Sidor som bilder

before I had license to come abroad again into the world, I was forced to pay expenses so far beyond my ability, that ere I could be clearly discharged, I was left many pounds worse than nothing, and, to enjoy the name of liberty, was cast into a greater bondage than before. Wherefore, coming abroad again into the world, accompanied thither with those affections which are matural to most men, I was loth (if it might conveniently

be prevented) either to sink below my rank, or to live

at the mercy of a creditor. And, therefore, having none

of those helps, or trades, or shifts, which many others have to relieve themselves withal, I humbly petitioned the king's most excellent Majesty, (not to be supplied at his, or by any projectment to the oppression of his people,) but that, according to the laws of nature, I might enjoy the benefit of my own labours, by virtue of his royal privilege. His Majesty vouchsafed my reasonable request with addition of voluntary favour, beyond my own desire *.”

The publication of the Hymns and Songs of the Church

did not take place until some years after. He had also a share in the Shepherd's Pipe, which

forms a meet companion to the Shepherd's Hunting, This beautiful poem, printed in 1614, has always been . assigned to Browne; but it is attributed to Wither in the edition of his works published in 1620, and we have his own testimony in the Fides Anglicana, that it was “composed jointly by him and Mr. William Browne." Roget is clearly intended to represent Wither, and Willie, Browne. Warton alludes to the Shepherd's Pipe, and ascribes to Browne the publication of Occleve's

* The king's patent bears date the 17th day of February, 1622-3.

"...James, by the grace of God. To all and singular printers, booksellers.

Whereas our well-beloved subject, George Withers, gentleman, by his great industrie and diligent studie hath gathered and composed a book, entituled livinnes and Songes of the Church, by him salthfullie and briefile translated into lirick verse, which said booke being esteemed worthie and protfitable to be incerted in convenient manner and due place into everie English l’salme-book, in mecter. We, give and grant full and frce licence, power, and privilege unto the said George Withers, his executors and assigns, oneiie to imprint, or cause to be inprinted, for the term of fifty and one years, &c. Witness ourself, at Westminster the 17th day of February, reg. 20, 1622-3.”—Rymer's Fordera, y, xvii. 454, where the patent is...printed at length. It also sutes that the privilege was given for Wither's further "encouragement in such his endeavours.”


version of the Story of King Darius's Legacy to his Three

Sons, in the Gesta Romanorum. The poem is contributed by Roget, already pointed out as the pastoral name of Wither, and in a note at the end of the first eclogue it is said, “as this shall please, I may be drawn to publish the rest of his works, being all perfect in my hands." Occleve has been called the disciple of Chaucer, and it will presently be seen, from the assistance furnished to the Rev. William Bedwell, in his antiquarian pursuits, by Wither, that he was considered “a man of exquisite judgment in that kind of learning." We may be justified, therefore, in awarding to him the merit of the publication of this old poem. The Shepherd's Pipe opens with Willie's consolation of his friend Roget. - Roget, droop not, see the spring Is the earth enameling, And the birds on every tree Greet this morn with melody: Hark how yonder thrustle chaunts it, And her mate as proudly vaunts it. See how every stream is drest By her margin, with the best Of Flora's gifts, she seems glad For such brooks such flowers she had. All the trees are quaintly tired With green buds of all desired;

[ocr errors]

And the hawthorn every day
Spreads some little show of May.
See the primrose sweetly set
By the much-loved violet,
All the banks so sweetly cover.
- * - *
Yet in all this merry tide,
When all cares are laid aside,
Roget sits as if his blood
Had not felt the quickning good
Of the sun, nor cares to play
Or with songs to pass the day
As he wont. Fye, Roget, sye,
Raise thy head, and merrily
Tune us somewhat to thy reed.
See our flocks do freely feed.
Here we may together sit,
And for music very sit
Is this place; from yonder wood
Comes an echo shrill and good.
Twice full perfectly it will,
Answer to thine oaten quill.

Ah, Willie, Willie, why should I
Sound my notes of jollity?
Since no sooner can I play
Any pleasing roundelay,
But some one or other still
'Gins to descant on my quill,
And will say, by this he me
Meaneth in his minstrelsy.

Can any one doubt, after reading these lines, that the poem was partly written by Wither?

The verses in which Roget commends the story of Occleve are exceedingly fanciful and elegant; but

Warton was correct in saying that the eulogy was undeserved.

'Tis a song not many swains
Singen can, and though it be
Not so deckt with nicety
Of sweet words full sweetly chused,
As are now by shepherds used;
Yet if well you sound the sense,
And the moral's excellence,
You shall find it quit the while,
And excuse the homely style.
Well I wot the man that first
Sung this lay, did quench his thirst,
Deeply as did ever one
In the Muse's Helicon.
Many times he hath been seen
With the fairies on the green,
And to them his pipe did sound,
Whilst they danced in a round.
Mickle" solace would they make him,
And at midnight often wake him,
And convey him from his room,
To a field of yellow broom ;
Or into the meadows where
Mints perfume the gentle air,
And where Flora spends her treasure,
There they would begin their measure.

The Shepherd's Pipe is dedicated by Browne to Lord Zouch, the friend of Sir Henry Wotton, and the poet dwells with evident pleasure upon the shades of the “delightful Bramshill.” Lord Zouch is supposed to have been the occasional patron of Ben Jonson, who called him “good Lord Zouch." It was in the park of this magnificent seat that Archbishop Parker, while

• Mickle, great. In this sense it is used by Shakspeare.

O mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities.
Rom. and Jul. ii. 3.-Nares's Glossary.

[ocr errors]

hunting, in the summer of 1612, accidentally struck
with an arrow Peter Hawkins, one of the keepers.
After his liberation, with a view of recreating his
mind during severer studies, Wither wrote his Motto.
Of this book he tells us, in the Fragmenta Prophetica,
thirty thousand copies were disposed of within a few
months. The author numbers it among the books com-

posed when he was of maturer years. His object was

to draw the “true picture” of his own heart, that his

friends who “knew him outwardly might have some

representation of his inside also.” But he was at the

same time actuated by a higher and better feeling, that

of confirming himself in his own good resolutions, and of preventing “such alterations as time and infirmities" might tend to produce. The poem is, therefore, rather moral and didactic than satiric—the poet's “furies were tied in chains.” At this period. Wither was in comfortable circumstances. In the Inventory of his Wealth, he enumerates a friend, books and papers, which he calls his jewels, a servant, and a horse. The merits of the Motto will be sufficiently exemplified by one or two specimens. The following passage contains all the ma

terials of poetry; it only requires the taste and finish of a patient architect”.

Yet I confess, in this my pilgrimage,
I, like some infant, am of tender age.
For as the child who from his father hath
Stray'd in some grove thro many a crooked path;

* Not the least singular part of the Motto is the frontispiece. The author is represented sitting on a rock, with gardens, houses, woods and meadows, spread beneath him, to which he points with his finger, holding a riband, on which is written mee habeo, nor have I. At his feet is a globe of the earth, with the words nec curo, nor care I. The poet him. self sits with eyes uplifted towards heaven, from which a ray of light descends, and from his lips proceed nec careo, nor want I.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »