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A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
On the green banks, which that fair stream inbound,
And through the grove one channel passage found;
And so exchang'd their moisture and their shade.
SIR JOHN HARRINGTON.
The first translator of Ariosto into English was SIR JOHN HARRINGTON, a courtier of the reign of Elizabeth, and also god-son of the queen. He was the son of John Harrington, Esq., the poet already noticed. Sir John wrote a collection of epigrams, and a Brief View of the Church, in which he reprobates the marriage of bishops. He is supposed to have died about the year 1612. The translation from Ariosto is poor and prosaic, but some of his epigrams are pointed.
Treason doth never prosper; what's the reason? For if it prosper none dare call it treason.
Fortune, men say, doth give too much to many, But yet she never gave enough to any.
Against Writers that carp at other Men's Books. The readers and the hearers like my books, But yet some writers cannot them digest; But what care I? for when I make a feast
I would my guests should praise it, not the cooks.
Of a Precise Tailor.
A tailor, thought a man of upright dealing-
He heard three lectures and two sermons weekly;
to the service of the Earl of Essex, the favourite of Elizabeth, but had the sagacity to foresee the fate of that nobleman, and to elude its consequences by withdrawing in time from the kingdom. Having afterwards gained the friendship of King James, by communicating the secret of a conspiracy formed against him, while yet only king of Scotland, he was employed by that monarch, when he ascended the English throne, as ambassador to Venice. versatile and lively mind qualified Sir Henry in an eminent degree for this situation, of the duties of which we have his own idea in the well-known punning expression, in which he defines an ambassador to be an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.' He ultimately took orders, to qualify himself to be provost of Eton, in which situation he died in 1639, in the seventy-second year of his age. His writings were published in 1651, under the title of Reliquia Wottoniana; and a memoir of his very curious life has been published by Izaak Walton.
To his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia.
That warble forth dame Nature's lays,
By your weak accents! what's your praise
You violets that first appear,
By your pure purple mantles known,
As if the spring were all your own!
In form and beauty of her mind;
A Farewell to the Vanities of the World.
Welcome, pure thoughts, welcome, ye silent groves,
SHAKSPEARE, as a writer of miscellaneous poetry, claims now to be noticed, and, with the exception of the Faery Queen, there are no poems of the reign of Elizabeth equal to those productions to which the great dramatist affixed his name. In 1593, when the poet was in his twenty-ninth year, appeared his Venus and Adonis, and in the following year his Rape of Lucrece, both dedicated to Henry
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. I know not,' says the modest poet, in his first dedication, 'how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burthen; only, if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after ear [till] so barren a land.' The allusion to idle hours' seems to point to the author's profession of an actor, in which capacity he had probably attracted the attention of the Earl of Southampton; but it is not so easy to understand how the Venus and Adonis was the first heir of his invention,' unless we believe that it had been written in early life, or that his dramatic labours had then been confined to the adaptation of old plays, not the writing of new ones, for the stage. There is a tradition, that the Earl of Southampton on one occasion presented Shakspeare with L.1000, to complete a purchase which he wished to make. The gift was munificent, but the sum has probably been exaggerated. The Venus and Adonis is a glowing and essentially dramatic version of the well-known mythological story, full of fine descriptive passages, but objectionable on the score of licentiousness. Warton has shown that it gave offence, at the time of its publication, on account of the excessive warmth of its colouring. The Rape of Lucrece is less animated, and is perhaps an inferior poem, though, from the boldness of its figurative expressions, and its tone of dignified pathos and reflection, it is more like the hasty sketch of a great poet.
The sonnets of Shakspeare were first printed in 1609, by Thomas Thorpe, a bookseller and publisher of the day, who prefixed to the volume the following enigmatical dedication:- To the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets, Mr W. H., all happiness and that eternity promised by our ever-living poet, wisheth the well-wishing adventurer in setting forth, T. T.' The sonnets are 154 in number. They are, with the exception of twenty-eight, addressed to some male object, whom the poet addresses in a style of affection, love, and idolatry, remarkable, even in the reign of Elizabeth, for its extravagant and enthusiastic character. Though printed continuously, it is obvious that the sonnets were written at different times, with long intervals between the dates of composition; and we know that, previous to 1598, Shakspeare had tried this species of composition, for Meres in that year alludes to his 'sugared sonnets among his private friends.' We almost wish, with Mr Hallam, that Shakspeare had not written these sonnets, beautiful as many of them are in language and imagery. They represent him in a character foreign to that in which we love to regard him, as modest, virtuous, self-confiding, and independent. His excessive and elaborate praise of youthful beauty in a man seems derogatory to his genius, and savours of adulation; and when we find him excuse this friend for robbing him of his mistress-a married female-and subjecting his noble spirit to all the pangs of jealousy, of guilty love, and blind misplaced attachment, it is painful and difficult to believe that all this weakness and folly can be associated with the name of Shakspeare, and still more, that he should record it in verse which he believed would descend to future ages
Not marble, not the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme. Some of the sonnets may be written in a feigned character, and merely dramatic in expression; but
in others, the poet alludes to his profession of an actor, and all bear the impress of strong passion and deep sincerity. A feeling of premature age seems to have crept on Shakspeare
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
Which by and by black night doth take away,
The composition of these mysterious productions evinces Shakspeare's great facility in versification of a difficult order, and they display more intense feeling and passion than either of his classical poems. They have the conceits and quaint turns of expression, then common, particularly in the sonnet; but they rise to far higher flights of genuine poetry than will be found in any other poet of the day, and they contain many traces of his philosophical and reflective spirit.
[The Horse of Adonis.] Look, when a painter would surpass the life, In limning out a well-proportion'd steed, His art with Nature's workmanship at strife, As if the dead the living should exceed : So did this horse excel a common one In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone. Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide, High crest, short ears, strait legs, and passing strong, Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: Look what a horse should have, he did not lack, Save a proud rider on so proud a back. Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; Anon he starts at stirring of a feather. To bid the wind a base he now prepares, And whe'r he run, or fly, they know not whether. 1 To bid the wind a base: i. e. to challenge the wind to con
tend with him in speed: base-prison-base, or prison-bars, was
a rustic game, consisting chiefly in running.
For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings.
[Venus's Prophecy after the Death of Adonis.]
That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe.
It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud,
[Selections from Shakspeare's Sonnets.] When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess❜d, Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least ; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee-and then my state (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings. Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, And made myself a motley to the view, Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear, Made old offences of affections new. Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth Askance and strangely; but, by all above, These blenches gave my heart another youth, And worst essays prov'd thee my best of love. Now all is done, save what shall have no end: Mine appetite I never more will grind On newer proof, to try an older friend, A God in love, to whom I am confined. Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, E'en to thy pure and most most loving breast. O for my sake do thou with fortune chide, The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, That did not better for my life provide, Than public means, which public manners breeds. Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd ;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses;
No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Ah! do not, when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow,
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
From you have I been absent in the spring,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
[At the end of 'Love's Labour Lost."] When icicles hang by the wall, And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw, And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw;
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note,
[In 'Much Ado about Nothing."] Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore, To one thing constant never: Then sigh not so,
But let them go, And be you blithe and bonny; Converting all your sounds of woe Into, Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no more Of dumps so dull and heavy; The fraud of inen was ever so, Since summer first was leavy. Then sigh not so, &c.
Fear no more the heat o' th' sun,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o' th' great,
Care no more to clothe and eat,
To thee the reed is as the oak. The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust. Fear no more the lightning-flash, Nor th' all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash,
Thou hast finished joy and moan. All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
[From As you Like it."]
Under the green-wood tree
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither;
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather.
SIR JOHN DAVIES (1570-1626), an English barrister, at one time Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, was the author of a long philosophical poem, On the Soul of Man and the Immortality thereof, supposed to have been written in 1598, and one of the earliest poems of that kind in our language. Davies is a profound thinker and close reasoner: in the happier parts of his poem,' says Campbell, 'we come to logical truths so well illustrated by ingenious similes, that we know not whether to call the thoughts more poetically or philosophically just.
The judgment and fancy are reconciled, and the imagery of the poem seems to start more vividly from the surrounding shades of abstraction.' The versification of the poem (long quatrains, was afterwards copied by Davenant and Dryden. Mr Southey has remarked that Sir John Davies and Sir William Davenant, avoiding equally the opposite faults of too artificial and too careless a style, wrote in numbers which, for precision, and clearness, and felicity, and strength, have never been surpassed.' The compact structure of Davies's verse is indeed remarkable for his times. In another production, entitled Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing, in a Dialogue between Penelope and One of her Wooers, he is much more fanciful. He there represents Penelope as declining to dance with Antinous, and the latter as proceeding to lecture her upon the antiquity of that elegant exercise, the merits of which he describes in verses partaking, as has been justly remarked, of the flexibility and grace of the subject. The following is one of the most imaginative passages:
[The Dancing of the Air.]
And now behold your tender nurse, the air,
Now in, now out, in time and measure true;
And thou, sweet Music, dancing's only life,
The soft mind's paradise, the sick mind's leech,
That when the air doth dance her finest measure,
Lastly, where keep the Winds their revelry,
Where she herself is turn'd a hundred ways,
Afterwards, the poet alludes to the tidal influence of the moon, and the passage is highly poetical in expression:
For lo, the sea that fleets about the land,
And like a girdle clips her solid waist,