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She her throne makes reason climb,
All her vows religious be,
Or quick designs of France ! Why not repair
SIR JOHN SUCKLING. SIR JOHN SUCKLING (1608-1641) possessed such a natural liveliness of fancy, and exuberance of animal spirits, that he often broke through the artificial restraints imposed by the literary taste of his times, but he never rose into the poetry of passion and imagination. He is a delightful writer of what have been called 'occasional poems. His polished wit, playful fancy, and knowledge of life and society, enabled him to give interest to trifles, and to clothe familiar thoughts in the garb of poetry. His own life seems to have been one summer-day
Youth at the prow, and pleasure at the helm. He dreamt of enjoyment, not of fame. The father of Suckling was secretary of state to James I., and comptroller of the household to Charles I. The poet was distinguished almost from his infancy; and at sixteen he had entered on public life! His first appearance was as a soldier under the celebrated Gustavus Adolphus, with whom he served one campaign. On his return, he entered warmly into the cause of Charles I., and raised a troop of horse in his support. He intrigued with his brother cavaliers to rescue the Earl of Strafford, and was impeached by the House of Commons. To evade a trial, he fled to France, but a fatal accident took place by the way. His servant having robbed him at an inn, Suckling, learning the circumstance, drew on his boots hurriedly, to pursue him; a rusty nail, or (according to another account) the blade of a knife, had been concealed in the boot, which wounded him, and produced mortification, of which he died. The works of Suckling consist of miscellaneous poems, five plays, and some private letters. His poems are all short, and the best of them are dedicated to love and gallantry. With the freedom of a cavalier, Suckling has greater purity of expression than most of his contemporaries. His sentiments are sometimes too voluptuous, but are rarely coarse; and there is so much elasticity and vivacity in his verses, that he never becomes tedious. His Ballad upon a Wedding is inimitable for witty levity and choice beauty of expression. It has touches of graphic description and liveliness equal to the pictures of Chaucer. One well-known verse has never been excelled
Description of Castara.
For she's to herself untrue,
Who delights i' th’ public view.
Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good. Cautious, she knew never yet What a wanton courtship meant; Nor speaks loud, to boast her wit ; In her silence eloquent :
Of herself survey she takes,
But 'tween men no difference makes. She obeys with speedy will Her grave parents' wise commands ; And so innocent, that ill She nor acts, nor understands :
Women's feet run still astray,
If once to ill they know the way. She sails by that rock, the court, Where oft honour splits her mast; And retir’dnese thinks the port, Where her fame may anchor cast :
Virtue safely cannot sit,
Where vice is enthron'd for wit. She holds that day's pleasure best, Where sin waits not on delight ; Without masque, or ball, or feast, Sweetly spends a winter's night :
O'er that darkness, whence is thrust Prayer and sleep, oft governs lust.
Her feet beneath her petticoat, Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they fear'd the light ; But oh ! she dances such a way, No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight !*
* Ilerrick, who had no occasion to steal, has taken this image from Suckling, and spoiled it in the theft
Her pretty feet, like snails, did creep
Like Sir Fretful Plagiary, Herrick had not skill to steal with taste. Wycherley also purloined Herrick's simile for one of his plays. The allusion to Easter-day is founded upon a beautiful old superstition of the English peasantry, that the sun dances upon that morning.
The maid, and thereby hangs a tale,
Her finger was so small, the ring
Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
Who sees them is undone ;
The side that's next the sun.
Her lips were red; and one was thin,
Her mouth so small, when she does speak,
Passion, oh me! how I run on !
The bus'ness of the kitchen's great,
For it is fit that men should eat ;
Just in the nick, the cook knock'd thrice,
Presented, and away.
When all the meat was on the table,
Now hats fly off, and youths carouse;
O' th' sudden up they rise and dance;
1 Whitsun-ales were festive assemblies of the people of whole parishes at Whitsunday.
The Careless Lover.
Or know what 'tis, or mean to prove ;
I fairly will forego it.
This heat of hope, or cold of fear,
When I am hungry I do eat,
A gentle round fill'd to the brink, To this and t'other friend I drink ; And if 'tis nam'd another's health, I never make it her's by stealth: She's fair, &c.
Blackfriars to me, and old Whitehall,
I visit, talk, do business, play,
Hast thou seen the down in the air,
When wanton blasts have tost it! Or the ship on the sea,
When ruder winds have crost it? Hast thou mark'd the crocodiles weeping, Or the foxes sleeping?
Or hast thou view'd the peacock in his pride,
Or the dove by his bride,
Oh! so fickle; oh! so vain ; oh! so false, so false is she!
Thou vermin slander, bred in abject minds,
What canst thou witness then? thou, base dull aid,
Where each meant more than could by both be said.
Nor from the water could'st thou have this tale;
Much less could'st have it from the purer fire;
I must forbear her sight, and so repay
A pastoral romance, entitled Thealma and Clearchus, was published by Izaak Walton in 1683, with a title-page stating it to have been written long since by JOHN CHALKHILL, Esq., an acquaintant and friend of Edmund Spenser.' Walton tells us of the author, that he was in his time a man generally known, and as well beloved; for he was humble and obliging in his behaviour; a gentleman, a scholar, very innocent and prudent; and, indeed, his whole life was useful, quiet, and virtuous.' Thealma and Clearchus' was reprinted by Mr Singer, who expressed an opinion that, as Walton had been silent upon the life of Chalkhill, he might be altogether a fictitious personage, and the poem be actually the composition of Walton himself. A critic in the Retrospective Review,* after investigating the circumstances, and comparing the Thealma with the acknowledged productions of Walton, comes to the same conclusion. Sir John Hawkins, the editor of Walton, seeks to overturn the hypothesis of Singer, by the following statement:- Unfortunately, John Chalkhill's tomb of black marble is still to be seen on the walls of Winchester cathedral, by which it appears he died in May 1679, at the age of eighty. Walton's preface speaks of him as dead in May 1678; but as the book was not published till 1683, when Walton was ninety years old, it is probably an error of memory.' The tomb in Winchester cannot be that of the author of Thealma, unless Walton committed a further error in styling Chalkhill an acquaintant and friend' of Spenser. Spenser died in 1599, the very year in which John Chalkhill, interred in Winchester cathedral, must have been born. We should be happy to think that the Thealma was the composition of Walton, thus adding another laurel to his venerable brow; but the internal evidence seems to us to be wholly against such a supposition. The poetry is of a cast far too high for the muse of Izaak, which dwelt only by the side of trouting streams, and among quiet meadows. The nomme de guerre of Chalkhill must also have been an old one with Walton, if he wrote Thealma; for, thirty years before its publication, he had inserted in his Complete Angler' two songs, signed 'Jo. Chalkhill.' The disguise is altogether very unlike Izaak Walton, then ninety years of age, and remarkable for his unassuming worth, probity, and piety. We have no doubt, therefore, that Thealma is a genuine poem of the days of Charles or James I. The scene of this pastoral is laid in Arcadia, and the author, like the ancient poets, describes the golden age and all its charms, which were succeeded by an age of iron, on the introduction of ambition, avarice, and tyranny. * Retrospective Review, vol. iv., page 230. The article appears to have been written by Sir Egerton Brydges, who contributed largely to that work.
The plot is complicated and obscure, and the characters are deficient in individuality. It must be read, like the Faery Queen, for its romantic descriptions, and its occasional felicity of language. The versification is that of the heroic couplet, varied, like Milton's Lycidas, by breaks and pauses in the middle
[The Witch's Cave.]
Her cell was hewn out of the marble rock, By more than human art; she need not knock; The door stood always open, large and wide, Grown o'er with woolly moss on either side, And interwove with ivy's flattering twines, Through which the carbuncle and diamond shines, Not set by Art, but there by Nature sown They serv'd instead of tapers, to give light At the world's birth, so star-like bright they shone. To the dark entry, where perpetual night, Friend to black deeds, and sire of ignorance, Shuts out all knowledge, lest her eye by chance Might bring to light her follies: in they went, The ground was strew'd with flowers, whose sweet scent, Mix'd with the choice perfumes from India brought, Intoxicates his brain, and quickly caught His credulous sense; the walls were gilt, and set With precious stones, and all the roof was fret With a gold vine, whose straggling branches spread All o'er the arch; the swelling grapes were red; This, Art had made of rubies, cluster'd so, To the quick'st eye they more than seem'd to grow; About the walls lascivious pictures hung, Such as were of loose Ovid sometimes sung. On either side a crew of dwarfish elves Held waxen tapers, taller than themselves: Yet so well-shap'd unto their little stature, So angel-like in face, so sweet in feature ; Their rich attire so diff'ring; yet so well Becoming her that wore it, none could tell Which was the fairest, which the handsomest deck' Or which of them desire would soon'st affect. After a low salute, they all 'gan sing, And circle in the stranger in a ring. Orandra to her charms was stepp'd aside, Leaving her guest half won and wanton-ey'd. He had forgot his herb: cunning delight Had so bewitch'd his ears, and blear'd his sight, And captivated all his senses so, That he was not himself: nor did he know What place he was in, or how he came there, But greedily he feeds his eye and ear With what would ruin him.
Next unto his view
She represents a banquet, usher'd in
By his still working thoughts; so fix'd upon His lov'd Clarinda, that his fancy strove, Even with her shadow, to express his love.
[The Priestess of Diana.]
Within a little silent grove hard by,
A hundred virgins there he might espy
[The Votaress of Diana.]
Clarinda came at last
With all her train, who, as along she pass'd
And fring'd about with gold: white buskins hide
WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT (1611-1643) was one of Ben Jonson's adopted sons of the muses, and of his works Jonson remarked- My son Cartwright writes all like a man.' Cartwright was a favourite with his contemporaries, who loved him living, and deplored his early death. This poet was the son of an innkeeper at Cirencester, who had squandered away a patrimonial estate. In 1638, after complet
ing his education at Oxford, Cartwright entered into holy orders. He was a zealous royalist, and was imprisoned by the parliamentary forces when they arrived in Oxford in 1642. In 1643, he was chosen junior proctor of the university, and was also reader in metaphysics. At this time, the poet is said to have studied sixteen hours a day! Towards the close of the same year, Cartwright caught malignant fever, called the camp disease, then pre valent at Oxford, and died December 23, 1643. The king, who was then at Oxford, went into mourning for Cartwright's death; and when his works were published in 1651, no less than fifty copies of encomiastic verses were prefixed to them by the wits and scholars of the time. It is difficult to conceive, from the perusal of Cartwright's poems, why he should have obtained such extraordinary applause and reputation. His pieces are mostly short, occasional productions, addresses to ladies and noblemen, or to his brother poets, Fletcher and Jonson, or slight amatory effusions not distinguished for elegance or fancy. His youthful virtues, his learning, loyalty, and admiration of genius, seem to have mainly contributed to his popularity, and his premature death would renew and deepen the impression of his worth and talents. Cartwright must have cultivated poetry in his youth: he was only twentysix when Ben Jonson died, and the compliment quoted above seems to prove that he had then been busy with his pen. He mourned the loss of his poetical father in one of his best effusions, in which he thus eulogises Jonson's dramatic powers:
But thou still puts true passion on; dost write
To a Lady Veiled.
So Love appear'd, when, breaking out his way
Such doubtful light had sacred groves, where rods
Where, then, a shade darkeneth the beauteous face,
A better way to see them in our mind.