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Read on this dial, how the shades devour
Behold these lilies, which thy hands have made,
Nor do I beg this slender inch to wile
The time away, or falsely to beguile
My thoughts with joy: here's nothing worth a smile.
Can he be fair, that withers at a blast?
Or he be strong, that airy breath can cast?
The Vanity of the World.
False world, thou ly'st thou canst not lend
Thy morning pleasures make an end
To please at night:
Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales
Of lasting pleasure;
Thou ask'st the conscience what she ails,
Thy cunning can but pack the cards,
Thou art not what thou seem'st; false world, thou ly'st.
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
Of new-coin'd treasure;
No change, no measure;
Poor are the wants that thou supply'st,
Are subjects far too low for my desire;
The loudest flames that earth can kindle, be
I love the sea she is my fellow-creature,
But, Lord of oceans, when compared with thee,
To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
But what is heaven, great God, compared to thee?
In having all things, and not thee, what have I !
I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
Decay of Life.
The day grows old, the low-pitch'd lamp hath made
And the descending damp doth now prepare
To uncurl bright Titan's hair;
Whose western wardrobe now begins to unfold
On earth; vain man, thou dot'st; vain earth, thou ly'st. Of rest shall call to rest in restless Thetis' arms.
Nature now calls to supper, to refresh
The toiling ploughman drives his thirsty teams,
The droiling swineherd knocks away, and feasts
The boxbill ouzle, and the dappled thrush,
And by the low-shorn rowans doth appear
The sapless branches doff their summer suits,
And stormy blasts have forced the quaking trees
He threatens youth with age; and now, alas!
He owns not what he is, but vaunts the man he was.
Grey hairs peruse thy days, and let thy past
Read lectures to thy last:
Those hasty wings that hurried them away
The constant wheels of nature scorn to tire
That blast that nipp'd thy youth will ruin thee;
mitted his works to him before publication. The poet was also in favour with King James, who gave him a sinecure office worth £120 per annum, which Queen Elizabeth had formerly given to Sir Philip Sidney. With this,' says Izaak Walton, and his annuity, and the advantages of his college, and of his oratorship, he enjoyed his genteel humour for clothes and court-like company, and seldom looked towards Cambridge unless the king were there, but then he never failed.' The death of the king and of two powerful friends, the Duke of Richmond and Marquis of Hamilton, destroyed Herbert's court hopes, and he entered into sacred orders. He was first prebend of Layton Ecclesia (the church of which he rebuilt), and afterwards was made rector of Bemerton, in Wiltshire, where he passed the remainder of his life. After describing the poet's marriage on the third day after his first interview with the lady, old Izaak Walton relates, with characteristic simplicity and minuteness, a matrimonial scene preparatory to their removal to Bemerton :The third day after he was made rector of Bemerton, and had changed his sword and silk clothes into a canonical habit (he had probably never done duty regularly at Layton Ecclesia), he returned so habited with his friend Mr Woodnot to Bainton; and immediately after he had seen and saluted his wife, he said to her, "You are now a minister's wife, and must now so far forget your father's house as not to claim a precedence of any of your parishioners; for you are to know that a priest's wife can challenge no precedence or place but that which she purchases by her obliging humility; and I am sure places so purchased do best become them. And let me tell clergy-you, I am so good a herald as to assure you that this is truth." And she was so meek a wife, as to assure him it was no vexing news to her, and that he should see her observe it with a cheerful willingness.'
Herbert discharged his clerical duties with saint
Oh, Chastity!-the flower of the soul,
GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1632) was of noble birth, though chiefly known as a pious country -'holy George Herbert,' who
The lowliest duties on himself did lay.
Lord Herbert of Cherbury. George was educated at Cambridge, and in the year 1619 was chosen orator for the university. Herbert was the intimate friend of Sir Henry Wotton and Dr Donne; and Lord Bacon is said to have entertained such a high regard for his learning and judgment, that he sub
His father was descended from the earls of Pembroke, and lived in Montgomery Castle, Wales, where the poet was born. His elder brother was the celebrated
*The rectory of Bemerton is now held by another poet, the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles.
like zeal and purity, but his strength was not equal to his self-imposed tasks, and he died at the early age of thirty-nine. His principal production is entitled, The Temple, or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. It was not printed till the year after his death, but was so well received, that Walton says twenty thousand copies were sold in a few years after the first impression. The lines on Virtue
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
are the best in the collection; but even in them we find, what mars all the poetry of Herbert, ridiculous conceits or coarse unpleasant similes. His taste was very inferior to his genius. The most sacred subject could not repress his love of fantastic imagery, or keep him for half a dozen verses in a serious and natural strain. Herbert was a musician, and sang his own hymns to the lute or viol; and indications of this may be found in his poems, which have sometimes a musical flow and harmonious cadence. It may be safely said, however, that Herbert's poetry alone would not have preserved his name, and that he is indebted for the reputation he enjoys, to his excellent and amiable character, embalmed in the pages of good old Walton, to his prose work, the Country Parson, and to the warm and fervent piety which gave a charm to his life and breathes through all his writings.
Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
Sweet rose! whose hue, angry and brave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring! full of sweet days and roses;
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
All may of thee partake;
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold,
For that which God doth touch and own, Cannot for less be told.
[Oddly called by Herbert The Pulley.'' When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 'Let us,' said he, 'pour on him all we can; Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie, Contract into a span.'
So strength first made away;
O day most calm, most bright,
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Man had straight forward gone
The which he doth not fill.
On which heaven's palace arched lies:
Which parts their ranks and orders.
The Sundays of man's life, Threaded together on Time's string, Make bracelets to adorn the wife Of the eternal glorious King. On Sunday heaven's gate stands ope; Blessings are plentiful and rifeMore plentiful than hope.
WILLIAM HABINGTON (1605-1654) had all the vices of the metaphysical school, excepting its occasional and frequently studied licentiousness. He tells us himself (in his preface) that, if the innocency of a chaste muse shall be more acceptable, and weigh heavier in the balance of esteem, than a fame begot in adultery of study, I doubt I shall leave no hope of competition.' And of a pure attachment, he says finely, that when love builds upon the rock of chastity, it may safely contemn the battery of the waves and threatenings of the wind; since time, that makes a mockery of the firmest structures, shall itself be ruinated before that be demolished.' Habington's life presents few incidents, though he came of a plotting family. His father was implicated in Babington's conspiracy; his uncle suffered death for his share in the same transaction. The poet's mother atoned, in some measure, for these disloyal intrigues; for she is said to have been the writer of the famous letter to Lord Monteagle, which averted the execution of the Gunpowder Plot. The poet was educated at St Omer's, but declined to become a Jesuit. He married Lucia, daughter of the first Lord Powis, whom he had celebrated under the name of Castara. Twenty years before his death, he published his poems, consisting of The Mistress, The Wife, and The Holy Man. These titles include each several copies of verses, and the same design was afterwards adopted by Cowley. The life of the poet seems to have glided quietly away, cheered by the society and affection of his Castara. He had no stormy passions to agitate him, and no unruly imagination to control or subdue. His poetry is of the same unruffled descriptionplacid, tender, and often elegant-but studded with conceits to show his wit and fancy. When he talks of meadows wearing a 'green plush,' of the fire of mutual love being able to purify the air of an infected city, and of a luxurious feast being so rich that heaven must have rained showers of sweetmeats, as if
Blackfriars, and each star a confectioner
we are astonished to find one who could ridicule the 'madness of quaint oaths,' and the 'fine rhetoric of clothes,' in the gallants of his day, and whose sentiments on love were so pure and noble, fall into such absurd and tasteless puerilities.
[Epistle to a Friend.]
[Addressed to his noblest friend, J. C., Esq. 1
I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet
Or quick designs of France! Why not repair
She her throne makes reason climb,
SIR JOHN SUCKLING.
SIR JOHN SUCKLING (1608-1641) possessed such a natural liveliness of fancy, and exuberance of animal spirits, that he often broke through the artificial restraints imposed by the literary taste of his times, but he never rose into the poetry of passion and imagination. He is a delightful writer of what have been called 'occasional poems.' His polished wit, playful fancy, and knowledge of life and society, enabled him to give interest to trifles, and to clothe familiar thoughts in the garb of poetry. His own life seems to have been one summer-day—
Youth at the prow, and pleasure at the helm. He dreamt of enjoyment, not of fame. The father of Suckling was secretary of state to James I., and comptroller of the household to Charles I. The poet was distinguished almost from his infancy; and at sixteen he had entered on public life! His first appearance was as a soldier under the celebrated Gustavus Adolphus, with whom he served one campaign. On his return, he entered warmly into the cause of Charles I., and raised a troop of horse in his support. He intrigued with his brother cavaliers to rescue the Earl of Strafford, and was impeached by the House of Commons. To evade a trial, he fled to France, but a fatal accident took place by the way. His servant having robbed him at an inn, Suckling, learning the circumstance, drew on his boots hurriedly, to pursue him; a rusty nail, or (according to another account) the blade of a knife, had been concealed in the boot, which wounded him, and produced mortification, of which he died. The works of Suckling consist of miscellaneous His poems, five plays, and some private letters. poems are all short, and the best of them are dedicated to love and gallantry. With the freedom of a cavalier, Suckling has greater purity of expression than most of his contemporaries. His sentiments are sometimes too voluptuous, but are rarely coarse; and there is so much elasticity and vivacity in his verses, that he never becomes tedious. His Ballad upon a Wedding is inimitable for witty levity and choice beauty of expression. It has touches of graphic description and liveliness equal to the pictures of Chaucer. One well-known verse has never been excelled
Her feet beneath her petticoat,
*Herrick, who had no occasion to steal, has taken this image from Suckling, and spoiled it in the theft
Her pretty feet, like snails, did creep A little out.
Like Sir Fretful Plagiary, Herrick had not skill to steal with taste. Wycherley also purloined Herrick's simile for one of his plays. The allusion to Easter-day is founded upon a beautiful old superstition of the English peasantry, that the sun dances upon that morning.