« PreviousContinue »
speaks of rural life, and the retired enjoyment of nature, he carries his reader, without reluctance, into the scenes which he describes. Bishop Hurd published the “ Select Works of Mr. A. Cowley, in two volumes, with a Preface and notes."
Dr. Beattie has characterized Cowley in the following terms.
"I know not whether any nation ever produced a more singular genius than Cowley. He abounds in tender thoughts, beautiful lines, and emphatical expressions. His wit is inexhaustible, and his learning extensive; but his taste is generally barbarous, and seems to have been formed upon such models as Donne, Martial, and the worst parts of Ovid: nor is it possible to read his longer poems with pleasure, while we retain any relish for the simplicity of ancient composition. If this author's ideas had been fewer, his conceits would have been less frequent; so that in one respect learning may be said to have hurt his genius. Yet it does not appear that Greek and Latin did him any harm; for his imitations of Anacreon are almost the only parts of him that are now remembered or read. His Davideis, and his translations of Pindar. are destitute of harmony, simplicity, and every other classical grace. Had his inclinations led him to a frequent perusal of the most elegant authors of antiquity, his poems would certainly have been the better for it.” Dr. Beattie, in his last remark, is undoubtedly mistaken. It is evident from Mr. Cowley's writings, that no man could be more conversant with the most elegant authors of antiquity; but, notwithstanding this, he was lęd astray by the false taste of the age in which he flourished.
UPON THE SHORTNESS OF MAN'S LIFE.
Mark that swift arrow, how it cuts the air,
how it outruns thy following eye!
use all persuasions now, and try if thou canst call it back, or stay it there.
That way it went, but thou shalt find
no track is left behind. Fool! 'tis thy life, and the fond archer thou.
Of all the time thou'st shot away,
I'll bid thee fetch but yesterday, and it shall be too hard a task to do.
Besides repentance, what canst find
that it hath left behind? Our life is carry'd with too strong a tide,
a doubtful cloud our substance bears,
and is the horse of all our years : each day doth on a winged whirlwind ride.
We and our glass run out, and must
both render up our dust.
who never thinks his end too near,
to Fame, Thou art mine heir: that man extends life's natral brevity;
this is, this is the only way
THE CHRONICLE. A BALLAD.
Margarita first possess'd,
Margarita first of all;
but when a while the wanton maid with my restless heart had play'd,
Martha took the flying ball, Martha soon did it resign to the beauteous Catharine:
beauteous Catharine gave place (though loth and angry she to part with the possession of my heart)
to Eliza's conquering face. Eliza till this hour might reign, had she not evil counsels ta'en:
Fundamental laws she broke, and still new favourites she chose, till up in arms my passions rose,
And cast away her yoke. Mary then, and gentle Anne, both' to reign at once began;
alternately they sway'd, and sometimes Mary was the fair, and sometimes Anne the crown did wear,
and sometimes both I obey'd. Another Mary then arose, and did rigorous laws impose;
a mighty tyrant she! long, alas! should I have been under that iron-sceptred queen,
had not Rebecca set me free. When fair Rebecca set me free, 'twas then a golden time with me:
but soon those pleasures fled; for the gracious princess dy'd in her youth and beauty's pride,
and Judith reigned in her stead.
One month, three days, and half-an-hour, Judith held the sov'reign pow'r:
wondrous beautiful her face, but so weak and small her wit that she to govern was unfit,
and so Susanna took her place. But when Isabella came, arm'd with a resistless flame,
and th' artillery of her eye, whilst she proudly march'd about, greater conquests to find out,
she beat out Susan by the bye. But in her place I then obey'd black-ey'd Bess, her viceroy maid,
to whom ensu'd a vacancy. Thousand worst passions then possess'd the interregnum of my breast.
Bless me from such an anarchy! Gentle Henrietta then, and a third Mary, next began;
then Joan, and Jane, and Audria; and then a pretty Thomasine, and then another Catharine,
and then a long et cætera. But should I now to you relate the strength and riches of their state,
the powder, patches, and the pins, the ribands, jewels, and the rings, the lace, the paint, and warlike things, that make
all their magazines: if I should tell the politic arts to take and keep men's hearts,
the letters, embassies, and spies,
the frowns, and smiles, and flatteries,
numberless, nameless mysteries!
I more voluminous should grow
than Hollingshed or Stow.
an higher and a nobler strain
whom God grant long to reign.
HYMN TO LIGHT.
from the old Negro's darksome womb!
which when it saw the lovely child, the melancholy mass put on kind looks and smil'd. Thou tide of glory, which no rest dost know,
but ever ebb and ever flow!
thou golden show'r of a true Jove! [love! who does in thee descend, and heav'n to earth make Hail! active Nature's watchful life and health !
her joy, ler ornament, and wealth !
hail to thy husband, Heat, and thee! [groom he! thou the world's beauteous bride, the lusty brideSay, from what golden quivers of the sky
do all thy winged arrows fly?
Swiftness and Power by birth are thine ; [divine. from thy great Sire they came, thy Sire, the Word