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Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales
Thy bounty offers easy sales
Of lasting pleasure;
Thou ask'st the conscience what she ails,
And swear'st to ease her:
There's none can want where thou supply'st:
There's none can give where thou deny'st.
Alas! fond world, thou boasts; false world, thou ly'st. What well-advised ear regards
What earth can say ?
Thy words are gold, but thy rewards
Thy cunning can but pack the cards,
Thy game at weakest, still thou vy'st;
If seen, and then revy'd, deny'st;
Thou art not what thou seem'st; false world, thou ly'st.
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
Of new-coin'd treasure;
A paradise, that has no stint,
No change, no measure;
A painted cask, but nothing in't,
Nor wealth, nor pleasure:
Vain earth! that falsely thus comply'st
With man; vain man! that thou rely'st
On earth; vain man, thou dot'st; vain earth, thou ly'st.
What mean dull souls, in this high measure
In earth's base wares, whose greatest treasure
The height of whose enchanting pleasure
Are these the goods that thou supply'st
Us mortals with? are these the high'st?
Can these bring cordial peace? false world, thou ly'st.
DELIGHT IN GOD ALONE.
I love, (and have some cause to love,) the earth
But what's a creature, Lord, compared with thee?
Or what's my mother, or my nurse to me?
I love the air: her dainty sweets refresh
I love the sea she is my fellow-creature,
She walls me round; she makes my diet greater;
To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
But what is heaven, great God, compared to thee?
Without thy presence earth gives no reflection;
The highest honours that the world can boast,
The loudest flames that earth can kindle, be
Without thy presence wealth is bag of cares;
In having all things, and not thee, what have I?
I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
Herbert and Herrick, with a passing glance at Hall, will close the list of poets to be embraced within the present lecture.
GEORGE HERBERT was of the ancient and honorable family of Pembroke, and was born at Montgomery Castle, Wales, on the third of April, 1593. His early studies were pursued at Westminster school, where he was eminently distinguished for both genius and application. In 1608, he was elected as King's scholar to Trinity College, Cambridge, and having there taken both his degrees, he soon after obtained a fellowship, and, in 1619, became orator of the university. Herbert was the intimate friend of Sir Henry Wotton, and Doctor Donne; and Lord Bacon is said to have entertained so high regard for his learning and judgment, that he usually submitted his works to him before their publication. The poet was also in favor with King James, who gave him a sinecure office worth one hundred
and twenty pounds a year, 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 humor for clothes and court-like company, and seldom looked toward Cambridge unless the King was there, but then he never failed.'
The death of the king and of two powerful friends, the Duke of Richmond and the Marquis of Hamilton, destroyed Herbert's court hopes, and he, therefore, entered into sacred orders. He was first prebend of Layton Ecclesia, and afterward rector of Bemerton, in Wiltshire. The third day after he was made rector of Bemerton,' says Walton,' and had changed his sword and silk clothes into a canonical habit, 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 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 remained at Bemerton till the close of his life, and to the last discharged his clerical duties with saint-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.
The principal production of Herbert is The Temple, or Sacred Poems, and Private Ejaculations. The lines on Virtue are the best in the collection ; but even in them we find what mars all the poetry of this writer, ridiculous conceits and coarse unpleasant similes. The most sacred subject could not repress his love of fantastic imagery, or keep him for any number of consecutive verses in a serious and natural strain. It may be safely said, therefore, that his poetry alone would not have preserved his name, and that he is indebted for the reputation he enjoys to his excellent and amiable character, 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. The following are the lines on 'Virtue' already alluded to, to which we shall add a much more elaborate poem on Sunday.
Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
Sweet rose! whose hue, angry and brave,
Thy root is ever in its grave;
And thou must die.
Sweet spring! full of sweet days and roses
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
But, though the whole world turn to coal,
O day most calm, most bright,
The other days and thou
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Man had straight-forward gone
We could not choose, but look on still;
Sundays the pillars are,
On which heaven's palace arched lies;
They are the fruitful beds and borders
Which parts their ranks and orders.
The Sundays of man's life,
More plentiful than hope.
This day my Saviour rose,
And did inclose this light for his;
That, as each beast his manger knows,
Man might not of his fodder miss.
Christ hath took in this piece of ground,
And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.
The rest of our creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
As Samson bore the doors away,
Christ's hands, though nail'd, wrought our salvation,
The brightness of that day
Having a new at his expense,
Whose drops of blood paid the full price,
Thou art a day of mirth:
And where the week-days trail on ground,
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from seven to seven,
Till that we both being toss'd from earth,
Fly hand in hand to heaven.
ROBERT HERRICK, one of the most exquisite of the early English lyrical poets, was born in Cheapside, London, in 1591. He was educated at the university of Cambridge, and having taken orders, was presented, by Charles the First, in 1629, to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire. After residing about twenty years in this rural parish, Herrick was ejected from his living by the storms of the civil war; but whatever regret the poet may have felt on being turned adrift upon the world, he could have experienced little pain on parting with his parishioners, whom he describes as a 'wild amphibious race, almost as rude as savages, and churlish as the seas.' Herrick, at the same time, gives us a glimpse of his own character :—
Born I was to meet with age,
I'll have nought to say to you;
But I'll spend my coming hours
Drinking wine and crown'd with flowers.
So light and genial a temperament would enable the poet to ride out the storm in comparative composure.
Herrick published his Noble Numbers, or Pious Pieces, in 1647, which must have been about the time that he lost his vicarage. In the following year appeared The Hesperides, or the Works, both Humane and Divine, of Robert Herrick, Esquire. The clerical prefix to his name seems now to have been abandoned by the poet, and there are certainly many pieces in his second volume which would not become one ministering at the altar, or belonging to the sacred profession. He now took up his residence in West