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It is the beggars' music, and thus sings, –
I had a doubt whether to put this exquisite passage into the present volume, or to reserve it for one of Contemplative poetry; but the imagination, which few will not think predominant in it, together with a great admiration of the sentiments, of the thoughtful, good-natured alternation of jest and earnest, and of the sweetness of the versification, increased by a certain wild mixture of rhyme and blank verse, determined me to indulge the impulse. Perhaps Decker, who had experienced the worst troubles of poverty, not excepting loss of liberty, drew his patient man from himself, half jesting over the portrait, in order to reconcile his praises of the virtue in the abstract with a modest sense of it in his own person. To the strain in it of a “higher mood,” I cannot but append what Mr. Hazlitt has said in his Lectures on the Literature of the Age of Elizabeth (Templeman's edition, p. 21).
" There have been
persons who, being sceptics as to the divine mission of Christ, have taken an unaccountable prejudice to his doctrines, and have been disposed to deny the merit of his character ; but this was not the feeling of the great men in the age of Elizabeth (wbatever might be their belief), one of whom says of him, with a boldness equal to its piety, · The best of men,
&c. (Here the lecturer quotes the verses alluded to, and adds,) “ This was honest old Decker ;
and the lines ought to embalm his memory to every one who has a sense either of religion, or philosophy, or humanity, or true genius."
A WICKED DREAM.
Vittoria Corombona. To pass away the time I'll tell your grace
This harmless yew.
Flamineo (aside). No; the devil was in your dream.
Vit. Cor. When to my rescue there arose, methought,
And both were struck dead by that sacred yew,
Flamineo (aside). Excellent devil! she hath taught him in a dream To make away his duchess and her husband.
O thou soft natural death, that art joint twin
(Sung by a Mother over her Son.)
Call for the robin redbreast and the wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover,
And with leaves of flowers do cover
Call unto his funeral dole
The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,
"I never saw,” says Lamb, “ anything like this dirge, except the ditty which reminds Ferdinand of his drowned father in the Tempest. That is of the water, watery; so this is of the earth, earthy. Both have that intenseness of feeling which seems to resolve itself into the elements which it contemplates.”—Dramatic Specimens, Moxon's edition, vol. i. p. 251.
Be not cunning ;
BEAUTEOUS MORAL EXAMPLE.
Her I hold
BORN, 1608,- DIED, 1674.
It is difficult to know what to do with some of the finest passages in Milton's great poem. To treat the objectionable points of their story as mythological, might be thought irreverent to opinion; and to look upon them in the light in which he at first wished us to regard them (for he is understood to have changed his own opinions of it), involves so much irreverence towards the greatest of beings, that it is painful to seem to give them countenance. The difficulty is increased in a volume of the present kind, which is intended to give the reader no perplexity, except to know what to admire most. I have, therefore, thought it best to confine the extracts from Paradise Lost to unconnected passages; and the entire ones to those poems which he wrote when a happy youth, undegenerated into superstition. The former will still include his noblest flights of imagination: the rest are ever fresh, true, and delightful
Milton was a very great poet, second only (if second) to the very greatest, such as Dante and Shakspeare; and,