friendship is treason, and delights are snares;
Pleasures but pain, and mirth but pleasing madness;
Without thee, Lord, things be not what they be,
Nor have they being, when compared with thee.

I love the sea she is my fellow-creature,
My careful purveyor; she provides me store :
She walls me round; she makes my diet greater;
She wafts my treasure from a foreign shore:

But, Lord of oceans, when compared with thee,
What is the ocean, or her wealth to me !

To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
Whose spangled suburbs entertain mine eye;
Mine eye, by contemplation's great attorney,
Transcends the crystal pavement of the sky:

But what is heaven, great God, compared to thee!
Without thy presence heaven 's no heaven to me.
Without thy presence earth gives no refection;
Without thy presence sea affords no treasure;
Without thy presence air 's a rank infection;
Without thy presence heaven itself no pleasure:
If not possess'd, if not enjoy'd in thee,
What's earth, or sea, or air, or heaven to me!

In having all things, and not thee, what have I!
Not having thee, what have my labours got!
Let me enjoy but thee, what further crave I!
And having thee alone, what have I not?

I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
Possess'd of heaven, heaven unpossess'd of thee.

Decay of Life.

The day grows old, the low-pitch'd lamp hath made
No less than treble shade,

And the descending damp doth now prepare

To uncurl bright Titan's hair;

Whose western wardrobe now begins to unfold
Her purples, fringed with gold,
To clothe his evening glory, when the alarms

On earth; vain man, thou dot'st; vain earth, thou ly'st. | Of rest shall call to rest in restless Thetis' arms.

[ocr errors]

Nature now calls to supper, to refresh

Lord Herbert of Cherbury, George was educated The spirits of all flesh;

at Cambridge, and in the year 1619 was chosen The toiling ploughman drives his thirsty teams, orator for the university. Herbert was the intimate To taste the slipp’ry streams :

friend of Sir Henry Wotton and Dr Donne ; and The droiling swineherd knocks away, and feasts Lord Bacon is said to have entertained such a high His hungry whining guests :

regard for his learning and judgment, that he sub-
The boxbill ouzle, and the dappled thrush,
Like hungry rivals meet at their beloved bush.
And now the cold autumnal dews are seen

To cobweb every green ;
And by the low-shorn rowans doth appear

The fast-declining year :
The sapless branches doff their summer suits,

And wain their winter fruits ;
And stormy blasts have forced the quaking trees
To wrap their trembling limbs in suits of mossy frieze.
Our wasted taper now hath brought her light

To the next door to night;
Her sprightless flame grown with great snuff, doth turn

Sad as her neighb'ring um :
Her slender inch, that yet unspent remains,

Lights but to further pains,
And in a silent language bids her guest
Prepare his weary limbs to take eternal rest.
Now careful age hath pitch'd her painful plough

Upon the furrow'd brow;
And snowy blasts of discontented care

Have blanch'd the falling hair :
Suspicious envy mix'd with jealous spite

Disturbs his weary night :
He threatens youth with age ; and now, alas !
He owns not what he is, but vaunts the man he was.

George Herbert.
Grey hairs peruse thy days, and let thy past

mitted his works to him before publication. The Read lectures to thy last :

poet was also in favour with King James, who gave Those hasty wings that hurried them away

Înim a sinecure office worth £120 per annum, which Will give these days no day : The constant wheels of nature scorn to tire

Queen Elizabeth had formerly given to Sir Philip Until her works expire :

Sidney. With this,' says Izaak Walton, and

his annuity, and the advantages of his college, and That blast that nipp'à thy youth will ruin thee ; That hand that shook the branch will quickly strike of his oratorship, he enjoyed his genteel humour for the tree.

clothes and court-like company, and seldom looked towards Cambridge unless the king were there, but

then he never failed.' The death of the king and To Chastity.

of two powerful friends, the Duke of Richmond and

Marquis of Hamilton, destroyed Herbert's court Oh, Chastity !—the flower of the soul,

hopes, and he entered into sacred orders. He was How is thy perfect fairness turn’d to foul !

first prebend of Layton Ecclesia (the church of How are thy blossoms blasted all to dust,

which he rebuilt), and afterwards was made rector By sudden lightning of untamed lust!

of Bemerton, in Wiltshire, where he passed the reHow hast thou thus defil'd thy ev'ry feet,

mainder of his life. After describing the poet's Thy sweetness that was once, how far from sweet ! marriage on the third day after his first interview Where are thy maiden smiles, thy blushing cheek- with the lady, old Izaak Walton relates, with chaThy lainb-like countenance, so fair, so meek ! racteristic simplicity and minuteness, a matrimonial Where is that spotless flower, that while-ere

scene preparatory to their removal to Bemerton :Within thy lily bosom thou did'st wear ?

• The third day after he was made rector of BemerHas wanton Cupid snatched it I hath his dart

ton, and had changed his sword and silk clothes into Sent courtly tokens to thy simple heart? Where dost thou bide? the country half disclaims thee ; regularly at Layton Ecclesia), he returned so habited

a canonical habit (he had probably never done duty The city wonders when a body names thee :

with his friend Mr Woodnot to Bainton ; and imOr have the rural woods engrost thee there,

mediately after he had seen and saluted his wife, he And thus forestall’d our empty markets here ? said to her, “You are now a minister's wife, and Sure thou art not; or kept where no man shows thee; must now so far forget your father's house as not to Or chang'd so much scarce man or woman knows thee. claim a precedence of any of your parishioners ; for

you are to know that a priest's wife can challenge GEORGE HERBERT,

no precedence or place but that which she purchases

by her obliging humility ; and I am sure places so GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1632) was of noble birth, purchased do best become them. And let me tell though chiefly known as a pious country clergy-you, I am so good a herald as to assure you that this man holy George Herbert,' who

is truth.” And she was so meek a wife, as to assure

him it was no vexing news to her, and that he The lowliest duties on himself did lay. should see her observe it with a cheerful willingness.' His father was descended from the earls of Pembroke,

Herbert discharged his clerical duties with saintand lived in Montgomery Castle, Wales, where the * The rectory of Bemerton is now held by another post, the poet was born. His elder brother was the celebrated Rev. W. Lisle Bowles.

[graphic]

a

[ocr errors][merged small]

like zeal and purity, but his strength was not equal to his self-imposed tasks, and he died at the early age of thirty-nine. His principal production is entitled, The Temple, or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. It was not printed till the year after his death, but was so well received, that Walton says twenty thousand copies were sold in a few years after the first impression. The lines on Virtue

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright, are the best in the collection ; but even in them we find, what mars all the poetry of Herbert, ridiculous conceits or coarse unpleasant similes. His taste was very inferior to his genius. The most sacred subject could not repress his love of fantastic imagery, or keep him for half a dozen verses in a serious and natural strain, Herbert was a musician, and sang his own hymns to the lute or viol ; and indications of this may be found in his poems, which have sometimes a musical flow and harmonious cadence. It may be safely said, however, that Herbert's poetry alone would not have preserved his name, and that he is indebted for the reputation he enjoys, to his excellent and amiable character, embalmed in the pages of good old Walton, to his prose work, the Country Parson, and to the warm and fervent piety which gave a charm to his life and breathes through all his writings.

Matin Hymn. I cannot ope mine eyes But thou art ready there to catch My mourning soul and sacrifice, Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart ! Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things, or all of them in one ! My God, what is a heart ! That thou should'st it so eye and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do I Indeed, man's whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee; He did not heaven and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light which now I see May both the work and workman show; Then by a sunbeam I will climb to thee.

Virtue.

Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky;
The dews shall weep thy fall to-night;

For thou must die.
Sweet rose ! whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye;
Thy root is ever in its grave;

And thou must die. Sweet spring ! full of sweet days and roses ; A box where sweets compacted lie; Thy music shows ye have your closes ;

And all must die. Only a sweet and virtuous soul, Like season'd timber never gives ; But, though the whole world turn to coal,

Then chiefly lives.

Religion. All may of thee partake;

Nothing can be so mean, Which, with this tincture, for thy sake,

Will not grow bright and clean. This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold, For that which God doth touch and own,

Cannot for less be told.

Sunday. O day most calm, most bright, The fruit of this the next world's bud, The indorsement of supreme delight, Writ by a Friend, and with his blood; The couch of time, care's balm and bay: The week were dark, but for thy light;

Thy torch doth show the way.

The other days and thou Make up one man; whose face thou art, Knocking at heaven with thy brow: The workydays are the back-part; The burden of the week lies there, Making the whole to stoop and bow,

Till thy release appear.

Man had straight forward gone To endless death: but thou dost pull And turn us round, to look on one, Whom, if we were not very dull, We could not choose but look on still; Since there is no place so alone,

The which he doth not fill.

Sundays the pillars are, On which heaven's palace arched lies: The other days fill up the spare And hollow room with vanities. They are the fruitful beds and borders In God's rich garden : that is bare,

Which parts their ranks and order.

The Sundays of man's life,
Threaded together on Time's string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternal glorious King.
On Sunday heaven's gate stands ope ;
Blessings are plentiful and rife
More plentiful than bope.

(Stanzas.] [Oddly called by Herbert • The Pulley." When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by, Let us,' said he, pour on him all we can; Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie,

Contract into a span.' So strength first made away; Then beauty flow'd; then wisdom, honour,

pleasure ; When almost all was out, God made a stay; Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.

WILLIAM HABINGTON.

This day my Saviour rose, And did enclose this light for his ; That, as each beast his manger knows, Man might not of his fodder miss. Christ hath took in this piece of ground, And made a garden there for those

Who want herbs for their wound.

The rest of our creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
Did the earth and all things with it move.
As Sampson bore the doors away,
Christ's hands, though naild, wrought our

salvation,
And did unhinge that day.

The brightness of that day
We sullied by our foul offence :
Wherefore that robe we cast away,
Having a new at his expense,
Whose drops of blood paid the full price,
That was required to make us gay,

And fit for paradise.

Thou art a day of mirth : And where the week-days trail on ground, Thy flight is higher, as thy birth: O let me take thee at the bound, Leaping with thee from seven to seven, Till that we both, being toss'd from earth,

Fly hand in hand to heaven !

William HABINGTON (1605-1654) had all the vices of the metaphysical school, excepting its occasional and frequently studied licentiousness. He tells us himself (in his preface) that, “if the innocency of a chaste muse shall be more acceptable, and weigh heavier in the balance of esteem, than a fame begot in adultery of study, I doubt I shall leave no hope of competition.' And of a pure attachment, he says finely, that when love builds upon the rock of chastity, it may safely contemn the battery of the waves and threatenings of the wind; since time, that makes a mockery of the firmest structures, shall itself be ruinated before that be demolished.' Habington's life presents few incidents, though he came of a plotting family. His father was implicated in Babington's conspiracy; his uncle suffered death for his share in the same transaction. The poet's mother atoned, in some measure, for these disloyal intrigues; for she is said to have been the writer of the famous letter to Lord Monteagle, which averted the execution of the Gun. powder Plot. The poet was educated at St Omer's, but declined to become a Jesuit. He married Lucia, daughter of the first Lord Powis, whom he had celebrated under the name of Castara. Twenty years before his death, he published his poems, consisting of The Mistress, The Wife, and The Holy Man. These titles include each several copies of verses, and the same design was afterwards adopted by Cowley. The life of the poet seems to have glided quietly away, cheered by the society and affection of his Castara. He had no stormy passions to agitate him, and no unruly imagination to control or subdue. His poetry is of the same unruffled descriptionplacid, tender, and often elegant—but studded with conceits to show his wit and fancy. When he talks of meadows wearing a 'green plush,' of the fire of mutual love being able to purify the air of an infected city, and of a luxurious feast being so rich that heaven must have rained showers of sweetmeats, as if

Heaven were Blackfriars, and each star a confectioner we are astonished to find one who could ridicule the madness of quaint oaths,' and the fine rhetoric of clothes,' in the gallants of his day, and whose sentiments on love were so pure and noble, fall into such absurd and tasteless puerilities.

Mortification. How soon doth man decay! When clothes are taken from a chest of sweets

To swaddle infants, whose young breath

Scarce knows the way :

They are like little winding-sheets, Which do consign and send them unto death.

When boys go first to bed, They step into their voluntary graves; Sleep binds them fast ; only their breath

Makes them not dead :

Successive nights, like rolling waves, Convey them quickly, who are bound for death.

When youth is frank and free,
And calls for music, while his veins do gwell,

All day exchanging mirth and breath

In company;

That music summons to the knell, Which shall befriend him at the house of death.

a

[ocr errors]

When man grows staid and wise, Getting a house and home, where he may move

Within the circle of his breath,

Schooling his eyes ;

That dumb enclosure maketh love Unto the coffin, that attends his death.

When age grows low and weak, Marking his grave, and thawing ev'ry year,

Till all do melt, and drown his breath

When he would speak;

A chair or litter shows the bier,
Which shall convey him to the house of death.

Man, ere he is aware,
Hath put together a solemnity,

And dress'd his hearse, while he hath breath

As yet to spare.

Yet, Lord, instruct us so to die,
That all these dyings may be life in death.

[Epistle to a friend.) [Addressed to his noblest friend, J. C., Esq.'] I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet I love the silence ; I embrace the wit And courtship, flowing here in a full tide, But loathe the expense, the vanity and pride. No place each way is happy. Here I hold Commerce with some, who to my care unfold (After a due oath ministred) the height And greatness of each star shines in the state, The brightness, the eclipse, the influence. With others I commune, who tell me whence The torrent doth of foreign discord flow; Relate each skirmish, battle, overthrow, Soon as they happen; and by rote can tell Those German towns, even puzzle me to spell. The cross, or prosperous fate, of princes, they Ascribe to rashness, cunning, or delay; And on each action comment, with more skill Than upon Livy did old Machiavel. O busy folly! Why do I my brain Perplex with the dull policies of Spain,

« AnteriorContinuar »