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Are only gay affections, golden toil;
Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet
As frailty doth, and only great doth seem
To little minds who do it so esteem.
Thus, Madam, fares that man that hath prepared
A rest for his desires; and sees all things
Beneath him; and hath learned this Book of Man,
Full of the notes of frailty; and compared
The best of Glory with her sufferings:
By whom, I see, you labour all you can
To plant your heart, and set your thoughts as near
His glorious mansion as your powers can bear.
Which, Madam, are so soundly fashioned
By that clear Judgment, that hath carried you
Beyond the feeble limits of your kind,
As they can stand against the strongest head
Passion can make; inured to any hue
The world can cast; that cannot cast that mind
Out of the form of goodness; that doth see
Both what the best and worst of earth can be.
Which makes that, whatsoever here befals,
You in the region of your self remain,
Where no vain breath of the impudent molests;
That lieth" secured within the brazen walls
Of a clear conscience; that, without all stain,
Rises in peace, in innocency rests
Whilst all what malice from without procures
Shows her own ugly heart, but hurts not yours.
And, whereas none rejoice more in revenge
Than women use to do, yet you well know
That wrong is better checked by being contemned
Than being pursued; leaving to Him to avenge
To whom it appertains. Wherein you show
How worthily your clearness hath condemned
Base Malediction, living in the dark,
That at the rays of Goodness still doth bark.
* This apparently must be the true word. The edition fore us has “hath.”
Knowing the heart of man is set to be
The centre of this world, about the which
These revolutions of disturbances
Still roll; where all the aspects of misery
Predominate; whose strong effects are such
As he must bear, being powerless to redress;
And that, unless above himself he can
Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!
* * * *
And this note, Madam, of your worthiness
Remains recorded in so many hearts,
As time nor malice cannot wrong your right
In the inheritance of fame you must possess:
You that have built you by your great deserts,
Out of small means, a far more exquisite
And glorious dwelling for your honoured name
Than all the gold of" leaden minds can frame.
Michael Drayton, who is computed to have been born in 1563, and who died in 1631, is one of the most voluminous of our old poets; being the author, besides many minor compositions, of three works of great length :—his ‘Barons' Wars’ (on the subject of the civil wars of the reign of Edward II.) originally entitled ‘Mortimeriados,’ under which name it was published in 1596; his ‘England's Heroical Epistles,’ 1598; and his ‘Polyolbion,” the first eighteen Books of which appeared in 1612, and the whole, consisting of thirty Books, and extending to as many thousand lines, in 1622. This last is the work on which his fame principally rests. It is a most elaborate and minute topographical description of England,
written in Alexandrine rhymes; and is a very remarkable work for the varied learning it displays, as well as for its poetic merits. The genius of Drayton is neither very imaginative nor very pathetic; but he is an agreeable and weighty writer, with a sparkling, if not a very warm, fancy. From the height to which he occasionally ascends, as well as from his powers of keeping longer on the wing, he must be ranked, as he always has been, much before both Warner and Daniel. He has greatly more elevation than the former, and more true poetic life than the latter. His most graceful poetry, however, is perhaps to be found in some of his shorter pieces—in his “Pastorals,’ his very elegant and lively little poem entitled ‘Nymphidia, or the Court of Fairy,’ and his ‘Verses on Poets and Poesy,’ in which occur the lines on Marlow that have been quoted in a preceding page. From a mass of verse extending in all to not far from 100,000 lines, the few extracts that we can give must be for from affording a complete illustration of the author's genius. The following is from the commencement of the Thirteenth Book, or Song, of the ‘Polyolbion,” the subject of which is the County of Warwick, of which Drayton, as he here tells us, was a native :—
Upon the mid-lands now the industrious muse doth fall;
That * which we the heart of England well may
As she herself extends (the midst which is decreed)
Betwixt St. Michael's Mount and Berwick bordering
Brave Warwick, that abroad so long advanced her Bear,
By her illustrious Earls renowned every where;
Aloys o: neighbouring shires which always bore her
My native country, then, which so brave spirits hast bred,
If there be virtues yet remaining in thy earth,
Or any good of thine thou bred'st into my birth,
Accept it as thine own, whilst now I sing of thee,
Of all thy later brood the unworthiest though I be.
sk *: x: :* :*
When Phoebus lifts his head out of the water's "wave,
No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,
At such time as the year brings on the pleasant spring
But Hunt's up to the morn the feathered sylvans sing;
And, in the lower grove as on the rising knowl,
Upon the highest spray of every mounting pole
These quiristers are perched, with many, a speckled
Then from her burnished gate the goodly glittering East
Gilds every mountain-top, which late the humorous night
Bespangled had with pearl, to please the morning's sight;
On which the mirthful quires, with their clear open
Unto the joyful morn so strain their warbling notes
That hills and valleys ring, and even the echoing air
Seems all composed of sounds about them every where.
The throstle with shrill sharps, as purposely he song
To awake the lustless sun, or chiding that so long
He was in coming forth that should the thickets thrill;
The woosel near at hand; that hath a golden bill,
As nature him had marked of purpose to let us see
That from all other birds his tunes should different be:
For with their vocal sounds they sing to pleasant May;
Upon his dulcet pipe the merle doth only play.
When in the lower brake the nightingale hard by
In such lamenting strains the joyful hours doth ply
As though the other birds she to her tunes would draw
And, but that Nature, by her all-constraining law,
Each bird to her own kind this season doth invite,
They else, alone to hear that charmer of the night
(The more to use their ears) their voices sure would
That Hooled, her notes so admirably rare
As man to set in parts at first had learned of her.
To Philomel the next the linnet we prefer;
And by that warbling bird the woodlark place we then,
The red-sparrow, the nope, the redbreast, and the wren;
The yellow-pate, which, though she hurt the blooming
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she.
And, of these chanting fowls, the goldfinch not behind,
That hath so many sorts descending from her kind.
The tydy, for her notes as delicate as they;
The laughing hecco; then, the counterfeiting jay.
The softer with the shrill, some hid among the leaves,
Some in the taller trees, some in the lower greaves,
Thus sing away the morn, until the mounting sun
Through thick exhaled fogs his golden head hath run,
And through the twisted tops of our close covert creeps
To kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly sleeps.
And, near to these our thicks, the wild and frightful
Not hearing other noise but this of chattering birds,
Feed fairly on the lawns; both sorts of seasoned deer:
Here walk the stately red, the freckled fallow there;
The bucks and lusty stags amongst the rascals strewed,
As sometime gallant spirits amongst the multitude.
Of all the beasts which we for our venerial name
The hart among the rest, the hunter's noblest game.
Of which most princely chace sith none did e'er report,
Or by description touch to express that wondrous sport
o: might have well beseemed the ancients' noble songs)
o our old Arden here most fitly it belongs.
Yet shall she not invoke the Muses to her aid,
But thee, Diana bright, a goddess and a maid;
In many a huge-grown wood, and many a shady grove
Which oft hast borne thy bow, Great Huntress, used to
At many a cruel beast, and with thy darts to pierce
The lion, panther, ounce, the bear, and tiger fierce;
And, following thy fleet game, chaste mighty forest's
queen, With thy dishevelled nymphs attired in youthful green, About the lawns hast scoured, and wastes both far and near, Brave huntress! But no beasts shall prove thy quarries here Save those the best of chase, the tall and lusty red. The stag, for goodly shape and stateliness of head,