Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?

The conscience, Friend, to' have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task,

Of which all Europe rings from side to side.

This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

SONNET.

TO A VIRTUOUS YOUNG LADY.

LADY, that in the prime of earliest youth
Wisely hast shunned the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen,
That labour up the hill of heavenly truth;
The better part with Mary and with Ruth

Chosen thou hast: and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
No anger find in thee, but pity' and ruth.
Thy care is fixed, and zealously attends

To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,

And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure
Thou, when the bridegroom with his feastful friends

Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,
Hast gained thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure.

ANDREW MARVELL.

Born 1620-Died 1678.

A CHARACTER in all respects, private, literary, and patriotic, so uncommonly excellent and noble as that of Marvell, can rarely be met with, either in the annals of history or the record of poetical biography.

He was educated at Cambridge, and afterwards travelled over a considerable part of Europe, and for some time was secretary to the English Embassy at Constantinople. He was one of Milton's most intimate friends, the champion of his reputation, and his assistant for nearly two years in his office of Latin Secretary to the Protector.

He defended the principles of freedom in his prose wr ngs with great vigor of eloquence and liveliness of humour. He mingled a playful exuberance of fancy and figure not unlike that of Burke, with a keenness of sarcastic wit, which has been imitated, but rarely equalled in the writings of Swift.

From the year 1660 till his death he sat in parliament as one of the representatives of his native city of Hull. "His atten

dance in the House of Commons," says the poet Campbell, “was uninterrupted, and exhibits a zeal in parliamentary duty that was never surpassed. Constantly corresponding with his constituents, he was at once earnest for their public rights and for their local interests. After the most fatiguing attendances, it was his practice to send them a minute statement of public proceedings, before he took either sleep or refreshment. Though he rarely spoke, his influence in both houses was so considerable, that when Prince Rupert, who often consulted him, voted on the popular side, it used to be said that the prince had been with his tutor. He was one of the last members who received the legitimate stipend for attendance, and his grateful constituents would often send him a barrel of ale as a token of their regard.

"The traits that are recorded of his public spirit and simple manners give an air of probability to the popular story of his refusal of a court-bribe. Charles the second, having met with Marvell in a private company, found his manners so agreeable, that he could not imagine a man of such complacency to possess inflexible honesty; he accordingly, as it is said, sent his lordtreasurer Danby to him the next day, who, after mounting several dark stair-cases, found the author in a very mean lodging, and proffered him a mark of his majesty's consideration. Marvell assured the lord-treasurer that he was not in want of the king's assistance, and humorously illustrated his independence by calling his servant to witness that he had dined for three days successively on a shoulder of mutton; at the same time giving a dignified and rational explanation of his motives to the minister."

His poetical productions are few, but they display a fancy lively, tender, and elegant; "there is much in them that comes from the heart warm, pure, and affectionate."

THE EMIGRANT'S SONG.

WHERE the remote Bermudas ride,
In the ocean's bosom unespied;
From a small boat, that row'd along,
The list'ning winds receiv'd this song.

What should we do but sing his praise,
That led us through the wat'ry maze,
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own?
Where he the huge sea-monsters wracks,
That lift the deep upon their backs.
He lands us on a grassy stage,
Safe from the storms, and prelates' rage.
He gave us this eternal spring,
Which here enamels every thing;

And sends the fowls to us in care,
On daily visits through the air.
He hangs in shades the orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night.
And does in the pomegranates close
Jewels more rich than Ormus shows.
He makes the figs our mouths to meet;
And throws the melons at our feet.
But apples plants of such a price,
No tree could ever bear them twice.
With cedars, chosen by his hand,
From Lebanon, he stores the land..
And makes the hollow seas, that roar,
Proclaim the ambergrease on shore.
He cast (of which we rather boast,)
The gospel's pearl upon our coast.
And in the rocks for us did frame
A temple, where to sound his name.
Oh! let our voice his praise exalt,
Till it arrive at Heaven's high vault :
Which, thence (perhaps) rebounding, may,
Echo beyond the Mexique Bay.

Thus sung they, in the English boat,
An holy and a cheerful note;
And all the way, to guide their chime,
With falling oars they kept the time.

JOHN DRYDEN.

Born 1631-Died 1700.

DRYDEN was educated at Westminster school, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He first exhibited his poetical powers in an eulogium on Oliver Cromwell; and this was followed, in 1660, by a poem "On the happy restoration and return of his sacred majesty Charles II." In 1665 he married the daughter of the Earl of Berkshire. At this period he became a writer for the stage, and in 1668 was appointed Poet Laureat and Historiographer Royal, with a joint salary of 200 pounds.

Shortly after the accession of James II. to the throne in 1665, Dryden abjured his previous religion, and became a Roman Catholic. This was the religion of his monarch, and this change in his own sentiments probably procured for him the addition of 100 pounds to his former revenue. But at the Revolution in 1688 he was stripped of all his offices and pensions, and from that time till his death in 1700, was compelled to rely for subsistence on the immediate profits of his poetical productions, composed at a certain rate per line. Among these were his translations of Juvenal, Persius, and Virgil, and some of his wost beautiful original poetry.

Dryden's poetry is very artificial, abounding in conceits and overstrained metaphors. But though he seldom writes twenty lines without something false and unnatural, his general conceptions are almost always noble, and he often exhibits in their execution an astonishing richness and sublimity of imagination. His great excellence lies in the mingled stateliness and harmony of his numbers. His versification is flowing and musical, and at the same time grand, energetic, and resounding, beyond that of any other English poet. He possessed great lyrical powers, as is evident from the few odes which he composed. His abilities as a satirist were likewise very admirable.

Yet he possessed no power of tenderness or pathos, very little wit or humour, and not much felicity in natural description. "The power that predominated in his intellectual operations," says Dr Johnson, " was rather strong reason than quick sensibility. Upon all occasions that were presented he studied rather than felt, and produced sentiments not such as nature enforces, but meditation supplies."

The moral character of a great part of Dryden's poetry deserves the severest censure. It is degraded and licentious in its tendency. For this there is no excuse in the assertion that he stooped to accommodate his writings to the depraved taste of the age in which he wrote. It is the characteristic of a virtuous mind not only to keep itself unspotted amidst the general corruption, but to send forth from its own purity a powerful counteracting and renovating influence. And Dryden possessed powers which might have enabled him to elevate and purify the moral sensibilities of the whole English nation. While he was a musing with his strains a sensual monarch and an immoral court, Milton was composing the Paradise Lost, in his own comparatively lonely, but virtuous and dignified retirement.

Dryden's prose is superior to his poetry. His style is exceedingly pure and beautiful; rich in the genuine idioms of his native tongue, chaste and regular in its flow, with full, but not superfluous ornament. It is often splendid, always musical, yet clear, easy, natural, and energetic.

His personal character presents much which is amiable and pleasant, but nothing noble or sublime. He was neither immoral nor religious.

CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON.

IMITATED FROM CHAUCER.

A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim train ;
An awful, reverend, and religious man.
His eyes diffus'd a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.

Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor;
(As God had clothed his own ambassador)

For such on earth, his bless'd Redeemer bore.
Of sixty years he seem'd; and well might last
To sixty more, but that he liv'd too fast;
Refin'd himself to soul, to curb the sense,
And made almost a sin of abstinence.
Yet had his aspect nothing of severe,
But such a face as promis'd him sincere:
Nothing reserv'd or sullen was to see,
But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity;
Mild was his accent, and his action free.
With eloquence innate his tongue was arm'd,
Though harsh the precept, yet the preacher charm'd.
For, letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky:
And oft with holy hymns he charm'd their ears,
(A music more melodious than the spheres :)
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre; and, after him, he sung the best.
He bore his great commission in his look,
But sweetly temper'd awe, and softened all he spoke.
He preach'd the joys of Heaven, and pains of hell,
And warn'd the sinner with becoming zeal;

But on eternal mercy lov'd to dwell.
He taught the gospel rather than the law,
And forc'd himself to drive, but lov'd to draw:
For fear but freezes minds; but love, like heat,
Exhales the soul sublime to seek her native seat.

To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard:
Wrapt in his crimes, against the storm prepar'd;
But when the milder beams of mercy play,
He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away.
Lightning and thunder (heaven's artillery)
As harbingers before the' Almighty fly:
Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there!

The tithes his parish freely paid, he took,
But never sued, or curs'd with bell and book:
With patience bearing wrong, but offering none,
Since every man is free to lose his own.

The country churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought, his offerings pinch'd the more;
And prais'd a priest contented to be poor.

Yet of his little he had some to spare,

To feed the famish'd, and to clothe the bare;

For mortified he was to that degree,

A poorer than himself he would not see.

"True priests," he said, "and preachers of the word,

« AnteriorContinuar »