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his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth; to be hourly and daily petitioned that he would please to be hired at the rate of two millions a-year to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant ; to have the estates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal as was the little inheritance of his father, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and lastly (for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory), to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity ; to die with peace at home and triumph abroad ; to be buried among kings and with more than regal solemnity, and to leave a name behind him not to be extinguished but with the whole world; which as it is now too little for his praises, so it might have been too for his conquests, if the short time of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal design."
Such is Cowley as a prose writer. And yet one of the most accomplished persons whom I have ever known assured me the other day that, excepting amongst a few men of very refined taste, he believed the Essays to be little read. They will rise in demand soon I hope, for my friend Mr. Willmott, a writer deservedly popular, has praised them in one of his charming volumes just as they ought to be praised. It would be difficult to say more.
The poems are singularly unequal. But as I for my own private recreation am wont to resort to
such innocent gaieties as the fathers of song have. bequeathed to us, so I seldom fail to present them to my readers;
and it happens that this philosopher, whom we have seen dealing with high and lofty thoughts, descanting like a hermit on the joys of solitude and the delights of the country,-and in this respect his odes are nothing inferior to his Essays ;-it happens that this identical Cowley hath left behind him the pleasantest of all pleasant ballads, which could hardly have been produced by any one except a thorough man of the world. It is entitled “The Chronicle," and contains a catalogue of all the fair ladies with whom he had at different times been enamoured. Never was list more amusing. It abounds in happy traits,—especially the one, which tells to half an hour how long a silly beauty may hope to retain the heart of a man of
The expression when the haughty Isabella, unconscious of her conquest, and marching on to fresh triumphs, beats out Susan “by the bye,” has passed into one of those proverbs, of which doubtless as of many other by-words, they who use them little guess
the origin. “ The Chronicle” was written two hundred years ago. Ladies, dear ladies, if one could be sure that no man would open this book, if we were all together in (female) parliament assembled, without a single male creature within hearing, might we not,
acknowledge that the sex, especially that part of it formerly called coquette, and now known by the name of flirt, is very little altered since the days of the Merry Monarch ? and that a similar list compiled by some gay bachelor of Belgravia might, allowing for differences of custom and of costume, serve very well as a companion to Master Cowley's catalogue ? I would not have a man read this admission for the world :
Martha soon did it resign,
Beauteous Catherine gave place,
To Eliza's conquering face.
Eliza to this hour might reign,
Fundamental laws she broke,
And cast away her yoke.
Mary then, and gentle Anne,
Alternately they swayed,
And sometimes both, I obeyed.
Another Mary then arose,
A mighty tyrant she!
Had not Rebecca set me free.
When fair Rebecca set me free,
But soon those pleasures fled ;
And Judith reigned in her stead.
One month three days and half an hour,
Wondrous beautiful her face,
And so Susannah took her place.
By the artillery of her eye,
She beat out Susan, by the bye.
But in her place, I then obeyed
To whom ensued a vacancy. Thousand worse passions then possessed, The interregnum of my breast,
Bless me from such an anarchy !
Gentle Henrietta then,
Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria,
And then a long et cetera.
But should I now to you relate,
The powder, patches, and the pins,
That make up all their magazines.
If I should tell the politic arts,
The letters, embassies and spies,
Numberless, nameless mysteries !
And all the little lime-twigs laid,
I more voluminous should grow,
Than Hollinshed or Stowe.