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has been lent them, and pleased to dedi. sacred and devotional tone, and of cate it to the expression of those ear- which we may hereafter attempt a nest thoughts in which they find their separate examination. But in drawsweetest employment. Sometimes ing these distinctions, we feel that it is they have afforded an occasional re- neither easy nor necessary to observe fuge to men, who flying from the the line of division with scrupulous weariness of business and publicity accuracy. prove the purity of their heart and In the task which we now undertaste, by the retired worship of those take we beg leave to disclaim in ourideal graces for which in practical life selves, though by no means to deprethey have longed in vain. Sometimes ciate in others, any pretensions to they speak the language of those who, black-letter precision or minute literary baving wandered from the path of information. We propose to stand in duty, have forgotten the practice though a middle and connecting position benot the love of virtue, but who now, tween the antiquary and the popular in the intervals of passion, or in the reader, divested if possible of the nareturning of the prodigal to his fa- tural prepossessions and prejudices of ther's house, lift up a humble and both, and endeavouring to promote mournful hymn to proclaim from sad what is surely an important object, a experience the blessings of that rec. friendly but discriminating acquainttitude from which they have too easily ance with the less familiar literature of departed.
our country. The topics on which those
compo We give, as our earliest example of sitions chiefly touch are confined with this kind of composition, two stanzas in a limited and uniform sphere. Life of “a ditty upon the uncertainty of and its vanities, death and its certainty; this life,” preserved in a manuscript affliction and its uses, prosperity and of the British Museum, and published its dangers ; the emptiness of outward in Ritson's Ancient Songs. It appears advantages, the felicity of a calm and to have been written about the middle, contemplative spirit; the cares of the or rather the end of the thirteenth court and city, the pleasures of soli- century, and is worth something as a tude and the country. There is much curiosity, if not as a poem. sameness in these subjects, and when feebly handled they are senseless and Now these leavis waxeth bare :
“ Winter wakeneth all my care, insipid. But when they flow sincerely Oft I sigh and mourne sare, from a sensitive heart, they affect us When it cometh in my thought, readily as their authors would have of this world's joy, how it goeth all to wished, and they tend to preserve in nought. literature a sound and solemn spirit. When tainted by affectation, or de
“ Now it is, and now it n'is, faced by the tamé diction and obscure All so it ne'er n' were, I wis : imagery of a more modern mediocrity, All goeth, but Godis will:
That many man saith, sooth it is, they entirely cease to please.
All we shall die, tho' us like ill."* We exclude from this examination poems of more considerable dimen
Passing over a century, we notice sions, and those belonging to a more two little pieces which have been formal class, such as that of the regular ascribed, though perhaps groundlesssonnel, otherwise so near akin to the ly, to the father of English poetry; to moral compositions we have in view. whose great work we owe a debt both We shall likewise abstain from refer- of delight and instruction too large in ring to those lyrics of a mixed charac- amount to be sensibly affected by the ter in which moral reflectfons are en- addition or deduction of such trifles. grafted on the theme of love, or re- Of the “Good Counsel of Chaucer,"
ry, or some other predominating which contains some germs of beauty subject. We shall also pass over imperfectly expanded, the first and last those poems which are properly of a stanza may be inserted.
“ Fly from the press, † and dwell with soothfastness :
Suffice unto thy good, though it be small:
* Ritson's Ancient Songs, 65.
+ The crowd.
Praise hath envy, and weal is blent o'er all.
Savour* no more than thee behove shall.
" That thee is sent receive in buxomncss:
The wrestling of this world asketh a fall ;
Forth, pilgrim, forth, beast, out of thy stall;
Look up on high and thanke God for all.
And truth shall thee deliver, it is no dread." The other verses attributed to Chaucer contain a simple and wholesome list of advices for all conditions.
" Go forth, king, rule thee by sapience;
People, obey your king and the law;
And do your part as ye be ordained to." No comparison could be more illus- There then sprung up, as Puttenbana trative and more pleasing than that tells us, ti “a new company of courtly which has been drawn by Warton, makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyatt himself a poet as well as the historian the elder, and Henry, Earl of Surrey, of poets, between the premature and were the two chieftains.” With these solitary rise of Chaucer's genius and eminent names may be associated that the bright and brittle promises of a of Thomas Lord Vaux, who at the genial day in an English spring! The same period, and probably earlier than truth of the picturu cannot be apparent Surrey, though in a more simple and in the limited inquiry which we are vernacular style, contributed somenow pursuing : but even here we are thing to the refinement of taste and struck by the dreary barrenness that versification in England. The works
Our respect for royalty can- of this cluster of poets were first pubnot constrain us to admit as an excep- lished in 1557 in Tottel's Collection, tion the dull verses at ributed to Henry the earliest printed miscellany of VI., of which the following stanza is poetry in the language, where the much the most tolerable, and if genu- poems of Surrey and Wyatt are foline, is at least remarkable for being lowed by a number of others of “Un. perfectly modern in its language and certain authors,” among which are at cadence.
least two by Lord Vaux. Those “ Kingdoms are but cares, poems in this collection, of which the State is devoid of stay ;
parentage is unknown, seem to extend Riches are ready snares,
back somewhat indefinitely in date ; And hasten to decay.” for among them is included the “Good Powards the middle of the 16th Counsel of Chaucer," though under century there was a rapid and profit- this new title, “To lead a virtuous able advance in poetical composition. and honest life.”
* Indulge thy taste.
| Yieldingness. ** Respectful.
Wyat's strength seems to lie in his We borrow from him, however, the ethical or satirical epistles, which ex- following irregular sonnet : ceed the compass of our present plan.
THAT PLEASURE IS MIXED WITH EVERY PAIN,
" Venomous thorns, that are so sharp and keen,
Bear flowers, we see, full fresh and fair of hue;
And unto man his health doth oft renew.
May hurt and heal; then if that this be true,
Since every woe is joined with some wealth.” To Surrey our poetry owes much it. Love, though it may be doubted independently of his having first used if it had much share in Surrey's life, in England, in his translation of Virgil, is the prevailing theme of his original that noble form of versification in compositions. But we extract from which Shakspeare and Milton found them the beginning of a little moral free and fit scope for their genius, and poem which suits our purpose. It is which at once stimulates and tests the written in a pleasing and favourite metrue poet by the high standard of tre of that day. The title, as in the thought and language, which its other cases likewise, seems to be Mr. simple grandeur requires to sustain Tottel's.
HOW NO AGE IS CONTENT WITH HIS OWN ESTATE, AND HOW THE AGE OF CHILDREN
IS THE HAPPIEST, IF THEY HAD SKILL TO UNDERSTAND IT.
· Laid in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
That man from wealth to live in woe doth ever seek to change.”
. The following verses conaimed often at a right mark, though tain a not unexpressive picture of the not a high one, and he sometimes hit it. encroaching torpor of old age. His songs are not unfrequently fortunate in their ideas, neat and natural in their
• My lusts they do me leave, expression, and smooth in their num.
My fancies all be fled. bers. He seems to have excited the And tract of time begins to weave simple wonder of his time by the art of Grey hairs upon my head. counterfeiting imaginary situations and feelings. His best and most popular piece is entitled by Tottel, “ The Aged Lover renounceth Love," a name too
“My muse doth not delight
Me as she did before ; limited for its subject, which embraces
My hand and pen are not in plight the more general contemplation of de As they have been of yore. clining years and approaching death. Its dismal imagery supplied Shakspeare “For reason me denies with some appropriate fragments of This youthly idle rhyme; melancholy mirth for his sexton in And day by day to me she cries, Hamlet, while engaged in labouring Leave off these toys in time.
" The wrinkles in my brow,
6. Thus must I youth give up, The furrows in my face,
Whose badge I long did wear; Say limping age will ludge him now To them I yield the wanton cup
Where youth must give him place.” That beiier may it bear.
In what immediately follows, a more “ And ye that bide behind, striking figure is somewhat roughly de Have ye none other trust; lineated. We add also such of the As ye of clay were cast by kind, concluding verses as best deserve quo So shall ye waste to dust." tation.
Without further comment we insert “The harbinger of death
some other extracts from Lord Vaux's To me I see him ride :
moral compositions, taken from the The cough, the cold, the gasping Paradise of Dainty Devices, a Miscel. breath
lany of which we shall afterwards more Doih bid me to provide
particularly speak. : A pick-axe and a spade, Ese and a winding sheet,
WHITE HEAD, HE ANSWERETH THUS. A house of clay, for to be made For such a guest most meet.
" These bairs of age are messengers, “ Methinks I hear the clerk
Which bid me fast repent, and pray. Thal knolls the careful knell,
They be of death the harbingers And bids me leave my woful work
That do pr pare and dress the way.
Wherefore I joy that you may see
BEING ASKED THE OCCASION OF HIS
OF THE MEAN ESTATE,
“ The higher that the cedar tree under the heavens does grow,
OF A CONTENTED MIND.
“When all is done and said, in the end thus shall you find,
“ The body subject is to fickle Fortune's power,
Companion none is like unto the mind alone,
" Our wealth leaves us at death, our knsmen at the grave,
BETUINKING HIMSELP OF HIS END, WRITETH THUB.
"When I behold my bier, my last and posting horse,
my vile and earrion corse,
Then say I, silly wretch, why doest thou put thy trust
Thy house shall be of clay, a clod under thy head ;
'Rise up out of your grave, for now the Judge is come.'” If Lord Vaux’s life was a gay one, excite interest even where it is diffiit must be owned that his lines have, cult to bestow much praise. with wonderful success, shown "the counterfeit action” of the lugubrious, though we should hardly say with THEY OP THE MEAN ESTATE ARF HAPPIEST. Puttenham, that he has done it “ very lively and pleasantly.” If his conversation was like his poetry, he must The quiet life doth most abound,
"Among good things I prove and find bave played at Court the part of the And sure to* the contented mind Counsel's Companion in the Roman There is no riches to be found. triumph, and both Henry and his courtiers might have better profited by such lessons.
" I heard a herdsman once compare We return to Tottel's Collection, from That quiet nights he had mo slept, which we shall take a few further spe- Than he which ougbit the beasts be
And had mo merry days to spare cimens, believing that the importance kept. of this period, in giving a direction to the sentiments and a shape to the language of poetry among us, may
COMPARISON OF LIFE AND DEATH.
"The pleasanı years that seems so swift to run,
" If man would mind what burdens life doth bring/