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Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,
Our life is short, and our days run
So when or you or I are made
Lies drown'd with us in endless night. Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying, Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a Maying.
Of the same class as Herrick, less buoyant or
vigorous natural power, and much fortunate in his destiny, was RICHARD LOVELACE (1618-1658). This cavalier poet was well descended, being the son of Sir William Lovelace, knight. He was educated at Oxford, and afterwards presented at court. Anthony Wood describes him at the age of sixteen, ‘as the most amiable and beautiful person that eye ever beheld; a person also of innate modesty, virtue, and courtly deportment, which made him then, but especially after, when he retired to the great city, much admired and adored by the female sex.' Thus personally distinguished, and a royalist in principle, Lovelace was chosen by the county of Kent to deliver a petition to the House of Commons, praying that the king might be restored to his rights, and the government settled. The Long Parliament was then in the ascendant, and Lovelace was thrown into prison for his boldness. He was liberated on heavy bail, but spent his fortune in fruitless efforts to succour the royal cause. He afterwards served in the French army, and was wounded at Dunkirk. Returning in 1648, he was again imprisoned. To beguile the time of his confinement, he collected his poems, and published them in 1649, under the title of Lucasta: Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. &c. The general title was given them on account of the 'lady of his love,' Miss Lucy Sacheverell, whom he usually called Lux Casta. This was an unfortunate attachment; for the lady, hearing that Lovelace died of his wounds at Dunkirk, married another person. From this time the course of the poet was downward. The ascendant party did, indeed, release his person, when the death of the king had left them the less to fear from their opponents; but Lovelace was now penniless, and the reputation of a broken cavalier was no passport to better circumstances. It appears that, oppressed with want and melancholy, the gallant Lovelace fell into a consumption. Wood relates that he became very poor in body and purse, was the object of charity, went in ragged clothes, and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places,' in one of which, situated in a miserable alley near Shoe Lane, he died in 1658. What a contrast to the gay and splendid scenes of his youth! Aubrey confirms the statement of Wood as to the reverse of fortune; but recent inquiries have rather tended to throw discredit on those pictures of the extreme misery of the poet. Destitute, however, he no doubt was, fallen from his high estate;' though not perhaps so low as to die an example of abject poverty and misery. The poetry of Lovelace, like his life, was very unequal. There is a spirit and nobleness in some of his verses and sentiments, that charms the reader, as much as his gallant bearing and fine person captivated the fair. In general, however, they are affected, obscure, and harsh. His taste was perverted by the fashion of the day-the affected wit, ridiculous gallantry, and boasted licen
Have I not lov'd thee much and long,
But I must search the black and fair,
Like skilful mineralists that sound For treasure in unplough'd-up ground. Then, if when I have lov'd my round, Thou prov'st the pleasant she; With spoils of meaner beauties crown'd, I laden will return to thee, Even sated with variety.
Sweet, serene, sky-like flower, Haste to adorn her bower:
From thy long cloudy bed Shoot forth thy damask head. Vermilion ball that's given From lip to lip in heaven; Love's couch's coverlid; Haste, haste, to make her bed. See rosy is her bower, Her floor is all thy flower; Her bed a rosy nest, By a bed of roses prest.
Amarantha, sweet and fair,
Oh, braid no more that shining hair! Let it fly, as unconfin'd,
As its calm ravisher, the wind;
To My Picture.
When age hath made me what I am not now,
To a Lady admiring herself in a Looking-glass.
Fair lady, when you see the grace
he distinguished himself so much in the cause of the royalists, that he was knighted for his skill and bravery. On the decline of the king's affairs, he returned to France, and wrote part of his Gondibert. His next step was to sail for Virginia as a colonial projector; but the vessel was captured by one of the parliamentary ships of war, and Davenant was lodged in prison at Cowes, in the Isle of Wight. In 1650, he was removed to the Tower, preparatory to his being tried by the High Commission Court. His life was considered in danger, but he was released after two years' imprisonment. Milton is said to have interposed in his behalf; and as Davenant is reported to have interfered in favour of Milton when the royalists were again in the ascendant, after the Restoration, we would gladly believe the statement to be true. Such incidents give a peculiar grace and relief to the sternness and bitterness of party conflicts. 'At Talavera, the English and French troops for a moment suspended their conflict, to drink of a stream which flowed between them. The shells were passed across, from enemy to enemy, without apprehension or molestation. We, in the same manner, would rather assist political adversaries to drink of that fountain of intellectual pleasure, which should be the common refreshment of both parties, than disturb and pollute it with the havoc of unseasonable hostilities.'* Milton and Davenant must have felt in this manner, when they waived their political differences in honour of genius and poesy. When the author of Gondibert obtained his enlargement, he set about establishing a theatre, and, to the surprise of all, succeeded in the attempt. After the Restoration, he again basked in royal favour, and continued to write and superintend the performance of plays till his death, April 7, 1668.
The poem of Gondibert, though regarded by Davenant's friends and admirers (Cowley and Waller being of the number) as a great and durable monument of genius, is now almost utterly forgotten. The plot is romantic, but defective in interest; and its extreme length (about six thousand lines), and the description of versification in which it is written (the long four-lined stanza, with alternate rhymes, copied by Dryden in his Annus Mirabilis), render the poem languid and tedious. The critics have been strangely at variance with each other as to its merits, but to general readers the poem may be said to be unknown. Davenant prefixed a long and elaborate preface to his poem, which is highly creditable to him for judgment, taste, and feeling, and may be considered the precursor of Dryden's admirable critical introductions to his plays. His worship of Shakspeare continued unabated to the last, though he was mainly instrumental, by his masques and scenery, in driving the elder bard from the stage. Dryden, in his preface to the Tempest, states, that he did not set any value on what he had written in that play, but out of gratitude to the memory of Sir William Davenant, who,' he adds, did me the honour to join me with him in the alteration of it. It was originally Shakspeare's-a poet for whom he had particularly a high veneration, and whom he first taught me to admire.'
Sir William Davenant.
son of a vintner at Oxford. There is a scandalous story, that he was the natural son of Shakspeare, who was in the habit of stopping at the Crown Tavern (kept by the elder Davenant) on his journeys between London and Stratford. This story was related to Pope by Betterton the player; but it seems to rest on no authority but idle tradition. Young Davenant must, however, have had a strong and precocious admiration of Shakspeare; for, when only ten years of age, he penned an ode, In Remembrance of Master William Shakspeare, which opens in the following strain :
Beware, delighted poets, when you sing, To welcome nature in the early spring, Your numerous feet not tread
The banks of Avon, for each flower (As it ne'er knew a sun or shower) Hangs there the pensive head.
It is to be regretted (for the sake of Davenant, as well as of the world) that the great dramatist did not live to guide the taste and foster the genius of his youthful admirer, whose life presented some strange adventures. About the year 1628, Davenant began to write for the stage, and in 1638, on the death of Ben Jonson, he was appointed laureate. He was afterwards manager of Drury Lane, but, entering into the commotions and intrigues of the civil war, he was apprehended and confined in the Tower. He arterwards escaped to France. When the queen sent over to the Earl of Newcastle a quantity of military stores, Davenant resolved to return to England, and
To the Queen,
Entertained at night by the Countess of Anglesey.
Fair as unshaded light, or as the day
* Edinburgh Review, vol. 47.
Smooth as the face of waters first appear'd,
Dares praise, with such full art, what make you here? As eagles, then, when nearest heaven they fly,
Here, where the summer is so little seen,
And therefore perch on earthly things below;
Affection turns to faith; and then love's fire
The lark now leaves his watery nest,
And to implore your light, he sings, Awake, awake, the moon will never rise, Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.
The merchant bows unto the seaman's star,
The ploughman from the sun his season takes; But still the lover wonders what they are,
Who look for day before his mistress wakes: Awake, awake, break through your veils of lawn! Then draw your curtains and begin the dawn.
[Description of the Virgin Birtha.]
To Astragon, heaven for succession gave
One only pledge, and Birtha was her name,
Her beauty princes durst not hope to use,
Unless, like poets, for their morning theme; And her mind's beauty they would rather choose, Which did the light in beauty's lanthorn seem.
She ne'er saw courts, yet courts could have undone
For nature spread them in the scorn of art.
But here her father's precepts gave her skill,
Which with incessant business fill'd the hours; In spring she gather'd blossoms for the still;
In autumn, berries; and in summer, flowers.
And as kind nature, with calm diligence,
Her own free virtue silently employs,
Whilst her great mistress, Nature, thus she tends,
Though all her lowly mind to that prefer.
With morning looks; and they, when she does rise,
JOHN CLEVELAND (1613-1658) was equally conspicuous for political loyalty and poetical conceit, and he carried both to the utmost verge. Cleveland's father was rector of a parish in Leicestershire. After completing his studies at Cambridge, the poet
She never had in busy cities been,
Ne'er warm'd with hopes, nor ere allay'd with fears; officiated as a college tutor, but joined the royal Not seeing punishment, could guess no sin;
And sin not seeing, ne'er had use of tears.
army when the civil war broke out. He was the loudest and most strenuous poet of the cause, and distinguished himself by a fierce satire on the Scots in 1647. Two lines of this truculent party tirade present a conceit at which our countrymen may now smile
Beneath a myrtle covert she does spend,
In maid's weak wishes, her whole stock of thought; Fond maids! who love with mind's fine stuff would mend,
Which nature purposely of bodies wrought.
She fashions him she loved of angels' kind;
To the first fathers from the Eternal Mind,
'If I do love,' said she,' that love, O Heaven!
And you, my alter'd mother, grown above
This said, her soul into her breast retires;
With love's vain diligence of heart she dreams Herself into possession of desires,
And trusts unanchor'd hopes in fleeting streams.
In their pacific sea shall wrinkles make;
Her ears keep him asleep, her voice awake.
(The youthful warrior's most excus'd disease), Such chance her tears shall calm, as showers allay The accidental rage of winds and seas.
Had Cain been Scot, God would have changed his doom;
Not forced him wander, but confined him home.
In 1655, the poet was seized at Norwich, and put in prison, being a person of great abilities, and so able to do the greater disservice.' Cleveland petitioned the Protector, stating that he was induced to believe that, next to his adherence to the royal party, the cause of his confinement was the narrowness of his estate; for none stood committed whose estate could bail them. I am the only prisoner,' he says, who have no acres to be my hostage;' and he ingeniously argues that poverty, if it is a fault, is its own punishment. Cromwell released the poor poet, who died three years afterwards in London. Independently of his strong and biting satires, which were the cause of his popularity while living, and which Butler partly imitated in Hudibras, Cleveland wrote some love verses containing morsels of
genuine poetry, amidst a mass of affected metaphors and fancies. He carried gallantry to an extent bordering on the ludicrous, making all nature-sun and shade-do homage to his mistress.
On Phillis, Walking before Sunrise. The sluggish morn as yet undress'd, My Phillis brake from out her rest, As if she'd made a match to run With Venus, usher to the sun. The trees (like yeomen of her guard Serving more for pomp than ward, Rank'd on each side with loyal duty), Ware branches to enclose her beauty. The plants, whose luxury was lopp'd, Or age with crutches underpropp'd, Whose wooden carcasses are grown To be but coffins of their own, Revive, and at her general dole, Each receives his ancient soul. The winged choristers began To chirp their matins ; and the fan Of whistling winds, like organs play'd
Unto their voluntaries, made
The waken'd earth in odours rise
Upon his Mistress Sad. Melancholy, hence, and get Some piece of earth to be thy seat, Here the air and nimble fire Would shoot up to meet desire : Sullen humour leave her blood, Mix not with the purer flood, But let pleasures swelling here, Make a spring-tide all the year. Love a thousand sweets distilling, And with pleasure bosoms filling, Charm all eyes that none may find us, Be above, before, behind us; And while we thy raptures taste, Compel time itself to stay, Or by forelock hold him fast, Lest occasion slip away.
Echo and Narcissus.
Fair Echo, rise! sick-thoughted nymph, awake,
Their wings, and sing to the bright sun's uprise: Day hath wept o'er thy couch, and, progressed, Blusheth to see fair Echo still in bed.
If not the birds, who 'bout the coverts fly,
And with their warbles charm the neighbouring air; If not the sun, whose new embroidery
Makes rich the leaves that in thy arbours are,
Favonius waits to play with thy loose hair,
Courts thy soft tread, thou child of sound and air; Attempt, and overtake him; though he be Coy to all other nymphs, he'll stoop to thee. If thy face move not, let thy eyes express
Some rhetoric of thy tears to make him stay; He must be a rock that will not melt at these,
Dropping these native diamonds in his way; Mistaken he may stoop at them, and this, Who knows how soon may help thee to a kiss.