Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Beloe contends that Lodge was a prior satirist to Hall; which he confirms by extracts from his Fig for Momus, 1595, written with great harmony and simple force. If Hall was obscure, Lodge, in the specimen given, never falls into the same fault.

But I return to his pastoral poems. In ancient writings, we frequently meet with beautiful passages; but whole compositions are seldom free from the most striking inequalities; from inharmonious verses; from lame, or laboured and quaint expressions; and creeping or obscure thoughts. In Lodge we find whole pastorals and odes, which have all the ease, polish, and elegance of a modern author. How natural is the sentiment, and how

sweet the expression of the following in Old Damon's Pastoral:

" Homely hearts do harbour quiet ;

Little fear, and mickle solace;
States suspect their bed and diet;

Fear and craft do haunt the palace.
Little would I, little want I,

Where the mind and store agreeth;
Smallest comfort is not scanty;

Least he longs that little seeth.
Time hath been that I haye longed,

Foolish I to like of foliy,
To converse where honour thronged,

To my pleasures linked wholly.
Now I see, and seeing sorrow

That the day consum'd returos not.
Who dare trust upon to morrow,

When nor time nor life sojourns not!" How charmingly he breaks out in The Solitary Shepherd's Song O shady vale, O fair enriched meads,

O sacred woods, sweet fields, and rising mountains; O painted flowers, green herbs where Fiora treads,

Refresh'd by wanton winds and watry fountains!" Is there one word or even accent obsolete in this pictu. resque and truly poetical stanza?

But if such a tender and moral fancy be ever allowed to trifle, is there any thing of the same kind in the whole

compass

compass of English poetry more exquisite, more delicately imagined, or expressed with more finished and happy artifice of language, than Rosalind's Madrigal, beginning

" Love in my bosom, like a bee,

Doth suck his sweet :
Now with his wings he plays with me,

Now with his feet.
Within mine eyes he makes his rest;
His bed amidst iny tender breast;
My kisses are his daily feast;
And yet lie robs me of my rest.

Ah, wanion, will ye ?" In the present age, if there be a fashion which indulges in too indiscriminate a love of antiquity, there are many who think that rarity attached to the works of an old author is a proof of demerit. How then can we account for the neglect and obscurity of a miscellany which contains such poems as these ? Compare Dr. Lodge not only with his cotemporaries but his successors, and who, except Breton, has so happily anticipated the taste, simplícity, and purity of the most refined age?

As to Breton, if he possessed less sentiment than Lodge, perhaps his fancy was still more delicate and playful, and his expression not less simple and harmonious. Phillida and Coridon, since it has been known through the popular collections of Percy and Ellis, is, I believe, an universal favourite.

The productions of the same age generally betray the same moulds : still the materials of which they are cast, vary in infinite degrees. It is genuine taste alone, which can discrimimate the immeasurable difference. Thenatlıral association of ideas art can never imitate with effect. The sound may be the same; but it is hollow and unavailing; it touches neither the fancy, nor the heart.

In this collection the pieces of the most celebrated authors are the worst: they seem to be either the last gleanings of their pens; or the weak productions of their earliest efforts." The verses called Lord Surry's are indeed very pretly : but the poems of Spenser and Drayton are almost contemptible. b 4

An

An extraordinary stanza commences Menaphon's Roundelay, by GREENE: it bears some faint resemblance to the noble opening of Gray's Elegy: “ When tender ewes brought home with evening sun

Wend to their fold,

And to their hold The shepheards trudge when light of day is done." Doron's description of his fair Shepherdess Samela, by the same author, abounds with poetical expression, and smoothness of rhythm. There is something ingenious both in the design and language of Montanus his Madrigal.

The manner of Watson is laboured, and more like a Echolar, than like one who has drank of the real waters of Helicon.

In the fragments of SIR EDWARD Dyer it is difficult to discover the origin of that fame which he enjoyed in his life as a fit companion in genius and pursuits for the illustrious Sydney.

But it will be better to proceed to more regular

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES.

1. Henry Howard Earl of Surrey.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The history and character of this accomplished nobleman have been so often repeated, that it would be useless to say much of him here. But Mr. Alexander Chalmers, in his late edition of British Poets, has proved in his memoir of this author, (Vol, JI. 315, &c.) that some of the principal dates and anecdotes, which have hitherto been transmitted without inquiry, will not stand the test of a critical examination. Mr. Chalmers thinks that the poet was born as early as 1515; and believes that he commenced his travels earlier than 15:6. Much doubt is thrown by him on the story of the Earl's attachment to Fair Geraldine. Lord Surrey, having been condemned on the most frivolous pretences, was beheaded in 1547. His poems were first printed in small 4to. by Tottel, 1557; under the titte of Songes and Sonettes. They were re

printed

[ocr errors]

printed 1565, 1567, 1569, 1574, 1585, 1587, and twice in 1717. They are included in Anderson's and Chalmers's Poets. The late Bishop Percy also printed a new edition some years ago: but the whole impression perished in Mr. Nichols's fire, 1808. The public expectation has long been raised by the promised edition of Dr. Nott.

The only pieces ascribed to Lord Surrey in this Collection are Harpalus Compluint, p. 40, and The Complaint of Thestylis, p. 52. In truth they belong to the Poems of Uncertain Authors. They possess an ease and simplicity, and pastoral spirit, especially the former, far beyond their age.

2. Edward Vere Earl of Oxford. His Lordship was born about 154.1, and died June 24, 1604. See a memoir of him in the Preface (p. x.) to the Paradise of Dainty Deuices, 1810, 4to. The only piece of his in the present volume is at p. 87. It is casy and elegant; and discovers powers not untouched with the gift of poetry.

3. Sir Philip Sydney, Börn 1554, died 1586. His life, so glorious in the annals of his country, has been lately written at large by Dr. Zouch. The present Collection contains fifteen of his pieces : not in general among his best. The poem, p. 21%, entitled, Two Pastorals upon three frienu s meeting : (viz. Edward Dyer, Fulk Grevile, and Philip Sydney ;) is very pleasing: the chorus is well adapted.

“ Join hearts and hands, so let it be;

Make but one miud in bodies three."
The Song of Astrophell to his Stella, beginning

" In a grove most rich of shade,

Where birds wanton music made," is well known. It is in Ellis's and other modern Collections. I would not hastily differ from Mr. Ellis: but it seems to me doubtful whether Sydney's amatory verses

are

are “ descriptive of real passion." I think his poetical was not his strongest talent. In his poetry his genius does not ever appear to me to be paramount to his art.

4. Sir Edward Dyer. The birth of Sir Edward Dyer is placed by Mr. Ellis about 1540. He was educated at Oxford, and afterwards employed in several embassies, particularly to Denmark in 1589; and on his return from thence made Chancellor of the Garter on the death of Sir John Wolley, and at the same time knighted. Mr. Park has kindly furnished me with the following curious memoranda from Aubrey's MS. Auctarium Vitarum in the Ashmole Museum at Oxford.

" Sir Edward Dyer of Sharpham Park, Somersetshire,

was a great critic, poet, and acquaintance of Mary, “ Countess of Pembroke and Sir Philip Sydney. He is 66 mentioned in the Preface of the Arcadia. He had " 4000l. per annum, and was left fourscore thousand " pounds in money.

He wasted it almost all. This " i had from Captain Dyer, his great grandson, or 6 brother's great grandson. I thought he had been the

of the Lord Chief Justice : but that was a mis“ take. The judge was of the same family, the Captain 46 tells me.”

Sir Edward was a great chymist; and a dupe of Dr. Dee, and Edward Kelly.

He died some years after King James came to the throne; and was succeeded in his Chancellorship of the Garter by Sir Edward Herbert, Knight, Principal Secretary of State. +

Śix pieces of Sir Edward are here preserved. The first three stanzas of the first have been selected by Mr. Ellis,

son

• Sums so large for those days, (when the 'rental of a great feudal Earl did not amount to 2000l. a year,) that they cannot casily be credited!

+ Theatr. Poet. Angl. 144, 147.

5. Edmund

« ZurückWeiter »