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sins of the celebrated dramatist whose name is ever Inked with that of Beaumont, were also poets flourishing about this period. They were both clergymen. Giles is the author of a religious poem, "Christ's Victory in Heaven, and Christ's Triumph on Earth, over Death, and after Death,” written somewhat after the Spenserian model. Phineas's name has come down to us, coupled with some eclogues and poetical pieces, and a tedious allegorical poem entitled the “Purple Island,” which is nothing more nor less than a poetical description of the human body. It is only fair to state however, that this latter production contains some very beautiful passages. The works of the two Fletchers are stated to have formed part of the studies of Milton.
There are few more delightful works in the language than William Browne's “Britannia's Pastorals.” Mainly filled with descriptive and imaginative scenes, and but little devoted to the expression of human passion or feeling, there is, however, an inexpressible charm about the book—due, no doubt, principally to the richness, freedom, and melodiousness of the verse—that cannot but seduce the reader. The two extracts here given will tend to give some conception of the poem as a whole. Browne was a native of Devon; and perhaps many of the scenes he has depicted had their originals in his native county. He was also the author of “The Inner Temple Masque,” and of “The Shepherd's Pipe, in Seven Eclogues." Here is Browne's description of a rural concert :
The lilly-handed morne
Bidding each bird chuse out his bough and sing.
He would, like birds, be farre more neere to heaven. The following will remind some readers as not unlike the morning picture in the "L'Allegro" of Milton :
By this had Chanticlere, the village-cocke,
I rose from rest, not infelicitie. I shall now notice one or two of the leading religious poets of the time, and then direct the student's attention to the great example in whom they culminated—John Milton. Many important names have been omitted in the foregoing brief notices, but the nature of the present work, as has been already stated, will not allow of a full enumeration of our best writers; nor, in fact, is such its aim. The object sought to be achieved is to point out to the self-improver a few of the greater stars in a firmament that is thickly studded, and leave him to acquire a more intimate knowledge of them by assiduous observation and study.
Quarles, Herrick, and Herbert are the three poets whom I shall place before the student. That there were many others need hardly be said. But the three just mentioned will amply meet our present requirements. Francis Quarles' “ Emblems,” Robert Herrick's "Hesperides,” and George Herbert's “Temple,” are three works noticeable for the quaintnesses with which they are filled as much as for their divine poetic expression. The “Emblems” was a very popular book in its day-indeed the same may be said of it now in our rural districts—and is written with much fire and vigour, although there is a ruggedness and coarseness about it that will not please most readers. Herrick's “Hesperides" is full of elegant and delicate fancies, but it is much' marred by licentious images and conceits characteristic of the period at which it was written. Many of the poems in it, too, are, as the title of the book—“Poems human and divine”-implies, much more human than divine, being of an amatory cast. Herbert, a brother of the celebrated Lord Herbert of Cherbury, on the con*trary, is free from some of the faults ascribed to the two preceding poets; the style of many of his pieces is flowing, lucid, and melodious. Herbert was very popular in the times of the first and second Charles.
ET us now pass on to the next great
poetic landmark, John Milton (1608-74). Of Milton, of his general sweetness, his eloquence, purity, and sublimity, it would
be impossible to speak too highly. No man, either after or before him, can, to any great extent, be considered his equal. Wordsworth, in giving poetic expression to the noble aspiration of Englishmen after freedom, says :
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
and in this exaltation of our two great national poets he recognizes the individuality and sovereignty of each in his particular sphere. Far higher than Shakespeare in purity and holiness, far his superior in learning and the necessary acquirements of a great poet, Milton has no rival either in our own language or in any
other, Perhaps Dante comes nearest to him. Like his own
Eve before her fall, Milton is all purity, sweetness, and love. His soul, full of grateful prayer, as an opening rose is of dew when the morning sun kisses it, turns towards God with the noblest and truest exhalations of reverence and love ; and, without the sins of David, Milton shows the humble gratitude of the sacred psalmist. Christian in his worship, and learned in his prayer, he yet offers the unwavering faith of the child, and the undoubting trust of the saint. Thus, before he begins his divine poem, he prays for support
What in me is dark,
Throughout all Milton's great work there is the same excelling purpose. He writes like a divine author, above all petty jealousies, all littlenesses, so full of humility, learning, and holiness, that even to be of his regiment, a private in the ranks where he was general, should exalt a man. His minor poems are of so true a cast that almost every line of them, of the “ Allegro" and “Penseroso,” is quoted as a household word. Never does he stoop to, or palter with, his public or with his own fame. His sonnets have the grand swell and diapason of a fine organ; his love of goodness and manly independence, and his true greatness of mind, are so visible through every thing he touches-even in his controversial pamphlets and angry “Defence of the English People," in prose--that, if we admitted inen of rank into the republic of letters, Milton would be