Imagens das páginas

To purge the mischiefs, that increase
And all good order mar :

Morning in Warwickshire-Description of a Stag-hunt.
For oft we see a wicked peace,

When Phoebus lifts his head out of the winter's wave, To be well changed for war.

No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,

At such time as the year brings on the pleasant spring, SYREN.

But hunts-up to the morn the feathered sylvans sing :
Well, well, Ulysses, then I see

And in the lower grove, as on the rising knoll,
I shall not have thee here;

Upon the highest spray of every mounting pole,
And therefore I will come to thee,

Those quiristers are percht, with many a speckled breast,
And take my fortune there.

Then from her burnisht gate the goodly glitt'ring east I must be won that cannot win,

Gilds every lofty top, which late the humorous night Yet lost were I not won :

Bespangled had with pearl, to please the morning's sight; For beauty hath created been

On which the mirthful quires, with their clear open throats,
Tundo or be undone,

Unto the joysul morn so strain their warbling notes,
That hills and valleys ring, and even the echoing air
Seems all composed of sounds, about them everywhere.

The throstle, with shrill sharps ; as purposely he sung

T' awake the listless sun ; or chiding, that so long

He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill; MICHAEL DRAYTON, born, it is supposed, at The ouzel near at hand, that hath a golden bill, Atherstone, in Warwickshire, about the year 1563, As nature him had markt of purpose, t' let us see at the age of ten was made page to a person of That from all other birds his tunes should different be: quality—a situation which was not at that time For, with their vocal sounds, they sing to pleasant May; thought too humble for the sons of gentlemen. When in the lower brake, the nightingale' hard by,

Upon his dulcet pipe the merle ? doth only play. He is said, upon dubious authority, to have been In such lamenting strains the joyful hours doth ply, for some time a student at Oxford. It is certain As though the other birds she to her tunes would draw. that, in early life, he was highly esteemed and And but that nature-— by her all-constraining lawstrongly patronised by several persons of conse- Each bird to her own kind this season doth invite, quence, particularly by Sir Henry Goodere, Sir They else, alone to hear that charmer of the nightWalter Aston, and the Countess of Bedford : to The more to use their ears--their voices sure would the first was indebted for great part of his spare, education, and for recommending him to the That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare, countess; the second supported him for several As man to set in parts at first had learned of her.

To Philomel the next, the linnet we prefer ; years. In 1593, Drayton published a collection of his pastorals, and in 1598 gave to the world his And by that warbling bird, the woodlark place we then, more elaborate poems of The Barons' Wars and The yellow pate'; which though she hurt the blooming

The red sparrow, the nope, the redbreast, and the wren. England's Heroical Epistles. On the accession

tree, of james I. in 1603, Drayton acted as esquire to Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she. Sir Walter Aston, in the ceremony of his installa- And of these chanting fowls, the goldfinch not behind, tion as a Knight of the Bath. The poet expected That hath so many sorts descending from her kind. some patronage from the new sovereign, but was The tydy for her notes as delicate as they, disappointed. He published the first part of his The laughing hecco, then the counterfeiting jay. most elaborate work, the Polyolbion, in 1612, and The softer with the shrill--some hid among the leaves, the second in 1622, the whole forming a poetical Some in the taller trees, some in the lower greavesdescription of England, in thirty songs or books.

Thus sing away the morn, until the mounting sun, The Polyolbion is a work entirely unlike any Through thick exhaled fogs his golden head hath'run, other in English poetry, both in its subject and in And through the twisted tops of our close covert creeps

To kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly sleeps. the manner of its composition. It is full of topo

And near to these our thicks, the wild and frightful graphical and antiquarian details, with innumer

herds, able allusions to remarkable events and persons, Not hearing other noise but this of chattering birds, as connected with various localities; yet such is Feed fairly on the lawns; both sorts of seasoned deer : the genius of the author, so happily does he Here walk the stately red, the freckled fallow there : idealise almost everything he touches, and so The bucks and lusty stags, amongst the rascals strewed, lively is the flow of his verse, that we do not As sometime gallant spirits amongst the multitude. readily tire in perusing his vast mass of informa- Of all the beasts which we for our venerial ? name, tion. He seems to have followed Spenser in his The hart among the rest, the hunter's noblest game: personification of natural objects, such as hills, of which most princely chase sith none did e'er report, rivers, and woods. The information contained in Or by description touch, t' express that wondrous sportthe Polyolbion is in general so accurate, that it is Yet might have well beseemed the ancients' nobler

songs quoted as an authority by Hearne and Wood.

To our old Arden here, most fitly it belongs : In 1627, Drayton published a volume containing Vet shall she not invoke the muses to her aid ; The Battle of Agincourt, The Court of Faerie, and But thee, Diana bright, a goddess and a maid : other poems. Three years later appeared another In many' a huge-grown wood, and many a shady grove, volume, entitled The Muses' Elysium, from which Which oft hast borne thy bow, great huntress, used to it appears that he had found a final shelter in the family of the Earl of Dorset. On his death in At many a cruel beast, and with thy darts to pierce 1631, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where The lion, panther, ounce, the bear, and tiger fierce ; a monument, containing an inscription in letters And following thy fleet game, chase mighty forest's of gold, was raised to his memory by the wife of queen, that nobleman, the justly celebrated Lady Anne With thy dishevelled nymphs attired in youthful green, Clifford, subsequently Countess of Pembroke and

1 Of all birds, only the blackbird whistleth, Montgomery.

? Of hunting, or chase.



About the lawns hast scoured, and wastes both far and Which Sherwood took to heart, and very much near,

disdained— Brave huntress; but no beast shall prove thy quarries here; As one that had both long, and worthily maintained Save those the best of chase, the tall and lusty red, The title of the greatest and bravest of her kindThe stag for goodly shape, and stateliness of head, To fall so far below one wretchedly confined Is fitt'st to hunt at force. For whom, when with his hounds Within a furlong's space, to her large skirts compared : The labouring hunter tufts the thick unbarbed grounds, Wherefore she, as a nymph that neither feared nor careil Where harboured is the hart; there often from his feed For ought to her might chance, by others' love or hate, The dogs of him do find; or thorough skilful heed, With resolution armed against the power of fate, The huntsman by his slot, or breaking earth, perceives, All self-praise set apart, determineth to sing Or ent'ring of the thick by pressing of the greaves, That lusty Robin Hood, who long time like a king Where he had gone to lodge. Now when the hart doth Within her compass lived, and when he list to range hear

For some rich booty set, or else his air to change, The often-bellowing hounds to vent his secret lair, To Sherwood still retired, his only standing court, He rousing rusheth out, and through the brakes doth Whose praise the Forest thus doth pleasantly report : drive,

“The merry pranks he played, would ask an age to tell, As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive. And the adventures strange that Robin Hood befell, And through the cumbrous thicks, as fearfully he makes, When Mansfield many a time for Robin hath been laid, He with his branched head the tender saplings shakes, How he hath cozened them, that him would have That sprinkling their moist pearl do seem for him to weep; betrayed ; When after goes the cry, with yellings loud and deep, How often he hath come to Nottingham disguised, That all the forest rings, and every neighbouring place : And cunningly escaped, being set to be surprised. And there is not a hound but falleth to the chase. In this our spacious isle, I think there is not one, Rechating 2 with his horn, which then the hunter cheers, But he hath heard some talk of him and Little John ; Whilst still the lusty stag his high-palmed head upbears, And to the end of time, the tales shall ne'er be done, His body shewing state, with unbent knees upright, Of Scarlock, George-a-Green, and Much the miller's son, Expressing from all beasts, his courage in his fight, Of Tuck the merry friar, which many a sermon made But when th' approaching foes still following he perceives, In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws, and their trade. That he his speed must trust, his usual walk he leaves : An hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood, And o'er the champain flies; which when th' assembly Still ready at his call, that bowmen were right good, find,

All clad in Lincoln green, with caps of red and blue, Each follows, as his horse were footed with the wind. His fellow's winded horn not one of them but knew, But being them imbost, the noble stately deer,

When setting to their lips their little bugles shrill When he hath gotten ground—the kennel cast arrear- The warbling echoes waked from every dale and hill : Doth beat the brooks and ponds for sweet refreshing soil; Their baldricks set with studs, athwart their shoulders cast, That serving not, then proves if he his scent can foil, To which under their arms their sheafs were buckled fast, And makes amongst the herds, and flocks of shag-wooled A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span, sheep,

Who struck below the knee, not counted then a man : Them frighting from the guard of those who had their All made of Spanish yew, their bows were wondrous keep.

strong; But when as all his shifts his safety still denies,

They not an arrow drew but was a cloth-yard long. Put quite out of his walk, the ways and fallows tries ; Of archery they had the very perfect craft, Whom when the ploughman meets, his teem he letteth With broad-arrow, or but, or prick, or roving shaft, stand,

At marks full forty score, they used to prick, and rove, T'assail him with his goad : so with his hook in hand, Yet higher than the breast, for compass never strove; The shepherd him pursues, and to his dog doth hollo : Yet at the farthest mark a foot could hardly win : When, with tempestuous speed, the hounds and hunts- At long-butts, short, and hoyles, each one could cleave men follow;

the pin : Until the noble deer, through toil bereaved of strength, Their arrows finely paired, for timber, and for feather, His long and sinewy legs then failing him at length, With birch and brazil pieced, to fly in any weather ; The villages attempts, enraged, not giving way

And shot they with the round, the square, or forked pile, To anything he meets now at his sad decay.

The loose gave such a twang, as might be heard a mile. The cruel ravenous hounds and bloody hunters near, And of these archers brave, there was not any one This noblest beast of chase, that vainly doth but fear, But he could kill a deer his swiftest speed upon, Some bank or quick-set finds; to which his haunch Which they did boil and roast, in many a mighty wood, opposed,

Sharp hunger the fine sauce to their more kingly food. He turns upon his foes, that soon have him inclosed. Then taking them to rest, his merry men and he The churlish-throated hounds then holding him at bay, Slept many a summer's night under the greenwood tree. And as their cruel fangs on his harsh skin they lay, From wealthy abbots' chests, and churls' abundant store, With his sharp-pointed head he dealeth deadly wounds. What oftentimes he took, he shared amongst the poor:

The hunter, coming in to help his wearied hounds, No lordly bishop came in lusty Robin's way, He desperately assails ; until opprest by force,

To him before he went, but for his pass must pay : He who the mourner is to his own dying corse,

The widow in distress he graciously relieved, Upon the ruthless earth his precious tears let fall 3 And remedied the wrongs of many a virgin grieved: To forests that belongs.

He from the husband's bed no married woman wan,

But to his mistress dear, his loved Marian,
Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood.

Was ever constant known, which wheresoe'er she came,

Was sovereign of the woods, chief lady of the game : From the Twenty-eighth Song of the Polyolbion.

Her clothes tucked to the knee, and dainty braided hair, Amongst the neighbouring nymphs there was no other With bow and quiver armed, she wandered here and there

lays, But those which seemed to sound of Charnwood, and 1 Robin Hood is first mentioned in English literature in Piers her praise :

Plowman, about 1362. Wyntoun, the Scottish chronicler, resers

to him about 1420. Nothing authentic is known of the popular 1 The track of the foot.

'He was dear,' says Mr Furnivall, one of the editors of the 2 One of the measures in winding the horn.

Percy folio MS. 'to the English imagination as the representative 3 The hart weepeth at his dying; his tears are held to be of the forest life-the joyous tenant of the greenwood, the spirit precious in medicine.

not to be cribbed and cabined in towns and cities.'


Amongst the forests wild ; Diana never knew

very lavish in its support. The first edition of Such pleasures, nor such harts as Mariana slew.' Fairfax's Tasso is dated 1600; the second, 1624.

The poetical beauty and freedom of Fairfax's Coleridge points out an instance of sublimity version have been the theme of almost universal in Drayton—a strongly figurative passage respect- praise. Dryden ranked him with Spenser as a ing the cutting down of the old English forests :

master of our language, and Waller said he derived Our trees so hacked above the ground,

from him the harmony of his numbers. The date That where their lofty tops the neighbouring countries of Fairfax's birth is unknown. He was the natural crowned,

son of Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton in YorkTheir trunks, like aged folks, now bare and naked stand, shire, and spent his life at Fuystone, in the forest As for revenge to Heaven each held a withered hand. of Knaresborough, in the enjoyment of many bless

ings which rarely befall the poetical race-comThe Queen of the Fairies visiting Pigwiggen.

petence, ease, rural scenes, and an ample com

mand of the means of study. He wrote a work From Drayton's Nymphidia.

on Demonology (not printed until 1859), and in Her chariot ready straight is made ;

the preface to it he states, that in religion he Each thing therein is fitting laid,

was neither a fantastic Puritan nor a superstitious That she by nothing might be stayed,

Papist.' He also wrote a series of Eclogues, one For nought must be her letting ;

of which was published in 1741, in Cooper's Muses' Four nimble gnats the horses were, Their harnesses of gossamer,

Library, but it is puerile and absurd. Fairfax was Fly Cranion, her charioteer,

living in 1631; the time of his death has not been

Upon the coach-box getting.
Her chariot of a snail's fine shell,
Which for the colours did excel;

Description of Armida and her Enchanted Girdle.
The fair Queen Mab becoming well,

And with that word she smiled, and ne'ertheless So lively was the limning ;

Her love-toys still she used, and pleasures bold :
The seat the soft wool of the bee,

Her hair—that done-she twisted up in tress,
The cover (gallantly to see)

And looser locks in silken laces rolled ;
The wing of a pied butterflee ;

Her curls in garland-wise she did up-dress,
I trow 'twas simple trimming.

Wherein, like rich enamel laid on gold,
The wheels composed of crickets' bones,

The twisted flow'rets smiled, and her white breast
And daintily made for the nonce ;

The lilies there that spring with roses dressed.
For fear of rattling on the stones

The jolly peacock spreads not half so fair
With thistle-down they shod it;
For all her maidens much did fear

The eyed feathers of his pompous train ;
If Oberon had chanced to hear

Nor golden Iris so bends in the air
That Mab his queen should have been there,

Her twenty-coloured bow, through clouds of rain :

Yet all her ornaments, strange, rich, and rare,
He would not have abode it.

Her girdle did in price and beauty stain ;
She mounts her chariot with a trice,

Not that, with scorn, which Tuscan Guilla lost,
Nor would she stay for no advice

Nor Venus' cestus could match this for cost.
Until her maids, that were so nice,
To wait on her were fitted ;

Of mild denays, of tender scorns, of sweet
But ran herself away alone ;-

Repulses, war, peace, hope, despair, joy, fear;
Which when they heard, there was not one

Of smiles, jests, mirth, woe, grief, and sad regret;
But hasted after to be gone,

Sighs, sorrows, tears, embracements, kisses dear, As she had been diswitted.

That, mixed first, by weight and measure meet;

Then, at an easy fire, attempered were;
Hop and Mop, and Drab so clear,

This wondrous girdle did Armida frame,
and Trip, and Skip, that were

And, when she would be loved, wore the same.
To Mab their sovereign so dear,

Her special maids of honour;
Fib and Tib, and Pink and Pin,

Rinaldo at Mount Olivet and the Enchanted Wood.
Tick and Quick, and Jill and Jin,

It was the time, when 'gainst the breaking day,
Tit and Nit, and Wap and Win,

Rebellious night yet strove, and still repined,
The train that wait upon her.

For in the east appeared the morning gray,
Upon a grasshopper they got,

And yet some lamps in Jove's high palace shined,
And, what with amble and with trot,

When to Mount Olivet he took his way,
For hedge nor ditch they spared not,

And saw, as round about his eyes he twined,
But after her they hie them :

Night's shadows hence, from thence the morning's shine,
A cobweb over them they throw,

This bright, that dark ; that earthly, this divine.
To shield the wind if it should blow;
Themselves they wisely could bestow

Thus to himself he thought : how many bright
Lest any should espy them.

And 'splendent lamps shine in heaven's temple high !

Day hath his golden sun, her moon the night, The above is evidently copied from Mercutio's

Her fixed and wand'ring stars the azure sky: description in Romeo and Juliet.

So framed all by their Creator's might,
That still they live and shine, and ne'er will die,

Till in a moment, with the last day's brand

They burn, and with them burn sea, air, and land. The celebrated translation of Tasso's Jerusalem Thus as he mused, to the top he went, by EDWARD FAIRFAX was made in the reign of And there kneeled down with reverence and sear; Queen Elizabeth, and dedicated to that princess, His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent ; who was proud of patronising learning, but not His thoughts above all heavens uplifted were


The sins and errors which I now repent,
Of my unbridled youth, O Father dear,

Of Fortune.
Remember not, but let thy mercy fall
And purge my faults and my offences all.'

Fortune, men say, doth give too much to many,

But yet she never gave enough to any.
Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew,
In golden weed, the morning's lusty queen,

Against Writers that Carp at other Men's Books.
Begilding with the radiant beams she threw,
His helm, the harness, and the mountain green :

The readers and the hearers like my books, Upon his breast and forehead gently blew

But yet some writers cannot them digest; The air, that balm and nardus breathed unseen ;

But what care I? for when I make a feast, And o'er his head, let down from clearest skies,

I would my guests should praise it, not the cooks. A cloud of pure and precious dew there flies.

of a Precise Tailor. The heavenly dew was on his garments spread, To which compared, his clothes pale ashes seem,

A tailor, thought a man of upright dealing

True, but for lying-honest, but for stealing, And sprinkled so that all that paleness fled,

Did fall one day extremely sick by chance,
And thence of purest white bright rays outstream :

And on the sudden was in wondrous trance ;
So cheered are the flowers, late withered,
With the sweet comfort of the morning beam;

The fiends of hell mustering in fearful manner, And so returned to youth, a serpent old

Of sundry coloured silks displayed a banner

Which he had stolen, and wished, as they did tell, Adorns herself in new and native gold.

That he might find it all one day in hell. The lovely whiteness of his changed weed

The man, affrighted with this apparition, The prince perceived well and long admired ;

Upon recovery grew a great precisian : Toward the forest marched he on with speed,

He bought a Bible of the best translation, Resolved, as such adventures great required :

And in his life he shewed great reformation ;

He walked mannerly, he talked meekly,
Thither he came, whence, shrinking back for dread
Of that strange desert's sight, the first retired;

He heard three lectures and two sermons weekly;

He vowed to shun all company unruly, But not to him fearful or loathsome made

And in his speech he used no oath but 'truly ;' That forest was, but sweet with pleasant shade.

And zealously to keep the Sabbath's rest, Forward he passed, and in the grove before,

His meat for that day on the eve was drest; He heard a sound, that strange, sweet, pleasing was ;

And lest the custom which he had to steal There rolled a crystal brook with gentle roar,

Might cause him sometimes to forget his zeal, There sighed the winds, as through the leaves they pass;

He gives his journeyman a special charge,

That if the stuff, allowance being large,
There sang the swan, and singing died, alas !
There lute, harp, cittern, human voice he heard,

He found his fingers were to filch inclined,

Bid him to have the banner in his mind. And all these sounds one sound right well declared.

This done—I scant can tell the rest for laughterA dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,

A captain of a ship came three days after, The aged trees and plants well-nigh that rent,

And brought three yards of velvet and three-quarters, Yet heard the nymphs and syrens afterward,

To make Venetians down below the garters. Birds, winds, and waters sing with sweet consent;

He, that precisely knew what was enough, Whereat amazed, he stayed and well prepared

Soon slipt aside three-quarters of the stuff ; For his defence, heedful and slow forth-went,

His man, espying it, said in derision : Nor in his way his passage ought withstood,

'Master, remember how you saw the vision !'

*Peace, knave !' quoth he; ‘I did not see one rag Except a quiet, still, transparent flood :

Of such a coloured silk in all the flag.'
On the green banks, which that fair stream inbound,
Flowers and odours sweetly smiled and smelled,

Which reaching out his stretched arms around,
All the large desert in his bosom held,

SHAKSPEARE, as a poet, claims to be noticed And through the grove one channel passage found ;

here. The incidents of his life will be related in This in the wood, that in the forest dwelled : Trees clad the streams, streams green those trees aye tion of the Faery Queen, there are no poems of

the account of the dramatists. With the excepmade, And so exchanged their moisture and their shade.

the reign of Elizabeth equal to those productions to which the great dramatist affixed his name. In

1593, when the poet was in his twenty-ninth year, SIR JOHN HARRINGTON.

appeared his Venus and Adonis, and in the followThe first translator of Ariosto into English was

ing year his Rape of Lucrece, both dedicated to SIR JOHN HARRINGTON, a courtier of the reign of know not,' says the modest poet, in his first dedi

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. "I Elizabeth, and also godson of the queen. He was the son of John Harrington, the poet already unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the

cation, 'how I shall offend in dedicating my noticed. Sir John wrote a collection of epigrams, world will censure me for choosing so strong a and a Brief View of the Church, in which he reprobates the marriage of bishops. He is sup-honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly

prop to support so weak a burden; only, if your posed to have been born about the year 1561 ; praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle died 1612. The translation from Ariosto is poor hours, till I have honoured you with some graver and prosaic, but some of his epigrams are pointed. labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove Of Treason.

deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a god.

father, and never after ear (till] so barren a land.' Treason doth never prosper : what's the reason ? The allusion to‘idle hours' seems to point to the For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

author's profession of an actor, in which capacity


he had probably attracted the attention of the Earl of an actor, and all bear the impress of strong of Southampton ; but it is not so easy to under- passion and deep sincerity. A feeling of premastand how the Venus and Adonis was the 'first ture age seems to have crept on Shakspeare : heir of his invention,' unless we believe that it had been written in early life, or that his dramatic That time of year thou mayst in me behold labours had then been confined to the adaptation

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang of old plays, not the writing of new ones, for the Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, stage. There is a tradition, that the Earl of South

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. ampton on one occasion presented Shakspeare

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west, with £1000, to complete a purchase which he wished to make. The gift was munificent, but the

Which by and by black Night doth take away,

Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. sum has assuredly been exaggerated. The Venus

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire, and Adonis is a glowing and essentially dramatic That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, version of the well-known mythological story, full As the death-bed whereon it must expire, of fine descriptive passages, but objectionable on Consumed with that which it was nourished by. the score of licentiousness. Warton has shewn This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, that it gave offence, at the time of its publication, To love that well which thou must leave ere long. on account of the excessive warmth of its colouring. The Rape of Lucrece is less animated, and is per- He laments his errors with deep and penitential haps an inferior poem, though, from the boldness sorrow, summoning up things past ‘to the sessions of its figurative expressions, and its tone of digni- of sweet silent thought,' and exhibiting the depths fied pathos and reflection, it is more like the hasty of a spirit solitary in the very vastness of its sketch of a great poet. The first of Shakspeare's sympathies.' The 'W. H.' alluded to by Thorpe classical poems was the most popular. A second has been conjectured to be William Herbert, edition was published in 1594, a third in 1596, a afterwards Earl of Pembroke, who, as appears fourth in 1600, and a fifth in 1602. The Lucrece from the dedication of the folio of 1623, was one only reached a second edition in four years (1598), of Shakspeare's patrons. This conjecture has and a third in 1600.

received the assent of Mr Hallam and others. The sonnets of Shakspeare were first printed in Another theory is, that Henry Wriothesley (or 1609, by Thomas Thorpe, a bookseller and pub- H. W. the initials being reversed) was the object lisher of the day, who prefixed to the volume of Shakspeare's idolatry. the following enigmatical dedication : 'To the only

The composition of these mysterious producbegetter of these ensuing sonnets, Mr W. H., all tions evinces Shakspeare's great facility in versihappiness and that eternity promised by our ever- fication of a difficult order, and they display more living poet, wisheth the well-wishing adventurer intense feeling and passion than either of his in setting forth, T. T.'. The sonnets are 154 in classical poems. They have the conceits and number. They are, with the exception of twenty-quaint turns of expression then common, particueight, addressed to some male object, whom the larly in the sonnet; but they rise to fár higher poet addresses in a style of affection, love, and fights of genuine poetry than will be found in any idolatry, remarkable, even in the reign of Eliza- other poet of the day, and they contain many beth, for its extravagant and enthusiastic char- traces of Shakspeare's philosophical and reflective acter. Though printed continuously, it is obvious spirit. that the sonnets were written at different times,

The Horse of Adonis. with long intervals between the dates of composition; and we know that, previous to 1598, Shak

Look, when a painter would surpass the life, speare had tried this species of composition, for

In limning out a well-proportioned steed, Meres in that year alludes to his 'sugared sonnets

His art with Nature's workmanship at strise,

As if the dead the living should exceed : among his private friends. We almost wish,

So did his horse excel a common one with Mr Hallam, that Shakspeare had not written

In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone. these sonnets, beautiful as many of them are in language and imagery. They represent him in a Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, character foreign to that in which we love to Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide, regard him-as modest, virtuous, self-confiding, High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong, and independent. His excessive and elaborate

Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide : praise of youthful beauty in a inan seems deroga

Look, what a horse should have, he did not lack, tory to his genius, and savours of adulation ; and

Save a proud rider on so proud a back. when we find him excuse this friend for robbing Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; him of his mistress-a married female-and sub- Anon he starts at stirring of a feather: jecting his noble spirit to all the pangs of jealousy, To bid the wind a basel he now prepares, of guilty love, and blind misplaced attachment, it And whe'r he run, or fly, they know not whether; is painful and difficult to believe that all this For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, weakness and folly can be associated with the Fanning the hairs, who wave like feathered wings. name of Shakspeare, and still more that he should record it in verse which he believed would descend Venus's Prophecy after the Death of Adonis. to future ages :

Since thou art dead, lo! here I prophesy, Not marble, not the gilded monuments

Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend; Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.

It shall be waited on with jealousy,

Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end; Some of the sonnets may be written in a feigned character, and merely dramatic in expression ; tend with him in speed : base-prison-base, or prison-bars, was a

i to bid the wind a base-that is, to challenge the wind to conbut in others, the poet alludes to his profession rustic game, consisting chiefly in running.


« AnteriorContinuar »