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almost all Donne's poetry is imperfect in form and workmanship; but it is the genuine cry of one engaged in that most terrible of all struggles, wherein, as we are winners or losers, we have won all or lost all. There is indeed much in Donne, in the unfolding of his moral and spiritual life, which often reminds us of St. Augustine. I do not mean that, noteworthy as on many accounts he was, and in the language of Carew, one of his contemporaries,
'A king who ruled as he thought fit
The universal monarchy of wit,' he at all approached in intellectual or spiritual stature to the great Doctor of the Western Church. But still there was in Donne the same tumultuous youth, the same entanglement in youthful lusts, the same conflict with these, and the same final deliverance from them; and then the same passionate and personal grasp of the central truths of Christianity, linking itself as this did with all that he had suffered, and all that he had sinned, and all through which by God's grace he had victoriously struggled.
P. 142, No. cxxv.- .–There is a certain residue of truth in Johnson's complaint of the blending of incongruous theologies, or rather of a mythology and a theology, in this poem-Neptune and Phæbus and Panope and the Fury mixed up with St. Peter and a greater than St. Peter, and a fierce assault on the Clergy of the Church. At the same time there is a fusing power in the imagination, when it is in its highest exercise, which can bring together and chemically unite materials the most heterogeneous ; and the fault of Johnson's criticism is that he has no eye for the mighty force of this which in Lycidas is displayed, and which has brought all or nearly all of its strange assemblage of materials into harmonious unity-and even where this is not so, hardly allows us to remember the fact, so wondrous is the beauty and splendour of the whole. But in weaker hands the bringing together of all which is here brought together, and the attempt to combine it all in one poem, would have inevitably issued in failure the most ridiculous. -1. 32-49 : This and more than one other allusion in this poem implies that King wrote verses, and of an idyllic character, as would seem. In his brother's Elegy, contained in the same volume in which Lycidas first appeared, as much, and indeed a good deal more is said :
'He dressed the Muses in the brav'st attire
If he wrote English verse, and it is difficult to give any other meaning to these lines, none of it has reached us. A few pieces of Latin poetry bearing his name are scattered through the volumes of encomiastic verse which were issued from Cambridge during the time that he, as Fellow and Tutor of Christ's, was connected with it. They are only of average merit.—1. 50: A glorious appropriation of Virgil, Buc. x. 9, 10,
' Quæ nemora aut qui vos saltus habuere, puellæ
Naiades, indigno cum Gallus amore peribat?' 1. 132 : Observe the exquisite art with which Milton manages the transition from the Christian to the heathen. He assumes that Alpheus and the Sicilian Muse had shrunk away ashamed while St. Peter was speaking. In bidding them now to return, he implies that he is coming down from the spiritual heights to which for a while he had been lifted up, and entering the region of pastoral poetry once more.-l. 159-164 : These lines were for a long time very obscure. Dr. Todd in his learned notes, to which I must refer, has done much to dissipate the obscurity, though I cannot think all is clear even now.
P. 148, No. cxxvi. — These lines are the short answer to a very long question, or series of questions, which Davenant has called The Philosopher's Disquisition directed to the dying Christian. This poem, than which I know few weightier with thought, unfortunately extends to nearly four hundred lines—its length, and the fact that it appeals but to a limited circle of readers, precluding me from finding room for more than a brief extract from it, and that in this note; but it literally abounds with lines notable as the following :
*Tradition, Time's suspected register,
That wears out Truth's best stories into tales.' I am well aware of the evil report under which Davenant labours, and there are passages in his poems which seem to bear it out, as for example this, which appears to call into question the resurrection :
• But ask not bodies doomed to die,
It is not safe to know.' At the same time the Philosopher' here does not so much deny that there is any truth for man as that he has any organ whereby, of himself, he may attain this truth. The poem-it is the dying Christian who is addressed-opens thus :
‘Before by death you nearer knowledge gain, (For to increase your knowledge you
must die) Tell me if all that learning be not vain, On which we proudly in this life rely. Is not the learning which we knowledge call, Our own but by opinion and in part? Not made entirely certain, nor to all, And is not knowledge but disputed art?
And though a bad, yet 'tis a froward guide,
is woody, wild, and dark within.
And trust to Schools for what they cannot know.' P. 150, No. cxxviii.—This poem, apart from its proper beauty, which is very considerable, has a deeper interest, as containing in the germ Wordsworth's still higher strain, namely his Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. I do not mean that Wordsworth had ever seen this poem when he wrote his. The coincidences are so remarkable that it is certainly difficult to esteem them accidental ; but Wordsworth was so little a reader of any. thing out of the way, and at the time when his Ode was composed, the Silex Scintillans was altogether out of the way, a book of such excessive rarity, that an explanation the points
contact between the poems must be sought for elsewhere. The complete forgetfulness into which poetry, which, though not of the very highest order of all, is yet of a very high one, may fall, is strikingly exemplified in the fact that as nearly as possible two centuries intervened between the first and second editions of Vaughan's poems. The first edition of the first part of the Silex Scintillans appeared in 1650, the second edition of the book in 1847. Oblivion overtook him from the first. Phillips in his Theatrum Poetarum, 1675, just mentions him and no more ; and knows him only by his Olor Iscanus, a juvenile production, of comparatively little worth ; yet seeing that it yields such lines as the following--they form part of a poem addressed to the unfortunate Elizabeth of Bohemia, our first James' daughter-it cannot be affirmed to be of none.:
Thou seem'st a rosebud born in snow;
But drank'st thy wormwood with a smile.' As a divine Vaughan may be inferior, but as a poet he is certainly superior, to Herbert, who never wrote anything so purely poetical as The Retreat. Still Vaughan would probably never have written as he has, if Herbert, whom he gratefully owns as his master, had not shown him the way.
P. 154, No. cxxxii.—This poem, so little known, though the work of one so well known, opens very solemnly and grandly, but does not maintain itself altogether at the same height to the end. Even as I have given it, the two concluding strophes are inferior to the others ; and this declension would be felt by the reader still more strongly, if I had not at once lightened the poem, and brought it within reasonable compass, by the omission of no less than six strophes which immediately precede these. It bears date January 14, 1683 ; and was written at a season of great weakness and intense bodily suffering (see his Life edited by Sylvester, Part III. p. 192); but the actual life of the great non-conformist divine was prolonged for some eight or nine years more.
P. 163, No. cxxxviii. - I have gladly found room in this volume, as often as I fairly could, for poems written by those who, strictly speaking, were not poets ; or who, if poets, have only rarely penned their inspiration, and, either wanting the accomplishment of verse, or not caring to use it, have preferred to embody thoughts which might have claimed a metrical garb in other than metrical forms. Poems from such authors must always have a special interest for us. To the former of these classes the author of these manly and highhearted lines belongs, and another whose epitaph on his companions left behind in the Arctic regions is earlier given (see No. cxix.). Bacon (for who can deny to him a poet's gifts ?) and, before all others as a poet in prose, Jeremy Taylor, belong to the second. It would be more difficult to affirm of Bishop Berkeley (see No. cxxxvii.), and of Sir Thomas Browne (see No. cxxxi.), to which of these classes they. ought to be assigned.
P. 166, No. cxxxix.—These lines, in their wit worthy of Lucian, and with a moral purpose which oftentimes Lucian is wholly without, are called A Fable, but manifestly have no right to the name. I have omitted six lines, but with reluctance, being as in fact they are among the most moral lines in the whole poem.
P. 169, No. cxli.—This is a party ballad, and, rightly to understand it, we must understand the circumstances of which it assumes on our part a knowledge. In 1727 Admiral Hosier blockaded PortoBello with twenty ships; but was not allowed to attack it, war not having actually broken out with Spain, and, a peace being patched up, his squadron was withdrawn. In 1740 Admiral Vernon took Porto-Bello with six ships. It was apparently a very creditable exploit; but Vernon being an enemy of Walpole's, and a member of the Opposition, it was glorified by them beyond its merits. When they boasted that he with six ships had effected what Hosier had not been allowed to attempt with twenty, the statement was a perfectly true one, but in nothing dishonourable to him or to his employers. Glover is here the mouthpiece of the Opposition, who, while they exalted Vernon, affected to pity Hosier, who had died, as they declared, of a broken heart; and of whose losses by disease during the blockade they did not fail to make the most. It is a fine ballad, and will do for Glover what his Leonidas would altogether have failed to do. This we may confidently affirm, whether we quite agree with Lord Stanhope or not, that it is the noblest song perhaps ever called forth by any British victory, except Mr. Campbell's Battle of the Baltic.'
P. 172, No. cxlii.—This poem was for a while supposed to he old, and an old line has been worked up into it. This was probably the refrain of an older as it is of the more modern poem, which has Miss Elliott, (1727–1805), an accomplished lady of the Minto family, for its author.--1. 1 : lilting,' singing cheerfully.-1. 3: 'loaning,' broad lane.—1. 5: 'scorning,' rallying.–1. 6: dowie' dreary.-1. 8: leglin,' milkpail.–1. 9: 'shearing’ reaping.–1. 10: 'bandsters,' sheaf-binders. — lyart, inclining to gray.— runkled,' wrinkled. — 1. II: 'fleeching,' coaxing.–1. 14: "bogle,' ghost.
P. 176, No. cxlvi.—One who listens very attentively may catch in these pretty lines a faint prelude of Wordsworth's immortal poem addressed to the same bird.
P. 177, No. cxlvii.—There can scarcely be a severer trial of the poet's power of musical expression, of his command of the arts by which melody is produced, than the unrhymed lyric, which very seldom perfectly satisfies the ear. That Collins has so completely succeeded here is itself a sufficient answer to Gray's assertion that he had a bad ear,' to Johnson's complaint, ‘his lines commonly are of slow motion ; clogged and impeded with a cluster of consonants.' Collins, in whom those lines of Wordsworth found only too literal a fulfilment,
"We poets do begin our lives in gladness,