Sidor som bilder
PDF

Ah! sweet Content, where doth thine harbour hold?
Is it in churches with religious men
Which praise the Gods with prayers manifold,
And in their studies meditate it then?
Whether thou dost in heaven or earth appeare,
Be where thou wilt, thou wilt not harbour here.

The last couplet is sweetly pathetic.

I cannot refrain from adding one more sonnet; to all, save the antiquarian in poetical literature, Barnes will be a new poet.

Unto my spirit lend an angel's wing,
By which it might mount to that place of rest,
Where paradise may me relieve opprest:
Lend to my tongue an angel's voice to sing
Thy praise my comfort; and for ever bring
My notes thereof from the bright east to west;
Thy mercy lend unto my soul distrest,
Thy grace unto my wits; then shall the sling
Of Righteousness that monster Sathan kill,
Who with dispair my dear salvation dared,
And, like the Philistine, stood breathing still
Proud threats against my soul; for heaven prepared,
At length I like an angel shall appear,
In spotless white an angel's robe to wear.

A passing notice may be given of HENRY Constable, another poet belonging to this period, and as little known as the preceding. His Spiritual Sonnets to the Honour of his God and his Saints, were first printed in the Heliconia, from a MS. in the Harleian collection. Of Constable himself little is known. Sir John Harrington calls him “a well-learned gentleman, and noted sonnet-writer.” Malone thinks he was of St. John's College, Cambridge, and took his degree of B.A. in 1579; and Dr. Birch supposes him to have been a zealous Roman Catholic, and compelled, by his religious tenets, to reside abroad during

a considerable portion of the reign of Elizabeth. This
opinion is countenanced by the general tone of his
poems,' and by several letters addressed, during his
absence, to his friends in England.
He was a favourite of Ben Jonson, who speaks of
“Constable's ambrosiack music.” -
I have only room for one Sonnet”.

To SAINT MARY MAGDALEN.

Such as retired from sight of men like thee,
By penance seek the joys of heaven to win,
In deserts make their paradise begin,
And even amongst wild beasts do angels see,
In such a place my soul doth seem to be.
When in my body she laments my sin,
And none but brutal passions finds therein,
Except they be sent down from heaven to me.
Yet if these praises God to me impart,
Which He inspired my blessed heart with all,
I may find heaven in my retired heart!
And if thou change the object of my love,
The wing’d Affection, which men Cupid call,
May get his sight, and like an angel prove.

Constable occasionally indulges in allusions more applicable to his “vainer hours," than these specimens of his “calmer thought.” The concluding couplet of this sonnet affords an instance of this ill-taste. Among the Harleian MSS., 6930, is a version of selected Psalms by Francis and Christopher Davison, W. Bagmall, Richard Gipps, and J. Bryant. The MS.

• “Noble Henry Constable was a great master in English tongue, nor had any gentleman of our nation a more pure, quick, or higher delivery of conceit.”—Bolton's Hypercritica. Unfortunately, the sonnet instanced by the worthy critic in support of his good opinion, is almost the worst ever written by the author.

t Mr. Todd mentions another MS. of this version in the Bridgewater Library, now in the possession of the Marquess of Stafford.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

Shades did on each side enfold Ine,

Dreadless, having Thee for guide,
Should I bide,

For thy rod and staff uphold me.

Ponne adopted this metre, with a slight variation, in his version of the 137th Psalm.

The following verse from the 130th Psalm is very

beautifully rendered. The alliteration in the fourth line is the only defect.

My soul base earth despising,
More longs with God to be;

Than rosy morning's rising
Tired watchmen watch to see :

I have omitted a few lines in this version of the thirteenth Psalm.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Rock me soon, 'twixt Hope and Fear,
Into Death's eternal slumber.

These black clouds will overflow,
Sunshine shall have his returning,

And my grief dull'd heart, I know,
Into joy shall change his mourning.

Grief-dulled is a very picturesque epithet.
I shall conclude my specimens with the 86th Psalm.

[blocks in formation]
[graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

24 FRANCIS DAvison.

That I to Thy name may bear,
Fearful love, and loving fear.

Lord my God, thou shalt be praised,
With my heart to heaven raised,
And whilst I have breath to live,
Thanks to Thee my breath shall give.

Mighty men with malice endless,

Band" against me helpless, friendless,

Using, without fear of Thee,

Force and fraud to ruin me.

But Thy might their malice passes,

And Thy grace Thy might surpasses,

Swift to mercy, slow to wrath,

Bound nor end Thy goodness hath.

Thy kind look no more deny me,

But with eyes of mercy eye me;

O give me, Thy slave, at length,

Easing aid, or bearing strength.

And some gracious token show me,

That my foes that watch toerthrow me,

Maybe shamed and vex'd to see

Thee to help and comfort me.

The fate of Davison recalls to my memory the accomPlished and unfortunate Sir Walter Raleigh, whom Spenser, in a beautiful sonnet, called the Summer's Nightingale. I think Mr. Tytler has clearly proved, in his recent Life of Raleigh, that the charges of irreligion so frequently brought against him, do not at all affect his later and maturer years. The afflictions of his *hood appear to have obliterated the vain and sceptical feelings of his youth, and to have impressed his "ind with a true sense of the Divine Power. During his long imprisonment, rendered still more melancholy * Unite.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »