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Who of itself continues constant still,
Thy large smooth forehead wrinkled shall appear;
Vermilion hue to pale and wan shall turn; Time shall deface what youth hath held most dear; Yea, those clear eyes, which once my heart did
burn, Shall in their hollow circles lodge the night, And yield more cause of terror than delight.
Lo, here the record of my follies past,
The fruits of wit unstaid, and hours mis-spent! Full wise is he that perils can forecast,
And so, by others' harms, his own prevent.
It is difficult to peruse the annals of this turbulent and calamitous reign, without feeling some astonishment at the contrast which is exhibited between their literary and their political character. It is true that the preceding reign, however inglorious to the monarch, and disgraceful to the military reputation of the country, had been highly favourable to the growth of our national wealth and prosperity, to the increase of comforts, and even of luxury, as well as to the diffusion of knowledge.
The minds of men, continually irritated by the pretensions, and emboldened by the weakness of the Crown, had been habituated to discuss the most important interests of society; and in the progress of the dispute under Charles I. every passion was awakened, and an enthusiastic love of liberty was opposed to a spirit of loyalty almost equally enthusiastic. Such a period, therefore, might reasonably be expected to be propitious to the growth of genius; and we are not surprised that the scholastic pedantry of the former age should have given place to a more rational and manly style,