« ZurückWeiter »
148 for Clothing French Prisoners of War,. . 403
An Account of the Harleian Library
Preface to the Catalogue of the Harleian
the Translation of Father Lobo's Journal of Eight Days' Journey from Portsmouth
Preface to "An Essay on Milton's use and imi- Reply to a paper in the Gazetteer, May 26, 1757 599
tation of the Moderns in his Paradise Lost” 519 Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope 601
Considerations on the Plans offered for the Miscellanies on Moral and Religious Subjects,
in Verse and Prose, by Anna Williams" 549 Fort Augustus
A Dissertation upon the Greek Comedy, trans- The Highlands
General Conclusion on Brumoy's Greek Theatre 569 Sky. Armi le.
Preface to the Artists' Catalogue for 1762 583 Grissipol in Col
Castle of Col.
OPINIONS ON QUESTIONS OF LAW, Ulva
On School Chastisement
On Lav-Patronage in the Church of Scotland 586 PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS, with
On Pulpit Ceng ire
588 Preface by the Rev. George Strahan, D.D. 669
THE Life of Cowley, notwithstanding the pen- time, that his teachers never could bring it to reury of English biography, has been written by tain the ordinary rules of grammar.” Dr. Sprat, an author whose pregnancy of imagin- This is an instance of the natural desire of man ation and elegance of language have deservedly to propagate a wonder. It is surely very difficult set him high in the ranks of literature ; but his to tell any thing as it was heard, when Sprat zval of friendship, or ambition of eloquence, has could not refrain from amplifying a commodious produced a funeral ora:ion rather than a history : incident, though the book to which he prefixhe has given the character, not the life, of Cowed his narrative contained his confutation. A ley; for he writes with so little detail, that scarcely memory admitting some things, and rejecting any thing is distinctly known but all is shown others, an intellectual digestion that concocted confused and enlarged through the mist of pane- the pulp of learning, but refused the husks, had Lyric.
the appearance of an instinctive elegance, of a ABRAHAM Cowley was born in the year one particular provision made by Nature for literary thousand six hundred and eighteen. His fãther was politeness. But in the author's own honest rela. a grocer, whose condition Dr. Sprat conceals un- tion, the marvel vanishes: he was, he says, such der the general appellation of a citizen; and, what “an enemy to all constraint, that his master would probably not have been less carefully sup- never could prevail on him to learn the rules pressed, the omission of his name in the register without book.” He does not tell that he could of St. Dunstan's parish gives reason to suspect not learn the rules; but that, being able to perthat his father was a sectary. Whoever he was, form his exercises without them, and being an he died before the birth of his son, and conses “enemy to constraint,” he spared himself the quently left him to the care of his mother; whom labour. Wood represents as struggling earnestly to pro- Among the English poets, Cowley, Milton, and cure him a literary education, and who, as she Pope, might be said " to lisp in numbers," and lived to the age of eighty, had her solicitude re- have given such early proofs, not only of powers warded by seeing her son eminent, and, I hope, by of language, but of comprehension of things, as seeing him fortunate, and partaking his prosperity. to more tardy minds seem scarcely credible. But We know, at least, from Sprat's account, that of the learned puerilities of Cowley there is no he always acknowledged her care, a:id justly paid doubt, since a volume of his poems was not only the dues of nlial gratitude.
written, but printed in his thirteenth year;* conIn the window of his mother's apartinent lay taining, with other poetical compositions, “The Spenser's Fairy Queen; in which he very carly tragical History of Pyramus and Thisbe," writtook delight to read, till, by feeling the charms of ten when he was ten years old ; and “Constantia verse, he became, as he relates, irrecoverably a and Philetus,” written two years after. poet. Such are the accidents which, sometimes While he was yet at school he produced a coremembered, and perhaps sometimes forgotten, medy called “Love's Riddle," though it was not produce that particular designation of mind, and published till he had been some time at Campropensity for some certain science or employ- bridge. This comedy is of the pastoral kind, ment, which is commonly called genius. The which requires no acquaintance with the living
true genius is a mind of large general powers, world, and therefore the time at which it was i accidentally determined to some particular direc- composed adds little to the wonders of Cowley's
tion. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great painter of minority.
.By his mother's solicitation he was admitted * This volume was not published before 1633, when into Westminster School, where he was soon dis-Cowley was fifteen years old. Dr. Johnson, as well as tinguished. He was wont, says Sprat, to relate, portrait of Cowley being by mistake inarked with the " That he had ? us defect in his memory at that! age of thirteen years.-R.
In 1636, he was removed to Cambridge, * where homage to his Laura, refined the manners of the he continued his studies with great intenseness : lettered world, and filled Europe with love and for he is said to have written, while he was yet a poetry. But the basis of all excellence is truth; young student, the greater part of his “Davideis;" he that professes love ought to feel its power. å work, of which the materials could not have Petrarch was a real lover, and Laura doubtless been collected without the study of many years, deserved his tenderness. Of Cowley, we are but by a mind of the greatest vigour and activity. told by Barnes, who had means enough of in
Two years after his settlement at Cambridge formation, that, whatever he may talk of his own he published "Love's Riddle,” with a poetical inflammability, and the variety of characters by dedication to Sir Kenelm Digby; of whose ac- which his heart was divided, he in reality was quaintance all nis contemporaries seem to have in love but once, and then never 'iad resolution been ambitious; and “Naufragium Joculare," to tell his passion. a comedy written in Latin, but without due at- This consideration cannot but abate, in some tention io the ancient models; for it was not measure, the reader's esteem for the work and loose verse, but mere prose. It was printed, with the author. To love excellence, is natural; it is a dedication in verse to Dr. Comber, master of natural likewise for the lover to solicit reciprocal the college ; but, having neither the facility of a regard by an elaborate display of his own qualificapopular nor the accuracy of a learned work, it tions. The desire of pleasing has in different men seems to be now universally neglected.
produced actions of heroism, and effusions of wit; At the beginning of the civil war, as the Prince but it seems as reasonable to appear the champion passed through Cambridge in his way to York, as the poet of an “airy nothing,” and to quarrel he was entertained with a representation of the as to write for what Cowley might have learned “Guardian,” a comedy which Cowley says was from his master Pindar to call “ the dream of a neither written nor acted, but rough-drawn by shadow." him, and repeated by the scholars. That this It is surely not difficult in the solitude of a col. comedy was printed during his absence from his lege, or in the bustle of the world, to find useful country, he appears to have considered as injuri- studies and serious employment. No man needs ous to his reputation; though during the sup- to be so burdened with lite as to squander it in pression of the theatres, it was sometimes pri- voluntary dreams of fictitious occurrences. The fately acted with sufficient approbation. man that sits down to suppose himself charged
In 1643, being now master of arts, he was, by with treason or peculation, and heats his mind to the prevalence of the parliament, ejected from an elaborate purgation of his character from Cambridge, and sheltered himself at St. John's crimes which he was never within the possibility College, in Oxford ; where, as is said by Wood, of committing, differs only by the infrequency of he published a saure, called “The Puritan and his folly from him who praises beauty which le Papist,” which was only inserted in the last col- never saw ; complains of jealousy which he never lection of his Works; and so distinguished felt; supposes himself sometimes invited, and himself by the warmth of his loyalty and the ele- sometimes forsaken ; fatigues his fancy, and rangance of his conversation, that he gained the sacks his memory, for images which may exhibit kindness and confidence of those who attended the gayety of hope, or the gloominess of despair; the king, and amongst others of Lord Falkland, and dresses his imaginary Chloris or Phyllis, whose notice cast a lustre on all to whom it was sometimes in flowers fading as her beauty, and extended
sometimes in gems lasting as her virtues. About the time when Oxford was surrendered At Paris, as secretary to Lord Jerisyn, he was to the parliament, he followed the queen to Paris, engaged in transacting things of real inipoitance where he became secretary to the Lord Jermyn, with real men and real women, and at that time afterwards Earl of St. Alban's, and was employ- did not much employ his thoughts upon phaned in such correspondence as the royal cause toms of gallantry. Some of his letters to Mr. required, and particularly in cyphering and de- Bennett, afterwards Earl of Arlington, tiom cyphering the letters that passed between the April to December, in 1650, are preserved in king and queen; an employment of the highest" Aliscellanea Aulica,” a collection of papers confidence and honour.' So wide was his pro- published by Brown. These letters, being writvince of intelligence, that, for several years, it ien like those of other men whose minds are more filled all his days and two or three nights in the on things than words, contribute no otherwise to week.
his reputation than as they show him to bave In the year 1647, his " Mistress” was publish- been above the affectation of unseasonable eleed; for he imagined, as he declared in his pre- gance, and to have known that the business of a face to a subsequent edition, that “ poets are statesman can be little forwarded by flowers of scarcely thought freemen of their company with rhetoric. out paying some duties, or obliging ihemselves One passage, however, seems not unworthy of to be true to Love."
some notice. Speaking of the Scotch treaty then This obligation to amorous ditties owes, I be- in agitation : lieve, its original to the fame of Petrarch, who, in “The Scotch treaty," says he, “is the only an age rude and uncultivated, by his tuneful thing now in which we are vitally concerned: 1
| am one of the last hopers, and yet cannot now * He was a candidate this year at Westminster School abstain from believing, that an agreement will be for election to Trinity College, but proved unsuccessful. made; all people upon the place incline to that | In the first edition of this Life, Dr. Johnson wrote,
of union. The Scotch will moderate something “which was never inserted in any collection of his of the rigour of their demands; the mutual neworks ;” but he altered the expression when the Lives were collected into volumes. The satire was added to Cowley's Works by the particular direction of Dr. John. son --N.
Barnesii Anacreontem.- Dr. J.
cessity of an accord is visible, the King is per the security of a thousand pounds given by Di. suailed of it. And to tell you the truth which I Scarborough. take to be an argument above all the rest,) Virgil This year he published his poems with a pie has told the same thing to that purpose.” face, in which he seems to have inserted soice
This expression from a secretary of the present thing suppressed in subsequent editions, wh.ca time would be considered as merely ludicrous, or was interpreted to denote some relaxation of mis at most as an ostentatious display of scholarship; loyalty. In this preface he declares, that “ but the manners of that time were so tinged with desire had been for some days past, and did 8.6 superstition, that I cannot but suspect Cowley very vehemcntly continue, to retire himself n of having consulted on this great occasion the some of the American plantations, and to forsa : Virgilian Lots,* and to have given sone credit this world for ever." to the answer of his oracle.
From the obloquy which the appearance of Some years afterwards, “business,” says submission to the usurpers brought upon him, las Sprat, "passed of course into other hands; and biographer has been very diligent to clear hir), Cowley, being no longer useful at Paris, was in and indeed it does not seem to have lessened los 1656, sent back into England, that under pre- reputation. His wish for retirement we can eas y tence of privacy and retirement, he might take believe to be undissembled; a man harassed in occasion of giving notice of the posture of things one kingdom, and persecuted in another, wiin, in this nation.”
after a course of business that employed all us Soon after his return to London, he was days and half his nights, in cyphering and de. seized by some messengers of the usurping cyphering, comes to his own country, and ster's powers who were sent out in quest of another into a prison, will be willing enough to retire co man; and, being examined, was put into confine- some place of quiet and of safety. Yet let neith cr ment, from which he was not dismissed without our reverence for a genius, nor our pity for a siif
ferer, dispose us to forget that, if his activity was Consulting the Virgilian Lots, Sortes Virgilianæ, is virtue, his retreat was cowardice. a method of divination by the opening of Virgil, and ap- He then took upon himself the character of a plying to the circumstances of the peruser the first pas: physician, still, according to Sprat, with intention sage in either of the two pages that he accidentally fixes his eye on. It is said that King Charles I. and Lord Falk.
to dissemble the main design of his coming land being in the Bodleian Library, made this experiment over;" and, as Mr. Wood relates, “compiyog of their future fortunes, and mee with passages equally with the men then in power, (which was much ominous to each. That of the king was the following:
taken notice of by the royal party,) he obtained an At bello audacis populi vexatus et armis,
order to be created doctor of physic; which being Finibus extorris, complexu avulsus Iuli,
done to his mind, (whereby he gained the ill-will Auxilium implorel, videatque indigna suorum of some of his friends,) he went into France again, Funera: nec, cum se sub leges pacis inique Tradiderit, regno aut optata luce fruatur:
having made a copy of verses on Oliver's death. Sed cadet ante diem, mediaque inhumatus arena.
This is no favourable representation, yet even Æneid iv. 615. in this not much wrong can be discovered. How
far he complied with the inen in power, is to be Yet let a race untamed, and haughty foes, His peaceful entrance with dire arms opposo,
inquired before he can be blamed. It is not said Oppress'd with numbers in th' unequal field, that he told them any secrets, or assisted them His men discouraged, and himsell expellid; by intc'ligence or any other act. If he only proLet him for auccour sue from place to place, mised to be quiet, that they in whose hands he Torn from his subjects and his son's embrace. First let him see his friends in battle slain,
was, might free him froin confinement, he did And their untimely fate lament in vain :
what no law of society prohibits. And when, at length, the cruel war shall cease, The man whose miscarriage in a just cause has On hard conditions may he buy his peace;
put him in the power of his enemy, may, without Nor let him then enjoy supreme command, But fall untimely by some hostile hand,
any violation of his integrity, regain his liberty, or And lie unbury'd on the barren sand.
preserve his life, by a promise of neutrality : fer, Dryden. the stipulation gives the enemy nothing which he
had not before, the neutrality of a capl.ve may Lori Falkland's :
be always secured by his imprisonmeni or deuin. Non hæc, O Palla, iederas promissa parenti,
He that is at the disposal of another may not pro Cautius ut svo velles te credere Marii. Haud ignarus eram, quantum nova gloria in armis, mise to aid him in any injurious act, because no Et predulce decus primo certamine possel.
power can compel active obedience. He niey Primicia juvenis miseræ, bellique propinqui Dura rudiinenta, et nulla exaudita Deorum
engage to do nothing, but not to do ill. Voa, precesque mez'
There is reason to think that Cowley promiso Æneid xi. 152. little. It does not appear that his compliance
gained him confidence enough to be trusted wilde O Pallas, thou hast fail'd thy plighted word, To figbe with caution, not to lepipt the sword;
out security, for the bond of his bail was never I warn'd thee, but in vain, for well I knew
cancelled: nor that it made him think himseit se. What perils youthful ardour would pursue ; cure ; for at that dissolution of government wl.ch That boiling blood would carry thee too far,
followed the death of Oliver, he returned into Young as thou wert to dangers, raw to war. O curs'il essay of arms, disastrous doom,
France, where he resumed his former station, and Prelude of bloody fields and fights to come!
staid till the restoration. Hard elements of imauspicious war,
“He continued,” says his biographer, “under Vain vows to Heaven, and unavailing care!
these bonds till the general deliverance ;" it is Dryden.
therefore to be supposed, that he did not go to Hoffman, in his Lexicon, gives a very satisfactory ac, France, and act again for the king, without !18 count of this practice of seeking fates in books; and consent of his bondsman; that he did not snow says, that it was used by the Pagans, the Jewish Rabbins, his loyalty at the hazard of his friend, but by tus and even the early Christians : the latter taking the New Testament for their oracle.-H.