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PHINEAS AND GILES FLETCHER.
But the warm sun thaws the benumb'd earth, deserving of much praise; they were endowed with And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
minds eminently poetical, and not inferior in imagiTo the dead swallow ; wakes in hollow tree
nation to any of their contemporaries. But an inThe drowsy cuckoo, and the humble bee ;
judicious taste, and an excessive fondness for a style Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
which the public was rapidly abandoning, that of In triumph to the world the youthful spring. allegorical personification, prevented their powers The valleys, hills, and woods, in rich array,
from being effectively displayed.' Mr Campbell Welcome the coming of the long'd for May.
remarks, . They were both the disciples of Spenser, Now all things smile.
and, with his diction gently modernised, retained much of his melody and luxuriant expression. Giles, inferior as he is to Spenser and Milton, might be figured, in his happiest moments, as a link of con
nexion in our poetry between these congenial spirits, These brother poets were sons of Dr Giles Fletcher, for he reminds us of both, and evidently gave hints and cousins of Fletcher the dramatist ; both were to the latter in a poem on the same subject with clergymen, whose lives afforded but little variety of Paradise Regained." These hints are indeed very incident. Phineas was born in 1584, educated at plain and obvious. The appearance of Satan as an Eton and Cambridge, and became rector of Hilgay, aged sire slowly footing' in the silent wilderness, in Norfolk, where he died in 1650. Giles was younger the temptation of our Saviour in the 'goodly garden,' than his brother, but the date of his birth has not and in the Bower of Vain Delight, are outlines been ascertained. He was rector of Alderton, in which Milton adopted and filled up in his second Suffolk, where he died, it is supposed, some years epic, with a classic grace and force of style unbefore his brother.
known to the Fletchers. To the latter, however, The works of PHINEAS FLETCHER consist of the belong the merit of original invention, copiousness Purple Island, or the Isle of Man, Piscatory Eclogues, of fancy, melodious numbers, and language at times and miscellaneous poems. The Purple Island was rich, ornate, and highly poetical. If Spenser had published in 1633, but written much earlier, as ap- not previously written his Bower of Bliss, Giles pears from some allusions in it to the Earl of Essex. Fletcher's Bower of Vain Delight would have been The name of the poem conjures up images of poeti- unequalled in the poetry of that day; but probably, cal and romantic beauty, such as we may suppose a like his master Spenser, he copied from Tasso. youthful admirer and follower of Spenser to have drawn. A perusal of the work, however, dispels this illusion. The Purple Island of Fletcher is no
Happiness of the Shepherd's Life. sunny spot amid the melancholy main,' but is an elaborate and anatomical description of the body and
[From the Purple Island.] mind of man. He begins with the veins, arteries, Thrice, oh thrice happy, shepherd's life and state ! bones, and muscles of the human frame, picturing When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns ! them as hills, dales, streams, and rivers, and describ- His cottage low and safely humble gate ing with great minuteness their different meander, Shuts out proud Fortune with her scorns and fawns : ings, elevations, and appearances. It is admitted No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep, that the poet was well skilled in anatomy, and the Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep; first part of his work is a sort of lecture fitted for Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep. the dissecting room. Having in five cantos exhausted his physical phenomena, Fletcher proceeds No Syrian worms he knows, that with their thread to describe the complex nature and operations of the Draw out their silken lives : nor silken pride : mind. Intellect is the prince of the Isle of Man, and His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need, he is furnished with eight counsellors, Fancy, Me- Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed : mory, the Common Sense, and five external senses. No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright; The Human Fortress, thus garrisoned, is assailed by Nor begging wants his middle fortune bite : the Vices, and a fierce contest ensues for the posses- But sweet content exiles both misery and spite. sion of the human soul. At length an angel interposes, and insures victory to the Virtues, the angel Instead of music, and base flattering tongues, being King James I., on whom the poet condescended Which wait to first salute ny lord's uprise ; to heap this fulsome adulation. From this sketch The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs, of Fletcher's poem, it will be apparent that its worth And birds sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes : must rest, not upon plot, but upon isolated passages In country plays is all the strife he uses ; and particular descriptions. Some of his stanzas Or sing, or dance unto the rural Muses ; have all the easy flow and mellifluous sweetness of And but in music's sports all difference refuses. Spenser's Faery Queen ; but others are marred by His certain life, that never can deceive him, affectation and quaintness, and by the tediousness Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content: inseparable from long-protracted allegory. His fancy The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him was luxuriant, and, if better disciplined by taste and with coolest shades, till noon-tide rage is spent ; judgment, might have rivalled the softer scenes of His life is neither toss'd in boistrous seas Spenser. GILES FLETCHER published only one poetical Pleas'd and full blest he lives, when he his God can
Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease : production of any length-a sacred poem, entitled
please. Christ's Victory and Triumph. It appeared at Cambridge in 1610, and met with such indifferent suc. His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps, cess, that a second edition was not called for till While by his side his faithful spouse hath place ; twenty years afterwards. There is a massive gran. His little son into his bosom creeps, deur and earnestness about 'Christ's Victory' which The lively picture of his father's face : strikes the imagination. The materials of the poem Never his humble house nor state torment him : are better fused together, and more harmoniously Less he could like, if less his God had sent him; linked in connexion, than those of the Purple Island. And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, con. • Both of these brothers,' says Mr Hallam, 'are tent him.
[Decay of Human Greatness.)
Choice nymph! the crown of chaste Diana's train,
Thou beauty's lily, set in heavenly earth; (From the same.)
Thy fairs, unpattern'd, all perfection stain :
Hyperboles in others are but half thy due.
Upon her forehead Love his trophies fits,
A thousand spoils in silver arch displaying : Yet daily we it break, then daily must renew, And in the midst himself full proudly sits, Why shouldst thou here look for perpetual good,
Himself in awful majesty arraying : At ev'ry loss 'gainst heaven's face repining ?
Upon her brows lies his bent ebon bow, Do but behold where glorious cities stood,
And ready shafts ; deadly those weapons show; With gilded tops and silver turrets shining ;
Yet sweet the death appear'd, lovely that deadly blow. There now the bart fearless of greyhound feeds, And loving pelican in fancy breeds :
A bed of lilies flow'r upon her cheek, There screeching satyrs fill the people's empty stedes. And in the midst was set a circling rose ; Where is the Assyrian lion's golden hide,
Whose sweet aspect would force Narcissus seek That all the east once grasp'd in lordly paw!
New liveries, and fresher colours choose Where that great Persian bear, whose swelling pride To deck his beauteous head in snowy 'tire ; The lion's self tore out with rar'nous jaw?
But all in vain : for who can hope t' aspire Or he which 'twixt a lion and a pard,
To such a fair, which none attain, but all admire ! Through all the world with nimble pinions far'd,
Her ruby lips lock up from gazing sight And to his greedy whelps his conquer'd kingdoms A troop of pearls, which march in goodly row: shared.
But when she deigns those precious bones undight, Aardly the place of such antiquity,
Soon heavenly notes from those divisions flow, Or note of these great monarchies we find :
And with rare music charm the ravish'd ears, Only a fading verbal memory,
Daunting bold thoughts, but cheering modest fears : And empty name in writ is left behind :
The spheres so only sing, so only charm the spheres. But when this second life and glory fades,
Yet all these stars which deck this beauteous sky And sinks at length in time's obscurer shades,
By force of th' inward sun both shine and move; A second fall succeeds, and double death invades. Thron'd in her heart sits love's high majesty; That monstrous beast, which, nurs’d in Tiber's fen, In highest majesty the highest love. Did all the world with hideous shape affray;
As when a taper shines in glassy frame, That fill'd with costly spoil his gaping den,
The sparkling crystal burns in glittering flame, And trode down all the rest to dust and clay : So does that brightest love brighten this lovely dame. His batt'ring horns, pull'd out by civil hands And iron teeth, lie scatter'd on the sands;
[The Rainbow.] Back’d, bridled by a monk, with seven heads yoked stands.
(From the Temptation and Victory of Christ. By Gilos
As though his purer waves from heaven sprung, Who then shall look for happiness beneath ?
To crawl on earth, as doth the sluggish main : Where each new day proclaims chance, change, and But it the earth would water with his rain, death,
That ebb’d and flow'd as wind and season would ; And life itself 's as flit as is the air we breathe. And oft the sun would cleave the limber mould
To alabaster rocks, that in the liquid roll’d. [Description of Parthenia, or Chastity.] Beneath those sunny banks a darker cloud, With her, her sister went, a warlike maid,
Dropping with thicker dew, did melt apace, Parthenia, all in steel and gilded arms;
And bent itself into a hollow shroud, In needle's stead, a mighty spear she sway'd,
On which, if Mercy did but cast her face,
A thousand colours did the bow enchase,
That wonder was to see the silk distain'd
With the resplendence from her beauty gain'd, Flinging all to the earth with her enchanted spear.
And Iris paint her locks with beams so lively feign'd. Her goodly armour secm'd a garden green,
About her head a cypress heaven she wore, Where thousand spotless lilies freshly blew;
Spread like a veil, upheld with silver wire, And on her shield the lone bird might be seen,
In which the stars so burnt in golden ore, Th’ Arabian bird, shining in colours new ;
As seem'd the azure web was all on fire : Itself unto itself was only mate ;
But hastily, to quench their sparkling ire, Ever the same, but new in newer date :
A flood of milk came rolling up the shore, And underneath was writ ‘Such is chaste single state. That on his curded wave swift Argus wore,
And the immortal swan, that did her life deplore. Thus hid in arms she seem'd a goodly knight, And fit for any warlike exercise :
Yet strange it was so many stars to see, But when she list lay down her armour bright,
Without a sun to give their tapers light; And back resume her peaceful maiden's guise;
Yet strange it was not that it so should be ; The fairest maid she was, that ever yet
For, where the sun centres himself by right, Prison'd her locks within a golden net,
Her face and locks did flame, that at the sight Or let them waving hang, with roses fair beset.
The heavenly veil, that else should nimbly move,
Forgot his flight, and all incensed with love, 1 Places. 9 The Turk. With wonder and amazement, did her beauty prove.
Over her hung a canopy of state,
High over all, Panglorie's blazing throne, Not of rich tissue nor of spangled gold,
In her bright turret, all of crystal wrought, But of a substance, though not animate,
Like Phæbus' lamp, in midst of heaven, shone: Yet of a heavenly and spiritual mould,
Whose starry top, with pride infernal fraught, That only eyes of spirits might behold :
Self-arching columns to uphold were taught,
In which her image still reflected was
A silver wand the sorceress did sway,
And, for a crown of gold, her hair she wore;
Only a garland of rose-buds did play (From the same.]
About her locks, and in her hand she bore
A hollow globe of glass, that long before The garden like a lady fair was cut,
She full of emptiness had bladdered, That lay as if she slumber'd in delight,
And all the world therein depictured :
Whose colours, like the rainbow, ever vanished
But if they chance but roughly once aspire,
The painted bubble instantly doth fall.
Love is the blossom where there blows
Everything that lives or grows : Then up again her yellow locks she wound,
Love doth make the heaven's to move, And with green fillets in their pretty cauls them bound.
And the sun doth burn in love ; What should I here depaint her lily hand,
Like the strong and weak doth yoke, Her veins of violets, her ermine breast,
And makes the iry climb the oak ; Which there in orient colours living stand:
Under whose shadows lions wild Or how her gown with silken leaves is drest,
Soften'd by love grow tame and mild:
Love no medicine can appease, Or how her watchman, arın'd with boughy crest,
He burns the fishes in the seas ; A wall of prim hid in his bushes bears
Not all the skill his wounds can stench, a Shaking at every wind their leafy spears,
Not all the sea his fire can quench ; While she supinely sleeps, nor to be waked fears.
Love did make the bloody spear Over the hedge depends the graping elm,
Once a leafy coat to wear, Whose greener head, empurpuled in wine,
While in his leaves there shrouded lay Seemed to wonder at his bloody helm,
Sweet birds, for love, that sing and play: And half suspect the bunches of the vine,
And of all love's joyful flame Lest they, perhaps, his wit should undermine ;
I the bud and blossom am. For well he knew such fruit he never bore :
Only bend thy knee to me, But her weak arms embraced him the more,
Thy wooing shall thy winning be. And she with ruby grapes laugh'd at her paramour.
"See, see, the flowers that below
Now as fresh as morning blow,
Like unto a summer shade,
But now born and now they fade. Their stony nightingales had taught to call,
Everything doth pass away, When Zephyr breath'd into their watery interall. There is danger in delay ;
Come, come, gather then the rose, And all about, embayed in soft sleep,
Gather it, or it you lose. A herd of charmed beasts aground were spread,
All the sands of Tagus' shore Which the fair witch in golden chains did keep,
bosom casts his ore : And them in willing bondage fettered :
All the valleys' swimming corn Once men they liv'd, but now the men were dead, To my house is yearly borne; And turn'd to beasts ; so fabled Homer old,
Every grape of every vine That Circe with her potion, charm'd in gold,
Is gladly bruis’d to make me wine ; Used manly souls in beastly bodies to immould.
While ten thousand kings as proud
To carry up my train have bow'd, Through this false Eden, to his leman's bower,
And a world of ladies send me (Whom thousand souls devoutly idolise)
In my chambers to attend me; Our first destroyer led our Saviour;
All the stars in heaven that shine, There, in the lower room, in solemn wise,
And ten thousand more are mine : They danc'd a round and pour'd their sacrifice
Only bend thy knee to me, To plump Lyæus, and among the rest,
Thy wooing shall thy winning be.' . The jolly priest, in ivy garlands drest, Chanted wild orgials, in honour of the feast.
Thus sought the dire enchantress in his mind thrown into prison. He published various treatises, Her guileful bait to have embosomed :
satires, and poems, during this period, though he was But he her charms dispersed into wind,
treated with great rigour. He was released, under And her of insolence admonished,
bond for good behaviour, in 1663, and survived And all her optic glasses shattered.
nearly four years afterwards, dying in London on So with her sire to hell she took her flight
the 2d of May 1667. (The starting air flew from the damned sprite), Wither's fame as a poet is derived chiefly from his Where deeply both aggrier'd plunged themselves in early productions, written before he had imbibed the night.
sectarian gloom of the Puritans, or become emBut to their Lord, now musing in his thought, broiled in the struggles of the civil war. A colA heavenly rolley of light angels flew,
lection of his poems was published by himself in And from his father him a banquet brought
1622, with the title, Mistress of Philarete ; his ShepThrough the fine element, for well they knew, herds' Hunting, being certain Eclogues written After his Lenten fast, he hungry grew :
during the time of the author's imprisonment in the And as he fed, the holy choirs combine
Marshalsea, appeared in 1633. His Collection of To sing a hymn of the celestial Trine ;
Emblems, ancient and modern, Quickened with Me All thought to pass, and each was past all thought trical Illustrations, made their appearance in 1635. divine.
His satirical and controversial works were numeThe birds' sweet notes, to sonnet out their joys,
rous, but are now forgotten. Some authors of our
own day (Mr Southey in particular) have helped Attemper'd to the lays angelical ; And to the birds the winds attune their noise ;
to popularise Wither, by frequent quotation and And to the winds the waters hoarsely call,
eulogy; but Mr Ellis, in his Specimens of Early Eng. And echo back again revoiced all ;
lish Poets, was the first to point out that playful That the whole valley rung with victory
fancy, pure taste, and artless delicacy of sentiment, But now our Lord to rest doth homewards fly :
which distinguish the poetry of his early youth.' See how the night comes stealing from the mountains His poem on Christmas affords a lively picture of high.
the manners of the times. His Address to Poetry, the sole yet cheering companion of his prison soli
tude, is worthy of the theme, and superior to most GEORGE WITHER,
of the effusions of that period. The pleasure with GEORGE WITHER (1588_1667) was a voluminous which he recounts the various charms and the author, in the midst of disasters and sufferings that divine skill of his Muse, that had derived nourishwould have damped the spirit of any but the most ment and delight from the meanest objects' of exadventurous and untiring enthusiast. Some of his ternal nature-a daisy, a bush, or a tree; and which, happiest strains were composed in prison : his when these picturesque and beloved scenes of the limbs were incarcerated within stone walls and iron country were denied him, could gladden even the bars, but his fancy was among the hills and plains, vaults and shades of a prison, is one of the richest with shepherds hunting, or loitering with Poesy, by offerings that has yet been made to the pure and rustling boughs and murmuring springs. There is hallowed shrine of poesy. The superiority of ina freshness and natural vivacity in the poetry of tellectual pursuits over the gratifications of sense, Wither, that render his early works a perpetual and all the malice of fortune, has never been more feast.' We cannot say that it is a feast where no touchingly or finely illustrated. crude surfeit reigns' for he is often harsh, obscure, and affected; but he has an endless diversity of style and subjects, and true poetical feeling and ex
[The Companionship of the Muse.) pression. Wither was a native of Hampshire, and received his education at Magdalen College,
[From the Shepherds' Hunting.) Oxford. He first appeared as an author in the year
See'st thou not, in clearest days, 1613, when he published a satire, entitled Abuses
Oft thick fogs cloud heaven's rays; Stript and Whipi. For this he was thrown into the
And the vapours that do breathe Marsbalsea, where he composed his fine poem, The
From the earth's gross womb beneath, Shepherds' Hunting. When the abuses satirised by
Seem they not with their black steams the poet had accumulated and brought on the civil
To pollute the sun's bright beams, war, Wither took the popular side, and sold his
And yet vanish into air, paternal estate to raise a troop of horse for the par.
Leaving it, unblemish'd, fair? liament. He rose to the rank of a major, and in
So, my Willy, shall it be 1642 was made governor of Farnham Castle, after.
With Detraction's breath and thee: wards held by Denham. Wither was accused of It shall never rise so high, deserting his appointment, and the castle was ceded As to stain thy poesy. the same year to Sir William Waller. During the
As that sun doth oft exhale struggles of that period, the poet was made prisoner
Vapours from each rotten vale; by the royalists, and stood in danger of capital
Poesy so sometime drains punishment, when Denham interfered for his brother
Gross conceits from muddy brains ; band, alleging, that as long as Wither lived, he (Den- Mists of envy, fogs of spite, ham) would not be considered the worst poet in "Twixt men's judgments and her light: England. The joke was a good one, if it saved But so much her power may do, Wither's life; but George was not frightened from That she can dissolve them too. the perilous contentions of the times. He was after- If thy verse do bravely tower, wards one of Cromwell's majors general, and kept As she makes wing she gets power ; Watch and ward over the royalists of Surrey. From Yet the higher she doth soar, the sequestrated estates of these gentlemen, Wither She's affronted still the more : obtained a considerable fortune ; but the Restoration Till she to the high'st hath past, came, and he was stript of all his possessions. He Then she rests with fame at last : remonstrated loudly and angrily; his remonstrances Let nought therefore thee affright, were voted libels, and the unlucky poet was again But make forward in thy flight;
Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
Sonnet upon a Stolen Kiss. Now gentle sleep hath closed up those eyes Which, waking, kept my boldest thoughts in awe ; And free access unto that sweet lip lies, From whence I long the rosy breath to draw. Methinks no wrong it were, if I should steal From those two melting rubies, one poor kiss; None sees the theft that would the theft reveal, Nor rob I her of ought what she can miss : Nay should I twenty kisses take away, There would be little sign I would do so ; Why then should I this robbery delay? Oh! she may wake, and therewith angry grow! Well, if she do, I'll back restore that one, And twenty hundred thousand more for loan.
For, if I could match thy rhyme,
of the waves,
The Stedfast Shepherd. Hence away, thou Syren, leave me,
Pish! unclasp these wanton arms; Sugar'd words can ne'er deceive me, (Though thou prove a thousand charms).
Fie, fie, forbear;
No common snare
Thy painted baits,
And poor deceits,
Neither shall that snowy breast,
Go, go, display
Thy beauty's ray
Those common wiles,
Of sighs and smiles,
Turn away thy tempting eye:
My spirit loathes
Where gaudy clothes
I love her so
Whose look swears no,
Which on every breast are worn ;
I can go rest