Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

When fair Rebecca set me free,
'Twas then a golden time with me,

But soon those pleasures fled;
For the gracious princess died,
In her youth and beauty's pride,

And Judith reigned in her stead. One month, three days, and balf an hour, Judith held the sovereign power :

Wondrous beautiful her face,
But so weak and small her wit,
That she to govern was unfit,

And so Susannah took her place.
But when Isabella came,
Armed with a resistless flame;

By the artillery of her eye,
Whilst she proudly marched about,
Greater conquest to find out,

She beat out Susan, by the bye.
But in her place I then obeyed
Black-eyed Bess, her viceroy.maid,

To whom ensued a vacancy. Thousand worse passions then possessed The interregnum of my breast,

Bless me from such an anarchy!
Gentle Henrietta then,
And a third Mary next began ;

Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria,
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Catherine,

And then a long et cetera.
But should I now to you relate
The strength and riches of their state,

The powder, patches, and the pins,
The ribands, jewels, and the rings,
The lace, the paint, and warlike things,

That make up all their magazines ; If I should tell the politic arts To take and keep men's hearts,

The letters, embassies, and spies, The frowns, the smiles, and flatteries, The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,

Numberless, nameless mysteries !
And all the little lime-twigs laid
By Machiavel the waiting-maid ;

I more voluminous should grow,
Chiefly if I, like them, should tell
All change of weather that befell,

Than Holinshed or Stowe.

But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me

An 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.

OF SOLITUDE.

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.

[blocks in formation]

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.

THE GRASSHOPPER.

From Anacreon.
Happy insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee ?
Fed with nourishinent divine,
The dewy morning's gentle wine !
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup doth fill ;
"Tis filled wherever thou does 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 Phoebus loves and doth inspire;
Phoebus 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.

DRINKING.

From Anacreon.
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 one 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 goes 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 morals, tell me why?

GOLD.

From Anacreon.
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 understoord,
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 does friendship separate ;
Gold does 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
farniliar letters.

[blocks in formation]

a fine

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 “ 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,

threatening a down pour: and all the signs of the earth testified to the foregone deluge that had already confined us to the house until our patience was worn to a thread. Heavy drops fell from the eaves, the trees in the park were dripping from every bough, the fallen leaves under the trees dank with moisture, the grass as wet as if it grew in a ford, the gravelwalks soft and plashy, the carriage-drives no better than mud. In short, it was the very dismalest weather that ever answered to the name of “a fine open day ;” and our sportsmen accordingly had all sallied forth to enjoy it, some to join Sir John's hounds, some to a great coursing meeting at Streatley.

As we stood at the windows bemoaning our imprisonment, we saw that the drizzle was fast settling into steady rain, and that there was no more chance of a ride on horseback, or a drive in an open carriage, than of the exhilarating walk which is the proper exercise of Christmas. All the pets about the park sympathised in our afflictions. The deer dropped off to their closest covert; the pied peacock, usually so stately and so dignified as he trailed his spotted train after him, when he came to the terrace to tap at the window for his dole of cake, actually sneaked away when suinmoned, in pure shame at his draggled tail; the swans looked wet through. The whole party seemed chilled and disınal, and I was secretly meditating a retreat to my mother's dressing-room, to enjoy in quiet a certain volume of “ Causes Célèbres,” which I had abstracted from the library for my own private solace, when everybody was startled by a proposal of the only gentleman left at home; a young barrister, who had had sufficient courage to confess his indifference to field sports, and who now, observing on the ennui that seemed to have seized upon the party, offered to use his best efforts to enliven us by reading aloud-by reading a law-book. Fancy the exclamations at a medicine so singularly ill-adapted to the disease! For my own part, I was not so much astonished. I suspected that the young gentleman had got hold of another volume of my dearly beloved “ Causes Célèbres,” and was about to minister to our discontent by reading a French trial. But the rest of the party laughed and exclaimed, and were already so much aroused by the proposal, that the cure might be said to be more than half accomplished, before our learned teacher opened the pages of the “ Pleader's Guide."

I wish I could communicate to my extracts the zest that his selections derived from his admirable reading, and from the humorous manner in which he expounded the mystery of

« ZurückWeiter »