Imatges de pÓgina
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More peevish, cross, and splenetic,
Than dog distraught or monkey sick;
That with more care keep holyday
The wrong, than others the right way;
Compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to.
Still so perverse and opposite,

As if they worship'd God for spite;
The self-same thing they will abhor

One way, and long another for;
Free will they one way disavow,
Another nothing else allow;
All piety consists therein

In them, in other men all sin;

Rather than fail, they will defy

That which they love most tenderly;
Quarrel with minc'd-pies, and disparage

Their best and dearest friend, plum-porridge;

Fat pig and goose itself oppose,

And blaspheme custard through the nose.

Th' apostles of this fierce religion,

Like Mahomet, were ass and widgeon,

To whom our knight, by fast instinct

Of wit and temper, was so link'd,

As if hypocrisy and nonsense

Had got th' advowson of his conscience.

As conspicuous as is Butler's wit in his poetry, it shines with no less brilliancy in some of his prose works, the manuscripts of which were left, at his death, with his friend Longueville, but were not presented to the public in printed form, until 1759. The most interesting of these works, is the one from which we select the following extract. It is entitled Characters; and it closely resembles, in style, those of Overbury, Earle, and Hall.

A SMALL POET

Is one that would fain make himself that which nature never meant him; like a fanatic that inspires himself with his own whimsies. He sets up haberdasher of small poetry, with a very small stock, and no credit. He believes it is invention enough to find out other men's wit; and whatsoever he lights upon, either in books or company, he makes bold with as his own. This he puts together so untowardly, that you may perceive his own wit has the rickets, by the swelling disproportion of the joints. You may know his wit not to be natural, 'tis so unquiet and troublesome in him for as those that have money but seldom, are always shaking their pockets when they have it, so does he, when he thinks he has got something that will make him appear. He is a perpetual talker, and you may know by the freedom of his discourse that he came lightly by it, as thieves spend freely what they get. He is like an Italian thief, that never robs but he murders, to prevent discovery; so sure is he to cry down the man from whom he purloins, that his petty larceny of wit may pass unsuspected. He appears so over-concerned in all men's wits, as if they were but disparagements of his own; and cries down all they do, as if they were encroachments upon him. He takes jests from the owners and breaks them, as justices do false weights, and pots that want measure. When he meets with any

thing that is very good, he changes it into small money, like three groats for a shilling, to serve several occasions. He disclaims study, pretends to take things in motion, and to shoot flying, which appears to be very true, by his often missing of his mark. As for epithets, he always avoids those that are near akin to the sense. Such matches are unlawful, and not fit to be made by a Christian poet; and therefore all his care is to choose out such as will serve, like a wooden leg, to piece out a maimed verse that wants a foot or two, and if they will but rhyme now and then into the bargain, or run upon a letter, it is a work of supererogation. For similitudes, he likes the hardest and most obscure best; for as ladies wear black patches to make their complexion seem fairer than they are, so when an illustration is more obscure than the sense that went before it, it must of necessity make it appear clearer than it did; for contraries are best set off with contraries. He has found out a new sort of poetical Georgics—a trick of sowing wit like clover-grass on barren subjects, which would yield nothing before. This is very useful for the times, wherein, some men say, there is no room left for invention. He will take three grains of wit, like the elixir, and, projecting it upon the iron age, turn it immediately into gold. All the business of mankind has presently vanished, the whole world has kept holyday; there has been no men but heroes and poets, no women but nymphs and shepherdesses: trees have borne fritters, and rivers flowed plum-porridge. When he writes, he commonly steers the sense of his lines by the rhyme that is at the end of them, as butchers do calves by the tail. For when he has made one line which is easy enough, and has found out some sturdy hard word that will but rhyme, he will hammer the sense upon it, like a piece of hot iron upon an anvil, into what form he pleases. There is no art in the world so rich in terms as poetry; a whole dictionary is scarcely able to contain them; for there is hardly a pond, a sheep-walk, or a gravel-pit in all Greece, but the ancient name of it is become a term of art in poetry. By this means, small poets have such a stock of able hard words lying by them, as dryades, hamadryades, aönides, fauni, nymphæ, sylvani, &c., that signify nothing at all; and such a world of pedantic terms of the same kind, as may serve to furnish all the new inventions and 'thorough reformations' that can happen between this and Plato's great year.

From Waller and Butler we pass to notice Vaughan, Denham, Chamberlayne, and Marvell, with the last of whom our present remarks will close.

HENRY VAUGHAN was born on the banks of the river Usk, in Brecknockshire, in 1614, and at the age of seventeen entered the university of Oxford. His parents designed him for the legal profession, but after he had completed his collegiate studies he resolved to turn his attention to medicine. With this view he repaired to London, and after there perfecting himself in the healing art, he retired, at the commencement of the civil wars, to his home, and there, for many years, practiced as a physician, with very considerable success. Much of his time, however, he devoted to the muses; and in 1651, he published a volume of miscellaneous poems, evincing considerable strength and originality of thought and copious imagery, though tinged with a gloomy sectarianism, and marred by crabbed rhymes. But Campbell scarcely does justice to him when he styles him 'one of the harshest even, of the inferior order of the school of conceit,' though he admits that he has 'some few scattered thoughts that meet our eye amid his harsh pages, like wild flowers on a barren heath.'

In his latter days Vaughan became deeply serious and devout, and published a volume of religious poems, containing his happiest effusions. As a sacred poet he evinces an intensity of feeling inferior only to Crashaw. From these poems we select the following specimens:—

EARLY RISING AND PRAYER.

When first thy eyes unvail, give thy soul leave

To do the like; our bodies but forerun

The spirit's duty: true hearts spread and heave
Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun;

Give him thy first thoughts then, so shalt thou keep
His company all day, and in him sleep.

Yet never sleep the sun up; prayer should
Dawn with the day: there are set awful hours
'Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good
After sun-rising; far day sullies flowers:
Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sin glut
And heaven's gate opens when the world's is shut.

Walk with thy fellow-creatures; note the hush
And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring
Or leaf but hath his morning hymn; each bush
And oak doth know I AM. Canst thou not sing!
O leave thy cares and follies! Go this way
And thou art sure to prosper all the day.

Serve God before the world; let him not go
Until thou hast a blessing; then resign
The whole unto him, and remember who
Prevail'd by wrestling ere the sun did shine;
Pour oil upon the stones, weep for thy sin,
Then journey on, and have an eye to heaven.

Mornings are mysteries; the first, the world's youth,
Man's resurrection, and the future's bud,

Shroud in their births; the crown of life, light, truth,
Is styled their star; the stone and hidden food:
Three blessings wait upon them, one of which
Should move-they make us holy, happy, rich.

When the world 's up, and every swarm abroad,
Keep well thy temper, mix not with each clay;
Dispatch necessities; life hath a load

Which must be carried on, and safely may;
Yet keep those cares without thee; let the heart
Be God's alone, and choose the better part.

THE RAINBOW.

Still young and fine, but what is still in view
We slight as old and soil'd, though fresh and new.
How bright wert thou when Shem's admiring eye

Thy burnish'd flaming arch did first descry:

When Zerah, Nahor, Haran, Abram, Lot,
The youthful world's gray fathers, in one knot
Did with inventive looks watch every hour

For thy new light and trembled at each shower!
When thou dost shine, darkness looks white and fair;
Forms turn to music, clouds to smiles and air;
Rain gently spends his honey-drops, and pours
Balm on the cleft earth, milk on grass and flowers.
Bright pledge of peace and sunshine, the sure tie
Of thy Lord's hand, the object of his eye!
When I behold thee, though my light be dim,
Distinct, and low, I can in thine see him,
Who looks upon thee from his glorious throne,
And minds the covenant betwixt all and One.

Vaughan wrote some pieces in prose also, but they are such as not to require any particular notice. He died in his native place, in 1695, and in the eighty-second year of his age.

JOHN DENHAM was the only son of Sir John Denham, knight, of Little Horseley, in Essex, and was born in the city of Dublin, in 1615. His father, at the time of the future poet's birth, was chief baron of the exchequer of Ireland, and one of the lords commissioners of that kingdom; but being created, in 1617, one of the barons of the exchequer of England, he removed to London, and in that city young Denham pursued his preparatory collegiate studies. In 1631, he entered Trinity College, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner; 'but being looked upon,' says Wood, 'as a slow and dreaming young man by his seniors and contemporaries, and given more to cards and dice than his study, they could never then imagine that he could ever enrich the world with his fancy or issue of his brain, as he afterward did.'

Notwithstanding these unfavorable auspices, Denham, at the expiration of three years, took his master's degree, immediately after which he repaired to London, and entered Lincoln's Inn, as a student of law. Surrounded now with new facilities for indulging his favorite vice, he devoted, to gaming, his entire time, and all the revenues that he could command; and intelligence of his evil habits finally reaching the ear of his father, the knight threatened to disinherit him if he did not immediately relinquish his vicious practices. Artfully, or sincerely, Denham, upon this occasion, produced his fine Essay upon Gaming, which he presented to his father as an evidence of his reformation. But upon the death of the old gentleman, which soon after occurred, he again returned to the gaming table; and his losses so rapidly succeeded each other, that the large fortune which he had recently inherited, became in the course of a few months, sensibly impaired. Meantime, with all his irregularities, Denham was not idle; and accordingly, in 1641, he produced a tragedy entitled The Sophy, the merits of which were such as to call forth the admiration of the most competent judges of the dramatic art; and induce Waller to observe, that the author

'broke out like the Irish rebellion, threescore thousand strong, when nobody was aware, or in the least expected it!' The 'Sophy' must, however, upon critical examination, be acknowledged not to rise, in intrinsic merit, above mediocrity. Soon after the publication of his tragedy, Denham was made sheriff of Surrey, and governor of Farnham Castle for the king; but not being skilled in military affairs, he relinquished that post, and retired to Oxford, where his majesty then held his court. At Oxford, in 1643, he wrote Cooper's Hill-the poem upon which his poetic reputation mainly rests-A poem,' says Dryden, which for majesty of style, is, and ever will be, the standard of good writing.'

In 1648, Denham conveyed James, Duke of York, to France, and in consequence of his connection with the royal family, his estate was sold, during his absence, by order of Parliament; but the Restoration revived his fallen dignity and fortunes. He was made surveyor of the king's buildings, and at the coronation of Charles the Second, created Knight of the Bath. He had freed himself from his early excesses and follies, but an unfortunate marriage darkened his closing years, which were also unhappily visited by insanity. He, however, sufficiently recovered to receive the congratulations of Butler, his fellow poet, and to commemorate the recent death of Cowley, in one of his happiest effusions. Denham died on the nineteenth of March, 1668, and was buried on the twenty-third of the same month, in Westminster Abbey, near the graves of Chaucer and Spenser.

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Cooper's Hill,' the poem by which Sir John Denham is now best known, consists of between three and four hundred lines, written in the heroic couplet. The descriptions are interspersed with sentimental digressions, suggested by surrounding objects—the river Thames, a ruined Abbey, Windsor forest, and the field of Runnymede. The view from Cooper's Hill is represented to be rich and luxuriant, but the muse of Denham was more reflective than descriptive. Dr. Johnson assigns to this poet the praise of being the author of a species of composition that may be denominated local poetry, of which the fundamental subject is some particular landscape, to be poetically described, with the addition of such embellishments as may be supplied by historical retrospection or incidental meditation.' The versification of Denham is generally smooth and flowing, but he wanted both depth and delicacy of feeling. In reading his poetry, therefore, we must be satisfied with smoothness, regularity, and order, without the higher attributes of genius. The following extract is from 'Cooper's Hill', and the four lines in Italics have been praised by every critic from Dryden down to the present time:

THE THAMES AND WINDSOR FOREST.

Mine eye, descending from the hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays;
Thames, the most lov'd of all the ocean's sons
By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,

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