Preparer's Note: This e-text is taken from a facsimile of the original 18th-century volume. The spelling, punctuation, and other quirks have largely been retained. Only the most obvious printer's errors have been corrected, and are marked [like this].
Anglistica & Americana
A Series of Reprints Selected by Bernhard Fabian, Edgar Mertner, Karl Schneider and Marvin Spevack
GEORG OLMS VERLAGSBUCHHANDLUNG HILDESHEIM
The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland
GEORG OLMS VERLAGSBUCHHANDLUNG HILDESHEIM
The present facsimile is reproduced from a copy in the possession of the Library of the University of Goettingen. Shelfmark: H. lit. biogr. I 8464.
Although the title-page of Volume I announces four volumes, the work is continued in a fifth volume of the same date. Like Volumes II, III, and IV, it is by "Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands" and is "Printed for R. GRIFFITHS".
Reprografischer Nachdruck der Ausgabe London 1753 Printed in Germany Herstellung: fotokap wilhelm weihert, Darmstadt Best.-Nr. 5102040
GREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND.
Compiled from ample Materials scattered in a Variety of Books, and especially from the MS. Notes of the late ingenious Mr. COXETER and others, collected for this Design,
By Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands.
LONDON: Printed for R. GRIFFITHS, at the Dunciad in St. Paul's Church-Yard. MDCCLIII
Brewer Newcastle, Duchess May Newcastle, Duke Taylour Birkenhead Habington Boyle, E. Orrery Goldsmith Head Cleveland Hobbs Holiday [sic] Cokaine Nabbes Wharton Shirley Killegrew, Anne Howel Lee Fanshaw Butler Cowley Waller Davenant Ogilby King Rochester [Massinger] Buckingham Stapleton Smith Main Otway Milton [Oldham] Philips [Roscommon]
* * * * *
In one small Octavo Volume, Price bound in Calf 3s.
A TRANSLATION of the Ingenious Abbe DE MABLY'S Observations on the ROMANS. A learned and curious Performance; wherein the Policy of that People is set in so clear a Light, and the Characters of their great Men drawn with such a masterly Pen, as cannot but recommend it to all Lovers of Classical Learning.
In this Work many new Lights are cast upon the Characters and Conduct of the following celebrated Personages:
Romulus, Pompey, Otho, Tarquin the Elder, Cato, Vitellius, Servius Tullus, Caesar, Vespasian, Brutus, Cicero, Titus, The Gracchi, Antony, Domitian, Marius, Augustus, Nerva, Sylla, Tiberius, Trajan, Crassus, Caligula, Antoninus, Scipio, Claudius, Marcus Aurelius, Hannibal, Nero, Diocletian, Pyrrhus, Galba, Constantine the Great &c. &c. &c.
Printed for R. GRIFFITHS, in Paul's Church-Yard.
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A poet who flourished in the reign of Charles I. but of whose birth and life we can recover no particulars. He was highly esteemed by some wits in that reign, as appears from a Poem called Steps to Parnassus, which pays him the following well turned compliment.
Let Brewer take his artful pen in hand, Attending muses will obey command, Invoke the aid of Shakespear's sleeping clay, And strike from utter darkness new born day.
Mr. Winstanley, and after him Chetwood, has attributed a play to our author called Lingua, or the Contention of the Tongue and the Five Senses for Superiority, a Comedy, acted at Cambridge, 1606; but Mr. Langbaine is of opinion, that neither that, Love's Loadstone, Landagartha, or Love's Dominion, as Winstanley and Philips affirm, are his; Landagartha being written by Henry Burnel, esquire, and Love's Dominion by Flecknoe. In the Comedy called Lingua, there is a circumstance which Chetwood mentions, too curious, to be omitted here. When this play was acted at Cambridge, Oliver Cromwel performed the part of Tactus, which he felt so warmly, that it first fired his ambition, and, from the possession of an imaginary crown, he stretched his views to a real one; to accomplish which, he was content to wade through a sea of blood, and, as Mr. Gray beautifully expresses it, shut the Gates of Mercy on Mankind; the speech with which he is said to have been so affected, is the following,
Roses, and bays, pack hence: this crown and robe, My brows, and body, circles and invests; How gallantly it fits me! sure the slave Measured my head, that wrought this coronet; They lie that say, complexions cannot change! My blood's enobled, and I am transform'd Unto the sacred temper of a king; Methinks I hear my noble Parasites Stiling me Caesar, or great Alexander, Licking my feet,—&c.
Mr. Langbaine ascribes to Brewer the two following plays,
Country Girl, a Comedy, often acted with applause, printed in 4to. 1647. This play has been revived since the Restoration, under the title of Country Innocence, or the Chamber-maid turned Quaker.
Love-sick King, an English Tragical History, with the Life and Death of Cartesmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchester; printed in 4to. London, 1655; this play was likewise revived 1680, and acted by the name of the Perjured Nun. The historical part of the plot is founded upon the Invasion of the Danes, in the reign of King Ethelred and Alfred.
This last play of Anthony Brewer's, is one of the best irregular plays, next to those of Shakespear, which are in our language. The story, which is extremely interesting, is conducted, not so much with art, as spirit; the characters are animated, and the scene busy. Canutus King of Denmark, after having gained the city of Winchester, by the villainy of a native, orders all to be put to the sword, and at last enters the Cloister, raging with the thirst of blood, and panting for destruction; he meets Cartesmunda, whose beauty stops his ruffian violence, and melts him, as it were, into a human creature. The language of this play is as modern, and the verses as musical as those of Rowe; fire and elevation run through it, and there are many strokes of the most melting tenderness. Cartesmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchester, inspires the King with a passion for her, and after a long struggle between honour and love, she at last yields to the tyrant, and for the sake of Canutus breaks her vestal vows. Upon hearing that the enemy was about to enter the Cloister, Cartesmunda breaks out into the following beautiful exclamation:
The raging foe pursues, defend us Heaven! Take virgin tears, the balm of martyr'd saints As tribute due, to thy tribunal throne; With thy right hand keep us from rage and murder; Let not our danger fright us, but our sins; Misfortunes touch our bodies, not our souls.
When Canutus advances, and first sees Cartesmunda, his speech is poetical, and conceived in the true spirit of Tragedy.
Ha! who holds my conquering hand? what power unknown, By magic thus transforms me to a statue, Senseless of all the faculties of life? My blood runs back, I have no power to strike; Call in our guards and bid 'em all give o'er. Sheath up your swords with me, and cease to kill: Her angel beauty cries, she must not die, Nor live but mine: O I am strangely touch'd! Methinks I lift my sword, against myself, When I oppose her—all perfection! O see! the pearled dew drops from her eyes; Arise in peace, sweet soul.
In the same scene the following is extremely beautiful.
I'm struck with light'ning from the torrid zone; Stand all between me, and that flaming sun! Go Erkinwald, convey her to my tent. Let her be guarded with more watchful eyes Than heaven has stars: If here she stay I shall consume to death, 'Tis time can give my passions remedy, Art thou not gone! kill him that gazeth on her; For all that see her sure must doat like me, And treason for her, will be wrought against us. Be sudden—to our tents—pray thee away, The hell on earth is love that brings delay.
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A Poet and historian of the 17th century, was descended of an ancient, but decayed family in the county of Sussex, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and was educated a fellow commoner in Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. He afterwards removed to London, and lived about the court, where he contracted friendships with several gentlemen of fashion and distinction, especially with Endymion Porter esquire, one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber to King Charles I. while [sic] he resided at court he wrote five plays, which are extant under his name. In 1622, he published at London, in 8vo. a translation of Virgil's Georgics with annotations; and in 1635, a Poem on King Edward III. It was printed under the title of the Victorious Reign of Edward III. written in seven books, by his Majesty's command. In the dedication to Charles I. our author writes thus; "I should humbly have craved your Majesty's pardon for my omission of the latter part of King Edward's reign, but that the sense of mine own defects hath put me in mind of a most necessary suit, so beg forgiveness for that part which is here written. Those great actions of Edward III. are the arguments of this poem, which is here ended, where his fortune began to decline, where the French by revolts, and private practices regained that which had been won from them by eminent and famous victories; which times may afford fitter observations for an acute historian in prose, than strains of heighth for an heroic poem." The poem thus begins,
The third, and greatest Edward's reign we sing, The high atchievements of that martial King, Where long successful prowesse did advance, So many trophies in triumphed France, And first her golden lillies bare; who o're Pyrennes mountains to that western shore, Where Tagus tumbles through his yellow sand Into the ocean; stretch'd his conquering hand.
From the lines quoted, the reader will be able to judge what sort of versifier our author was, and from this beginning he has no great reason to expect an entertaining poem, especially as it is of the historical kind; and he who begins a poem thus insipidly, can never expect his readers to accompany him to the third page. May likewise translated Lucan's Pharsalia, which poem he continued down to the death of Julius Caesar, both in Latin and English verse.
Dr. Fuller says, that some disgust was given to him at court, which alienated his affections from it, and determined him, in the civil wars to adhere to the Parliament.
Mr. Philips in his Theatrum Poetarum, observes, that he stood candidate with Sir William Davenant for the Laurel, and his ambition being frustrated, he conceived the most violent aversion to the King and Queen. Sir William Davenant, besides the acknowledged superiority of his abilities, had ever distinguished himself for loyalty, and was patronized and favoured by men of power, especially the Marquis of Newcastle: a circumstance which we find not to have happened to May: it is true, they were both the friends of the amiable Endymion Porter, esq; but we are not informed whether that gentleman interested himself on either side.
In the year 1647, was published in London in folio, The History of the Parliament of England, which began November 3, 1640, with a Short and Necessary View of some precedent Years, written by Thomas May, Esq; Secretary to the Parliament, and published by their authority. In 1650 he published in 8vo. A Breviary of the History of the Parliament of England. Besides these works, Mr. Philips tells us, he wrote a History of Henry IV. in English verse, the Comedy of the Old Wives Tale, and the History of Orlando Furioso; but the latter, Mr. Langbaine, who is a higher authority than Philips, assures us was written before May was able to hold a pen, much less to write a play, being printed in 4to. London, 1594. Mr. Winstanley says, that in his history, he shews all the spleen of a mal-content, and had he been preferred to the Bays, as he happened to be disappointed, he would have embraced the Royal interest with as much zeal, as he did the republican: for a man who espouses a cause from spite only, can be depended upon by no party, because he acts not upon any principles of honour or conviction.
Our author died suddenly in the year 1652, and was interred near the tomb of Camden, on the West side of the North isle of Westminster Abbey, but his body, with several others, was dug up after the restoration, and buried in a pit in St. Margaret's church yard. Mr. May's plays are,
1. Agrippina, Empress of Rome, a Tragedy, printed in 12mo. London, 1639. Our author has followed Suetonius and Tacitus, and has translated and inserted above 30 lines from Petronius Arbiter; this circumstance we advance on the authority of Langbaine, whose extensive reading has furnished him with the means of tracing the plots of most part of our English plays; we have heard that there is a Tragedy on this subject, written by Mr. Gray of Cambridge, the author of the beautiful Elegy in a Country Church Yard; which play Mr. Garrick has sollicited him to bring upon the stage; to which the author has not yet consented.
2. Antigone, the Theban Princess, a Tragedy, printed in 8vo. London, 1631, and dedicated to Endymion Porter, Esq; Our author in the contexture of this Tragedy, has made use of the Antigone of Sophocles, and the Thebais of Seneca.
3. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, a Tragedy, acted 1626, and printed in 12mo. London, 1639, and dedicated to Sir Kenelme Digby: The author has followed the historians of those times. We have in our language two other plays upon the same subject, one by Shakespear, and the other by Dryden.
4. Heir, a Comedy, acted by the company of revels, 1620; this play is much commended by Mr. Thomas Carew, in a copy of verses prefixed to the play, where, amongst other commendations bestowed on the stile, and natural working up of the passions, he says thus of the oeconomy of the play.
The whole plot doth alike itself disclose, Thro' the five Acts, as doth a lock, that goes With letters, for 'till every one be known, The lock's as fast, as if you had found none.
If this comedy, is no better than these wretched commendatory lines, it is miserable indeed.
5. Old Couple, a Comedy, printed in 4to; this play is intended to expose the vice of covetousness.
Footnotes: 1. Langbaine's Lives of the Poets. 2. Wood's Fasti Oxon. vol. i. p. 205.
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JOHN TAYLOUR, Water-Poet,
Was born in Gloucestershire, where he went to school with one Green, and having got into his accidence, was bound apprentice to a Waterman in London, which, though a laborious employment, did not so much depress his mind, but that he sometimes indulged himself in poetry. Taylour retates [sic] a whimsical story of his schoolmaster Mr. Green, which we shall here insert upon the authority of Winstanley. "Green loved new milk so well, that in order to have it new, he went to the market to buy a cow, but his eyes being dim, he cheapened a bull, and asking the price of the beast, the owner and he agreed, and driving it home, would have his maid to milk it, which she attempting to do, could find no teats; and whilst the maid and her master were arguing the matter, the bull very fairly pissed into the pail;" whereupon his scholar John Taylour wrote these verses,
Our master Green was overseen In buying of a bull, For when the maid did mean to milk, He piss'd the pail half full.
Our Water-poet found leisure to write fourscore books, some of which occasioned diversion enough in their time, and were thought worthy to be collected in a folio volume. Mr. Wood observes, that had he had learning equal to his natural genius, which was excellent, he might have equalled, if not excelled, many who claim a great share in the temple of the muses. Upon breaking out of the rebellion, 1642, he left London, and retired to Oxford, where he was much esteemed for his facetious company; he kept a common victualling house there, and thought he did great service to the Royal cause, by writing Pasquils against the round-heads. After the garrison of Oxford surrendered, he retired to Westminster, kept a public house in Phaenix Alley near Long Acre, and continued constant in his loyalty to the King; after whose death, he set up a sign over his door, of a mourning crown, but that proving offensive, he pulled it down, and hung up his own picture, under which were these words,
There's many a head stands for a sign, Then gentle reader why not mine?
On the other side,
Tho' I deserve not, I desire The laurel wreath, the poet's hire.
He died in the year 1654, aged 74, and was buried in the church yard of St. Paul's Covent-Garden; his nephew, a Painter at Oxford, who lived in Wood's time, informed him of this circumstance, who gave his picture to the school gallery there, where it now hangs, shewing him to have had a quick and smart countenance. The following epitaph was written upon him,
Here lies the Water-poet, honest John, Who row'd on the streams of Helicon; Where having many rocks and dangers past, He at the haven of Heaven arrived at last.
Footnote: 1. Athen. Oxon. vol. ii. p. 393.
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Son of Thomas Habington, Esq; was born at Hendlip in Worcestershire, on the 4th of November 1605, and received his education at St. Omers and Paris, where he was earnestly pressed to take upon him the habit of a Jesuit; but that sort of life not suiting with his genius, he excused himself and left them. After his return from Paris, he was instructed by his father in history, and other useful branches of literature, and became, says Wood, a very accomplished gentleman. This author has written,
1. Poems, 1683, in 8vo. under the title of Castara: they are divided into three parts under different titles, suitable to their subject. The first, which was written when he was courting his wife, Lucia, the beautiful daughter of William Lord Powis, is introduced by a character, written in prose, of a mistress. The second are copies to her after marriage, by the character of a wife; after which is a character of a friend, before several funeral elegies. The third part consists of divine poems, some of which are paraphrases on several texts out of Job, and the book of psalms.
2. The Queen of Arragon, a Tragi-Comedy, which play he shewed to Philip Earl of Pembroke, who having a high opinion of it, caused it to be acted at court, and afterwards to be published, the contrary to the author's inclination.
3. Observations on History, Lond. 1641, 8vo.
4. History of Edward IV. Lond. 1640, in a thin folio, written and published at the desire of King Charles I. which in the opinion of some critics of that age, was too florid for history, and fell short of that calm dignity which is peculiar to a good historian, and which in our nation has never been more happily attained than by the great Earl of Clarendon and Bishop Burnet. During the civil war, Mr. Habington, according to Wood, temporized with those in power, and was not unknown to Oliver Cromwell; but there is no account of his being raised to any preferment during the Protector's government. He died the 30th of November, 1654.
We shall present the readers with the prologue to the Queen of Arragon, acted at Black-Fryars, as a specimen of this author's poetry.
Ere we begin that no man may repent, Two shillings, and his time, the author sent The prologue, with the errors of his play, That who will, may take his money and away. First for the plot, 'tis no way intricate By cross deceits in love, nor so high in state, That we might have given out in our play-bill This day's the Prince, writ by Nick Machiavil. The language too is easy, such as fell Unstudied from his pen; not like a spell Big with mysterious words, such as inchant The half-witted, and confound the ignorant. Then, what must needs, afflict the amourist, No virgin here, in breeches casts a mist Before her lover's eyes; no ladies tell How their blood boils, how high their veins do swell. But what is worse no baudy mirth is here; (The wit of bottle-ale, and double beer) To make the wife of citizen protest, And country justice swear 'twas a good jest. Now, Sirs, you have the errors of his wit, Like, or dislike, at your own perils be't.
Footnote: 1. Wood Athen. Oxon. v. 1, p, 100.
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Was the son of Francis Goldsmith, of St. Giles in the Fields in Middlesex, Esq; was educated under Dr. Nicholas Grey, in Merchant-Taylor's School, became a gentleman commoner in Pembroke-College in the beginning of 1629, was soon after translated to St. John's College, and after he had taken a degree in arts, to Grey's-Inn, where he studied the common law several years, but other learning more. Mr. Langbaine says, that he could recover no other memoirs of this gentleman, but that he lived in the reign of King Charles the First, and obliged the World with a translation of a play out of Latin called, Sophompaneas, or the History of Joseph, with Annotations, a Tragedy, printed 4to. Lond. 1640, and dedicated to the Right Hon. Henry Lord Marquis of Dorchester. This Drama was written by the admirable Hugo Grotius, published by him at Amsterdam 1635, and dedicated to Vossius, Professor of History and Civil Arts in Amsterdam. He stiles it a Tragedy, notwithstanding it ends successfully, and quotes for his authority in so doing, AEschilus, Euripides, and even Vossius, in his own Art of Poetry. Some make it a Question, whether it be lawful to found a dramatic Poem on any sacred subject, and some people of tender consciences have murmured against this Play, and another of the same cast called Christ's Passion; but let us hear the opinion of Vossius himself, prefixed to this Play. "I am of opinion, (says he) it is better to chuse another argument than sacred. For it agrees not with the majesty of sacred things, to be made a play and a fable. It is also a work of very dangerous consequence, to mingle human inventions with things sacred; because the poet adds uncertainties of his own, sometimes falsities; which is not only to play with holy things, but also to graft in men's minds opinions, now and then false. These things have place, especially when we bring in God, or Christ speaking, or treating of the mysteries of religion. I will allow more where the history is taken out of the sacred scriptures; but yet in the nature of the argument is civil, as the action of David flying from his son Absolom; or of Joseph sold by his brethren, advanced by Pharaoh to the government of Egypt, and that dignity adored by, and made known unto his brethren. Of which argument is Sophompaneas, written by Hugo Grotius, embassador from the Queen of Sweden to the King of France; which tragedy, I suppose, may be set for a pattern to him, that would handle an argument from the holy scriptures." This is the opinion of Vossius, and with him all must agree who admire the truly admirable Samson Agonistes of Milton.
As we have frequently mentioned Grotius, the short account of so great a man, which is inserted in Langbaine, will not be unpleasing to the reader.
"Hugo Grotius, says he, was an honour to his country: he was born in the year 1583, and will be famous to posterity, in regard of those many excellent pieces he has published. In some of his writings he defended Arminianism, for which he suffered imprisonment in the castle of Louverstein, in the year 1618; at which time his associate Barnevelt lost his head on the same account. Afterwards Grotius escaped out of prison, by means of Maria Reigersberg his wife, and fled into Flanders; and thence into France, where he was kindly received by Lewis XIII. He died at Rostock in Mecclebourg, Sept. 1, 1645. His life is written at large by Melchoir Adamus, in Latin."
As to our outhor's [sic] translation, which is in heroic verse, it is much commended by verses from four of his friends.
He also translated Grotius's consolatory oration to his father, with epitaphs; and also his Catechism into English verse.
Mr. Goldsmith died at Ashton in Northamptonshire, in September 1655, and was buried there, leaving behind him an only daughter named Katherine, afterwards the wife of Sir Henry Dacres.
Footnote: 1. Wood Athen. Oxon. v. 2. p. 194.
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Was the son of a vicar of Hinkley, in Leicestershire, where he was born, and received his grammatical education, under one Mr. Richard Vines, a zealous Puritan. After he had compleated his school education, he was sent to Christ's College in Cambridge, and in a short time distinguishing himself for his knowledge of the Latin tongue, and for Oratory, he was preferred to a fellowship in St. John's-College, in the said university. He continued there about nine years, and made during that time some successful attempts in poetry. At length, upon the eruption of the civil war, he was the first who espoused the Royal cause in verse, against the Presbyterians, who persecuted him in their turn with more solid severity; for he was ejected, as soon as the reins of power were in their hands. Dr. Fuller bestows upon our author the most lavish panegyric: He was (says he) a general artist, pure latinist, an exquisite orator, and what was his masterpiece, an eminent poet. Dr. Fuller thus characterizes him, but as Cleveland has not left remains behind him sufficient to convey to posterity so high an idea of his merit, it may be supposed that the Doctor spoke thus in his favour, meerly on account of their agreement in political principles. He addressed an oration, says Winstanley, to Charles I. who was so well pleased with it, that he sent for him, and gave him his hand to kiss, with great expressions of kindness. When Oliver Cromwell was in election to be member for the town of Cambridge, as he engaged all his friends and interests to oppose it; so when it was carried but by one vote, he cried out with much passion, that, that single vote had ruined church and kingdom, such fatal events did he presage from the success of Oliver. Mr. Cleveland was no sooner forced from the College, by the prevalence of the Parliament's interest, but he betook himself to the camp, and particularly to Oxford the head quarters of it, as the most proper sphere for his wit, learning and loyalty. Here he began a paper war with the opposite party, and wrote some smart satires against the Rebels, especially the Scots. His poem called the Mixt Assembly; his character of a London Diurnal, and a Committee-man, are thought to contain the true spirit of satire, and a just representation of the general confusion of the times. From Oxford he went to the garrison of Newark, where he acted as judge advocate till that garrison was surrendered, and by an excellent temperature, of both, says Winstanley, he was a just and prudent judge for the King, and a faithful advocate for the Country.
Here he drew up a bantering answer and rejoinder to a Parliament officer, who had written to him on account of one Hill, that had deserted their side, and carried off with him to Newark, the sum of 133 l. and 8 d. We shall give part of Mr. Cleveland's answer to the officer's first letter, by which an estimate may be formed of the rest.
"It is so, that our brother and fellow-labourer in the gospel, is start aside; then this may serve for an use of instruction, not to trust in man, or in the son of man. Did not Demas leave Paul? Did not Onesimus run from his master Philemon? Also this should teach us to employ our talents, and not to lay them up in a napkin; had it been done among the cavaliers, it had been just, then the Israelite had spoiled the Egyptian; but for Simeon to plunder Levi, that—that, &c."
The garrison of Newark defended themselves with much courage and resolution against the besiegers, and did not surrender but by the King's special command, after he had thrown himself into the hands of the Scots; which action of his Majesty's Cleveland passionately resented, in his poem called, the King's Disguise: Upon some private intelligence, three days before the King reached them, he foresaw, that the army would be bribed to surrender him, in which he was not mistaken. As soon as this event took place, Cleveland, who warmly adhered to the regal party, was obliged to atone for his loyalty by languishing in a jail, at Yarmouth, where he remained for some time under all the disadvantages of poverty, and wretchedness: At last being quite spent with the severity of his confinement, he addressed Oliver Cromwell in a petition for liberty, in such pathetic and moving terms, that his heart was melted with the prisoner's expostulation, and he ordered him to be set at liberty. In this address, our author did not in the least violate his loyalty, for he made no concessions to Oliver, but only a representation of the hardships he suffered, without acknowledging his sovereignty, tho' not without flattering his power. Having thus obtained his liberty, he settled himself in Gray's-Inn, and as he owed his releasement to the Protector, he thought it his duty to be passive, and not at least to act against him: But Cleveland did not long enjoy his state of unenvied ease, for he was seized with an intermitting fever, and died the 29th of April, 1685.
On the first of May he was buried, and his dear friend Dr. John Pearson, afterwards lord bishop of Chester, preached his funeral sermon, and gave this reason, why he declined commending the deceased, "because such praising of him would not be adequate to the expectation of the audience, seeing some who knew him must think it far below him."—There were many who attempted to write elegies upon him, and several performances of this kind, in Latin and English, are prefixed to the edition of Cleveland's works, in verse and prose, printed in 8vo, in 1677, with his effigies prefixed.
From the verses of his called Smectymnuus, we shall give the following specimen, in which the reader will see he did not much excel in numbers.
Smectymnuus! the goblin makes me start, I'th' name of Rabbi-Abraham, what art? Syriack? or Arabick? or Welsh? what skilt? Up all the brick-layers that Babel built? Some conjurer translate, and let me know it, 'Till then 'tis fit for a West Saxon Poet. But do the brotherhood then play their prizes? Like murmurs in religion with disguises? Out-brave us with a name in rank and file, A name, which if 'twere trained would spread a mile; The Saints monopoly, the zealous cluster, Which like a porcupine presents a muster.
The following lines from the author's celebrated satire, entitled, the Rebel-Scot, will yet more amply shew his turn for this species of poetry.
"Nature herself doth Scotchmen beasts confess, Making their country such a wilderness; A land that brings in question and suspence God's omnipresence; but that CHARLES came thence; But that MONTROSE and CRAWFORD'S loyal band Aton'd their sin, and christen'd half their land.— A land where one may pray with curst intent, O may they never suffer banishment! Had Cain been Scot, God would have chang'd his doom, Not forc'd him wander, but confin'd him home.—
"Lord! what a goodly thing is want of shirts! How a Scotch stomach and no meat converts! They wanted food and rayment, so they took Religion for their temptress and their cook.— Hence then you proud impostors get you gone, You Picts in gentry and devotion. You scandal to the stock of verse, a race Able to bring the gibbet in disgrace.—
"The Indian that heaven did forswear, Because he heard some Spaniards were there, Had he but known what Scots in Hell had been, He would, Erasmus-like, have hung between."
It is probable that this bitterness against our brethren of North-Britain, chiefly sprang from Mr. Cleveland's resentment of the Scots Army delivering up the King to the Parliament.
Footnotes: [text mark missing]. Wood fasti Oxon. p. 274. 1. Winst. Lives of the Poets 2. Winst. Lives of the Poets.
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Dr. BARTEN HOLYDAY,
Son of Thomas Holyday, a taylor, was born at All Saints parish, within the city of Oxford, about the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign; he was entered early into Christ Church, in the time of Dr, Ravis, his relation and patron, by whom he was chosen student, and having taken his degrees of batchelor and master of arts, he became archdeacon of Oxfordshire. In 1615, he entered into holy orders, and was in a short time taken notice of as an eloquent or rather popular preacher, by which he had two benefices confered on him both in the diocese of Oxford.
In the year 1618 he went as chaplain to Sir Francis Stewart, when he accompanied to Spain the Count Gundamore, after he had continued several Years at our court as embassador, in which journey Holyday behaved in a facetious and pleasant manner, which ingratiated him in the favour of Gundamore.
Afterwards our author became chaplain to King Charles I. and succeeded Dr. Bridges in the archdeaconry of Oxon, before the year 1626. In 1642 he was by virtue of the letters of the said King, created, with several others, Dr. of divinity. When the rebellion broke out, he sheltered himself near Oxford; but when he saw the royal party decline so much that their cause was desperate, he began to tamper with the prevailing power; and upon Oliver Cromwell's being raised to the Protectorship, he so far coincided with the Usurper's interests, as to undergo the examination of the Friers, in order to be inducted into the rectory of Shilton in Berks, in the place of one Thomas Lawrence, ejected on account of his being non compos mentis. For which act he was much blamed and censured by his ancient friends the clergy, who adhered to the King, and who rather chose to live in poverty during the usurpation, than by a mean compliance with the times, betray the interest of the church, and the cause of their exiled sovereign.
After the King's restoration he quitted the living he held under Cromwell, and returned to Eisley near Oxon, to live on his archdeaconry; and had he not acted a temporizing part it was said he might have been raised to a see, or some rich deanery. His poetry however, got him a name in those days, and he stood very fair for preferment; and his philosophy discovered in his book de Anima, and well languaged sermons, (says Wood) speaks him eminent in his generation, and shew him to have traced the rough parts, as well as the pleasant paths of poetry.
His works are,
1. Three Sermons, on the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Saviour, Lond. 1626.
2. Two Sermons at Paul's Cross.
3. A Sermon on the Nature of Faith.
4. Motives to a godly Life, in Ten Sermons, Oxon, 1657.
5. Four Sermons against Disloyalty, Oxon, 1661.
Technogamia; or the Marriage of Arts, a Comedy, acted publicly in Christ's Church Hall, with no great applause 1617. But the Wits of those times being willing to distinguish themselves before the King, were resolved, with leave, to act the same comedy at Woodstock, whereupon (says Wood) the author making some foolish alterations in it, it was accordingly acted on Sunday night the 26th of August 1621, but it being too grave for the King, and too scholastic for the Audience, or as some said, that the actors in order to remove their timidity, had taken too much wine before, they began, his Majesty after two acts offered several times to withdraw; at length being persuaded by some of those who were near to him, to have patience till it was ended, lest the young men should be discouraged, he sat it out, tho' much against his will; upon which these Verses were made by a certain scholar;
At Christ Church Marriage done before the King Lest that those Mates should want an offering, The King himself did offer; what I pray? He offered twice or thrice to go away.
6. Survey of the World in Ten Books, a Poem, Oxon, 1661, which was judged by Scholars to be an inconsiderable piece, and by some not to be his. But being published just before his death, it was taken for a posthumous work, which had been composed by him in his younger Days.
He translated out of Latin into English the Satires of Persius, Oxon. 1616, in apologizing for the defects of this work, he plays upon the word translate: To have committed no faults in this translation, says he, would have been to translate myself, and put off man. Wood calls this despicable pun, an elegant turn.
7. Satires of Juvenal illustrated with Notes, Oxon. folio 1673. At the end of which is the Fourth Edition of Persius, before mentioned.
8. Odes of Horace, Lond. 1652; this Translation Wood says, is so near that of Sir Thomas Hawkins, printed 1638, or that of Hawkins so near this, that to whom to ascribe it he is in doubt.
Dr. Holyday, who according to the same author was highly conceited of his own worth, especially in his younger Days, but who seems not to have much reason for being so, died at a Village called Eisley on the 2d day of October 1661, and was three days after buried at the foot of Bishop King's monument, under the south wall of the [a]isle joining on the south side to the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, near the remains of William Cartwright, and Jo. Gregory.
Footnotes: 1. Athen. Oxon. 259. Ed. 1721. 2. Wood ubi supra. 3. Athen. Oxon. p. 260.
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A writer, in the reign of Charles I, whom we may reckon, says Langbaine, among poets of the third rate, but who in strict justice cannot rise above a fifth. He was patronized by Sir John Suckling. He has seven plays and masks extant, besides other poems, which Mr. Langbaine says, are entirely his own, and that he has had recourse to no preceding author for assistance, and in this respect deserves pardon if not applause from the critic. This he avers in his prologue to Covent-Garden.
He justifies that 'tis no borrowed strain, From the invention of another's brain. Nor did he steal the fancy. 'Tis the fame He first intended by the proper name. 'Twas not a toil of years: few weeks brought forth, This rugged issue, might have been more worth, If he had lick'd it more. Nor doth he raise From the ambition of authentic plays, Matter or words to height, nor bundle up Conceits at taverns, where the wits do sup; His muse is solitary, and alone Doth practise her low speculation.
The reader from the above specimen may see what a poet he was; but as he was in some degree of esteem in his time, we thought it improper to omit him.
The following are his plays;
1. The Bride, a Comedy; acted in the Year 1638 at a private House in Drury-Lane by their Majesty's Servants, printed 4to. 1640.
2. Covent Garden, a Comedy; acted in the Year 1632.
3. Hannibal and Scipio, an Historical Tragedy, acted in the year 1635.
4. Microcosmus, a Moral Masque, represented at a private house in Salisbury Court, printed 1637.
5. Spring's Glory, Vindicating Love by Temperance, against the Tenet, Sine Cerere & Baccho friget Venus; moralized in a Masque. With other Poems, Epigrams, Elegies, and Epithalamiums of the author's, printed in 4to, London, 1638. At the end of these poems is a piece called A Presentation, intended for the Prince's Birth day, May 29, 1638, annually celebrated.
6. Tottenham-Court, a Comedy, acted in the year 1633, at a private house in Salisbury Court, printed in 4to. 1638.
7. Unfortunate Lovers, a Tragedy, never acted, printed in 4to. London, 1640.
Mr. Philips and Mr. Winstanley, according to their old custom, have ascribed two other anonymous plays to our author: The Woman Hater Arraigned, a Comedy, and Charles the First, a Tragedy, which Langbaine has shewn not to be his.
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A very voluminous dramatic author, was born in the city of London, and: was descended from the Shirleys in Suffex or Warwickshire; he was educated in grammar learning in Merchant Taylors school, and transplanted thence to St. John's College, but in what station he lived there, we don't find.
Dr. William Laud, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, presiding over that house, conceived a great affection for our author, and was willing to cherish and improve those promising abilities early discoverable in him. Mr. Shirley had always an inclination to enter into holy orders, but, for a very particular reason, was discouraged from attempting it by Dr. Laud; this reason to some may appear whimsical and ridiculous, but has certainly much weight and force in it.
Shirley had unfortunately a large mole upon his left cheek, which much disfigured him, and gave him a very forbidding appearance. Laud observed very justly, that an audience can scarce help conceiving a prejudice against a man whose appearance shocks them, and were he to preach with the tongue of an angel, that prejudice could never be surmounted; besides the danger of women with child fixing their eyes on him in the pulpit, and as the imagination of pregnant women has strange influence on the unborn infants, it is somewhat cruel to expose them to that danger, and by these means do them great injury, as ones fortune in some measure depends upon exterior comeliness. But Shirley, who was resolute to be in orders, left that university soon after, went to Cambridge, there took the degrees in arts, and became a minister near St. Alban's in Hertfordshire; but never having examined the authority, and purity of the Protestant Church, and being deluded by the sophistry of some Romish priests, he changed his religion for theirs, quitted his living, and taught a grammar school in the town of St. Alban's; which employment he finding an intolerable drudgery, and being of a fickle unsteady temper, he relinquished it, came up to London, and took lodgings in Gray's Inn, where he commenced a writer for the stage with tolerable success. He had the good fortune to gain several wealthy and beneficent patrons, especially Henrietta Maria the Queen Consort, who made him her servant.
When the civil war broke out, he was driven from London, and attended upon his Royal Mistress, while his wife and family were left in a deplorable condition behind him. Some time after that, when the Queen of England was forced, by the fury of opposition, to sollicit succours from France, in order to reinstate her husband; our author could no longer wait upon her, and was received into the service of William Cavendish, marquis of Newcastle, to take his fortune with him in the wars. That noble spirited patron had given him such distinguishing marks of his liberality, as Shirley thought himself happy in his service, especially as by these means he could at the same time serve the King.
Having mentioned Henrietta Maria, Shirley's Royal Mistress, the reader will pardon a digression, which flows from tenderness, and is no more than an expression of humanity. Her life-time in England was embittered with a continued persecution; she lived to see the unhappy death of her Lord; she witnessed her exiled sons, not only oppressed with want, but obliged to quit France, at the remonstrance of Cromwel's ambassador; she herself was loaded with poverty, and as Voltaire observes, "was driven to the most calamitous situation that ever poor lady was exposed to; she was obliged to sollicit Cromwel to pay her an allowance, as Queen Dowager of England, which, no doubt, she had a right to demand; but to demand it, nay worse, to be obliged to beg it of a man who shed her Husband's blood upon a scaffold, is an affliction, so excessively heightened, that few of the human race ever bore one so severe."
After an active service under the marquis of Newcastle, and the King's cause declining beyond hope of recovery, Shirley came again to London, and in order to support himself and family, returned his former occupation of teaching a school, in White Fryars, in which he was pretty successful, and, as Wood says, 'educated many ingenious youths, who, afterwards in various faculties, became eminent.' After the Restoration, some of the plays our author had written in his leisure moments, were represented with success, but there is no account whether that giddy Monarch ever rewarded him for his loyalty, and indeed it is more probable he did not, as he pursued the duke of Lauderdale's maxim too closely, of making friends of his enemies, and suffering his friends to shift for themselves, which infamous maxim drew down dishonour on the administration and government of Charles II. Wood further remarks, that Shirley much assisted his patron, the duke of Newcastle, in the composition of his plays, which the duke afterwards published, and was a drudge to John Ogilby in his translation of Homer's Iliad and Odysseys, by writing annotations on them. At length, after Mr. Shirley had lived to the age of 72, in various conditions, having been much agitated in the world, he, with his second wife, was driven by the dismal conflagration that happened in London, Anno 1666, from his habitation in Fleet-street, to another in St. Giles's in the Fields. Where, being overcome with miseries occasioned by the fire, and bending beneath the weight of years, they both died in one day, and their bodies were buried in one grave, in the churchyard of St. Giles's, on October 29, 1666.
The works of this author
1. Changes, or Love in a Maze, a Comedy, acted at a private house in Salisbury Court, 1632.
2. Contention for Honour and Riches, a Masque, 1633.
3. Honoria and Mammon, a Comedy; this Play is grounded on the abovementioned Masque.
4. The Witty Fair One, a Comedy, acted in Drury Lane, 1633.
5. The Traitor, a Tragedy, acted by her Majesty's servants, 1635. This Play was originally written by Mr. Rivers, a jesuit, but altered by Shirley.
6. The Young Admiral, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at a private house in Drury Lane, 1637.
7. The Example, a Tragi-Comedy, acted in Drury Lane by her Majesty's Servants, 1637.
8. Hyde Park, a Comedy, acted in Drury Lane, 1637.
9. The Gamester, a Comedy, acted in Drury Lane, 1637; the plot is taken from Queen Margate's Novels, and the Unlucky Citizen.
10. The Royal Master, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at the Theatre in Dublin, 1638.
11. The Duke's Mistress, a Tragi-Comedy, acted by her Majesty's servants, 1638.
12. The Lady of Pleasure, a Comedy, acted at a private house in Drury Lane, 1638.
13. The Maid's Revenge, a Tragedy, acted at a private house in Drury Lane, with applause, 1639.
13 [sic]. Chabot, Admiral of France, a Tragedy, acted in Drury Lane, 1639; Mr. Chapman joined in this play; the story may be found in the histories of the reign of Francis I.
15. The Ball, a Comedy, acted in Drury Lane, 1639; Mr. Chapman likewise assisted in this Comedy.
16. Arcadia, a Dramatic Pastoral, performed at the Phaenix in Drury Lane by the Queen's servants, 1649.
17. St. Patrick for Ireland, an Historical Play, 1640; for the plot see Bedes's Life of St. Patrick, &c.
18. The Humorous Courtier, a Comedy, presented at a private house in Drury Lane, 1640.
19. Love's Cruelty, a Tragedy, acted by the Queen's servants, 1640.
20. The Triumph of Beauty, a Masque, 1646; part of this piece seems to be taken from Shakespear's Midsummer's Night's Dream, and Lucian's Dialogues.
21. The Sisters, a Comedy, acted at a private house in Black Fryars, 1652.
22. The Brothers, a Comedy, 1652.
23. The Doubtful Heir, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at Black Fryars, 1652.
24. The Court Secret, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at a private house in Black Fryars, 1653, dedicated to the Earl of Strafford; this play was printed before it was acted.
25. The Impostor, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at a private house in Black Fryars, 1653.
26. The Politician, a Tragedy, acted in Salisbury Court, 1655; part of the plot is taken from the Countess of Montgomery's Urania.
27. The Grateful Servant, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at a private house in Drury Lane, 1655.
28. The Gentleman of Venice, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at a private house in Salisbury Court. Plot taken from Gayron's Notes on Don Quixote.
29. The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses for Achilles's Armour, a Masque, 1658. It is taken from Ovid's Metamorphosis, b. xiii.
30. Cupid and Death, a Masque, 1658.
30 [sic]. Love Tricks, or the School of Compliments, a Comedy, acted by the Duke of York's servants in little Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, 1667.
31. The Constant Maid, or Love will find out the Way, a Comedy, acted at the New House called the Nursery, in Hatton Garden, 1667.
33. The Opportunity, a Comedy, acted at the private house in Drury Lane by her Majesty's servants; part of this play is taken from Shakespear's Measure for Measure.
34. The Wedding, a Comedy, acted at the Phaenix in Drury Lane.
35. A Bird in a Cage, a Comedy, acted in Drury Lane.
36. The Coronation, a Comedy. This play is printed with Beaumont's and Fletcher's.
37. The Cardinal, a Tragedy, acted at a private house in Black Fryars.
38. The Triumph of Peace, a Masque, presented before the King and Queen at Whitehall, 1633, by the Gentlemen of the Four Inns of Court.
We shall present the reader with a quotation taken from a comedy of his, published in Dodsley's collection of old plays, called A Bird in a Cage, p. 234. Jupiter is introduced thus speaking,
Let the music of the spheres, Captivate their mortal ears; While Jove descends into this tower, In a golden streaming shower. To disguise him from the eye Of Juno, who is apt to pry Into my pleasures: I to day Have bid Ganymede go to play, And thus stole from Heaven to be Welcome on earth to Danae. And see where the princely maid, On her easy couch is laid, Fairer than the Queen of Loves, Drawn about with milky doves.
Footnotes: 1. Athen. Oxon. p 376 2. Wood, ubi supra.
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JAMES HOWEL, Esq;
Was born at Abernant in Carmarthenshire, the place where his father was minister, in the year 1594. Howel himself, in one of his familiar epistles, says, that his ascendant was that hot constellation of Cancer about the middle of the Dog Days. After he was educated in grammar learning in the free school of Hereford, he was sent to Jesus College in the beginning of 1610, took a degree in arts, and then quitted the university. By the help of friends, and a small sum of money his father assisted him with, he travelled for three years into several countries, where he improved himself in the various languages; some years after his return, the reputation of his parts was so great, that he was made choice of to be sent into Spain, to recover of the Spanish monarch a rich English ship, seized by the Viceroy of Sardinia for his master's use, upon some pretence of prohibited goods being found in it.
During his absence, he was elected Fellow of Jesus College, 1623, and upon his return, was patronized by Emanuel, lord Scroop, Lord President of the North, and by him was made his secretary. As he resided in York, he was, by the Mayor and Aldermen of Richmond, chose a Burgess for their Corporation to sit in that Parliament, that began at Westminster in the year 1627. Four years after, he went secretary to Robert, earl of Leicester, ambassador extraordinary from England to the King of Denmark, before whom he made several Latin speeches, shewing the occasion of their embassy, viz. to condole the death of Sophia, Queen Dowager of Denmark, Grandmother to Charles I. King of England.
Our author enjoyed many beneficial employments, and at length, about the beginning of the civil war, was made one of the clerks of the council, but being extravagant in his temper, all the money he got was not sufficient to preserve him from a Jail. When the King was forced from the Parliament, and the Royal interest declined, Howel was arrested; by order of a certain committee, who owed him no good-will, and carried prisoner to the Fleet; and having now nothing to depend upon but his wits, he was obliged to write and translate books for a livelihood, which brought him in, says Wood, a comfortable subsistance, during his stay there; he is the first person we have met with, in the course of this work, who may be said to have made a trade of authorship, having written no less than 49 books on different subjects.
In the time of the rebellion, we find Howel tampering with the prevailing power, and ready to have embraced their measures; for which reason, at the reiteration, he was not contin[u]ed in his place of clerk to the council, but was only made king's historiographer, being the first in England, says Wood, who bore that title; and having no very beneficial employment, he wrote books to the last.
He had a great knowledge in modern histories, especially in those of the countries in which he had travelled, and he seems, by his letters, to have been no contemptible politician: As to his poetry, it is smoother, and more harmonious, than was very common with the bards of his time.
As he introduced the trade of writing for bread, so he also is charged with venal flattery, than which nothing can be more ignoble and base. To praise a blockhead's wit because he is great, is too frequently practised by authors, and deservedly draws down contempt upon them. He who is favoured and patronized by a great man, at the expence of his integrity and honour, has paid a dear price for the purchase, a miserable exchange, patronage for virtue, dependance for freedom.
Our author died the beginning of November, 1666, and was buried on the North side of the Temple church.
We shall not trouble the reader with an enumeration of all the translations and prose works of this author; the occasion of his being introduced here, is, his having written
Nuptials of Peleus and Thetis, consisting of a Masque and a Comedy, [f]or the Great Royal Ball, acted in Paris six times by the King in person, the Duke of Anjou, the Duke of York, with other Noblemen; also by the Princess Royal, Henrietta Maria, Princess of Conti, &c. printed in 4to. 1654, and addressed to the Marchioness of Dorchester. Besides this piece, his Dodona's Grove, or Vocal Forest, is in the highest reputation.
His entertaining letters, many of whom were written to the greatest personages in England, and some in particular to Ben Johnson, were first published in four volumes; but in 1737, the tenth edition of them was published in one volume, which is also now become scarce. They are interspersed with occasional verses; from one of these little pieces we shall select the following specimen of this author's poetical talent.
On the Author's Valentine, Mrs. METCALF.
Could I charm the queen of love, To lend a quill of her white dove; Or one of Cupid's pointed wings Dipt in the fair Caftalian Springs; Then would I write the all divine Perfections of my Valentine.
As 'mongst, all flow'rs the Rose excells, As Amber 'mongst the fragrant'st smells, As 'mongst all minerals the Gold, As Marble 'mongst the finest mold, As Diamond 'mongst jewels bright As Cynthia 'mongst the lesser lights: So 'mongst the Northern beauties shine, So far excels my Valentine.
In Rome and Naples I did view Faces of celestial hue; Venetian dames I have seen many, (I only saw them, truck'd not any) Of Spanish beauties, Dutch and French, I have beheld the quintessence: Yet saw I none that could out-shine, Or parallel my Valentine.
Th' Italians they are coy and quaint. But they grosly daub and paint; The Spanish kind, and apt to please, But fav'ring of the same disease: Of Dutch and French some few are comely, The French are light, the Dutch are homely. Let Tagus, Po, the Loire and Rhine Then veil unto my Valentine.
Footnotes: 1. Langbaine's Lives of the Poets. 2. Athen. Oxon. p. 281. vol. ii. 3. Bad rhimes were uncommon with the poets of Howel's time.
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Sir RICHARD FANSHAW
Was the youngest, and tenth son of Sir Henry Fanshaw of Ware-park in Hertfordshire; he was born in the year 1607, and was initiated in learning by the famous Thomas Farnaby. He afterwards compleated his studies in the university of Cambridge, and from thence went to travel into foreign countries, by which means he became a very accomplished gentleman. In 1635 he was patronized by King Charles I. on account of his early and promising abilities; he took him into his service, and appointed him resident at the court of Spain. During his embassy there, his chief business was, to demand reparation and punishment of some free-booters, who had taken ships from the English, and to endeavour the restoration of amity, trade and commerce.
When the civil war broke out, he returned to England, having accomplished the purposes of his embassy abroad, and attached himself with the utmost zeal to the Royal Standard; and during those calamitous times was intrusted with many important matters of state.
In 1644, attending the court at Oxford, the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws was conferred upon him, and the reputation of his parts every day increasing, he was thought a proper person to be secretary to Charles, Prince of Wales, whom he attended into the Western parts of England, and from thence into the Isles of Scilly and Jersey.
In 1648 he was appointed treasurer of the navy, under the command of Prince Rupert, in which office he continued till the year 1650, when he was created a baronet by King Charles II. and sent envoy extraordinary to the court of Spain. Being recalled thence into Scotland, where the King then was, he served there in quality of secretary of state, to the satisfaction of all parties, notwithstanding he refused to take the covenant engagements, which Charles II. forced by the importunity of the Presbyterians, entered into, with a resolution to break them. In 1651 he was made prisoner at the battle of Worcester and committed to close custody in London, where he continued, 'till his confinement introduced a very dangerous sickness; he then had liberty granted him, upon giving bail, to go for the recovery of his health, into any place he should chuse, provided he stirred not five miles from thence, without leave from the Parliament.
In February, 1659, he repaired to the King at Breda, who knighted him the April following. Upon his Majesty's reiteration, it was expected, from his great services, and the regard the King had for him, that he would have been made secretary of state, but at that period there were so many people's merits to repay, and so great a clamour for preferment, that Sir Richard was disappointed, but had the place of master of requests conferred on him, a station, in those times, of considerable profit and dignity.
On account of his being a good Latin scholar, he was also made a secretary for that tongue. In 1661, being one of the burgesses for the university of Cambridge, he was sworn a privy counsellor for Ireland, and having by his residence in foreign parts, qualified himself for public employment, he was sent envoy extraordinary to Portugal, with a dormant commission to the ambassador, which he was to make use of as occasion should require. Shortly after, he was appointed ambassador to that court, where he negotiated the marriage between his master King Charles II. and the Infanta Donna Catharina, daughter to King John VI. and towards the end of the same year he returned to England. We are assured by Wood, that in the year 1662, he was sent again ambassador to that court, and when he had finished his commission, to the mutual satisfaction of Charles II. and Alphonso King of Portugal, being recalled in 1663, he was sworn one of his Majesty's Privy Council. In the beginning of the year 1644 he was sent ambassador to Philip IV. King of Spain, and arrived February 29 at Cadiz, where he met with a very extraordinary and unexpected salutation, and was received with some circumstances of particular esteem. It appears from one of Sir Richard's letters, that this distinguishing respect was paid him, not only on his own, but on his master's account; and in another of his letters he discovers the secret why the Spaniard yielded him, contrary to his imperious proud nature, so much honour, and that is, that he expected Tangier and Jamaica to be restored to him by England, which occasioned his arrival to be so impatiently longed for, and magnificently celebrated. During his residence at this court King Philip died, September 17, 1665, leaving his son Charles an infant, and his dominions under the regency of his queen, Mary Anne, daughter of the emperor Ferdinand III. Sir Richard taking the advantage of his minority, put the finishing hand to a peace with Spain, which was sufficiently tired and weakened with a 25 years war, for the recovery of Portugal, which had been dismembered from the Spanish crown in 1640; the treaty of peace was signed at Madrid December 6, 1665. About the 14th of January following, his excellency took a journey into Portugal, where he staid till towards the end of March; the design of his journey certainly was to effect an accommodation between that crown and Spain, which however was not produced till 1667, by the interposition of his Britannic Majesty. Our author having finished his commission was preparing for his return to England, when June 4, 1666, he was seized at Madrid with a violent fever, which put an end to his valuable life, the 16th of the same month, the very day he intended to set out for England: his body being embalmed, it was conveyed by his lady, and all his children, then living, by land to Calais, and so to London, whence being carried to All Saints church in Hertford, it was deposited in the vault of his father-in-law, Sir John Harrison. The Author of the Short Account of his Life, prefixed to his letters, says, 'that he was remarkable for his meekness, sincerity, humanity and piety, and also was an able statesman and a great scholar, being in particular a compleat master of several modern languages, especially the Spanish, which he spoke and wrote with as much advantage, as if he had been a native.' By his lady, eldest daughter of Sir John Harrison, he had six sons, and eight daughters, whereof only one son and four daughters survived him.
The following is an account of his works,
1. An English Translation in Rhyme, of the celebrated Italian Pastoral, called Il Pastor Fido, or the Faithful Shepherd, written originally by Battista Guarini, printed in London, 1644 in 4to. and 1664 8vo.
2. A Translation from English into Latin Verse, of the Faithful Shepherders, a Pastoral, written originally by John Fletcher, Gent. London, 1658.
3. In the octavo edition of the Faithful Shepherd, Anno 1664, are inserted the following Poems of our author, viz. 1st, An Ode upon the Occasion of his Majesty's Proclamation, 1630, commanding the Gentry to reside upon their Estates in the Country. 2d, A Summary Discourse of the Civil Wars of Rome, extracted from the best Latin Writers in Prose and Verse. 3d, An English Translation of the Fourth Book of Virgil's AEneid on the Loves of Dido and AEneas. 4th, Two Odes out of Horace, relating to the Civil Wars of Rome, against covetous, rich Men.
4. He translated out of Portuguese into English, The Lusiad, or Portugal's Historical Poem, written originally by Luis de Camoens, London, 1655, &c. folio.
After his decease, namely, in 1671, were published these two posthumous pieces of his in 4to, Querer per solo Querer, To Love only for Love's sake, a Dramatic Romance, represented before the King and Queen of Spain, and Fiestas de Aranjuez, Festivals at Aranjuez: both written originally in Spanish, by Antonio de Mendoza, upon occasion of celebrating the Birth-day of King Philip IV. in 1623, at Aranjuez; they were translated by our author in 1654, during his confinement at Taukerley-park in Yorkshire, which uneasy situation induced him to write the following stanzas on this work, which are here inserted, as a specimen of his versification.
Time was, when I, a pilgrim of the seas, When I 'midst noise of camps, and courts disease, Purloin'd some hours to charm rude cares with verse, Which flame of faithful shepherd did rehearse.
But now restrain'd from sea, from camp, from court, And by a tempest blown into a port; I raise my thoughts to muse on higher things, And eccho arms, and loves of Queens and Kings.
Which Queens (despising crowns and Hymen's band) Would neither men obey, nor men command: Great pleasure from rough seas to see the shore Or from firm land to hear the billows roar.
We are told that he composed several other things remaining still in manuscript, which he had not leisure to compleat; even some of the printed pieces have not all the finishing so ingenious an author could have bestowed upon them; for as the writer of his Life observes, 'being, for his loyalty and zeal to his Majesty's service, tossed from place to place, and from country to country, during the unsettled times of our anarchy, some of his Manuscripts falling into unskilful hands, were printed and published without his knowledge, and before he could give them the last finishing strokes.' But that was not the case with his Translation of the Pastor Fido, which was published by himself, and applauded by some of the best judges, particularly Sir John Denham, who after censuring servile translators, thus goes on,
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue To make translations and translators too. They but preserve the ashes, these the flame, True to his sense, but truer to his fame.
Footnotes: 1. Short Account of Sir Richard Fanshaw, prefixed to his Letters. 2. Wood, Fast. ed. 1721, vol. ii. col. 43, 41. 3. Wood, ubi supra.
* * * * *
Was the son of a Grocer, and born in London, in Fleet-street, near the end of Chancery Lane, in the year 1618. His mother, by the interest of her friends, procured him to be admitted a King's scholar in Westminster school; his early inclination to poetry was occasioned by reading accidentally Spencer's Fairy Queen, which, as he himself gives an account, 'used to lye in his mother's parlour, he knew not by what accident, for she read no books but those of devotion; the knights, giants, and monsters filled his imagination; he read the whole over before he was 12 years old, and was made a poet, as immediately as a child is made an eunuch.'
In the 16th year of his age, being still at Westminster school, he published a collection of poems, under the title of Poetical Blossoms, in which there are many things that bespeak a ripened genius, and a wit, rather manly than puerile. Mr. Cowley himself has given us a specimen in the latter end of an ode written when he was but 13 years of age. 'The beginning of it, says he, is boyish, but of this part which I here set down, if a very little were corrected, I should not be much ashamed of it.' It is indeed so much superior to what might be expected from one of his years, that we shall satisfy the reader's curiosity by inserting it here.
This only grant me, that my means may lye, Too low for envy, for contempt too high: Some honour I would have; Not from great deeds, but good alone, The unknown are better than ill known, Rumour can ope the grave: Acquaintance I would have, but when 't depends Not on the number, but the choice of friends.
Books should, not business, entertain the light And sleep, as undisturbed as death, the night: My house a cottage, more Than palace, and should fitting be For all my use, no luxury: My garden painted o'er With nature's hand, not art, and pleasures yield, Horace might envy in his Sabine Field.
Thus would I double my life's fading space, For he that runs it well, twice runs his race; And in this true delight, These unbought sports, that happy state, I could not fear; nor wish my fate; But boldly say, each night, To-morrow let my sun his beams display, Or in clouds hide them: I have lived to-day.
It is remarkable of Mr. Cowley, as he himself tells us, that he had this defect in his memory, that his teachers could never bring him to retain the ordinary rules of grammar, the want of which, however, he abundantly supplied by an intimate acquaintance with the books themselves, from whence those rules had been drawn. In 1636 he was removed to Trinity College in Cambridge, being elected a scholar of that house. His exercises of all kinds were highly applauded, with this peculiar praise, that they were fit, not only for the obscurity of an academical life, but to have made their appearance on the true theatre of the world; and there he laid the designs, and formed the plans of most of the masculine, and excellent attempts he afterwards happily finished. In 1638 he published his Love's Riddle, written at the time of his being a scholar in Westminster school, and dedicated by a copy of verses to Sir Kenelm Digby. He also wrote a Latin Comedy entitled Naufragium Joculare, or the Merry Shipwreck. The first occasion of his entering into business, was, an elegy he wrote on the death of Mr. William Harvey, which introduced him to the acquaintance of Mr. John Harvey, the brother of his deceased friend, from whom he received many offices of kindness through the whole course of his life. In 1643, being then master of arts, he was, among many others, ejected his college, and the university; whereupon, retiring to Oxford, he settled in St. John's College, and that same year, under the name of a scholar of Oxford, published a satire entitled the Puritan and the Papist. His zeal in the Royal cause, engaged him in the service of the King, and he was present in many of his Majesty's journies and expeditions; by this means he gained an acquaintance and familiarity with the personages of the court and of the gown, and particularly had the entire friendship of my lord Falkland, one of the principal secretaries of state.
During the heat of the civil war, he was settled in the family of the earl of St. Alban's, and accompanied the Queen Mother, when she was obliged to retire into France. He was absent from his native country, says Wood, about ten years, during which time, he laboured in the affairs of the Royal Family, and bore part of the distresses inflicted upon the illustrious Exiles: for this purpose he took several dangerous journies into Jersey, Scotland, Flanders, Holland, and elsewhere, and was the principal instrument in maintaining a correspondence between the King and his Royal Consort, whose letters he cyphered and decyphered with his own hand.
His poem called the Mistress was published at London 1647, of which he himself says, "That it was composed when he was very young. Poets (says he) are scarce thought free men of their company, without paying some duties and obliging themselves to be true to love. Sooner or later they must all pass through that trial, like some Mahometan monks, who are bound by their order once at least in their life, to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. But we must not always make a judgment of their manners from their writings of this kind, as the Romanists uncharitably do of Beza for a few lascivious sonnets composed by him in his youth. It is not in this sense that poetry is said to be a kind of painting: It is not the picture of the poet, but of things, and persons imagined by him. He may be in his practice and disposition a philosopher, and yet sometimes speak with the softness of an amorous Sappho. I would not be misunderstood, as if I affected so much gravity as to be ashamed to be thought really in love. On the contrary, I cannot have a good opinion of any man who is not at least capable of being so."
What opinion Dr. Sprat had of Mr. Cowley's Mistress, appears by the following passage extracted from his Life of Cowley. "If there needed any excuse to be made that his love-verses took up so great a share in his works, it may be alledged that they were composed when he was very young; but it is a vain thing to make any kind of apology for that sort of writing. If devout or virtuous men will superciliously forbid the minds of the young to adorn those subjects about which they are most conversant, they would put them out of all capacity of performing graver matters, when they come to them: for the exercise of all men's wit must be always proper for their age, and never too much above it, and by practice and use in lighter arguments, they grow up at last to excell in the most weighty. I am not therefore ashamed to commend Mr. Cowley's Mistress. I only except one or two expressions, which I wish I could have prevailed with those that had the right of the other edition to have left out; but of all the rest, I dare boldly pronounce, that never yet was written so much on a subject so delicate, that can less offend the severest rules of morality. The whole passion of love is intimately described by all its mighty train of hopes, joys and disquiets. Besides this amorous tenderness, I know not how in every copy there is something of more useful knowledge gracefully insinuated; and every where there is something feigned to inform the minds of wise men, as well as to move the hearts of young men or women."
Our author's comedy, named the Guardian, he afterwards altered, and published under the title of the Cutter of Coleman-Street. Langbaine says, notwithstanding Mr. Cowley's modest opinion of this play, it was acted not only at Cambridge, but several times afterwards privately, during the prohibition of the stage, and after the King's return publickly at Dublin; and always with applause. It was this probably that put the author upon revising it; after which he permitted it to appear publickly on the stage under a new title, at his royal highness the Duke of York's theatre. It met with opposition at first from some who envied the author's unshaken loyalty; but afterwards it was acted with general applause, and was esteemed by the critics an excellent comedy.
In the year 1656 it was judged proper by those on whom Mr. Cowley depended, that he should come over into England, and under pretence of privacy and retirement, give notice of the situation of affairs in this nation. Upon his return he published a new edition of all his poems, consisting of four parts, viz.
2. The Mistress; or several copies of love-verses.
3. Pindarique Odes, written in imitation of the stile and manner of Pindar.
4. Davedeis, a sacred poem of the troubles of David in four books.
"Which, says Dr. Sprat, was written in so young an age, that if we shall reflect on the vastness of the argument, and his manner of handling it, he may seem like one of the miracles that he there adorns; like a boy attempting Goliah. This perhaps, may be the reason, that in some places, there may be more youthfulness and redundance of fancy, than his riper judgement would have allowed. But for the main of it I will affirm, that it is a better instance and beginning of a divine poem, than ever I yet saw in any language. The contrivance is perfectly ancient, which is certainly the true form of an heroic poem, and such as was never yet done by any new devices of modern wits. The subject was truly divine, even according to God's own heart. The matters of his invention, all the treasures of knowledge and histories of the bible. The model of it comprehended all the learning of the East. The characters lofty and various; the numbers firm and powerful; the digressions beautiful and proportionable. The design, to submit mortal wit to heavenly truths. In all, there is an admirable mixture of human virtues and passions with religious raptures. The truth is, continues Dr. Sprat, methinks in other matters his wit exceeded all other men's, but in his moral and divine works it out-did itself; and no doubt it proceeded from this cause, that in the lighter kinds of poetry he chiefly represented the humours and affections of others; but in these he sat to himself, and drew the figure of his own mind. We have the first book of the Davideis translated out of English into very elegant Latin by Mr. Cowley himself." Dr. Sprat says of his Latin poetry, "that he has expressed to admiration all the numbers of verse and figures of poetry, that are scattered up and down amongst the ancients; and that there is hardly to be found in them any good fashion of speech, or colour of measure; but he has comprehended it, and given instances of it, according as his several arguments required either a majestic spirit, or passionate, or pleasant. This he observes, is the more extraordinary, in that it was never yet performed by any single poet of the ancient Romans themselves."
The same author has told us, that the occasion of Mr. Cowley's falling on the pindarique way of writing, was his accidentally meeting with Pindar's works in a place where he had no other books to direct him. Having thus considered at leisure the heighth of his invention, and the majesty of his stile, he tried immediately to imitate it in English, and he performed it, says the Dr. without the danger that Horace presaged to the man that should attempt it. Two of our greatest poets, after allowing Mr. Cowley to have been a successful imitator of Pindar, yet find fault with his numbers. Mr. Dryden having told us, that our author brought Pindaric verse as near perfection as possible in so short a time, adds, "But if I may be allowed to speak my mind modestly, and without injury to his sacred ashes, somewhat of the purity of English, somewhat of more sweetness in the numbers, in a word, somewhat of a finer turn and more lyrical verse is yet wanting;" and Mr. Congreve having excepted against the irregularity of the measure of the English Pindaric odes, yet observes, "that the beauty of Mr. Cowley's verses are an attonement for the irregularity of his stanzas; and tho' he did nor imitate Pindar in the strictness of his numbers, he has very often happily copied him in the force of his figures, and sublimity of his stile and sentiments."
Soon after his return to England, he was seized upon thro' mistake; the search being intended after another gentleman of considerable note in the King's party. The Republicans, who were sensible how much they needed the assistance and coalition of good men, endeavoured sometimes by promises, and sometimes by threatning, to bring our author over to their interest; but all their attempts proving fruitless, he was committed to a severe confinement, and with some difficulty at last obtained his liberty, after giving a thousand pounds bail, which Dr. Scarborough in a friendly manner took upon himself. Under these bonds he continued till Cromwell's death, when he ventured back into France, and there remained, as Dr. Sprat says, in the same situation as before, till near the time of the King's return. This account is a sufficient vindication of Mr. Cowley's unshaken loyalty, which some called in question; and as this is a material circumstance in the life of Cowley, we shall give an account of it in the words of the elegant writer of his life just now mentioned, as it is impossible to set it in a fairer, or more striking light than is already done by that excellent prelate. "The cause of his loyalty being called in question, he tells us, was a few lines in a preface to one of his books; the objection, says he, I must not pass in silence, because it was the only part of his life that was liable to misinterpretation, even by the confession of those that envied his fame.
"In this case it were enough to alledge for him to men of moderate minds, that what he there said was published before a book of poetry; and so ought rather to be esteemed as a problem of his fancy and invention, than as a real image of his judgement; but his defence in this matter may be laid on a surer foundation. This is the true reason to be given of his delivering that opinion: Upon his coming over he found the state of the royal party very desperate. He perceived the strength of their enemies so united, that till it should begin to break within itself, all endeavours against it were like to prove unsuccessful. On the other side he beheld their zeal for his Majesty's cause to be still so active, that often hurried them into inevitable ruin. He saw this with much grief; and tho' he approved their constancy as much as any man living, yet he found their unreasonable shewing it, did only disable themselves, and give their adversaries great advantages of riches and strength by their defeats. He therefore believed it would be a meritorious service to the King, if any man who was known to have followed his interest, could insinuate into the Usurper's minds, that men of his principles, were now willing to be quiet, and could persuade the poor oppressed Royalists to conceal their affections for better occasions. And as for his own particular, he was a close prisoner when he writ that against which the exception is made; so that he saw it was impos[s]ible for him to pursue the ends for which he came hither, if he did not make some kind of declaration of his peaceable intentions. This was then his opinon; and the success of the thing seems to prove that it was not ill-grounded. For certainly it was one of the greatest helps to the King's affairs about the latter end of that tyranny, that many of his best friends dissembled their counsels, and acted the same designs under the disguises and names of other parties. The prelate concludes this account with observing, that, that life must needs be very unblameable, which had been tried in business of the highest consequence, and practised in the hazardous secrets of courts and cabinets, and yet there can nothing disgraceful be produced against it, but only the error of one paragraph, and single metaphor."
About the year 1662, his two Books of Plants were published, to which he added afterwards four more, and all these together, with his Latin poems, were printed in London, 1678; his Books on Plants was written during his residence in England, in the time of the usurpation, the better to distinguish his real intention, by the study of physic, to which he applied.
It appears by Wood's Fasti Oxon. that our poet was created Dr. of Physic at Oxford, December 2, 1657, by virtue of a mandamus from the then government. After the King's restoration, Mr. Cowley, being then past the 4Oth year of his age, the greatest part of which had been spent in a various and tempestuous condition, resolved to pass the remainder of his life in a studious retirement: In a letter to one of his friends, he talks of making a voyage to America, not from a view of accumulating wealth, but there to chuse a habitation, and shut himself up from the busy world for ever. This scheme was wildly romantic, and discovered some degree of vanity, in the author; for Mr. Cowley needed but retire a few miles out of town, and cease from appearing abroad, and he might have been sufficiently secured against the intrusion of company, nor was he of so much consequence as to be forced from his retirement; but this visionary scheme could not be carried into execution, by means of Mr. Cowley's want of money, for he had never been much on the road of gain. Upon the settlement of the peace of the nation, he obtained a competent estate, by the favour of his principal patrons, the duke of Buckingham, and the earl of St. Albans. Thus furnished for a retreat, he spent the last seven or eight years of his life in his beloved obscurity, and possessed (says Sprat) that solitude, which from his very childhood he so passionately desired. This great poet, and worthy man, died at a house called the Porch-house, towards the West end of the town of Chertsey in Surry, July 28, 1667, in the 49th year of his age. His solitude, from the very beginning, had never agreed so well with the constitution of his body, as his mind: out of haste, to abandon the tumult of the city, he had not prepared a healthful situation in the country, as he might have done, had he been more deliberate in his choice; of this, he soon began to find the inconvenience at Barn-elms, where he was afflicted with a dangerous and lingring fever. Shortly after his removal to Chertsey, he fell into another consuming disease: having languished under this for some months, he seemed to be pretty well cured of its ill symptoms, but in the heat of the summer, by staying too long amongst his labourers in the meadows, he was taken with a violent defluxion, and stoppage in his breast and throat; this he neglected, as an ordinary cold, and refused to send for his usual physicians, 'till it was past all remedy, and so in the end, after a fortnight's sickness, it proved mortal to him.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey, the 3d of August following, near the ashes of Chaucer and Spenser. King Charles II. was pleased to bestow upon him the best character, when, upon the news of his death, his Majesty declared, that Mr. Cowley had not left a better man behind him in England. A monument was erected to his memory in May 1675, by George, duke of Buckingham, with a Latin inscription, written by Dr. Sprat, afterwards lord bishop of Rochester.
Besides Mr. Cowley's works already mentioned, we have, by the fame hand, A Proposition for the advancement of Experimental Philosophy. A Discourse, by way of Vision, concerning the Government of Oliver Cromwel, and several Discourses, by way of Essays, in Prose and Verse. Mr. Cowley had designed a Discourse on Stile, and a Review of the Principles of the Primitive Christian Church, but was prevented by death. In Mr. Dryden's Miscellany Poems, we find a poem on the Civil War, said to be written by our author, but not extant in any edition of his works: Dr. Sprat mentions, as very excellent in their kind, Mr. Cowley's Letters to his private friends, none of which were published. As a poet, Mr. Cowley has had tribute paid him from the greatest names in all knowledge, Dryden, Addison, Sir John Denham, and Pope. He is blamed for a redundance of wit, and roughness of verification, but is allowed to have possessed a fine understanding, great reading, and a variety of genius. Let us see how Mr. Addison characterizes him in his Account of the great English Poets.
Great Cowley then (a mighty genius) wrote, O'errun with wit, and lavish of his thought; His turns too closely on the readers press, He more had pleased us, had he pleased us less: One glittering thought no sooner strikes our eyes, With silent wonder, but new wonders rise. As in the milky way, a shining white O'erflows the heavens with one continued light; That not a single star can shew his rays, Whilst jointly all promote the common blaze. Pardon, great poet, that I dare to name, Th' uncumber'd beauties of thy verse with blame; Thy fault is only wit in its' excess, But wit like thine, in any shape will please.
In his public capacity, he preserved an inviolable honour and loyalty, and exerted great activity, with discernment: in private life, he was easy of access, gentle, polite, and modest; none but his intimate friends ever discovered, by his discourse, that he was a great poet; he was generous in his disposition, temperate in his life, devout and pious in his religion, a warm friend, and a social companion. Such is the character of the great Mr. Cowley, who deserves the highest gratitude from posterity, as well for his public as private conduct. He never prostituted his muse to the purposes of lewdness and folly, and it is with pleasure we can except him from the general, and too just, charge brought against the poets, That they have abilities to do the greatest service, and by misdirecting them, too frequently fawn the harlot face of loose indulgence, and by dressing up pleasure in an elegant attire, procure votaries to her altar, who pay too dear for gazing at the shewy phantom by loss of their virtue. It is no compliment to the taste of the present age, that the works of Mr. Cowley are falling into disesteem; they certainly contain more wit, and good sense, than the works of many other poets, whom it is now fashionable to read; that kind of poetry, which is known by the name of Light, he succeeds beyond any of his cotemporaries, or successors; no love verses, in our language, have so much true wit, and expressive tenderness, as Cowley's Mistress, which is indeed perfect in its kind. What Mr. Addison observes, is certainly true, 'He more had pleased us, had he pleased us less.' He had a soul too full, an imagination too fertile to be restrained, and because he has more wit than any other poet, an ordinary reader is somehow disposed to think he had less. In the particular of wit, none but Shakespear ever exceeded Cowley, and he was certainly as cultivated a scholar, as a great natural genius. In that kind of poetry which is grave, and demands extensive thinking, no poet has a right to be compared with Cowley: Pope and Dryden, who are as remarkable for a force of thinking, as elegance of poetry, are yet inferior to him; there are more ideas in one of Cowley's pindaric odes, than in any piece of equal length by those two great genius's (St. Caecilia's ode excepted) and his pindaric odes being now neglected, can proceed from no other cause, than that they demand too much attention for a common reader, and contain sentiments so sublimely noble, as not to be comprehended by a vulgar mind; but to those who think, and are accustomed to contemplation, they appear great and ravishing. In order to illustrate this, we shall quote specimens in both kinds of poetry; the first taken from his Mistress called Beauty, the other is a Hymn to Light, both of which, are so excellent in their kind, that whoever reads them without rapture, may be well assured, that he has no poetry in his soul, and is insensible to the flow of numbers, and the charms of sense.