Imágenes de páginas

see perish, and, at the same time, preserve his character, would be difficult, is most true, but it is not impossible. It would require a nice hand, but we think, it might be done, and his Essays still remain a most fascinating book. “ If the prophaneness may be severed from the wit, it is like a lamprey, take out the string in the back, it will make good meat.” The style of Montaigne is bold, energetic, sententious, and abrupt; and, although provincial and unrefined, it is original, vivacious, simple, and debonair. La Harpe says of him : “ Comme écrivain, il a imprimé à la langue une sorte d'energie familière qu'elle n'avoit pas avant lui, et qui ne s'est point usée, parce qu'elle tient à celle des sentiments et des pensées."

We have adopted, for the purposes of this article, the translation of Charles Cotton, the poet, who was peculiarly fitted for the task. He has rendered the original (so far as it could be rendered into a foreign idiom) with fidelity and success, and has imitated the quaintness, liveliness, and simplicity, of the author's style, with great felicity and effect.

ART. II. Clarastella ; together with Poems occasional, Elegies,

Epigrams, Satyrs. By Robert Heath, Esquire. London, Printed for Humph. Moseley, and are to be sold at his shop, at the signe of the Princes Arms, in St. Paul's Church Yard, 1650.

At no period has the passion of love been celebrated so indefatigably as in the reign of Charles I. when a crowd of minór poets almost daily gave to the world the results of long and active speculation upon the infinite charms of their mistresses. Yet, at no other time has nature or genuine feeling had less to do with our poetry. The poet may ransack heaven and earth for terms, by which to express his admiration, his devotion, and his despair; but he succeeds in proving any thing rather than his love. We grant the fertility of his invention, but we deny the sincerity of his passion. In the numerous volumes devoted to the celebration of the Lucastas, the Castaras, the Clarastellas, of the polished court of Charles I. we look in vain for touching expressions of true passion, for the tender melancholy which occasionally seizes the mind of the true lover in moments of sickness, absence, hope, or joy; for evidences of that exalted love, which in dwelling on the object of its affection rises above it, and becomes mixed and identified with the eternal charms of nature, and the deep interests of man at large: in short, we look in vain for all marks, by which to know the true lover pouring forth his feelings in true poetry. In how different a strain did

Shakspeare and the poets of the former age speak of love! How different the impassioned tone of old Middleton, who says

The treasures of the deep are not so precious
As are the conceal'd comforts of a man,

Lock'd up in woman's love.
How differently Master Chapman; who asks,

And didst thou know the comfort of two hearts
In one delicious harmony united ?
As to joy one joy, and think both one thought;
Live both one life, and therein double life,
To see their soules met at an enterview;
In their bright eyes, at parlè in their lippes,
Their language kisses; and t observe the rest,
Touches, embraces, and each circumstance
Of all love's most unmatcht ceremonies.

But in the times, when the little work before us was published, it does not seem that he who wrote of love was required to feelit; ' poets,' as Cowley observes, in his preface to his Mistress,''were scarcely thought freemen of their company, without paying some duties, or obliging themselves to be true to love ;' in other words, first trying their pens in love-verses before they girded themselves up for more important undertakings. The truth of the matter is, it was the fashion for men of polite accomplishments to amuse themselves and their friends in this way. And whether they possessed, or fancied a mistress of undeniable charms, it was pretty nearly the same thing. The verses were not supposed to be the dictates of passion, but the amusements of an idle hour; not the tributes of deep affection, but the compliments of gallantry. And if, in the course of this exercise, the writer seldom reached either sublimity or pathos, yet practice gave him facility and sometimes elegance of composition. If he did not discover a hidden vein of genius in himself, and become a real poet, as Cowley and one or two others did, yet, he contented himself with the praise of an accomplished versifier. This is nearly all the merit which Robert Heath, the poet before us, has any right to claim, and that he has not been successful in maintaining with posterity. In truth, they who look into his volume with any other but a 'Retrospective' eye, will probably lay it down with feelings little short of contempt. But we are not accustomed thus to give way to despair. We have taken upon ourselves to read for those whose time is too valuable, or whose patience is too small to read, for themselves,

and are not easily damped by page after page of frigid hyperbole, or perverse conceit.. In the dullest writers, a spark of brighter intelligence is sometimes visible; and in the authors, whose chief fault or rather misfortune it is that they lived in an age when false principles and bad taste ruled the fashion, it is hard if the natural genius of the man does not now and then break out into strains worth recording. And in the worst case, when a rhymester has little to recommend him but long practice with his pen, we consider ourselves unfortunate indeed, if we do not find his verse run sometimes with ease, and occasionally mount to elegance. Such perhaps, if not greater, is the merit of the following stanzas, being the three first of the verses entitled, • What is Love ?!

s "Tis a child of phansie's getting,

: Brought up between hope and fear, Fed with smiles, grown by uniting

Strong, and so kept by desire :
'Tis a perpetual vestal fire

Never dying,
Whose smoak like incense doth aspire,

Upwards flying.
It is a soft magnetick stone,

Attracting hearts by sympathie,
Binding up close two souls in one,

Both discoursing secretlie :
'Tis the true gordian knot that ties

Yet ne'r unbinds,
Fixing thus two lovers' eies

As wel as minds.
'Tis the spheres' heavenly harmonie

Where two skilful hands do strike;
And every sound expressively :-

Marries sweetly with the like :
'Tis the world's everlasting chain

. That all things tid, And bid them like the fixed wain

; Unmov'd to bide.”

The following song, also, possesses similar merit, perhaps in a higher degree. .

“ Invest my head with fragrant rose
That on fair Flora's bosome grows !
Distend my veins with purple juyce,
That mirth may through my soul diffuse!

'Tis wine and love, and love in wine,

Inspires our youth with flames divine.
Thus crown'd with Paphian myrtle, I
In Cyprian shades wil bathing lie,
Whose snow if too much cooling, then
Bacehus shal warm my blood agen.
'Tis wine and love, and love in wine,

Inspires our youth with flames divine.
Life's short, and winged pleasures flie;
Who mourning live, do living die:
On down and flouds then swan-like I.
Wil stretch my limbs, and singing die.

'Tis wine and love, and love in wine,
Inspires our youth with flames divine.”

The stanzas to Clarastella, which we shall next extract, are of a higher order of poetry, and combine with exquisite ease of versification considerable moral beauty.

“ 'Tis not your beautie I admire,

Nor the bright star-light of each eie,
Nor do I from their beams take fire

My love's torch to enlighten, I:
No: 'tis a glorie more divine
Kindles my tapour at your shrine.

Your comly presence takes not me,

Nor your much more inviting meen;
Nor your sweet looks; tho' graces be,

Fair creature! in your picture seen.
No: 'tis your soul to which I bow,
'Tis none of these I love, but you.

How blind is that philosophie

Doth onely nat'ral bodies know?
That views each orb o'th' glorious skie,

But sees not him that made it so.
I love thy informing part, i'th' whol
And every part, thy all; thy soul.”

In the following lines, which commence The Farewell to Clarastella, the reader will see how the poet endeavours to cast himself into a huge fit of melancholy--but in vain.--He threatens a storm, but produces only a drizzling shower. The lines, however, are not unworthy of quotation.

« Passion o'me! why melt I thus with griefe
For her whose frozen heart denies reliefe?-
Find out some other way to punish me,
Yee gods! and let me not the author be
Of mine own death! make me forget that e'r
I lov'd! at least that e'r I lov'd her!

Yet I must love her stil: O cruel fate!
That dost true love so il requite with hate!
Why e'r I saw her didst not make me blind ?
Then had she as before continued kind
Without pow'r to displease, her charitie
Warm as my love, and I had stil been I:
But now alas ! my distant bliss I see,
Which like my courted shadow flieth mee
As fast as I pursue: ay mee! she's gone,
And with her all my winged hopes are flown.”.

This beginning of a Protest of Love by Damon to Stella, is also pretty.

“When I thee all o'r do view,
I all o'r must love thee too.
By that smooth forehead, wher's exprest
The candour of thy peaceful breast:
By those fair twin-like-stars that shine,
And by those apples of thine eyn: ,
By the lambkins and the kids
Playing 'bout thy fair eie-lids :
By each peachie blossom’d cheek,
And thy sattin skin more sleek
And white then Flora's whitest lillies
Or the maiden daffadillies :
By that ivorie porch, thy nose:
By those double blanched rows
Of teeth, as in pure coral set:
By each azure rivolet,
Running in thy temples, and
Those flowrie meadows 'twixt them stand:
By each pearl-tipt ear by nature, as
On each a jewel pendant was: 'n
By those lips all dew'd with bliss,
Made happy in each other's kiss."

The stanzas called Clarastella's Indictment, though founded on a conceit, are ingenious, and we wish all the rest of the volume had been as amusing : Pn

« AnteriorContinuar »