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Morton. But granting that Iz. Wa. is Izaac Walton, there is still an important question to be settled—who was S. P.?
Bourne. Which must probably remain undecided, unless it were Samuel Purchas, a well known author about that time, yet that is not very probable. In fact, in my view, it is not a question of any great moment, for the production is not by any means first rate, though not devoid of merit: the same small volume, in which "Amos and Laura" is found, contains two other poems, and particularly one of considerably greater talent.
Morton. What are they? are they also unknown?
Bourne. One of them is, I apprehend, quite a new discovery in the history of our poetry, the other is nearly as much known as the other is little known. The volume has this general title, " Alcilia: Philoparthens louing folly.—Wherevnto is added Pigmalions Image: With the Loue of Amos and Laura.— London, Printed for Richard Hawkins," &c. 1G19.
Morton. " Pigmalions Image," I suppose, is John Marston's poem, first printed in 1598.
Bourne. It is, but this edition is not common. "Alcilia, Philoparthens louing Folly" is a production hitherto unseen, and displays very considerable poetical talent. We will come to that presently; first, I will read you a quotation or two from " The Loue of Amos and Laura," which, if not the most valuable, is, from the circumstance of its dedication, the most curious.
Elliot. What is the story of " Amos and Laura," if it have any?
Bourne. It has little or none: it opens in these lines, not very promisingly:
"In the large confines of renowned France
Morton. The lines are mawkish; but perhaps the author warms and strengthens as he proceeds.
Bourne. He does improve, though not as much as could be wished: nearly the whole poem is a dialogue between these two lovers. Am6s, When going out to hunt, meets Laura near her father's castle: the conversation then begins, in the middle
VOL. ii. I
of which the lady runs away, is pursued and overtaken by her admirer: the courtship is then renewed, and concluded to the satisfaction of both parties. The following extract begins better than it ends.
"Or were thy loue but equal vnto mine,
Elliot. That is quite sufficient: we should only waste time if we were to read more of such insipidity.
Bourne. I anticipated your opinion; indeed there could hardly be much difference about it: nor will I ask you to listen to two short passages more, the one referring, in general terms, to Marlow's and Chapman's celebrated translation of "Hero and Leander," and the other, even more generally, to Shakespeare's " Tarquin and Lucrece."
Morton. Then having now done with S. P. and his Amos and Laura, we may look upon " Alcilia," whom I am a little anxious to behold, after the praise you have bestowed upon her beauty.
Bourne. I warn you against inconsiderate expectation: though it is better than what we have just seen, I do not pretend that it is first rate, even in the department to which it belongs. Elliot. What department is that?Bourne. Love poems of various descriptions. Elliot. Of which passion, you may remember, Cicero speaks thus slightingly, Totus vero iste qui vulgo appellator Amor (nec hercule invenio quo nomine aliopossit appellarij tantce levitatis est, ut nihil videam, quod putem conferendum.
Bourne. Instead of such a quotation, with such a tendency, I should rather have cited R. Wilmot's dedication to " Tancredand Gismunda," 1592, where he asserts that love being as it were "the finest metal, the freshest wits have in all ages shewn their best workmanship" upon it.
Morton. On the other hand, we ought to recollect Spenser's lines in " Mother Hubbard's Tale;"
"Thereto he could fine loving verses frame And play the poet oft. But Ah! for shame;
Let not sweet poets praise, whose only pride
Bourne. He there supposes them to be written by Malfont, that " poet bad," or by one like him, described in the 5th Book of the F. Q. Do not let it be forgotten, however he abuses it for particular purposes, that some of the very best parts of Spenser's works are devoted to love and its praise.
Morton. Lovers and poets are allowed to be the most inconsistent creatures in nature.
Bourne. The author of "Alcilia: Philoparthens loving Folly," justifies your remark; for he says, in introducing the best part of his work to the reader, "These Sonnets following were written by the Author (who giueth himselfe this feigned name of Philoparthen as his accidental attribute) at diuers times and vpon diuers occasions, and therefore in the forme and matter they differ, and sometimes are quite contrary one to another considering the nature and quality of Love, which is a passion full of variety and contrariety in it selfe."
Elliot. That is not less true than in point. Have you any conjecture who is meant by Philoparthen, whose " accidental attribute" this "feigned name" expressed?
Bourne. I have not, nor do I find any clue in the production.