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Nor could the lidden cause explore,
The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
Happy insect! what can be In happiness compard to thee? Fed with nourishment divine, The dewy Morning's gentle wine ! Nature waits upon thee still, And thy verdant cup does fill; "Tis fill'd wherever thou dost tread, Nature's selfe's thy Ganymede. Thou dost drink, and dance and sing, Happier than the happiest king! All the fields which thou dost see, All the plants belong to thee; All that summer-hours produce, Fertile made with early juice: Man for thee does sow and plow; Farmer he, and landlord thou ! Thou dost innocently joy, Nor does thy luxury destroy. The shepherd gladly heareth thee, More harmonious than he. Thee country hindes with gladness hear, Prophet of the ripened year! Thee Phæbus loves, and does inspire; Phæbus is himself thy sire. To thee of all things upon earth, Life is no longer than thy mirth. Happy insect! happy thou, Dost neither age nor winter know: But when thou 'st drunk, and danc'd, and sung Thy fill, the flow'ry leaves among, (Voluptuous, and wise withall, Epicurean animal!) Sated with thy summer feast, Thou retir'st to endless rest.
RICHARD LOVELACE, the eldest son of Sir William Lovelace, Knt., was born at Woolwich in 1618, received his early education at the Charter House, and in 1634 was entered at Gloucester Hall, Oxford; being at that time, according to Wood, “accounted the most amiable and beautiful person that eye ever beheld; a person also of innate modesty, virtue and courtly deportment, which made him then, but especially after, when he retired to the Great City, much admired and adored by the female sex.” On quitting the university, having, though but of two years' standing, received the degree of Master of Arts, he served in the army, and was subsequently chosen by the county of Kent, to present a petition to the House of Commons, for the restoration of the monarch to his hereditary rights. For this “offence," he was imprisoned at the GateHouse; from whence, after a confinement of some months, he was liberated on bail to an enormous amount. “ During the time of his confinement to London, he lived beyond the income of his estate, either to keep up the credit and reputation of the King's cause, by furnishing men with horses and arms, or by relieving ingenious men in want, whether scholars, musicians, soldiers, &c.” On the ruin of the King's cause, he entered the French service, commanded a regiment, and was wounded at Dunkirk. In 1648, he returned to England, and was again imprisoned. Wood relates that “after the murther of King Charles the First, Lovelace was set at liberty, and having by that time consumed all his estate, grew very melancholy, (which brought him at length into a consumption;) became very poor in body and purse; was the object of charity, went in ragged clothes, and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places, more befitting the worst of beggars and poorest of servants." He died in 1658, at a wretched lodging in a miserable alley near Shoe-Lane, and was buried in the church of St. Bride. It is, indeed, asserted by some more recent biographers, that the statements of his exceeding poverty are somewhat exaggerated -- but it is certain that his latter days were an unhappy contrast to the sunshine of his youth, when he was the gayest and most brilliant cavalier of the English court, alike distinguished by personal attractions, rare accomplishments, gallantry of conduct, and generosity of mind — surpassing in "all things befitting a gentleman."
Lovelace is a just example of the poets of his time; when the “making of verses " was the chief excellency of a courtier, the most approved of all relaxations; and to the good graces of woman a ready, indeed a necessary, passport. The lover was the laureat of his mistress, whose duty it was to record the most trifling incident that chanced to her, and to labour so that her smallest attraction might obtain immortality. Thus, the compositions of Lovelace are chiefly the productions of happier hours, and tell of joys, begotten by a smile; or easily endured woes, the produce of a short-lived frown. Unfortunately the events they commemorated, were seldom such as have universal interest. The wearing of a glove, the blemish of a pimple, or the infliction of a toothe-ache, were considered topics more fitting to occupy a poet's thoughts and pen, than the noble and endearing ties which bind virtuous man to virtuous woman. An instance of this straining after undesirable effect is to be found in some lines of Lovelace, " on a black patch that covered a bee's sting on a lady's cheek.”
"And that black marble tablet there,
So near her either sphere
His poems, consisting of numerous short pieces, - Epodes, odes, sonnets, songs, &c. were published under the title of "Lucasta," so called after a Lady " a gentlewoman of great beauty and fortune, named Lucy Sacheverell, to whom he had made his amours, and whom he usually called Lux Casta.” Unhappily, his mistress, hearing that her lover had died of his wounds at Dunkirk, married another. During his second imprisonment he collected and printed his poems. They were afterwards, in 1659, republished by his brother with considerable additions. Among them are several of little value; but the volume contains many that will live as long as the language in which they are written. They are full of warm and natural feeling, as well as of lofty thoughts; the versification is graceful and spirited, and there breathes throughout a pure strain of devoted love to his monarch and his mistress - the continual, and frequently associated, themes of his muse.
See! what an humble bravery doth shine, And griefe triumphant breaking through each line, How it commands the face! so sweet a scorn Never did happy miserie adorn! So sacred a contempt! that others show To this (o'th'height of all the wheel) below; That mightiest monarchs by this shaded booke May copy out their proudest, richest looke.
Thou sorrow canst design without a teare,
TO LUCASTA.-GOING TO THE WARS.
Tell me not, sweet, I am unkinde,
That from the nunnerie
To warre and arms I flie.
The first foe in the field;
A sword, a horse, a shield.
As you too shall adore;
Lov'd I not honour more.
Why should you sweare I am forsworn ?
Since thine I vow'd to be; Lady, it is already morn,
And 'twas last night I swore to thee
That fond impossibility.
A tedious twelve hours' space ?
And rob thee of a new embrace,
Could I still dote upon thy face.
By others may be found;
Like skilful mineralists that sound
For treasure in unplow'd-up ground. Then, if when I have lov'd my round,
Thou prov'st the pleasant she;
I laden will return to thee,