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Is fittest to hunt at force. For whom when, with his
The labouring hunter tufts the thick unbarbed grounds,
Where harboured is the hart, there often from his feed
The dogs of him do find; or, thorough skilful heed,
The huntsman by his shot, or breaking earth, perceives,
Or entering of the thick by pressing of the greaves,
Where he had gone to lodge. Now, when the hart doth
The often bellowing hounds to vent his secret leir,"
He rousing rusheth out, and through the brakes doth drive,
As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive;
And, through the cumbrous thicks as fearfully he makes,
He with his branched head the tender saplings shakes,
That, sprinkling their moist pearls, do seem for him to
When ić, goes the cry, with yellings loud and deep,
That all the forest rings, and every neighbouring place.
And there is not a hound but falleth to the chace;
Rechating with his horn, which then the hunter cheers,
Whilst still the lusty stag his high-palmed head uprears,
His body showing state, with unbent knees upright,
Expressing, from all beasts, his courage in his flight.
But when, the approaching foes still following, he per-
That he his speed must trust, his usual walk he leaves,
And o'er the champain flies; which when the assembly
Each follows as his horse were footed with the wind.
But, being then embost, the noble stately deer
When he hath gotten ground (the kennel cast arear)
Doth beat the brooks and ponds for sweet refreshing soil;
That serving not, then proves if he his scent can foil,
And makes amongst the herds, and flocks of shag-woolled
Them frighting from the guard of those who had their
But, when as all his shifts his safety still denies,
Put quite out of his walk, the ways and fallows tries.
Whom * the ploughman meets, his team he letteth
To assail him with his goad; so, with his hook in hand,
The shepherd him pursues, and to his dog doth hollo,
When, with tempestuous speed, the hounds and huntsmen
Until the noble deer, through toll bereaved of strength,
His long and sinewy legs then failing him at length,
The villages attempts, enraged, not giving way
To any thing he meets now at his sad decay.
The cruel ravenous hounds and bloody hunters near,
This noblest beast of chace, that vainly doth not" fear,
Some o or quick-set finds; to which his haunch op-
He to: upon his foes, that soon have him inclosed,
The churlish-throated hounds then holding him at bay;
And, as their cruel fangs on his harsh skin they lay,
With his sharp-pointed head he dealeth deadly wounds.
The hunter, coming in to help his wearied hounds,
He desperately assails; until, oppressed by force,
He, who the mourner is to his own dying corse,
Upon the ruthless earth his precious tears lets fall.
This passage, though long, will scarcely be felt to be tedious. It is one of the most animated descriptions in poetry. We add a short specimen of Drayton's lighter style from his Nymphidia—the account of the equipage of the Queen of the Fairies, when she set out to visit her lover Pigwiggen. The reader may compare it with Mercutio's description in Romeo and Juliet:
Her chariot ready straight is made;
Each thing therein is fitting laid,
That she by nothing might be stayed,
For nought must be her letting;
Four mimble guests the horses were,
Their harnesses of gossamer,
Fly Cranion, her charioteer,
Upon the coach-box getting.
* “But” is the common reading.
Her chariot of a snail’s fine shell,
Which for the colours did excel,
The fair Queen Mab becoming well,
So lively was the limning;
The seat the soft wool of the bee,
The cover (gallantly to o
The wing of a pied butterflee;
I trow ’t was simple trimming.
The wheels composed of cricket's bones,
And daintily made for the nonce;
For fear of rattling on the stones
With thistle down they shod it;
For all her maidens much did fear
If Oberon had chanced to hear
That Mab his queen should have been there,
He would not have abode it.
She mounts her chariot with a trice,
Nor would she stay for no advice
Until her maids, that were so mice,
To wait on her were fitted;
But ran herself away alone;
Which when they heard, there was not one
But hasted after to be gone,
As she had been diswitted.
Hop, and Mop, and Drab so clear,
Pip and Trip, and Skip, that were
To Mab their sovereign so dear,
Her special maids of honour;
Fib, and Tib, and Pink, and Pin,
Tick, and Quick, and Jill, and Jin,
Tit, and Nit, and Wap, and Win,
The train that wait upon her.
Upon a grasshopper they got,
And, what with amble and with trot,
For hedge nor ditch they spared not,
But after her they hie them:
A cobweb over them they throw,
To shield the wind if it should blow;
Themselves they wisely could bestow
Lest any should espy them.
One of the most popular poets of this date was Joshua Sylvester, the translator of The Divine Weeks and Works, and other productions, of the French poet Du Bartas. Sylvester has the honour of being supposed to have been one of the early favourites of Milton.* In one of his publications he styles himself a MerchantAdventurer, and he seems to have belonged to the Puritan party, which may have had some share in influencing Milton's regard. His translation of Du Bartas was first published in 1605; and the seventh edition (beyond which, we believe, its popularity did not carry it) appeared in 1641.f Nothing can be more uninspired than the general run of Joshua's verse, or more fantastic and absurd than the greater number of its more ambitious passages; for he had no taste or judgment, and, provided the stream of sound and the jingle of the rhyme were kept up, all was right in his notion. His poetry consists chiefly of translations from the French; but he is also the author of some original pieces, the title of one of which, a courtly offering from the poetical Puritan to the prejudices of King James, may be quoted as a lively specimen of his style and genius:–“Tobacco battered, and the pipes shattered, about their ears that idly idolize
* Milton's obligations to Sylvester were first pointed out in “Considerations on Milton's Early Reading, and the Prima Stamina of his Paradise Lost, together with Extracts
from a Poet of the Sixteenth Century, by the Rev. Charles Dunster. 1800.
t Ritson, in his ‘Bibliographia Poetica,” makes the edition of 1613 to have been only the third; but it is called the fourth on the title-page.
so base and barbarous a weed, or at leastwise overlove so loathsome a vanity, by a volley of holy shot thundered from Mount Helicon.” But, with all his general flatness and frequent absurdity, Sylvester has an uncommon flow of harmonious words at times, and occasionally even some fine lines and felicitous expressions. His contemporaries called him the “Silver-tongued Sylvester,” for what they considered the sweetness of his versification— and some of his best passages justify the title. Indeed, even when the substance of what he writes approaches nearest to nonsense, the sound is often very graceful, soothing the ear with something like the swing and ring of Dryden's heroics. But, after a few lines, is always sure to come in some ludicrous image or expression which destroys the effect of the whole. The translation of Du Bartas is inscribed to King James in a most adulatory and elaborate Dedication, consisting of a string of sonnetshaped stanzas, ten in all, of which the two first are a very fair sample of the mingled good and bad of Sylvester's poetry:
“To England's, Scotland's, France', and Ireland's king;
Great Emperor of Europe's greatest isles;
Monarch of hearts, and arts, and everything
Beneath Bootes, many thousand miles;
Upon whose head honour and fortune smiles;
About whose brows clusters of crowns do spring;
Whose faith him Champion of the Faith enstyles;
Whose wisdom's fame o'er all the world doth ring :
Mnemosyne and her fair daughters bring
The Daphnean crown to crown him laureate;
Whole and sole sovereign of the Thespian spring,
Prince of Parnassus and Pierian state;