Page images
[ocr errors]

Epitaph on Elizabeth, L. H.
Would'st thou hear what man say
In a little?-reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die;
Which in life did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault,
Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was Elizabeth,
The other let it sleep with death :
Fitter, where it died, to tell,
Than that it lived at all. Farewell 1

On my First Daughter.

There, in the writhed bark, are cut the names
Here lies to each her parents ruth,

Of many a Sylvan token with his flames. Mary, the daughter of their youth:

And thence the ruddy Satyrs oft provoke Yet all heaven's gifts being heaven's due,

The lighter Fauns to reach thy Ladies' Oak. It makes the father less to rue.

Thy copse, too, named of Gamage, thou hast here At six months' end she parted hence

That never fails, to serve thee, season'd deer, With safety of her innocence;

When thou would'st feast or exercise thy friends. Whose soul heaven's queen (whose name she bears) The lower land that to the river bends, In comfort of her mother's tears,

Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed: Hath placed among her virgin train :

The middle ground thy mares and horses breed. Where, while that sever'd doth remain,

Each bank doth yield thee conies, and the tops This grave partakes the fleshly birth,

Fertile of wood. Ashore, and Sidney's copse, Which cover lightly, gentle earth.

To crown thy open table doth provide

The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side:
To Penshurst.*

The painted partridge lies in every field,

And, for thy mess, is willing to be kill'd. [From The Forest.]

And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish, Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show Thou hast thy ponds that pay thee tribute fish, Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row

Fat, aged carps that run into thy net, Of polish'd pillars, or a roof of gold :

And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat, Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told;

As loath the second draught or cast to stay, Or stair, or courts; but stand'st an ancient pile, Officiously, at first, themselves betray. And these grudg'd at, are reverenced the while. Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land, Thou joy'st in better marks of soil and air,

Before the fisher, or into his hand. Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.

Thou hast thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers, * Penshurst is situated in Kent, near Tunbridge, in a wide and

Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.

The early cherry with the later plum, rich valley. The grey walls and turrets of the old mansion; its

Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come: high-peaked and red roofs, and the new buildings of fresh stone.

The blushing apricot and woolly peach mingled with the ancient fabric, present a very striking and venerable aspect. It is a fitting abode for the noble Sidneys.

Hang on thy walls that every child may reach. The park contains trees of enormous growth, and others to

And though thy walls be of the country stone, which past events and characters have given an everlasting

verlasting They're rear'd with no man's ruin, no man's groan;

Th interest ; as Sir Philip Sidney's Oak, Saccharissa's Walk, Ga

a's Walk. Ga. There's none that dwell about them wish them down; mage's Bower, &c. The ancient massy oak tables remain; and But all come in, the farmer and the clown. from Jonson's description of the hospitality of the family, they And no one empty handed, to salute must often have groaned with the weight of the feast.' Mr | Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit. William Howitt has given an interesting account of Penshurst Some bring a capon, some a rural cake, in his Visits to Remarkablo Places, 1840.

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 Penatcs 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

On thy good lady then, who therein reap'd
The just reward of her high housewifery ;
To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was far; and not a room but drest
As if it had expected such a guest !
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all;
Thy lady's noble, fruitful, chaste withal.
His children

* have been taught religion ; thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each inom and even they are taught to pray,
With the whole household, and may, every day,
Read, in their virtuous parenis' noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say their lords have built, hut thy lord dwells.

That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses, I mean with great but disproportion's 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 liko

night, And despairs day, but for thy volume's light!

To the Memory of my beloved Master, William Shak

speare, and what he hath left us.
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

On the Portrait of Shakspeare. (Under the frontispiece to the first edition of his works: 1823.)

This figure that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakspeare cut,
Wherein the graver had a strifo
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 por trait of Shakspeare, seems to prove its fidelity as a likenen. The portrait corresponds with the monumental effigy at Stratforrt, but both represent a heavy and somewhat inelegant figure. There is, however, a placid good humour in the ex pression 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; RICHARD CORBET.

his toleration, solid sense, and lively talents, proRICHARD CORBET (1582.-1635) was the son of a cured him deserved esteem and respect. His poems man who, though only a gardener, must have pos- were first collected and published in 1647. They sessed superior qualities, as he obtained the hearty are of a miscellaneous character, the best known commendations, in verse, of Ben Jonson. The son being a Journey into France, written in a light easy was educated at Westminster and Oxford, and hav- strain of descriptive humour. The Farewell to the ing taken orders, he became successively bishop of Fairies is equally lively, and more poetical Oxford and bishop of Norwich. The social quali

(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 :

[ocr errors]

Norwich Cathedral. 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

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 cach 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 t
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 rails,

And, if he will, may kneel.
Some say 'twas false, 'twas never so,
Yet, fecling 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 repeuted like John Dory,
When fiddlers sing at fensts.
Ritson's Ancient Songs, p. 16

There is a lanthorn which the Jews,
When Judas led them forth, did use,

It weighs my weight downright:
But, to believe it, you must think
The Jews did put a candle in't,

And then 'twas very light.
There's one saint there hath lost his nose :
Another 's head, but not his toes,

His elbow and his thumb.
But when that we had seen the rage,
We went to th' inn and took our nags,

And so away did come.
We came to Paris on the Seine,
"Tis wondrous fair, 'tis nothing clean,

'Tis Europe's greatest town.
How strong it is, I need not tell it,
For all the world may easily smell it,

That walk it up and down.
There many strange things are to see,
The palace and great gallery,

The Place Royal doth excel :
The new bridge, and the statues there,
At Notre Dame, Saint Q. Pater,

The steeple bears the bell.
For learning, th' University;
And, for old clothes, the Frippery;

The house the Queen did build.
Saint Innocents, whose earth devours
Dead corps in four-and-twenty hours,

And there the King was killed :
The Bastille, and Saint Dennis Street,
The Shafflenist, like London Fleet,

The arsenal nu toy.
But if you'll see the prettiest thing,
Go to the court and see the king,

0, 'tis a hopeful boy.*
He is, of all his dukes and peers,
Reverenc'd for much wit at 's years,

Nor must you think it much : For he with little switch doth play, And make fine dirty pies of day,

O never king made suck !

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's sure ; It was a just and Christian deed,

To pinch such black and blue : O how the commonwealth doth need

Such justices as you !


Farewell to the Pairies. Farewell rewards and fairies,

Good housewives now may say, For now foul sluts in dairies

Do fare as well as they. And though they sweep their hearths no less

Than maids were wont to do, Yet who of late, for cleanliness,

Finds sixpence in her shoe?
Lament, lament, old Abbeys,

The fairies lost command ;
They did but change priests' babies,

But some have changed your land;
And all your children spring from thence

Are now grown Puritans;
Who live as changelings ever since,

For love of your domains.
At morning and at evening both,

You merry were and glad,
So little care of sleep or sloth

These pretty ladies had ;
When Tom came home from labour,

Or Cis to milking rose,
Then merrily went their tabor,

And nimbly went their toes.

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 me. mory of Ferdinando Pulton, Esq., are the following excellent verses :

Why should vain sorrow follow him with tears,
Who shakes off burdens of declining years !

# Louis XIII,

Whose thread exceeds the usual bounds of life,

The wind blows out, the bubble dies; And feels no stroke of any fatal knife!

The spring entomb'd in autumn lies; The destinies enjoin their wheels to run,

The dew dries up, the star is shot;
Until the length of his whole course be spun.

The flight is past-and man forgot.
No envious clouds obscure his struggling light,
Which sets contented at the point of night:

The Dirge.
Yet this large time no greater profit brings,

What is the existence of man's life, Than every little moment whence it springs;

But open war, or slumber'd strife; Unless employ'd in works deserving praise,

Where sickness to his sense presents Must wear out many years and live few days.

The combat of the elements; Time flows from instants, and of these each one

And never feels a perfect peace
Should be esteem'd as if it were alone

Till Death's cold hand signs his release I
The shortest space, which we so lightly prize
When it is coming, and before our eyes :

It is a storm-where the hot blood
Let it but slide into the eternal main,

Outvies in rage the boiling flood; No realms, no worlds, can purchase it again :

And each loose passion of the mind Remembrance only makes the footsteps last.

Is like a furious gust of wind, When winged time, which fixed the prints, is past.

Which beats his bark with many a wave,

Till he casts anchor in the grave. Sir John also wrote an epitaph on his brother, the

It is a flower which buds, and grows, dramatist, but it is inferior to the following:

And withers as the leaves disclose;

Whose spring and fall faint seasons keep,
On my dear Son, Gervase Beaumont.

Like fits of waking before sleep;
Can I, who have for others oft compiled

Then shrinks into that fatal mould The songs of death, forget my sweetest child,

Where its first being was enroll’d. Which like a flow'r crush'd with a blast, is dead, It is a dream--whose seeming truth And ere full time hangs down his smiling head,

Is moralis'd in age and youth; Expecting with clear hope to live anew,

Where all the comforts he can share, Among the angels fed with heavenly dew!

As wandering as his fancies are; We have this sign of joy, that many days,

Till in a mist of dark decay, While on the earth his struggling spirit stays,

The dreamer vanish quite away. The name of Jesus in his mouth contains

It is a dial--which points out His only food, his sleep, his ease from pains.

The sun-set, as it moves about; O may that sound be rooted in my mind,

And shadows out in lines of night Of which in him such strong effect I find !

The subtle stages of Time's flight; Dear Lord, receive my son, whose winning love

Till all-obscuring earth hath laid
To me was like a friendship, far above

His body in perpetual shade.
The course of nature, or his tender age ;
Whose looks could all my bitter griefs assuage:

It is a weary interlude
Let his pure soul-ordain'd seven years to be

Which doth short joys, long woes, include; In that frail body, which was part of me

The world the stage, the prologue tears, Remain my pledge in heaven, as sent to show

The acts vain hopes and varied fears; How to this port at every step I go.

The scene shuts up with loss of breath,

And leaves no epilogue but death. Dr Henry King, who was chaplain to James I., and did honour to the church preferment which was

FRANCIS BEAUMONT. bestowed upon him, was best known as a religious poet. His language and imagery are chaste and

FRANCIS BEAUMONT (1585-1616), whose name is refined. Of his lighter verse, the following song

most conspicuous as a dramatist, in union with that may suffice :

of Fletcher, wrote a small number of miscellaneous

pieces, which his brother published after his death. Song.

Some of these youthful effusions are witty and Dry those fair, those crystal eyes,

amusing; others possess a lyrical sweetness; and Which, like growing fountains, rise,

a few are grave and moralising. The most celeTo drown their banks : grief's sullen brooks brated is the letter to Ben Jonson, which was oriWould better flow in furrow'd looks ;

ginally published at the end of the play Nice Thy lovely face was never meant

Valour, with the following title : Mr Francis To be the shore of discontent.

Beaumont's letter to Ben Jonson, written before he

and Master Fletcher came to London, with two of Then clear those waterish stars again,

the precedent comedies then not finished, which deWhich else portend a lasting rain;

ferred their merry meetings at the Mermaid.' NotLest the clouds which settle there,

withstanding the admiration of Beaumont for · Rare Prolong my winter all the year,

Ben,' he copied Shakspeare in the style of his dramas. And thy example others make

Fletcher, however, was still more Shakspearian than In love with sorrow for thy sake.

his associate. Hazlitt says finely of the premature

death of Beaumont and his more poetical friend Sic Vita.

* The bees were said to have come and built their Like to the falling of a star,

hive in the mouth of Plato when a child ; and the Or as the flights of eagles are ;

fable might be transferred to the sweeter accents of Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,

Beaumont and Fletcher. Beaumont died at the age Or silver drops of morning dew;

of five-and-twenty (thirty). One of these writers Or like a wind that chafes the flood,

makes Bellario, the page, say to Philaster, who Or bubbles which on water stood :

threatens to take his life Ev'n such is man, whose borrow'd light

- lis not a life, Is straight call’d in, and paid to-night.

'Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away.

« PreviousContinue »