« PreviousContinue »
Sometimes his proud green waves in order set,
[The Dignity of Man.]
| Oh! what is man, great Maker of mankind ! And to make known his courtly love the more,
That thou to him so great respect dost bcar ; He oft doth lay aside his three-fork'd mace, That thou adorn'st himn with so bright a mind, And with his arms the timorous earth embrace. Mak'st hiin a king, and even an angel's peer!
Oh ! what a lively life, what heav'nly pow'r, The poem on Dancing is said to have been written
What spreading virtue, what a sparkling fire, in fifteen days. It was published in 1596. The
How great, how plentiful, how rich a dow'r Nosce Teipsim, or Poem on the Immortality of the
Dost thou within this dying flesh inspire ! Soul, bears the date (as appears from the dedication to the Queen) of 1602. The fame of these works Thou leav'st thy print in other works of thine, introduced Sir John Davies to James I., who made But thy whole image thou in man hast writ; him successively solicitor-general and attorney-ge There cannot be a creature more divine, neral for Ireland. He was also a judge of assize, Except, like thee, it should be infinite : and was knighted by the king in 1607. The first But it exceeds man's thought, to think how high Reports of Law Cases, published in Ireland, were God hath rais'd man, since God a man became; made by this able and accomplished man, and his The angels do admire this mystery, preface to the volume is considered 'the best that And are astonish'd when they view the same : was ever prefixed to a law-book.'
Nor hath he given these blessings for a day,
Nor made them on the body's life depend; [Reasons for the Souls Immortality.]
The soul, though made in time, survives for aye ;
And though it hath beginning, sees no end.
John Donne was born in London in 1573, of a
Catholic family; through his mother he was reAll moving things to other things do move
lated to Sir Thomas More and Heywood the epiOf tbe same kind, which shows their nature such ; grammatist. He was educated partly at Oxford So earth falls down, and fire doth mount above, and partly at Cambridge, and was designed for the Til both their proper elernents do touch.
law, but relinquished the study in his nineteenth
year. About this period of his life, haring carefully And as the moisture which the thirsty earth
considered the controversies between the Catholics Sucks from the sca to fill her empty veins,
and Protestants, he became convinced that the latter From out her woinb at last doth take a birth,
were right, and became a member of the established And runs a lymph along the grassy plains,
church. The great abilities and amiable character Long doth she stay, as loath to leave the land,
of Donne were early distinguished. The Earl of From whose soft side she first did issue make; Essex, the Lord Chancellor Egerton, and Sir Robert She tastes all places, turns to every hand,
Drury, successively befriended and employed him; Her flowery banks unwilling to forsake.
and a saying of the second of these eminent persons
respecting him is recorded by his biographers--that Yet nature so her streams doth lead and carry
he was fitter to serve a king than a subject. He As that her course doth make no final stay,
fell, nevertheless, into trouble, in consequence of Till she herself unto the sea doth marry,
secretly marrying the daughter of Sir George Moore, Within whose wat'ry bosom first she lay.
lord lieutenant of the Tower. This step kept him for E'en so the soul, which, in this earthly mould, several years in poverty, and by the death of his The spirit of God doth secretly infuse,
wife, a few days after giving birth to her twelfth Because at first she doth the earth behold,
child, he was plunged into the greatest grief. At And only this material world she views.
the age of forty-two, Donne became a clergyman,
and soon attaining distinction as a preacher, he was At first her mother earth she holdeth dear,
preferred by James I. to the deanery of St Paul's; And doth embrace the world and worldly things ; in which benefice he continued till his death in 16:31, She flies close by the ground, and hovers here, when he was buried honourably in Westminster And mounts not up with her celestial wings :
Abbey. Yet under heaven she cannot light on aught
The works of Donne consist of satires, elegies, That with her heavenly nature doth agree;
religious poems, complimentary verses, and epiShe cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought,
grams: they were first collected into one volume She cannot in this world contented be.
by Tonson in 1719. His reputation as a poet, great
in his own day, low during the latter part of the For who did ever yet, in honour, wealth,
seventeenth, and the whole of the eighteenth cenOr pleasure of the sense, contentment find !
turies, has latterly in some degree revived. In its Who ever ceased to wish, when he had health, days of abasement, critics spoke of his harsh and Or, having wisdom, was not vex'd in mind ?
rugged versification, and his leaving nature for conThen, as a bee which among weeds doth fall,
ceit: Dryden even hints at the necessity of transWhich seem sweet flow'rs, with lustre fresh and gay,
lating him into numbers and Englishi. It seems She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
to be now acknowledged that, amidst much rubbish, But, pleased with none, doth rise and soar away.
there is much real poetry, and that of a high order,
in Donne. He is described by a recent critic as So, when the soul finds here no true content,
* imbued to saturation with the learning of his age,' And, like Noah's dove, can po sure footing take, endowed with a most active and piercing intellect She doth return from whence she first was sent, -an imagination, if not grasping and comprehenAnd flies to him that first her wings did make. sive, most sub:le and far-darting-a fancy, rich, vivid, and picturesque-a mode of expression terse, it is a mere conceit. Perhaps we should not be far simple, and condensed—and a wit admirable, as well from the truth, if we were to represent this style as for its caustic severity, as for its playful quickness the natural syniptoms of the decline of the brilliant -and as only wanting sufficient sensibility and taste school of Sackville, Spenser, and Shakspeare. All to preserve him from the vices of style which seem the recognised modes, subjects, and phrases of poetry,
introduced by them and their contemporaries, were now in some degree exhausted, and it was necegsary to seek for something new. This was found, not in a new vein of equally rich ore, but in a continuation of the workings through adjoining veins of spurious metal.
It is at the same time to be borne in mind, that the quality above described did not characterise the whole of the writings of Donne and his followers. These men are often direct, natural, and truly poetical-in spite, as it were, of themselves. Donne, it may be here stated, is usually considered as the first writer of that kind of satire which Pope and Churchill carried to such perfection. But his satires, to use the words of a writer already quoted, are rough and rugged as the unhewn stones that have just been blasted from the quarry.
The specimens which follow are designed only to exemplify the merits of Donne, not his defects :
Address to Bishop Valentine, on the day of the marriage
of the Elector Palutine to the Princess Elizabeth.
Monumental Effigy of Dr Donno. to have beset him. Donne is usually considered as the first of a series of poets of the seventeenth century, who, under the name of the Metaphysical Poets, fill a conspicuous place in Erglish literary nistory. The directness of thought, the naturalness of description, the rich abundance of genuine poetical feeling and imagery, which distinguish the poets of Elizabeth's reign, now begin to give way to cold and forced conceits, mere vain workings of the intellect, a kind of poetry as unlike the former as punning is unlike genuine wit. To give an idea of these conceits-Donne writes a poem on a familiar popular subject, a broken heart. Here he does not advert to the miseries or distractions which are presumed to be the causes of broken hearts, but starts off into a play of conceit upon the phrase. He entered a room, he says, where his mistress was present, and
- love, alas! At one first blow did shiver it [his heart) as glass. Then, forcing on his mind to discover by what means the idea of a heart broken to pieces, like glass, can be turned to account in making out something that will gingle on the reader's imagination, he proceeds
• Valediction-Porbidding Mourning.
Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
But after one such love can love no more.
"That is, absence
And though it in the centre sit,
Stranger than seven antiquaries' studiesYet when the other far doth roam,
Than Afric mionsters-Guiana's raritiesIt leans, and hearkens after it,
Stranger than strangers. One who for a Dane And grows erect as that comes home.
In the Danes' massacre had sure been slain, Such wilt thou be to me, who must
If he had lived then ; and without help dies Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
When next the 'prentices 'gainst strangers rise. Thy firinness makes my circles just,
One whom the watch at noon scarce lets go by ; And makes me end where I begun.
One to whom th' examining justice sure would cry,
'Sir, by your priesthood, tell me what you are? The Win.
His clothes were strange, thougb coarse—and black,
though bare; Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Sleeveless his jerkin was, and it had been Great Love, some legacies : I here bequeath
Velvet, but 'twas now (so much ground was seen) Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can sce;
Become tuff-taffety ; and our children shall If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee;
See it plain rash awhile, then not at all. My tongue to Fame; to ambassadors mine ears;
The thing bath travell’d, and saith, speaks all tongues ; To women, or the sea, my tears ;
And only knoweth what to all states belonts. Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore,
Made of the accents and best phrase of these, By making me serve her who had twenty more,
He speaks one language. If strange meats displease, That I should give to none but such as had too much
Art can deceive, or hunger force my taste ; before.
But pedants' motley tongue, soldiers' bombast, My constancy I to the planets give;
Mountebanks' drug-tongue, nor the terms of law, My truth to them who at the court do live;
Are strong enough preparatives to draw Mine ingenuity and openness
Me to bear this. Yet I must be content To Jesuits; to Buffoons my pensiveness ;
With his tongue, in his tongue called compliment. My silence to any who abroad have been ; My money to a Capuchin.
He names me, and comes to me. I whisper, God! Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
How hare I sinn'd, that thy wrath's furious rod, To love there, where no love received can be,
(This fellow) chooseth me? He saith, 'Sir, Only to give to such as have no good capacity. I love your judgment—whom do you prefer My faith I give to Roman Catholics ;
For the best linguist?' And I sillily All my good works unto the schismatics
Said, that I thought, Culepine's Dictionary. Of Amsterdam; my best civility
'Nay, but of men, most sweet sir ? - Beza then, And courtship to an university ;
Some Jesuits, and two reverend men
Of our two academies, I named. Here My modesty I give to soldiers bare ;
He stopt me, and said-Nay, your apostles was My patience let gamesters share; Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Pretty good linguists, and so Panurge was, Love her that holds my love disparity,
Yet a poor gentleman. All these may pass
By travel.' Then, as if he would have sold Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.
His tongue, he prais'd it, and such wonders told, I give my reputation to those
That I was fain to say– If you had liv'd, Sir,
To Babel's bricklayers, sure the tower had stood.' My sickness to physicians, or excess;
He adds, “If of court-life you knew the good,
You would leave loneness. I said, “Not alono
My loneness is, but Spartans' fashion.
To teach by painting drunkards doth not last Her who begot this love in me before,
Now; Aretine's pictures have made few chaste : Taught'st me to make as though I gave, when I do but No more can prince's courts (though there be few
Better pictures of vice) teach me virtue.' To him for whom the passing bell next tolls
He, like a high-stretch'd lutestring, squeak’d, 'O, Sir, I give my physic books; my written rolls
'Tis sweet to talk of kings ! “At Westminster, Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give;
(Said I) the man that keeps the Abbey-tombs, My brazen medals, unto them which live
And, for his price, doth, with whoever comes, In want of bread; to them which pass among
Of all our Harrys and our Edwards talk, All foreigners, my English tongue:
From king to king, and all their kin can walk. Thou, Love, by making me love one
Your ears shall hear nought but king your eyes meet Who thinks her friendship a fit portion
Kings only-the way to it is King street ? For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.
He smack'd and cry'd-He's base, mechanic, coarse,
So are all your Englishmen in their discourse. Therefore I'll give no more, but I'll undo
Are not your Frenchmen neat? Mine ?-as you seo, The world by dying, because love dies too.
I have but one, Sir-look, he follows mc. Then all your beauties will be no more worth
Certes, they are neatly cloth'd. I of this mind am, Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth,
Your only wearing is your grogoram. And all your graces no more use shall have
• Not so, Sir. I have more, Under this pitch Than a sun-dial in a grave.
He woulil not fly. I chaf'd him. But as itch Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Scratch'd into smart-and as blunt iron ground Love her who doth neglect both me and thee,
Into an edge hurts worse—so I (fool !) found To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all
Crossing hurt me. To fit my sullenness three.
He to another key his style doth dress, (A Character from Donne's Satires.)
And asks, What news? I tell him of new plays ;
He takes my hands, and as a still which stays - Towards me did run
A semibreve 'twixt each drop, he (niggardly, Athing more strange than on Nile's slime the sun | As loath to enrich me so) tells many a lieE’er bred, or all which into Noah's ark came; More than ten Holinsheds, or Halls, or Stowe: A thing which would have posed Adam to name. | Of trivial household trash he knows. He knows
When the queen frown'd or smil'd, aud he knows what So nothing in his maw? yet secmeth by his belt, A subtle statesman may gather from that.
That his gaunt gut po too much stuffing felt.
Hunger and heavy iron makes girdles slip.
All trapped in the new-found bravery.
In lieu of their so kind a conquerment.
His grandame could hare lent with lesser pain?
Though he perhaps ne'er pass’d the English shore, JOSEPI HALL
Yet fain would counted be a conqueror.
His hair, French-like, stares on his frighted head, JOSEPH HALL, born at Bristow Park, in Leicester- One lock amazon-like dishevelled, shire, in 1574, and who rose through various church | As if he meant to wear a native cord, preferments to be bishop of Norwich, is more dis- If chance his fates should him that bane afford. tinguished as a prose writer than as a poet : he is, All British bare upon the bristled skin, however, allowed to have been the first to write Close notched is his beard, both lip and chin ; satirical verse with any degree of elegance. His His linen collar labyrinthian set, satires, which were published under the title of | Whose thousand double turnings never met: Virgidemiarum, in 1597-9, refer to general objects, His sleeves half hid with elbow pinionings, and present some just pictures of the more remark. As if he meant to fly with linen wings. able anomalies in human character: they are also But when I look, and cast nine cyes below, written in a style of greater polish and volubility | What monster meets mine eyes in human show! than most of the compositions of this age. Bishop So slender waist with such an abbot's loin, Hall, of whom a more particular notice is given Did never sober nature sure conjoin. elsewhere, died in 1656, at the age of eighty-two. Lik'st a strawn scarecrow in the new-sown field,
Rear'd on some stick, the tender corn to shield, [Selections from Hall's Satires.]
Or, if that semblance suit not every deal,
Like a broad shake-fork with a slender steel.
In 1616, Ben Jonson collected the plays he had Second, that he do, on no default,
then written, and published them in one volume, Ever presume to sit above the salt.
folio, adding, at the same time, a book of epiThird, that he never change his trencher twice. grams, and a number of poems, which he entitled Fourth, that he use all common courtesies;
The Forest, and The Underwood. The whole were Sit bare at meals, and one half rise and wait.
comprised in oue folio volume, which Jonson digni. Last, that he never his young master beat,
fied with the title of his Works, a circumstance But he must ask his niother to define,
which exposed him to the ridicule of some of his How many jerks he would his breech should line. contemporaries.* It is only with the minor poetry All these observed, he could contented be,
of Jonson that we have to deal at present, as the To give five marks and winter livery.
dramatic pruductions of this stern old master of the
manly school of English comedy will be afterwards Seest thou how gaily my young master goes, *
described. There is much delicacy of fancy, fine Vaunting himself upon his rising toes ;
feeling, and sentiment, in some of Jonson's lyrical And pranks his hand upon his dagger's side;
and descriptive effusions. He grafted a classic grace And picks his glutted teeth since late noon-tide ?
and musical expression on parts of his masques and "Tis Rutfio: Trow'st thou where he dined to-day?
interludes, which could hardly have been expected In sooth I saw him sit with Duke Huinphrey.
from his massive and ponderous hand. In some of Many good welcomes, and much gratis cheer,
his songs he equals Carew and Herrick in pictuKeeps he for every straggling cavalier;
resque images, and in portraying the fascinations of An open house, haunted with great resort ;
love. A taste for nature is strongly displayed in his Long service mixt with musical disport.+
fine lines on Penshurst, that ancient seat of the Many fair younker with a feather'd crest,
Sidneys. It has been justly remarked by one of Choones much rather be his shot-free guest,
his critics, that Jonson's dramas do not lead us to To fare so freely with so little cost, Than stake his twelvepence to a meaner host.
value highly enough his admirable taste and feeling Hadst thou not told me, I should surely say
in poetry; and when we consider how many other He touch'd no meat of all this live-long day.
intellectual excellences distinguished him--wit, obFor sure methought, vet that was but a guess,
servation, judgment, memory, learning-we must His eyes seein'd sunk for very hollowness,
acknowledge that the inscription on his tomb, “ ()
rare Ben Jonson !" is not more pithy than it is But could he have (as I did it mistake)
true.' So little in his purse, so much upon his back !
* This is the portrait of a poor gallant of the days of Elizabeth. In St Paul's Cathedral, then an open public place, there was a tomb erroneously supposed to be that of Ilumphrey, Duke of Gloucester, which was the resort of gentlemen upon town in that day, who had occasion to look out for a dinner. When unsuccessful in getting an invitation, they were said to dine with Dake Humphrey.
† An allusion to the church service to be heard near Duke Humphrey's tomb.
1 Long, or low.
Pray tell us, Ben, where does the mystery lurk,
What others call a play you call a work
The author's friend thus for the author says
[From The Forest. ] Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
Doth ask a drink divine;
I would not change for thine.
Not so much honouring thee,
It could not wither'd be.
And sent’st it back to me ;
Not of itself, but thee.
[From The Forest.")
Lest I be sick with seeing;
Lest shame destroy their being.
For then their threats will kill me; Nor look too kind on my desires,
For then my hopes will spill me.
For so will sorrow slay me;
[From the same.] Kiss me, sweet! the wary lover Can your favours keep and cover, When the common courting jay All your bounties will betray. Kiss again; no creature comes ; Kiss, and score up wealthy sums On my lips, thus hardly sunder'd While you breathe. First give a hundred, Then a thousand, then another Hundred, then unto the other Add a thousand, and so more, Till you equal with the store, All the grass that Romney yields, Or the sands in Chelsea fields, Or the drops in silver Thames, Or the stars that gild his streams In the silent summer nights, When youths ply their stol'n delights ; That the curious may not know How to tell them as they flow, And the envious when they find What their number is, be pined.
The Sweet Neglect.
(From The Silent Woman. ] Still to be neat, still to be drest, As you were going to a feast; Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd : Lady, it is to be presum'd, Though art's hid causes are not found, All is not sweet, all is not sound. Give me a look, give me a face, That makes simplicity a grace ; Robes loosely flowing, hair as free ; Such sweet neglect more taketh me Than all th' adulteries of art : They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
Hymn to Diana.
(From "Cynthia's Revels. ] Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep ; Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner kecp. Hesperus intreats thy light, Goddess excellently bright! Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose ; Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close ; Bless us then with wished sight, Goddess excellently bright ! Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver : Give unto the flying hart,
Space to breathe, how short soever ; Thou that mak'st a day of night, Goddess excellently bright!
Wherein my lady rideth !
And well the car love guideth.
Unto her beauty;
But enjoy such a sight,
All that love's world compriseth/
As love's star when it riseth!
Than words that soothe her!
Sheds itself through the face,
Before rude hands have touch'd it! Have you mark'd but the fall of the snow,
Before the soil hath smutch'd it?
Or swan's down ever ?
Or the 'nard in the fire ?
To Night. (From "The Vision of Delight'] Break, Phantasy, from thy cave of cloud,
And spread thy purple wings ; Now all thy figures are allow'd,
And various shapes of things ;
To all the senses here,
Or music in their ear.