Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the union of the two crowns and that of the countries should have proved highly unpropitious to Scotish literature. Scotland, becoming an appendage to the sister kingdom, was subjected, as Ireland has since been, to the worst of all governments, being abandoned to the conflict of rival families, who were alternately supported by the English administration ; so that it exhibited a species of anarchy under the auspices of a legitimate sovereign.

James I. was himself a poet, and specimens of his talent, such as it was, are to be found in many of our miscellanies. He also wrote some rules and cautels, for the use of professors of the art, which have been long, and perhaps deservedly, disregarded.

The most favourable sample of his Majesty's poetic skill has been lately obtained from the College library, Edinburgh, and will be found in the following page. It is prefixed to Fowler's translation of the Triumphs of Petrarch, a MS. before described.

[6]

JAMES I.

SONNET.

We find by proof that into every age

In Phæbus' art some glistering star did shine, Who, worthy scholars to the Muses sage,

Fulfill’d their countries with their works divine.

So Homer was a sounding trumpet fine Amongst the Greeks, into his learned days;

So Virgil was among the Romans syne
A sprite sublim’d, a pillar of their praise !
So lofty Petrarch his renown did blaze

In tongue Italic, in a sugar’d style,
And 10 the circled skies his name did raise ;

For he, by poems that he did compile,
Led in triùmph Love, Chastness, Death, and

Fame: But thou triumphs o'er Petrarch's proper name!

Signed “ J. Rex."

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

Otherwise known by the name of Democritus junior, was

born in 1576, of an antient and genteel family, at Lindley,
in Leicestershire. In 1593 he was entered a commoner at
Brazen-nose College, in 1599 elected student of Christ-
Church, and in 1616 made vicar of St. Thomas's, Oxford,
which preferment, with the rectory of Segrave, in Leices.
tershire, “ he kept,” says Wood, “ with much ado to his
“ dying day.” The same writer adds, “ He was an exact
“ mathematician, a curious calculator of nativities, a gene-
“ ral-read scholar, a thro'-paced philologist, and one that
understood the surveying of lands well ;" and though“a
“ melancholy and humorous person,” yet“ of great ho-
“nesty, plain-dealing, and charity.” Wood had also“heard
“some of the antients of Christ Church often say, that his
“ company was very merry, facete, and juvenile." His
“ Anatomy of Melancholy," a very singular work, in
which Dr. Ferriar has detected the source of many of
Sterne's most admired passages, was first published in 4to.
1621, and, after subsequently passing through seven editions
in folio, has been lately republished. Wood says the
bookseller got an estate by it; and that “'tis a book so full
“ of variety of reading, that gentlemen who have lost their
“ time, and are put to a push for invention, may furnish
“ themselves with matter for common or scholastical dis-
“ course and writing." From what he farther observes it
should seem that Sterne was not without precedent in his
depredations upon Burton. “ Several authors have unmer-
“ cifully stolen matter from the said book without any ac-
“ knowledgment, particularly one Will. Greenwood,” &c.

“ who, as others of the like humour do, sometimes takes “ his quotations without the least mention of Democritus “ junior.” Dr. Johnson thought highly of “the Anatomy “ of Melancholy;" see Boswell's Life; and Mr.Warton in his notes to Milton's minor poems, p. 94, 2d ed. supposes that great poet“ to have borrowed the subject of L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, together with some particular “thoughts, expressions, and rhymes;" from the subsequent specimen. “ As to the very elaborate work,” says Mr. Warton,“to which these visionary verses are no unsuitable “ introduction, the writer's variety of learning, his quota« tions from scarce and curious books, his pedantry “ sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance, miscel“ laneous matter, intermixture of agreeable tales and illu“strations, and perhaps, above all, the singularities of his “ feelings, cloathed in an uncommon quaintness of style, “ have contributed to render it, even to modern readers, a

“ valuable repository of amusement and information.” Burton was fond of poetry, and left behind him a very

curious poetical and miscellaneous library, out of which he bequeathed to the Bodleian all the books not already contained in it. He died in 1639 (very near the time of his own calculation), and was buried in Christ-Church Cathedral, where his bust may be seen, as well as a short Latin inscription, his own composition, on a monument erected by the care of his brother William, the antiquary and historian of Leicestershire.

[ocr errors][merged small]

[Prefixed to “ The Anatomy of Melancholy.")

When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things foreknown,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow, and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.

All my joys to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie waking, all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprize ;
Whether I tarry.still, or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.

All my griefs to this are jolly, - Nought so sad as melancholy.

[ocr errors]

When to myself I act, and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook-side, or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought-for, or unseen,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »