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CHRISTOPHER MARLOW_JOSHUA SYLVESTER
RICHARD BARNFIELD. CHRISTOPHER Marlow, so highly eminent as a dramatic writer, would probably have been overlooked in the department of miscellaneous poetry, but for his beautiful piece, rendered familiar by its being transferred into Walton's · Angler'— The Passionate Shepherd to his Love. Joshua SYLVESTER, who died in 1618, at the age of 55, and who was the author of a large volume of poems of very unequal merit, claims notice as the now generally received author of an impressive piece, long ascribed to Raleigh-The Soul's Errand. Another fugitive poem of great beauty, but in a different style, and which has often been attri. buted to Shakspeare, is now given to RICHARD BARNFIELD, author of several poetical volumes published between 1594 and 1598. These three remarkable poems are here subjoined :
Now next, my gallant youths, farewell;
My lads that oft have cheered my heart ! My grief of mind no tongue can telí,
To think that I must from you part.
With instruments of music's sounds!
And heavenly descants on sweet grounds. I now must leave you all, indeed, And make some music on a reed ! And now, you stately stamping steeds,
And gallant geldings fair, adieu !
To think that I must part with you:
Caliver pistol, arquebuss,
To think that I must leave you thus;
Primero, and Imperial,
To pass away the time withal :
With sundry sorts of sugar'd wine !
To please this dainty mouth of mine ! I now, alas, must leave all these, And make good cheer with bread and cheese ! And now, all orders due, farewell !
My table laid when it was noon ;
My dainty dinners all are done :
With jewels rich, of rare device !
I must go range in woodman's wise ;
To every dream of sweet delight,
In dungeon deep of foul despite, I must, ah me! wretch as I may, Go sing the song of welaway!
The Passionate Shepherd to his Love. Come live with me, and be my love, And we will all the pleasures prove That vallies, groves, and hills and fields, Woods or steepy mountains yields. And we will sit upon the rocks, Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks, By shallow rivers, to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals. And I will make thee beds of roses, And a thousand fragrant posies ; A cap of flowers and a kirtle, Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle : A gown made of the finest wool, Which from our pretty lambs we pull ; Fair lined slippers for the cold, With buckles of the purest gold : A belt of straw and ivy buds, With coral clasps and amber studs ; And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me, and be my love. The shepherd swains shall dance and sing, For thy delight, each May-morning : If these delights thy mind may move Then live with me, and be my love.
[Sonnet by Constable.]
(From his Diana :' 1594.) To live in hell, and heaven to behold, To welcome life, and die a living death, To sweat with heat, and yet be freezing cold, To grasp at stars, and lie the earth beneath, To tread a maze that never shall have end, To burn in sighs, and starve in daily tears, To climb a hill, and never to descend, Giants to kill, and quake at childish fears, To pine for food, and watch th' Hesperian tree, To thirst for drink, and nectar still to draw, To live accurs'd, whom men hold blest to be, And weep those wrongs, which never creature saw ; If this be love, if love in these be founded, My heart is love, for these in it are grounded.
[The Nymph's Reply to the Passionate Shepherd
But could youth last, and love still breed,
Tell faith it's fled the city,
Tell how the country erreth, Tell, manhood shakes off pity, Tell, virtue least preferreth.
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie. So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing:
Yet stab at thee who will,
The Soul's Errand. Go, soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand ! Fear not to touch the best, The truth shall be thy warrant;
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie. Go, tell the court it glows,
And shines like rotten wood; Go, tell the church it shows What's good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie. Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others actions, Not lov'd unless they give, Not strong but by their factions.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie. Tell men of high condition
That rule affairs of state, Their purpose is ambition, Their practice only hate.
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie. Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending, Who in their greatest cost, Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie. Tell zeal it lacks devotion,
Tell love it is but lust, Tell time it is but motion, Tell flesh it is but dust;
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie. Tell age it daily wasteth,
Tell honour how it alters, Tell beauty how she blasteth, Tell favour how she falters.
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie. Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness : Tell wisdom she entangles Herself in over-wiseness.
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie. Tell physic of her boldness,
Teil skill it is pretension, Tell charity of coldness, Tell law it is contention.
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.
Tell nature of decay,
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie. Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming,
If arts and schools reply,
[Address to the Nightingale.]
Pity but he were a king.'
These writers bring us to EDMUND SPENSER, whose genius is one of the peculiar glories of the romantic reign of Elizabeth. • It is easy,' says
Pope, 'to mark out the general course of our poetry; deformed by a number of obsolete uncouth phrases Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Dryden, are the great (the Chaucerisms of Spenser, as Dryden designated landmarks for it.' We can now add Cowper and them), yet containing traces of a superior original Wordsworth ; but, in Pope's generation, the list he genius. The fable of the Oak and Briar is finely has given was accurate and complete. Spenser was, told; and in verses like the following, we see the like Chaucer, a native of London, and like him, also, germs of that tuneful harmony and pensive reflection he has recorded the circumstance in his poetry = in which Spenser excelled :Merry London, my most kindly nurse,
You naked buds, whose shady leaves are lost, That to me gave this life's first native source, Wherein the birds were wont to build their bower, Though from another place I take my name, And now are clothed with moss and hoary frost, An house of ancient fame.
Instead of blossoms wherewith your buds did flower : Prothalamion.
I see your tears that from your boughs do rain,
All so my lustful life is dry and sere,
These lines form part of the first eclogue, in which the shepherd boy (Colin Clout) laments the issue of his love for a country lass,' named Rosalind happy female name, which Thomas Lodge, and, following him, Shakspeare, subsequently connected with love and poetry. Spenser is here supposed to have depicted a real passion of his own for a lady in the north, who at last preferred a rival, though, as Gabriel Harvey says, the gentle Mistress Rosalind' once reported the rejected suitor to have all the intelligences at command, and another time christened him Signior Pegaso.' Spenser makes his shepherds discourse of polemics as well as love, and they draw characters of good and bad pastors, and institute comparisons between Popery and Protestantism. Some allusions to Archbishop Grindal
(* Algrind in the poem) and Bishop Aylmer are Edmund Spenser.
said to have given offence to Lord Burleigh ; but the
patronage of Leicester and Essex must have made about the year 1553. The rank of his parents, or Burleigh look with distaste on the new poet. For the degree of his affinity with the ancient house of ten years we hear little of Spenser. He is found Spenser, is not known. Gibbon says truly, that the corresponding with Harvey on a literary innovation noble family of Spenser should consider the Faery contemplated by that learned person, and even by Queen as the most precious jewel in their coronet.* Sir Philip Sidney. This was no less than banishing The poet was entered a sizer (one of the humblest rhymes and introducing the Latin prosody into class of students) of Pembroke College, Cambridge, English verse. Spenser seems to have assented to in May 1569, and continued to attend college for it, fondly overcome with Sidney's charm;' he susseven years, taking his degree of M.A. in June pended the Faery Queen, which he had then begun, 1576. While Spenser was at Pembroke, Gabriel and tried English hexameters, forgetting, to use the Harvey, the future astrologer, was at Christ's Col- witty words of Nash, that the hexameter, though lege, and an intimacy was formed between them, a gentleman of an ancient house, was not likely to which lasted during the poet's life. Harvey was thrive in this clime of ours, the soil being too craggy learned and pedantic, full of assumption and con- for him to set his plough in.' Fortunately, he did ceit, and in his • Venetian velvet and pantofles of not persevere in the conceit; he could not have pride,' formed a peculiarly happy subject for the gained over his contemporaries to it (for there were satire of Nash, who assailed him with every species then too many poets, and too much real poetry in of coarse and contemptuous ridicule. Harvey, how the land), and if he had made the attempt, Shakeyer, was of service to Spenser. The latter, on re- speare would soon have blown the whole away. As tiring from the University, lived with some friends a dependent on Leicester, and a suitor for court in the north of England; probably those Spensers favour, Spenser is supposed to have experienced of Hurstwood, to whose family he is said to have many reverses. The following lines in Mother Hubbelonged. Harvey induced the poet to repair to burd's Tale, though not printed till 1581, seem to London, and there he introduced him to Sir Philip belong to this period of his life:Sidney, one of the very diamonds of her majesty's court.' In 1579, the poet published his Shepherd's
Full little knowest thou that hast not tried,
What hell it is in suing long to bide ; Calendar, dedicated to Sidney, who afterwards patronised him, and recommended him to his uncle,
To lose good days that might be better spent; the powerful Earl of Leicester. The Shepherd's
To waste long nights in pensive discontent; Calendar is a pastoral poem, in twelve eclogues,
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow; one for each month, but without strict keeping
To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow;
To have thy prince's grace, yet want her peers'; as to natural description or rustic character, and
To have thy asking, yet wait many years ; * It was lately announced, that the family to which the poet's
To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares; father belonged has been ascertained as one settled at Hurst
To eat thy heart through comfortless despairs; wood, near Burnley, in Lancashire, where it flourished till To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
To spend, to give, to wait, to be undone !
Strong feeling has here banished all antique and approved of his friend's poem; and he persuaded affected expression: there is no fancy in this gloomy Spenser, when he had completed the three first books, painting. It appears, from recently-discovered do- to accompany him to England, and arrange for their cuments, that Spenser was sometimes employed in publication. The Faery Queen appeared in January inferior state missions, a task then often devolved 1589-90, dedicated to her majesty, in that strain of on poets and dramatists. At length an important adulation which was then the fashion of the age. appointment came. Lord Grey of Wilton was sent to the volume was appended a letter to Raleigh, to Ireland as lord-deputy, and Spenser accompanied explaining the nature of the work, which the author him in the capacity of secretary. They remained said was a continued allegory, or dark conceit.' there two years, when the deputy was recalled, and He states his object to be to fashion a gentleman, the poet also returned to England. In June 1586, or noble person, in virtuous and gentle discipline, Spenser obtained from the crown a grant of 3028 and that he had chosen Prince Arthur for his hero. acres in the county of Cork, out of the forfeited lands He conceives that prince to have beheld the Faery of the Earl of Desmond, of which Sir Walter Raleigh Queen in a dream, and been so enamoured of the had previously, for his military services in Ireland, vision, that, on awaking, he resolved to set forth and obtained 12,000 acres. The poet was obliged to seek her in Faery Land. The poet further dereside on his estate, as this was one of the conditions vises' that the Faery Queen shall keep her annual of the grant, and he accordingly repaired to Ireland, feast twelve days, twelve several adventures bapand took up his abode in Kilcolman Castle, near pening in that time, and each of them being underDoneraile, which had been one of the ancient strong- taken by a knight. The adventures were also to holds or appanages of the Earls of Desmond. The express the same number of moral virtues. The poet's castle stood in the midst of a large plain, by first is that of the Redcross Knight, expressing the side of a lake; the river Mulla ran through his Holiness ; the second Sir Guyon, or Temperance; grounds, and a chain of mountains at a distance and the third, Britomartis, •ă lady knight,' repre
senting Chastity. There was thus a blending of chivalry and religion in the design of the Faery Queen. Spenser had imbibed (probably from Sidney) a portion of the Platonic doctrine, which overflows in Milton's Comus, and he looked on chivalry as a sage and serious thing. * Besides his personification of the abstract virtues, the poet made his allegorical personages and their adventures represent historical characters and events. The queen, Gloriana, and the huntress Belphæbe, are both symbolical of Queen Elizabeth; the adventures of the Redcross Knight shadow forth the history of the Church of England; the distressed knight is Henry IV.; and Envy is intended to glance at the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots. The stanza of Spenser is the Italian ottava rima, now familiar in English poetry; but he added an Alexandrine, or long line, which gives a full and sweeping close to the verse. The poet's diction is rich and abundant. He introduced, however, a number of obsolete expressions, 'new grafts of old and withered words, for which he was censured by his contemporaries and their successors, and in which he was certainly
not copied by Shakspeare. His Gothic subject Klcolman Castle.
* The Platonism of Spenser is more clearly seen fn his hymns
on Love and Beauty, which are among the most passionate and seemed to bulwark in the romantic retreat. Here exquisite of his productions. His account of the spirit of love he wrote most of the Faery Queen, and received the is not unlike Ovid's description of the creation of man : the visits of Raleigh, whom he fancifully styled the soul, just severed from the sky, retains part of its heavenly Shepherd of the Ocean ;' and here he brought home power his wife, the Elizabeth' of his sonnets, welcom- • And frames her house, in which she will be placed, ing her with that noble strain of pure and fervent Fit for herself.' passion, which he has styled the Epithalamium, and which forms the most magnificent spousal verse' But be speculates further
So every spirit, as it is most pure, in the language. Kilcolman Castle is now a ruin;
And hath in it the more of heavenly light, its towers almost level with the ground; but the spot
So it the fairer body doth procure must ever be dear to the lovers of genius. Raleigh's
To habit in, and it more fairly dight visit was made in 1589, and, according to the figu
With cheerful grace and amiable sight; rative language of Spenser, the two illustrious friends,
For of the soul the body form doth takes while reading the manuscript of the Faery Queen,
For soul is form, and doth the body make. sat
Spenser afterwards wrote two religious hymns, to counteract * Amongst the coolly shade
the effect of those on love and beauty, but though he spiritualOf the green alders, by the Mulla's shore.'
ises his passion, he does not abandon his early belief, that the
fairest body encloses the fairest mind: he still say We may conceive the transports of delight with . For all that's good is beautiful and fair.' which Raleigh perused or listened to those strains The Grecian philosophy was curiously united with Puritanism of chivalry and gorgeous description, which revealed in both Spenser and Milton. Our poet took the fable of his grent to him a land still brighter than any he had seen in
poem from the style of the Gothic romance, but the deep senso his distant wanderings, or could have been present of beauty which pervades it is of classical origin, elevated and even to his romantic imagination! The guest warmly purified by strong religious feeling.
and story' had probably, as Mr Campbell conjec- 16th January 1599. He was buried near the tomb
tinuous sweetness, that we can find nowhere else. The queen settled a pension of £50 per annum on In richness of fancy and invention he can scarcely Spenser, and he returned to Ireland. His smaller be ranked below Shakspeare, and he is fully as ori. poems were next published— The Tears of the Muses, ginal. His obligations to the Italian poets (Ariosto Mother Hubbard, &c., in 1591; Daphnaida, 1592; and supplying a wild Gothic and chivalrous model for Amoretti and the Epithalamium (relating his court- the Faery Queen, and Tasso furnishing the texture ship and marriage) in 1595. His Elegy of Astrophel, of some of its most delicious embellishments) still on the death of the lamented Sidney, appeared | leave him the merit of his great moral design-the about this time. In 1596, Spenser was again in conception of his allegorical characters-his exubeLondon to publish the fourth, fifth, and sixth books rance of language and illustration-and that original of the Faery Queen. These contain the legend of structure of verse, powerful and harmonious, which Cambel and Triamond, or Friendship; Artegal, or he was the first to adopt, and which must ever bear Justice; and Sir Caledore, or Courtesy. The double his name. His faults arose out of the fulness of his allegory is continued in these cantos as in the pre- riches. His inexhaustible powers of circumstantial vious ones : Artegal is the poet's friend and patron, description betrayed him into a tedious minuteness, Lord Grey; and various historical events are re- which sometimes, in the delineation of his personified lated in the knight's adventures. Half of the ori- passions, becomes repulsive, and in the painting of ginal design was thus finished; six of the twelve natural objects led him to group together trees and adventures and moral virtues were produced ; but plants, and assemble sounds and instruments, which unfortunately the world saw only some fragments were never seen or heard in unison out of Faery more of the work. It has been said that the remain- Land. The ingenuity and subtlety of his intellect ing half was lost, through the disorder and abuse' tempted him to sow dark meanings and obscure of a servant sent forward with it to England. This allusions across the bright and obvious path of his is highly improbable. Spenser, who came to London allegory. This peculiarity of his genius was early himself with each of the former portions, would not displayed in his Shepherd's Calendar; and if Bur. have ventured the largest part with a careless ser- leigh's displeasure could have cured the poet of the vant. But he had not time to complete his poetical habit, the statesman might be half forgiven his illiand moral gallery. There was an interval of six berality. His command of musical language led years between his two publications, and he lived him to protract his narrative to too great a length, only three years after the second. During that till the attention becomes exhausted, even with its period, too, Ireland was convulsed with rebellion. very melody, and indifference succeeds to languor. The English settlers, or undertakers,' of the crown Had Spenser lived to finish his poem, it is doubtful lands, were unpopular with the conquered natives whether he would not have diminished the nuniber of Ireland. They were often harsh and oppressive; of his readers. His own fancy had evidently begun and even Spenser is accused, on the authority of to give way, for the last three books have not the existing legal documents, of having sought unjustly same rich unity of design, or plenitude of imaginato add to his possessions. He was also in office over tion, which fills the earlier cantos with so many inthe Irish (clerk of the council of Munster); he had teresting, lofty, and ethereal conceptions, and steeps been recommended by the queen (1598) for the them in such a flood of ideal and poetical beauty. office of sheriff of Cork; and he was a strenuous The two first books (of Holiness and Temperance) advocate for arbitrary power, as is proved by a poli- are, like the two first of Paradise Lost, works of contical treatise on the state of Ireland, written by him summate taste and genius, and superior to all the in 1596 for the government of Elizabeth, but not others. We agree with Mr Hazlitt, that the alleprinted till the reign of Charles I. The poet was, gory of Spenser is in reality no bar to the enjoy.nent therefore, a conspicuous object for the fury of the of the poem. The reader may safely disregard the irritated and barbarous natives, with whom 'revenge symbolical applications. We may allow the pret, was virtue.' The storm soon burst forth. In Oc- like his own Archimago, to divide his characters tober 1598, an insurrection was organised in Mun- into 'double parts,' while one only is visible at a ster, following Tyrone's rebellion, which had raged time. While we see Una, with her heavenly looks, for some years in the province of Ulster. The in
That made a sunshine in the shady place, surgents attacked Kilcolman, and having robbed and plundered, set fire to the castle. Spenser and his or Belphæbe flying through the woods, or Britomart wife escaped ; but either in the confusion incidental seated amidst the young warriors, we need not stop to such a calamity, or from inability to render as- to recollect that the first is designed to represent the sistance, an infant child of the poet (new-born,'true church, the second Queen Elizabeth, or the third according to Ben Jonson) was left behind, and an abstract personification of Chastity. They are experished in the flames. The poet, impoverished and quisite representations of female loveliness and truth, broken-hearted, reached London, and died in about unmatched save in the dramas of Shakspeare. The three months, in King Street, Wirtminster, on the allegory of Spenser leaves his wild enchantments,