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the extraordinary stripping off of the gauds and ornaments of poetic diction which marks the work of Wither when he leaves the praises of Fair Virtue to sing hymns of diviner praise. No less must we take into account that one of the most remarkable and artistically perfect poems of Carew is unquotable to-day; whilst it was not a mere following of the bad example which his master, Jonson, had set him in translating some of the more objectionable epigrams of Martial, which has given us, in Herrick, a garden of the Hesperides foul in places with the filth of the kennel. These things are not wholly to be laid to the score of coarse or unrestrained manners. The root of the matter is in this separation of the ethical from the æsthetic principle, a separation which produced in the one case the moral, but for the most part unillumined, verses of Quarles and Wither, and, in the other (with much that was an aberration from both ethical and æsthetic ideals), the perfect Hedonistic lyrics of Carew and Herrick, which exist for their beauty and for their beauty alone.

To consider the cult of beauty as a new thing in the poetry of any period would be as absurd as to assume, by the extension of a doctrine attributed by Walter Bagehot to Ulrici, a concealed and deadly moral purpose for each and every poem of the earlier age.1 But if we will turn to the poetry of Spenser, Jonson, Donne, and Shakespeare we shall find it informed with an element of truth, whether half concealed in allegory, didactically paraded, intellectually subtilized, or set forth in an unerring justness of conception as to the dramatic relations of men to men. This we do not find in nearly an equal degree in the poetry of the succeeding age, and the ideals of such a poet as Carew — to take the most successful of his class — become much the same as those of the school which in our own day has given rise to the phrase "art for art's sake," a school accompanying 1 Shakespeare, Literary Studies, I, 169.

whose æsthetic posturings we sooner or later behold the cynical leer of satire. Take the following:

If when the sun at noon displays

His brighter rays,

Thou but appear,

He then, all pale with shame and fear,
Quencheth his light,

Hides his dark brow, flies from thy sight

And grows more dim

Compared to thee than stars to him.
If thou but show thy face again
When darkness doth at midnight reign,
The darkness flies, and light is hurled
Round about the silent world:

So as alike thou driv'st away

Both light and darkness, night and day.1

This is beautiful and fanciful poetry. It is hyperbolic to a degree, so much so that we feel it to be no more than a figure of gallantry, the charming and perfectly expressed compliment of a courtly gentleman to a high-born and radiant beauty. In a poem of this kind we are not concerned with the truth; indeed the truth might perhaps spoil the effect. There is nothing new in the idea, but the artist has daintily set it like a gem in the filigree of a carefully considered comparison. Romeo, under the quickening influence of a new and all-consuming passion, forged the same thought into a pregnant metaphor:

What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.2

1 Poems of Thomas Carew, reprint of ed. 1640, Edinburgh, 1824, p. 8. 2 ii. 2. 2.

The hyperbole of Romeo is justified by the overwrought emotion of the moment; it stirs in the hearer a sympathy with the lover's passion. The hyperbole of Carew is no less justified, for it, too, arrives at its purpose, which is no more than to amuse. There is about it, from its very extravagance, a suspicion of delicate raillery, which becomes certain when the poet leaves us at the end with a charming paradox. She would have been but an unsophisticated maiden at court who could have taken such a fine compliment from the king's cupbearer to figure forth anything more than "How pretty you're looking this morning, my dear!"

"The artifice and machinery of rhetoric," says De Quincey, "furnishes in its degree as legitimate a basis for intellectual pleasure as any other; that the pleasure is of an inferior order, can no more attaint the idea or model of the composition, than it can impeach the excellence of an epigram that it is not a tragedy. Every species of composition is to be tried by its own laws."1 The much-vaunted test of comparison, by which Byron set beside Keats or Shelley appears tawdry or uninspired, is often preposterously misleading. There are reds that "kill" each other, though each may be beautiful apart; the mood in which to read Horace may not be precisely the mood for Catullus. In the seventeenth century lyric and its overflow into the occasional verse of the day we have neither the universality of Shakespeare, the scope and majesty of Milton, nor the consummate constructive, if conventionalized, art of Dryden and Pope; and yet there are some of us who feel that we could no more spare the dainty grace and beauty of Corinna's Going A-Maying than we could endure to lose a book of Paradise Lost. To critics of the nature of William Hazlitt, in those unlucid intervals in which his prejudices stood all on end, such poets as Carew or Suckling are "delicate court triflers" and noth1 Rhetoric, Historical Essays, II, 229.

ing more; to those who love the art of an intaglio or the delicate curves of a Grecian urn, and can admire either without stricture that it is not the Capitoline Jupiter, the best of the poetry of the reign of Charles I seems to imply no decaying school, but a height of lyric excellence combined with an exquisite workmanship which only the greatest poets of our day or of Elizabeth's have surpassed.

In its general characteristics the poetry of the seventeenth century, extending onward from the accession of Charles I, is intensive rather than expansive, fanciful rather than imaginative, and increasingly restrictive in its range and appeal, until it comes at length to be the utterance of a single class of society.

The period in its earlier years was too close to that of Elizabeth and James not to feel the strong pulse and enthusiastic love of beauty which was theirs, and the great political events that made the seventeenth one of the most momentous centuries in the history of England kept men from falling too rapidly into the conventionalized conception of literature and life which came to prevail in the next century. It is precisely as we find a poet rising above these general qualities of narrow intensiveness, fantasticality of thought and expression, and class prejudice, that we recognize in him the special qualities that make him great. The æsthetic Milton, with the rich blood of the Renaissance tingling in his veins, bursts forth in the fine Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity and in the great poetry which followed it. In his later poetical period too, it is his lofty artistic purpose and his ethical nobility which lift Milton out of his own time and convert him into a world poet, despite a certain hardness of spirit which bitter partizanship had fostered and which could not but grow out of the warring elements of his age in a nature so grave and stern. Thus again, a genuine love of nature unites such diverse names

as those of Vaughan, Marvell, and Cotton, the last especially delighting in the sensuous enjoyment of pleasant sight and soothing sound. In Marvell is added to an artistic touch a moral rectitude that at once dignifies his poetry and gives it a distinguished place in literature; whilst Vaughan, added to a religious fervor which he shares with Herbert and Crashaw, but in differing mode, displays, in his tenderness for natural objects, a spiritual contemplativeness which every now and then flashes a revealing light upon the relation of man to the universe. Herrick, in his humaneness, in his artless delight in those small things which go so far to make up our daily life, Carew, in the sincerity of his workmanship and in his artistic propriety, rise above the temporary conventions of a single age, and become, each in his own way, poets fraught with a message to following times.


That the poets of the reigns of James and Charles I wrote under the combined influences of Ben Jonson and Donne, and that the older influence of Spenser continued to animate poet after poet, has been repeated again and again, and may be accepted as substantially true. It seems well, under the circumstances, briefly to consider wherein these influences really consisted, less in their abstract principles than in the manner in which the ideals of each great poet manifested themselves in his work, and especially in their subsequent effects on his followers. What may be called the manner of Spenser (i.e., Spenser's way of imitating and interpreting nature artistically by means of poetic expression) may be summarized as consisting of a sensuous love of beauty combined with a power of elaborated pictorial representation, a use of classical imagery for decorative effect, a fondness for melody, a flowing sweetness, naturalness and continuousness

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