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To purge the mischiefs, that increase
Well, well, Ulysses, then I see
I shall not have thee here;
Morning in Warwickshire-Description of a Stag-hunt.
When Phoebus lifts his head out of the winter's wave,
MICHAEL DRAYTON, born, it is supposed, at Atherstone, in Warwickshire, about the year 1563, at the age of ten was made page to a person of quality-a situation which was not at that time thought too humble for the sons of gentlemen. He is said, upon dubious authority, to have been for some time a student at Oxford. It is certain that, in early life, he was highly esteemed and strongly patronised by several persons of consequence, particularly by Sir Henry Goodere, Sir Walter Aston, and the Countess of Bedford: to the first he was indebted for great part of his education, and for recommending him to the countess; the second supported him for several years. In 1593, Drayton published a collection of his pastorals, and in 1598 gave to the world his more elaborate poems of The Barons' Wars and England's Heroical Epistles. On the accession of James I. in 1603, Drayton acted as esquire to Sir Walter Aston, in the ceremony of his installation as a Knight of the Bath. The poet expected some patronage from the new sovereign, but was disappointed. He published the first part of his most elaborate work, the Polyolbion, in 1612, and the second in 1622, the whole forming a poetical description of England, in thirty songs or books.
The Polyolbion is a work entirely unlike any other in English poetry, both in its subject and in the manner of its composition. It is full of topo-To graphical and antiquarian details, with innumerable allusions to remarkable events and persons, as connected with various localities; yet such is the genius of the author, so happily does he idealise almost everything he touches, and so lively is the flow of his verse, that we do not readily tire in perusing his vast mass of information. He seems to have followed Spenser in his personification of natural objects, such as hills, rivers, and woods. The information contained in the Polyolbion is in general so accurate, that it is quoted as an authority by Hearne and Wood.
In 1627, Drayton published a volume containing The Battle of Agincourt, The Court of Faerie, and other poems. Three years later appeared another volume, entitled The Muses Elysium, from which it appears that he had found a final shelter in the family of the Earl of Dorset. On his death in 1631, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument, containing an inscription in letters of gold, was raised to his memory by the wife of that nobleman, the justly celebrated Lady Anne Clifford, subsequently Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery.
That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare,
And by that warbling bird, the woodlark place we then,
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she.
kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly sleeps.
Of all the beasts which we for our venerial 2 name,
To our old Arden here, most fitly it belongs:
At many a cruel beast, and with thy darts to pierce
With thy dishevelled nymphs attired in youthful green,
About the lawns hast scoured, and wastes both far and
Brave huntress; but no beast shall prove thy quarries here;
The often-bellowing hounds to vent his secret lair,
As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive.
How often he hath come to Nottingham disguised,
Each follows, as his horse were footed with the wind.
Them frighting from the guard of those who had their
But when as all his shifts his safety still denies,
They not an arrow drew but was a cloth-yard long.
T'assail him with his goad: so with his hook in hand,
Until the noble deer, through toil bereaved of strength,
He turns upon his foes, that soon have him inclosed.
Which Sherwood took to heart, and very much
As one that had both long, and worthily maintained
Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood.
From the Twenty-eighth Song of the Polyolbion.
Amongst the neighbouring nymphs there was no other lays,
But those which seemed to sound of Charnwood, and her praise:
1 The track of the foot.
One of the measures in winding the horn.
3 The hart weepeth at his dying; his tears are held to be precious in medicine.
Their arrows finely paired, for timber, and for feather,
1 Robin Hood is first mentioned in English literature in Piers Plowman, about 1362. Wyntoun, the Scottish chronicler, refers to him about 1420. Nothing authentic is known of the popular hero. 'He was dear,' says Mr Furnivall, one of the editors of the Percy folio MS. 'to the English imagination as the representative of the forest life-the joyous tenant of the greenwood, the spirit not to be cribbed and cabined in towns and cities.'
Amongst the forests wild; Diana never knew Such pleasures, nor such harts as Mariana slew.'
Coleridge points out an instance of sublimity in Drayton-a strongly figurative passage respecting the cutting down of the old English forests:
Our trees so hacked above the ground, That where their lofty tops the neighbouring countries crowned,
Their trunks, like aged folks, now bare and naked stand, As for revenge to Heaven each held a withered hand.
The Queen of the Fairies visiting Pigwiggen. From Drayton's Nymphidia.
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 nimble gnats the horses were, Their harnesses of gossamer, Fly Cranion, her charioteer,
Upon the coach-box getting.
I trow 'twas simple trimming.
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 nice,
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.
A cobweb over them they throw,
The above is evidently copied from Mercutio's description in Romeo and Juliet.
The celebrated translation of Tasso's Jerusalem by EDWARD FAIRFAX was made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and dedicated to that princess, who was proud of patronising learning, but not
very lavish in its support. The first edition of Fairfax's Tasso is dated 1600; the second, 1624. The poetical beauty and freedom of Fairfax's version have been the theme of almost universal praise. Dryden ranked him with Spenser as a master of our language, and Waller said he derived from him the harmony of his numbers. The date of Fairfax's birth is unknown. He was the natural son of Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton in Yorkshire, and spent his life at Fuystone, in the forest of Knaresborough, in the enjoyment of many blessings which rarely befall the poetical race-competence, ease, rural scenes, and an ample command of the means of study. He wrote a work on Demonology (not printed until 1859), and in the preface to it he states, that in religion he was neither a fantastic Puritan nor a superstitious Papist.' He also wrote a series of Eclogues, one of which was published in 1741, in Cooper's Muses' Library, but it is puerile and absurd. Fairfax was living in 1631; the time of his death has not been recorded.
Thus as he mused, to the top he went,
"The sins and errors which I now repent,
Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew,
The heavenly dew was on his garments spread,
The lovely whiteness of his changed weed
Forward he passed, and in the grove before,
A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
On the green banks, which that fair stream inbound,
And through the grove one channel passage found;
Fortune, men say, doth give too much to many,
Against Writers that Carp at other Men's Books.
Of a Precise Tailor.
A tailor, thought a man of upright dealing-
And brought three yards of velvet and three-quarters,
SIR JOHN HARRINGTON.
SHAKSPEARE, as a poet, claims to be noticed here. The incidents of his life will be related in the account of the dramatists. With the exception of the Faery Queen, there are no poems of 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, 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 dediHenry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Elizabeth, and also godson of the queen. He was the son of John Harrington, the poet already 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 unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the 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
deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after ear [till] so barren a land.' The allusion to idle hours' seems to point to the 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 labours had then been confined to the adaptation of old plays, not the writing of new ones, for the stage. There is a tradition, that the Earl of Southampton on one occasion presented Shakspeare with 1000, to complete a purchase which he wished to make. The gift was munificent, but the sum has assuredly been exaggerated. The Venus and Adonis is a glowing and essentially dramatic version of the well-known mythological story, full of fine descriptive passages, but objectionable on the score of licentiousness. Warton has shewn that it gave offence, at the time of its publication, on account of the excessive warmth of its colouring. The Rape of Lucrece is less animated, and is perhaps an inferior poem, though, from the boldness of its figurative expressions, and its tone of dignified pathos and reflection, it is more like the hasty sketch of a great poet. The first of Shakspeare's classical poems was the most popular. A second edition was published in 1594, a third in 1596, a fourth in 1600, and a fifth in 1602. The Lucrece only reached a second edition in four years (1598), and a third in 1600.
Not marble, not the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
The sonnets of Shakspeare were first printed in 1609, by Thomas Thorpe, a bookseller and publisher of the day, who prefixed to the volume 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 far higher poet addresses in a style of affection, love, and flights 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, with long intervals between the dates of composition; and we know that, previous to 1598, Shakspeare had tried this species of composition, for Meres in that year alludes to his 'sugared sonnets among his private friends! We almost wish, with Mr Hallam, that Shakspeare had not written these sonnets, beautiful as many of them are in language and imagery. They represent him in a character foreign to that in which we love to regard him as modest, virtuous, self-confiding, and independent. His excessive and elaborate praise of youthful beauty in a man seems derogatory to his genius, and savours of adulation; and when we find him excuse this friend for robbing him of his mistress—a married female-and subjecting his noble spirit to all the pangs of jealousy, of guilty love, and blind misplaced attachment, it is painful and difficult to believe that all this weakness and folly can be associated with the name of Shakspeare, and still more that he should record it in verse which he believed would descend to future ages:
Some of the sonnets may be written in a feigned character, and merely dramatic in expression; but in others, the poet alludes to his profession
He laments his errors with deep and penitential sorrow, summoning up things past 'to the sessions of sweet silent thought,' and exhibiting the depths of a spirit solitary in the very vastness of its sympathies.' The W. H.' alluded to by Thorpe has been conjectured to be William Herbert, afterwards Earl of Pembroke, who, as appears from the dedication of the folio of 1623, was one of Shakspeare's patrons. This conjecture has
received the assent of Mr Hallam and others. Another theory is, that Henry Wriothesley (or H. W. the initials being reversed) was the object of Shakspeare's idolatry.
The Horse of Adonis.
Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares;
Venus's Prophecy after the Death of Adonis.
1 To bid the wind a base-that is, to challenge the wind to con
tend with him in speed: base-prison-base, or prison-bars, was a rustic game, consisting chiefly in running.