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MELANCHOLY.

66

BY BEAUMONT.

Hence, all you vain delights,
As short as are the nights

Wherein you spend your folly;
There's naught in this life sweet,
Were men but wise to see 't,
But only Melancholy;

O sweetest Melancholy!

Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes;
A sigh, that piercing, mortifies ;
A look that's fasten'd to the ground;
A tongue chain'd up without a sound.

Fountain heads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves ;1
Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
Are warmly hous'd save bats and owls;
A midnight bell, a parting groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon:

Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley;
Nothing so dainty sweet as lovely Melancholy.2

2" Lovely Melancholy."-Tradition has given these verses to Beaumont, though they appeared for the first time in a play of Fletcher's after the death of his friend. In all probability Beaumont had partly sketched the play, and left the verses to be inserted.

I cannot help thinking that a couplet has been lost after the words "bats and owls." It is true the four verses ending with those words might be made to belong to the preceding four, as among the things "welcomed;" but the junction would be forced, and the modulation injured. They may remain, too, where they are, as combining to suggest the "sounds" which the melancholy man feeds upon; "fountain-heads" being audible,

'groves" whispering, and the "moonlight walks" being attended by the hooting "owl." They also modulate beautifully in

this case. Yet these intimations themselves appear a little forced; whereas, supposing a couplet to be supplied, there would be a distinct reference to melancholy sights, as well as sounds.

The conclusion is divine. Indeed the whole poem, as Hazlitt says, is "the perfection of this kind of writing." Orpheus might have hung it, like a pearl, in the ear of Proserpina. It has naturally been thought to have suggested the Penseroso to Milton, and is more than worthy to have done so; for fine as that is, it is still finer. It is the concentration of a hundred melancholies. Sir Walter Scott, in one of his biographical works, hardly with the accustomed gallantry and good-nature of the great novelist, contrasted it with the "melo-dramatic" abstractions of Mrs. Radclyffe (then living). He might surely, with more justice, have opposed it to the diffuseness and conventional phraseology of "novels in verse."

1" Places which pale passion loves."-Beaumont, while writing this verse, perhaps the finest in the poem, probably had in his memory that of Marlowe, in his description of Tamburlaine.

Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion.

A SATYR PRESENTS A BASKET OF FRUIT TO THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS.

BY FLETCHER.

Here be grapes whose lusty blood
Is the learned poet's good;

Sweeter yet did never crown

The head of Bacchus; nuts more brown
Than the squirrel's teeth that crack them;
Deign, oh, fairest fair! to take them.

For these black-eyed Dryope
Hath oftentimes commanded me
With my clasped knee to climb:
See how well the lusty time

Hath deck'd their rising cheeks in red,
Such as on your lips is spread.

Here be berries for a queen,
Some be red-some be green ;3
These are of that luscious meat

The great god Pan himself doth eat;

All these, and what the woods can yield,

The hanging mountain or the field,

I freely offer; and ere long

Will bring you more, more sweet and strong;

Till when, humbly leave I take,

Least the great Pan do awake

That sleeping lies in a deep glade,
Under a broad beech's shade :4

I must go, I must run,

Swifter than the fiery sun

3" Some be red, some be green.”—This verse calls to mind a beautiful one of Chaucer, in his description of a grove in spring :

In which were oakès great, straight as a line,
Under the which the grass, so fresh of hue,
Was newly sprung, and an eight foot or nine,
Ev-e-ry tree well from his fellow grew,
With branches broad, laden with leavès new,
That sprangen out against the sunny sheen,
Some very red, and some a glad light green.
The Flower and the Leaf.

Coleridge was fond of repeating it.

4" That sleeping lies," &c.-Pan was not to be waked too soon with impunity.

Ου θεμις, ω ποιμαν, το μεσαμβρινον, ου θεμις αμιν
Τυρισδεν τον Πανα δεδοικαμες η γαρ απ' aypa
Τανικα κεκμακως αμπαύεται εντι δε πικρος
Και δι αει δρ μεια χολα ποτι μινι καθηται.

Theocritus, Idyll i., v. 15.

No, shepherd, no; we must not pipe at noon :
We must fear Pan, who sleeps after the chase,
Ready to start in snappish bitterness
With quivering nostril.

What a true picture of the half-goat divinity!

A SPOT FOR LOVE TALES.

Here be all new delights, cool streams and wells;
Arbors o'ergrown with woodbines; caves and dells;
Choose where thou wilt, whilst I sit by and sing,
Or gather rushes, to make many a ring

For thy long fingers; tell thee tales of love;
How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
She took eternal fire that never dies;

How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,
His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
Head of old Latmus, where she stoops each night,
Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
To kiss her sweetest.

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I have departed from my plan for once, to introduce this very small extract, partly for the sake of its beauty, partly to show the student that great poets do not confine their pleasant descriptions to images or feelings pleasing in the commoner sense of the word, but include such as, while seeming to contradict, harmonize with them, upon principles of truth, and of a genial and strenuous sympathy. The "subtle streak of fire" is obviously beautiful, but the addition of the cold wind is a truth welcome to those only who have strength as well as delicacy of apprehension, or rather, that healthy delicacy which arises from the strength. Sweet and wholesome, and to be welcomed, is the chill breath of morning. There is a fine epithet for this kind of dawn in the elder Marston's Antonio and Melida :

Is not yon gleam the shuddering morn, that flakes
With silver tincture the east verge of heaven?

THE POWER OF LOVE.

Hear, ye ladies that despise
What the mighty Love has done;
Fear examples and be wise:

Fair Calisto was a nun;
Leda, sailing on the stream

To deceive the hopes of man,
Love accounting but a dream
Doted on a silver swan;
Danaè, in a brazen tower,
Where no love was, loved a shower,5

Hear, ye ladies that are coy,

What the mighty Love can do,
Fear the fierceness of the boy:

The chaste moon he makes to woo;
Vesta, kindling holy fires,

Circled round about with spies,
Never dreaming loose desires,

Doting at the altar dies;
Ilion in a short hour, higher
He can build, and once more fire.

5"Where no love was."-See how extremes meet, and passion writes as conceit does, in these repetitions of a word :

Where no love was, lov'd a shower.

So, still more emphatically, in the instance afterwards :

Fear the fierceness of the boy

than which nothing can be finer. Wonder and earnestness conspire to stamp the iteration of the sound.

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