« AnteriorContinuar »
But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me.
A higher and a nobler strain
My present empress doth claim,
Heleonora first o' the name,
Whom God grant long to reign!
I add a few original stanzas, which show Cowley's characteristic merits and defects ;-very few, since I must find room for some of those translations from Anacreon, which for grace, spirit and delicacy, will never be surpassed,
Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good!
Hail, ye plebeian underwood !
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food,
Pay with their grateful voice.
Here let me careless and unthoughtful lying,
Hear the soft winds above me flying ;
With all their wanton boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful birds to both replying,
Nor be myself, too, mute.
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Gilt with the sunbeams here and there,
On whose enamelled bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile,
And hear how prettily they talk.
Ah! wretched and too solitary he,
Who loves not his own company !
He'll feel the weight of it many a day,
Unless he call in sin or vanity,
To help to bear it away.
Happy insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy morning's gentle wine !
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup doth fill ;
'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread,
Nature's self, thy Ganymede.
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing,
Happier than the happiest king !
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants belong to thee;
All that summer hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice,
Man for thee doth sow and plough,
Farmer he, and landlord thou !
Thou dost innocently joy,
Nor dost thy luxury destroy.
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
Thee country hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripened year!
Thee Phæbus loves and doth inspire;
Phæbus is himself thy sire.
To thee, of all things upon earth,
Life is no longer than thy mirth.
Happy insect! happy thou,
Dost neither age nor winter know;
But when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung
Thy fill, the flowery leaves among,
(Voluptuous and wise withal,
Epicurean animal !)
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.
The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair ;
The sea itself, which one would think,
Should have but little need of drink,
Drinks ten thousand rivers up,
So filled that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy sun,
and would guess
By's drunken fiery face, no less,
Drinks up the sea, and when he's done,
The moon and stars drink up the sun.
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night.
Nothing in nature's sober found,
But an eternal health
round. Fill up the bowl then, fill it high! Fill all the glasses there! for why Should every creature drink but I? Why, men of mortals, tell me why?
A mighty pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss :
But of all pain the greatest pain,
It is to love, and love in vain.
Virtue now nor noble blood,
Nor wit by love is understood,
Gold alone does passion move,
Gold monopolises love!
A curse on her, and on the man,
Who this traffic first began !
A curse on him who found the ore!
A curse on him who digged the store !
A curse on him who did refine it!
A curse on him who first did coin it!
A curse, all curses else above,
On him who used it first in love!
Gold begets in brethren hate;
Gold in families debate;
Gold doth friendship separate;
Gold doth civil wars create;
These the smallest harms of it!
Gold, alas ! does love beget.
I cannot conclude without a word of detestation towards Sprat, who, Goth and Vandal that he was, destroyed Cowley's familiar letters.
My acquaintance with “ The Pleader's Guide” commenced some five-and-forty years ago, after the following fashion.
It had happened to me to make one of a large Christmas party in a large country mansion, the ladies whereof were assembled one morning dolefully enough in an elegant drawing-room. It was what sportsmen are pleased to call “a fine open day;" which, being interpreted according to the feminine version, means every variety of bad weather of which our climate is capable, excepting frost. Dirt, intolerable dirt, it always means, and rain pretty often. On the morning in question, it did not absolutely rain, it only mizzled ; but the clouds hung over our heads in a leaden canopy, threaten