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fall, that I am yet unable to move or turn my-criticism on the works of Cowley, it is not in-
and very often such verses as stood
allow them to be wits. Dryden confesses of He did not long enjoy the pleasure, or suffer himself and his contemporaries, that they fall the uneasiness of solitude; for he died at the below Donne in wit; but maintains, that they Porch-house * in Chertsey, 1667, in the 49th
surpass him in poetry. year of his age.
If wit be well described by Pope, as being “that He was buried with great pomp near Chau- which has been often thought, but was never cer and Spenser, and King Charles pronounced, before so well expressed,” they certainly never “ That Mr. Cowley had not left behind hiri a attained, nor ever sought it; for they endeabetter man in England.” He is represented by voured to be singular in their thoughts, and Dr. Sprat as the most amiable of mankind; and were careless of their diction. But Pope's this posthumous praise may safely be credited, account of wit is undoubtedly erroneous : he As it has never been contradicted by envy or by depresses it below its natural dignity, and refaction.
duces it from strength of thought to happiness Such are the remarks and memorials which I of language. have been able to add to 'the narrative of Dr. If by a more noble and more adequate conSprat; who, writing when the feuds of the civil ception that be considered as wit which is at war were yet recent, and the minds of either once natural and new, that which, though not party were easily irritated, was obliged to pass obvious, is, upon its first production, acknowover many transactions in general expressions, ledged to be just ; if it be that which he that And to leave curiosity often unsatisfied. What never found it wonders how he missed; to wit he did not tell, cannot however now be known; of this kind the metaphysical poets have seldom I must therefore recommend the perusal of his risen. Their thoughts are often new, but seldom work, to which my narration can be considered natural; they are not obvious, but neither are only as a slender supplement.
they just; and the reader, far from wondering ¿ Cowley, like other poets who have written that he missed them, wonders more frequently with narrow views, and, instead of tracing in- by what perverseness of industry they were ever tellectual pleasures in the minds of men, paid found. their court to temporary prejudices, has been at
But wit, abstracted from its effects upon the one time too much praised, and too much ne-hearer, may be more rigorously and philosophiglected at another.
cally considered as a kind of discordia concors; a Wit, like all other things subject by their na- combination of dissimilar images, or discovery ture to the choice of man, has its changes and of occult resemblances in things apparently unfashions, and at different times takes different like. Of wit, thus defined, they have more than forms.' About the beginning of the seventeenth enough. The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked century, appeared a race of writers that may be by violence together; nature and art are rantermed the metaphysical poets : of whom, in a sacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allu
sions; their learning instructs, and their sub
tlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks Now in the possession of Mr. Clark, Alderman of London." Dr. J.-Mr. Clark was in 1798 elected bis improvement dearly bought, and, though he to the important office of Chamberlain of London; sometimes admires, is seldom pleased. do and has every year since been unanimously re.
From this account of their compositions it elected.-N
will be readily inferred, that they were sot
successful in representing or moving the affec-, inquiry; either something already learned is to tions. As they were wholly employed on some be retrieved, or something new is to be examthing unexpected and surprising, they had no ined. If their greatness seldom elevates, their regard to that uniformity of sentiment which acuteness often surprises ; if the imagination is enables us to conceive and to excite the pains not always gratified, at least the powers of reand the pleasure of other minds: they never flection and comparison are employed; and, in inquired what, on any occasion, they should the mass of materials which ingenious absurdity have said or done; but wrote rather as beholders has thrown together, genuine wit and useful than partakers of human nature; as beings knowledge may be sometimes found buried perlooking upon good and evil, impassive and at haps in grossness of expression, but useful to leisure; as Epicurean deities, making remarks those who know their value; and such as, on the actions of men, and the vicissitudes of when they are expanded to perspicuity, and life, without interest and without emotion. polished to elegance, may give lustre to works Their courtship was void of fondness, and their which have more propriety, though less copiouslamentation of sorrow. Their wish was only ness of sentiment. to say what they hoped had never been said This kind of writing, which was, I believe, before.
borrowed from Marino and his followers, had Nor was the sublime more within their reach been recommended by the example of Donne, a than the pathetic, for they never attempted that man of very extensive and various knowledge ; comprehension and expanse of thought which at and by Jonson, whose manner resembled that of once fills the whole mind, and of which the first Donne more in the ruggedness of his lines than effect is sudden astonishment, and the second in the cast of his sentiments. rational admiration. Sublimity is produced by When their reputation was high, they aggregation, and littleness by dispersion. Great had undoubtedly more imitators than time thoughts are always general, and consist in pos- has left behind. Their immediate successors, itions not limited by exceptions, and in descrip- of whom any remembrance can be said to tions not descending to minuteness. It is with remain, were Suckling, Waller, Denham, great propriety that subtlety, which in its Cowley, Cleiveland, and Milton. Denham and original import means exility of particles, is Waller sought another way to fame, by improvtaken in its inetaphorical meaning for nicety oty ing the harmony of our numbers. Milton tried distinction. Those writers who lay on the the metaphysic style only in his lines upon watch for novelty, could have little hope of Hobson the Carrier, Cowley adopted it, and greatness; for great things cannot have escaped excelled his predecessors, having as much senti. former observation. Their attempts were al- ment and more music. Suckling neither im. ways analytic; they broke every image into proved versification, nor abounded in conceits. fragments; and could no more represent, by | The fashionable style remained chiefly with their slender conceits and laboured particulari. Cowley; Suckling could not reach it, and Milties, the prospects of nature, or the scenes of life, ton disdained its than he, who dissects a sun-beam with a prism, CRITICAL REMARKS are not easlly understood can exhibit the wide effulgence of a summer without examples; and I have therefore collect
What they wanted, however, of the ed instances of the modes of writing by which sublime, they endeavoured to supply by hyper- this species of poets (for poets they were called bole; their amplification had no limits; they by themselves and their admirers) was eminente left not only reason but fancy behind them; ly distinguished. and produced combinations, of confused magni
As the authors of this race were perhaps more ficence, that not only could not be credited, but desirous of being admired than understood, they could not be imagined.
sometimes drew their conceits from recesses of · Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, learning not very much frequented by common is never wholly lost; if they frequently threw readers of poetry. Thus Cowley on Know. away their wit upon false cor.ceits, they like- ledge: wise sometimes struck out unexpected truth : if
The sacred tree 'midst the fair orchard grew; their conceits were far-fetched, they were often
The phoenix Truth did on it rest, worth the carriage. To write on their plan it And built his perfum'd nest,
(shew. was at least necessary to read and think. No That right Porphyrian tree which did true logio man could be born a metaphysical poet, nor as Each leaf did learned notious give, sume the dignity of a writer, by descriptions And th’apples were demonstrative :
So clear their colour and divine, copied from descriptions, by imitations bor
The very shade they cast did other lights outshino. rowed from imitations, by traditional imagery, and hereditary similes, by readiness of rhyme, and volubility of syllables. In perusing the works of this race of authors,
Love was with thy life entwin'd, the mind is exercised either by recollection or pse as leat with fire is join'd;
ON ANACREON CONTINUING A LOVER IN RIN
A powerful brand prescribed the date
No flesh is now the same 'twas then in me, . Of thine, like Meleager's fate.
And that my mind is changed yourself may sse. Th' antiporistasis of age
The same thoughts to retain still, and intents, More enflamed thy amorons rage.
Were more inconstant far: for accidents
Must of all things most strangely inconstant prove, In the following verses we have an allusion to
If from one subject they tapother move; a Rabbinical opinion concerning manna :
My members then the father members were,
From whence these take their birth which now are Variety I ask not: give me on To live perpetually upon.,
here. The person Love does to us fit,
If then this body love wliat th' other did, Like has the taste of all in it.
'Twere incest, which by nature is forbid. manna, Thus Donne shows his medicinal knowledge
The love of different women is, in geographiin some encomiastic verses :
cal poetry, compared to travels through different
countries : In every thiug there naturally grows A balsamum to keep it fresh and new,
Hast thou not found each woman's breast If 'twere not injured by extrinsic blows;
(The land where thou hast travelled) Your youth and beauty are this balm in yo
Either by savages possest, But you, of learning and religion,
Or wild, and uninhabited ? And virtue and such ingredients, have made
What joy could'st takt, or what repose, A mithridate, whose operation
In countries so uncivilized as those Keeps off, or cures what can be done or said.
Lust, the scorching dog-star, here
Rages with immcderate heat ; Though the following lines of Donne, on the
Whilst Pride, the rugged northern bear, last night of the year, have something in them
In others makes the cold too great. too scholastic, they are not inelegant:
And where these are temperate known, This twilight of two years, not påst nor ness
The soil's all barren sand, or rocky stone.
COWLEY. Some emblem is of me, or I of this, Who, meteor-like, of stuff and form perplext, Whose what and where in disputation is,
A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared If I should call me any thing, should miss.
to Egypt: I sum the years and me, and find me not
The fate of Egypt I sustain, Debtor to th' old, nor creditor to th' new.
And never feel the dew of rain That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot,
From clouds which in the head appear; Nor trust I this with hopes; and yet scarce true
But all my too much moisture owe
COWLEY. Yet more abstruse and profound is Donne's reflection Man as a Microcosm :
The Lover supposes his Lady acquainted with upon
the ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice: If men be worlds, there is in every one Something to answer in some proportion;
And yet this death of mine, I fear, All the world's riches : 'and in good men, this
Will ominous to her appear : Virtue, our form's form, and our soul's soul, is.
When sound in every other part,
Her sacrifice is found without an heart. Of thoughts so far-fetched, as to be not only For the last tempest of my death unexpected, but unnatural, all their books are Shall sigh out that too with my breath. full.
That the chaos was harmonized, has been reTO A POÉSIES FOR ŘIN
cited of old; but whence the different sounds
arose remained for a modern to discover: 7 They, who aboye do various circles fiud, Say, like a ring, th equator heaven does bind
Th' ungovern'd parts no correspondence knew; When heaven shall be adorn'd by thee,
An artless wår from thwarting motions grew; (Which then more heav'n than 'tis will be)
Till they to number and fixt rules were brought. 'Tis thou poust write the poesy there,
Water and air he for the Tenor chose, For it wanteth one as yet,
Earth made the Bass; the Treble, flame arose. Then the sun pass through't twice a year,
COWLEY The sun, which is esteem'd the god of wit. AUSTIT) HTT COWLEY,
The tears lovers are always of great poetiThe difficulties which have been raised about cal account; but Donne has extended them into Identity in philosophy, are by Cowley with still worlds. If the lines are not easily understood, möte perplexity applied to Love : they may be read again,
laboratory Five years ago (says' story) 1 708'e you,
On a round ball For which you call me most inconstant now;
A workmans; that hath copies by, can lay Pardon, me, you mistake'tho'man';
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, 19's For I am not the saine that I was then;"
And quickly make that which was nothing allo:
TO A LADY, WHO
Who would imagine it possible that in a very Their conceits were sentiments slight and few lines so many remote ideas could be brought trifling. together?
ON AN INCONSTANT WOMAN
Since 'tis my doom, Love's undershrieve,
Why this reprieve?
By candle's end,
Life's taper out?
He enjoys the calmy sunshine now,
And no breath stirring hears,
No smallest cloud appears.
UPON A PAPER WRITTEN WITH THE JUICE Or
LEMON, AND READ BY THE FIRE.
Nothing yet in thee is seen,
Here buds an L, and there a B,
Here spouts a V, and there a T,
Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples :
By every wind that comes this way,
Send me at least a sigh or two,
In tears I'll waste these eyes,
By love so vainly fed ;
PHYSIC AND CHIRURGERY FOR A LOVER.
All arm'd in brass, the richest dress of war,
Gently, ah gently, madam, touch
That pain must needs be very much,
Cordials of pity give me now, uistili IT
A universal consternation :
THE WORLD AND A CLOCK.
His bloody eyes be hurls round, his sharp paws
Mahol th' inferior
inferior world's fantastic face
Pot into a magazin.
Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took; And sows the coart with stars, and doth prevent,
First her eye kindles other ladies' eyes,
Then from their beams their jewels' lustres rise :
COWLEY. Aud from their jewels torches do take fire, A coal-pit has not often found its poet; but,
And all is warmth, and light, and good desire.
DONNE. that it may not want its due honour, Cleiveland has paralleled it with the sun:
They were in very little care to clothe their The moderate value of our guiltless ore
notions with elegance of dress, and therefore Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore ;
miss the notice and the praise which are often Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine
gained by those who think less, but are more diDeserve more honour than a flaming mine ? ligent to adorn their thoughts. These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be, That a mistress beloved is fairer in idea than Than a few embers, for a deity.
in reality, is by Cowley thus expressed : Had he our pits, the Persian would admire but warm's devotion at our fire ;
Thou in my fancy dost much higher stand, He'd leave the trotting whipster, and prefer
Than woman can be placed by Nature's handa Our profound Vulcan "bove that waggoner.
And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be, For wants he heat, or light? or would have store, To change thee as thou'rt there, for very thee. Of both ? 'tis here: and what can suns give more? Nay, what's the sun, but a different name,
That prayer and labour should co-operate, aro A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flamt!
thus taught by Donne : Then let this trath reciprocally run, * The sun's heaven's coalery, and coal's our 'sun. In none but us are such mix'd engines found,
As hands of double office ; for the ground
We till with them; and them to heaven we raise ;
Who prayerless labours, or, without this, prays, E'er rigg'd, a soul for heaven's discovery,
Doth but one half, that's none. With whom more venturers might boldly dare
By the same author, a common topic, the danVenture their stakes, with him in joy to share..
ger of procrastination, is thus illustrated : P.WEB Their thoughts and expressions were some
-That which I should have begun times grossly absurd, and such no figures or
In my youth's morning, now late must be done;
And I, as giddy travellers must do, license, can reconcile to the understanding
Which stray or sleep all day, and having lost
Light and strength, dark and tired, must then ride A LOVER NEITHER DEAD NOR ALIVE.
post. Then down Tlaid my head Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead, All that man has to do is to live and die; the And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled ; sum of humanity is comprehended by Donne in Ah, sottish soul, said I,
the following lines : When back to its cage again I saw it ily; Fool to resume her broken chain,
Think in how poor a prison thon didst lie, And row her galley bere again I
After enabled but to suck and cry. Fool, to that body to return
Think, when 'twas grown to most, 'twas a poor inn Where it condemn'd and destin'd is to burn !
A pruvince pack'd up in two yards of skin, Once dead, how can it be,
And that usurp'd, or threaten'd with a rage Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee, Of sicknesses, or their true mother, age. That thou should'st come to live it o'er again in me? But think that death hath now enfranchis'd thee;
Thou hast thy expansion now, and liberty ; · LOVER'S HEART, A HAND GRENADO.
Think, that a rusty piece discharg'd is flown
And freely flies ; this to thy soul allow, "Twill tear and blow up all within,
Think thy shell broke, think thy soul hatch'd but Like a
DOW. the ashes, and torn parts, Of both our broken hearts:
They were sometimes indelicate and disgusta Shall out of both one bewone make :
ing. Cowley thus apostrophises beauty: From hers th' allay, from mine the metal take. Vai nu tony any timeCOWLEY.
-Thou tyrant, which leav'st no man free!
Thou subtle thief, from whom nought safe can be! THE POETICAL PROPAGATION OF LIGHT.
Thou 'murtherer, which hast kill'd ; and devil,
which wouldst dann me!
eyes www.edu.* *IIstars Thou who, in many a propriety **** *** **!
is fr for So truly art the sun to me: *