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Add one more likeness, which I'm sure you can, Again by death, although sad watch he keep, And let me and my sun beget a man.
Doth practise dying by a little sleep;...
Thou at this midnight secst me. Thus he represents the meditations of a lover :
It must be however confessed of these writers, Though in my thoughts scarce any tracts have been that if they are upon uncommon subjects often So much as of original sin,
unnecessarily and unpoetically subtie; yet, where Such charms thy beauty wears, as might
scholastic speculation can be properly admitted, Desires in dying confest saints excite. Thou with strange adultery
their copiousness and acuteness may justly be Dost in each breast a brothel keep;
admired. What Cowley has written upon Hope Awake all men do lust for thee,
shows an unequalled fertility of invention : : And some enjoy thee when they sleep.
Hope, whose weak being rnin'd is,
Alike if it succeed and if it miss ;
Whom good or ill does equally confound,
And both the horns of Fate's dilemma wound; And take my tears, which are love's wine,
Vain shadow! which dost vanish quite And try your mistress' tears at home;
Both at full noon and perfect night For all are false, that taste not just like mine, The stars have not a possibility
Of blessing thee!
If things then from their end we happy call, This is yet more indelicate :
'Tis Hope is the most hopeless thing of all.
Hope, thou bold taster of delight, As the sweet sweat of roses in a still,
Who, whilst thou should'st but taste, devour'st it As that which from chaf'd musk-cats' pores doth
Thou bring'st us an estate, yet leav'st us poor, trill,
By clogging it with legacies before ! As the alınighty balm of the early East;
The joys which we entire should wed, Such are the sweet drops of my mistress' breast.
Come deflower'd virgins to our bed : And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,
Good fortunes without gain imported be, They seem no sweat-drops, but pearl coronets :
Such mighty custom's paid to thee : Rank, sweaty froth thy mistress' brow defiles
For joy, like wine kept close, does better taste, DONNE.
If it take air before its spirits waste. Their expressions sometimes raises horror, To the following comparison of a man that when they intend perhaps to be pathetic : travels and his wife that stays at home, with a
pair of compasses, it may be doubted whether As men in hell are from diseases free, absurdity or ingenuity has better claim: A
So from all o:her ills am I,
Our two souls, therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet,
A breach, but an expansion, but
Like gold to airy thinness beat. They were not always strictly curious, whether
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff the opinions from which they drew their illus
compasses are two ;, niti trations were true; it was enough that they
Thy soul, the fix’a foot, makes ng show na
To move, but were popular, Bacon remarks, that some
centre sit, falsehoods are continued by tradition, because Yet, when the other far doth foam.gh . they supply commodious allusions.
And though it is 4:14 other do.
And grows erect as that comes home. 'n It gave a piteous groan, and so it broke
Such wilt thou be to me, who must, In vain it something would have spoke ;
Like th other foot obliquely run.**.]. The love witlin too strong for't was, ..."
Thy firmness makes
circle just, Like poison put into a Venice-glass.
Aud makes me end where I begung rit 3:1 COWLEY.
DONNE. In forming descriptions, they looked out, not In all these examples It is apparent, that whatfor images, but for conceits. Night has been a ever is improper or vicious is produced by a yocommon subject, which poets have contended to luntary deviation from nature in pursuit of adorn. Dryden's Night is well known; Donne's something new and stranges and that the write is as follows:
ers fail to give delight by their desire of exciting !
admiration. Thou seest me here at midnight, now all rest;
AYUNT 1.6 107 SAT Time's dead low-water; when all minds divest Having thus endeavoured to exhibit a general mai To-morrow's business ; when the labourers have Such rest in bed, that their last church.yard grave, representation of the style and sentimients of the Xubiect to change, will scarce be a type of this ;
metaphysical pbets; it is now proper to examine Now when the client, whuse last hearing is **
particularly the works of Cowley, who was To-morrow, sleeps; when the condemned man,"
most the last of that race, and undoubtedly the Who, when he opcs his eyes, may shut them then best.
Hls Miscellanies contain a collection of short | to weep himself, and diverts his sorrow by pompositions, written, some as they were dic- imagining how his crown of bays, if he had it, tated by a mind at leisure, and some as they would crackle in the fire. It is the odd fate of were called forth by different occasions, with this thought to be the worse for being true. great variety of style and sentiment, from bur- | The bay leaf crackles remarkably as it burns lesque levity to awful grandeur. Such an as- as therefore this property was not assigned it by semblage of diversified excellence no other poet chance, the mind must be thought sufficiently has hitherto afforded. To choose the best, at ease that could attend to such minuteness of among many good, is one the most hazardous physiology. But the power of Cowley is not so attempts of criticism. I know not whether much to move the affections, as to exercise the Scaliger himself has persuaded many readers to understanding. join with him in his preference of the two fa- The Chronicle is a composition unrivalled vourite odes, which he estimates in his raptures and alone: such gayety of fancy, such facility of at the value of a kingdom. I will, however, expression, such varied similitude, such a suca venture to recommend Cowley's first piece, cession of images, and such a dance of words, it which ought to be inscribed “ To my Muse,' is in vain to expect except from Cowley. His for want of which the second couplet is without strength always appears in his agility; his volareference. When the title is added, there will tility is not the flutter of a light, but the bound still remain a defect; for every piece ought to of an elastic mind. His levity never leaves his contain in itself whatever is necessary to make learning behind it; the moralist, the politician, it intelligible. Pope has some epitaphs with and the critic, mingle their influence even in out names; which are therefore epitaphs to be this airy frolic of genius. To such a perforlet, occupied indeed for the present, but hardly mance, Suckling could have brought the gayety appropriated.
but not the knowledge: Dryden could have The Ode on Wit is almost without a rival. It supplied the knowledge, but not the gayety. was about the time of Cowley that wit, which
The verses to Davenant, which are vigoroushad been till then used for intellection, in contra ly begun, and happily concluded, contain some distinction to will, took the meaning, whatever hints of criticism very justly conceived and hapit be, which it now bears.
pily expressed. Cowley's critical abilities have Of all the passages in which poets have exem
not been sufficier tly observed; the few decisions plified their own precepts, none will easily be and remarks, which his prefaces and his notes found of greater excellence than that in which on the Davideis supply, were at that time acCowley condemns exuberance of wit:
cessions to English literature, and show such
skill as raises our wish for more examples. Yet'tis not to adorn and gild each part,
The lines from Jersey are a very curious and That shows more cost than art.
pleasing specimen of the familiar descending to Jewels at nose and lips but ill appear;
the burlesque. Rather than all things wit, let none be there.
His two metrical disquisitions for and against Soreral lights will not be seen,
Reason, are no mean specimens of metaphysical If there be nothing else between. Men doubt, because they stand 80 thick i' the sky, poetry. The stanzas against knowledge proIf those be stars which paint the galaxy.
duce little conviction. In those which are in.
tended to exalt the human faculties, reason has In his verses to Lord Falkland, whom every its proper task assigned it; that of judging, not man of his time was proud to praise, there are, of things revealed, but of the reality of revelaas there must be in all Cowley's compositions, tion. In the verses for Reason, is a passage some striking thoughts, but they are not well which Bentley, in the only English verses wrought. His elegy on Sir Henry Wotton is which he is known to have written, seems to vigorous and happy; the series of thoughts is have copied, though with the inferiority of an easy and natural; and the conclusion, though a imitator. little weakened by the intrusion of Alexander,
The Holy Book like the eighth sphere doth shine is elegant and forcible.
With thousand lights of truth divine, It may be remarked, that in this Elegy, and So numberless the stars, that to our eye in most of his encomiastic poems, he has forgot
It makes all but one galaxy.
Yet reason must assist too; for, in seas ten or neglected to name his heroes.
So vast and dangerous as these,
Our course by stars above we cannot know much praise, but little passion; a very just and
Without the compass too below, ample delineation of such virtues as a studious privacy admits, and such intellectual excellence After this says Bentley :* misimine knew
how to distinguish, and how to as a mind not yet called forth to action can dis
Who travels in religious jars, play.
Truth mix'd with error, shade with rays, commend, the qualities of his companion; but, when he wishes to make us weep, he forgets • Dodsley's Collection of Poems, vol. V.-R.
Like Whiston wanting pyx or stars,
the plenitude of the writer's knowledge flows io In ocean wide or sinks o: strays.
page, so that the reader is commonly
surprised into some improvement. But, consi. Cowley seems to have had what Milton is be- dered as the verses of a lover, 'no man that hat lieved to have wanted, the skill to rate his own ever loved, will much commend them. They performances by their just value, and has there- are neither courtly nor pathetic, have neither fore closed his Miscellanies with the verses gallantry nor fondness. His praises are too far upon Crashaw, which apparently excel all that sought, and too hyperbolical, either to express have gone before them, and in which there are love or to excite it; every stanza is crowder beauties which common authors may justly with darts and flames, with wounds and deain, think not only above their attainment, but with mingled souls and with broken hearts. above their ambition.
The principal artifice by which The Mistress To the Miscellanies succeed the Anacreontics, is filled with conceits, is very copiously disor paraphrastical translations of some little played by Addison. Love is by Cowley, as by poems, which pass, however justly, under the other poets, expressed metaphorically by flame name of Anacreon. Of these songs dedicated and fire; and that which is true of real fire, is to festivity and gayety, in which, even the mo- said of love, or figurative fire; the same word rality is voluptuous, and which teach nothing in the same sentence retaining both significabut the enjoyment of the present day, he has tions. Thus,“ observing the cold regard of given rather a pleasing, than a hful, repre- his mistress's eyes, and at the same time their sentation, having retained their sprightliness, but power of producing love in him, he considers lost their simplicity. The Anacreon of Cowley, them as burning glasses made of ice. Finding like the Homer of Pope, has admitted the himself able to live in the greatest extremities decoration of some modern graces, by which he of love, he concludes the torrid zone to be habiis undoubtedly more amiable to common readers, table. Upon the dying of a tree on which he and perhaps, if they would honestly declare bad cut his loves, he observes that his flames their own perceptions, to far the greater part of had burnt up and withered the tree. those whom courtesy and ignorance are content
These conceits Addison calls mixed wit; 'that to style the learned.
is, wit which consists of thoughts true in one These little pieces will be found more finished
sense of the expression, and false in the other. in their kind than any other of Cowley's works. Addison's representation is sufficiently indulThe diction shows nothing of the mould of gent: that confusion of images may entertain time, and the sentiments are at no great dis- for a moment; but, being unnatural, it soon tance from our present habitudes of thought. grows wearisome. Cowley delighted in it, as Real mirth must always be natural, and nature much as if he had invented it; but, not to men, is uniform. Men have been wise in very dif- tion the ancients, he might have found it fullferent modes; but they have always laughed blown in modern Italy. Thus Sannazaro: the same way.
Levity of thought naturally produced famili- Aspice quam variis distringar Lesbia curis! arity of language, and the familiar part of lan
Uror, et heul nostro manat ab igne liquor : guage continues long the same: the dialogue of Sum Nilus, sumque Ætna simul; restringite flamma comedy, when it is transcribed from popular O lacrimæ, aut lacrimas ebibe flamma meas.it manners and real life, is read from age to age with equal pleasure. The artifices of inversion, One of the severe theologians of that time by which the established order of words is oensured him as having published a book of prochanged, or of innovation, by which new words fane and lascivious verses. From the charge of or meanings of words are introduced, is prac- profaneness, the constant tenor of tised, not by those who talk to be understood, seems to have been eminently
is life, which but by those who write to be admired.
general tendency of his opinion tuous, and the
'which discover The Anacreontics therefore of Cowley give no irreverence of religion, must defend him; but now all the pleasure which they ever gave. , If that the accusation of lasciviousness is unjust, the he was formed by nature for one kind of writ- perusal of his works will sufficiently evince. ing more than for another, his power seems to Cowley's Mistress has no power of seduction : have been greatest in the familiar and the fes she “ plays round the head; but reaches not the tive.
heart." Her beauty and absence, her kindness The next class of his poems is called The Mis- and cruelty, her disdain and inconstancy, protress, of which it is not necessary to select any duce no correspondence of emotion. His poetiparticular pieces for praise or censure. They cal account of the virtues of plants and colours have all the same beauties and faults, and nearly of flowers, is not perused with more sluggish in the same proportion. They are written with frigidity: The compositions are such as might exuberance of wit, and with copiousness of have been written for penance by a hermit, or learning ; and it is truly asserted by Sprat, that for hire by a philosophical rhymer who had only
Deard of another sex ; for they turn the mind only Nay, 'tis much worse than 80 ; on the writer, whom, without thinking on a It now an artifice does grow woman but as the subject for his task, we some
Wrongs and injuries to do,
Lest men should think we owe. times esteem as learned, and sometimes despise as trilling, always admire as ingenious, and al
It is hard to conceive that a man of 'he first ways condemn as unnatural.
rank in learning and wit, when he was dealing The Pindaric Odes are now to be considered ; out such minute morality in such feeble diction, a species of composition, which Cowley thinks could imagine, either waking or dreaming, that Pancirolus might have counted in “his list of he imitated Pindar. the lost inventions of antiquity,” and which he In the following odes, where Cowley chooses has made a bold and vigorous attempt to re- his own subjects, he sometimes rises to dignity
truly Pindaric; and, if some deficiencies of The purpose for which he has paraphrased language be forgiven, his strains are such as an Olympic and Nemæan Ode is by himself suffi- those of the Theban Bard were to his contemciently explained. His endeavour was, not to poraries : “show precisely what Pindar spoke, but his manner of speaking". He was therefore not at
Begin the song, and strike the living lyre : all restrained to his expressions, nor much to bis Lo how the years to come, a numerous and wellsentiments; nothing was required of him, but
fitted quire, not to write as Pindar would not have written.
All hand in hand do decently advance, Of the Olympic Ode, the beginning is, I think,
And to my song with smooth and equal measure
dance; above the original in elegance, and the conclu
While the dance lasts, how long soe'er it be, sion below it in strength. The connexion is
My music's voice shall bear it company; supplied with great perspicuity; and thoughts,
Till all gentle potes be drown'd which to a reader of less skill seem thrown to- In the last trumpet's dreadful sound. gether by chance, are concatenated without any abruption. Though the English Ode cannot be After such enthusiasm, who will not lament called a translation, it may be very properly con- to find the poet conclude with lines like these: sulted as a commentary.
The spirit of Pindar is indeed not every where But stop, my Museequally preserved. The following pretty lines
Hold thy Pindaric Pegasus closely in,
Which does to rage beginare not such as his deep mouth was used to
-Tis an unruly and a hard mouth'd horsepour !
Twill no uoskilful tonch endure,
But Alings writer and reader too that sits not sure.
The fault of Cowley, and perhaps of all tho
writers of the metaphysical race, is that of purIf in my verse thou take delight,
suing his thoughts to the last ramifications, by My verse, great Rhea's son, which is, which he loses the grandeur of generality; for Lofty as that and smooth as this.
of the greatest things the parts are little ; what In the Nemæan Ode the reader must, in mere
is little can be but pretty, and by claiming justice to Pindar, observe, that whatever is said dignity, becomes ridiculous. Thus all the power of " the original new moon, her tender forehead of description is destroyed by a scrupulous
enumeration; and her horns," is superadded by his paraphrast, when the mind by the mention of particulars
and the force of metaphors is lost, who has many other plays of words and fancy is turned
more upon the original than the seconunsuitable to the original, as
dary sense, more upon that from which the ilThe table, free for every guest,
lustration is drawn than that to which it is apNo doubt will thee admit,
plied. And feast more upon thee, than thou on it.
Of this we have a very eminent example in
the ode, entitled The Muse, who goes to take He sometimes extends bis author's thoughts the air, in an intellectual chariot, to which he without improving them. In the Olympionic, harnesses Fancy and Judgment, Wit and Eloan oath is mentioned in a single word, and Cow' quence, Memory and Invention. How he disley spends three lines in swearing by the Castinguished Wit from Fancy, or how Memory talian stream. We are told of Theron's bounty, 1 could properly contribute to Motion, he has not with a hint that he had enemies, which Cowley explained; we are however content to suppose thus enlarges in rhyming prose :
that he could have justified his own fiction, and
wish to see the Muse begin her career ; but But in this thankless world the giver
there is yet more to be done. Is envied even by the receiver ; "Tis now the cheap and frugal fashion
Let the postilion Nature mount, and let. Rather to hide then own the obligation ;
The coachman Art be set;
And let the airy footmen, running all beride, The reader of this will be inclined to cry out
« Ye critics, say,
Even those who cannot perhaps find in the
Isthmian or Nemæan songs what antiquity has Every mind is now disgusted with this cum- disposed them to expect, will at least see that ber of magnificence; yet I cannot refuse myself they are ill-represented by such puny poetry; the four next lines :
and all will determine that if this be the old
Theban strain, it is not worthy of revival.
Cowley's sentiments must be added the uncer-
tainty and looseness of his measures. He takes And lif-, alas! allows but one ill winter's day.
the liberty of using in any place a verse of any
length, from two syllables to twelve. The lo the same ode, celebrating the power of the
verses of Pindar have, as he observes, very little Muse, he gives her prescience, or, in poetical lan- harmony to a modern ear; yet by examining the guage, the foresight of events hatching in futu. syllables, we perceive them to be regular, and rity; but, having once an egg in his mind, he have reason enough for supposing that the ancannot forbear to show us that he knows what cient audiences were delighted with the sound. an egg contains :
The imitator ought therefore to have adopted
what he found, and to have added what was Thou into the close nests of Time dost peep, And there with piercing eye
wanting; to have preserved a constant return Through the firm shell and the thick white dost spy
of the same numbers, and to have supplied Years to come a-forming-lie,
smoothness of transition and continuity of Close in their sacred secundine asleep.
It is urged by Dr. Sprat, that the “irregu. The same thought is more generally, and there- larity of numbers is the very thing which makes fore more poetically expressed by Casimir, a that kind of poesy fit for all manner of subwriter who has many of the beauties and faults jects.” But he should have remembered, that of Cowley.
what is fit for every thing can fit nothing well,
The great pleasure of verse arises from the Omnibus Mundi Dominator boris
known measure of the lines, and uniform strucAptat urgendas per inane pennas,
ture of the stanzas, by which the voice is reguPars adhuc nido latet, et futurns
lated, and the memory relieved. Crescit in annus.
If the Pindaric style be, what Cowley thinks
it, “the highest and noblest kind of writing in Cowley, whatever was his subject, seems to
verse,” it can be adapted only to high and noble have been carried, by a kind of destiny, to the subjects; and it will not be easy to reconcile light and the familiar, or to conceits which re
the poet with the critic, or to conceive how that quire still more ignoble epithets. A slaughter can be the highest kind of writing in verse, in the Red Sea new dies the water's name ; and which, according to Sprat, “is chiefly to be preEngland, during the civil war, was Albion no ferred for its near affinity to prose.' more, nor to be named from white.
It is sure
This lax and lawless versification so much ly by some fascination not easily surmounted, concealed the deficiencies of the barren, and flatthat a writer, professing to revive the noblest and tered the laziness of the idle, that it immediatehighest, writing in verse, makes this address to ly overspread our books of poetry; all the boys the new year :
and girls caught the pleasing fashion, and they
that could do nothing else, could write like Pin: Nay, if thou lov'st me, gentle year,
dar. The rights of antiquity were invaded, and Let not so much as love be there,
disorder tried to break into the Latin; a poem* Vain fruitless love I mean ; for, gentle year, on the Sheldonian Theatre, in which all kinds Although I fear
of verse are shaken together, is unhappily in. There's of this caution little need,
serted in the “ Musæ Anglicanæ," Pindarisma
• First published in quarto, 1669, under the title of 1 Such love I mean alone
" Carmen Pindaricum in Theatrum Sheldonianum As by thy crnel predecessors ha: been shown ; in solennibus magoifici Operis Encæniis. Recitatum For though I have too much cause to doubt it, Julii die 9, Anno 1669, a Crobetto Owen, A. B. Æd. I fain would try for once, if life can live without it. Chr. Alumno Authore."-R.