Page images
PDF
EPUB

Safe in my humble cottage will I rest;
And, lifting up from my untainted breast,
A quiet spirit to heav'n,-securely live, and blest!

Strange power of HOME,* with how strong twisted

arms, And Gordian twined knot dost thou enchain me? Never night fair Calisto's doubled charms,

Nor powerful Circe's whisp’ring so restrain me,

Though all her art she spent to entertain me; Their presence could not force a weak desire; But, oh! thy powerful absence breeds still growing fire,

By night thou try'st with strong imagination

To force my sense 'gainst reason to belie it; Methinks I see the fast-imprinted fashion

Of ev'ry place, and now I fully eye it;

And though with fear, yet cannot well deny it, 'Till the morn-bell awakes me; then for spite I shut mine eyes again, and wish back such a night.

But in the day my never-slack'd desire

Will cast to prove by welcome forgery, That for my absence I am much the nigher;

Seeking to please with soothing flattery.

Love's wing is thought; and thought will surest fly Where it finds want: Then, as our love is dearer, Absence yields presence, distance makes us nearer.

* “Nescio quâ natale solum dulcedine cunctos

Ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui?"-[Ovid.) “I know not by what sweetness our native soil attracts us, and implants itself, indelibly, in our recoliection ?”

Oh! might 1 in some humble Kentish dale, *

For ever eas’ly spend my slow-pac'd hours : Much should I scorn fair Eton's pleasant vale,

Or Windsor, Tempe's self, and proudest tow'rs:

There would I sit, safe from the stormy show'rs, And laugh the troublous winds, and angry sky ; Piping, ah! might I live; and piping might I die.

And would my lucky fortune so much grace me,

As in low Cranebrook, or high Brenchley's hill, Or in some cabin near thy dwelling, place me;

There would I gladly sport, and-sing my fill,

And teach my humble Muse to raise her quill : And that high Mantuan shepherd' self to dare, If ought with that high Mantyan shepherd might com

pare.

Me KENT holds fast with thousand sweet embraces;

There mought I die with thee, there with thee live ! All in the shades, the nymphs and naked graces

Fresh joys, and still succeeding pleasures give;

So much we sport, we have no time to grieve; Here do we sit, and laugh white headed caring; And know no sorrow simple pleasures marring.

* On this passage, the Editor of the Edinburgh edition remarks, “ No wonder this county should be so agreeable to a man of his turn of mind, where there is a variety of green and beautiful bills, extensive woods, and noble rivers. Cranbrook and Brenchley-hill, are remarkable for their beautiful situation. Cranbrook lies low in the woody part of the country, near the river Rother, and is a pleasant village, well known at a distance by a tall spire, or steeple, formerly used as a beacon to direct sailors."

A crowd of wood-nymphs, spread i' the grassy plain

Sit round about, no niggards of their faces :
Nor do they cloud their fair with black disdain ;

All to myself will they impart their graces :
Ah! can such joys find I in other places ?-
To them I often pipe, and often sing,
Sweet potes to sweeter voices tempering.

Not difference, nor distance, of th:e place,*

Makes in my mind at all a difference,
For Love is not produc'd, or pen'd to space,

Having in the soul his only residence.

Love's fire is thought; and thought is never thence,
Where it feels want : for, when true love is dear,
The mind at farthest distance is most near.

Then do not marvel Kentish strong delights,

Stealing the time, do here so long detain me; Not powerful Circe, with her Hecate rites,

Nor pleasing Lotus thus could entertain me,

As Kentish powerful pleasures here enchain me Mean time, the nymphs that in our Drenchley use, Kindly salute your busy Cambridge Muse.

Another “last word,'

a wish at «

new years'tide," and we must have done !-wishing the same wish to all our readers at whatever season it may meet them:

* We bave here taken the liberty slightly to alter the construction for the sake of connexion. In this and the following stanza, (as well as in several other places in his poems, the author appears to have copied from himself, but those pieces were written to different persons, and probably at dis. tant periods, whilst a new turn is given to the same thought.

[ocr errors]

That sacred hand which to this year hath brought you,

Perfect your years, and with your years, his graces ; And when his will unto his will hath wrought you,

Conduct your soul unto his happy places, Where thousand joys and pleasures ever new, And blessings, richer than the morning dew, With endless sweets rain on that heavenly crew.

It remains now to notice the last written, and on some accounts by far the most remarkable poem of this author. The “ Locusts or Apollyonists” was certainly composed after the commencement of the reign of Charles the first, the concluding stanzas being addressed to that monarch; consequently it is of a date as recent as 1625. This poem is remarkable for the striking resemblance in some of its characters, incidents, and even its expressions, to Milton's great work of Paradise Lost, insomuch as to leave no doubt in the mind of the reader, that the divine bard had been strongly inpressed with the perusa! of it. The extracts we shall have occasion to make will amply prove this assertion.

The poem of “ The Locusts” appears to have been published once only; it is consequently among those Jiterary rarities which bear a high price in the book market. For a loan of the copy which now lies before us, we are very recently indebted to the liberality of Messrs. Longman and Co. the proprietors, in whose extensive and valuable sale catalogue, it is marked at the price of eight guineas,

The poem occupies a thin quarto of about 70 pages, and consists of 1700 lines: the title page is, “The Locusts, or Apollyonists; by Phineas Fletcher, of King's College, in Cambridge. Printed by Thomas Bucke and John Bucke, printers to the University of Cambridge, 1627."

The dedication to “The right noble Lady Townshend," has nothing remarkable or worthy transcribing. There is one short copy of commendatory verses, in

conformity to the prevailing custom, signed H. M. this also

may be passed over. Canto 1 commences with a stanza of violent abuse of which the first line may serve for an example:Of men, nay beasts, worse, monsters, worst of all Incarnate fiends.

An invocation of the deity as the “world's sole pilot” follows in better taste, ending with the following lines,

Steer me poor ship-boy, steer my course aright;
Breathe gracious sp'rit, breathe gently on these lays,
Be thou my compass, needle to my ways,
Thy glorious works my freight, my haven is thy praise.

The action of the poem commences with the 5th stanza.

The cloudy night came whirling up the sky,

And scattering round the dews, which first she drew From milky poppies, loads the drowsy eye:

The watery moon, cool vesper and his crew Light up their tapers : to the sun they fly.

And at his blazing flame their sparks renew. Oh! why should earthly lights then scorn to tine. Their lamps alone at that first sun divine ? Hence as false falling stars, as rotten wood they shine.

Her sable mantle was embroidered gay

With silver beams, with spangles round beset : Four steeds her chariot drew, the first was grey,

The second blue, third brown, fourth black as jet. The hallooing owl, her post, prepares the way,

And winged dreams, as goat-swarms, Auttering let *

Hinder, prevent.

« PreviousContinue »