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the foregoing remarks) that Wither, in the preface to his Emblems, excuses himself for not having run so much as might be expected of him, into the recondite and fantastic style of his age. The passage is worth noting:
“I take little pleasure,” he says, “in rhymes, fictions, or conceited compositions for their own sakes; neither could I ever take so much pains, as to spend time to put my meanings into other words, than such as flowed forth without study: partly because I delight more in matter, than in wordy flourishes; but chiefly because those wordy conceits, which by some are accounted most elegant, are not only, for the greater part, empty sounds and impertinent clinches in themselves, but such inventions as do sometime also obscure the sense to common readers; and serve to little other purpose, but for witty men to shew tricks to one another; for the ignorant understand them not, and the wise need them not. So much of them, as without darkening the matters to them that most need instruction, may be made use of to stir up the affections, win attention, or help the memory, I approve and make use of to those good purposes, according as my leisure and the measure of my faculties will permit.”
Wither was born in 1588, at Bentworth, in Hampshire, and died in 1667, aged seventy-nine. For publishing, in 1613, a satire, called Abuses Stript and Whipt, he was confined in the Marshalsea prison, where he remained several years, and where he composed some of his best works; among others, the Shepherd's Hunting. There is a portrait of him, at the age of twenty-one, prefixed to his poems, with this inscription round the margin: “ I GROW AND WITHER, BOTH TOGETHER !" The emblem might be applied to the prematureness and caducity of his fame. The costume of this portrait is also a striking comment on the texture of his writings. He seems, in himself, a lively, good-looking young man; but from the fashionable appendages, in which he is disguised, resembles an armadillo tricked out in point-lace. : His person had as little to do with his dress, as his genius with his ordinary style!
Having cleared the way by these general remarks, we shall proceed to give two rather long extracts, to satisfy the reader of the justness both of our censure and our praise. The first passage we shall quote is one of the best in his faulty manner. It is his account of the Passions, in the character of a pack of hounds, from the Shepherd's Hunting. Philarete thus speaks:
“My friends, I will: you know I am a swain,
And not alone, the fairest where I live Have heard me sing, and favours deign’d to give; But, though I say't, the noblest nymph of Thame Hath grac'd my verse unto my greater fame. Yet, being young, and not much seeking praise, I was not noted out for shepherds’ lays ; Nor feeding flocks, as you know others be: For the delight that most possessed me Was hunting foxes, wolves, and beasts of prey, That spoil our folds, and bear our lambs away. For this, as also for the love I bear Unto my country, I laid by all care Of gain, or of preferment, with desire Only to keep that state I had entire. And, like a true grown huntsman, sought to speed Myself with hounds of rare and choicest breed, Whose names and natures ere I further go, Because you are my friend, I'll let you know. My first esteemed dog that I did find, Was by descent of old Acteon's kind; A brache, which if I do not aim amiss, For all the world is just like one of his; She's named Love, and scarce yet knows her duty, Her dam's my lady's pretty beagle, Beauty. I bred her up myself with wond'rous charge, Until she grew to be exceeding large, And wax'd so wanton, that I did abhor it, And put her out amongst my neighbours for it. The next is Lust, a hound that's kept abroad 'Mongst some of mine acquaintance, but a toad Is not more loathsome: 'tis a cur will range Extremely, and is ever full of mange; And 'cause it is infectious, she's not wont To come among the rest, but when they hunt. Hate is a third, a hound both deep and long; His sire is true, or else supposed wrong. He'll have a snap at all that pass him by, And yet pursues his game most eagerly. With him goes Envy coupled, a lean cur, And yet she'll hold out, hunt we ne'er so far; She pineth much, and feedeth little too, Yet stands and snarleth at the rest that do. Then there's Revenge, a wond'rous deep-mouth'd dog, So fleet, I'm fain to hunt him with a clog,
Yet many times he'll much out-strip his bounds, And hunts not closely with the other hounds : He'll venture on a lion in his ire; Curs'd Choler was his dam, and Wrong his sire. This Choler is a brach, that's very old, And spends her mouth too much to have it hold : She's very testy; an unpleasing cur, That bites the very stones, if they but stir; Or when that ought but her displeasure moves, She'll bite and snap at any one she loves. But my quick scented'st dog is Jealousy, The truest of this breed's in Italy. The dam of mine would hardly fill a glove, It was a lady's little dog, call’d Love; The sire a poor deformed cur, nam'd Fear, o As shagged and as rough as is a bear : And yet the whelp turn'd after neither kind, For he is very large, and near-hand blind. Far-off he seemeth of a pretty colour, But doth not prove so, when you view him fuller. A vile suspicious beast, whose looks are bad, And I do fear in time he will go mad. To him I couple Avarice, still poor; Yet she devours as much as twenty more; A thousand horse she in her paunch can put, Yet whine, as if she had an empty gut; And having gorg'd what might a land have found, She'll catch for more, and hide it in the ground. Ambition is a hound as greedy full, But he for all the daintiest bits doth cull; He scorns to lick up crumbs beneath the table, He'll fetch from boards and shelves, if he be able; Nay, he can climb, if need be; and for that With him I hunt the martin and the cat; And yet sometimes in mounting he's so quick, He fetches falls are like to break his neck. Fear is well-mouth’d, but subject to distrust; A stranger cannot make him take a crust: A little thing will soon his courage quail, And 'twixt his legs he ever claps his tail. With him, Despair now often coupled goes, Which by his roaring mouth each huntsman knows. None hath a better mind unto the game; But he gives off, and always seemeth lame.
My blood-hound Cruelty, as swift as wind,
This prolix allegory, however quaint, is ingenious and sensible. The reader lends it a doubtful approbation ; but the following lines come and go to the heart.
“ See'st thou not, in clearest days,
But, alas ! my muše is slow;
I could some invention draw :