« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Thou hast thy walks for health as well as sport;
Thy mount to which the dryads do resort,
Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made
Beneath the broad beech, and the chestnut shade;
That taller tree which of a nut was set
At his great birth where all the Muses met.
* Penshurst is situated in Kent, near Tunbridge, in a wide and rich valley. The grey walls and turrets of the old mansion; its high-peaked and red roofs, and the new buildings of fresh stone. mingled with the ancient fabric, present a very striking and venerable aspect. It is a fitting abode for the noble Sidneys. The park contains trees of enormous growth, and others to which past events and characters have given an everlasting interest; as Sir Philip Sidney's Oak, Saccharissa's Walk, Gamage's Bower, &c. The ancient massy oak tables remain; and from Jonson's description of the hospitality of the family, they must often have groaned with the weight of the feast.' Mr William Howitt has given an interesting account of Penshurst in his Visits to Remarkable Places, 1840.
There, in the writhed bark, are cut the names
Of many a Sylvan token with his flames.
And thence the ruddy Satyrs oft provoke
The lighter Fauns to reach thy Ladies' Oak.
Thy copse, too, named of Gamage, thou hast here
That never fails, to serve thee, season'd deer,
When thou would'st feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed:
The middle ground thy mares and horses breed.
Each bank doth yield thee conies, and the tops
Fertile of wood. Ashore, and Sidney's copse,
To crown thy open table doth provide
The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side:
The painted partridge lies in every field,
And, for thy mess, is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat, aged carps that run into thy net,
And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,
As loath the second draught or cast to stay,
Officiously, at first, themselves betray.
Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land,
Before the fisher, or into his hand.
Thou hast thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.
The early cherry with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come:
The blushing apricot and woolly peach
Hang on thy walls that every child may reach.
And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They're rear'd with no man's ruin, no man's groan;
There's none that dwell about them wish them down;
But all come in, the farmer and the clown,
And no one empty handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
The better cheeses, bring them, or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands; and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves, in plum or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provisions, far above
The need of such whose liberal board doth flow
With all that hospitality doth know!
Where comes no guest but is allow'd to eat
Without his fear, and of thy lord's own meat:
Where the same beer, and bread, and self-same wine
That is his lordship's shall be also mine.
And I not fain to sit (as some this day
At great men's tables) and yet dine away.
Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by,
A waiter doth my gluttony envy:
But gives me what I call, and lets me eat;
He knows below he shall find plenty of meat;
Thy tables hoard not up for the next day,
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livery; all is there,
As if thou, then, wert mine, or I reign'd here.
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
This found King James, when hunting late this way
With his brave son, the Prince; they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every hearth, as the desires
Of thy Penates had been set on flame
To entertain them; or the country came,
With all their zeal, to warm their welcome here.
What (great, I will not say, but) sudden cheer
Did'st thou then make them! and what praise was
To draw no envy, Shakspeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such
As neither man nor Muse can praise too much.
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For silliest ignorance on these would light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urges all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.
But thou art proof against them, and, indeed,
Above the ill fortune of them, or the need.
I therefore will begin : Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further off, to make thee room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses,
I mean with great but disproportion'd Muses:
For if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers,
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd or Marlowe's mighty line.
And though thou had small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee I will not seek
For names; but call forth thund'ring Eschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To live again, to hear thy buskin tread,
And shake a stage or when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury, to charm!
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines!
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of nature's family.
Yet must I not give nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion; and, that he
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same,
And himself with it, that he thinks to frame;
Or for the laurel, he may gain a scorn;
For a good poet's made as well as born.
And such wert thou! Look how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well turned and true filed lines:
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames
That so did take Eliza and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanced, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping stage,
Which since thy flight from hence hath mourned like
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light!
On the Portrait of Shakspeare.
[Under the frontispiece to the first edition of his works: 1623.]
This figure that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakspeare cut,
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature, to outdo the life:
O could he but have drawn his wit,
As well in brass, as he hath hit
His face; the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass :
But since he cannot, reader, look
Not on his picture but his book.*
*This attestation of Ben Jonson to the first engraved portrait of Shakspeare, seems to prove its fidelity as a likeness. The portrait corresponds with the monumental effigy at Stratford, but both represent a heavy and somewhat inelegant
RICHARD CORBET (1582--1635) was the son of a man who, though only a gardener, must have possessed superior qualities, as he obtained the hearty commendations, in verse, of Ben Jonson. The son was educated at Westminster and Oxford, and having taken orders, he became successively bishop of Oxford and bishop of Norwich. The social quali
ties of witty Bishop Corbet, and his never-failing vivacity, joined to a moderate share of dislike to the Puritans, recommended him to the patronage of King James, by whom he was raised to the mitre. His habits were rather too convivial for the dignity of his office, if we may credit some of the anecdotes which have been related of him. Meeting a balladsinger one market-day at Abingdon, and the man complaining that he could get no custom, the jolly doctor put off his gown, and arrayed himself in the leathern jacket of the itinerant vocalist, and being a handsome man, with a clear full voice, he presently vended the stock of ballads. One time, as he was confirming, the country people pressing in to see the ceremony, Corbet exclaimed-'Bear off there, or I'll confirm ye with my staff.' The bishop and his chaplain, Dr Lushington, it is said, would sometimes repair to the wine-cellar together, and Corbet used to put off his episcopal hood, saying, "There lies the doctor;' then he put off his gown, saying, "There lies the bishop;' then the toast went round, 'Here's to thee, Corbet;'Here's to thee, Lushington.' Jovialities like these seem more like those of
figure. There is, however, a placid good humour in the expression of the features, and much sweetness in the mouth and lips. The upper part of the head is bald, and the lofty forehead is conspicuous in both, as in the Chandos and other pictures. The general resemblance we have no doubt is correct, but considerable allowance must be made for the defective state of English art at this period.
the jolly Friar of Copmanhurst than the acts of a Protestant bishop, but Corbet had higher qualities; his toleration, solid sense, and lively talents, procured him deserved esteem and respect. His poems were first collected and published in 1647. They are of a miscellaneous character, the best known being a Journey into France, written in a light easy strain of descriptive humour. The Farewell to the Fairies is equally lively, and more poetical.
[To Vincent Corbet, his Son.]
What I shall leave thee none can tell,
But all shall say I wish thee well :
I wish thee, Vin, before all wealth,
Both bodily and ghostly health;
Nor too much wealth, nor wit come to thee,
So much of either may undo thee.
I wish thee learning not for show,
Enough for to instruct and know;
Not such as gentlemen require
To prate at table or at fire.
I wish thee all thy mother's graces,
Thy father's fortunes and his places.
I wish thee friends, and one at court
Not to build on, but support;
To keep thee not in doing many
Oppressions, but from suffering any.
I wish thee peace in all thy ways,
Nor lazy nor contentious days;
And, when thy soul and body part,
As innocent as now thou art.
[Journey to France.]
I went from England into France, Nor yet to learn to cringe nor dance, Nor yet to ride nor fence:
But I to Paris rode along,
Much like John Dory* in the song,
Upon a holy tide.
I on an ambling nag did get,
(I trust he is not paid for yet),
And spurr'd him on each side.
And to Saint Dennis fast we came,
To see the sights of Notre Dame,
(The man that shows them snuffles), Where who is apt for to believe, May see our Lady's right-arm sleeve, And eke her old pantofles;
Her breast, her milk, her very gown
That she did wear in Bethlehem town,
When in the inn she lay.
Yet all the world knows that's a fable,
For so good clothes ne'er lay in stable,
Upon a lock of hay.
There is one of the cross's nails, Which, whoso sees, his bonnet vails, And, if he will, may kneel. Some say 'twas false, 'twas never so, Yet, feeling it, thus much I know, It is as true as steel.
*This alludes to one of the most celebrated of the old English ballads. It was the favourite performance of the English min strels, as lately as the reign of Charles II., and Dryden alludes to it as to the most hacknied thing of the time
But Sunderland, Godolphin, Lory, These will appear such chits in story, "Twill turn all politics to jests, To be repeated like John Dory,
When fiddlers sing at feasts.
Rilson's Ancient Songs, p. 163.
Witness those rings and roundelays
Of theirs, which yet remain,
Were footed in Queen Mary's days
On many a grassy plain;
But since of late Elizabeth,
And later, James came in,
They never danc'd on any heath
As when the time hath been.
By which we note the fairies
Were of the old profession,
Their songs were Ave-Maries,
Their dances were procession:
But now, alas! they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;
Or farther for religion fled,
Or else they take their ease.
A tell-tale in their company
They never could endure, And whoso kept not secretly Their mirth, was punish'd sure; It was a just and Christian deed, To pinch such black and blue: O how the commonwealth doth need Such justices as you!
SIR JOHN BEAUMONT-DR HENRY KING.
Among the numerous minor poets who flourished, or rather composed, in the reign of James, were SIR JOHN BEAUMONT (1582-1628) and DR HENRY KING, bishop of Chichester (1591-1669). The former was the elder brother of the celebrated dramatist. Enjoying the family estate of Grace Dieu, in Leicestershire, Sir John dedicated part of his leisure hours to the service of the Muses. He wrote a poem on Bosworth Field in the heroic couplet, which, though generally cold and unimpassioned, exhibits correct and forcible versification. As a specimen, we subjoin Richard's animated address to his troops on the eve of the decisive battle:
My fellow soldiers! though your swords
Are sharp, and need not whetting by my words,
Yet call to mind the many glorious days
In which we treasured up immortal praise.
If, when I served, I ever fled from foe,
Fly ye from mine-let me be punish'd so!
But if my father, when at first he tried
How all his sons could shining blades abide,
Found me an eagle whose undazzled eyes
Affront the beams that from the steel arise;
And if I now in action teach the same,
Know, then, ye have but changed your general's
Be still yourselves! Ye fight against the dross
Of those who oft have run from you with loss.
How many Somersets (dissension's brands)
Have felt the force of our revengeful hands?
From whom this youth, as from a princely flood,
Derives his best but not untainted blood.
Have our assaults made Lancaster to droop?
And shall this Welshman with his ragged troop,
Subdue the Norman and the Saxon line,
That only Merlin may be thought divine?
See what a guide these fugitives have chose!
Who, bred among the French, our ancient foes,
Forgets the English language and the ground,
And knows not what our drums and trumpets sound!
Sir John Beaumont wrote the heroic couplet with great ease and correctness. In a poem to the memory of Ferdinando Pulton, Esq., are the following excellent verses:
Why should vain sorrow follow him with tears, Who shakes off burdens of declining years?
Whose thread exceeds the usual bounds of life,
And feels no stroke of any fatal knife!
The destinies enjoin their wheels to run,
Until the length of his whole course be spun.
No envious clouds obscure his struggling light,
Which sets contented at the point of night:
Yet this large time no greater profit brings,
Than every little moment whence it springs;
Unless employ'd in works deserving praise,
Must wear out many years and live few days.
Time flows from instants, and of these each one
Should be esteem'd as if it were alone
The shortest space, which we so lightly prize
When it is coming, and before our eyes:
Let it but slide into the eternal main,
No realms, no worlds, can purchase it again:
Remembrance only makes the footsteps last,
When winged time, which fixed the prints, is past.
Sir John also wrote an epitaph on his brother, the
dramatist, but it is inferior to the following:-
On my dear Son, Gervase Beaumont.
Can I, who have for others oft compiled
The songs of death, forget my sweetest child,
Which like a flow'r crush'd with a blast, is dead,
And ere full time hangs down his smiling head,
Expecting with clear hope to live anew,
Among the angels fed with heavenly dew?
We have this sign of joy, that many days,
While on the earth his struggling spirit stays,
The name of Jesus in his mouth contains
His only food, his sleep, his case from pains.
O may that sound be rooted in my mind,
Of which in him such strong effect I find!
Dear Lord, receive my son, whose winning love
To me was like a friendship, far above
The course of nature, or his tender age;
Whose looks could all my bitter griefs assuage:
Let his pure soul-ordain'd seven years to be
In that frail body, which was part of me-
Remain my pledge in heaven, as sent to show
How to this port at every step I go.
FRANCIS BEAUMONT (1585-1616), whose name is most conspicuous as a dramatist, in union with that of Fletcher, wrote a small number of miscellaneous pieces, which his brother published after his death. Some of these youthful effusions are witty and amusing; others possess a lyrical sweetness; and a few are grave and moralising. The most celebrated is the letter to Ben Jonson, which was originally published at the end of the play 'Nice Valour,' with the following title: Mr Francis Beaumont's letter to Ben Jonson, written before he and Master Fletcher came to London, with two of the precedent comedies then not finished, which deferred their merry meetings at the Mermaid.' Notwithstanding the admiration of Beaumont for Rare Ben,' he copied Shakspeare in the style of his dramas. Fletcher, however, was still more Shakspearian than his associate. Hazlitt says finely of the premature death of Beaumont and his more poetical friend— 'The bees were said to have come and built their hive in the mouth of Plato when a child; and the fable might be transferred to the sweeter accents of Beaumont and Fletcher. Beaumont died at the age of five-and-twenty [thirty]. One of these writers makes Bellario, the page, say to Philaster, who threatens to take his life
"Tis not a life,
"Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away.