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that situation he died, in 1639, in the seventy-second year of his age. The poems of this author are generally brief unstudied effusions, of very consid erable merit, and from them we select the following:
A FAREWELL TO THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD.
Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles;
And torture free-born minds; embroider'd trains
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own:
Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blood, and birth,
Welcome pure thoughts, welcome ye silent groves,
And if Contentment be a stranger then,
THE CHARACTER OF A HAPPY LIFE.
How happy is he born and taught,
Whose passions not his masters are,
Of public fame or private breath;
Who envies none that chance doth raise,
Who God doth late and early pray,
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious book or friend;
This man is freed from servile bands
And having nothing yet hath all.
SIR JOHN DAVIES, the poet to whom our attention is next directed, was of low origin, being the son of a tanner. He was born at Chisgrove in Wiltshire in 1570, and after careful preparation, became in 1585, a commoner of Queen's College, Oxford. He remained at the university until he had taken his bachelor's degree, immediately after which he repaired to London, and entered the Middle Temple, where he applied himself so closely to the study of the common law, that he was soon called to the bar. An unfortunate quarrel, however, the cause of which is not known, with a gentleman of the society to which he belonged, resulted in his expulsion thence, and he returned to Oxford and continued the prosecution of his studies there; but being eventually reinstated in the Temple, he returned thither and practiced, for some time, as a counsellor; and in 1601, he became a member of parliament. Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth, he accompanied lord Hunsdon into Scotland to congratulate king James upon his accession to the crown of England; and being introduced into his majesty's presence, he was particularly noticed by him; and when the king was informed by lord Hunsdon that Davies was the author of Nosce tiepsum, his majesty graciously embraced him, and assured him of his favor. The 'Nosce tiepsum,' a poem on the origin, nature, and immortality of the soul, was published in 1599, and dedicated to queen Elizabeth, by whom it was very favorably received.
Davies, soon after the accession of James, published a small volume of poems containing Hymns of Astrea, in acrostic verse; Orchestra, or a poem expressing the antiquity and excellency of dancing, and other pieces, which not only placed him in a high rank among his contemporary poets, but so far increased the favor of the king toward him, that he appointed him, first, his solicitor, and then his attorney-general, in Ireland; where, in 1606, he became one of his majesty's sergeants at law; and was afterward speaker in the House of Commons in that kingdom. In 1607, Davies received the honor of knighthood from the king at Whitehall; and in 1612, he quitted the post of attorney-general in Ireland, and was made one of the king's English sergeants at law; and, soon after he settled in England, one of the judges of assize on the circuit. In 1626, he was appointed by Charles the First, lord chief-justice of the King's Bench; but, before his installation, he died suddenly of apoplexy in the fifty-seventh year of his age.
Sir John Davies was a man of bold spirit, sharp and ready wit, and of most thorough and extensive learning; and among the minor poets of this period, he holds a very high rank. His philosophical poem, On the Soul of Man, and the Immortality thereof, is one of the earliest poems of that kind in the language. The author shows that he was a profound thinker, and close reasoner. In the happier parts of his poem,' says Campbell, 'we come to logical truths so well illustrated by ingenious similes, that we know not
whether to call the thoughts more poetical or philosophically just. The judgment and the fancy are reconciled, and the imagery of the poem seems to start more vividly from the surrounding shades of abstraction.' From this poem, the versification of which was afterward copied by Davenant and Dryden, we extract the following passage :—
THE DIGNITY OF MAN.
Oh! what is man, great Maker of mankind!
Thou leav'st thy print in other works of thine,
But it exceeds man's thought, to think how high
And are astonish'd when they view the same:
Nor hath he given these blessings for a day,
In another production, the 'Orchestra, or Poem of Dancing, in a Dialogue between Penelope and one of her Wooers,' Davies is much more fanciful than in the previous poem. He there represents Penelope as declining to dance with Antinous, and the latter as proceeding to lecture her upon the antiquity of that elegant exercise, the merit of which he describes in verses partaking peculiarly of the flexibility and grace of the subject. Of this performance, the following is one of the most imaginative passages:
THE DANCING OF THE AIR.
And now behold your tender nurse, the air,
How many pictures and impressions fair
Within her empty regions are there found,
For when you breathe, the air in order moves,
For all the words that from your lips repair,
Hence is her prattling daughter, Echo, born,
The airy pavement with her feet to wear:
And thou, sweet Music, dancing's only life,
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech,
The soft mind's paradise, the sick mind's leech,
Lastly where keep the Winds, their revelry,
Their violent turnings, and wild whirling hays,
But in the air's translucent gallery?
Where she herself is turn'd a hundred ways,
While with those maskers wantonly she plays:
Davies wrote a number of pieces in prose also; and the first Reports of Law Cases, published in Ireland, proceeded from his able and accomplished pen. The preface to the volume containing these Reports is considered the best that was ever prefixed to a law-book.
JOHN DONNE, the poet whom we are next to notice, was of respectable parentage, and was born in London, 1573. His mother was descended from the family of Sir Thomas More, and his parents being both rigidly attached to the Romish religion, had their son's education attended to at home until he reached the eleventh year of his age, when he was sent to the university of Oxford; where, such was the precociousness of intellect that he evinced, that one of his tutors, through admiration of his early genius, remarked, that he was rather born wise than made so by study.' His acquirements in learning at the university realized all that his early mental developments had promised; so that at the expiration of three years he was prepared for the bachelor's degree-an honor which he was compelled to forego, as the religious sentiments of his parents would not allow him to take the oath of allegiance which the occasion required. Having passed three years at Oxford he entered the university of Cambridge, where he also remained for the same length of time; but as the difficulties in the way of obtaining university honors prevailed there also, which had existed at Oxford, he now relinquished collegiate studies, repaired to London, and entered Lincoln's Inn as a student of law. He had, however, no predilection for the legal profession; and as his father, who had been & merchant, died before he
was admitted into Lincoln's Inn society, and left him a fortune of three thousand pounds, he at once relinquished the law, and resolved to pass some years upon the continent. Before he should leave England, however, he determined thoroughly to investigate the relative claims the Romish faith, in which he had been brought up, and the Protestant, had upon his belief. Of this investigation he himself gives the following account:-' I -'I had a longer work to do in this inquiry than many other men: for I was first to blot out certain impressions of the Roman religion, and to wrestle against the examples, and against the reasons by which some hold was taken, and some anticipations early laid upon my conscience, both by persons who by nature had a power and superiority over my will, and others, who, by their learning and good life, seemed to me justly to claim an interest for the guiding and rectifying of mine understanding in these matters.' The result of this inquiry was a thorough conversion to Protestantism; of which he remarks, 'I was not transported by any sudden and violent determination, till I had, to the measure of my poor wit and judgment, surveyed and digested the whole body of divinity, controverted between ours and the Romish church. In which such an disquisition that God, which awakened me then, and hath never forsaken me in that industry, as he is the author of that purpose, so he is a witness of this protestation, that I proceeded therein with humility and diffidence in myself, and by that, which by his grace, I took to be the ordinary means, frequent prayer and equal actions.'
Having thus settled the momentous question of his religious faith, Donne, in 1596, accompanied the Earl of Essex into Spain, and after spending about a year in that country and acquiring a knowledge of the Spanish language, he visited Italy, intending to embark thence for Palestine, to view Jerusalem and the sepulchre of our Saviour. He was, however, disappointed in the company with whom he had arranged to make the journey, and he therefore returned to England, after having remained in Italy a sufficient length of time to become familiar with the language of that country.
Soon after his return to England, Donne was appointed by Sir Thomas Egerton, lord-keeper of the great seal, his chief secretary; but he had filled this important place only a few years before he clandestinely married Anne, the daughter of Sir George More, and niece of the lord-keeper. Sir George was so incensed at this conduct on the part of Donne, as to insist that Sir Thomas Egerton should dismiss him from his service. Sir Thomas complied with his friend and relative's request, but in parting with his secretary he remarked that Mr. Donne was fitter to serve a king than a subject.' A long altercation, and even a law-suit followed between Donne and his father-in-law, during the whole of which the former resided with his relative, Sir Francis Wolley, who eventually succeeded in reconciling the parties, and obtaining from Sir George eight hundred pounds as his daughter's marriage portion. Sir Francis Wolley dying soon after, Donne sought a home and employment with Sir Robert Drury, through whose influence he obtained in 1610 the degree of master of arts from the university of Oxford.