Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Where words are weak, and foes encount'ring strong,

Where mightier to assault than to defend,
The feebler part puts up enforced wrong,

And silent sees, that speech could not amend;
Yet higher powers must think, though they repine,
When sun is set, the little stars will shine.
While pike doth range, the silly tench doth fly

And crouch in privy creeks with smaller fish;
Yet pikes are caught when little fish go by,

These fleet afloat, while those do fill the dish;
There is a time even for the worms to creep,
And suck the dew while all their foes do sleep.
The merlin can not ever soar on high,

Nor greedy greyhound still pursue the chase;
The tender lark will find a time to fly,

And fearful hare to run a quiet race.
He that high growth on cedars did bestow,
Gave also lowly mushrooms leave to grow.
In Haman's pomp poor Mardocheus wept,

Yet God did turn his fate upon his foe.
The Lazar pin’d, while Dives? feast was kept,

Yet he to heaven-to Hell did Dives go.
We trample grass, and prize the flowers of May;
Yet grass is green, when flowers do fade away.

Daniel, the writer next to be noticed among the miscellaneous poets of England, divided his attention so equally between different departments of literature, that it is difficult to determine with which to assign him his place. As his minor poems, however, more particularly marked the peculiar character of his genius than any other of his performances, we have concluded to notice him in the present connection.

Samuel Daniel was the son of a music-master, and was born near Taunton, in Somersetshire, in 1562. In 1579, he was admitted a commoner in Magdalene College, Oxford, where he continued three years, and being aided in his studies, during the whole of that period, by an excellent tutor, he made very considerable progress in academical learning; but his genius and taste inclining him more to poetry and history than to severer studies, he left the university without his degree, and immediately repaired to London, to mingle with the wits of the metropolis. His first literary performance after he arrived in London, was the translation of a tract of Paul Jovius, containing A Discourse of rare Inventions, both Military and Civil, the reception of which was very flattering. On the death of Spenser, he succeeded to the vacant laureate, but was soon after displaced by Ben Jonson.

On the accession of James the First to the crown of England, Daniel became one of the grooms of the privy chamber, and was patronized by the king's consort, Queen Anne, who took much pleasure in his conversation. The royal favor thus extended to him, together with his own personal qualifications, readily introduced him to the acquaintance and friendship of many of his ingenious and learned contemporaries; and occupying a house in the suburbs of London, he was accustomed there to receive and entertain his literary associates with much taste and elegance. After spending some years in this manner, Daniel became tutor to Lady Anne Clifford, and having closed the duties which this interesting and important relation imposed upon him, he retired into the country, where he passed the remainder of his days in devotion to poetry and to religious contemplation, and where he died in the month of October, 1619, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. He was buried in the church at Beckington, and a splendid monument was erected over his grave by Lady Anne Clifford, afterward Countess of Pembroke, in testimony of her gratitude to his memory, for the assiduous care and attention which he had bestowed upon her education.

The works of Daniel are numerous, and consist of dramas, histories, and miscellaneous poems. Of his dramas, Hymen's Triumphs, The Vision, The Tragedy of Cleopatra, and The Tragedy of Philotus, are the chief. principal historical work treated of that period of English history which extended from the Conquest, in 1066, to the close of the reign of Edward the Third, in 1377. Of this historical performance, the following remark is made in the preface to Kennet's Complete History of England. "The author had a place at court, in the reign of King James the First, and seems to have taken all the refinement a court could give him. It is said, he had a good vein in poetry; and it is certain, he has shown great judgment in keeping it, as he did, from infecting his prose, and destroying that simplicity which is the principal beauty in the style of an historian. His narrative is smooth and clear, and carries everywhere an air of good sense and just eloquence, and his English is much more modern than Milton's, though he lived before him.'

It is, however, chiefly through his minor pieces and sonnets that Daniel preserves his literary reputation ; and from these therefore we shall take our extracts. His Epistle to the Countess of Cumberland, from which the following passage is selected, is a fine effusion of meditative thought :

a

TO THE COUNTESS OF CUMBERLAND.

He that of such a height hath built his mind,
And reared the dwelling of his thoughts so strong,
As neither hope nor fear can shake the frame
Of his resolved powers; nor all the wind
Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong
His settled peace, or to disturb the same:
What a fair seat hath he, from whence he may
The boundless wastes and wilds of man survey.
And with how free an eye doth he look down
Upon these lower regions of turmoil,
Where all the storms of passions mainly beat
On flesh and blood! where honour, power, renown,
Are only gay afflictions, golden toil;
Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet
As frailty doth; and only great doth seem
To little minds who did it so esteem.
He looks upon the mightiest monarch's wars,
But only as on stately robberies;
Where evermore the fortune that prevails
Must be the right: the ill-succeeding mars
The fairest and the best-fac'd enterprise.
Great pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails :
Justice he sees, as if reduced, still
Conspires with power, whose cause must not be ill.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

To this passage we shall add the following very beautiful Sonnet on Sleep-a most fruitful subject with the sonnet writers of that period.

Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born,
Relieve my anguish, and restore the light,
With dark forgetting of my care, return,
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill-advised youth;
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torments of the night's untruth.
Cease, dreams, the images of day-desires,
To model forth the passions of to-morrow;
Never let the rising sun prove you liars,
To add more grief, to aggravate my sorrow.
Still let me sleep embracing clouds in vain,
And never wake to feel the day's disdain.

MICHAEL DRAYTON, a poet of very different genius from Daniel, was born at Harshall in the parish of Atherston, Warwickshire, in 1563. His family, though poor, was very ancient, and originally belonged to the town of Drayton in Leicestershire, the place whence his ancestors derived their name. His genius so early developed itself that when only ten years of age, he became page to some person of quality—a situation which was not, in that

age, thought too humble for the sons of gentlemen. He entered the university of Oxford, but for some reason did not remain there long enough to take a degree. Immediately after he left the university, he entered into the service of the Countess of Bedford, with whom he remained for a number of years, and by whom he was very highly esteemed.

In 1593, Drayton appeared before the public as an author, in the publication of a collection of his pastorals; and in the course of the few following years

he

gave to the world his more elaborate poems, The Baron's Wars, and England's Heroical Epistles. In the latter productions we see the first symptoms of that taste for poetized history, as it may be called, which marked the age—which is first seen in Sackville's design of “The Mirror for Magistrates,' and was now developing itself strongly in the historical plays of Marlow, Shakspeare, and others.

On the accession of James the First in 1603, Drayton acted as squire to Sir Walter Aston, in the ceremony of his installation as a Knight of the Bath. The poet now expected some patronage from the new sovereign, but being disappointed, he again courted the muses, and in 1612, published the first part of his most elaborate work, the Polyolbion, the second part of which appeared in 1622. This great performance forms a poetical description of England in thirty books, and is, both in its subject, and in the manner of its execution, entirely unlike any other work in English poetry. It is full of topographical and antiquarian details, with innumerable allusions to remarkable events and persons, as connected with various localities ; yet such is the poetical genius of the author, so happily does he idealize almost every thing upon which he touches, and so lively is the flow of his verse, that we do not readily tire in perusing this vast map of intelligence. The information which the ‘Polyolbion' imparts, is in general so accurate that it is frequently quoted as authority.

In 1627 Drayton published a volume containing The Battle of Agincourt, The Court of Faerie, and other poems; and three years after appeared his last volume, entitled The Muse's Elysium, from which it appears that he had found a final shelter in the family of the Earl of Dorset. On his death, which occurred in 1631, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument, containing an inscription in letters of gold, was raised to his memory by the wife of that nobleman, the celebrated Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke.

Drayton, throughout the whole of his writings, voluminous as they are, shows the fancy and feeling of the true poet. "He possessed a very considerable fertility of mind, which enabled him to distinguish himself in almost every spe

1

cies of poetry, from a trifling sonnet to a long topographical poem. If he anywhere sinks below himself, it is in his attempts at satire. In a most pedantic era, he was unaffected, and seldom exhibits his learning at the expense of his judgment.” Our limited space will allow us room for two brief extracts only from the writings of this truly interesting poet; and both those we shall select from the Polyolbion. The first is a description of Morning in Warwickshire, and the other, a description of the River Trent.

MORNING IN WARWICKSHIRE.

When Phæbus lifts his head out of the winter's wave,
No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,
At such a time as the year brings on the pleasant spring,
But hunts up to the morn the feath’red sylvans sing :
And in the lower grove, as on the rising knole,
Upon the highest spray of every mounting pole,
Those quiristers are perch't, with many a speckled breast,
Then from her burnisht gate the goodly glitt'ring east
Gilds every lofty top, which late the humorous night
Bespangled had with pearl, to please the morning's sight;
On which the mirthful quires, with their clear open throats,
Unto the joyful morn so strain their warbling notes,
That hills and valleys ring, and even the echoing air
Seems all composed of sounds, about them everywhere.
The throstle, with shrill sharps; as purposely he sang
Tawake the listless sun; or chiding, that so long
He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill;
The ouzel near at hand, that hath a golden bill,
As nature him had markt of purpose, t' let us see
That from all other birds his tunes should different be:
For with their vocal sounds they sang to pleasant May;
Upon his dulcet pipe the merle2 doth only play.
When in the lower brake, the nightingale hard by,
In such lamenting strains the joyful hours doth ply,
As though the other birds she to her tunes would draw;
And, but that nature (by her all-constraining law)
Each bird to her own kind this season doth invite,
They else, alone to hear that charmer of the night,
(The more to use their ears,) their voices sure would spare,
That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare,
As man to set in parts at first had learn'd of her.

To Philomel the next, the linnet we prefer;
And by that warbling bird, the wood-lark place we then,
The red-sparrow, the nope, the red-breast and the wren.
The yellow-pate; which though she hurt the blooming tree,
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she.
And of these chanting fowls, the goldfinch not behind,
That hath so many sorts descending from her kind.
The tydy for her notes as delicate as they,
The laughing hecco, then the counterfeiting jay.
The softer with the shrill (some hid among the leaves,
Some in the taller trees, some in the lower greaves)

1 Headley.

2 Of all birds only the blackbird whistleth.

M

« AnteriorContinuar »