« PreviousContinue »
Ah! sweet Content, where doth thine harbour hold?
Is it in churches with religious men
Which praise the Gods with prayers manifold,
Be where thou wilt, thou wilt not harbour here.
I cannot refrain from adding one more sonnet; to all, save the antiquarian in poetical literature, Barnes will be a new poet.
Unto my spirit lend an angel's wing,
In spotless white an angel's robe to wear. A passing notice may be given of HENRY CONSTABLE, another poet belonging to this period, and as little known as the preceding. His Spiritual Sonnets to the Honour of his God and his Saints, were first printed in the Heliconia, from a MS, in the Harleian collection. Of Constable himself little is known. Sir John Harrington calls him "a well-learned gentleman, and noted sunnet-writer." Malone thinks he was of St. John's College, Cambridge, and took his degree of B.A. in 1579; and Dr. Birch supposes bim to have been a zealous Roman Catholic, and compelled, by his religious tenets, to reside abroad during
a considerable portion of the reign of Elizabeth. This opinion is countenanced by the general tone of his poems,' and by several letters addressed, during his absence, to his friends in England.
He was a favourite of Ben Jonson, who speaks of “ Constable's ambrosiack music." I have only room for one Sonnet *.
To Saint Mary MAGDALEN.
By penance seek the joys of heaven to win,
In deserts make their paradise begin,
When in my body she laments my sin,
Except they be sent down from heaven to me.
Which He inspired my blessed heart with all,
I may find heaven in my retired heart !
The wing d Affection, which men Cupid call,
May get his sight, and like an angel prove. Constable occasionally indulges in allusions more applicable to his “ vainer hours," than these specimens of his "calnıer thought." The concluding couplet of this sonnet affords an instance of this ill-taste.
Among the Harleian MSS., 6930, is a version of selected Psalms by Francis and Christopher Davison, W. Bagnall, Richard Gipps, and J. Bryant. The MS.
•“ Noble Henry Constable was a great master in English tongue, nor had any gentleman of our nation a more pure, quick, or higher delivery of conceit."--Bolton's Hypercritica. Unfortunately, the sonnet instanced by the worthy critic in support of his good opinion, is almost the worst ever written by the author.
| Mr. Todd mentions another MS. of this version in the Bridgewater Library, now in the possession of the Marquess of Stafford.
Shades did on each side enfold me,
Should I bide,
The following verse from the 130th Psalm is very beautifully rendered. The alliteration in the fourth line is the only defect.
My soul base earth despising,
More longs with God to be ;
Tired watcbmen watch to see!
I have omitted a few lines in this version of the thirteenth Psalm.
Lord, how long, how long wilt Thou
Quite forget and quite neglect me?
Wilt Thou from thy sight reject me?
From this maze of thoughts perplex'd,
Is with thinking tired and sex'd !
On fall his greatness placing,
And be graced by my disgracing ?
foe's unjust abusing,
Heavenly beams in them infusing.
And too infinite to number,
Rock me soon, 'twixt Hope and Fear,
Into Death's eternal slumber.
Sunshine shall have bis returning,
Into joy shall change his mourning.
Save my soul which Thou didst cherish
That I to Thy name may bear,
Thee to help and comfort me.