Slike strani


EDWARD FAIRFAX, the truly poetical translator of Tasso, was the second son of Sir Thomas Fairfax, of Denton, in Yorkshire. His family were all soldiers; but the poet, while his brothers were seeking military reputation abroad, preferred the quiet enjoyment of letters at home. He married and settled as a private gentleman at Fuyston, a place beautifully situated between the family seat at Denton and the forest of Knaresborough. Some of time was devoted to the management of his brother Lord Fairfax's property, and to superintending the education of his lordship's children. The prose MSS. which he left in the library of Denton sufficiently attest his literary industry. They have never been published, and, as they relate chiefly to religious controversy, are not likely to be so; although his treatise on witchcraft, recording its supposed operation upon his own family, must form a curious relic of superstition. Of Fairfax it might, therefore, well be said—

"Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind Believed the magic powers which he sung*."

[Died, 1682?]

Of his original works in verse, his History of Edward the Black Prince has never been pub

[blocks in formation]

lished; but Mr. A. Chalmers (Biog. Dict. art. Fairfax) is, I believe, as much mistaken in supposing that his Eclogues have never been collectively printed, as in pronouncing them entitled to high commendation for their poetry +. A more obscurely stupid allegory and fable can hardly be imagined than the fourth eclogue, preserved in Mrs. Cooper's Muse's Library: its being an imitation of some of the theological pastorals of Spenser is no apology for its absurdity. When a fox is described as seducing the chastity of a lamb, and when the eclogue writer tells us that

"An hundred times her virgin lip he kiss'd, As oft her maiden finger gently wrung,"



RINALDO, after offering his devotions on Mount Olivet, enters on the adventure of the Enchanted Wood.

who could imagine that either poetry, or ecclesiastical history, or sense or meaning of any kind, was ever meant to be conveyed under such a conundrum ?

The time of Fairfax's death has not been discovered; it is known that he was alive in 1631; but his translation of the Jerusalem was published when he was a young man, was inscribed to Queen Elizabeth, and forms one of the glories of her reign.

Thus as he mused, to the top he went,

And there kneel'd down with reverence and fear;

His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent;
His thoughts above all heavens up-lifted were—
The sins and errors, which I now repent,
Of my unbridled youth, O Father dear,
Remember not, but let thy mercy fall,
And purge my faults and my offences all.

Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew
In golden weed the morning's lusty queen,
Begilding, with the radiant beams she threw,
His helm, his harness, and the mountain green :
Upon his breast and forehead gently blew
The air, that balm and nardus breathed unseen;
And o'er his head, let down from clearest skies,
A cloud of pure and precious dew there flies:

[The fourth eclogue alone is in print; nor is a MS. copy of the whole known to exist.]

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]


THE history of this author is quite unknown, except that he was a prolific pamphleteer in the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I. Ritson has mustered a numerous catalogue of his works, to which the compilers of the Censura Literaria have added some articles. It has been remarked by the latter, that his muse is generally found in low company, from which it is inferred that he frequented the haunts of dissipation. The conclusion is unjust-Fielding was not a blackguard, though he wrote the adventures of


[Died, 1634 ?]

A SMITH for felony was apprehended,
And being condemn'd for having so offended,
The townsmen, with a general consent,
Unto the judge with a petition went,
Affirming that no smith did near them dwell,
And for his art they could not spare him well;
For he was good at edge-tool, lock, and key,
And for a farrier most rare man, quoth they.
The discreet judge unto the clowns replied,
How shall the law be justly satisfied?

A thief that steals must die therefore, that's flat.
O Sir, said they, we have a trick for that:
Two weavers dwelling in our town there are,
And one of them we very well can spare ;
Let him be hang'd, we very humbl crave-
Nay, hang them both, so we the smith may save.
The judge he smiled at their simple jest,
And said, the smith would serve the hangman best.



In the Letting of Humour's Blood, in the Head Vein. First published in 1600.

Ax honest vicar and a kind consort,
That to the ale-house friendly would resort,
To have a game at tables now and than,
Or drink his pot as soon as any man;
As fair a gamester, and as free from brawl,
As ever man should need to play withal;
Because his hostess pledged him not carouse,
Rashly, in choler, did forswear her house:
Taking the glass, this was his oath he swore-
"Now, by this drink, I'll ne'er come hither more."
But mightily his hostess did repent,
For all her guests to the next ale-house went,

[blocks in formation]

He hath some humours very strange and odd,
As every day at church, and not serve God;
With secret hidden virtues other ways,
As often on his knees, yet never prays." [talk?"—
Quoth t'other, "How dost prove this obscure
"Why, man, he haunts the church that's Paul's, to
And for his often being on the knee, [walk:
'Tis drinking healths, as drunken humours be."
"It's passing good, I do protest," quoth t'other,
"I think thy master be my master's brother;
For sure in qualities they may be kin,
Those very humours he is daily in,

For drinking healths, and being churched so,
They cheek-by-jowl may with each other go.

[blocks in formation]

THE life of Donne is more interesting than his poetry. He was descended from an ancient family; his mother was related to Sir Thomas More, and to Heywood, the epigrammatist. A prodigy of youthful learning, he was entered of Hart Hall, now Hertford College, at the unprecedented age of eleven: he studied afterwards with an extraordinary thirst for general knowledge, and seems to have consumed a considerable patrimony on his education and travels. Having accompanied the Earl of Essex in his expedition to Cadiz, he purposed to have set out on an extensive course of travels, and to have visited the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem. Though compelled to give up his design by the insuperable dangers and difficulties of the journey, he did not come home till his mind had been stored with an extensive knowledge of foreign languages and manners, by a residence in the south of Europe. On his return to England, the Lord Chancellor Ellesmere made him his secretary, and took him to his house. There he formed a mutual attachment to the niece of Lady Ellesmere, and without the means or prospect of support, the lovers thought proper to marry. The lady's father, Sir George More, on the declaration of this step, was so transported with rage, that he insisted on the chancellor's driving Donne from his protection, and even got him imprisoned, together with the witnesses of the marriage. He was soon released from prison,


A SCHOLAR, newly enter'd marriage life,
Following his study, did offend his wife,
Because when she his company expected,
By bookish business she was still neglected;
Coming unto his study, "Lord," quoth she,
"Can papers cause you love them more than me?
I would I were transform'd into a book,
That your affection might upon me look!
But in my wish withal be it decreed,

I would be such a book you love to read.
Husband (quoth she) which book's form should I

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


[Born, 1573. Died, 1631.]

but the chancellor would not again take him into his service; and the brutal father-in-law would not support the unfortunate pair. In their distress, however, they were sheltered by Sir Francis Wolley, a son of Lady Ellesmere by a former marriage, with whom they resided for several years, and were treated with a kindness that mitigated their sense of dependence.

Donne had been bred a catholic, but on mature reflection had made a conscientious renunciation of that faith. One of his warm friends, Dr. Morton, afterwards bishop of Durham, wished to have provided for him, by generously surrendering one of his benefices: he therefore pressed him to take holy orders, and to return to him the third day with his answer to the proposal. "At hearing of this," (says his biographer,) 66 "Mr. Donne's faint breath and perplexed countenance gave visible testimony of an inward conflict. He did not however return his answer till the third day; hen, with fervid thanks, he declined the offer, telling the bishop that there were some errors of his life which, though long repented of, and pardoned, as he trusted, by God, might yet be not forgotten by some men, and which might cast a dishonour on the sacred office." We are not told what those irregularities were; but the conscience which could dictate such an answer was not likely to require great offences for a stumbling-block. This occurred in the poet's thirty-fourth year.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »