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ABRAHAM COWLEX, a poet of considerable dis- virtue of a degree which he obtained, by mnandamus tinction, was born at London, in 1618. His father, from Oxford, in December, 1657. who was a grocer by trade, died before his birth ; After the death of Cromwell, Cowley returned but his mother, through the interest of her friends, to France, and resumed his station as an agent in procured his admission into Westminster school, the royal cause, the hopes of which now began to as a king's scholar. He has represented himself as revive. The Restoration reinstated hini, with other so deficient in memory, as to have been unable to royalists, in his own country; and he naturally ex retain the common rules of grammar: it is, how-pected a reward for his long services. He had ever, certain that, by some process, he became an been promised, both by Charles I. and Charles II., elegant and correct classical scholar. He early the Mastership of the Savoy, but was unsuccessful imbibed a taste for poetry; and so soon did it germi- in both his applications. He had also the misfortune nate in his youthful mind, that, while yet at school, of displeasing his party, by his revived comedy of in his fifteenth or sixteenth year, he published a “The Cutter of Coleman-street,” which was concollection of verses, under the appropriate title of strued as a satire on the cavaliers. At length Poetical Blossoms.
through the interest of the Duke of Buckingham In 1636 he was elected a scholar of Trinity col- and the Earl of St. Alban's, he obtained a lease of lege, Cambridge. In this favorable situation he ob- a farm at Chertsey, held under the queen, by which tained much praise for his academical exercises ; his income was raised to about 300l. per annum. and he again appeared as an author, in a pastoral From early youth a country retirement had been comedy, called Love's Riddle, and a Latin comedy, a real or imaginary object of his wishes ; and, entitled, Naufragium Joculare ; the last of which though a late eminent critic and moralist, who had was acted before the university, by the members himself no sensibility to rural pleasures, treats this of Trinity college. He continued to reside at Cam- taste with severity and ridicule, there seems little bridge till 1643, and was a Master of Arts when reason to decry a propensity, nourished by the fa. he was ejected from the university by the puritani- vorite strains of poets, and natural to a mind long cal visitors. He thence removed to Oxford, and tossed by the anxieties of business, and the vicissi. fixed himself in St. John's college. It was here tudes of an unsettled condition. that he engaged actively in the royal cause, and Cowley took up his abode first at Barn-elms, on was present in several of the king's journeys and the banks of the Thames; but this place not agree. expeditions, but in what quality, does not appear. ing with his health, he removed to Chertsey. Here lle ingratiated himself, however, with the principal his life was soon brought to a close. According to persons about the court, and was particularly hon- his biographer, Dr. Sprat, the fatal disease was an ored with the friendship of Lord Falkland. affection of the lungs, the consequence of staying
When the events of the war obliged the queen- too late in the fields among his laborers. Dr mother to quit the kingdom, Cowley accompanied Warton, however, from the authority of Mr. Spence. her to France, and obtained a settlement at Paris, gives a different account of the matter. He says, in the family of the earl of St. Alban's. During an that Cowley, with his friend Sprat, paid a visit on absence of nearly ten years from his native coun- foot to a gentleman in the neighborhood of Cherttry, he took various journeys into Jersey, Scotland, sey, which they prolonged, in free conviviality, till Holland, and Flanders; and it was principally midnight; and that missing their way on their rethrough his instrumentality that a correspondence turn, they were obliged to pass the night under a was maintained between the king and his consort. hedge, which gave to the poet a severe cold and The business of ciphering and deciphering their fever, which terminated in his death. He died on letters, was intrusted to his care, and often occu- July 28, 1667, and was interred, with a most honpied his nights, as well as his days. It is no won-orable attendance of persons of distinction, in Westder that, after the Restoration, he long complained minster-abbey, near the remains of Chaucer and of the neglect with which he was treated. In Spenser. King Charles II. pronounced his eulogy, 1656, having no longer any affairs to transact by declaring, “that Mr. Cowley had not left a abroad, he returned to England; still, it is sup- better man behind him in England.” posed, engaged in the service of his party, as a me- At the time of his death, Cowley certainly ranked dium of secret intelligence. Soon after his arrival, as the first poet in England; for Milton lay under he published an edition of his poems, containing a cloud, nor was the age qualified to taste him. most of those which now appear in his works. In And although a large. portion of Cowley's celebrity a search for another person, he was apprehended by has since vanished, there still remains enough to the messengers of the ruling powers, and committed raise him to a considerable rank among the British to custody; from which he was liberated, by that poets. It may be proper here to add, that as a generous and learned physician, Dr. Scarborough, prose writer, particularly in the department of who bailed him in the sum of a thousand pounds. essays, there are few who can compare with him This, however, was possibly the sum at which he in elegant simplicity. wis rated as a physician, a character he assumed by
Noisy nothing! stalking shade!
By what witchcraft wert thou made .
Empty cause of solid harms!
But I shall find out counter-charms And make the age to come my own
Thy airy devilship to remove | shall, like beasts or common people, die,
From this circle here of love.
Sure I shall rid myself of thee
By the night's obscurity, In this scaie gold, in th' other fame does lie,
And obscurer secrecy! The weight of that mounts this so high.
Unlike to every other sprite, These men are Fortune's jewels, moulded bright; Thou attempt'st not men to fright,
Brought forth with their own fire and light: Nor appear'st but in the light.
Out of myseli' it must be strook.
Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Some honor I would have, And march, the Muses' Hannibal.
Not from great deeds, but good alone; Hence, all the flattering vanities that lay
Th' unknown are better than ill known: Nets of roses in the way!
Rumor can ope the grave. Hence, the desire of honors or estate,
Acquaintance I would have, but when't depends And all that is not above Fate!
Not on the number, but the choice, of friends. Hence, Love himself, that tyrant of my days! Which intercepts my coming praise.
Books should, not business, entertain the light, Come, my best friends, my books! and lead me on; And sleep, as undisturb'd as death, the night "Tis time that I were gone.
My house a cottage more Welcome, great Stagyrite! and teach me now Than palace; and should fitting be All I was born to know:
For all my use, no luxury. Thy scholar's victories thou dost far outdo;
My garden painted o'er He conquer'd th' earth, the whole world you. With Nature's hand, not Art's; and pleasures yield Welcome, learn'd Cicero! whose blest tongue and Horace might envy in his Sabine field.
wit Preserves Rome's greatness yet :
Thus would I double my life's fading space ; Thou art the first of orators; only he
For he, that runs it well, twice runs his race Who best can praise thee, next must be.
And in this true delight,
Whose verse walks highest, but not flies ; I would not fear, nor wish, my fate;
But boldly say each night,
To be like one of you?
On the calm flourishing head of it,
If I remember well, my breast
Margarita first of all;
But when awhile the wanton maid She loves, and she confesses too;
With my restless heart had play'd,
Martha took the flying ball.
Martha soon did it resign
To the beauteous Catharine. Iő, triumphe! enter in.
Beauteous Catharine gave place
(Though loth and angry she to part What's this, ye gods! what can it be?
With the possession of my heart)
To Eliza's conquering face.
Eliza till this hour mig ign,
Had she not evil counsels ta'er. And shall this phantom me oppose ?
Fundamental laws she broke
And still new favorites she chose,
(Chiefly if I like them should tell Till up in arms my passions rose,
All change of weathers that befell.)
Than Holingshed or Stow.
But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me
An higher and a nobler strain
My present emperess does claim,
Whom God grant long to reign! Another Mary then arose,
And did rigorous laws impose ;
SOME COPIES OF VERSES,
Translated paraphrastically out of Anacreon 'Twas then a golden time with me: But soon those pleasures filed;
I'LL sing of' heroes and of kings,
In mighty numbers, mighty things.
Begin, my Muse! but lo! the strings
To my great song rebellious prove;
The strings will sound of nought but love.
I broke them all, and put on new; But so weak and small her wit,
'Tis this or nothing sure will do. That she to govern was unfit,
These, sure, (said I) will me obey;
These, sure, heroic notes will play.
Straight I began with thundering Jove, But when Isabella came,
And all th' immortal powers; but Love, Arm'd with a resistless flame,
Love smil'd, and from m'enfeebled lyre And th' artillery of her eye;
Came gentle airs, such as inspire Whilst she proudly march'd about,
Melting love and soft desire.
Farewell, then, heroes! farewell, kings
And mighty numbers, mighty things!
Love tunes my heart just to my strings
Black-ey'd Bess, her viceroy-maid ;
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 twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd 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 'as done
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun: But should I now to you relate
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. The lace, the paint, and warlike things, Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high, That make up all their magazines ;
Fill all the glasses there; for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?
LIBERAL Nature did dispense
And some she arms with sinewy force,
And some with swiftness in the course;
Some with hard hoofs or forked claws,
And some with horns or tusked jaws :
And some with scales, and some with wings,
UNDERNEATH this myrtle shade,
Ort am I by the women told,
X. THE GRASSHOPPER.
A MIGHTY pain to love it is,
Happy Insect! what can be
VIII. THE EPICURE.
Fill the bowl with rosy wine!
XI. THE SWALLOW. Foolish Prater, what dost thou So early at my window do.
With thy tuneless serenade?
ELEGY UPON ANACREON; WHO WAS CHOKED BY A GRAPE STONE.
SPOKEN BY THE GOD OF LOVE.
How shall I lament thine end,
Some do but their youth allow me,
Had I the power of creation,
Till my Anacreon by thee fell.
It grieves me when I see what fate