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LIFE OF THOMAS CAREW,
BY MR. CHALMERS.
Tois elegant poet was the yonnger brother of sir Matthew Carew, a zealous adherent to the fortunes of Charles I. and of the family of the Carews in Gloucestershire, but descended from the more ancient family of that name in Devonshire. He is supposed to have been bom in 1589'. According to Anthony Wood, he received his academical education at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, but was neither matriculated, nor took any degree.
After leaving college, he improved himself by travelling, according to the custom of the age, and associating with men of learning and talents both at home and abroad : and being distinguished for superior elegance of manners and taste, he was received into the court of Charles I. as gentleman of the privy chamber, and sewer i ordinary. His wit had recommended him to his sovereign, who, however, Clarendon informs us, incurred the displeasure of the Scotch nation by bestowing upon him the place of sewer, in preference to a gentleman recommended upon the interest of the courtiers of that nation.
He appears after this appointment to have passed his days in affluence and gaiety. His talents were highly valued by his contemporaries, particularly Ben Jonson and sir William Davenant. Sir John Suckling, only, in his Session of the Poets, insinuates that his poems cost bim more labour than is consistent with the fertility of real genius. But of this there are not many marks visible in bis works, and what sir John mistakes for the labour of costiveness may have been only the laudable care le employed in bringing bis verses to a higher degree of refinement than any of his contemporaries.
His death is said to have taken place in 1639, which agrees with the information we have in Clarendon's life. “He was a person of a pleasant and facetious wit, and made many poems (especially in the amorous way) which for the sharpness of the fancy, and the elegance of the language, in which that fancy was spread, were at least equal, if not suiperior to any of that time : but bis glory was, that after fifty years of his life spent with less severity or exactness than it ought to have been, he died with great remorse for that licence, and with the greatest manifestation of christianity, that his best friends could desire.” It is pleasing to record such ample atonement for the licentiousness of some of his poems, which, however, his editors have hitherto persisted in handing down to posterity.
It does not appear that any of his poems were published during his life-time, except such as were set to music. The first collection was printed in 12njo. 1640, the second in 1642, the third (not in 1654 as Cihber asserts, but) in 1651, and a fourth in 1670. In 1772 Mr. Thomas Davies published an edition, with a few notes, and a short character, in which the
MS. note in my copy of the edition 1651, probably on the authority of Clarendon hereafter given.
writer has taken for granted some particulars for which no authority can be found. This edition, with some necessary omissions and corrections, has been principally used on the present occasion. A dialogue, in irregular measure, is printed in Mr. Ellis's Specimens, from a manuscript in the possession of Mr. Malone.
Carew's Cælum Britannicum, at one time erroneously attributed to Davenant, was printed with the first editions of his poems, and afterwards separately in 1651. Lang. baine, and Cibber after him, says that our author placed the Latin notes on the front, when printed, but no edition printed in his life-time, is now known. The distich, however, might have been prefixed to the music of the Masque.
Oldys, in his MSS. notes on Langbaine, informs us, that “ Carew's Sonnets were more in request than any poet's of his time, that is between 1630 and 1640. They were many of them set to music by the two famous composers, Henry and William Lawes, and other eminent masters, and sung at court in their masques.” It may be added that Carew was one of the old poets whom Pope studied, and from whom he borrowed. Dr. Percy honours him with the compliment of being an “elegant, and almost forgotten writer, whose poems deserve to be revised.” But no modern critic appears to have estimated bis merit with more liberality than Mr. Headley; his opinion however, is here copied, not without suspicion that his enthusiasm may be thought to have carried him too far.
“ The consummate elegance of this gentleman entitles him to very considerable attention. Sprightly, polished, and perspicuous, every part of his works displays the man of sense, gallantry, and breeding; indeed many of his productions have a certain happ! finish, and betray a dexterity both of thought and expression much superior to any thing of his contemporaries, and on similar subjects, rarely surpassed by his successors. Cares has the ease without the pedantry of Waller, and perhaps less conceit. He reminds us of the best manner of lord Lyttelton. Waller is too exclusively considered as the first mæ who brought versification to any thing like its present standard. Carew's pretensions de the same merit are seldom sufficiently either considered, or allowed. Though love had long before softened us into civility, yet it was of a formal, ostentatious, and romantic cast; and, with a very few exceptions, its effects upon composition were similar to thos on manners. Something more light, unaffected, and alluring, was still wanting; in every thing but sincerity of intention it was deficient. Panegyric, declamatory and nauseous, was rated by those to whom addressed, on the principle of Ruben's taste for beauty, by its quantity, not its elegance. Satire, dealing in rancour rather than reproof, was more inclined to lash than to laugh us out of our vices; and nearly counteracted her intention by her want of good manners. Carew and Waller jointly began to remedy those defects In them, gallantry, for the first time, was accompanied by the Graces, the fulsomness of panegyric forgot its gentility, and the edge of satire rendered keener in proportion to its smoothness. Suckling says of our author in his Session of the Poets, that
the issue of his brain
“ In Lloyd's Worthies, Carew is likewise called “elaborate and accurate.' However the fact might be, the internal evidence of his poems says no such thing. Hame has properly remarked, that Waller's pieces, aspire not to the sublime, still less to the pathetic. Carew, in his beautiful Masque, has given us instances of the former; and, in his Epitaphi on lady Mary Villers, eminently of the latter."
Of rare beauty and sweet feature
Was bestow'd on you by nature
To be enjoy'd, and 't were a sin N Ow that the winter's gone, the Earth hath lost there to be scarce, where she hath been
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the So prodigal of her best graces; Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream [frost Thus common beauties and mean faces Upon the silver lake, or chrystal stream:
Shall have more pastime, and enjoy But the warm Sun thaws the benummed Earth The sport you lose by being coy. And makes it tender, gives a sacred birth
Did the thing for which I sue, To the dead swallow, wakes in hollow tree
Only concern myself, not you; T'he drowsy cuckow and the humble bee.
Were men so fram'd as they alone Now do a quire of chirping minstrels bring
Reap'd all the pleasure, women none, In triumph to the world, the youthful Spring :
Then had you reason to be scant; The vallies, hills, and woods, in rich array,
But 't were a madness not to grant Welcome the coming of the long'd-for May.
That which affords (if you consent) Now all things smile; only my love doth low'r: To you the giver, more content Nor hath the scalding noon-day-Sun the pow'r
Than me the beggar; ob then be To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
Kind to yourself, if not to me; Her heart congeal'd, and makes her pity cold.
Starve not yourself, because you may The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Thereby make me pine away ; Into the stall, doth pow securely lie
Nor let brittle beauty make In open fields : and love no more is made
You your wiser thoughts forsake: By the fire-side; but in the cooler shade
For that lovely face will fail; Amyntas now doth with bis Cbloris sleep
Beauty's sweet, but beauty's frail; Under a sycamore, and all things keep
*T is sooner past, 't is sooner done Time with the season ; only she doth carry
Than summer's rain, or winter's sun;
Most fleeting, when it is most dear;
Will change their auburn hue, and grow
White, and cold as winter's snow.
Tbat eye which now is Cupid's nest
Will prove his grave, and all the rest Think not, 'cause men fatt'ring say,'
Will follow ; in the cheek, chin, nose, Y' are fresh as April, sweet as May,
Nor lilly shall be found, nor rose; Bright as is the morning-star,
And what will then become of all That you are so; or though you are,
Those, whom now you servants call ? Be not therefore proud, and deem
Like swallows, when your summer's done All men unworthy your esteem :
They 'll fly, and seek some warmer sun. For being so, you lose the pleasure
Then wisely chuse one to your friend, Of being fair, since that rich treasure
Whose love may (when your beauties end)
Remain still firm: be provident,
Nor need I beg from all the store And think before the summer's spent
Of Heaven for her one beauty more: Of following winter; like the ant
She hath too much divinity for me:
Ye gods, teach her some more humanity!
A BEAUTIFUL MISTRESS.
If when the Sun at noon displays
His brighter rays, When beauty, youth, and all sweets leave ber,
Thou but appear, Love may return, but lovers never:
He then all pale with shame and fear, And old folks say there are no pains
Quencheth his light, Like itch of love in aged veins.
Hides his dark brow, flies from thy sight, Oh love me then, and now begin it,
And grows more dim, Let us not lose this present minute:
Compar'd to thee, than stars to him. For time and age will work that wrack
If thou but show thy face again, Which time or age shall ne'er call back.
When darkness doth at midnight reign, The snake each year fresh skin resumes,
The darkaess flies, and light is hurl'd And eagles change their aged plumes;
Round about the silent world : The faded rose each spring receives
So as alike thou driv'st away
Both light and darkness, night and day.
A CRUEL MISTRESS.
We read of kings, and gods, that kindly took
A slaughter'd bull will appease angry Jove;
A horse the Sun, a Jamb the god of love;
But she disdains the spotless sacrifice
Of a pure heart, that at her altar lies.
But my saint frowns, though to her bonour'd nalet
With bended knees I daily worship her, Whereat the Lips, mov'd with delight and pleasure, Yet she consumes her own idolater. Through a sweet smileunlock'd their pearlytreasure; Of such a goddess no times leave record, And bade Lore judge, whether did add more grace, That burnt the temple where she was ador'd. Weeping or smiling pearls in Celia's face.
A DIVINE MISTRESS.
In Nature's pieces still I see
I'll gaze no more on her bewitching face,