Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ABRAHAM COWLEY.

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

B

THE MOTTO.

Noisy nothing! stalking shade!

By what witchcraft wert thou made .
TENTANDA VIA EST, &c.

Empty cause of solid harms!
WHAT shall I do to be for ever known,

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.
Unless you write my elegy ;
Whilst others great, by being born, are grown ;,

Sure I shall rid myself of thee
Their mothers' labor, not their own.

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.
If I, her vulgar stone, for either look,

Out of myseli' it must be strook.
Yet I must on. What sound is't strikes mine ear?
Sure I Fame's trumpet hear:

OF MYSELF.
It sounds like the last trumpet; for it can This only grant me, that my means may lie
Raise up the buried man.

Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Unpast Alps stop me; but I'll cut them all,

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,
Welcome the Mantuan swan, Virgil the wise ! These unbought sports, this happy state,

Whose verse walks highest, but not flies ; I would not fear, nor wish, my fate;
Who brought green Poesy to her perfect age,

But boldly say each night,
And made that art which was a rage. Tomorrow let my sun his beams display,
Tell me, ye mighty Three! what shall I do Or in clouds hide them; I have liv'd to-day.

To be like one of you?
But you have climb'd the mountain's top, there sit

On the calm flourishing head of it,
And, whilst with wearied steps we upwards go,

THE CHRONICLE.
See us, and clouds, below

A BALLAD.
MARGARITA first possest,

If I remember well, my breast
HONOR.

Margarita first of all;

But when awhile the wanton maid She loves, and she confesses too;

With my restless heart had play'd,
There's then, at last, no more to do ;

Martha took the flying ball.
The happy work's entirely done;
Enter the town which thou hast won;

Martha soon did it resign
The fruits of conquest now begin;

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)
Remains there still an enemy?

To Eliza's conquering face.
Bold Honor stands up in the gate,
And would yet capitulate ;

Eliza till this hour mig ign,
Have I o'ercome all real foes,

Had she not evil counsels ta'er. And shall this phantom me oppose ?

Fundamental laws she broke

OR,

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.)
And cast away her yoke.

Than Holingshed or Stow.
Mary, then, and gentle Anne,

But I will briefer with them be,
Both to reign at once began;

Since few of them were long with me
Alternately they sway'd,

An higher and a nobler strain
And sometimes Mary was the fair,

My present emperess does claim,
And sometimes Anne the crown did wear, Heleonora, first o' th' name;
And sometimes both I obey'd.

Whom God grant long to reign! Another Mary then arose,

And did rigorous laws impose ;
A mighty tyrant she!

ANACREONTICS :
Long, alas! should I have been
Under that iron-scepter'd queen,
Had not Rebecca set me free

SOME COPIES OF VERSES,
When fair Rebecca set me free,

Translated paraphrastically out of Anacreon 'Twas then a golden time with me: But soon those pleasures filed;

1. LOVE.
For the gracious princess dy'd,
In her youth and beauty's pride,

I'LL sing of' heroes and of kings,
And Judith reigned in her stead.

In mighty numbers, mighty things.

Begin, my Muse! but lo! the strings
One month, three days, and half an hour,

To my great song rebellious prove;
Judith held the sovereign power:

The strings will sound of nought but love.
Wondrous beautiful her face!

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;
And so Susanna took her place.

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.
Greater conquests to find out,

Farewell, then, heroes! farewell, kings
She beat out Susan by the by.

And mighty numbers, mighty things!

Love tunes my heart just to my strings
But in her place I then obey'd

Black-ey'd Bess, her viceroy-maid ;
To whom ensued a vacancy :

The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
Thousand worse passions then possest

And drinks, and gapes for drink again,
The interregnum of my breast;

The plants suck-in the earth, and are
Bless me from such an anarchy!

With constant drinking fresh and fair;

The sea itself (which one would think
Gentle Henrietta then,

Should have but little need of drink)
And a third Mary, next began;

Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria ;

So fill'd that they o'erflow the cup.
And then a pretty Thomasine,

The busy Sun (and one would guess
And then another Catharine,

By's drunken fiery face no less)
And then a long et cætera.

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,
The strength and riches of their state;

They drink and revel all the night.
The powder, patches, and the pins,

Nothing in nature's sober found,
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings,

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?
If I should tell the politic arts

Why, man of morals, tell me why?
To take and keep men's hearts ;
The letters, embassies, and spies,

III. BEAUTY.
The frowns, and smiles, and flatteries,
The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,

LIBERAL Nature did dispense
(Numberless, nameless, mysteries !) To all things arms for their defence;

And some she arms with sinewy force,
And all the little lime-twigs laid,

And some with swiftness in the course;
By Machiavel the waiting-maid ;

Some with hard hoofs or forked claws,
I more voluminous should grow

And some with horns or tusked jaws :

II. DRINKING.

IX. ANOTHER.

And some with scales, and some with wings,
And some with teeth, and some with stings.
Wisdom to man she did afford,
Wisdom for shield, and wit for sword.
What to beauteous womankind,
What arms, what armor, has sh' assign'd ?
Beauty is both ; for with the fair
What arms, what armor, can compare ?
What steel, what gold, or diamond,
More impassable is found?
And yet what flame, what lightning, e'er
So great an active force did bear?
They are all weapon, and they dart
Like porcupines from every part.
Who can, alas! their strength express,
Arm'd, when they themselves undress,
Cap-a-pie with nakedness?

UNDERNEATH this myrtle shade,
On flowery beds supinely laid,
With odorous oils my head o'erflowing.
And around it roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The heat and troubles of the day?
In this more than kingly state
Love himself shall on me wait.
Fill to me, Love; nay, fill it up;
And mingled cast into the cup
Wit, and mirth, and noble fires,
Vigorous health and gay desires.
The wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Why do we precious ointments show'r ?
Nobler wines why do we pour?
Beauteous flowers why do we spread,
Upon the monuments of the dead ?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses whilst I live,
Now your wines and ointments give;
After death I nothing crave,
Let me alive my pleasures have,
All are Stoics in the grave.

V. AGE.

Ort am I by the women told,
Poor Anacreon! thou grow'st old :
Look how thy hairs are falling all ;
Poor Anacreon, how they fall!
Whether I grow old or no,
By th' effects, I do not know;
This I know, without being told
Tis time to live, if I grow old ;
"Tis time short pleasures now to take
Of little life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake.

X. THE GRASSHOPPER.

VII. GOLD.

A MIGHTY pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss
But, of all pains, the greatest pair
It is to love, but love in vain.
Virtue now, nor noble blood,
Nor wit, by love is understood
Gold alone does passion move
Gold monopolizes 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 digg'd 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 us'd it first in love!
Gold begets in brethren hate ;
Gold in families debate ;
Gold does friendships separate ;
Gold does civil wars create.
These the smallest harms of it!
Gold, alas! does love beget.

Happy Insect! what can be
In happiness compar'd to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy Morning's gentle wine!
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill ;
'Tis fill'd wherever thou dost tread,
Nature's self's 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 does sow and plow;
Farmer he, and landlord thou !
Thou dost innocently joy ;
Nor does thy luxury destroy ;
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
The country hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripen'd year!
Thee Phæbus loves, and does inspire ,
Phæbus is hiinself 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 danc'd, and sung
Thy fill, the flow'ry leaves among,
(Voluptuous, and wise withal,
Epicurean animal!)
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.

VIII. THE EPICURE.

Fill the bowl with rosy wine!
Around our temples roses twine!
And let us cheerfully awhile,
Like the wine and roses, smile.
Crown'd with roses, we contemn
Gyges’ wealthy diadem.
To-day is ours, what do we fear?
Today is ours; we have it here:
Let's treat it kindly, that it may
Wish, at least, with us to stay.
Let's banish business, banish sorrow;
l'o the gods belongs to-mestow

XI. THE SWALLOW. Foolish Prater, what dost thou So early at my window do.

With thy tuneless serenade?
Well't had been had Tereus made
Thee as dumb as Philomel;
There his knife had done but well.
In thy undiscover'd nest
Thou dost all the winter rest,
And dreamest o'er thy summer joys,
Free from the stormy seasons' noise,
Free from th' ill thou'st done to me;
Who disturbs or seeks out thee?
Hadst thou all the charming notes
Of the wood's poetic throats,
All thy art could never pay
What thou hast ta'en from me away.
Cruel bird! thou'st ta'en away
A dream out of my arms to-day;
A dream, that ne'er must equall'd be
By all that waking eyes may see
Thou, this damage to repair,
Nothing half so sweet or fair,
Nothing half so good, canst bring,
Though men say thou bring'st the Spring.

ELEGY UPON ANACREON; WHO WAS CHOKED BY A GRAPE STONE.

SPOKEN BY THE GOD OF LOVE.

How shall I lament thine end,
My best servant and my friend?
Nay, and, if from a deity
So much deified as I,
It sound not too profane and odd,
Oh, my master and my god!
For 'tis true, most mighty poet!
(Though I like not men should know it)
I am in naked Nature less,
Less by much, than in thy dress.
All thy verse is softer far
T'han the downy feathers are
Of my wings, or of my arrows,
Of my mother's doves or sparrows,
Sweet as lovers' freshest kisses,
Or their riper following blisses;
Graceful, cleanly, smooth, and round,
All with Venus' girdle bound;
And thy life was all the while
Kind and gentle as thy style,
The smooth-pac'd hours of every day
Glided numerously away.
Like thy verse each hour did pass ;
Sweet and short, like that, it was.

Some do but their youth allow me,
Just what they by Nature owe me,
The time that's mine, and not their own,
The certain tribute of my crown:
When they grow old, they grow to be
Too busy, or too wise, for me.
Thou wert wiser, and didst know
None too wise for love can grow;
Love was with thy life entwin'd,
Close as beat with fire is join'd;
A powerful brand prescrib'd the date
Of thine, like Meleager's fate.
Th' antiperistasis of age
More inflam'd thy amorous rage;
Thy silver hairs yielded me more
Than even golden curls before.

Had I the power of creation,
As I have of generation,
Where I the matter must obey,
And cannot work plate out of clay,
My creatures should be all like thee,
"Tis thou should'st their idea be:
They, like thee, should thoroughly hate
Business, honor, title, state ;
Other wealth they should not know,
But what my living mines bestow;
The pomp of kings, they should confess,
At their crownings, to be less
Than a lover's humblest guise,
When at his mistress' feet he lies.
Rumor they no more should mind
Than men safe landed do the wind ;
Wisdom itself they should not hear,
When it presumes to be severe ;
Beauty alone they should admire,
Nor look at Fortune's vain attire.
Nor ask what parents it can show;
With dead or old 't has nought to do.
They should not love yet all, or any,
But very much and very many :
All their life should gilded be
With mirth, and wit, and gaiety;
Well remembering and applying
The necessity of dying.
Their cheerful heads should always wear
All that crowns the flowery year:
They should always laugh, and sing,
And dance, and strike th' harmonious string
Verse should from their longues so flow,
As if it in the mouth did grow,
As swiftly answering their command,
As tunes obey the artful hand.
And whilst I do thus discover
Th’ ingredients of a happy lover,
"Tis, my Anacreon! for thy sake
I of the grape no mention make.

Till my Anacreon by thee fell.
Cursed Plant! I lov'd thee well;
And 'twas oft my wanton use
To dip my arrows in thy juice,
Cursed Plant! 'tis true, I see,
The old report that goes of thee-
That with giants' blood the Earth
Stain'd and poison'd gave thee birth ;
And now thou wreak'st thy ancient spite
On men in whom the gods delight.
Thy patron, Bacchus, 'tis no wonder,
Was brought forth in flames and thunder
In rage, in quarrels, and in fights,
Worse than his tigers, he delights;
In all our Heaven I think there be
No such ill-natur'd god as he.
Thou pretendest, traitorous Wine !
To be the Muses' friend and mine :
With love and wit thou dost begin,
False fires, alas! to draw us in;
Which, if our course we by them keep,
Misguide to madness or to sleep:
Sleep were well, thou'st learn't a way
To death itself now to betray.

It grieves me when I see what fate
Does on the best of mankind wait.
Poets or lovers let them be,
"Tis neither love nor poesy
Can arm, against Death's smallest dart,
The poet's head or lover's heart;

« ZurückWeiter »