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And stop a month and blaze around her, Yet leave her Virgo, as he found her. But 'twas in optics and dioptricks, Our dæmon play'd his first and top tricks : He held that sunshine passes quicker Through wine than any other liquor; That glasses are the best utensils To catch the eye's bewilder'd pencils; And though he saw no great objection To steady light and pure reflection, He thought the aberrating rays, Which play upon a bumper's blaze, Were by the doctors look’d, in common, on, As a more rare and rich phenomenon! He wisely said, that the sensorium Is for the eye a great emporium, To which these noted picture stealers Send all they can and meet with dealers. Our doctor thus with stuff'd sufficiency Of all omnigenous omniciency, Began (as who would not begin That had, like him, so much within ?) To let it out in books of all sorts, Folios, quartos, large and small sorts : Poems, so very grave and sensible That they were quite incomprehensible; Prose which had been at learning's fair, And bought up all the trump'ry there ; The tatter'd rags of ev'ry vest In which the Greeks and Romans drest, And o'er her figure, swoll'n and antic, Scatter'd them all with airs so frantic, That those who saw the fits she had, Declar'd unhappy Prose was mad! Epics he wrote and scores of rebusses, All as neat as old Turnebus's ! Eggs and altars, cyclopædias, Grammars, prayer-books-oh! 'twere tedious Did I but tell the half, to follow me. Not the scribbling bard of Ptolemy, No-nor the hoary Trismegistus, (Whose writings all, thank heav'n! have miss'd us,) E'er fill'd with lumber such a ware-room As this great 'porcus literarum !”.
ART. VIII. Olor Iscanus. A Collection of some Select Poems
and Translations, formerly written by Mr. Henry Vaughan, Silurist. Published by a Friend.
“Flumina amo, Sylvasque inglorius.”— Virg. Georg. London, printed by T. W. for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at his shop, at the signe of the Prince's Arms, in St. Paul's Churchyard. 1651. Small 8vo.
This little volume has long lain hid in undeserved oblivion. Henry Vaughan, the Silurist, as he loved to be called, appears to have been a very accomplished individual, though given, as we learn from Anthony Wood, to be “ singular and humoursome.” He has not, indeed, scaled the highest heaven of invention, nor even succeeded in bestowing fame and celebrity on his favorite river of Isca ; but if a considerable command of forcible language, and an occasional richness of imagery, be sufficient to arrest a poet fast falling into total oblivion, we think we shall be justified in selecting the “ Olor Iscanus” as the subject of an article. This little production is moreover peculiarly adapted to our purposes. We could not recommend a reprint of the whole, though the poetry only runs to sixty-four small octavo pages, for there are many parts in which the author falls into dulness or obscurity, or where, following the cold and vapid taste of the times, he spends his strength on frigid and bombastic conceits ; but, at the same time, Vaughan possessed both feeling and imagination,-flowers which not unfrequently shew themselves above the weeds which the warped judgment of the age encouraged to grow up in too great luxuriance. Added to this, he is a translator of no little skill; and has succeeded in turning many of the metrical pieces of Boëtius, and some of the odes of Casimir, into free and forcible English. It is very much to be lamented, that he did not give more of his attention to this good service; for we cannot help thinking there are very few versions in the language executed with more ability than those which we shall presently submit to the reader.
These poems chiefly come under the head of what is usually termed occasional poetry,-a species of writing ill adapted to carry the fame of the author down to Posterity, a personage generally too busy in pursuing her own trifles, to attend to those which may have caught the attention of an individual of a former age. Sometimes, however, the occasion is a general one; and at others, the writer rises above his subject, and making it
but the stepping-stone of his course, wings a lofty and enduring flight. Probably, Henry Vaughan contemplated some more lasting and worthy theme than eulogies and elegies upon his friends, if we may judge from the following address to his native Isca, the theme of the first poem in this volume :
“ But Isca, whensoe'er those shades I see,
By this “precious and enduring ray” is intended, we presume, the identical little book from which we have been brushing the cobwebs and wiping the dust, and whose“ scattered beams” we are about to let fall once more on the public, who, most unaccountably, as the Silurist would think, are little aware of their brightness, though rivers have not left to run, nor men to read. After celebrating the Isca, our author proceeds to the charnelhouse, his reflections on which are written with a vigorous pen. It may be that, in this following quotation from it, there are few new ideas; but it breathes forth a vigorous strain of morality, which shall be “as a modicum of salt to charm away the rottenness of oblivion :".
“Where are you, shoreless thoughts, vast-tenter'd * hope,
The other takes. Think, then, that in this bed
The following is part of an address to an usurer, who had obliged the poet with loans of money ; the whole is written with vast freedom and richness of expression :
“ But wilt have money, Og? must I dispurse ?
Wilt rob an altar thus; and sweep at once
These spirited verses and the following copy to a friend, complaining of the general poverty of poets, make us fear that our author did not find the flowery paths of poesy and philosophy (which Wood says he followed, instead of the study of the law) a fortunate choice. The spirit, however, of the man, rich or poor, is to be envied, who could thus console himself. Speaking of poets, he says:
“ Woeful profusion! at how dear a rate
Into the womb of time, and see the rack