« AnteriorContinuar »
knack, whatever be its value, was so frequent among early writers, that Gascoigne, a writer of the sixteenth century, warns the young poet against affecting it; Shakspeare, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, is supposed to ridicule it; and in another play the sonnet of Holofernes fully displays it.
He borrows too many of his sentiments and illustrations from the old Mythology, for which it is vain to plead the example of ancient poets: the deities, which they introduced so frequently, were considered as realities, so far as to be received by the imagination, whatever sober reason might even then determine. But of these images time has tarnished the splendour. A fiction, not only detected but despised, can never afford a solid basis to any position, though sometimes it may furnish a transient allusion, or slight illustration. No modern monarch can be much exalted by hearing that, as Hercules had his club, he has his navy.
But of the praise of Waller, though much may be taken away, much will remain; for it cannot be denied that he added something to our elegance of diction, and something to our propriety of thought; and to him may be applied what Tasso said, with equal spirit and justice, of himself and Guarini, when, having perused the Pastor Fido, he cried out, “ If he had not read Aminta, he had not excelled it."
AS Waller professed himself to have learned the art of versification from Fairfax, it has been thought proper to subjoin a specimen of his work, which, after Mr. Hoole's translation, will perhaps not be soon reprinted. By knowing the state in which Waller found our poetry, the reader may judge how much he improved it.
Of her strong foes, that chas'd her through the plaine,
Yet still the fearfull Dame fled, swift as winde,
On Iordans sandie banks her course she staid,
And loue, his mother, and the graces kept
And that sweet noise, birds, winds, and waters sent,
Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among
These dreadfull armes I beare no warfare bring
This wildernesse doth vs in saftie keepe,
Nor ever greedie soldier was entised
These little flocks of sheepe and tender goates
How they are fed, in forrest, spring and lake,
And though I but a simple gardner weare,
I bod the court farewell, and with content
Till fortune should occasion new afford,
15. She said therefore, O shepherd fortunate! That troubles some didst whilom feele and proue, Yet liuest pow in this contented state, Let my mishap thy thoughts to pitie moue, To entertaine me as a willing mate In shepherds life, which I admire and loue ;
Within these pleasant groues perchance my hart, Of her discomforts, may vnload some part.