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It has been supposed (and not without every appearance of good reason) that this pensive strain, “ most musical, most me. lancholy,” gave the first suggestion of the spirited introduction to Milton's • Il Penseroso.'

“Hence, vain deluding joys,
The brood of folly without father bred!
But hail, thou Goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest melancholy,
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,” &c.

The same writer thus moralises on the life of man, in a set of similes, as apposite as they are light and elegant :

" Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood :
E’en such is man, whose borrow'd light
Is straight call'd in and paid to-night:-
The wind blows out, the bubble dies :
The spring entomb'd in autumn lies;
The dew's dried up, the star is shot,
The flight is past, and man forgot.”

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“ The silver foam which the wind severs from the parted wave” is not more light or sparkling than this: the dove's downy pinion is not softer and smoother than the verse. We are too ready to conceive of the poetry of that day, as altogether oldfashioned, meagre, squalid, deformed, withered and wild in its attire, or as a sort of uncouth monster, like “grim-visaged, comfortless despair,” mounted on a lumbering, unmanageable Pegasus, dragon-winged and leaden-hoofed ; but it as often wore a sylph-like form with Attic vest, with fairy feet, and the butterfly's gaudy wings. The bees were said to have come, and built their hive in the mouth of Plato when a child ; and the fable might be transferred to the sweeter accents of Beaumont and Fletcher! Beaumont died at the age of five-and-twenty. One of these writers makes Bellario the Page say to Philaster, who threatens to take his life

" 'Tis not a life;
'Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away."

But here was youth, genius, aspiring hope, growing reputation, cut off like a flower in its summer-pride, or like “the lily on its stalk green,” which makes us repine at fortune and almost at nature, that seems to set so little store by their greatest favourites. The life of poets is, or ought to be (judging of it from the light it lends to ours,) a golden dream, full of brightness and sweetness,“ lapt in Elysium;" and it gives one a reluctant pang to see the splendid vision, by which they are attended in their path of glory, fade like a vapour, and their sacred heads laid low in ashes, before the sand of common mortals has run out. Fletcher too was prematurely cut off by the plague. Raphael died at four-and-thirty, and Correggio at forty. Who can help wishing that they had lived to the age of Michael Angelo and Titian ? Shakspeare might have lived another half century, en. joying fame and repose, “now that his task was smoothly done,” listening to the music of his name, and better still, of his own thoughts, without minding Rymer's abuse of "the tragedies of the last age.” His native stream of Avon would then have flowed with softer murmurs to the ear, and his pleasant birthplace, Stratford, would in that case have worn even a more glad. some smile than it does, to the eye of fancy !-Poets, however, have a sort of privileged after-life, which does not fall to the common lot; the rich and mighty are nothing but while they are living ; their power ceases with them : but “the sons of me. mory, the great heirs of fame," leave the best part of what was theirs, their thoughts, their verse, what they most delighted and prided themselves in, behind them-imperishable, incorruptible, immortal !-Sir John Beaumont (the brother of our dramatist), whose loyal and religious effusions are not worth much, very feelingly laments his brother's untimely death in an epitaph upon him :

“ Thou shouldst have followed me, but Death (to blame)
Miscounted years, and measured age by fame;
So dearly hast thou bought thy precious lines,
Their praise grew swiftly; so thy life declines,

Thy Muse, the hearer's Queen, the readers Love,
All ears, all hearts (but Death's) could please and move."

Beaumont's verses addressed to Ben Jonson at the Mermaid are a pleasing record of their friendship, and of the way in which they “fleeted the time carelessly” as well as studiously "in the golden age” of our poetry: (Lines sent from the country with two unfinished Comedies, which deferred their

merry meetings at the Mermaid.]
"The sun which doth the greatest comfort bring
To absent friends, because the self-same thing
They know they see, however absent, is
Here our best hay-maker, (forgive me this,
It is our country style) in this warm shine
I lie and dream of your full Mermaid wine:
Oh, we have water mixt with claret lee
Drink apt to bring in drier heresies
Than here, good only for the sonnet's strain,
With fustian metaphors to stuff the brain :
Think with one draught a man's invention fades,

had quite spoild Homer's Iliads. 'Tis liquor that will find out Sutcliffe's wit, Like where he will, and make him write worse yet: Fillid with such moisture, in most grievous qualms* Did Robert Wisdom write his singing psalms: And so must I do this : and yet I think It is a potion sent us down to drink By special providence, keep us from fights, Make us not laugh when we make legs to knights; 'Tis this that keeps our minds fit for our states, A medicine to obey our magistrates.

Two cups

Methinks the little wit I had is lost
Since I saw you, for wit is like a rest
Held up at tennis, which men do the best
With the best gamesters. What things have we seen
Done at the Mermaid! Hard words that have been
So nimble, and so full of subtile flame,
As if that every one from whence they came
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
And had resolved to live a fool the rest

So in Rochester's epigram :

“ Sternhold and Hopkins had great qualms
When they translated David's Psalms."

Of his dull life; then when there hath been thrown
Wit able enough to justify the town
For three days past, wit that might warrant be
For the whole city to talk foolishly,
Till that were cancell'd; and when that was gone,
We left an air behind us, which alone
Was able to make the two next companies
Right witty, though but downright fools more wise."

I shall not in this place repeat Marlowe's celebrated song, • Come live with me and be my love, nor Sir Walter Raleigh's no less celebrated answer to it (they may both be found in Wal. ton’s ‘Complete Angler,' accompanied with scenery and remarks worthy of them); but I may quote, as a specimen of the high and romantic tone in which the poets of this age thought and spoke of each other, the · Vision upon the Conceipt of the Faëry Queen,' understood to be by Sir Walter Releigh :

“Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
Within that temple, where the vestal flame
Was wont to burn, and passing by that way
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept.
All suddenly I saw the Faery Queen:
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept;
And from thenceforth those Graces were not seen,
For they this Queen attended, in wliose stead
Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse.
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce,
Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief,
And curst th' access of that celestial thief."

A higher strain of compliment cannot well be conceived than this, which raises your idea even of that which it disparages in the comparison, and makes you feel that nothing could have torn the writer from his idolatrous enthusiasm for Petrarch and his Laura's tomb, but Spenser's magic verses and diviner · Faëry Queen'—the one lifted above mortality, the other brought from the skies!

The name of Drummond of Hawthornden is in a manner en. twined in cypher with that of Ben Jonson. He has not done himself or Jonson any credit by his account of their conversa.

tion ; but his sonnets are in the highest degree elegant, harmonious, and striking. It appears to me that they are more in the manner of Petrarch than any others that we have, with a certain intenseness in the sentiment, an occasional glitter of thought, and uniform terseness of expression. The reader may judge for himself from a few examples.

"I know that all beneath the moon decays,
And what by mortals in this world is wrought
In time's great periods shall return to nought;
That fairest states have fatal nights and days.
I know that all the Muse's heavenly lays,
With toil of spright which are so dearly bought,
As idle sounds, of few or none are sought;
That there is nothing lighter than vain praise.
I know frail beauty's like the purple flow'r,
To which one morn oft birth and death affords;
That love a jarring is of mind's accords,
Where sense and will bring under reason's pow'r.
Know what I list, this all cannot me move,
But that, alas ! I both must write and love."


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"Fair moon, who with thy cold and silver shine
Mak’st sweet the horror of the dreadful night,
Delighting the weak eye with smiles divine,
Which Phæbus dazzles with his too much light;
Bright queen of the first Heav'n, if in thy shrine
By turning oft, and Heav'n's eternal might,
Thou hast not yet that once sweet fire of thine,
Endymion, forgot, and lovers' plight:
If cause like thine may pity breed in thee,
And pity somewhat else to it obtain,
Since thou hast power of dreams as well as he
That holds the golden rod and mortal chain;
Now while she sleeps,* in doleful guise her show
These tears, and the black map of all my woe.”

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This is the eleventh sonnet: the twelfth is full of vile and forced conceits, without any sentiment at all; such as calling the sun "the goldsmith of the stars,” " the enameller of the moon,” and “the Apelles of the flowers.” This is as bad as

* His mistress.

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