« PreviousContinue »
as sweet and fanciful as any thing of the kind that the best of our bards have since written.”
TO THE ROSE.
From thy long cloudy bed
Vermilion ball that's given
Love's couch's coverlid :
See ! rosy is her bower,
Her bed a rosy nest,
“ 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
Nor, if you would music hear,
Or on food were your thoughts placed,
~ And this other is still more curiously elegant."
Ask me no more whither doth stray
Ask me no more whither doth haste
Ask me no more, if east or west
“ 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
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;
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
In a mix'd dew of briny sweet,
Their joys and sorrows meet ;
Shep. The winged hours fly fast, whilst we embrace ;
But when we want their help to meet,
They move with leaden feet.
The day for ever from this place.
Shep. Hark! Nym. Ay, me, stay! Shep. For ever.
Nym. No, arise,
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
In love's free state;
Hark how the stern law breathes
Forth amorous sighs, and now prepares
And braided hairs;
The golden age returns,
Love's bow and quiver useless lie;