[ocr errors]

And here the graces of our youths must wither
Like a too timely spring; here age must find us,
And—which is heaviest–Palamon, unmarried ;
No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see,
To glad our age, and like young eagles teach them
Boldly to gaze against bright arms, and say,
• Remember what your fathers were, and conquer.'
The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments,
And in their songs curse ever-blinded Fortune,
Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
To youth and nature. This is all our world :
We shall know nothing here but one another;
Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes.
The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it:
Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.

Pal. 'Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds,
That shook the aged forest with their echoes,
No more now must we halloo, no more shake
Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine
Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses
The food and nourishment of noble minds-
In us two here shall perish : we shall die-
Which is the curse of honour-lastly
Children of grief and ignorance.

Arc. Yet, cousin,
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
If the gods please to hold here ; a brave patience,
And the enjoying of our griefs together.
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I think this our prison !

Pal. Certainly
'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
Were twinn'd together; 'tis most true, two souls
Put in two noble bodies, let them suffer
The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
Will never sink; they must not; say they could,
A willing man dies sleeping, and all's done.



(Giles : about 1680—1623, and Phineas : 1584—1650.) The brothers Fletcher were sons of Dr Giles Fletcher, Queen Elizabeth's

ambassador to the court of Russia, and cousins of Fletcher the dramatist, Both were clergymen. The chief work of Giles is Christ's Victory and Triumph, one of the most beautiful religious poems in the language. The works of Phineas consist of The Purple Island or The Isle of Man, Piscatory Eclogues, and miscellaneous poems. The Purple Island is a wearisome allegorical description of the human body and mind, redeemed only by a number of fine passages.

JUSTICE. From Christ's Victory in Heaven, by Giles Fletcher.

But Justice had no sooner Mercy seen

Smoothing the wrinkles of her Father's brow,
But up she starts, and throws herself between :-

As when a vapour from a moory slough,

Meeting with fresh Eous, that but now
Opened the world which all in darkness lay,

Doth heav'n's bright face of his rays disarray,
And sads the smiling orient of the springing day.


She was a virgin of austere regard ;

Not, as the world esteems her, deaf and blind ;
But as the eagle, that hath oft compared

eye with heav'n's, so and more brightly shined
Her lamping sight: for she the same could wind
Into the solid heart; and with her ears

The silence of the thought loud-speaking hears ;
And in one hand a pair of even scales she wears.

No riot of affection revel kept

Within her breast; but a still apathy
Possessed all her soul, which softly slept,

Securely, without tempest : no sad cry

Awakes her pity: but wronged poverty,
Sending his eyes to heav'n swimming in tears,

With hideous clamours ever struck her ears,
Whetting the blazing sword that in her hand she bears.

[blocks in formation]

THE RAINBOW. From the same.

High in the airy' element there hung
Another cloudy sea, that did disdain,
As though his purer waves from heaven sprung,
To crawl on earth, as doth the sluggish main :
But it the earth would water with his rain,
That ebbed and flowed as wind and season would ;
And oft the sun would cleave the limber mould
To alabaster rocks, that in the liquid rolled.
Beneath those sunny banks a darker cloud,
Dropping with thicker dew, did melt apace,
And bent itself into a hollow shroud,
On which, if Mercy did but cast her face,
A thousand colours did the bow enchase,
That wonder was to see the silk distained
With the resplendence from her beauty gained,
And Iris 1 paint her locks with beams so lively feigned.
About her head a cypress heaven she wore,
Spread like a veil, upheld with silver wire,
In which the stars so burnt in golden ore,
As seemed the azure web was all on fire :
But hastily, to quench their sparkling ire,
A flood of milk came rolling up the shore,
That on his curded wave swift Argusa wore,
And the immortal Swan, that did her life deplore.
Yet strange it was so many stars to see,
Without a sun to give their tapers light;
Yet strange it was not that it so should be ;
For, where the sun centres himself by right,
Her face and locks did flame, that at the sight
The heavenly veil, that else should nimbly move,
Forgot his flight, and all incensed with love,
With wonder and amazement, did her beauty prove.
Over her hung a canopy of state,
Not of rich tissue nor of spangled gold,
But of a substance, though not animate,

Yet of a heavenly and spiritual mould,
I The rainbow. ? Argus and Cygnus (the Swan), two stars in the Milky-way.
That only eyes of spirits might behold:
Such light as from main rocks of diamond,
Shooting their sparks at Phæbus, would rebound,
And little angels, holding hands, danced all around.


From The Purple Island, by Phineas Fletcher.

With her, her sister went, a warlike maid,
Parthenia, all in steel and gilded arms;
In needle's stead, a mighty spear she swayed,
With which in bloody fields and fierce alarms,
The boldest champion she down would bear,
And like a thunderbolt wide passage tear,
Flinging all to the earth with her enchanted spear.

Her goodly armour seemed a garden green,
Where thousand spotless lilies freshly blew;
And on her shield the lone bird might be seen,
Th’ Arabian bird, shining in colours new;
Itself unto itself was only mate;
Ever the same, but new in newer date:
And underneath was writ, ‘Such is chaste single state.

Thus hid in arms she seemed a goodly knight,
And fit for any warlike exercise :
But when she list lay down her armour bright,
And back resume her peaceful maiden's guise,
The fairest maid she was, that ever yet
Prisoned her locks within a golden net,
Or let them waving hang, with roses fair beset.

Choice nymph! the crown of chaste Diana's train,
Thou beauty's lily, set in heavenly earth ;
Thy fairs, unpatterned, all perfection stain:
Sure Heaven with curious pencil at thy birth
In thy rare face her own full picture drew:
It is a strong verse here to write, but true,
Hyperboles in others are but half thy due.


Massinger employed himself in early life in assisting other writers, and

afterwards began to write on his own account. He wrote a great number of plays, of which only eighteen are preserved. The Virgin Martyr, The Bondman, The Fatal Dowry, The City Madam, and The New Way to Pay Old Debts, are his best known productions. The last mentioned still keeps possession of the stage.


From The New Way to Pay Old Debts.



Lov. Are you not frighted with the imprecations
And curses of whole families, made wretched
By your sinister practices ?

Over. Yes, as rocks are
When foamy billows split themselves against
Their flinty ribs ; or as the moon is moved
When wolves, with hunger pined, howl at her brightness.
I am of a solid temper, and, like these,
Steer on a constant course : with mine own sword,
If called into the field, I can make that right
Which fearful enemies murmured at as wrong.
Now, for those other piddling complaints,
Breathed out in bitterness ; as, when they call me
Extortioner, tyrant, cormorant, or intruder
On my poor neighbour's right, or grand encloser
Of what was common to my private use ;
Nay, when my ears are pierced with widows' cries,
And undone orphans wash with tears my threshold,
I only think what 'tis to have my daughter
Right honourable ; and 'tis a powerful charm,
Makes me insensible of remorse or pity,
Or the least sting of conscience.

Lov. I admire
The toughness of your nature.

Over. 'Tis for you,
My lord, and for my daughter, I am marble.

« VorigeDoorgaan »