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for Magistrates," first published in 1559, he contributed "The Legend of Jane Shore," which he afterwards augmented in his "Challenge," by the addition of twenty-one stanzas; this is perhaps the best of his poetical labours, and contains several good stanzas. His Worthiness of Wales," also, first published in 1587, and reprinted a few years ago, is entitled to preservation. This painstaking author, as Ritson aptly terms him, died poor on April 4th, 1604, after a daily exertion of his pen, in the service of the Muses, for nearly sixty years.
7. CONSTABLE, HENRY, of whom little more is personally known, than that he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1579;* that he was compelled to leave his native country from a zealous attachment to the Roman Catholic religion, and that venturing to return, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but released towards the close of 1604. Constable possessed unrivalled reputation with his contemporaries as a writer of sonnets; Jonson terms his muse "ambrosiack;" in "The Return from Parnassus," 1606, we are told that
"Sweet Constable doth take the wondring ear
and Bolton calls him "a great master in English tongue," and adds, "nor had any gentleman of our nation a more pure, quick, or higher delivery of conceit; witness, among all other, that Sonnet of his before his Majesty's Lepanto." In consequence of these encomia more modern authors have prolonged the note of praise; Wood describes him as "a noted English poet;" Hawkins, as the "first, or principal sonnetteer of his time," and Warton, as "a noted sonnet-writer."
To justify the reputation thus acquired, we have two collections of his sonnets still existing; one published in 1594, under the title of "Diana, or the excellent conceitful sonnets of H. C., augmented with divers quatorzains of honorable and learned personages, devided into viij Decads ;" and the other a manuscript in the possession of Mr. Todd, consisting of sonnets divided into three parts, each part containing three several arguments, and every argument seven sonnets.
From the specimens which we have seen of his Diana, and from the sonnet extracted by Mr. Todd from the manuscript collection, there can be little hesitation in declaring, that the reputation which Constable once enjoyed, was built upon no stable foundation, and that mediocrity is all which the utmost indulgence of the present age can allow him.
8. DANIEL, SAMUEL, a poet and historian of no small repute, was born near Taunton, in Somersethire, in 1562. Having received a classical education at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and being afterwards enabled to pursue his studies under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke's family, he became the most correct poet of his age. He commenced author as early as 1585, by a translation of Paulus Jovius's Discourse of rare Inventions; but his first published poems appear to have been his Delia, a collection of Sonnets, with the complaint of Rosamond, 1592. He continued to write until nearly the close of his life, for the Second Part of his History of England was published in 1618, and he died on the 14th of October, 1619. Of the poetry of Daniel, omitting for the present all notice of his dramatic works, the most important are his "Sonnets to Delia," the "History of the Civil war," the "Complaint of Rosamond," and the "Letter from Octavia to Marcus Antonius ;" the remainder consisting of occasional pieces, and principally of Epistles to his friends and patrons.
The Sonnets are not generally constructed on the legitimate or Petrarcan model; but they present us with some beautiful versification and much pleasing imagery,
The The "Civil Wars between the two houses of Lancaster and York," the first four books of which were published in 1595, and the eighth and last in 1609, form the magnum opus of Daniel, and to which he looked for fame with posterity. That be has been disappointed, must be attributed to his having too rigidly adhered to at the truth of history; for aspiring rather at the correctness of the annalist than the fancy of the poet, he rarely attempts the elevation of his subject by any a flight of imagination, or digressional ornaments. Sound morality, prudential kar wisdom, and occasional touches of the pathetic, delivered in a style of then un
equalled chastity and perspicuity, will be recognised throughout his work; but neither warmth, passion, nor sublimity, nor the most distant trace of enthusiasm be can be found to animate the mass. In the "Complaint of Rosamond," and in 154 the "Letter from Octavia," he has copied the manner of Ovid, though with more tenderness and pathos than are usually found in the pages of the Roman. Par In short, purity of language, elegance of style, and harmony of versification, together with an almost perfect freedom from pedantry and affectation, and a continual flow of good sense and just reflection, form the merits of Daniel, and resting on these qualities he is entitled to distinguished notice, as an improver of our diction and taste; but to the higher requisites of his art, to the fire and invenaston of the creative bard, he has few pretensions.
Daniel was the intimate friend of Shakspeare, Marlowe, Chapman, Camden, and Cowel; and was so highly esteemed by the accomplished Anne, Countess of Pembroke, that she not only erected a monument to his memory in Beckington church, Somersestshire, but in a full length of herself, at Appleby Castle in Cumberland, had a small portrait of her favourite poet introduced. This partiality seems to have sprung from a connection not often productive of attachment; Daniel had been her tutor when she was only thirteen years old, and in his poem he addresses an epistle to her at this early age, which, as Mr. Park has justly said, "deserves entire perusal for its dignified vein of delicate admonition." al: "Dissatisfied with the opinions of his contemporaries as to his poetical merit, which appears to have been similar to the estimate that we have just given, he relinquished the busy world, and spent the closing years of his life in the cultivation of a farm.
9. DAVIES, SIR JOHN, was born at Chisgrove in Wiltshire, in 1570. Though a lawyer of great eminence, he is chiefly known to posterity through the medium of his poetical works. His "Nosce Teipsum," or poem on the Immortality of the Soul, on which his fame rests, was published in 1599, and not only secured him the admiration of his learned contemporaries, among whom may be recorded the great names of Camden, Harrington, Jonson, Selden, and Corbet, but accelerated his professional honours; for being introduced to James in Scotland, in order to congratulate him on his accession to the throne of England, the king, on hearing his name, enquired if he was Nosce Teipsum ?" and being answered in the affirmative, graciously embraced him, and took him into such favour, that he soon made him his Solicitor, and then Attorney-General in Ireland. Besides this philosophical poem, the earliest of which our language can boast, Sir John printed, in 1596, a series of Epigrams, which were published at Middleburg, at the close of Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Epistles, and in the same year the first edition of his "Orchestra, or a poeme of dauncing;" these, with twenty-six acrostics on the words Elizabetha Regina, printed in 1599, and entitled Hymns of Astræa," complete the list of his publications.
His "Nosce Teipsum" is a piece of close reasoning in verse, peculiarly harmonious for the period in which it appeared. It possesses, also, wit, ingenuity, vigour and condensation of thought, but exhibits few efforts of imagination, and nothing that is either pathetic or sublime. In point of argument, metaphysical acuteness and legitimate deduction, the English poet is, in every respect, superior to his classical model Lucretius; but how greatly does he fall beneath the fervid genius and creative fancy of the Latian bard!
Sir John died suddenly on the 7th of December, 1626, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.
10. DAVORS, JOHN. Of this poet little more is known, than that he published, in 1613, the following work; "The Secrets of Angling; teaching the choicest Tooles, Baits, and Seasons, for the taking of any Fish, in Pond or River: practised and familiarly opened in three Bookes." 12mo.
Upon a subject so technical and didactic, few opportunities for poetical imagery might naturally be expected; but Davors has most happily availed himself of those which occurred, and has rendered his poem, in many places, highly interest ing by beauty of sentiment and warmth of description. A lovely specimen of his powers may be found in the "Complete Angler" of Isaac Walton, and the following invocation, from the opening of the First Book, shall be given as a further proof of the genuineness of his inspiration, and with this additional re mark, that his versification is throughout singularly harmonious :
You Nimphs that in the springs and waters sweet,
While Progne's sister tels her wofull tale:
And thou, sweet Boyd, that with thy wat'ry sway
A second edition of "The Secrets of Angling," "augmented with many ap proved experiments," by W. Lawson, was printed in 1652, and a third would be acceptable even in the present day.
11. DONNE, JOHN, D.D. The greater part of the poetry of this prelate, though not published, was written, according to Ben Jonson, before he was twenty-five years of age; and as he was born in London in 1573, he must consequently be ranked as a bard of the sixteenth century. His poems consist of elegies, satires, letters, epigrams, divine poems, and miscellaneous pieces, and procured for him, among his contemporaries, through private circulation and with the public when printed, during the greater part of the seventeenth century, an extraordinary share of reputation. A more refined age, however, and a more chastised taste, have very justly consigned his poetical labours to the shelf of the philologer. A total want of harmony in versification, and a total want of simplicity both in thought and expression, are the vital defects of Donne. Wit he has in abundance, and even erudition, but they are miserably misplaced; and even his amatory pieces exhibit little else than cold conceits and metaphysical subtleties. He may be con sidered as one of the principal establishers of a school of poetry founded on the worst Italian model, commencing towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, continued to the decease of Charles the Second, and including among its most brilliant cultivators the once popular names of Crashaw, Cleveland, Cowley, and Sprat. Dr. Donne died in March, 1631, and the first edition of his poems was published by his son two years after that event.
12. DRAYTON, MICHAEL, of an ancient family in Leicestershire, was born in the village of Harshul, in the parish of Atherston, in Warwickshire, in 1563, This voluminous and once highly-popular poet has gradually sunk into a state of undeserved oblivion, from which he can alone be extricated by a judicious selection from his numerous works. These may be classed under the heads of historical, topographical, epistolary, pastoral, and miscellaneous poetry. The first includes his "Barons Warres," first published in 1596 under the title of " Mortimeriades; the lamentable Civil Warres of Edward the Second, and the Barons;" his "Legends," written before 1598 and printed in an octavo edition of his poems in 1613, and his "Battle of Agincourt." It cannot be denied that in these pieces there are occasional gleams of imagination, many just reflections, and many laboured descriptions, delivered in perspicuous language, and generally in smooth versification; but they do not interest the heart or elevate the fancy; they are tediously
and minutely historical, void of passion, and, for the most part, languid and prosaic. The second department exhibits the work on which he rested his hopes of immortality, the elaborate and highly-finished "Poly-olbion," of which the first eighteen songs made their appearance in 1612, accompanied by the very erudite notes of Selden, and the whole was completed in thirty parts in 1622. The chief defect in this singular poem results from its plan; to describe the woods, mountains, vallies, and rivers of a country, with all their associations, traditionary, historical, and antiquarian, forms a task which no genius, however exalted, could mould into an interesting whole, and the attempt to enliven it by continued personification has only proved an expedient which still further taxes the patience of the reader. It possesses, however, many beauties which are poetically great; numerous delineations which are graphically correct, and a fidelity with regard to its materials so unquestioned, as to have merited the reference of Hearne and Wood, and the praise of Gough, who tells us that the Poly-olbion has preserved many circumstances which even Camden has omitted. It is a poem, in short, which will always be consulted rather for the information that it conveys, than for the pleasure that it produces.
To "England's Heroical Epistles," which constitute the third class, not much praise can now be allotted, notwithstanding they were once the most admired of the author's works. Occasional passages may, it is true, be selected, which merit approbation for novelty of imagery and beauty of expression; but nothing can atone for their wanting what, from the nature of the subjects chosen, should have been their leading characteristic-pathos.
Itischiefly as a pastoral poet that Drayton will live in the memory of his countrymen. The shepherd's reed was an early favourite; for in 1593 he published his "Idea: the Shepherd's Garland, fashioned in nine Eglogs: and Rowland's Sacrifice to the nine Muses," which were reprinted under the title of Pastorals, and with the addition of a tenth eclogue. His attachment to rural imagery was nearly as durable as his existence; for the year previous to his death he brought forward another collection of pastorals, under the title of "The Muses Elisium." Of these publications, the first is in every respect superior, and gives the author a very high rank among rural bards; his descriptions are evidently drawn from nature; they often possess a decided originality, and are couched in language pure and unaffected, and of the most captivating simplicity.
The miscellaneous productions of Drayton include a vast variety of pieces; odes, elegies, sonnets, religious effusions, etc. etc. To specify the individual merit of these would be useless; but among them are two which, from their peculiar value, call for appropriate notice. A most playful and luxuriant imagination is displayed to much advantage in the "Nymphidia, or The Court of Fairy," and an equal degree of judgment, together with a large share of interest, in the poem addressed to his loved friend Henry Reynolds," On Poets and Poesy." These, with the first collection of pastorals, part of the second, and some well-chosen extracts from his bulkier works, would form a most fascinating little volume. Drayton died on December 23, 1631, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. DRUMMOND, WILLIAM. The birth of this truly elegant poet is placed at Hawthornden in Scotland, on the 13th of December, 1585, and the publication of the first portion of his Sonnets, in 1616, entitles him to due notice among these critical sketches.
A disappointment of the most afflictive nature, for death snatched from him the object of his affection almost immediately after she had consented to be his, has given a peculiar and very pathetic interest to the greater part of his poetical compositions, which are endeared to the reader of sensibility by the charm resulting from a sincere and never-dying regret for the memory of his earliest love.
His poetry, which has never yet been properly arranged, consists principally of poems of a lyrical cast, including sonnets, madrigals, epigrams, epitaphs, misrellanies, and divine poems.
Of these classes, the first and second exhibit numerous instances of a versification decidedly more polished and elegant than that of any of his contemporaries, and to this technical merit is frequently to be added the still more rare and valuable distinctions of beauty of expression, simplicity of thought, delicacy of sentiment, and tenderness of feeling. Where he has failed, his faults are to be attributed to the then prevailing taste for Italian concetti; to the study of Marino, and his French imitators, Bellay and Du Barta. These deviations from correct taste are, however, neither frequent nor flagrant,, and are richly atoned for by strains of native genius, and the felicities of unaffected diction.
Drummond was the intimate friend of Drayton, the Earl of Stirling, and Ben Jonson; the latter holding him in such estimation as to undertake a journey to Scotland on foot, solely for the purpose of enjoying his company and conversation. How far this meeting contributed to enhance their mutual regard, is doubtful; no two characters could be more opposed, the rough ness and asperity of Jonson ill according with the elegant manners of the Scottish poet, whose manuscript memoranda relative to this interview plainly intimate his disapprobation of the disposition and habits of his celebrated guest; but unfor tunately, at the same time, display a breach of confidence, and a fastidiousness of temper, which throw a shade over the integrity of his own friendship, and the rectitude of his own feelings.
This accomplished bard died on the 4th of December, 1649, aged sixty-three, and though his poems were republished by Phillips, the nephew of Milton, in 1656, with a high encomium on his genius, he continued so obscure, that in 1675, when the Theatrum Poetarum of the same critic appeared, he is said to be "u terly disregarded and laid aside;" a fate which, strange as it may seem, has, unti these few years, almost completely veiled the merit of one of the first poets the sister kingdom.
14. FAIREFAX, EDWARD. The singular beauty of this gentleman's translation Ir of Tasso, and its influence on English versification, demand a greater share of notice than is due to any poetical version preceding that of Pope. He was the son of Sir Thomas Fairefax, of Denton in Yorkshire, and early cultivating the enjoyment of rural and domestic life, retired with the object of his affections to Newhall, in the parish of Fuyistone, in Knaresborough forest, where he usefully occupied his time in the education of his children, and the indulgence of literary pursuits. His " Godfrey of Bulloigne," the work which has immortalized his name, was written whilst he was very young, was published in 1600, and dedi➡ cated to Queen Elizabeth.
This masterly version, which for the last half century has been most unde servedly neglected, has not hitherto been superseded by any posterior attempt Though rendered line by line, and in the octava stanza of the Italians, it possesses an uncommon share of elegance, vigour, and spirit, and very frequently exhibits the facility and raciness of original composition. That it contributed essentially towards the improvement of our versification, may be proved from the testimony of Dryden and Waller, the former declaring him superior in harmony even to Spenser, and the latter confessing that he owed the melody of his numbers to a studious imitation of his metrical skill.
It is greatly to be regretted that the original poetry of Fairefax, with the exception of one piece, has been suffered to perish. It consisted of a poetical his tory of the Black Prince, and twelve Eclogues, of which the fourth is preserved by Mrs. Cooper in her Muses' Library. This lady informs us that the eclogues
* Dr. Johnson was of opinion that the translation of Mr. Hoole would entirely supersede the labours of Fairefax. With no discriminating judge of poetry, however, will this ever be the case; there is a tameness and mediocrity in the version of Mr. Hoole, which must always place it far beneath the spirited copy of the elder bard. Had Mr. Brookes completed the Jerusalem with the same harmony and vigour which he had exhibited in the first three books, a desideratum in English literature had been supy and the immortal poem of Tasso had appeared clothed in diction and numbers worthy of the most polished era of our poetry.