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INTRODUCTION.

HE works of Sir Thomas Overbury are

now, for the first time, collected into one volume. They consist of his cele

brated poem of “The Wife;" “Characters, or Wittie Descriptions of the Properties of Sundry Persons ;" a paraphrase of the first and second parts of Ovid's “Remedy of Love;” “Observations in his Travailes upon the State of the XVII Provinces, as they stood, A.D. 1609;" and Crumms fal’n from King James's Table.”

Independently of their particular merit, the works of Overbury possess a certain charm from our recollection of the fate of their unhappy author.. As a poet, he was perhaps not remarkable for any particular graces of expression, or smoothness of versification ; yet his poem of "The Wife”-no small favourite in its day---contains some pretty passages, and a host of prccepts which even the

most fastidious will hardly dispute. It is upon his Characters that Overbury's fame must chiefly rest; and here he displays the fertile and observant powers of his mind, great ingenuity of conceit, and a force of expression rarely eqnalled by any of the numerous followers of Theophrastus,

Overbury's poem of “The Wife" was written to dissuade the Earl of Somerset from marrying the infamous Countess of Essex. This has been frequently stated, and I am now enabled to give a cotemporary statement in confirination. Among the notes taken in 16:37 “from the mouth of Sir Nicholas Orerbury," the father of Sir Thomas, (Add, MS. 15,476 Brit. Mus.) we read" That Sir Thomas wrote his poemne called A Wife to induce Viscount Rochester to make a better choise, then of the divorced Countesse." Le Neve, in his “Cursory Pemarks on Some of the Ancient English Poets,” speaking of this poem, remarks, "The sentiments, maxims, and observations, with which it abounds, are such as a considerable experience, and a correct judgment on mankind alone could furnish. The topics of jealousy, and of the creilit, and behaviour of women are treated with great truth, delicacy, anıl perspicuity. The nice distinctions of moral character, and the pattern of female excellence here drawn, contrasted, as they were, with the heinous and flagrant enormities of the Countess of Essex, rendered this poem extremely popular, when its ingenious author was no more."

Campbell, the poet, in a prefatory notice prefixed to his Specimens, says, “The compassion of the public for a man of worth, 'whose spirit still walked unrevenged amongst them,' together with the contrast of his ideal Wife with the Countess of Essex, who was his murderess, attached an interest and popularity to his poem, and made it pass through sixteen editions before the year 1653. His 'Characters, or Witty Descriptions of the Properties of Sundry Persons,' is a work of considerable merit; but unfortunately his prose, as well as his verse, has a dryness and quaintness that secans to oppress the natural movement of his thoughts. As a poet he has few imposing attractions: his beauties must be fetched by repeated perusal. They are those of solid reflection, predlominating over, but not extinguishing, sensibility; and there is danger of the reader neglecting, under the coldness and ruggedness of his manner, the manly but unostentatious moral feeling that is conveyed in his maxims, which are sterling and liberal, if we can only pardon a few obsolete ideas on female education.”

With the exception of two small tracts descriptive of the characters of rogues and knaves- "The Fraternitye of Vacabondles," 1565; and "A Caveat for Common Cursetors vulgarcly called Vagabones, set

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