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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-
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 subsu
tlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks • Now in the possession of Mr. Clark, Alderman his improvement dearly bought, and, though he of London. Dr. J.-Mr. Clark was in 1798 elected
sometimes admires, is seldom pleased. to the important office of Chamberlain of London; and has every year since been unanimously re
From this account of their compositions it elected.-N
will be readily inferred, that they were not
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 successora, itions not limited by exceptions, and in descrip- of whom any remembrance can be said to tions not descending to minuteneșs. 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 metaphorical meaning for nicety of 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 Mil. ties, the prospects of nature, or the scenes of life, ton disdained it. 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 eminentleft 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 conceits, 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 : copied from descriptions, by imitations bor
So clear their colour and divine, rowed from imitations, by traditional imagery,
The very shade they cast did other lights outshine. and hereditary similes, by readiness of rhyme, ON ANACREON CONTINUING A LOVER IN RIN 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 use as beat with fire is join'd;
A powerful brand prescribed the date ? Of thine, like Meleager's fate.
Th’antiperistasis of age
More enflamed thy amorons rage.
Variety I ask not: give me on
Like manna, has the taste of all in it.
No flesh is now the same 'twas then in me,
The love of different women is, in geographical poetry, compared to travels through different countries :
In every thing there natwally grows A balsamum to keep it fresh and new,
If 'twere not injured by extrinsic blows; Your youth and beauty are this balm in yo But
you, of learning and religion,
A mithridate, whose operation
Though the following lines of Donne, on the
Some emblem is of me, or I of this,
Whose what and where in disputation is,
If I should call me any thing, should miss. I sum the years and me, and find me not
Debtor to th' old, nor creditor to th' new.
Nor trust I this with hopes; and yet scarce true
Hast thou not found each woman's breast
(The land where thou hast travelled)
Or wild, and uninhabited ?
as those ?
Rages with immcderate heat ;
In others makes the cold too great.
A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared to Egypt :
The fate of Egypt I sustain,
And never feel the dew of rain
But all my too much moisture owe
Yet more abstruse and profound is Donno's reflection upon
Man as a Microcosm ;
The Lover supposes his Lady acquainted with the ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice:
If men be worlds, there is in every one
And yet this death of mine, I fear,
Of thoughts so far-fetched, as to be not only unexpected, but 'unnatural, all their books are
TO A LADY, WHO Walipo
That the chaos was harmonized, has been re WHO WROTE POESIES FOR RIN cited of old; but whence the different sounds
arose remained for a modern to discovers 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 must 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. PÅÅ HYT 5137 4618! non COWLEY.
The tears of lovers are always of great poeti. udante tri tonna The difficulties which have been raised about 'cal account; þut Donne has extended them into Identity in philosophy are by Cowley with still, worlds. If the lines are not easily understood, more perplexity applied to Love:
they may be read again, Five years ago (says' stórgj 177cf you,
On a round ball For which call me most inconstant now;
* A workman, that hath copies by, can lay Pardon me,
An Europe, Afrie, and an Asia, " - ** !
And quickly make that which was nothing alle i
, Madam, you mistake tho" mən
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 do breath stirring hears,
No smallest cloud appears.
Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples :
UPON A PAPER WRITTEN WITH THE JUICE OL
Here buds an L, and there a B,
Here spouts a V, and there a T, And all the flourishing letters stand in rowe, X.25
COWLEY) As they sought only for novelty, they did not much inquire whether their allusions were to things high or low, elegant or gross: whether they compared the little to the great, or the great to the little.
By every wind that comes this way,
Send me at least a sigh or two, Such and so many I'll repay As shall themselves make wings to get to you.
In tears I'll waste these eyes,
By love so vainly fed ;
PHYSIC AND CHIRURGERY FOR A LOVER.
All arm'd iu brass, the richest dress of war, (A dismal glorious sight I) he shone afar. The sun himself started with sudden fright, To see his beams return so dismal bright.
Gently, ah gently, madam, touch The wound, which you yourself have made ;)
That pain must needs be very much, Which makes me of your hand afraid.
Cordials of pity giveimo now she is a IT For I too weak of purgings grow. Inovat
A universal consternation:
Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took ;
And sows the coart with stars, and doth prevent,
In light and power, the all-eyed firmament:
Then from their beams their jewels' lustres rise :
A coal-pit has not often found its poet; but, that it may not want its due honour, Cleiveland has paralleled it with the sun:
The moderate value of our guiltless ore
They were in very little care to clothe their notions with elegance of dress, and therefore miss the notice and the praise which are often gained by those who think less, but are more diligent to adorn their thoughts.
That a mistress beloved is fairer in idea than in reality, is by Cowley thus expressed :
Thou in my fancy dost much higher stand,
That prayer and labour should co-operate, aro thus taught by Donne :
DBATH, A VOYAGE.
In none but us are such mix'd engines found,
By the same author, a common topic, the danger of procrastination, is thus illustrated :
Their thoughts and expressions were some
That which I should have begun times grossly, absurd, and such as 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
the following lines :
Think in how poor a prison thon didst lie , And row her galley here again!
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 province pack'd up in two yards of skin,
And that usurp'd, or threaten'd with a rage
Thou hast thy expansion now, and liberty;
Think, that a rusty piece discharg'd is flown
In pieces, and the bullet is his own, Into the self-same room ;
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 shot
DOW.14 the ashes, and torn parts, Of both our broken hearts :
They were sometimes indelicate and disgust Shall out of both one bewone make :
ing. Cowley thus apostrophises beauty: From hers th' allay, from mine the metal take.
-Thou tyrant, which leav'st no man free!
: HAI Thou subtle thief, from whom nought safe can be! THX POETICAL PROPAGATION OF LIGHT.
Thou 'murtherer, which hast killd; and devil,
which wouldst dann me! The prince's favour is difus'd o'er all, ts or vale From which all fortunes,inames, and natures fall :)
Thus he addresses his mistress : Then from those wombs of stars, the bride's bright
yes 41WW.Edmu.* *3 linda Thou who, in many a propriety, '; ? At every glance a constellation flies wa MUOTI
he foot So truly art the sun to me, *.4'; 2,27 .w.
Thien than nondo klep into a magazin