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Of the verses on Oliver's death, in which It was treated on the stage with great severity, Wood's narrative seems to imply something en- and was afterward censured as a satire on the comiastic, there has been no appearance. There King's party. 16 a discourse concerning his government, indeed, Mr. Dryden, who went with Mr. Sprat to the p'ith verses intermixed, but such as certainly first exhibition, related to Mr. Dennis, “That, gained its author no friends among the abettors when they told Cowley how little favour had of usurpation.
been shown him, he received the news of his ill A doctor of physic, however, he was made at success, not with so much firmness as might have Cxford, in December, 1657; and in the com- been expected from so great a man." mencement of the Royal Society, of which an What firmness they expected, or what weakaccount has been given by Dr. Birch, he appears ness Cowley discovered, cannot be known. He busy among the experimental philosophers with that misses his end will never be as much the title of Dr. Cowley.
pleased as he that attains it, even when he can There is no reason for supposing that he ever impute no part of his failure to himself; and, attempted practice; but his preparatory studies when the end is to please the multitude, no man, have contributed something to the honour of his perhaps, has a right, in things admitting of gracountry. Considering botany as necessary to adation and comparison, to throw the whole blame physician, he retired into Kent to gather plants; upon his judges, and totally to exclude diffidence and as the predominance of a favourite study and shame by a haughty consciousness of his own affects all subordinate operations of the intellect, excellence. botany in the mind of Cowley tumed into poe- For the rejection of this play it is difficult now try. He composed in Latin 'several books on to find the reason; it certainly has, in a very plants, of which the first and second display the great degree, the power of fixing attention and qualities of herbs, in elegiac verse; the third and exciting merriment. · From the charge of disaffourth, the beauties of flowers in various mea- fection he exculpates himself in his preface, by sures; and the fifth and sixth, the uses of trees, in observing how unlikely it is that, having folheroic numbers.
lowed the royal family through all their disAt the same time were produced, from the tresses," he should choose the time of their same university, the two great poets, Cowley and restoration to begin a quarrel with them.” It Milton, of dissimilar genius, of opposite prin- appears, however, from the Theatrical Register ciples; but concurring in the cultivation of Latin of Downes, the prompter, to have been popularly poetry, in which the English, till their works considered as a satire on the royalists. an: May's poem appeared,* seemed unable to That he might shorten this tedious suspense, contest the palm with any other of the lettered he published his pretensions and his discontent, nations.
in an ode called "The Complaint;" in which he If the Latin performances of Cowley and styles himself the melancholy Cowley. This met Milton be compared, (for May I hold to be su- with the usual fortune of complaints, and seems perior to both,) the advantage seems to lie on to have excited more contempt than pity. ihe side of Cowley. Milton is generally content These unlucky incidents are brought, malito express the thoughts of the ancients in their ciously enough, together, in some stanzas, writlanguage; Cowley, without much loss of purity ten about that time, on the choice of a laureat; a or elegance, accommodates the diction of Rome mode of satire, by which, since it was first in to his own conceptions.
troduced by Suckling, perhaps every generation At the Restoration, after all the diligence of of poets has been teased. his long service, and with consciousness not only of the merit of fidelity, but of the dignity of “ Savoy-missing Cowley came into the court, great abilities, he naturally expected ample pre
Making apologies for his bad play;
Every one gave him so good a report, ferments; and, that he might not be forgotten
That Apollo gare heed to all he could say: by his own fault
, wrote a Song of Triumph. Nor would he have had, 'tis thought, a rebuke, But this was a time of such general hope, that
Unless he had done some notable folly :
Writ verses unjustly in praise of Sam Tuke, great numbers were inevitably disappointed; and Or printed his pitiful Melancholy." Cowley found his reward very tediously delayed. He had been promised by both Charles the first His vehement desire of retireinent now came and Second, the mastership of the Savoy ;
again upon him. “Not finding,” says the morose he lost it," says Wood, *" by certain persons, Wood," that preferment conferred upon him enemies to the muses."
which he expected, while others for their money The neglect of the court was not his only carried away most places, he retired discontented mortification; having, by such alteration as he
into Surry." thought proper, fitted his old comedy of “ The
“He was now," says the courtly Sprat,“ weary Guardian," for the stage, he produced itt under of the vexations and formalities of an active the title of “The Cutter of Coleman-street.”Icondition. He had been perplexed with a long
compliance to foreign manners. He was satiated ation of Lucan's Pharsalia to the death of Julius Cæsar, his virtue made it innocent to him, yet nothing
* By May's poem we are here to understand a continu. with the arts of a court; which sort of life, though by Thomas May, an eminent poet and historian, who could make it quiet. Those were the reasons flourished in the reigns of James and Charles I. and of that made him to follow the violent inclination whom a life is given in the Biographia Britannica.-H.
of his own mind, which, in the greatest throng of 1663.
Here is an error in the designation of this Comedy, his former business, had still called upon him, and which our author copied from the title-page of the later represented to him the true delights of solitary editions of Cowley's Works: the title of the play itself studies, of temperate pleasures, and a moderate
ouh merry sharking fellow about the town, named | revenue, below the malice ani Batteries of forCater, is a principal character in it.-H.
So differendy are things seen! and so different party were easily irritated, was obliged to pass ly are they shown! but actions are visible, over many transactions in general expressions, though motives are secret. Cowley certainly re- and to leave curiosity often unsatisfied. Wnat tired; first to Barn-elms, and afterwards to he did not tell, cannot however now be known; Chertsey, in Surry. He seems, however, to I must therefore recommend the perusal of his have lost part of his dread of the hum of men.* work, to which my nerration can be considered He thought himself now safe enough from in- only as a slender supplement. trusion, without the defence of mountains and Cowley, like other poets who have written oceans; and, instead of seeking shelter in with narrow views, and instead of tracing inAmerica, wisely went only so far from the bustle tellectual pleasures in the minds of men, paid of life as that he might easily find his way back, their court to temporary prejudices, has been at when solitude should grow tedious.
one time too much praised, and too much netreat was at first but slenderly accommodated; glected at another. vet he soon obtained, by the interest of the Ear! Wit, like all other things subject by their naof St. Alban's and the Duke of Buckingham, lure to the choice of man, has its changes and such a lease of the Queen's lands as afforded fashions, and at different times takes different him an ample income.
forms. About the beginning of the seventeenth By the lovers of virtue and of wil, it will be century, appeared a race of writers that may be solicitously asked, if he now was happy. Let termed the metaphysical poets: of whom, in a them peruse one of his letters accidentally pre- criticism on the works of Cowley, it is not imserved by Peck, which I recoinmend to the con proper to give some account. sideration of all that may hereafter pant for soli- The metaphysical poets were men of learning, tade.
and to show their learning was their whole en "To DR. THOMAS Sprat.
deavour: but, unluckily resolving to slinw it in Chertsey, May 21, 1665.
rhyme, instead of writing poetry they only
wrote verses, and very often such verses as stood as The first night that I came hither, I caught the trial of the finger better than of the ear; so great a cold with a defluxion of rheum, as for the modulation was so imperfect that they made me keep my chamber ten days. And, were only found to be verses by counting the two after, had such a bruise on my ribs with a syllables. fall, that I am yet unable to move or turn my- If the father of criticism has rightly denomi self in my bed. This is my personal fortune nated poetry réxyn MUNTIK), an imitative art, these here to begin with. And, besides, I can get no writers will, without great wrong, lose their money from my tenants, and have my meadows right to the name of poets; for they cannot be eaten up every night by cattle put in by my said to have imitated any thing: they neither peighbours. What this signifies, or may come copied nature nor life; neither painted the to in time, God knows; if it be ominous, it can forms of matter, nor represented the operations end in nothing else than hanging. Another o intellect. misfortune has been, and stranger than all the Those however who deny them to be poets, rest, that you have broke your word with me, allow them to be wits. Dryden confesses of and failed to come, even though you told Mr. himself and his contemporaries, that they fall Bois that you would. This is what they call below Donne in wit; but maintains, that they monstri simile. I do hope to recover my late surpass hin in poetry. burt so far within five or six days, (though it be If wit be well described by Pope, as being uncertain yet whether I shall ever recover it,) " that which has been often thought, but was as to walk about again. And then, me thinks, never before so well expressed,” they certainly you and I and the Dean might be very merry never attained, nor ever sought it; for they en upon St. Ann's Hill. You might very conve- deavoured to be singular in their thoughts, and piently come hither the way of Hampton Town, were careless of their diction. But Pope's aclying there one night. I write this in pain, and count of wit is undoubtedly erroneous : he de can say no more: Verbum Sapienti.”
presses it below its natural dignity, and reduces He did not long enjoy the pleasure, or suffer it from strength of thought to happiness of lanthe uneasiness of solitude; for he died at the guage. Porch-houset in Chertsey, 1667, in the 49th If by a more noble and more adequate con year of his age.
ception, that be considered as wit which is at He was buried with great pomp near Chau- once natural and new, that which, though not cer, and Spencer, and King Charles pronounced, obvious, is, upon its first production, acknow * That Mr. Cowley had not left behind him a ledged to be just; if it be that which he that better man in England.” He is represented by never found it wonders how he missed; to wit Dr. Sprat as the most amiable of mankind; and of this kind the metaphysical poets have seldom this posthumous praise may safely be credited, risen. Their thoughts are often new, but seldom as it has never been contradicted hy envy or by natural ; they are not obvious, but neither are faction.
they just; and the reader far from wondering Such are the remarks and memorials which I that he missed them, wonders more frequently nave been able to add to the narrative of Dr. by what perverseness of industry they were ever Sprat; who, writing when.the feuds of the civil found. war were yet recent, and the minds of either But wit, abstracted from its effects upon the
hearer, may be more rigorously and philosophi• L'Allegro of Milton.-Dr. J.
cally considered as a kind of discordia concors; a + Now in the possession of Mr. Clark, Alderman of combination of dissimilar images, or discovery Dr. J.-Mr. Clark was in 1798 elected to the of occult resemblances in things
parently unimportant office of Chamberlain of London; and has Fery year since been unanimously re-elected.-N like. Of wit, thus defined, they have more than
enough. The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked be retrieved, or something new is to be examby violence together; nature and art are ran- ined. If their greatness seldom elevates, their sacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allu- acuteness often surprises ; if the imagination is sions; their learning instructs, and their sub- not always gratified, at least the powers of retety surprises ; but the reader commonly thinks flection and comparison are employed; and, in his improvement dearly bought, and though he the mass of materials which ingenious absurdity sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.
has thrown together, genuine wit and useful From this account of their compositions it knowledge may he sometimes found buried perwill be readily inferred, that they were not haps in grossness of expression, but useful to successful in representing or moving the affec- those who know their value; and such as, tions. As they were wholly employed on some when they are expanded to perspicuity, and thing unexpected and surprising, they had no polished to elegance, may give lustre to works regard to that uniformity of sentiment which which have more propriety, though less copious enables us to conceive and to excite the painsness of sentiment. and the pleasures of other minds ; they never This kind of writing, which was, I believe, inquired what, on any occasion, they should borrowed from Marino and his followers, had have said or done ; but wrote rather as beholders been recommended by the example of Donne, a than partakers of human nature; as beings man of very extensive and various knowledge; looking upon good and evil, impassive and at and by Jonson, whose manner resembled that Teisure; as Epicurean deities, making remarks of Donne more in the ruggedness of his lines, on the actions of men, and the vicissitudes of than in the cast of his sentiments. life, without interest and withont emotion. When their reputation was high, they had Their courtship was void of fondness, and their undoubtedly more imitators than time has left lamentation of sorrow. Their wish was only behind. Their immediate successors, of whom ho say what they hoped had never been said any resemblance can be said to remain, were before
Suckling, Waller, Denham, Cowley, CleiveNor was the sublime more within their reach land, and Milton. Denham and Waller sought than the pathetic, for they never attempted that another way to fame, by improving the harmony comprehension and expanse of thought which at of our numbers. Milton tried the metaphysic once fills the whole mind, and of which the first style only in his lines upon Hobson the Carrier. effect is sudden astonishment, and the second Cowley adopted it, and excelled his predeces. rational admiration. Sublimity is produced by sors, having as much sentiment and more muaggregation, and littleness by dispersion. Great sic. Suckling neither improved versification, nor thoughts are always general, and consist in posi- abounded in conceits. The fashionable style tions not limited by exceptions, and in descrip- remained chiefly with Cowley; Suckling could tions not descending to minuteness. It is with not reach it, and Milton disdained it. great propriety that subtlety, which in its ori
CRITICAL REMARKS are not easily understood ginal import mcans exility of particles, is taken without examples; and I have therefore collectin its metaphorical meaning for nicety of dis- ed instances of the modes of writing by which tinction. Those writers who lay on the watch this species of poets, (1or poets they were called for novelty, could have little hope of greatness ; l by themselves and their admirers,) was emifor great things cannot have escaped former ob- nently distinguished. servation. Their attempts were always ana- As the authors of this race were perhaps more lytic; they broke every image into fragments; desirous of being admired than understood, they and could no more represent, by their slender sometimes drew their conceits from recesses of conceits and laboured particularities, the pros-learning not very much frequented by common pects of nature, or the scenes of life, than he readers of poetry. Thus Cowley on Know who dissects a sun-beam with a prism, can ex- ledge: hibit the wide effulgence of a summer noon. What they wanted, however, of the sublime,
The sacred tree 'midst the fair orchard grew,
The phenix Truth did on it rest, they endeavoured to supply by hyperbole ; their And built his perfum'd nest, amplification had no limits ; they left not only That right Porphyrian tree which did true logic shew, reason but fancy behind them; and produced
Each leaf did learned notions give,
And th' apples were demonstrative : combinations, of confused magnificence, that
So clear their colour and divine, not only could not be credited, but could not be The very shade they cast did other lights outshino. imagined
Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, ON ANACREON CONTINUING A LOVER IN HIS OLD is never wholly lost; if they frequently threw away their wit upon false conceits, they like- Love was with thy life entwind, wise sometimes struck out unexpected truth: if Close as heat with fire is join'd; their conceits were far-fetched, they were often A powerful brand prescribed the date
orthine, like Meleager's fate. worth the carriage. To write on their plan it
Th' antiperistasis of age was at least necessary to read and think. No More entlamed thy amorous rage. man could be born a metaphysical poet, nor assume the dignity of a writer, by descriptions
In the following verses we have an allusion to copied from descriptions, by imitations borrow- a Rabbinical opinion concerning manna : ed from imitations, by traditional imagery, and Variety I ask not: give me one hereditary similes, by readiness of rhyme, and To live perpetual upon. volubility of syllables.
The person Love does to us fit,
Like manna, has the taste of all in it. In perusing the works of this race of authors, the mind is exercised either by recollection or Thus Donne shows his medicinal knowledge inquiry; either something already learned is to in some encomiastic verses:
In every thing there naturally grows
'I ne fate of Egypt i sustain,
And never feel the dew of rain,
From clouds which in the head appear;
But all my too much moisture owe
To overflowings of the heart below.
the ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice: Though the following lines of Donne, on the last night of the year, have something in them And yet this death of mine, I fear, too scholastie, they are not inelegant:
Will ominous to her appear:
When sound in every other part,
Her sacrifice is found without an heart.
For the last tempest of my death
Shall sigh out that too with my breath.
That the chaos was harmonized, has been re-
cited of old; but whence the different sounds Debtor to thold, nor creditor to th' new.
arose remained for a modern to discover: That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot, Nor trust I this with hopes; and yet scarce true
Th’ungovernd parts no correspondence knew, This bravery is, since these times show'd me you.
An artless war from thwarting motions grew; Donne.
Till they to number and fixt rules were brought.
Water and air he for the Tenor chose, Yet more abstruse and profound is Donne's
Earth made the Bass; the Treble, flame arose. reflection upon Man as a Microcosm :
The tears of lovers are always of great poeti-
cal account; but Donne has extended them into All the world's riches: and in good men, this
worlds. If the lines are not easily understood, Virtue, our form's form, and our soul's soul, is. they may be read again. Of thoughts so far-fetched, as to be not only
On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay unexpected, but unnatural, all their books are An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, full,
And quickly make that which was nothing all
So doth each tear, TO A LADY WHO WROTE POESIES FOR RINGS.
Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impre sion grow,
Till thy tears mixt with mine do overflow
On reading the following lines, the reader
may perhaps cry out-“Confusion worse con The sun, which is esteem'd the god of wit.
Cowley. Here lies a she sun, and a he moon here, The difficulties which have been raised about
She gives the best light to his sphere,
Or each is both, and all, and so identity in philosophy, are by Cowley with still They unto one another nothing owe. more perplexity applied to Love:
Who but Donne would have thought that a
Though God be our true glass through which we see
All, since the being of all things is he:
Deeds of good men; for by their
remote ideas could be brought
together? Twere incest, which by nature is forbid.
Since 'tis my doom, Love's undershrieve, The love of different women is, in geographi
Why doth my she advowson fly cal poetry, compared to travels through different
To sell thyself dost thou intend
By candle's end,
And hold the contrast thus in doubt,
Life's taper out?
Think but how soon the market fails,
Your sex lives faster than the males,
And it to measure age's span, What joy could'st take, or what repose,
The sober Julian were th account of man, In countries so uncivilized as those ?
Whilst you live by the fleet Gregorian. Lust, the scorching dog-star, here
Cleiveland. Rages with immoderate heat; Whila Pride, the rugged northern bear,
Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these In others makes the cold too great, And where these are temperate known,
may be examples The soil's all barren sand, or rocky stone.
By every wind that comes this way,
Such and so many I'll repay
Cooley. to Egypt:
His Miscellanies contain a collection of short pression, such varied similitude, such a succescompositions, written, some as they were dictat- sion of images, and such a dance of words, it is ed by a mind at leisure, and some as they were in vain to expect except from Cowley. His called forth by different occasions, with great strength always appears in his agility; his volavariety of style and sentiment, from burlesque tility is not the flutter of a light, but the bound levity to awful grandeur. Such an assemblage of an elastic mind. His levity never leaves his of diversified excellence no other poet has hither-learning behind it; the moralist, the politician, to afforded. To choose the best, among many and the critic, mingle their influence even in this good, is one of the most hazardous attempts of airy frolic of genius. To such a performance, criticism. I know not whether Scaliger himself Suckling could have brought the gayety but not has persuaded many readers to join with him in the knowledge : Dryden could have supplied his preference of the two favourite odes, which the knowledge, but not the gayety. he estimates in his raptures at the value of a The verses to Davenant, which are vigorouskingdom. I will
, however, venture to recom- ly begun, and happily concluded, contain some mend Cowley's first piece, which ought to be in hints of criticism very justly conceived and hapscribed “To my Muse,” for want of which the pily expressed. Cowley's critical abilities have second couplet is without reference. When the not been sufficiently observed; the few decisions title is added, there will still remain a defect; and remarks, which his prefaces and his notes for every piece ought to contain in itself what- on the Davideis supply, were at that time accesever is necessary to make it intelligible. Pope sions to English literature, and show such skill has some epitaphs without namnes; which are as raises our wish for more examples. therefore epitaphs to be let, occupied indeed for The lines from Jersey are a very curious and the present, but hardly appropriated.
pleasing specimen of the familar descending to The Ode on Wit is almost without a rival. It the burlesque. was about the time of Cowley that wit, which His two metrical disquisitions for and against had been till then used for intellection, in contra- Reason, are no mean specimens of metaphysidistinction to will, took the meaning, whatever cal poetry. The stanzas against knowledge it be, which it now bears.
produce little conviction. In those which are Of all the passages in which poets have exem- intended to exalt the human faculties, reason plified their own precepts, none will easily be has its proper task assigned it ; that of judging, found of greater excellence than that in which not of things revealed, but of the reality of reCowley condemns exuberance of wit :
velation. In the verses for Reason, is a passage Yet 'tis not to adorn and gild each part,
which Bentley, in the only English verses which That shows more cost than art,
he is known to have written, seems to have Jewels at nose and lips but ill appear;
copied, though with the inferiority of an Rather than all things wit, let none be there. Several lights will not be seen,
imitator. If there be nothing else between.
The Holy Book like the eighth sphere doth shine
So numberless the stars, that to our eye
It makes all but one galaxy. man of his time was proud to praise, there are,
Yet reason must assist, too; for, in seas
So vast and dangerous as these, as there must be in all Cowley's compositions, Our course by stars above we cannot know some striking thoughts, but they are not well Without the compass too below, wrought. His elegy on Sir Henry Wotton is After this says Bentley:*
SA vigorous and happy: the series of thoughts is
Who travels in religious jars, easy and natural; and the conclusion, though a Truth mix'd with error, shade with rays, little weakened by the intrusion of Alexander, is
Like Whiston wanting pyx or stars, elegant and forcible.
In ocean wide or sinks or strays. It may be remarked, that in this Elegy, and Cowley seems to have had what Milton is be in most of his encomiastic poems, he has forgot- lieved to have wanted, the skill to rate his own ten or neglected to name his heroes.
performances by their just value, and has thereIn his poem on the death of Hervey, there is fore closed his Miscellanies with the verses upon much praise, but little passion; a very just and Crashaw, which apparently excel all that have ample delineation of such virtues as a studious gone before them, and in which there are beauties privacy admits, and such intellectual excellence which common authors may justly think not as a mind not yet called forth to action can dis- only above their attainment, but above their play. He knew how to distinguish, and how to ambition. commend, the qualities of his companions ; but, To the Miscellanies succeed the Anacreonwhen he wishes to make us weep, he forgets tiques, or paraphrastical translations of some little to weep himself, and diverts his sorrow by poems, which pass, however
unjustly, under the imagining how his crown of bays, if he had it, same name of Anacreon. Of these songs dediwould crackle in the fire. It is the odd fate of cated to festivity and gayety, in which even the this thought to be the worse for being true. morality is voluptuous, and which teach nothing The bay leaf crackles remarkably as it burns, as but the enjoyment of the present day, he has therefore this property was not assigned it by given rather a pleasing than a faithful reprechance, the mind must be thought sufficiently at sentation, having retained their sprightliness, ease that could attend to such minuteness of but lost their simplicity. The Anacreon of physiology. But the power of Cowley is not so Cowley, like the Homer of Pope, has admitted much to move the affections, as to exercise the the decoration of some modern graces, by which understanding.
he is undoubtedly more amiable to common The Chronicle is a composition unrivalled and alone: such gayety of fancy, such facility of ex- Dodsley's Collection of Poems, vol v--R