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II. To the Lord Chancellor Ioq
flashes of high and subtle beauty. The licentious grammar and the shapeless structure of sentences that break all bounds of sense or harmony are faults that cannot be overlooked and must be condoned if we care to get at the kernel underlying these outer and inner husks of hard language. The same comment may be applied to the poems which follow; but the second Hymn, being longer and more discursive than the first, is more extravagant and incoherent, and its allegory more confused and difficult (whenever it is possible) to follow. Whether or not there be as usual any reference to Elizabeth and her court under the likeness of Cynthia and her nymphs, or any allusion to English matters of contemporary interest, to perils and triumphs of policy or war, in the "sweet chase" of the transformed nymph Euthymia under the shape of a panther or a boar by the hounds of the goddess which pursue her into the impenetrable thicket where the souls of such as have revolted from the empire of Cynthia are held in bondage and torment, and whence the hunters who hew .themselves a way into the covert are forced to recoil in horror, it is easier to conjecture than to determine : but the '' fruitful island" to which the panther flies and eludes the hounds who track her by scent should be recognizable as England, "full of all wealth, delight, and empery;" though the sequel in which the panther, turned into a huger boar than that of Calydon, lays waste its "noblest mansions, gardens, and groves" through which the chase makes way, may seem now more impenetrable to human apprehension than the covert before described. Leaving however to others, without heed of the poet's expressed contempt for our "flesh-confounded souls," the task of seeking a solution for riddles to us insoluble, we may note in this poem the first sign of that high patriotic quality which, though common to all the great of his generation, is more constantly perceptible in the nobler moods of Chapman's mind than in the work of many among his compeers. Especially in the reference of one elaborate simile to a campaign in the Netherlands, and.the leadership of the English forces by
"War's quick artisan,
Fame-thriving Vere, that in those countries wan
More fame than guerdon,"
we trace the lifelong interest taken by this poet in the fortunes of English fighting men in foreign wars, and the generous impulse which moved him twenty-eight years later, at the age of sixty-three, to plead in earnest and fervent verses the cause of Sir Horatio Vere, then engaged 'with his poor handful of English' in the 'first act' of the Thirty Years' War,* ('besieged and distressed in Mainhem,' Chapman tells us,) in the ears of the courtiers of James I. A quainter example of this interest in the foreign campaigns of his countrymen may be found in the most untimely intrusion of such another simile into the third sestiad of Hero and Leander.
Before I take in hand the examination of Chapman's works as a dramatist, I
* Carlyle's Frederick the Great, book iii. chapter xvi. ; vol. i. p. 329.