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he wrote two books of his poem for which he is most known_his « Gondi. bert"—under the patronage of Henrietta Maria, that “ill-fated, ill-advisea queen" of Charles I. By her he was despatched with a colony of artificers for Virginia. He had scarcely cleared the French coast when his vessel was taken by a parliamentary ship, and he was sent prisoner to Cowes Castle. Here, with great composure and manliness of mind, he continued his poem till he had carried through about one-half of what he designed, when he suddenly broke off, expecting immediately to be led to execution. His life, how. ever, was spared, through the intercession of two aldermen of York, (whom Davenant had rescued from great peril in the civil wars,) united to the then all-powerful influence of Milton. After his release he supported himself by writing plays till the Restoration, when, beautiful to relate, it is believed that Milton himself was spared at his intercession, in return for his own preservation.
The fame of Sir William Davenant rests principally on his heroic poem, Gondibert; the main story of which, as far as developed, is as follows. Duke Gondibert and Prince Oswald were renowned knights, in the reign of Aribert, king of Lombardy, 653—661. Oswald sought the hand of Rhodalind, the only daugliter of Aribert, and heiress to the crown: but the king preferred Gondibert,-a choice in which Rhodalind fully concurred. It happened that
"In a fair forest, near Verona's plain,
Fresh, as if Nature's youth chose there a shade,
Loyal and young, a solemn hunting made." The duke, on his return from the chase, is surprised by an ambush, laid by the jealous Oswald. A parley succeeds, and it is finally agreed that the quar. rel shall be decided by the two leaders and three of the chief captains on each side. The combat accordingly takes place. Oswald and two of his friends are slain, and a third wounded and disarmed. Oswald's men are therefore so enraged that they immediately commence a general attack upon Gondibert, who is victorious, though severely wounded. He retires to the house of Astragon, a famous physician, where he is scarcely recovered from his wounds before he receives others of a more gentle kind from the eyes of Birtha, the daugbter of Astragon, by whose permission he becomes her professed but secret lover. While the friends of Oswald are forming schemes of revenge for their recent defeat, a messenger arrives from Aribert to signify his intention of honoring Gondibert with the hand of Rhodalind; and he and his daughter follow shortly afterwards. The duke is therefore obliged to accompany them back to the court, and leave behind that which is far more precious to him than a crown or Rhodalind. On parting from Birtha, he gives her an emerald ring, which had been for ages the token of his ancestors to their betrothed brides; and which, by its change of color, would indicate any change in his ailection. The arrival of some of the party at the capital concludes this singular and original fragment of a poem, -for a fragment it must be called, and we cannot but deeply regret that the author did not finish it.!
“ In the character and love of Birtha,” remarks an able critic, “ we have a
1 This poem has divided the critics. Bishop Hurl, in his "Letters on Chivalry and Romance," finds fault with Davenant because he rejects all machinery and supernatural agency. On the other hand, Dr. Alkin abiy defends him. Read-** Miscellanies in Prose, by John Alkin, M. D., and Latitia Barbauld;" also, the prefatory remarks in the fourth volume of Anderson's “ British Poels," also, some criticisms of Headley in his "Select Beauties," p. xlvi.; also, “ Retrospective Review," l. 301 ; una a lew guod remarks in "Campbell's Specimens," iv. 97.
picture of most absolute loveliness and dove-like simplicity. Never was that delightful passion portrayed with a more chaste and exquisite pencil."'!
CHARACTER AND LOVE OF BIRTHA.
To Astragon, heaven for succession gave
One only pledge, and Birtha was her name;
And she succeeded her in face and fame.
With untaught looks and an unpractised heart;
For nature spread them in the scorn of art.
Ne'er warm d with hopes, nor e'er allay'd with fears;
And sin not seeing, ne'er had use of tears.
Which with incessant business filld the hours;
In Autumn, berries; and in Summer, flowers.
Her own free virtue silently employs,
Su were her virtues busy without noise.
The busy household waits no less on her;
Though all her lowly mind to that prefer.
The just historians Birtha thus express,
And tell how, by her sire's example taught,
And his fled spirits back by cordials brought;
Through wounds' long rage, with sprinkled vervain clear'd;
And with rich fumes his sullen senses cheer'd.
In these old wounds worse wounds from him endures;
And she kills faster than her father cures.
The wounds she gave, as those from Love she took ;
1 *The longer we dwell upon this noble but unfinished monument of the genius of Sir William Davenant, the more does our admiration of it increase, and we regret that the unjust attacks which were made against it at the time, (or whatever else was the cause,) prevented its completion. It tulght then, notwithstanding the prophetical oblivion to which Bishop Hurd has, with some acrimony, condemned it, have been entitled to a patent of nobility, and had its name inscribed upon the rol of epic aristocracy."- Ret. Rev. U 394.
And Love lists high each secret shast he drew;
Which at their stars he first in triumph shook !"
But finds him now a bold unquiet guest;
And, enter'd, never lets the master rest.
Makes him conceal this reveller with shame;
And never but in songs had heard his name.
With open ears, and ever-waking eyes,
And flying feet, Love's fire she from the sight Of all her maids does carry, as from spies;
Jealous, that what burns her, might give them light. Beneath a myrtle covert now does spend
In maids' weak wishes, her whole stock of thought; Fond maids! who love with mind's fine stuff would mend
Which Nature purposely of bodies wrought.
Such as in holy story were employ'd
And in short visions only are enjoy d.
Of wild impossibles soon weary grow;
And therefore perch on earthly things below: So now she yields; him she an angel deem'd
Shall be a man, the name which virgins fear; Yet the most harmless to a maid he seem'd,
That ever yet that fatal name did bear. Soon her opinion of his hurtless heart,
Affection turns to faith; and then love's fire
And to her mother in the heavenly choir.
Your own disciple, Nature, bred in me;
Or blush to show effects which you decree?
And you, my alter'd mother, (grown above
Great nature, which you read and reverenced here,)
When you as mortal as my father were.
With Love's vain diligence of heart she drearns
And trusts unanchor'd hope in fleeting streams :
Cured, and again from bloody battle brought,
The true to her for his protection sought.
So much from heaven may by her virtues gain,
No more than Time himself is overta'en.
In their pacific sea shall wrinkles make;
Her cares keep him asleep, her voice awake.
(The youthful warrior's most excused disease,)
The accidental rage of winds and seas.
The duke, (whose wounds of war are healthful grown)
Whose wandering soul seeks him to cure her own.
Shame (which in maids is unexperienced fear)
That love (which maids think guilt) might not appear.
So like an awed and conquer'd enemy,
As if he but advanced for leave to fly.
And, climbing, shakes his dewy wings;
And to implore your light, he sings,
The ploughman from the sun his season takes .
Who look for day before his mistress wakes.
MARGARET, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE. Died 1673. This lady was the daughter of Sir Charles Lucas, and was born about the end of the reign of James the First. She early manifested a fondness for literary pursuits, and the greatest care was bestowed upon her education. Having been appointed one of the maids of honor to Henrietta Maria, the queen of Charles the First, she attended her when she fled to France, during the civil commotions; and having met with the Marquis of Newcastle et Paris, she there became his wife in 1645. Her lord, soon after their marriage, went to Antwerp to reside, and found her a most faithful and affectionate companion of his long and honorable exile. At the Restoration they returned to England.
* The labors of no modern authoress can be compared, as to quantity, with those of our indefatigable duchess, who has filled nearly twelve volumes, folio, with plays, poems, orations, philosophical discourses, &c. Her writings show that she possessed a mind of considerable power and activity, with much imagination, but not one particle of judgment or taste.”!
MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY.
1 Rev. Alexander Dyce's "Specimens of British Poetesses." Rend, also, a very excellent notice of her in Sir Egerton Brydges's "Imaginative Biography," in which he remarks, "that considerable as is the alloy of absurd passages in many of her grace's compositions, there are few of them in which there are not proofs of an active, thinking, original mind. Her hinagination was quick, coplous, and sometimes even beautiful, yet her taste appears to have been not only uncultivated, but, perhaps, originally defective