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As a poetical narrator of fiction, Chalkhill is rather tedious; but he atones for the slow progress of his narrative by many touches of rich and romantic description.
FROM "THEALMA AND CLEARCHUS."
Within a little silent grove hard by,
* And cross their snowy silken robes they wore An azure scarf, with stars embroider'd o'er; Their hair in curious tresses was knot up, Crown'd with a silver crescent on the top; A silver bow their left hand held, their right, For their defence, held a sharp-headed flight Of arrows. * * Under their vestments, something short before, White buskins, laced with ribbanding, they wore; It was a catching sight to a young eye, That Love had fix'd before. He might espy One whom the rest had, sphere-like, circled round, Whose head was with a golden chaplet crown'd: He could not see her face, only his ear Was blest with the sweet words that came from her.
THE IMAGE OF JEALOUSY IN THE CHAPEL OF DIANA. * * A curious eye Might see some relics of a piece of art That Psyche made, when Love first fired her heart; It was the story of her thoughts, that she Curiously wrought in lively imagery; Among the rest she thought of Jealousy, Time left untouch'd to grace antiquity, She was decypher'd by a tim'rous dame, Wrapt in a yellow mantle lined with flame; Her looks were pale, contracted with a frown, Her eyes suspicious, wandering up and down; Behind her Fear attended, big with child, Able to fright Presumption if she smiled; After her flew a sigh between two springs Of briny waters. On her dove-like wings She bore a letter seal'd with a half moon, And superscribed-this from Suspicion.
ABODE OF THE WITCH ORAND Her cell was hewn out in the marble rock By more than human art. She need not I The door stood always open, large and wid Grown o'er with woolly moss on either sid And interwove with ivy's flattering twine Through which the carbuncle and diamon Not set by art, but there by Nature sown At the world's birth; so starlike bright th They served instead of tapers, to give ligh * To the dark entry. * * In they wen The ground was strewn with flowers, who Mixt with the choice perfumes from Indi Intoxicates his brains, and quickly caugh His credulous sense. The walls were gilt With precious stones, and all the roof was With a gold vine, whose straggling branch O'er all the arch-the swelling grapes wer This art had made of rubies, cluster'd so, To the quickest eye they more than seem' About the walls lascivious pictures hung, Such as whereof loose Ovid sometimes sur On either side a crew of dwarfish elves Held waxen tapers taller than themselves Yet so well shaped unto their little statur So angel-like in face, so sweet in feature, Their rich attire so differing, yet so well Becoming her that wore it, none could tel Which was the fairest. After a low salute they all 'gan sing, And circle in the stranger in a ring; Orandra to her charms was stept aside, Leaving her guest half won, and wanton e He had forgot his herb-cunning delight Had so bewitch'd his ears, and blear'd his * That he was not himself. * * * * Unto his view She represents a banquet, usher'd in By such a shape as she was sure would wi His appetite to taste-so like she was To his Clarinda both in shape and face, So voiced, so habited-of the same gait And comely gesture. * * Hardly did he refrain From sucking in destruction at her lip; Sin's cup will poison at the smallest sip. She weeps and woos again with subtleness And with a frown she chides his backward Have you (said she) sweet prince, so soon f Your own beloved Clarinda? Are you not The same you were, that you so slightly se By her that once you made the cabinet Of your choice counsel? Hath some worth Stole your affections? What is it should r You to dislike so soon? Must I still taste No other dish but sorrow? When we last Emptied our souls into each other's breast It was not so. *
* With that she wept af: * She seem'd to fall into a swo And stooping down to raise her from the gr He puts his herb into his mouth, whose tas Soon changed his mind: he lifts her-but i His hands fell off, and she fell down again: With that she lent him such a frown as we Have kill'd a common lover, and made cold
In classical translation Phaer and Golding were the earliest successors of Lord Surrey. Phaer published his "Virgil" in 1562, and Golding his "Ovid" three years later *. Both of these translators, considering the state of the language, have considerable merit. Like Lay gasping dead, and of my wife Creuse bethought the
And on my father dear I thought, his face to mind I call'd, Whan slain with grisly wound our king, him like of age in sight,
them, Chapman, who came later, employed in his version of the "Iliad" the fourteen-syllable rhyme, which was then in favourite use. Of the three translators, Phaer is the most faithful and simple, Golding the most musical, and Chapman the most spirited; though Chapman is prone to the turgid, and often false to the sense of Homer. Phaer's Eneid has been praised by a modern writer+, in the "Lives of the Nephews of Milton," with absurd exaggeration. I have no wish to disparage the fair value of the old translator; but when the biographer of Milton's nephews declares, "that nothing in language or conception can exceed the style in which Phaer treats of the last day of the existence of Troy," I know of no answer to this assertion but to give the reader the very passage which is pronounced so inimit
[* The seven first books of Phaer's Virgil were first printed in 1558, the eighth, ninth, and the fragment of the tenth in 1562. Twyne's continuation was first printed in 1573.
In 1565 Golding published the four first books of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and in 1567 a translation of the whole.
We have had the good fortune to fall in with a notice of Arthur Golding in a Museum MS. of orders made on petitions to the Privy Council from 1605 to 1616. "No particulars," says Mr. Collier, "of the life of Golding have been recovered. He does not appear to have written anything after 1590, but the year of his death is uncertain."-Bridge. Cat. p. 130.
Arthure Golding to have the sole printing of some books translated by himself.
able-although, to save myself farther impediment in the text, I must subjoin it in a note*.
Hatfield, the xxvth of July, 1605. His Matee is graciouslie pleased that the lord Archbyshopp of Canterburie his Grace and his Mats Atturney Gen all shall advisedlie consider of this sut, and for such of the books as they shall think meete for the benefitt of the church and commonweale to be solie printed by this peticon" and wherby noe enormious monopolies may ensue, his Mats Atturney is to drawe a book ready for his Mats signature, contayning a graunt hereof to the peticoner, leaving a blank for the number of yeires to be inserted at his Mats pleasure.
Lans. MSS. No. 266, Folio 61.] [t William Godwin.]
ENEAS'S NARRATIVE AFTER THE DEATH OF PRIAM.
Than first the cruel fear me caught, and sore my sprites
plight. Alone, forsake, my house despoil'd, my child what chaunce had take,
I looked, and about me view'd what strength I might me make.
All men had me forsake for paynes, and down their bodies drew,
To ground they leapt, and some for woe themselves in fires they threw.
And now alone was left but I whan Vesta's Temple stair
Wherever I went, the ways I pass'd, all thing was set in sight.
She fearing her the Trojans wrath, for Troy destroy'd to
The plague of Troy and of her country, monster most
There sat she with her hated head, by the altars hid for shame.
Straight in my breast I felt a fire, deep wrath my heart did strain,
My country's fall to wreak, and bring that cursed wretch to pain.
What! shall she into her country soil of Sparta and high
All safe shall she return, and there on Troy triumph as
Her husband, children, country, kynne, her house, her parents old,
With Trojan wives, and Trojan lords, her slaves shall she behold?
Was Priam slain with sword for this? Troy burnt with fire so wood?
Is it herefore that Dardan strondes so often hath sweat with blood?
Not so, for though it be no praise on woman kind to wreak,
And honour none there lieth in this, nor name for men to
Yet quench I shall this poison here, and due deserts to
This much for all my peoples' bones and country's flame
These things within myself I tost, and fierce with force
Whan to my face my mother great, so brim no time till than,
Appearing shew'd herself in sight, all shining pure by
night, Right goddess-like appearing, such as heavens beholds her bright.
So great with majesty she stood, and me by right-hand take, She stay'd, and red as rose, with mouth these words to me she spake:
took up the subject with a very dif Mr. Todd, the learned editor of Spe in a number of the Gentleman's the probability of Milton's early a with the translation of Dubartas's Mr. Dunster has since, in his "Esse early reading," supported the opini same work contains the prima stam dise Lost, and laid the first founda "monumentum ære perennius." TH expressions there certainly are in M leave his acquaintance with Sylv questionable; although some of the quoted by Mr. Dunster, which are them both, may be traced back to older than Sylvester. The entire his obligations, as Mr. Dunster ju cannot detract from our opinion of Sylvester ever stood high in his fav have been when he was very yo beauties which occur so strangely with bathos and flatness in Sylve might have caught the youthful d and long dwelt in the memory, poet. But he must have perused
Thou hast forsake, nor if thy wife doth live thou know'st or no,
Nor young Ascanius, thy child, whom throngs of Greeks gust at Sylvester's general manner
Doth swarming run, and, were not my relief, withouten
his epithets and happy phrases worthy of Milton; but by far the portion of his thoughts and express quaintness and flatness more worth and Wither.
The harmony of Fairfax is justly celebrated*. Joshua Sylvester's version of the "Divine Weeks and Works" of the French poet Dubartas was among the most popular of our early translations; and the obligations which Milton is alleged to have owed to it, have revived Sylvester's name with some interest in modern criticism. Sylvester was a puritan, and so was the publisher of his work, Humphrey Lownes, who lived in the same street with Milton's father; and from the congeniality of their opinions, it is not improbable that they might be acquainted. It is easily to be conceived that Milton often repaired to the shop of Lownes, and there first met with the pious didactic poem. Lauder was the earliest to trace Milton's particular thoughts and expressions to Sylvester; and, as might be expected, maliciously exaggerated them. Later writers
My son, what sore outrage so wild thy wrathful mind upstares?
Why frettest thou, or where alway from us thy care withdrawn appears?
Nor first unto thy father see'st, whom, feeble in all this
By this time flames had by devoured, or swords of en'mies kill'd.
It is not Helen's fate of Greece this town, my son, hath spill'd,
Nor Paris is to blame for this, but Gods, with grace unkind,
This wealth hath overthrown, a Troy from top to ground
Behold! for now away the cloud and dim fog will I take,
In yonder place, where stones from stones, and buildings
Thou seest, and mixt in dust and smoke, thick streams
And quite from under soil the town with ground-works
On yonder side, with furies mixt, Dame Juno fiercely stands,
The gates she keeps, and from their ships the Greeks, her friendly bands,
In armour girt, she calls.
[* Many besides myself have heard our famous Waller own that he derived the harmony of his numbers from the Godfrey of Bulloigne, which was turned into English by Mr. Fairfax.-DRYDEN, Malone, vol. iv. p. 592. See Note A at the end of this volume.]
The following lines may serve favourable specimens of his transla bartas's poem.
PROBABILITY OF THE CELESTIAL ORBS
I not believe that the great architect
+ For November, 1796.
[ I remember, when I was a boy, I thoug Spenser a mean poet in comparison of Sylvest and was rapt into ecstacy when I read these
Now, when the Winter's keener breath
To glaze the lakes, to bridle up the flood
THE SERPENT'S ADDRESS TO EVE WHEN HE TEMPTED
As a false lover, that thick snares hath laid
No, Fair (quoth he), believe not that the care
Begin thy bliss, and do not fear the threat
Arise betimes, while th' opal-colour'd morn In golden pomp doth May-day's door adorn.
The "opal-colour'd morn is a beautiful expression, that I do not remember any other poet to have ever used.
The school of poets which is commonly called the metaphysical, began in the reign of Elizabeth with Donne; but the term of metaphysical poetry would apply with much more justice to the quatrains of Sir John Davies, and those of Sir Fulke Greville, writers who, at a later period, found imitators in Sir Thomas Overbury and Sir William Davenant*. Davies's poem on the Immortality of the Soul, entitled "Nosce teipsum," will convey a much more favourable idea of metaphysical poetry than the wittiest effusions of Donne and his followers. Davies carried abstract reasoning into verse with an acuteness and felicity which have seldom been equalled. He reasons, undoubtedly, with too much labour, formality, and subtlety, to afford uniform poetical pleasure. The generality of his stanzas exhibit hard arguments interwoven with the pliant materials of fancy so closely, that we may compare them to a texture of cloth and metallic threads, which is cold and stiff, while it is splendidly curious. There is this difference,
[*This has been re-echoed by Mr. Hallam in his History. Johnson has been unjustly blamed for the name applied to Donne and his followers of metaphysical poets, but it was given to this school before Johnson wrote, by Dryden and by Pope. However, as Mr. Southey has said, "If it were easy to find a better name, so much deference is due to Johnson, that his should be still adhered to."]
however, between Davies and the commonly styled metaphysical poets, that he argues like a hard thinker, and they, for the most part, like madmen. If we conquer the drier parts of Davies's poem, and bestow a little attention on thoughts which were meant, not to gratify the indolence, but to challenge the activity of the mind, we shall find in the entire essay fresh beauties at every perusal for in the happier parts we come to logical truths so well illustrated by ingenious similes, that we know not whether to call the thoughts more poetically or philosophically just. The judg ment and fancy are reconciled, and the imagery of the poem seems to start more vividly from the surrounding shades of abstraction.
Such were some of the first and inferior luminaries of that brilliant era of our poetry, which, perhaps, in general terms, may be said to cover about the last quarter of the sixteenth, and the first quarter of the seventeenth century; and which, though commonly called the age of Elizabeth, comprehends many writers belonging to the reign of her successor. The romantic spirit, the generally unshackled style, and the fresh and fertile genius of that period, are not to be called in question. On the other hand, there are defects in the poetical character of the age, which, though they may disappear or be of little account amidst the excellencies of its greatest writers, are glaringly conspicuous in the works of their minor contemporaries. In prolonged narrative and description the writers of that age are peculiarly deficient in that charm, which is analogous to "keeping" in pictures. Their warm and cold colours are generally without the gradations which should make them harmonize. They fall precipitately from good to bad thoughts, from strength to imbecility. Certainly they are profuse in the detail of natural circumstances, and in the utterance of natural feelings. For this we love them, and we should love them still more if they knew where to stop in description and sentiment. But they give out the dregs of their mind without reserve, till their fairest conceptions are overwhelmed by a rabble of mean associations. At no period is the mass of vulgar mediocrity in poetry marked by more formal gallantry, by grosser adulation, or by coarser satire. Our amatory strains in the
time of Charles the Second may be more dissolute, but those of Elizabeth's age often abound in studious and prolix licentiousness. Nor are examples of this solemn and sedate impurity to be found only in the minor poets: our reverence for Shakspeare himself need not make it necessary to disguise that he willingly adopted that style in his youth, when he wrote his Venus and Adonis*.
The fashion of the present day is to solicit public esteem not only for the best and better, but for the humblest and meanest writers of the age of Elizabeth. It is a bad book which has not something good in it; and even some of the worst writers of that period have their twinkling beauties. In one point of view, the research among such obscure authors is undoubtedly useful. It tends to throw incidental lights on the great old poets, and on the manners, biography, and language of the country. So far all is well-but as a matter of taste, it is apt to produce illusion and disappointment. Men like to make the most of the slightest beauty which they can discover in an obsolete versifier; and they quote perhaps the solitary good thought which is to be found in such a writer, omitting any mention of the dreary passages which surround it. Of
[* Shakspeare's sonnets are addressed to a youth of both sexes, to some hermaphrodite or Stella of his own fancy, and Barnfeild is guilty of eulogising a youth in the language of love in its most womanly signification. Had Shakspeare published these now over-rated productions of his muse (of which no one throughout is positively excellent), this unnatural association had never existed, but several of his sugared sonnets among his private friends, when copyrights were not acknowledged or made the subject of law, falling into the hands of T. T. a bookseller, the said T. T., whose name was Thomas Thorpe, printed them with a hieroglyphical inscription, that is the puzzle of commentator, critic and reader. It deserves transcription:
course it becomes a lamentable re so valuable an old poet should ha gotten. When the reader howeve him, he finds that there are only grains of gold in all the sands of th Pactolus. But the display of negle has not been even confined to beauties; it has been extended to ing of large and heavy masses Most wretched works have been this enthusiasm for the obsolete dullest works of the meanest con the "Mirror for Magistrates +." be taken for granted, that the in the good old times descended t lowest dregs of its versifiers; whe writers of Elizabeth's age are onl and artificial than those of the pre more prolix than those of the suc riod.
Yet there are men, who, to all would wish to revive such autho the mere use of the antiquary, to v volume may be useful, but as st manner, and objects of general Books, it is said, take up little roo library this may be the case; but in the minds and time of those them. Happily indeed, the task indifferent authors on the public a fruitless one. They may be d oblivion, but life cannot be put in "Can these bones live putations. will have her course, and dull bo forgotten, in spite of bibliographer
or That by mere initials. Mr. W. H. was known in his own day; what is enigmatica obscurity then. T. T. had not dared to ad of Pembroke as Mr. W. H.
The same Mr. W. H. is said to have be begetter of these ensuing Sonnets;" but in tion is the word used? An instance is given where its purport is to procure. Was Mr. curer-the person by whose means T. T. ha print them?-a character akin to the myster brought the letter of Pope to the piratical C the individual to whom they are addressed conjecture; one thing however is evident, meant that Mr. W. H. was addressed thro poet, he had never read the Sonnets, for th eight are to a woman.]
The Mirror for Magistrates was one o reprints-a heavy man, with no kind or d taste.]