Page images
PDF
EPUB

as sweet and fanciful as any thing of the kind that the best of our bards have since written.”

TO THE ROSE.
“ Sweet, serene, sky-like flower,
Haste to adorn her bower :

From thy long cloudy bed
Shoot forth thy damask head.

Vermilion ball that's given
From lip to lip in heaven;

Love's couch's coverlid :
Haste, haste, to make her bed.
*
*

*

See ! rosy is her bower,
Her floor is all this flower ;

Her bed a rosy nest,
By a bud of roses prest."

“ I acknowledge,” replied Benedict, “ that these · are very pretty things; and I am, like you, a little

disposed to wonder how compositions of so much merit should have fallen so entirely into oblivion, as to be only known to a few bookworms. I suppose it must be owing to a little degree of quaintness, I would almost say pedantry, which makes the language and imagery not sound quite so pleasantly to our ears as it did to those of our ancestors, when that sort of style was more in unison with the ideas and sentiments then in fashion.”

“ Ah !” said Egeria, “ that is just the way that all the moderns depreciate the merits of their predecessors. They never think how their own paltry performances will be considered hereafter, but set up a standard of excellence, formed according to a narrow scale of their own, by which they have themselves worked, and will not even allow the grace of success, in having written fashionably according to the taste of the times, to authors who have declined from popularity, although to have written so was nevertheless merit. I scarcely know of one eminent writer, for whom the bad taste of his age is alleged in extenuation of his faults, but Shakspeare; and yet, considering the singular judgment and good sense of that great poet, one should have thought that there was less excuse for him than for his inferiors. But, after all the clatter and criticism that we hear of the Elizabethan age, I hope that some independent editor will yet arise to do justice to the writers of the early part of Charles I.'s reign, particularly to the poets, of whom we never hear mention made, and seldom meet with a quotation. The works of Carew are in themselves a rich treasury of pleasing passages. The following song, in the peculiar fashion of that time, I am sure you will acknowledge, even with the defects of that fashion, is remarkably beautiful.”

“ Would you know what's soft? I dare
Not bring you to the down or air ;
Nor to stars to show what's bright;
Nor to snow to teach you white.

Nor, if you would music hear,
Call the orbs to take your ear;
Nor to please your sense bring forth
Bruised nard, or what's more worth.

Or on food were your thoughts placed,
Bring you nectar for a taste :
Would you have all these in one,
Name my mistress, and 'tis done."

~ And this other is still more curiously elegant."

SONG.
Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauties' orient deep,
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither doth stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders, to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past ;
For in your sweet dividing throat,
She winters and keeps warm her note.

Ask me no more, if east or west
The Phænix builds her spicy nest ;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.”

“ And where will you find a sweeter pastoral, than this sylvan dialogue between a shepherd and a nymph ?”

Shep. This mossy bank they press’d. Nym. That

aged oak
Did canopy the happy pair
All night from the damp air,

Cho. Here let us sit and sing the words they spoke,

Till the day breaking their embraces broke. Shep. See, love, the blushes of the morn appear,

And now she hangs her pearly store,

(Robb’d from the eastern shore,) l'th' cowslip's bell, and rose's ear: Sweet, I must stay no longer here.

Nym. Those streaks of doubtful light usher not day,

But show my sun must set; no morn

Shall shine till thou return;
The yellow planets, and the gray
Dawn, shall attend thee on thy way.

Shep. If thine eyes gild my paths, they may forbear

Their useless shine. Nym. My tears will quite

Extinguish their faint light. Shep. Those drops will make their beams more clear,

Love's flames will shine in ev'ry tear.

Cho. They kiss'd and wept; and from their lips and

eyes,

In a mix'd dew of briny sweet,

Their joys and sorrows meet ;
But she cries out. Nym. Shepherd, arise,
The sun betrays us else to spies.

Shep. The winged hours fly fast, whilst we embrace ;

But when we want their help to meet,

They move with leaden feet.
Nym. Then let us pinion time, and chase

The day for ever from this place.

Shep. Hark! Nym. Ay, me, stay! Shep. For ever.

Nym. No, arise,
We must be gone. Shep. My nest of spice.
Nym. My soul. Shep. My paradise.

Cho. Neither could say farewell, but through their

eyes Grief interrupted speech with tears supplies.” “ Carew possessed naturally but little humour; but there is a dignified, pleasing, sly gravity in the lines upon Lord Chief Justice Finch, on paying his addresses to Lady Anne Wentworth. It possesses, moreover, Benedict, what you so much admire, a sort of classical air, which, by the way, is rather a stiffishness of manner than an excellence.”

“ Read the poem,” said the Bachelor, and the Nymph read,

“Hear this, and tremble all

Usurping beauties, that create
A government tyrannical

In love's free state;
Justice hath to the sword of your edged eyes
His equal balance join’d, his sage lies
In love's soft lap, which must be just and wise.

Hark how the stern law breathes

Forth amorous sighs, and now prepares
No fetters, but of silken wreaths

And braided hairs;
His dreadful rods and axes are exiled
Whilst he sits crown'd with roses : Love hath filed
His native roughness, Justice is grown mild.

The golden age returns,

Love's bow and quiver useless lie;
His shaft, his brand, nor wounds nor burns,

And cruelty
Is sunk to hell : the fair shall all be kind ;
Who loves shall be beloved, the froward mind
To a deformed shape shall be confined.

« PreviousContinue »