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the readers of it some proof that the praise of the noble historian was given with truth and discrimination; and we may claim the humble reward that is bestowed on industry, when we mention that these Poems were never before collected; that Walpole mentions only one of them; and that the Elegy by Sir Francis Wortley, is not alluded to by him, or any other biographer whom we know. We shall first give
AN ECLOGUE ON THE DEATH OF BEN JOHNSON, BETWEEN MELYBEUS AND
Melybæus. Hylas, the clear day boasts a glorious sunne,
Our troope is ready, and our time is come;
That fox who hath so long our lambs destroy'd,
And daily in his prosperous rapine joy'd,
Is earthed not far from hence; old Ægon's sonne,
Rough Corilas, and lusty Coridon,
In part the sport, in part revenge desire,
And both thy tarrier and thy aid require.
Haste, for by this, but that for thee we staid,
The prey-devourer had our prey bin made.
Hylas. Oh! Melibæus, now I list not hunt,
Nor have that vigor as before I wont.
My presence will afford them no reliefe,
That beaste I strive to chase, is only griefe.
Mel. What meane thy folded armes, thy downecast eyes,
Teares which so fast descend, and sighs which rise?
What meane thy words which so distracted fall,
As all thy joyes had now one funerall?
Cause for such griefe can our retirements yield?
That followes courtes, but stoopes not to the field.
Hath thy stern step-dame to thy sire revealed
Some youthful act, which thou could'st wish concealed?
Part of thy herd hath some close thief conveyed
From open pastures to a darker shade?
Part of thy flock hath some fierce torrent drown'd?
Thy harvest failed? or Amaryllis frown'd?
Hyl. Nor love, nor anger, accident, nor thiefe,
Hath raised the waves of my unbounded griefe !
To cure this cause, I would provoke the ire
Of my fierce step-dame, or severer sire;
Give all my herds, fields, flocks, and all the grace
That ever shone in Amaryllis' face.
Alas! that bard, that glorious bard is dead,
Who, when I whilome cities visited,
Hath made them seeme but houres which were full dayes,
Whilst he vouchsafed me his harmonious layes,
And when he lived, I thought the country then
A torture, and no mansion, but a den.
Mel. Johnson you meane, unlesse I much doe erre,
I know the person by the character.
Hyl. You guesse aright, it is too truely so,
From no lesse spring could all these rivers flow.
Mel. Ah, Hylas! then thy griefe I cannot call
A passion, when the ground is rationall;
I now excuse thy teares and sighs, though those
To deluges, and these to tempests rose.
*From Jonsonus Virbius, or the Memorie of Ben Johnson revived by the friends of the Muses, 4to. 1638. In this volume are verses by Buckhurst, J. Beaumont, Sir T. Hawkins, H. King, H. Coventry, T. May, D. Digges, S. Fortescue, E. Waller, S. Howell, W. Abington, S. Vernon, S. C. (Cleveland,) S. Mayne, W. Cartwright, J. Rutter, O. Feltham, Sh. Marmion, S. Ford, &c. See a letter from Sir K. Digby to Dr. Duppa, relative to the publication of this work, (from Harl. MS. 4153. f. 21) in Private Memoirs of Sir K. Digby, Introd. p. liii.
Her great instructor gone, I know the age
No lesse laments, than doth the widdow'd stage,
And only vice and folly now are glad→
Our gods are troubled, and our prince is sad.
He chiefly who bestowes life, health, and art,
Feeles this sharpe griefe pierce his immortal heart,
He his neglected lyre away hath throwne,
And wept a larger, nobler Helicon,
To finde his hearbes, which to his wish prevaile
For the lesse loved, should his own favorite faile,
So moaned himself, when Daphne he ador'd,
That arts relieving all, should faile their lord.
Hyl. But say, from whence in thee this knowledge springs,
Of what his favour was with gods and kings?
Mel. Dorus, who long had known men, books, and townes,
At last the honour of our woods and downs,
Had often heard his songs, was often fir'd
With their enchanting power e'er he retired,
And e'er himself to our still groves he brought
To meditate on what his muse had taught;
Here all his joy was to revolve alone,
All that his musicke to his soule had showne,
Or in all meetings to direct the streame
Of our discourse, and make his friend his theme,
And praising works which that rare loome had weaved,
Impart that pleasure which he had received.
So in sweet notes, (which did all tunes excell,
But what he prais'd) I oft have heard him tell
Of his rare pen what was the use and price,
The wayes of virtue, and the scourge of vice;
How the rich ignorant he valued least,
Nor for the trappings would esteeme the beast;
But did our youth to noble actions raise,
Hoping the meed of his immortal praise.
How bright and soone his Muse's morning shone,
Her noone how lasting, and her evening none !
How speech exceeds not dumbenesse, nor verse prose,
More than his verse the low rough rimes of those
(For such his seene they seem'd) who highest rear'd,
Possest Parnassus e'er his power appear'd;
Nor shall another pen his fame dissolve,
Till we this doubtful problem can resolve:—
Which in his works we most transcendent see,
Wit, judgment, learning, art, or industry;
Which till is never, so all jointly flow,
And each doth to an equal torrent grow.
His learning such, no author, old or new,
Escap'd his reading, that deserved his view;
And such his judgment, so exact his test
Of what was best in bookes, as what bookes best,
That had he join'd those notes his labours tooke,
From each most praised and praise-deserving booke,
And could the world of that choice treasure boast,
It need not care though all the rest were lost.
And such his wit, he writ past what he quotes,
And his productions far exceede his notes.
So in his workes where ought inserted growes,
He noblest of the plants ingrafted showes,
That his adopted children equall not,
The generous issue his own brain begot;
So great his art, that much which he did write,
Gave the wise wonder, and the crowd delight.
Each sort as well as sex admir'd his wit,
The hees and shees, the boxes and the pit;
With her judicious favours did infuse
Courage and strength into his younger muse;
How learned James, whose praise no end shall finde,
(But still enjoy a fame pure like his mind),
Who favoured quiet and the arts of peace
(Which in his halcion days found large increase);
Friend to the humblest if deserving swaine,
Who was himself a part of Phoebus' traine;
Declared great Johnson worthiest to receive
The garland which the Muses' hands did weave,
And though his bounty did sustaine his days,
Gave a more welcome pension in his praise;
How mighty Charles, amidst that weighty care,
In which three kingdoms as their blessing share,
Whom as it tends with ever watchful eyes,
That neither power may force, nor art surprise,
So bounded by no shore, grasps all the maine,
And far as Neptune claims, extends his raigne,
Found still some time to heare and to admire
The happy sounds of his harmonious lire,
And oft hath left his bright exalted throne,
And to his Muse's feet combined his own:
As did his Queen, whose person so disclosed
A brighter nymph than any masks disclosed,
When she did joine by an harmonious choice
Her graceful motions to his powerful voice;
How above all the rest was Phoebus fir'd
With love of arts, which he himself inspir'd,
Nor oftener by his light our sense was cheer'd,
Than he in person to his sight appeard'd;
Nor did he write a line, but to supply
With sacred flame the radiant God was by.
Hyl. Though none I ever heard this last rehearse,
I saw as much when I did see his verse.
Mel. Since he when living did such honors have,
What now will piety pay to his grave?
Shall of the rich (whose lives were low and vile,
And scarce deserve a grave, much less a pile)
The monuments possess an ample roome,
And such a wonder lye without a tombe?
Raise thou him one in verse, and there relate
His worth, thy griefe, and our deplored state;
His great perfections, our great loss unite,
And let them merely weepe who cannot write.
Hyl. I like thy saying, but oppose thy choice;
So great a taske as this requires a voice
Which must be heard and listen'd to by all;
And Fame's own trumpet but appears too small.
Then for my slender reede to sound his name,
Would more my folly than his praise proclaime;
And when you wish my weaknesse sing his worth,
You charge a mouse to bring a mountain forth.
I am by nature formed, by woes made dull,
My head is emptier than my heart is full;
Griefe doth my braine impaire, as tears supply,
Which makes my face so moist, my pen so dry.
Nor should this work proceed from woods and downes,
But from th' academies, courts and towns;
Let Digby, Carew, Killigrew, and Maine,
Godolphin, Waller, that inspired traine,
Or whose rare pen besides deserves the grace,
Or of an equal or a neighbouring place,
Answer thy wish, for none so fit appeares
To raise his tombe as who are left his heires;
Yet for this cause no labour need be spent,
Writing his works he built his monument.
Mel. If to obey in this thy pen be lothe,
It will not seem thy weaknesse but thy sloth.
Our townes prest by our foes' invading might,
Our antient Druids and young virgins fight,
Employing feeble limbs to the best use;
So Johnson dead, no pen should plead excuse
For elegies, howle all who cannot sing,
For tombes, bring turf who cannot marble bring.
Let all their forces mix, joine verse to rime,
To save his fame from that invader, Time;
Whose power, though his alone may well restraine,
Yet to so wisht an end no care is vaine;
And Time, like what our brookes act in our sight,
Oft sinkes the weighty and upholds the light;
Besides to this, thy paines I strive to move,
Less to expresse his glory than thy love.
Not long before his death, our woods he meant
To visit, and descend from Thames to Trent.
Meete with thy elegy his pastorall,
And rise as much as he vouchsaft to fall.
Suppose it chance no other pen doe joine
In this attempt, and the whole worke be thine,
When the fierce fire the rash boy kindled, raign'd,
The whole world suffered-earth alone complain'd.
Suppose that many more intend the same,
More taught by art and better known to fame;
To that great deluge, which so farre destroy'd,
The earth her springs as Heaven her showers emploid,
So may, who highest marks of honours weares,
Admit meane partners in this flood of tears;
So oft the humblest joine with loftiest things,
Nor onely princes weepe the fate of kings.
Hyl. I yield, I yield! Thy words my thoughts have fir'd,
And I am less persuaded than inspir'd;
Speech shall give sorrow vent, and that reliefe,
The woods shall echo all the citie's griefe.
I oft have verse on meaner subjects made:
Should I give presents and leave debts unpaid?
Want of invention here is no excuse,
My matter I shall find, and not produce.
And (as it fares in crowds) I onely doubt
So much would passe, that nothing would get out;
Else in this worke which now my thoughts intend,
I shall find nothing hard but how to end.
I then but ask fit time to smooth my layes,
(And imitate in this the pen I praise)
Which by the subject's power embalm'd may last,
Whilst the sun light, the earth doth shadows cast;
And feather'd by those winges, fly among men-
Farre as the fame of Poetry and BEN.
In our next article we shall continue Lord Falkland's poetical productions; and we shall terminate this by a list of what appears of his in prose.
1. A Speech on ill-Councillors about the King. 1640.
2. A Speech against the Lord Keeper Finch and the Judges.
3. A Speech against the Bishops. Feb. 9, 1640.
4. A Draught of a Speech concerning Episcopacy, found among his papers printed at Oxford. 1644.
5. A Discourse concerning Episcopacy.