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They listen’d, fear-struck, to my songs, methought,
The poem thus concludes :
“ And since 'tis certain then that we must die,
Besides this work, another, written in the same measure, is attributed to this author. It is the relation of a vision seen by a holy hermit when praying. A corpse is introduced, putrified, with worms devouring it, and behind it is something in the form of a white bird, which represents the disembodied soul; the latter hurls the most dreadful curses at the decaying body, which are again retorted, each accusing the other of having caused its eternal damnation.
Of Solomon Halevi, (born in Burgos in 1350,) who, having
*“ A esta mi dança traxe de presente
+“Pues que asy es que a morir avemos
been converted to Christianity, is better known by the name of
Beneath the solemn ivy tree-
Beneath the laurel's shade, and see
While from his lips a richer stream
How sweet to slake my thirst with him !"* Having brought the literary history of the Spanish Jews down to the end of the fourteenth century, and finding that the matter which now crowds upon us will make it impossible for us to condense what remains to be said on this head into this paper, we shall defer the rest to another article, when we shall again
* “ La moral ssabiduria
La yedra sso cuyas ramas
turn back to the Moorish poetry of Spain, and endeavour to mark its influence on that of the peninsula in general; after which, we shall go pretty extensively into the merits of the Trobadores; and lastly, trace the progress of Castilian poetry in its different epochs, down to the golden age of Spanish literature.
Art. II.-The l'emple, Sacred Poems, and private Ejaculations,
by Mr. George Herbert, late Orator of the University of · Cambridge.- Seventh Edition. London, 1656.
The poems of George Herbert would present such a mass of uninviting and even repulsive matter to modern readers of poetry, who are accustomed to look for sonnets, and not sermons or tabernacle canticles, in a volume dedicated to the Muses, that we really think we shall be doing them service, as well as performing a duty to the memory of an excellent and most ingenious man, by making a selection of a few of his happiest thoughts in verse.-George Herbert is best known to the world, as having been the intimate friend of Sir Henry Wotton, and as having met with an able biographer in the celebrated Isaac Walton.-His career was closed just before the contests between Charles the First and his parliament had reached their height. The part he would have taken, therefore, in the scenes which followed, can be only conjectured; but his great attachment to Episcopacy, and to the services of the church of England, would in all probability have retained him, along with Jeremy Taylor, a faithful though perhaps quiet adherent to the crown. In his early days, indeed, he seems to have had no dislike of worldly honours. While orator of the University of Cambridge, his biographer has fairly told us“ he enjoyed his genteel humour for clothes, and court-like company, and seldom looked towards Cambridge, unless the king were there : but then he never failed : and at other times left the management of his orator's place, to his learned friend Mr. Herbert Thorndike, who is now prebend of Westminster.”—This love of princely favour met its due reward, and James gave him a sinecure-the same, as it happened, by a remarkable coincidence, as that which Queen Elizabeth had formerly given to her favourite Sir Philip Sidney, and worth £120 per annum.
For the mortification of Herbert's worldly desires, and the increase of his heavenly ones, he soon after lost his two most powerful friends, the Duke of Richmond, and the Marquis of Hamilton. These losses were followed by the death of King James himself, and with him died Mr. Herbert's court hopes.
Not, it should candidly be owned, for want of aliment, for he still retained many friends among the rich and great; but from the confirmation which these changes brought to a mind, naturally reflective, and formed for something much better than to be a mere admirer of royal greatness, of the uncertainty of worldly expectations. His mother's wishes and entreaties had long secretly influenced his desires towards the ministry; and at length, after some sharp conflicts between his love of a court-life, and his sense of the importance of the clerical character, he resolved to take orders. “I will labour," said he to one who opposed this resolution, “I will labour to make the name of a priest honourable, by consecrating all my learning, and all my poor abilities, to advance the glory of that God that gave them-knowing that I can never do too much for him, that hath done so much for me as to make me a Christian.”—From this resolution it does not appear that he ever swerved. In 1626, he was made Prebend of Layton Ecclesia. The parish church of this place was almost fallen down, and so out of repair, that the parishioners could not meet for the performance of public worship. Thus it had been for twenty years—till Mr. Herbert set himself to work to re-build it. His mother, alarmed at the expense and trouble he was bringing upon himself, sent for him to Chelsea, where she lived. “George,” said she, “I sent for you, to persuade you to commit simony, by giving your patron as good a gift as he has given you; namely, that you give him back his prebend: for, George, it is not for your weak body and empty purse, to undertake to build churches.”—Herbert, however, carried his point, and showed his mother such reasons for his resolution, that he fully satisfied her on the subject, and appears to have completed his work without involving himself or her in any difficulties.His orator's place he gave up, upon her death in 1627. Soon after, he married, took orders, and was presented to the Rectory of Bemerton by the particular desire of Dr. afterwards Archbishop Laud, and Dr. Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury. Herbert was now thirty-six years of age. His life, which lasted but three years longer from this time, appears to have united the sanctity of a devotee, with the activity of a philanthropist. “ At his induction to the Rectory of Bemerton,” says Isaac Walton, “being left in the church alone, to toll the bell, (as the law requires) he staid so much longer than an ordinary time, before he returned to those friends that staid expecting him at the church door, that his friend Mr. Woodnot looked in at the church window, and saw him lie prostrate on the ground before the altar : at which time and place, (as he after told Mr. Woodnot,) he set some rules to himself for the future manage of his life, and then and there made a vow to labour to keep them.”—The account of his life, as a country clergyman, given by his own bio
grapher, does not offer much variety. It appears to have been passed in exercises of piety, such as would be thought extravagant by the strictest of the strict in our times, and in performing the most humble and self-denying offices of charity to all within his reach.-Here he wrote “ The Country Parson," a little prose work, containing his own views of the duty of a clergyman, which was after his death printed.-His poems were pub lished during his life-time, and with considerable success. After a lingering and painful illness, Herbert died, breathing out pious and cheerful ejaculations to Heaven with his latest breath." I wish,” says Isaac Walton," if God shall be so pleased, that I may be so happy as to die like him.”
To pass from the consideration of his private life, to the discussion of his literary claims. He appears to have been an excellent scholar. As a Greek student, indeed, his merit was acknowledged by many of the first scholars of his own and foreign countries. His long literary and private friendship with Sir Henry Wotton and Dr. Donne, show the estimation in which he was held by them. He was cotemporary for some years with Cowley ; but we are not informed whether these men had formed any personal friendship ; probably not, as Cowley, though very early known to fame, had hardly finished his university education at the period of Herbert's death.—Dr. Donne, whose peculiar style of composition Johnson has so ably criticized in his life of Cowley, probably was Herbert's model, as well as friend; but, if it were so, the natural genius of the latter occasionally burst forth into strains far sweeter and more natural than those of the worthy Doctor.–The following lines on Virtue, though defaced by a vulgar expression or two, are, on the whole, both beautiful and polished.
Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright!
For thou must die.
And thou must die.
And all must die.
Then chiefly lives.