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Or quick designs of France! Why not repair
To the pure innocence o' th' country air,
And neighbour thee, dear friend? who so dost give
Thy thoughts to worth and virtue, that to live
Blest, is to trace thy ways. There might not we
Arm against passion with philosophy;
And, by the aid of leisure, so control
Whate'er is earth in us, to grow all soul?
Knowledge doth ignorance engender, when
We study mysteries of other men,
And foreign plots. Do but in thy own shade
(Thy head upon some flow'ry pillow laid,
Kind nature's housewifery) contemplate all
His stratagems, who labours to enthral
The world to his great master, and you'll find
Ambition mocks itself, and grasps the wind.
Not conquest makes us great. Blood is too dear
A price for glory: Honour doth appear
To statesmen like a vision in the night,
And, juggler-like, works o' th' deluded sight.
Th' unbusied only wise for no respect
Endangers them to error; they affect
Truth in her naked beauty, and behold
Man with an equal eye, not bright in gold
Or tall in title; so much him they weigh
As virtue raiseth him above his clay.
Thus let us value things: and since we find
Time bend us toward earth, let's in our mind
Create new youth; and arm against the rude
Assaults of age; that no dull solitude
O' th' country dead our thoughts, nor busy care
O' th' town make us to think, where now we are
And whither we are bound. Time ne'er forgot
His journey, though his steps we number'd not.
Description of Castara.
Like the violet which, alone,
Prospers in some happy shade,
My Castara lives unknown,
To no looser eye betray'd,
For she's to herself untrue,
Who delights i' th' public view.
Such is her beauty, as no arts
Have enrich'd with borrow'd grace;
Her high birth no pride imparts,
For she blushes in her place.
Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good.
Cautious, she knew never yet What a wanton courtship meant; Nor speaks loud, to boast her wit; In her silence eloquent :
Of herself survey she takes,
But 'tween men no difference makes.
She obeys with speedy will
Her grave parents' wise commands;
And so innocent, that ill
She nor acts, nor understands:
Women's feet run still astray,
If once to ill they know the way.
She sails by that rock, the court,
Where oft honour splits her mast;
And retir'dness thinks the port,
Where her fame may anchor cast:
Virtue safely cannot sit,
Where vice is enthron'd for wit.
She holds that day's pleasure best,
Where sin waits not on delight;
Without masque, or ball, or feast,
Sweetly spends a winter's night:
O'er that darkness, whence is thrust
Prayer and sleep, oft governs lust.
She her throne makes reason climb,
While wild passions captive lie:
And, each article of time,
Her pure thoughts to heaven fly:
All her vows religious be,
And her love she vows to me.
SIR JOHN SUCKLING (1608-1641) possessed such a natural liveliness of fancy, and exuberance of animal spirits, that he often broke through the artificial restraints imposed by the literary taste of his times, but he never rose into the poetry of passion and imagination. He is a delightful writer of what have been called 'occasional poems.' His polished wit, playful fancy, and knowledge of life and society, enabled him to give interest to trifles, and to clothe familiar thoughts in the garb of poetry. His own life seems to have been one summer-day
Youth at the prow, and pleasure at the helm. He dreamt of enjoyment, not of fame. The father of Suckling was secretary of state to James I., and comptroller of the household to Charles I. The poet was distinguished almost from his infancy; and at sixteen he had entered on public life! His first appearance was as a soldier under the celebrated Gustavus Adolphus, with whom he served one campaign. On his return, he entered warmly into the cause of Charles I., and raised a troop of horse in his support. He intrigued with his brother cavaliers to rescue the Earl of Strafford, and was impeached by the House of Commons. To evade a trial, he fled to France, but a fatal accident took place by the way. His servant having robbed him at an inn, Suckling, learning the circumstance, drew on his boots hurriedly, to pursue him; a rusty nail, or (according to another account) the blade of a knife, had been concealed in the boot, which wounded him, and produced mortification, of which he died. The works of Suckling consist of miscellaneous His poems, five plays, and some private letters. poems are all short, and the best of them are dedicated to love and gallantry. With the freedom of a cavalier, Suckling has greater purity of expression than most of his contemporaries. His sentiments are sometimes too voluptuous, but are rarely coarse; and there is so much elasticity and vivacity in his verses, that he never becomes tedious. His Ballad upon a Wedding is inimitable for witty levity and choice beauty of expression. It has touches of graphic description and liveliness equal to the pictures of Chaucer. One well-known verse has never been excelled
Her feet beneath her petticoat,
Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they fear'd the light;
But oh! she dances such a way,
No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight!*
*Herrick, who had no occasion to steal, has taken this image from Suckling, and spoiled it in the theft
Her pretty feet, like snails, did creep A little out.
Like Sir Fretful Plagiary, Herrick had not skill to steal with taste. Wycherley also purloined Herrick's simile for one of his plays. The allusion to Easter-day is founded upon a beautiful old superstition of the English peasantry, that the sun dances upon that morning.
Where each meant more than could by both be said.
Whence hadst thou thy intelligence-from earth?
That part of us ne'er knew that we did love:
Or, from the air? our gentle sighs had birth
From such sweet raptures as to joy did move;
Our thoughts, as pure as the chaste morning's breath,
When from the night's cold arms it creeps away,
Were clothed in words, and maiden's blush, that hath
More purity, more innocence than they.
Nor from the water could'st thou have this tale;
No briny tear has furrowed her smooth cheek;
And I was pleas'd: I pray what should he ail,
That had her love; for what else could he seek?
We shorten'd days to moments by love's art,
Whilst our two souls in amorous ecstacy
Perceiv'd no passing time, as if a part
Our love had been of still eternity.
Much less could'st have it from the purer fire;
Our heat exhales no vapour from coarse sense,
Such as are hopes, or fears, or fond desire:
Our mutual love itself did recompense.
Thou hast no correspondence had in heaven,
And th' elemental world, thou see'st, is free.
Whence hadst thou, then, this, talking monster? even of the line.
From hell, a harbour fit for it and thee.
Curst be th' officious tongue that did address
Thee to her ears, to ruin my content:
May it one minute taste such happiness,
Deserving lost unpitied it lament!
I must forbear her sight, and so repay
In grief, those hours' joy short'ned to a dream;
Each minute I will lengthen to a day,
And in one year outlive Methusalem.
A pastoral romance, entitled Thealma and Clearchus, was published by Izaak Walton in 1683, with a title-page stating it to have been written long since by JOHN CHALKHILL, Esq., an acquaintant and friend of Edmund Spenser.' Walton tells us of the author, that he was in his time a man generally known, and as well beloved; for he was humble and obliging in his behaviour; a gentleman, a scholar, very innocent and prudent; and, indeed, his whole life was useful, quiet, and virtuous.' Thealma and Clearchus' was reprinted by Mr Singer, who expressed an opinion that, as Walton had been silent upon the life of Chalkhill, he might be altogether a fictitious personage, and the poem be actually the composition of Walton himself. A critic in the Retrospective Review,* after investigating the circumstances, and comparing the Thealma with the acknowledged productions of Walton, comes to the same conclusion. Sir John Hawkins, the editor of Walton, seeks to overturn the hypothesis of Singer, by the following statement:- Unfortunately, John Chalkhill's tomb of black marble is still to be seen on the walls of Winchester cathedral, by which it appears he died in May 1679, at the age of eighty. Walton's preface speaks of him as dead in May 1678; but as the book was not published till 1683, when Walton was ninety years old, it is probably an error of memory.' The tomb in Winchester cannot be that of the author of Thealma, unless Walton committed a further error in styling Chalkhill an 'acquaintant and friend' of Spenser. Spenser died in 1599, the very year in which John Chalkhill, interred in Winchester cathedral, must have been born. We should be happy to think that the Thealma was the composition of Walton, thus adding another laurel to his venerable brow; but the internal evidence seems to us to be wholly against such a supposition. The poetry is of a cast far too high for the muse of Izaak, which dwelt only by the side of trouting streams, and among quiet meadows. The nomme de guerre of Chalkhill must also have been an old one with Walton, if he wrote Thealma; for, thirty years before its publication, he had inserted in his Complete Angler' two songs, signed 'Jo. Chalkhill.' The disguise is altogether very unlike Izaak Walton, then ninety years of age, and remarkable for his unassuming worth, probity, and piety. We have no doubt, therefore, that Thealma is a genuine poem of the days of Charles or James I. The scene of this pastoral is laid in Arcadia, and the author, like the ancient poets, describes the golden age and all its charms, which were succeeded by an age of iron, on the introduction of ambition, avarice, and tyranny.
* Retrospective Review, vol. iv., page 230. The article ap. pears to have been written by Sir Egerton Brydges, who contributed largely to that work.
The plot is complicated and obscure, and the characters are deficient in individuality. It must be read, like the Faery Queen, for its romantic descriptions, and its occasional felicity of language. The versification is that of the heroic couplet, varied, like Milton's Lycidas, by breaks and pauses in the middle
[The Witch's Care.]
Her cell was hewn out of the marble rock,
By more than human art; she need not knock;
The door stood always open, large and wide,
Grown o'er with woolly moss on either side,
And interwove with ivy's flattering twines,
Through which the carbuncle and diamond shines,
Not set by Art, but there by Nature sown
At the world's birth, so star-like bright they shone.
They serv'd instead of tapers, to give light
To the dark entry, where perpetual night,
Friend to black deeds, and sire of ignorance,
Shuts out all knowledge, lest her eye by chance
Might bring to light her follies: in they went,
The ground was strew'd with flowers, whose sweet scent,
Mix'd with the choice perfumes from India brought,
Intoxicates his brain, and quickly caught
His credulous sense; the walls were gilt, and set
With precious stones, and all the roof was fret
With a gold vine, whose straggling branches spread
All o'er the arch; the swelling grapes were red;
This, Art had made of rubies, cluster'd so,
To the quick'st eye they more than seem'd to grow;
About the walls lascivious pictures hung,
Such as were of loose Ovid sometimes sung.
On either side a crew of dwarfish elves
Held waxen tapers, taller than themselves:
Yet so well-shap'd unto their little stature,
So angel-like in face, so sweet in feature;
Their rich attire so diff'ring; yet so well
Becoming her that wore it, none could tell
Which was the fairest, which the handsomest deck'
Or which of them desire would soon'st affect.
After a low salute, they all 'gan sing,
And circle in the stranger in a ring.
Orandra to her charms was stepp'd aside,
Leaving her guest half won and wanton-ey'd.
He had forgot his herb: cunning delight
Had so bewitch'd his ears, and blear'd his sight,
And captivated all his senses so,
That he was not himself: nor did he know
What place he was in, or how he came there,
But greedily he feeds his eye and ear
With what would ruin him.
Next unto his view
She represents a banquet, usher'd in
By such a shape, as she was sure would win
His appetite to taste; so like she was
To his Clarinda, both in shape and face.
So voic'd, so habited, of the same gait
And comely gesture; on her brow in state
Sat such a princely majesty, as he
Had noted in Clarinda; save that she
Had a more wanton eye, that here and there
Roll'd up and down, not settling any where.
Down on the ground she falls his hands to kiss,
And with her tears bedews it; cold as ice
That he was all on fire the truth to know,
He felt her lips, that yet inflam'd him so,
Whether she was the same she did appear,
Or whether some fantastic form it were, Fashion'd in his imagination
His lov'd Clarinda, that his fancy strove,
By his still working thoughts; so fix'd upon
Even with her shadow, to express his love.
[The Priestess of Diana.]
Within a little silent grove hard by,
Upon a small ascent he might espy
A stately chapel, richly gilt without,
Beset with shady sycamores about:
And ever and anon he might well hear
A sound of music steal in at his ear
As the wind gave it being:-so sweet an air
Would strike a syren mute.
A hundred virgins there he might espy
Prostrate before a marble deity,
Which, by its portraiture, appear'd to be
The image of Diana :-on their knee
They tender'd their devotions: with sweet airs,
Offering the incense of their praise and prayers.
Their garments all alike; beneath their paps
Buckled together with a silver claps;
And cross their snowy silken robes, they wore
An azure scarf, with stars embroider'd o'er.
Their hair in curious tresses was knit up,
Crown'd with a silver crescent on the top.
A silver bow their left hand held; their right,
For their defence, held a sharp-headed flight,
Drawn from their 'broider'd quiver, neatly tied
In silken cords, and fasten'd to their side.
Under their vestments, something short before,
White buskins, lac'd with ribanding, they wore.
It was a catching sight for a young eye,
That love had fir'd before:-he might espy
One, whom the rest had sphere-like circled round,
Whose head was with a golden chaplet crown'd.
He could not see her face, only his ear
Was blest with the sweet words that came from her.
[The Votaress of Diana.]
Clarinda came at last
With all her train, who, as along she pass'd
Thorough the inward court, did make a lane,
Opening their ranks, and closing them again
As she went forward, with obsequious gesture,
Doing their reverence. Her upward vesture
Was of blue silk, glistering with stars of gold,
Girt to her waist by serpents, that enfold
And wrap themselves together, so well wrought
And fashion'd to the life, one would have thought
They had been real. Underneath she wore
A coat of silver tinsel, short before,
And fring'd about with gold: white buskins hide
The naked of her leg; they were loose tied
With azure ribands, on whose knots were seen
Most costly gems, fit only for a queen.
Her hair bound up like to a coronet,
With diamonds, rubies, and rich sapphires set;
And on the top a silver crescent plac'd.
And all the lustre by such beauty grac'd,
As her reflection made them seem more fair;
One would have thought Diana's self were there;
For in her hand a silver bow she held,
And at her back there hung a quiver fill'd
With turtle-feather'd arrows.
ing his education at Oxford, Cartwright entered into holy orders. He was a zealous royalist, and was imprisoned by the parliamentary forces when they arrived in Oxford in 1642. In 1643, he was chosen junior proctor of the university, and was also reader in metaphysics. At this time, the poet is said to have studied sixteen hours a day! Towards the close of the same year, Cartwright caught malignant fever, called the camp disease, then pre valent at Oxford, and died December 23, 1643. The king, who was then at Oxford, went into mourning for Cartwright's death; and when his works were published in 1651, no less than fifty copies of encomiastic verses were prefixed to them by the wits and scholars of the time. It is difficult to conceive, from the perusal of Cartwright's poems, why he should have obtained such extraordinary applause and reputation. His pieces are mostly short, occasional productions, addresses to ladies and noblemen, or to his brother poets, Fletcher and Jonson, or slight amatory effusions not distinguished for elegance or fancy. His youthful virtues, his learning, loyalty, and admiration of genius, seem to have mainly contributed to his popularity, and his premature death would renew and deepen the impression of his worth and talents. Cartwright must have cultivated poetry in his youth: he was only twentysix when Ben Jonson died, and the compliment quoted above seems to prove that he had then been busy with his pen. He mourned the loss of his poetical father in one of his best effusions, in which he thus eulogises Jonson's dramatic powers:
WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT (1611-1643) was one of Ben Jonson's adopted sons of the muses, and of his works Jonson remarked- My son Cartwright writes all like a man.' Cartwright was a favourite with his contemporaries, who loved him living, and deplored his early death. This poet was the son of an innkeeper at Cirencester, who had squandered away a patrimonial estate. In 1638, after complet
But thou still puts true passion on; dost write
With the same courage that tried captains fight;
Giv'st the right blush and colour unto things;
Low without creeping, high without loss of wings;
Smooth yet not weak, and, by a thorough care,
Big without swelling, without painting fair.
To a Lady Veiled.
So Love appear'd, when, breaking out his way
From the dark chaos, he first shed the day;
Newly awak'd out of the bud, so shows
The half seen, half hid glory of the rose,
As you do through your veils; and I may swear,
Viewing you so, that beauty doth bide there.
So Truth lay under fables, that the eye
Might reverence the mystery, not descry;
Light being so proportion'd, that no more
Was seen, but what might cause men to adore:
Thus is your dress so order'd, so contrived,
As 'tis but only poetry revived.
Such doubtful light had sacred groves, where rods
And twigs at last did shoot up into gods;
Where, then, a shade darkeneth the beauteous face,
May I not pay a reverence to the place?
So, under water, glimmering stars appear,
As those (but nearer stars) your eyes do here;
So deities darkened sit, that we may find
A better way to see them in our mind.
No bold Ixion, then, be here allow'd,
Where Juno dares herself be in the cloud.
Methinks the first age comes again, and we
See a retrieval of simplicity.
Thus looks the country virgin, whose brown hue
Hoods her, and makes her show even veil'd as you.
Blest mean, that checks our hope, and spurs our fear,
Whiles all doth not lie hid, nor all appear:
O fear ye no assaults from bolder men ;
When they assail, be this your armour then.
A silken helmet may defend those parts,
Where softer kisses are the only darts!