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above all things a life of solitude and study. The interposition of the Earl of St. Albans and the Duke of Buckingham, who procured for him a lease of some Crown lands, enabled him to carry out his favourite project of rural seclusion. Johnson, who despised the country and loved the smoke and stir of the city, relates, with a sort of sarcastic pleasure, the disappointments and annoyances which befell Cowley in his retreat at Barn-Elms and Chertsey. But, indeed, his troubles and joys in his new state of life were of short duration. Incautious exposure to the damps of a summer evening, while superintending his hay. makers, brought on an attack which, operating on a constitution impaired by former ailments, proved fatal in the short space of a fortnight. He died in 1667, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in close neighbourhood to Chaucer and Spenser.
WORKS. The poetical works of Cowley are numerous and of varied character. He is classed by Johnson among those poets to whom the epithet of metaphysical has, with no very obvious propriety, been given. The metaphysical poets, it may be observed, are distinguished by a somewhat affected display of learning ; by a superabundance of wit, if wit consists in remote analogies and unexpected combinations of thought; and by a copious but rather extravagant fancy, and a love for what are called conceits. All these characteristics are to be fvund in the poetry of Cowley, but they are found in union with much that is bappy in expression and brilliant in imagery and thought.
Cowley's longest poem is his Davideis, a sacred epic, which he never completed, and the non-completion of which is by no means a matter to be very seriously regretted. It is a sober narrative, containing some vigorous lines, and plentifully besprinkled with quaint conceits and somewhat strained nietaphors.
His Mistress is a connected series of love poems, artificial, forced, full of unusual images, and affecting pointed turns of thought, but exhibiting nothing of real tenderness, sentiment, or passion. The Pindaric Odes are highly praised by Dryden, but if any one will be at the trouble to read them, it is probable that he will be more disposed to give his assent to Johnson's somewhat disparaging criticism. On the other hand, the Anacreontics are gay and festive, and must be admitted to be a happy imitation of the spirit and manner of Anacreon. There is also some genuine poetry to be found among the Miscellanies ; the Chronicle especially may be referred to as a composition full of sportive grace, and bright with the play of fancy.
The prose writings of Cowley lie within the compass of a few pages. They consist of Essays on Himself, on Liberty, on Solitude, on Agriculture, on The Danger of an Honest Man in Much Company, and on a few similar subjects. The longest and most elaborate is a Discourse concerning the Government of Oliver Cromwell.
It may well be imagined that the Protector has hard measure meted to him in this Essay. It was written after the Restoration, and it was written by one who had not only served the Court, but who was anxious to do away with the imputation that he had ever thought or said anything favourable to the character of the great usurper. Accordingly, the Essay is an unsparing indictment of Cromwell's proceedings and policy. It is vigorously, but not discriminately written, with a free assumption of facts and principles, and a plentiful use of that interrogative style which belongs to rhetorical declamation. It may be observed that Hume has incorporated a part of this Discourse into his sketch of Cromwell's character, acknowledging the appropriation, but not naming the author from whom it is made.
The prose composition of Cowley, as has already been hinted, deserves high praise. His style approaches more nearly to the characteristics of Modern English than that of any writer of his time. It is easy, and yet forcible; sufficiently balanced, and yet free from the affectation of antithesis. The language is simple, Saxon, and idiomatic. The turns of expression are pointed and felicitous; and if we do not find the compressed and crowded thought or the profound practical philosophy of Bacon, there are not wanting many striking utterances, and a good deal of homely but racy wisdom. One could wish, indeed, that Cowley had spared us some of his poetry, and left us a larger legacy of prose.
OF LIBERTY. The liberty of a people consists in being governed by laws which they have made themselves, under whatsoever form it be of government: the liberty of a private man, in being master of his own time and actions, as far as may consist with the laws of God and of his country. Of this latter only we are here to discourse, and to inquire what Iestate of life does best seat us in the possession of it. This liberty of our own actions is such a fundamental privilege of human nature, that God himself, notwithstanding all his infinite power and right over us, permits us to enjoy it, and that, too, after a forfeiture made by the rebellion of Adam. He takes so much care for the entire preservation of it to us, that he suffers neither his providence nor eternal decree to break or infringe it. Now for our time, the same God, to whom we are but tenants-at-will for the whole, requires but the seventh part to be paid to him, as a small
quit-rent in acknowledgment of his title. It is man only that has the impudence to demand our whole time, though he never gave it, nor can restore it, nor is able to pay any considerable value for the least part of it. This birth-right of mankind above all other creatures some are forced by hunger to sell, like Esau, for bread and broth: but the greatest part of men make such a bargain for the delivery up of themselves as Tamar did with Judah ; instead of a kid, the necessary provisions for human life, they are contented to do it for rings and bracelets. The great dealers in this world may be divided into the ambitious, the covetous, and the voluptuous ; and that all these men sell themselves to be slaves, though to the vulgar it may seem 'a stoical paradox, will appear to the wise so plain and obvious, that they will scarce think it deserves the labour of argumentation.
Let us first consider the ambitious; and those both in their progress to greatness and 3 after the attaining of it. There is nothing truer than what Sallust says: “Dominationis in alios servitium suum mercedem dant;"—“ They are content to pay so great a price as their own servitude to purchase the domination over others." The first thing they must resolve to sacrifice is their whole time: they must never stop, nor ever turn aside whilst they are in the race of glory; no, not 4like Atalanta for golden apples. Neither, indeed, can a man stop himself if he would, when he is in this career :
5* Fertur equis auriga, neque audit currus habenas."
Pray let us but consider a little, what mean, servile things, men do for this imaginary food. We cannot fetch a greater example of it than from the chief men of that nation which boasted most of liberty. To what pitiful baseness did the noblest Romans submit themselves for the obtaining of a praetorship, or the consular dignity! 6 They put on the habit of suppliants, and ran about on foot, and in dirt, through all the tribes, to beg voices; they flattered the poorest artisans, and carried a nomenclator with them, to whisper in their ear every man's name, lest they should mistake it in their salutations; they shook the hand and kissed the cheek of every popular tradesman ; they stood all day at every market in the public places, to show and ingratiate themselves to the rout; they employed all. their friends to solicit for them ; they kept open tables in every street; they distributed wine and bread and money even to the vilest of the people. “En Romanus rerum dominos !”—“Behold the masters of the world begging from door to door!” This particular humble way of greatness is now out of fashion ; but yet every ambitious person is still in some sort a Roman candidate. He must feast and bribe, and attend and flatter, and adore many beasts, though not the beast with many heads. Catiline, who was so proud that he could not content himself with a less power than Sylla’s, was yet so humble for the attaining of it, as to make himself the most contemptible of all servants,-to be a panderer to the vile tastes of the young gentlemen of Rome whose hot lusts and courages and heads he thought he might make use of. And, since I happen here to propose Catiline for my instance (though there be thousands of examples for the same thing), give me leave to transcribe the character which Cicero gives of this noble slave, because it is a general description of all ambitious men, and which Machiavel perhaps would say ought to be the rule of their life and actions :
“ This man (says he), as most of you may well remember, had many artificial touches and strokes, that looked like the beauty of great virtues: his intimate conversation was with the worst of men, and yet he seemed to be an admirer and lover of the best ; he was furnished with all the nets of lust and luxury, and yet wanted not the arms of labour and industry: neither do I believe that there was ever any monster of nature composed out of so many different and disagreeing parts. Who more acceptable, sometimes, to the most honourable persons; who more a favourite to the most infamous ? who, sometimes, appeared a braver champion; who, at other times, a bolder enemy to his country? who more dissolute in his pleasures; who more patient in his toils ? who more rapacious in robbing; who more profuse in giving ? Above all things, this was remarkable and admirable in him, the arts he had to acquire the good opinion and kindness of all sorts of men, to retain it with great com
plaisance, to communicate all things to them, to watch and serve all the occasions of their fortune, both with his money and his interest and his industry; and, if need were, not by sticking at any wickedness whatsoever that might be useful to them, to bend and turn about his own nature and Slaveer with every wind; to live severely with the melancholy, merrily with the pleasant, gravely with the aged, wantonly with the young, desperately with the bold, and debauchedly with the luxurious : with this variety and multiplicity of his nature, as he had made a collection of friendships with all the most wicked and restless of all nations, so, by the artificial simulation of some virtues, he made a shift to ensnare some honest and eminent persons into his familiarity. Neither could so vast a design as the destruction of this empire have been undertaken by him, if the immanity of so many vices had not been covered and disguised by the appearances of some excellent qualities."
I see, methinks, the character of an anti-Paul,“ who became all things to all men,” that he might destroy all; who only wanted the assistance of Fortune to have been as great as his friend Caesar was a little after him. And the ways of Caesar to compass the same ends (I mean till the civil war, which was but another manner of setting his country on fire) were not unlike these, though he used afterward his unjust dominion with more moderation than I think the other would have done. Sallust, therefore, who was well acquainted with them both, and with many such like gentlemen of his time, says, “ That it is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheaters; to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths; to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of a good will.” And can there be freedom with this perpetual constraint ? what is it but a kind of rack, that forces men to say what they have no mind to?
I have wondered at the extravagant and barbarous stratagem of 'Zopyrus, and more at the praises which I find of so deformed an action; who, though he was one of the seven grandees of Persia, and the son of Megabysus, who had freed before his country from an