« AnteriorContinuar »
wise in each own nature, because it appeareth otherwise to them than it doth to me? - They are living creatures as well as I; why then should I condemn their conceit and fantasie, concerning any thing, more than they may mine? they may be in the truth and I in error, as well as I in truth, and they err. If my conceit must be believed before theirs, great reason that it be proved to be truer than theirs. And this proof must be either by demonstration, or without it. Without it none will believe. Certainly, if by demonstration, then this demonstration must seem to be true, or not seem to be true. If it seem to be true, then will it be a question, whether it be so indeed as it seemeth to be; and to alledge that for a certain proof, which is uncertain and questionable, seemeth absurd.
If it be said, that the imagination of man judgeth truer of the outward object, than the imagination of other living creatures doth, and therefore to be credited above others; (besides that which is already said) this is easily refuted by comparing of man with other creatures.
It is confessed the dog excelleth man in smell, and in hearing : and whereas there is said to be a two-fold discourse, one of the mind, another of the tongue, and that of the mind is said to be exercised in chusing that which is convenient, and refusing that which is hurtful in knowledge, justice, and thankfulness : this creature chuseth his food, refuseth the whip, fawneth on his master, defendeth his house, revengeth himself of those strangers that hurt him : and Homer mentioneth Argus, the dog of Ulysses, who knew his master, having been from home so many years, that at his return all the people of his house had forgot him. This creature, saith Chrysippus, is not void of logick: for when, in following any beast, he cometh to three several ways, he smelleth to the one, and then to the second, and if he find that the beast which he pursueth be not fled one of these two ways, he presently, without smelling any further to it, taketh the third way; which, saith the same philosopher, is as if he reasoned thus, the beast must be gone either this, or this, or the other way; but neither this, nor this ; ergo, the third : and so away he runneth.
If we consider his skill in physick, it is sufficient to help himself: if he be wounded with a dart, he useth the help of his teeth to take it out, of his tongue to cleanse the wound from corruption : he seemeth to be well acquainted with the precept of Hipocrates, who saith, That the rest of the foot is the physick of the foot, and therefore if his foot be hurt, he holdeth it up that it may rest : if he be sick, he giveth himself a vomit by eating of grass, and recovereth himself. The dog then we see is plentifully furnished with inward discourse.
Now, outward speech is not needful to make a creature reasonable, else a dumb man were an unreasonable creature.
And do not philosophers themselves reject this as an enemy to knowledge? and therefore they are silent when they are instructed ; and yet, even as barbarous and strange people have speech, but we understand it not, neither do we perceive any great difference in their words : but a difference there seemeth to be, and they do express their thoughts and meanings one to another by those words. Even so those
VOL. II. PART II.
creatures, which are commonly called unreasonable, do seem to parly one with another; and by their speech do understand one the other. Do not birds by one kind of speech call their young ones, and by another cause them to hide themselves? Do they not by their several voices express their several passions of joy, of grief, of fear, in such manner, that their fellows understand them? Do they not by their voice foreshew things to come? But we will return to that creature we first did instance in. The dog delivereth one kind of voice when he hunteth, another when he howleth, another when he is beaten, and another when he is angry. These creatures then are not void of outward speech.”
In the chapter of our author's “ Maxims of State” entitled, “Sophisms of the sophistical or subtile tyrant to hold up his state,” there is a passage of singular application to himself, which one might fancy to have been written in a prophetic foresight of his own fate.
“ To take heed that no one grow to be over-great, but rather, many equally great, that they may envy and contend one with another; and if he resolve to weaken any of this sort, to do it warily and by degrees; if quite to wreck him, and to have his life, yet to give him a lawful tryal, after the manner of his country; and if he proceed so far with any of great power and estimation, as to do him contumely or disgrace, not to suffer him to escape, because contumely and disgrace are things contrary unto honour, which great spirits do most desire, and so are moved rather to a revenge for their disgrace, than to any thankfulness, or acknowledging the prince's favour for their pardon or dismission."
The following is a magnificent and most royal comparison, conceived and expressed with equal power.
“ They say, that the goodliest cedars, which grow on the high mountains of Libanus, thrust their roots between the clifts of hard rocks, the better to bear themselves against the strong storms that blow there. As nature hath instructed those kings of trees, so hath reason taught the kings of men to root themselves in the hardy hearts of their faithful subjects. And as those kings of trees have large tops, so have the kings of men large crowns, whereof as the first would soon be broken from their bodies, were they not underborne by many branches, so would the other easily totter, were they not fastened on their heads with the strong chains of civil justice and martial disci
In the preface to the “ Prerogative of Parliaments,” addressed to the King, after stating that, if he complied with the wishes of the people to submit their grievances to Parliament, it might“ be stiled a yielding which seemeth by the sound to brave the regality ;" he has this striking paragraph :
“ But (most excellent prince)'what other is it to the ears of the wise, but as the sound of a trumpet, having blasted forth a false alarm, becomes the common air? Shall the head yield to the feet? certainly it ought, when they are grieved, for wisdom will rather regard the commodity, than object the disgrace, seeing, if the feet lie in fetters, the head cannot be freed, and where the feet feel but their own pains, the head doth not only suffer by participation, but withal by consideration of the evil.”
This collection also contains several of Sir Walter Raleigh's Letters, amongst which there are two to his wife, which manifest great kindness and affection. The one written after his condemnation is so beautiful and affecting, that we shall introduce a portion of it in this place.
“ You shall receive (my dear wife) my last words in these my last lines; my love I send you, that you may keep when I am dead, and my counsel, that you may remember it when I am no more. I would not with my will present you sorrows (dear Bess); let them go to the grave with me, and be buried in the dust. And seeing that it is not the will of God that I shall see you any more, bear my destruction patiently, and with a heart like yourself.
First, I send you all the thanks which my heart can conceive, or my words express, for your many travels and cares for me, which though they have not taken effect as you wished, yet my debt to you is not the less; but pay it I never shall in this world.
Secondly, I beseech you, for the love you bear me living, that you do not hide yourself many days, but by your travails seek to help my miserable fortunes, and the right of your poor child; your mourning cannot avail me, that am but dust.
“ Paylie oweth me a thousand pounds, and Aryan six hundred; in Jersey, also, I have much owing me. (Dear wife) I beseech you, for my soul's sake, pay all poor men. When I am dead, no doubt you shall be much sought unto; for the world thinks I was very rich; have a care to the fair pretences of men, for no greater misery can befall you in this life than to become a prey unto the world, and after to be despised. I speak (God knows) not to disswade you from marriage, for it will be best for you, both in respect of God and the world. As for me, I am no more yours, nor you mine, death hath cut us asunder, and God hath divided me from the world, and you from me. Remember your poor child for his father's sake, who loved you in his happiest estate. I sued for my life, but (God knows) it was for you and yours that I desired it: for know it (my dear wife) your child is the child of a true man, who, in his own respect, despiseth death, and his mis-shapen and ugly forms. I cannot write much, (God knows) how hardly I steal this time when all sleep, and it is also time for me to separate my thoughts from the world. Beg my dead body, which living was denied you, and either lay it in Sherburn or Exeter church, by my father and mother. I can say no more, time and death calleth me away. The everlasting God, powerful, infinite, and inscrutable God
Almighty, who is goodness itself, the true light and life, keep you and yours, and have mercy upon me, and forgive my persecutors and false accusers, and send us to meet in his glorious kingdom. My dear wife, farewell; bless my boy, pray for me, and let my true God hold you both in his arms."
Such are the extracts which we proposed to give from a few of the minor works of this great man. But it must not be imagined that we have done with him. The neglected remains of this “hero, sage, and patriot,” are a treasure which we shall revisit in due season : for it is by a frequent contemplation of such lofty and splendid specimens of humanity as Sir Walter Raleigh, that the modern character may be elevated and invigorated. There was, indeed, in him such a grasp of thought, such an energy of spirit, and such a majesty of expression, that the mind cannot dwell upon either his character or his works without feeling itself exalted, expanded, and informed. It is, also, true, that an alloy of littleness, of temporizing and evasive cunning, had infused itself into his lofty nature ; but which, while it drags him down to our level, affords us a near insight into the mechanism and operations of the human heart. We see in him a combination of the most various and opposite ingredients in our nature—the coolest and most calculating sagacity, joined with a flowing and gorgeous imagination—the most irrepressible energy of will, with the subtlest motions of the intellect-the most sanguine and unsubdued spirit, with the most patient resignation to irresistible circumstances. We have also a most improving exhibition of that gradual obscuration of the gay and trusting faith which inexperience fondly reposes in human kind --of the slow and reluctant expiration of the love of virtue and excellence for their own sakes—of that eventual desertion of lofty principle, and the substitution of worldly wisdom, with all its appliances, subterfuges, and evasions, which a long commerce with mankind, in the course of a perilous life, slowly but amply supply. Surely there is something to be learnt from a man like this-admiral, philosopher, statesman, historian, and poet, all in one-first in some, distinguished in all; who, bold and adventurous in discovery, whether moral or geographical, untamed in war and indefatigable in literature, as inexhaustible in ideas as in exploits, after having brought a new world to light, wrote the history of the old in a prison.
“ Then, active still and unrestrain’d, his mind
Art. XI. The Purple Island; or, Isle of Man. A Poem, by
Phineas Fletcher, Cambridge, 1633, 4to.
The author of this poem is supposed to have been born in the year 1584. He was the son of Dr. Giles Fletcher, who was himself a poet; the brother of Giles Fletcher, the author of Christ's Victory; and the cousin of John Fletcher, the dramatist; so that it was with some truth said “his very name's a poet.” Besides the Purple Island, he was the author of seven « Piscatory Eclogues, and several miscellaneous pieces. The fate of the former poem has been singular,-it laid for a long time neglected and almost forgotten, until Mr. Headley made it the subject of praise equally excessive and undeserved. He raised it at once from neglect to eminence, and placed it by the side of Spenser, from whom, he says, Fletcher drew his inspiration. The pride of discovery-of being the first to point out its beauties, may have had some influence with him in assigning it this lofty station.* Headley is more elaborate and less happy in his criticism on this author, than he is in general. The Purple Island has little of inspiration in itthe author has not only imitated Spenser in the general outline of his allegorical personifications—has not only borrowed his conceptions, but has with a little variation and inversion copiously made use of the attributes by which Spenser has characterised them, and not unfrequently of his phrases and modes of expression. There are indeed but few traces either of invention or originality to be found in the whole twelve cantos. We shall take occasion to notice, in the progress of this article, some of the instances in which Fletcher has more palpably imitated his more poetical and imaginative predecessor.-We do not found our opinion on the slight ground on which the ingenious critic before mentioned concludes, that Milton had read and imitated Fletcher-nor adjudge him a plagiarist on the similarity of a word or a phrase which might be casual as well as designed; but on such direct and obvious resemblances as cannot be mistaken. Although this detracts from the higher qualities of his poetry, it still leaves something to be really admired and praised. In heightening the colouring of Spenser's inventions, we cannot say that he has generally succeeded in improving them. The chief
* Warton mentions it in general terms, and with but faint praise, in his “ Observations on the Faëry Queen of Spenser,” vol. 1. p. 107, and v. 2, p. 106.