Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the Duke of York each with a copy of his freedom, A.D. 1674:’—

The Londoners Gent
To the King do present
In a box the city maggot:
'Tis a thing full of weight
That requires all the might
Of whole Guildhall team to drag it.

Whilst their churches are unbuilt,
And their houses undwelt,
And their orphans want bread to feed’em,
Themselves they've bereft
Of the little wealth they'd left,
To make an offering of their freedom.

O, ye addlebrained cits l
Who henceforth, in their wits,
Would trust their youth to your heeding 2
When in diamonds and gold
Ye have him thus enrolled?
Ye knew both his friends and his breeding !

Beyond sea he began,
Where such a riot he ran
That every one there did leave him;
And now he's come o'er
Ten times worse than before,
When none but such fools would receive him.

He ne'er knew, not he,

How to serve or be free,
Though he has passed through so many adventures;
But e'er since he was bound -
(That is, since he was crowned)
He has every day broke his indentures.

Throughout Lombard Street,
Each man he did meet
He would run on the score with and borrow :
When they asked for their own
He was broke and was gone,
And his creditors all left to sorrow.

Though oft bound to the peace,
Yet he never would cease
To vex his poor neighbours with quarrels;
And, when he was beat,
He still made his retreat
To his Clevelands, his Nells, and his Carwells.

- e - e * *

His word or his oath
Cannot bind him to troth,
And he values not credit or history;
And, though he has served through
Two prenticeships now,
He knows not his trade nor his mystery.

Then, London, rejoice
In thy fortunate choice,
To have him made free of thy spices;
And do not mistrust
He may once grow more just
When he's worn off his follies and vices.

And what little thing
Is that which you bring
To the Duke, the kingdom's darling?
Ye hug it, and draw

Like ants at a straw,
Though too small for the gristle of starling.

Is it a box of pills
To cure the Duke's ills 2 -
He is too far gone to begin it!
Or does your fine show
In processioning go,
. With the pix, and the host within it?

The very first head
Of the oath you have read
Shows you all how fit he's to govern,
When in heart you all knew
He ne'er was nor will be true
To his country or to his sovereign.
And now, worshipful sirs,
Go fold up your furs,

And Winers turn again, turn again:
I see, whoe'er's freed,
You for slaves are decreed,
Until you burn again, burn again.

A hot pulse of scorn and indignant feeling often beats under Marvell's raillery, as may be perceived from these verses; and the generality of his pasquinades are much more caustic and scourging, as well as in every way more daring and unscrupulous.

OTHER MINOR POETS.

Of the other minor poets of this date we can only mention the names of a few of the most distinguished. Sir Charles Sedley is the Suckling of the time of Charles II., with less impulsiveness and more insinuation, but a kindred gaiety and sprightliness of fancy, and an answering liveliness and at the same time courtly ease and elegance of diction. King Charles, a good judge of such matters, was accustomed to say that Sedley's style, either in writing or discourse, would be the standard of the English tongue; and his contemporary, the Duke of Buckingham (Williers), used to call his exquisite art of expression Sedley's Witchcraft. Sedley's genius early ripened and bore fruit; he was born only two or three years before the breaking out of the Civil War; and he was in high reputation as a poet and a wit within six or seven years after the Restoration. He survived both the Revolution and the century, dying in the year 1701. Sedley's fellow debauchee, the celebrated Earl of Rochester (Wilmot)—although the brutal grossness of the greater part of his verse has deservedly made it and its author infamous—was perhaps a still greater genius.

[ocr errors][merged small]

There is immense strength and pregnancy of expression in some of the best of his compositions, careless and unfinished as they are. Rochester had not completed his thirty-third year when he died, in July 1680. Of the poetical productions of the other court wits of Charles's reign the principal are, the Duke of Buckingham's satirical comedy of The Rehearsal, which was very effective when first produced, and still enjoys a great reputation, though it would probably be thought but a heavy joke now by most readers not carried away by the prejudice in its favour; the Earl of Roscommon's very common-place Essay on Translated Verse; and the Earl of Dorset's lively and well-known song, “To all you ladies now on land,” written at sea the night before the engagement with the Dutch on the 3rd of June, 1665, or rather professing to have been then written, for the asserted poetic tranquillity of the noble author in expectation of the morrow's fight has been disputed. The Marquis of Halifax and Lord Godolphin were also writers of verse at this date; but neither of them has left anything worth remembering. Among the minor poets of the time, however, we ought not to forget Charles Cotton, best known for his humorous, though somewhat coarse, travesties of Virgil and Lucian, and for his continuation of Izaak Walton's Treatise on Angling, and his fine idiomatic translation of Montaigne's Essays, but also the author of some short original pieces in verse, of much fancy and liveliness. One entitled an “Ode to Winter,’ in particular, has been highly praised by Wordsworth.* We need scarcely mention Sir William Davenant's long and languid heroic poem of Gondibert, though Hobbes, * See Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 1815.

s

equally eminent in poetry and the mathematics, has declared that he “never yet saw poem that had so much shape of art, health of morality, and vigour and beauty of expression;” and has prophesied that, were it not for the mutability of modern tongues, “it would last as long as either the Æneid or Iliad.” The English of the reign of Charles II. is not yet obsolete, nor likely to become so; Homer and Virgil are also still read and admired; but men have forgotten Gondibert, almost as much as they have Hobbes's own Iliad and Odyssey.

Dry DEN.

By far the most illustrious name among the English poets of the latter half of the seventeenth century—if we exclude Milton as belonging properly to the preceding age—is that of John Dryden. Born in 1632, Dryden produced his first known composition in verse in 1649, his lines on the death of Lord Hastings, a young nobleman of great promise, who was suddenly cut off by smallpox, on the eve of his intended marriage, in that year. This earliest of Dryden's poems is in the most ambitious style of the school of Donne and Cowley: Donne himself, indeed, has scarcely penned anything quite so extravagant as one passage, in which the fancy of the young poet runs riot among the phenomena of the loathsome disease to which Lord Hastings had fallen a victim:— So many spots, like maeves on Venus' soil, One jewel set off with so many a foil: Blisters with pride swell'd, which through's flesh did

Sprout
Like rose-buds stuck i' the lily skin about.

* Answer to Davenant's Preface to Gondibert

« AnteriorContinuar »