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brate that one day when Christ was borne unto us on earth, and we (a happy change) unto God in heaven *; Thrice honoured Bartas, and our (I know no other name more glorious than his own) Mr. Edmund Spenser (two blessed souls) not thinking ten years enough, laying out their whole lives upon this one study."
The following cloquent passage may be compared with Sidney's Defence of Poesie :
"To the second sort, therefore, that eliminate poets out of their city gates as though they were now grown so bad, as they could neither grow worse nor better, though it be somewhat hard for those to be the only men should want cities, that were the only causers of the building of them, and somewhat inhuman to thrust them into the woods, who were the first that called men out
of the woods.
“I would gladly learn what kind of professions these men would be intreated to entertain that so deride and
poesy. Would they admit of philosophers, that after they have burnt out the whole candle of their life in the circular study of sciences, cry out at length, se nihil prorsus scire ? Or should musicians be welcome to them that Dant sine menle sonum, bring delight with them indeed, could they as well express
with their instruments :! conclude that Fletcher alludes to Sannazar's poem, De Partu Virginis, which obtained for the author the title of the Christian Virgil
. little to blame in the execution. But Fletcher is in error with regard to the time employed in the composition of the poem. I believe it occuaged critic, Poderico, to satisfy whom the poet sometimes re-wrote the same verse ten times. 'It has been remarked that the lima labor, has not communicated any appearance of constraint to the work. It may be added, that this poem obtained the covarm praise of the celebrated fuperstition with Christian truths; had Sannazar
more carefully fol. lowed his model, Pracastorius, he would not have fallen into this gross
solecism of taste.
a voice, as they can a sound. Or would they most approve of soldiers, that defend the life of their countrymen, either by the death of themselves or their enemies?
“If philosophers please them, who is it that knows not that all the lights of example to clear their precepts are borrowed by philosophers from poets; that without Homer's examples, Aristotle would be as blind as Homer. If they retain musicians, who ever doubted but that poets infused the very soul into the inarticulate sounds of music that without Pindar and Horace, the Lyrics had been silenced for ever? If they must needs entertain soldiers, who can but confess that pocts restore that life again to soldiers, which they before lost for the safety of their country; that without Virgil, Æneas had never been so much as heard of. How can they, for shame, deny common-wealths to them, who were the first authors of them; how can they deny the blind philosopher that teaches them, his light; the empty musician that delights them, his soul; the dying soldier that defends their life, immortality after his own death. Let philosophy, let ethics, let all the arts bestow on us this gift, that we be not thought dead men whilst we remain among the living; it is only poetry can make us be thought living men when we lie among the dead. And, therefore, I think it unequal to thrust them out of our cities, that call us out of our graves, to think so hardly of them that make us to be so well thought of, to deny them to live awhile among us, that make us live for ever among our posterity."
If Fletcher's sermons were composed in this style, their loss deserves to be lamented.
The poem is divided into four cantos, and opens with a stanza so antithetically constructed as, in some mea
sure, to impair the solemnity of the subject; but Fletcher
Sacred writings, in whose antique leaves
The memories of heaven entreasured lic'.
O thou that didst this holy fire infuse,
With better thoughts; send down those lights that lend
star of excellence," she is represented lifting up “the music of her voice" against the decrees of
The interposition of offended Justice is grandly conceived :
But Justice had no sooner Mercy seen
Open'd the world which all in darkness lay,
Doth heaven's bright face of his rays disarray,
My quotations are made from the original edition of 1610. The orthography only is modernized.
She was a virgin of austere regard,
Into the solid heart, and with her ears
The silence of the thought loud speaking licars,
Sending her cyes to heaven swimming in tears •
And hideous clamours ever struck her ears, Whetting the blazing sword that in her hand she bears. The winged lightning is her Mercury, And round about her mighty thunders sound; Impatient of himself lies pining by Pale Sickness, with his kercher'd head up wound, And thousand noisome plagues attend her round:
But if her cloudy brow but once grow foul,
The flints do melt, the rocks to water roll, And airy mountains shake, and frighted shadows howl. Famine and bloodless Care, and bloody War, Want, and the want of knowledge how to use Abundance, Age, and Fear that runs afar Before his fellow Grief, that aye pursues His winged steps; for who would not refuse
Grief's company, a dull and raw-boned spright,
That lanks the checks and pales the freshest sight, Unbosoming the checrful breast of all delight. Before this cursed throng goes Ignorance, That needs will lead the way it cannot see ; And, after all, Death doth his flag advance, And in the midst Strife still would roguing be, Whose ragged flesh and clothes did well agree •
And round about amazed Horror flies,
And over all, Share veils his guilty eyes, And underneath Hell's hungry throat still yawning lies. Justice is portrayed leaning her bosom upon stone tables spread before her;" and the poet, in order to impress more deeply the fearful horror of that "scroll" on the mind, makes the terror and darkness of the Appearance upon Mount Sinai to rush upon our memory, when the affrighted children of Israel, like
A wood of shaking leares became.The grandeur and dignity of Justice are expressed by the hush and stillness of the entire universe, waiting in awe for the opening of her lips*. In this silence of heaven and earth, Justice proceeds to accuse and convict man of wickedness and ingratitude. But in this part of the poem Fletcher forgot the sublimity of the occasion ; he amuses himself with a sort of metaphysical ingenuity, as when speaking of Adam's covering of leaves he asks,
for who ever saw A man of leaves a reasonable tree? And in some of the verses he sems to have studied that epigrammatic brevity and rapidity of interrogation, which 80 delighted his brother's eccentric friend, Quarles; but though the author of the Enchiridion might hang a-garland at “the door of those fantastic chambers,” every true lover of Fletcher's poetry will regret to see him lingering within their threshold. I must not, however, omit the 28th stanza :What, should I tell how barren Earth is grown Al for to starve her children? Did'st not thou
Water with heavenly showers her womb unsown, • Milton saw the force of this conception ; at the conclusion of the speech of the Eternal Father” to the Angel Gabriel,
Admiring stood a space, then into hymns
Par. Reg., b. 1, v. 170.