Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

siderable power. Some of his miscellaneous poems discover feeling and genius.

THE PRAISE OF WOMAN, He is a parricide to his mother's name, And with an impious hand murders her fame, That wrongs the praise of women ; that dares write Libels on saints, or with foul ink requite The milk they lent us! Better sex! command To your defence my more religious hand, At sword or pen; yours was the nobler birth, For you of man were made, man but of earthThe sun of dust; and though your sin did breed His fall, again you raised him in your seed. Adam, in 's sleep again full loss sustain'd, That for one rib a better half regain'd, Who, had he not your blest creation seen In Paradise, an anchorite had been. Why in this work did the creation rest, But that Eternal Providence thought you best Of all his six days' labour ? Beasts should do Homage to man, but man shall wait on you ; You are of comelier sight, of daintier touch, A tender flesh, and colour bright, and such As Parians see in marble ; skin more fair, More glorious head, and far more glorious hair ; Eyes full of grace and quickness; purer roses Blush in your cheeks; a milder white composes Your stately fronts; your breath, more sweet than

his, Breathes spice, and nectar drops at every kiss.

If, then, in bodies where the souls do dwell,
You better us, do then our souls excel?

No. * * * *
Boast we of knowledge, you are more than we,
You were the first ventured to pluck the tree;
And that more rhetoric in your tongues do lie,
Let him dispute against that dares deny
Your least commands; and not persuaded be,
With Samson's strength and David's piety,
To be your willing captives.

Thus, perfect creatures, if detraction rise
Against your sex, dispute but with your eyes,
Your hand, your lip, your brow, there will be sent
So subtle and so strong an argument,
Will teach the stoic his affections too,
And call the cynic from his tub to woo.

TO MY PICTURE.

When age hath made me what I am not now,
And every wrinkle tells me where the plough
Of Time hath furrow'd, when an ice shall flow
Through every vein, and all my head be snow;
When Death displays his coldness in my cheek,
And I, myself, in my own picture seek,
Not finding what I am, but what I was,
In doubt which to believe, this or my glass;
Yet though I alter, this remains the same
As it was drawn, retains the primitive frame,
And first complexion; here will still be seen,
Blood on the cheek, and down upon the chin:
Here the smooth brow will stay, the lively eye,
The ruddy lip, and hair of youthful dye.
Behold what frailty we in man may see,
Whose shadow is less given to change than he.

TO A LADY ADMIRING HERSELF IN A LOOKING-GLASS.

Fair lady, when you see the grace
Of beauty in your looking-glass;
A stately forehead, smooth and high,
And full of princely majesty;
A sparkling eye, no gem so fair,
Whose lustre dims the Cyprian star;
A glorious cheek, divinely sweet,
Wherein both roses kindly meet;
A cherry lip that would entice
Even gods to kiss at any price;
You think no beauty is so rare
That with your shadow might compare;
That your reflection is alone
The thing that men must dote upon,
Madam, alas! your glass doth lie,
And you are much deceived; for I
A beauty know of richer grace,-
(Sweet, be not angry,) 'tis your face..
Hence, then, oh, learn more mild to be,
And leave to lay your blame on me:
If me your real substance move,
When you so much your shadow love,
Wise Nature would not let your eye
Look on her own bright majesty;
Which, had you once but gazed upon,
You could, except yourself, love none:
What then you cannot love, let me,
That face I can, you cannot see.

Now you have what to love,' you 'll say,
• What then is left for me, I pray?'
My face, sweet heart, if it please thee;
That which you can, I cannot see:''

So either love shall gain his due,
Yours, sweet, in me, and mine in you.

ROBERT BURTON. THE great, though whimsical author of the 'Anatomy of Melancholy' was born at Lindley, in Leicestershire, 1576, and educated at Christ Church, Oxford. He became Rector of Seagrave, in his native shire. He was a man of vast erudition, of integrity and benevolence, but his happiness, like that of Burns, although in a less measure, 'was blasted ab origine by an incurable taint of hypochondria;' and although at times a most delightful companion, at other times he was so miserable, even when a young student at Oxford, that he had no resource but to go down to the river-side, where the coarse jests of the bargemen threw him into fits of laughter. This surely was a violent remedy, and one that must have reacted into deeper depression. In 1621, he wrote and published, as a safety-valve to his morbid feelings, his famous 'Anatomie of Melancholy, by Democritus Junior.' It became instantly popular, and sold so well, that the publisher is said to have made a fortune by it. Nothing more of consequence is recorded of the author, who died in 1640. Although

Melancholy mark'd him for her own,' ' she failed to kill him till he had passed his grand climacteric. He was buried in Christ Church, with the following epitaph, said to have been composed by himself :

Paucis notus, paucioribus ignotus.
Hic jacet Democritus Junior,
Cui vitam pariter et mortem

Dedit Melancholia. . • Known [by name) to few, unknown (as the author of the “ Anatomy"] to fewer, here lies D. J., who owes his death (as a man) and his life [as an author] to Melancholy.'

His work is certainly a most curious and bewitching medley of thought, information, wit, learning, personal interest, and

poetic fancy. We all know it was the only book which ever drew the lazy Johnson from his bed an hour sooner than he wished to rise. The subject, like the flesh of that'melancholy' creature the hare, may be dry, but, as with that, an astute cookery prevails to make it exceedingly piquant; the sauce is better than the substance. Burton's melancholy is not, like Johnson's, a deep, hopeless, inspissated gloom,' thickened by inemories of remorse, and lighted up by the lurid fires of feared perdition; it is not, like Byron's, dashed with the demoniac element, and fretted into universal misanthropy; it is not, like Foster's, the sad, fixed fascination of a pure intelligence contemplating the darker side of things, as by a necessity of nature, and ignoring, without denying, the existence of the bright; nor is it, like that of the melancholy Jacques,' in 'As you Like it,' a wild, woodland, fantastical habit of thought, as of one living collaterally and aside to the world, and which often explodes into laughter at itself and at all things else;—Burton's is a wide-spread but tender shade, like twilight, diffused over the whole horizon of his thought, and is nourished at times into a luxury, and at times paraded as a peculiar possession. In his form of melancholy there are pleasures as well as pains. Most pleasant it is,' he says, to such as are to melancholy given, to lie in bed whole days and keep their chambers; to walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water, by a brook-side, to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant subject; and a most incomparable delight it is so to melancholise and build castles in the air.' Religious considerations have little to do with Burton's melancholy, and remorse or fear apparently nothing. Hence his book, although its theme be sadness, never shadows the spirit, but, on the contrary, from his dark, Lethean poppies, his readers are made to extract an element of joyful excitement, and the anatomy, and the cure, of the evil, are one and the same.

As a writer, Burton ranks, in some points, with Montaigne, and in others with Sir Thomas Browne. He resembles the first in simplicity, bonhommie, and miscellaneous learning, and the other in rambling manner, quaint phraseology, and fantastic imagination. Neither of the three could be said to write

« AnteriorContinuar »