Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

fourth book alone was printed; again in 1618, including the whole collection; and a third time in 1625, small 8vo. The poetical merit of these pieces is very trifling, but they throw light upon contemporary character and manners.


22. JONSON, BENJAMIN. Of this celebrated poet, the friend and companion of Shakspeare, a very brief notice, and limited to his minor pieces, will here be necessary, as his dramatic works and some circumstances of his life will hereafter occupy their due share of attention. His poems were divided by himself into Epigrams," "The Forest,"*"Under-woods," and a translation of “ Horace's Art of Poetrie;" to which his late editors have added, "Miscellaneous Pieces." The general cast of these poems is not such as will recommend them to a modern ear; they are but too often cold and affected; but occasionally, instances of a description the very reverse of these epithets are to be found, where simplicity and beauty of expression constitute the prominent features. It is chiefly, if not altogether, among his minor pieces in the lyric measure that we meet with this peculiar neatness and concinnity of diction: thus, in The Forest," the lines from Catullus, beginning "Come, my Celia, let us prove," and the well-known


"Drink to me only with thine eyes ;"

in the Underwoods," the stanzas commencing

and, among his “

"For Love's sake kisse me once again ;"
"Or scorne, or pittie on me take;"

Songs," these with the initial lines

[ocr errors]

"Queene and huntresse, chaste and faire;"
"Still to be neat, still to be drest;"

are striking proofs of these excellencies.

We must also remark that, among his "Epistles" and "Miscellaneous Pieces,” there are discoverable a few very conspicuous examples of the union of correct and nervous sentiment with singular force and dignity of elocution. Of this happy combination, the lines to the Memory of Shakspeare, an eulogium which will claim our attention in a future page, may be quoted as a brilliant model.

23. LODGE, THOMAS, M. D. This gentleman, though possessing celebrity, in his day, as a physician, is chiefly entitled to the attention of posterity as a poet. He was a native of Lincolnshire, and born about 1556; educated at Oxford, of which he became a member about 1573, and died of the plague at London, in September, 1625. He has the double honour of being the first who published, i our language, a Collection of Satires, so named, and of having suggested to Shakspeare the plot of his As You Like It. Philips, in his Theatrum Poetarum, characterises him as 66 one of the writers of those pretty old pastoral songs, which were very much the strain of those times;" but as strangely overlooked his satirical powers; these, however, have been noticed by Meres, who remarks, that “as Horace, Lucilius, Juvenal, Persius and Lucullus are the best for Satyre among the Latins, so with us in the same faculty, these are chiefe: Piers Plowman, Led., Hall of Emmanuel Colledge in Cambridge, the author of Pigmalion's Image, etc.† The work which gives ita precedence, as a writer of professed satires, is entitled "A Fig for Momus; containing pleasant Varietie, included in satyrs, Eclogues, and Epistles, by T. L. of Lincolnes Inne, Gent." 1595. It is dedi cated to "William, Earle of Darbie," and though published two years before the

The popularity of these epigrams, notwithstanding their poetical mediocrity, may be estimated from the opinion of the publisher of the edition of 1625. “If in poetry," he remarks, heraldry were admities, he would be found in happiness of wit near allied to the great Sidney: yet but near; for the Apix of the Coelum Empyrium is not more inaccessible, than is the height of Sidney's poesy, which by imagiales may approach, by imitation never attain to."-Vide Nuga Antique, vol. i. p. xxiii. Ibid. 115.

Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. ü. p. 114.


appearance of Hall's Satires, possesses a spirit, ease and harmony, which that more celebrated poet has not surpassed. Than the following lines, selected from the first satire, we know few which, in the same department, can establish a better claim to vigour, truth, and melody :

"All men are willing with the world to haulte,

But no man takes delight to knowe his faulte

Tell bleer-eid Linus that his sight is cleere,

Heele pawne himselfe to buy thee bread and beere ;-

Find me a niggard that doth want the shift

To call his cursed avarice good thrift;

A rakehell sworne to prodigalitie,

That dares not terme it liberalitie;

A letcher that hath lost both flesh and fame,
That holds not letcherie a pleasant game:-
Thus with the world, the world dissembles still,
And to their own confusions follow will,
Holding it true felicitie to flie,

Not from the sinne, but from the seeing eie."*

The debt of Shakspeare to our author is to be found in a pamphlet entitled "Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacie, found after his Death in his Cell at Silexdra, by T. L. Gent." The poetical pieces interspersed through this tract correspond with the character given of Lodge's composition by Phillips; for they are truly pastoral, and are finished in a style of great sweetness, delicacy, and feeling. Want of taste, or want of intimacy with this production, has induced Mr. Steevens to give a very improper estimate of it; "Shakspeare," he remarks, "has followed Lodge's novel more exactly than is his general custom when he is indebted to such worthless originals; and has sketched some of his principal characters, and borrowed a few expressions from it."

The poetry of Lodge is to be gleaned from his pamphlets; particularly from the two which we have mentioned, and from the two now to be enumerated, namely, "Phillis: honoured with pastorall sonnets, elegies and amorous delights. Whereunto is annexed, the tragicall complaynt of Elstred," 1593, 4to, and "A most pleasant historie of Glaucus and Scilla: with many excellent poems, and delectable sonnets," 1610, 4to. He contributed, likewise, to the Collection termed The Phoenix Nest," 1593, and " England's Helicon," 1600; and in the Preface, by Sir Egerton Brydges, to the third edition of the latter Miscellany, so just a tribute is paid to his genius as imperatively demands insertion; more particularly if we consider the obscurity into which this poet has fallen. “In ancient writings,' observes the critic," we frequently meet with beautiful passages; but whole compositions are seldom free from the most striking inequalities; from inharmonious verses; from lame, or laboured and quaint expressions; and creeping or obscure thoughts. In Lodge we find whole pastorals and odes, which have all the ease, polish, and elegance of a modern author. How natural is the sentiment, and how sweet the expression of the following in Old Damon's Pastoral :'

Homely hearts do harbour quiet;

Little fear, and mickle solace;
States suspect their bed and diet;
Fear and craft do haunt the palace.
Little would I, little want I,

Where the mind and store agreeth;
Smallest comfort is not scanty;
Least he longs that little seeth.

"How charmingly he breaks out in The

Time hath been that I have longed,
Foolish I to like of folly,

To converse where honour thronged,
To my pleasures linked wholly:
Now I see, and seeing sorrow

That the day consum'd returns not:
Who dare trust upon to-morrow,
When nor time nor life sojourns not!"
Solitary Shepherd's Song:'-

"O shady vale, O fair enriched meads,

O sacred flowers, sweet fields, and rising mountains;
O painted flowers, green herbs where Flora treads,
Refresh'd by wanton winds and watry fountains!"

Vide Beloe on Scarce Pooks, vol. ii. p. 115–117.

"Is there one word or even accent obsolete in this picturesque and truly peetical stanza?

"But if such a tender and moral fancy be ever allowed to trifle, is there any thing of the same kind in the whole compass of English poetry more exquisite, more delicately imagined, or expressed with more finished and happy artifice of language, than Rosalind's Madrigal, beginning

[ocr errors]

"Love in my bosom, like a bee,

Doth suck his sweet:

Now with his wings he plays with me,
Now with his feet.

Within mine eyes he makes his rest;

His bed amidst my tender breast;
My kisses are his daily feast;

And yet he robs me of my rest.

Ah, wanton, will ye?"—

Compare Dr. Lodge not only with his contemporaries but his successors, and who, except Breton, has so happily anticipated the taste, simplicity, and purity of the most refined age."

Beside his miscellaneous poetry, Lodge published two dramatic pieces,† and may be considered as a voluminous prose writer. Seven of his prose tracts are described by Mr. Beloe, and he translated the works of Josephus and Luc. An. Seneca.

24. MARLOW, CHRISTOPHER. As the fame of this poet, though once in high repute as a dramatic writer, is now supported merely by one of his miscellaneous pieces, which is, indeed, of exquisite beauty, it has been thought necessary briefly to introduce him here, a more extended notice being deferred to a subse quent page. His earliest attempt appeared in 1587, when he was about twentyfive years of age, in a Translation of Coluthus's Rape of Helen into English rhyme. This was followed by "Certaine of Ovid's Elegies," licensed in 1593, but not printed until 1596. His next and happiest version was given to the public in 1598, under the title of "The Loves of Hero and Leander," being, like the preceding, a posthumous publication: for the author died prematurely in 1593, leaving this translation, of which the original is commonly but erroneously ascribed to Musæus, unfinished. Phillips, in his character of Marlow, comparin him with Shakspeare, says, that he resembled him not only in his dramat circumstances, but also because in his begun poem of Hero and Leander, he seems to have a resemblance of that clean and unsophisticated wit, which is natural to that incomparable poet." Marlow translated also "Lucans firs booke, line for line," in blank verse, which was licensed in 1593, and printed in 1600; but the production which has given him a claim to immortality, and which has retained its popularity even to the present day, first made its appearance in England's Helicon," under the appellation of The Passionate Shepheard to his Love." Of an age distinguished for the excellence of its rural poetry, th's is, without doubt, the most admirable and finished pastoral.


25. MARSTON, JOHN, who has a claim to introduction here, from his powers as a satirical poet. In 1598, he published "The Metamorphosis, or Pigmalion's Image. And certaine Satyres." Of these the former is an elegant and lusu, rious description of a well-known fable, and to this sportive effusion Shakspeare seems to allude in his Measure for Measure, where Lucio exclaims, "What, is there none of Pygmalion's images, newly made woman, to be had now?" (Act. iii. sc. 2.) His fame as a satirist was established the year following, by the appearance of his "Scourge of Villanie. Three Bookes of Satyres."

A reprint of these pieces was given to the world by Mr. Bowles, in the

* British Biblographer, No. 11. Preface to England's Helicon, p. 6, 7. Biographia Dramatica, vol. i. p. 287. edit. 1782.

Vol. ii. p. 159. et seq.

year 1764, who terms the author the "British Persius," and adds, that very little is recorded of him with certainty, "Antony a Wood," he remarks, "who is generally exact in his accounts of men, and much to be relied upon, is remarkably deficient with respect to him; indeed there seems to be little reason to think he was of Oxford: it is certain from his works, that he was of Cambridge, where he was contemporary with Mr. Hall, with whom, as it appears from his satyre, called Reactio, and from the Scourge of Villanie, sat. 10, he had some dispute. -It has not been generally known who was the author of Pigmalion and the five satyres but that they belong to Marston is clear from the sixth and tenth satyres of the Scourge of Villanie: and to this may be added the evidence of the collector of England's Parnassus, printed 1600, who cites the five first lines of the Dedication to opinion, prefixed to Pigmalion by the name of J. Marston, p. 221."

"These satyres," says Mr. Warton, "in his observations on Spenser, contain many well drawn characters, and several good strokes of a satirical genius, but are not, upon the whole, so finished and classical as Bishop Hall's: the truth is, they were satirists of a different cast: Hall turned his pen against his contemporary writers, and particularly versifiers; Marston chiefly inveighed against the growing foibles and vices of the age."

There is undoubtedly a want of polish in the satirical muse of Marston, which seems, notwithstanding, the result rather of design than inability; for the versification of "Pigmalion's Image," is in many of its parts highly melodious. Strength, verging upon coarseness, is, however, the characteristic of the "Scourge of Villanie," and may warrant the assertion of the author of "The Returne from Parnassus," that he was "a ruffian in his stile." Yet he is highly complimented by Fitz-Geoffry, no mean judge of poetical merit, who declares that he is

"satyrarum proxima primæ,

Primaque, fas primas si numerare duas."†

26. NICCOLS, RICHARD. This elegant poet was born in 1584, was entered of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1602, and took his bachelor's degree in 1606. In 1607, he published "The Cuckow, a Poem," in the couplet measure, which displays very vivid powers of description. His next work was a new and enlarged edition of The Mirror for Magistrates," dated 1610, and to which, as a third and last part, he has added, with a distinct title, "A Winter Night's Vision. Being an Addition of such Princes, especially famous, who were exempted in the former Historie. By Richard Niccols, Oxon. Magd. Hall, etc." This supplement consists of an Epistle to the Reader, a Sonnet to Lord Charles Howard, an Induction, and the Lives of King Arthur; Edmund Ironside; Prince Alfred; Godwin, Earl of Kent; Robert Curthose; King Richard the First; King John; King Edward the Second; the two young Princes murdered in the Tower, and King Richard the Third; a selection, to which, with little accordancy, he has subjoined, in the octave stanza, a poem entitled "England's Eliza: or the victorious and triumphant reigne of that virgin empresse of sacred memorie, Elizabeth Queene of Englande, etc." This is preceded by a Sonnet to Lady Elizabeth Clere, and Epistle to the Reader, and an Induction.

Niccols' addition to this popular series of Legends merits considerable praise, exhibiting many touches of the pathetic, and several highly-wrought proofs of a strong and picturesque imagination. In the Legend of Richard the Third, he appears to have studied with great effect the Drama of Shakspeare.

In 1615, our author published "Monodia: or, Waltham's Complaint upon the Death of the most virtuous and noble Lady, late deceased, the Lady Honor Hay;" and in the subsequent year, an elaborate poem, under the title of "London's Artillery, briefly containing the noble practise of that worthie Societie; with the

• Ancient British Drama, vol i. p. 49.

Affaniæ, lib. ii. Ad Johannem Marstonium.

moderne and ancient martiall exercises, natures of armes, vertue of Magistrates, Antiquitie, Glorie and Chronographie of this honourable Cittie." 4to. This work, dedicated to "the Right Honourable Sir John Jolles, Knight, Lord Maior," etc. is introduced by two Sonnets, a Preface to the Reader, and a metrical Induction; it consists of ten cantos, in couplets, with copious illustrative notes; but, in point of poetical execution, is greatly inferior to his Cuckow, and Winter Night's Vision. Niccols, after residing several years at Oxford, left that University for the capital, where, records Wood, he "obtained an employment suitable to his faculty."

27. RALEIGH, SIR WALTER. Of this great, this high-minded, but unfortunate man, it will not be expected that, in his military, naval, or political character, any detail should here be given; it is only with Sir Walter, as a poet, that we are at present engaged, and therefore, after stating that he was born in 1552, at Hayes Farm, in the parish of Budley in Devonshire, and that, to the eternal disgrace of James the First, he perished on a scaffold in 1618, we proceed to record the singular circumstance, that, until the year 1813, no lover of our literature has thought it necessary to collect his poetry. The task, however, has at length been performed, in a most elegant and pleasing manner, by Sir Egerton Brydges, and we have only to regret that the pieces which he has been able to throw together, should prove so few. Yet we may be allowed to express some surprise, that two poems quoted as Sir Walter's in Sir Egerton's edition of Phillips's "Theatrum Poetarum," should not have found a place in this collection. Of these, the first is attributed to Raleigh, on the authority of MSS. in the British Museum, and is entitled, "Sir Walter Raleigh in the Unquiet Rest of his last Sickness," a production equally admirable for its sublimity and Christian morality, and for the strength and concinnity of its expression; the second, of which the closing couplet is quoted by Puttenham as our author's, is given entire by Oldys from a transcript by Lady Isabella Thynne, where it is designated as "The Excuse written by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger years," and though vitiated by conceit, appears to be well authenticated. These, together with two fragments preserved by Puttenham, would have proved welcome additions to the volume, and, with the exception of his "Cynthia," a poem in praise of the Queen, and now lost, might probably have included all that has been attributed to the muse of Raleigh.

The poetry of our bard seems to have been highly valued in his own days; Puttenham says, that "for dittie and amorous ode, I finde Sir Walter Rawleygh's vayne most loftie, insolent, and passionate;" and Bolton affirms, that "the English poems of Sir Walter Raleigh are not easily to be mended;" ‡ opinions which, even in the nineteenth century, a perusal of his poems will tend to confirm. Of vigour of diction, and moral energy of thought, the pieces entitled, “A Description of the Country's Recreations;" a "Vision upon the Fairy Queen;" the "Farewell," and the Lines written in "his last Sickness," may be quoted as exemplars: and for amatory sweetness, and pastoral simplicity, few efforts will be found to surpass the poems distinguished as "Phillida's Love-call;" "The Shepherd's Description of Love;" the "Answer to Marlow," and "The Silent Lover."

The general estimate of Raleigh as a poet, has been sketched by Sir E. Brydzes with his usual felicity of illustration, and as theimpression with which he has favoured the public is very limited, and must necessarily soon become extremely scarce, a transcript from this portion of his introductory mattter will have its due value with the reader.

"Do I pronounce Raleigh a poet? Not, perhaps, in the judgment of a severe criticism. Raleigh, in his better days, was too much occupied in action to have cultivated all the powers of a poet, which require solitude and perpetual meditation, and a refinement of sensibility, such as intercourse with business and the world deadens!

* "The Poems of Sir Walter Raleigh: now first collected. With a Biographical and Critical Latroduction:" Dedicated to William Bolland. Esq.

Arte of English Poesie, reprint, p 165, 167.

Phillips's Theatrum apud Brydges, p. 269.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »