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In the spring of 1603, Wither was sent to Magdalen College, Oxford *, and entered under John Warmer, afterwards Bishop of Rochester, a sound logician, and a good and ripe scholar. Wither confessed in later times, that if he had not reaped all the advantages of a collegiate education, it was not because he had been “ill entered:” he left the school of Greaves, no stranger to “Lilly's Latin, or Camden's Greek.” His poetical talents were speedily developed. While at Magdalen College he is thought to have composed the graceful Love-Sonnet, printed in Ritson's Ancient English Songst. Mr. Park has questioned the genuineness of this poem; but Ritson attributed it to Wither, upon the authority of Hearne,

* Not 1604, as Wood, Park, Ritson, &c., assert. Wither's own words are, that he was sent to Oxford The very spring before I grew so old, That I had almost thrice five winters told. Abuses Whipt and Stript. Of James Wither, son of John Wither, of Manydown, who died in 1627, at the age of 28, a Fellow of New College, Oxford, a memorial is placed within the cloisters, near the chapel.

t P. 205. The sonnet is quoted by Ritson, from a Miscellany, in 12mo., entitled A Description of Love, with certain Epigrams, Elegies, and Sonnets; and also Master Johnson's Answere to Master Withers. Of this book, which obtained great popularity, an 8th edition appeared in 1636. In Warton's Companion to the Oxford Guide, this song is improperl ascribed to Taylor, the Water-poet. Ritson, “to cut the matter short, has endeavoured to ascertain i. year in which it was written. “The author,” he says, “was admitted of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1604, and having pursued his studies for three years, left the University for the Inns of Chancery. Now it will be evident that this song was written at College. If, therefore, we allow the first year for his falling in love, the second, for the favourable return he experienced, and the third, for the loss of his mistress, this song must have been written in 1606, when the author was eighteen years of i. I am sorry to be obliged to demolish a fabric so ingeniously constructed, but we shall presently find Wither in London in his eighteenth year, long after he had left Oxford. So much for Ritson's plan of cutting a matter short. By treading implicitly in the foot-prints of Wood, Ritson has fallen into another error, in saying that John Taylor was, on all occasions, the professed antagonist of Wither, . The Water-poet, on the contrary, was the respectful admirer of Wither during the brighter period of his life, and only ceased to be so when Wither forsook the principles and the creed of {: earlier days.

of whom Dr. Bliss has remarked, with great truth, that
he rarely affirms any thing without sufficient reason.
That the song was written at College, is proved by the
allusions to the academical costume, and the summer
excursions to Medley, “a large house between Godstow
and Oxford, very pleasantly situated just by the river,”
and rendered still more attractive to the poetic mind by
the visits of the fair and unfortunate Rosamond. This
house has long been removed.
Anthony Wood insinuates that our poet acquired a
little learning at the University, “with much ado.”
Wither, who rarely concealed either his errors or his
virtues, afterwards confessed, that upon his arrival at
“the English Athens," he “fell to wondering at each
thing he saw," and passed a month in noting the palaces,
temples, cloisters, walks, and groves. The “Bell of
Osney,” and “old Sir Harry Bath,” and the forest of

Shotover were not forgotten. In the midst of those agree- .

able occupations, he never “drank at Aristotle's well." But at length he says, the kind affection of his tutor,

From childish humours gently called me in,
And with his grave instructions did begin
To teach; and by his good persuasion sought
To bring me to a love of what he taught.

Warner neither encouraged idleness in himself, nor permitted it in others,

The young poet found it easier to "practise at the tennis-ball" than to comprehend the mysteries of logic; his understanding was confused by the rules of “old Scotus, Seton, and new Keckerman.” This state of stupor continued a considerable time, and it was not

until Cynthia “had six times lost her borrowed light,"

that being ashamed to find himself outstripped by every

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| \; little ignorant “dandiprat." he devoted his mind in ', i. games to master the difficulty. A little determination s will accomplish great things. wither soon felt his “dull intelligence” begin to ope", and was astonished to diso cover that he | -— perceived more 3 vs. In half an hour, than half a year before. o

He had been at Oxford about two years, and was * beginning to love a College-life, when he was suddenly removed by his friends, and taken home “to hold the plough." He alludes to this unwelcome change in 4* . Whipt and Stript, where he speaks of returning in dis- | * * * content to “the beechy shadows of Bentworth *." But | }}. wither held the plough with no willing hand, and much ! \ of his time seems to have been occupied in wandering about the pleasant country around Alton, whose neighbourhood has been invested with a peculiar interest by the reputed partiality of Spenser, who, in this “delicate sweet air" is said to have “enjoyed his Muse and writ good part of his versest." In the sequestered grassy - lanes of Bentworth, the young Poet might dream away | the summer-hours in the serenest meditations. Bo \ wither's sojourn at home was imbittered by the officio” . interference of friends, who continually urged his rela* tions to apprentice him to “some mechanick trade." To

| These pleasing occupations were soon to be interrupted. o


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escape from these new-found crocodiles, as he calls
them, he came to London, resolved to try his fortune at
Court. Wither was now only eighteen years old, a fact
I have ascertained from the 22nd emblem of the 1st
book, in which he says—
My hopeful friends, at thrice five years and three,
Without a guide (into the world alone)
To seek my fortune did adventure me.
And many hazards I alighted on-
The emblem, of which these verses form a partial
illustration, represents the choice of Hercules, and tells
the story with considerable force. In the middle of the
picture stands the bold ardent youth; on the right
hand is seated Wisdom, with flowing beard and open
book; and on the left is Vice, with one hand lifting the
“painted vizard" from her face, so as to give a glimpse
of the deformity of her features, and by her side lie a
skull and cross-bones, the insignia of Death. -
Soon after his arrival in the metropolis, Wither en-
tered himself of Lincoln's Inn, and appears to have
formed an early intimacy with William Browne, the pas-
toral poet, who belonged to the Inner Temple. But his
geny, says Anthony Wood, hanging after things more
smooth and delightful, he did at length make himself
known to the world (after he had taken several rambles
therein) by certain specimens of poetry, which being dis-
persed in several hands, he became shortly after a public
author. Of these several rambles we have no account,
but it is probable that the young poet visited Ireland
and Scotland; for in the list of his works we find, Iter
Hibernicum, or, an Irish Voyage”, and Iter Boreale, or, a

* In Wither's Catalogue of his books is 4. Discourse, concerning the Plantations of Ulster, in Ireland. Prose. Wood says this was printed, but it has not reached us.

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Northern Journey. The MSS. of these poems were lost,
we are told by Wither, when his house was plundered,
or by some other accident, and Wood was in error,
therefore, in saying that they had been recovered, and
“printed more than once.”
Among Wither's lost works is a prose tract, entitled,
“Pursuit of Happiness, being a character of the author's
extravagances and passions in his youth." This would
be a treasure to the poet's biographer."
The untimely death of Prince Henry, in 1612, was
the theme of universal grief and lamentation. “The world
here," wrote Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton, “is much
dismayed at the loss of so hopeful and likely a prince

all of a sudden.” Poetic garlands, without number, were

showered upon his hearse. Bishop Hall lamented the
“unseasonable death of his sweet master, Prince Henrie;"
and Drayton, W. Browne, Chapman, Donne, Sylvester,
Heywood, Webster, Drummond of Hawthornden, Wither,
and many more, added their tribute to the general
elegy athe offering of Wither was one of the most
interestog, both in tone and expression, and breathes an
affectionate sincerity, rarely found in poems of this
description. When Prince Henry, during the King's
visit to Oxford, in 1605, “ sat in the midst of the upper
table,” in the Hall of Magdalen College, Wither, then
an undergraduate, formed one of the throng ranged
along the sides.
The 32nd elegy offers a favourable specimen. The
body of the Prince, it should be remembered, was em-
balmed, and carried in the funeral procession:-

Then as he past along you might espy
How the grieved vulgar, that shed many a tear,
Cast after an unwilling parting eye,

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