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METHINKS I see the nimble aged sire
vating every reader of true taste. We may justly apply on this occasion a sentence of Dryden, who says, “ The sweetest essences are always confined in the smallest glasses.” Dedication to his Æneid.
* And in his wrinkled hand.] What a degree of animation and life is often thrown into a line by a single picturesque and natural epithet! In this respect, Shakspeare leaves all other poets far behind. To instance only in a single passage. Henry the Fifth, in his prayer before the battle of Agincourt, says,
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Toward heaven, to pardon blood. Act IV. Sc. v. Alter the epithet withered to almost any other, and you instantly destroy the picture. For an epithet equally striking, see Vol. XVIII. P. , applied to old age :
His wither'd fist still knocking at Death's door.
Methinks I hear a voice (in secret) say,
Pentelogia, by F. Quarles, Edit. 1630.
DEATH OF CHARLES THE FIRST.
WRITTEN WITH THE POINT OF HIS SWORD.
Great, good, and just! could I but rate
the world to such a strain,
Printed amongst Poems by J. Cleaveland,
Edit. 1665. See likewise A Choice Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems. Edinb. 1713.
* Methinks I hear a voice, &c.] There is an alarming solemnity in the conclusion of these lines, that reminds us of Tickell's justly popular ballad:
I hear a voice you cannot hear,
I must not stay, &c. Lucy and Colin.
UPON THE HONOURABLE HENRY CAMPBELL,
SON TO THE EARL OF AYR,
It's false arithmetic to say thy breath
earth the treasure of the dead.
for if thy years Be number'd by thy virtues or our tears, &c.] So Young :
Methusalems may die at twenty-one.
Look'd on by those whose breath may poison it ;
But I'll not question fate : heaven doth convey
Thy death was timely then bright soul to thee,
Castara, by W. Habington.
ACCEPT, thou shrine of my dead saint,
Dear loss! since thy untimely fate My task hath been to meditate On thee, on thee: thou art the book, The library whereon I look Though almost blind, for thee (lov'd clay) I languish out, not live the day, Using no other exercise But what I practise with mine eyes : By which wet glasses I find out How lazily Time creeps about To one that mourns: this, only this My exercise and bus'ness is: So I compute
hours With sighs dissolved into showers. Nor wonder if time
thus Backward and most preposterous; Thou hast benighted me; thy set, This eve of blackness did beget, Who wast my day, (though overcast Before thou hadst thy noontide past) And I remember must, in tears, Thou scarce hadst seen so many years As day tells hours; by thy clear sun My love and fortune first did run; But thou wilt never more appear Folded within my hemisphere, Since both thy light and motion Like a fled star is fallin and gone, And 'twixt me and my soul's dear wish The earth now interposed is, Which such a strange eclipse doth make As ne'er was read in almanack.
I could allow thee for a time To darken me and my sad clime,