« PreviousContinue »
family is the present Earl of Blessington. Elizabeth pinched his cheek when he first came to court, and made him blush.
Lady Elizabeth Carew, who “ is understood to be the authoress of The Tragedy of Mariam the fair Queen of Jewry, written by that learned, virtuous, and truly noble lady E. C. 1613," was truly noble indeed, if she wrote the following stanzas in one of the chorusses of that work:
“ We say our hearts are great, and cannot yield;
Because they cannot yield, it proves them poor ;
The weakest lion will the loudest roar.
High-heartedness doth sometimes teach to bowo.
To scorn to owe a duty overlong ;
To scorn to lie, to scorn to do a wrong ;
To scorn a free-born heart slave-like to bind.” Lady Mary Wroth, a Sidney, niece of Sir Philip, has the following beautiful passage, in a song with a pretty burden to it.
“ Love in chaos did appear ;
When nothing was, yet he seem'd clear ;
Who can blame me?
I would not commit such sin,
Who can blame me." If the reader wishes to know what sort of a thing the shadow of an angel is, he cannot learn it better than from the verses of an anonymous Authoress to her Husband, published in the year 1652. She bids him not to wear mourning for her, not even a black ring;
“But this bright diamond, let it be
Worn in rememberance of me,
Than that, or any gem can be.”
poets of her time under the title of “the matchless Orinda,” and who called her husband, a plain country gentleman, Antenor, have an easy though antithetical style, like the lighter ones of Cowley, or the verses of Sheffield and the Frenchmen. One might suppose the following to have been written in order to assist the addresses of some young
TO LADY ELIZABETH BOYLE, SINGING A SONG OT WHICH ORINDA
WAS THE AUTHOR.
To use a needless dart?
One undefended heart?
“I came expos’d to all your
And in the next, no power.
Who can resist the siege?
way To vanquish and oblige?” And so on, for four more stanzas. “To vanquish and obleege" has a very dandy tone."
The following are in the same epigrammatical taste, and pleasing. They are part of a poem “On a Country Life.”
“ Then welcome, dearest solitude,
My great felicity;
Thou art not so, but we.
From hence our peace doth flow;
Because I think it so.
A heart that's nobly true
That do the world subdue."
* Chesterfield, in this word, is for using the English pronunciation of the letter i ; which we believe is now the general custom. The late Mr Kemble in the course of an affable conversation with which his present Majesty indulged him, when Prince of Wales, is said to have begged as a favour that his illustrious interlocutor would be pleased to extend his royal jaws, and say oblige, instead of obleege.” Nevertheless all authority is in favour of the latter pronunciation - French, Italian, and Latin. But it is a pity to lose the noble sound of our i, the finest in the language, and peculiar to the Teutonic.
Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, with all the fantastic state she took upon her, and the other absurdities arising from her want of judgment, was a woman of genius, and had a great deal of good sense, where others were concerned. The following apostrophe on " the Theme of Love" has something in it extremely pleasant, between gaiety and gravity.
“ O Love, how thou art tired out with rhyme!
Thou art a tree whereon all poets climb;
Of thy sweet fruit, which Fancy feeds upon."
“ Mirth laughing came; and running to me, flung
Her fat white arms about my neck; there hung,
Which various shadows make against the wall.” On the other hand, Melancholy says of Mirth that she is only happy “just at her birth;" and that she
« Like weeds doth grow,
eyes do water, and her chin turns red,
And then, in a finer strain
* Her house is built upon the golden sänds,
Yet no foundation has, whereon it stands
No riches are, but what the mind intreasures." Dryden's young favourite, Anne Killegrew, who comes next in the list, has no verses so unequal as these, and perhaps none so strong as some of them; 'but she is very clever, and promised to do real honour to her master. We regret that we have not by us the volume of her poems, which Mr Dyce mentions, and which contains better things than he has extracted. - She was accused of being helped in her writing; probably in consequence of her intimacy with the poet; or perhaps from being one of a family of wits; though the latter consideration ought to have vindicated her. She repels the charge with spirit and sweetness. The lines “ Advanc'd her height,” and “Every laurel to her laurel bow'd,” will remind the reader of Dryden. The concluding couplet is excellent.
Anne, Marchioness of Wharton, who follows, has an agreeable song, worthy of repetition; but these lady writers will beguile us out of bounds. She was daughter of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, ancestor of the present Dillon family. Should Mr Dyce come to a second edition, we recommend him to notice connexions of this kind with the living. It will give his book additional interest, and of a popular kind. Lady Wharton was a cousin of Lord Rochester, and has written an elegy on his death, in which she represents him as an angel. We have the pleasure of possessing a copy of Waller's Poems, in the blank leaf of which is written " Anne Wharton, given her by the Authore.” Her husband was at that time not possessed of his title.
A “Mrs Taylor," who appears to have been an acquaintance of Aphra Behn, has a song with the following beautiful termination. It is upon a rake whose person she admired, and whom, on account of his indiscriminate want of feeling, she is handsomely resolved not to love.
My wearied heart, like Noah's dove,
In vain may seek for rest,
Returns into my breast.” Next comes Aphra herself; and, we must say, affects and makes us admire her, beyond what we looked for. Her verses are natural and cordial, written in a masculine style and yet womanly withal. If she had given us nothing but such poetry as this, she would have been as much admired, and known among us all, to this day, as she consented to be among the rakes of her time. Her comedies indeed are alarming, and justly incurred the censure of Pope: though it is probable, that a thoughtless good-humour made her pen run over, more than real licentiousness; and that although free enough in her life, she was not so “extravagant and erring" as persons with less mind. We have to thank Mr Dyce for the good taste with which he has made his selections from her.
SONG IN ABDELAZER, OR THE MOOR'S REVENGE.
Whilst bleeding hearts around him flow'd,
And strange tyrannic pow'r he shewd.
Which round about in sport he hurl'd;
Enough t undo the amorous world.
From thee his pride and cruelty ;
And every killing dart from thee :
And set him up a deity;
Whilst thine the victor is, and free."