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time.” Overtures of this kind are, of course, only made to persons who are believed to be open to them. It is plain from his own account that Wither was thus early notorious as a speculator or trader in such securities—as one ready, not precisely to sell himself, his opinions, and his conscience, to the highest bidder, but yet to be gained over if the offer were only made large enough to convert as well as purchase him. There is a great deal of very passable wearing and working honesty of this kind in the world.
The history of Wither's numerous publications has been elaborately investigated by the late Mr. Park in the first and second volumes of the British Bibliographer; many of his poems have been reprinted by Sir Egerton Brydges, and others of his admirers; and an ample account of his life and writings, drawn up with a large and intimate knowledge, as well as affectionate zeal and painstaking, which make it supersede whatever had been previously written on the subject, forms the principal article (extending over more than 130 pages) of Mr. Wilmott's Lives of Sacred Poets (8vo. Lon. 1834). Much injustice, however, has been done to Wither by the hasty judgment that has commonly been passed, even by his greatest admirers, upon his later political poetry, as if it consisted of mere party invective and fury, and all that he had written of any enduring value or interest was to be found in the productions of the early part of his life. Some at least of his political pieces are very remarkable for their vigour and terseness. As a specimen we will give a portion of a poem which he published without his name in 1647, under the title of “ Amygdala Britannica; Almonds for Parrots; a dish of Stone-fruit, partly shelled and partly unshelled; which, if cracked, picked, and well digested, may be wholesome against those epidemic distempers of the brain now predominant, and prevent some malignant diseases likely to ensue : composed heretofore by a wellknown modern author, and now published according to a copy found written with his own hand. Qui bene latuit bene vixit.” This fantastic title-page (with the manufacture of which the bookseller may have had more to do than Wither himself) was suited to the popular taste of the day, but would little lead a modern reader to expect the nervous concentration and passionate earnestness of such verses as the following :
The time draws near, and hasteth on,
And prosecutions, whereon shall
A time draws nigh in which you may
A time draws nigh in which the sun
A time draws nigh when with your blool
A time will come when they that wake
A time shall come ere long in which
2 As yet.
The honourable by the base
A time will come when see you shall
When men shall generally confess
Ere God his wrath on Balaam wreaks,
He by his judgments may be known. Neither Churchhill nor Cowper ever wrote anything in the same style better than this. The modern air, too, of the whole, with the exception of a few words, is wonderful. But this
, it's we have said, is the character of all Wither's poetry--of his earliest as well as of his latest. It is nowhere more conspicuous
than in his early religious verses, especially in his collection entitled Songs and Hymns of the Church, first published in 1624. There is nothing of the kind in the language more perfectly beautiful than some of these. We subjoin two of them :
Thanksgiving for Seasonable Weather. Song 85.
The air, and seasons be
As we are false to thee;
Or lie in water drowned,
Or chilled on the ground.
Thou still dost mercy show,
That men might thankful grow :
And thy displeasure gain,
But pity we obtain.
That put us late to fear,
Then comfort did appear.
They reconciled be;
As we desired of thee.
For which, with lifted hands and eyes,
Of giving thanks to-day;
To render thee be slow,
Which thou art pleased to show.
Thanksgiving for Victory. Song 88.
Who, by thy great almighty arm,
Of those that sought our causcless barm:
Thou art our life, our triumph-song,
The joy and comfort of our heart;
And thou the God of Armies art.
We must confess it is thy power
That made us masters of the field;
Our rock of refuge and our shield :
With vigour thou didst gird us round;
And thou didst beat them to the ground.
To blood and slaughter fiercely bent;
By whatsoever way we went;
To lead us on, and off again,
Or masked in blood and wounds had lain.
This song we therefore sing to thee,
And pray that thou for evermore
As at this time and heretofore;
May cause us more to thee incline,
That such as are our foes are thine.
Along with Wither ought to be mentioned a contemporary poet of a genius, or at least of a manner, in some respects kindred to his, and whose fate it has been to experience the same long neglect, William Browne, the author of Britannia's Pastorals, of which the first part was published in 1613, the second in 1616, and of The Shepherd's Pipe in Seven Eclogues, which appeared in 1614. Browne was a native of Tavistock in Devonshire, where he was born in 1590, and he is supposed to have died in 1645. It is remarkable that, if he lived to so late a date, he should not have written more than he appears to have