Imágenes de páginas
PDF

sacred style, the style of oracles and laws. The vows and thanks of the people were recommended to their gods in songs and hymns. Why may they not retain this privilege? for if prose should contend with verse, it would be upon unequal terms, and, as it were, on foot against the wings of Pegasus. With what delight are we touched in hearing the stories of Hercules, Achilles, Cyrus, and Eneas? Because in their characters we have wisdom, honour, fortitude, and justice, set before our eyes. It was Plato's opinion, that if a man could see virtue, he would be strangely enamoured on her person. Which is the reason why Horace and Virgil have continued so long in reputation, because they have drawn her in all the charms of poetry. No man is so senseless of rational impressions, as not to be wonderfully affected with the pastorals of the ancients, when under the stories of wolves and sheep, they describe the misery of people under hard masters, and their happiness under good. So the bitter but wholesome iambic was wont to make villany blush; the satire incited men to laugh at folly; the comedian chastised the common errours of life; and the tragedian made kings afraid to be tyrants, and tyrants to be their own tormentors. Wherefore, as sir Philip Sidney said of Chaucer, that he knew not which he should most wonder at, either that he in his dark time should see so distinctly, or that we in this clear age should go so stumblingly after him ; so may we marvel at and bewail the low condition of poetry now, when in our plays scarce any one rule of decorum is observed, but in the space of two hours and an half we pass through all the fits of Bedlam; in one scene we are all in mirth, in the next we are sunk into sadness; whilst even the most laboured parts are commonly starved for want of thought; a confused heap of words, and empty sound of rhyme. This very consideration should advance the esteem of the following poem, wherein are represented the various movements of the mind; at which we are as much transported as with the most excellent scenes of passion in Shakspeare, or Fletcher: for in this, as in a mirrour (that will not flatter) we see how the soul arbitrates in the understanding upon the various reports of sense, and all the changes of imagination: how compliant the will is to her dictates, and obeys her as a queen does her king. At the same time acknowledging a subjection, and yet retaining a majesty. How the passions move at her command, like a well disciplined army; from which regular composure of the faculties, all operating in their proper time and place, there arises a complacency upon the whole soul, that infinitely transcends all other pleasures. What deep philosophy is this ' to discover the process of God's art in fashioning the soul of man after his own image; by remarking how one part moves another, and how those motions are varied by several positions of each part, from the first springs and plummets, to the very hand that points out the visible and last effects. What eloquence and force of wit to convey these profound speculations in the easiest language, expressed in words so vulgarly received, that they are understood by the meanest capacities! For the poet takes care in every line to satisfy the understandings of mankind: he follows step by step the workings of the mind from the first strokes of sense, then of fancy, afterwards of judgment,

into the principles both of natural and supernatural motives: hereby the soul is made intelligible, which comprehends all things besides ; the boundless tracks of sea and land, and the vaster spaces of Heaven; that vital principle of action, which has always been busied in inquiries abroad, is now made known to itself; insomuch that we may find out what we ourselves are, from whence we came, and whither we must go; we may perceive what noble guests those are, which we lodge in our bosoms, which are nearer to us than ali other things, and yet nothing further from our acquaintance.

But here all the labyrinths and windings of the human frame are laid open: it is seeu by what pullies and wheels the work is carried on, as plainly as if a window were opened into our breast: for it is the work of God alone to create a mind.—The next to this is to show how its operations are performed.

in. tate. THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATION oro

“T Elizabeth.

To that clear majesty which in the north
Doth, like another Sun, in glory rise,
Which standeth fix’d, yet spreads her heav'nly
worth;
Loadstone to hearts, and loadstar to all eyes.

Like Heav'n in all, like Earth to this alone,
That through great states by her support do

Yet she herself supported is of none, [stand;
But by the finger of th' Almighty's hand,

To the divinest and the richest mind,
Both by Art's purchase, and by Nature's dow'r,

That ever was from Heaven to Earth confin'd,
To show the utmost of a creature's pow'r:

To that great spring, which doth great kingdoms
move ; [streams,
The sacred spring, whence right and honour
Distilling virtue, shedding peace and love,
In every place, as Cynthia sheds her beams:

I offer up some sparkles of that fire,
Whereby we reason, live, and move and be,

These sparks by nature evermore aspire,
Which makes them now to such a highness flee,

Fair soul, since to the fairest body join'd,
You give such lively life, such quick’ning pow'r;

And influence of such celestial kind,
As keeps it still in youth's immortal flower:

As where the Sun is present all the year,
And never doth retire his golden ray,

Needs must the spring be everlasting there,
And every season like the month of May.

O! many, many years may you remain
A happy angel to this happy land:

Long, long may you on Earth our empress reign,
Ere you in Heaven a glorious angel stand.

Stay long (sweet spirit)ere thou to Heaven depart,
Who mak’st each place a Heaven wherein thou art.
Her majesty's devoted subject
and servant,

JOHN DAVIES.

July 11, 1592,

-The INTRODUCTION 1.

Why did my parents send me to the schools,
That I with knowledge might enrich my mind?

Since the desire to know first made men fools,
And did corrupt the root of all mankind;

For when God's hand had written in the hearts
Of the first parents, all the rules of good, -

So that their skill infus'd, did pass all arts
That ever were, before, or since the flood;

And when their reason's eye was sharp and clear, And (as an eagle can behold the Sun)

Could have approach'd th' eternal light as near As th’ intellectual angels could have done.

Een then to them the spirit of lies suggests,
That they were blind, because they saw not ill,

And breath'd into their incorrupted breasts
A curious wish, which did corrupt their will.

For that same ill they straight desir'd to know ; Which ill, being naught but a defect of good,

In all God’s works the Devil could not show, While man their lord in his perfection stood.

So that themselves were first to do the ill,
Fre they thereof the knowledge could attain,

Like him that knew not poison's power to kill,
Until (by tasting it) himself was slain.

Een so by tasting of that fruit forbid,
Where they sought knowledge, they did errour
Ill they desir'd to know, and ill they did; [find;
And to give passion eyes, made reason blind.

* This poem was published by Mr. Tate, with the universal applause of the nation; and was without dispute, except Spenser's Fairy Queen, the best that was written in queen Elizabeth's, or even king James the First's time. W. T.

WOL. V.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* Prometheus.
* Ixion.
* Phaeton,

* See AFsop's Fables.
* Danaides,
* Icarus.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »