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[ABRAHAM COWLEY was born in London, in 1618, after his father's death. He was educated first at Cambridge, and afterwards, when he was ejected from that University on account of his loyalty, at Oxford. He showed great zeal in the royal cause, forwarded it by every means in his power, and was an exile for twelve years. When he returned to his native country, he was thrown into prison, but soon afterwards recovered his liberty. After Cromwell's death he again retired to France, until the Restoration. Neglected by the Court, on account of some of his poems, he went to reside at a farm which had been obtained for him from the Queen, by the Duke of Buckingham, and finally settled at Chertsey, on the banks of the Thames. There he devoted himself to a rural life, hoping for happiness but finding it not; the place was unwholesome, and his neighbours plundered him. He died in 1667, of a cold caught in his meadows, and was interred in Westminster Abbey.

Cowley was a poet from his earliest years, and published a volume at thirteen. He had wit, but it was spoiled by pedantry; he was gallant, but felt no permanent passion. His anacreontic pieces are the best which he wrote. Charles II. made a late and poor reparation for the neglect with which he had been treated, by declaring that “he left not a better man behind him in England ;” but he was one of those few fortunate poets who attained to independence, and, in their lifetime, acquired honour and fame.)

MARGARITA first possest,
If I remember well, my breast.

Margarita first of all;
But when a while the wanton maid
With my restless heart had play'd,

Martha took the flying ball.

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(Though loth and angry she to part With the possession of my heart)

To Eliza's conquering face.

Eliza till this hour might reign,
Had she not evil counsels ta'en ;

Fundamental laws she broke,
And still new favourites she chose,
Till up in arms my passions rose,

And cast away her yoke.

Mary then, and gentle Anne,
Both to reign at once began :

Alternately they sway'd ;
And sometimes Mary was the fair,
And sometimes Anne the crown did wear,

And sometimes both I obey'd.

Another Mary then arose,
And did rigorous laws impose ;

A mighty tyrant she !
Long, alas ! should I have been
Under that iron-sceptred queen,

Had not Rebecca set me free.

When fair Rebecca set me free,
'Twas then a golden time with me.

But soon those pleasures fled;
For the gracious princess died
In her youth and beauty's pride,

And Judith reign'd in her stead.


One month, three days, and half an hour, Judith held the sov'reign power.

Wondrous beautiful her face ; But so weak and small her wit, That she to govern was unfit,

And so Susanna took her place.

But when Isabella came,

Arm'd with a resistless flame

And th' artillery of her eye, Whilst she proudly marchd about, Greater conquests to find out,

She beat out Susan by the bye.

But in her place I then obey'd
Black-eyed Bess, her viceroy maid,

To whom ensued a vacancy.

Thousand worse passions then possest
The interregnum of my breast :

Bless me from such an anarchy !

Gentle Henrietta then,
And a third Mary next began,

Then Joan and Jane and Audria,
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Catherine,

And then a long et cetera.'

But should I now to you relate
The strength and riches of their state,

The powder, patches, and the pins,
The ribbons, jewels, and the rings,
The lace, the paint, and warlike things

That make up all their magazines :

If I should tell the politic arts
To take and keep men's hearts;

The letters, embassies, and spies, The frowns, and smiles, and flatteries, The quarrels, tears, and perjuries,

Numberless, nameless mysteries ;

And all the little lime-twigs laid
By Machiavel, the waiting-maid ;

I more voluminous should grow (Chiefly if I, like them, should tell All change of weathers that befell)

Than Holinshed or Stow.

But I will briefer with them be,
Since few of them were long with me.

A higher and a nobler strain
My present emperess does claim,
Heleonora, first o' the name,

Whom God grant long to reign !

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