Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fall, that I am yet unable to move or turn my-criticism on the works of Cowley, it is not in-
self in my bed. This is my personal fortune proper to give some account.
here to begin with. And, besides, I can get no The metaphysical poets were men of learning,
money from my tenants, and have my meadows and to show their learning was their whole en-
eaten up every night by cattle put in by my deavour: but, unluckily resolving to show it
neighbours. What this signifies, or may come in rhyme, instead of writing poetry they only
to in time, God knows; if it be ominous, it can wrote verses, and very often such verses as stood
end in nothing else than hanging. Another the trial of the finger better than of the ear;
misfortune has been, and stranger than all the for the modulation was so imperfect that they
rest, that you have broke your word with me, were only found to be verses by counting the
and failed to come, even though you told Mr. syllables.
Bois that you would. This is what they call If the father of criticism has rightly denomi.
monstri simile. I do hope to recover my late nated poetry ríxun Mesjentirà, an imitative art, these
hurt so far within five or six days (though it be writers will, without great wrong, lose their
uncertain yet whether I shall ever recover it,) right to the name of poets; for they cannot be
as to walk about again. And then, methinks, said to have imitated any thing: they neither
you and I and the Dean might be very merry copied nature nor life; neither painted the
upon St. Ann's Hill. You might very conve forms of matter, nor represented the operatious
niently come hither the way of Hampton Town, of intellect.
lying there one night. I write this in pain, and Those however who deny them to be poets,
can say no more: Verbum Sapienti.

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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;

noon.

OLD AGE.

A powerful brand prescribed the date ? Of thine, like Meleager's fate.

Th’antiperistasis of age

More enflamed thy amorons rage.
In the following verses we have an allusion to
a Rabbinical opinion concerning manna ;

Variety I ask not: give me on
To live perpetually upon.,
The person Love does to us fit,

Like manna, has the taste of all in it.
Thus Donne shows his medicinal knowledge
in some encomiastic verses :

No flesh is now the same 'twas then in me,
And that my mind is changed yourself may 890.
The same thoughts to retain still, and intents,
Were more inconstant far: for accidents
Must of all things most strangely inconstant prove,
If from one subject they t'apother move ;
My members then the father members were,
From whence these take their birth which now are

here.
If then this body love wliat th' other did,
"Twere incest, which by nature is forbid.

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,
And virtue and such ingredients, have made

A mithridate, whose operation
Keeps off, or cures what can be done or said.

Though the following lines of Donne, on the
last night of the year, have something in.them
too scholastic, they are not inelegant:
* This' twilight of two years, not påst nor Deres

Some emblem is of me, or I of this,
Who, meteor-like, of stuff and form perplext,

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.
That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot,

Nor trust I this with hopes; and yet scarce true
This bravery is, since these times show'd me you.

DONNE

Hast thou not found each woman's breast

(The land where thou hast travelled)
Either by savages possest,

Or wild, and uninhabited ?
What joy could'st takt, or what repose,
In countries so uncivilized

as those ?
Lust, the scorching dog-star, here

Rages with immcderate heat ;
Whilst Pride, the rugged northern bear,

In others makes the cold too great.
And where these are temperate known,
The soil's all barren sand, or rocky stone.

COWLEY.

A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared to Egypt :

The fate of Egypt I sustain,

And never feel the dew of rain
From clouds which in the head appear;

But all my too much moisture owe
To overflowings of the heart below.

COWLEY.

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
Something to answer in some proportion;
All the world's riches : 'and in good men, this
Virtue, bur form's form, and our soul's soul, is.

And yet this death of mine, I fear,
Will ominous to her appear :
When sound in every other part,
Her sacrifice is found without an heart.
For the last tempest of my

death
Shall sigh out that too with my breath.

Of thoughts so far-fetched, as to be not only unexpected, but 'unnatural, all their books are

full.in

TO A LADY, WHO Walipo

[ocr errors]

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,

manam

An Europe, Afrie, and an Asia, " - ** !
PUT
For I am not the same that I was then;"

And quickly make that which was nothing alle i

[ocr errors]

me)

, Madam, you mistake tho" mən

[blocks in formation]

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?
Why doth my she advowson fly

Incumbency?
To sell thyself dost thou intend

By candle's end,
And hold the contrast thus in doubt,

Life's taper out?
Think but how soon the mirket fails,
Your sex lives faster than the males,
And if to measure age's span,
The sober Julian were th' account of man,
Whilst you live by the fleet Gregorian.

CLEVELAND.

He enjoys the calmy sunshine now,

And do breath stirring hears,
In the clear heaven of thy brow,

No smallest cloud appears.
He sees thee geutle, fair, and gay,
Aud trusts the faithless April of thy May.

COWLEY.

Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples :

UPON A PAPER WRITTEN WITH THE JUICE OL
LEMON, AND READ BY THE FIRE.

110
Nothing yet in thee is seen,
But when a genial heat warms thee within,
A new-born wood of various lines there grow $;

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.

COWLBY.

In tears I'll waste these eyes,

By love so vainly fed ;
So lust of old the Deluge punished.

COWLLY.

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.

COWLZY.

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

artex

Cowla).

A universal consternation:

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

Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took ;
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look
Of life and motion, and with equal art
Made up the whole again of every part.

COWLBY.

And sows the coart with stars, and doth prevent,

In light and power, the all-eyed firmament:
First her eye kindles other ladies' eyes,

Then from their beams their jewels' lustres rise :
And from their jewels torches do take fire,
And all is warmth, and light, and good desire.

DONNE.

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
Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore ;
Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine
Deserve more honour than a flaming mine?
These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be,
Than a few embers, for a deity.
Had be our pits, the Persian would admire
No sun, but warm's devotion" at our fire ;
He'd leave the trotting whipster, and prefer
Our profound Vulcan 'bove that waggoner.
For wants he heat, or light? or would have store,
Of both ? 'tis here: and what can suns give more?
Nay, what's the sun, but in a different name,
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flamt!
Then let this truth reciprocally run,
The sun's heaven's coalery, and coal's our 'sun.

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,
Than woman can be placed by Nature's hands
And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be,
To change thee as thou’rt there, for very thee.

That prayer and labour should co-operate, aro thus taught by Donne :

[ocr errors]

2

[ocr errors]

DBATH, A VOYAGE.

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,
Doth but one half, that's none.

No family
E’er rigg'd, a soul for heaven's discovery,
With whom more venturers might boldly dare
Venture their stakes, with him iņ joy to share.

DONNE.

By the same author, a common topic, the danger of procrastination, is thus illustrated :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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
A LOVER NEITHER DEAD NOR ALIVE.

Light and strength, dark and tired, must then ride

post.
Then down I'laid 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 ; Bum of humanity is comprehended by Donne in
Ah, sottish soul, said I,

the following lines :
When back to its cage again I saw it fly;
Fool to resume her broken chain,

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,
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 oʻer 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
Wo to her stubborn heart, if once mine come

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.

sh COWLEY.

-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.

Like

Thien than nondo klep into a magazin

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »