and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a parliament; to trample upon them too as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called sovereign in England; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for awhile, and to command then victoriously at last; to over-run each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north ; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted a brother to the gods of the earth; to call together parliaments with a word of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth; to be humbly and daily petitioned that he would please to be hired, at the rate of two millions a year, to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant; lo have the estates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal as was the little inheritance of his father, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and lastly (for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory,) to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity; to die with peace at home, and triumph abroad; to be buried among kings, and with more than regal solemnity; and to leave a name behind him, not to be extinguished, but with the whole world; which, as it is now too little for his praises, so might have been too for his conquests, if the short line of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal designs ?


SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT. 1605–1668. SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT, though now read chiefly by the antiquary in English literature, had, in his lifetime, considerable celebrity as a writer. He was born in 1605 at Oxford, where his father kept an inn, and was educated at that university. He early began to write for the stage, and on Ben Jonson's death was made Poet-Laureate. In the civil wars he held a considerable post in the army, and was knighted by the king; but on the decline of the royalists, whose cause he had espoused, he sought refuge in France, where

1 From the Latin laureatus, “crowned with laurel." Under the Roman emperors, poets contended at the public games, and the prize was a crown of oak or olive leaves. From this custom. most of the European sovereigns assumed the privilege of nominating a court poet with various titles. 10 England, traces of this office are found as early as the reign of Henry III., (1216-1272,) but the express title, poet-laureate, does not occur till the reign of Edward IV., (1461—1483,) when John Kay received the appointment. The office was made patent by Charles I., and the salary fixed at £100 per year, and a tierce of wine. In the reign of George III. the salary was increased, and the wine dispensed with, and also the custom of requiring annual odes. The succession of poets-lanreate has been, I believe, since Davenant's day, John Dryden, Nahum Tate, Nicholas Rowe, Laurence Eusden, Colley Cibber, William Whitehead, Thomas Warton, Henry James Pye, and Robert Southey

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he wrote two books of his poem for which he is most known-his “Gondi. bert”-under the patronage of Henrietta Maria, that “ill-fated, ill-advised queen” of Charles I. By her he was despatched with a colony of artificers for Virginia. He had scarcely cleared the French coast when his vessel was taken by a parliamentary ship, and he was sent prisoner to Cowes Castle. Here, with great composure and manliness of mind, he continued his poem till he had carried through about one-half of what he designed, when he suddenly broke off, expecting immediately to be led to execution. His life, however, was spared, through the intercession of two aldermen of York, (whom Davenant had rescued from great peril in the civil wars,) united to the then all-powerful influence of Milton. After his release he supported himself by writing plays till the Restoration, when, beautiful to relate, is believed that Milton himself was spared at his intercession, in return for his own preservation.

The fame of Sir William Davenant rests principally on his heroic poem, Gondibert; the main story of which, as far as developed, is as follows. Duke Gondibert and Prince Oswald were renowned knights, in the reign of Aribert, king of Lombardy, 653—661. Oswald sought the hand of Rhodalind, the only daughter of Aribert, and heiress to the crown: but the king preferred Gondibert,-a choice in which Rhodalind fully concurred. It happened that

“In a fair forest, near Verona's plain,

Fresh, as if Nature's youth chose there a shade,
The duke, with many lovers in his train,

Loyal and young, a solemn hunting made."
The duke, on his return from the chase, is surprised by an ainbush, laid by
the jealous Oswald. A parley succeeds, and it is finally agreed that the quar.
rel shall be decided by the two leaders and three of the chief captains on
each side. The combat accordingly takes place. Oswald and two of his
friends are slain, and a third wounded and disarmed. Oswald's men are
therefore so enraged that they immediately commence a general attack upon
Gondibert, who is victorious, though severely wounded. He retires to the
house of Astragon, a famous physician, where he is scarcely recovered from
his wounds before he receives others of a more gentle kind from the eyes of
Birtha, the daughter of Astragon, by whose permission he becomes her pro-
fessed but secret lover. While the friends of Oswald are forming schemes of
revenge for their recent defeat, a messenger arrives from Aribert to signify
his intention of honoring Gondibert with the hand of Rhodalind; and he and
his daughter follow shortly afterwards. The duke is therefore obliged to ac-
company them back to the court, and leave behind that which is far more pre-
cious to him than a crown or Rhodalind. On parting from Birtha, he gives
her an emerald ring, which had been for ages the token of his ancestors to
their betrothed brides; and which, by its change of color, would indicate any
change in his affection. The arrival of some of the party at the capital con-
cludes this singular and original fragment of a poem,--for a fragment it must
be called, and we cannot but deeply regret that the author did not finish it."

“ In the character and love of Birtha,” remarks an able critic, “ we have a

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1 This poem has divided the critics. Bishop Hurd, in his "Letters on Chivalry and Romance," finds fault with Davenant because he rejects all machinery and supernatural agency. On the other hand, Dr. Aikin ably defends him. Read—“Miscellanies in Prose, by John Aikin, M. D., and Letitia Barbauld:” also, the prefatory remarks in the fourth volume of Anderson's “British Poets;" also, some criticisms of Headley in his "Select Beauties," p. xlvi.: also, “Retrospective Review," ii. 304 : and a few good remarks in “Campbell's Specimens," iv. 97.


picture of most absolute loveliness and dove-like simplicity. Never was that delightful passion portrayed with a more chaste and exquisite pencil.” 1


To Astragon, heaven for succession gave

One only pledge, and Birtha was her name;
Whose mother slept, where flowers grew on her grave,

And she succeeded her in face and fame.
She ne'er saw courts, yet courts could have undone

With untaught looks and an unpractised heart;
Her nets, the most prepared could never shun;

For nature spread them in the scorn of art.
She never had in busy cities been,

Ne'er warm'd with hopes, nor e'er allay'd with fears;
Not seeing punishment, could guess no sin;

And sin not seeing, ne'er had use of tears.
But here her father's precepts gave her skill,

Which with incessant business fill'd the hours;
In Spring, she gather'd blossoms for the still;

In Autumn, berries; and in Summer, flowers.
And as kind nature with calm diligence

Her own free virtue silently employs,
Whilst she, unheard, does ripening growth dispense

So were her virtues busy without noise.
Whilst her great mistress, Nature, thus she tends,

The busy household waits no less on her;
By secret law, each to her beauty bends;

Though all her lowly mind to that prefer.

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The just historians Birtha thus express,

And tell how, by her sire's example taught,
She served the wounded duke in life's distress,

And his fled spirits back by cordials brought;
Black melancholy mists, that fed despair

Through wounds’ long rage, with sprinkled vervain clear'd;
Strew'd leaves of willow to refresh the air,

And with rich fumes his sullen senses cheer'd.
He that had served great Love with reverend heart,

In these old wounds worse wounds from him endures;
For Love makes Birtha shift with Death his dart,

And she kills faster than her father cures.
Her heedless innocence as little knew

The wounds she gave, as those from Love she took ;

1 " The longer we dwell upon this noble but unfinished monument of the genius of Sir William Dovenant, the more does our admiration of it increase, and we regret that the unjust attacks which were made against it at the time, (or whatever else was the cause,) prevented its completion. It n.ight then, notwithstanding the prophetical oblivion to which Bishop Hurd has, with some acrimony, condemned it, have been entitled to a patent of nobility, and had its name inscribed upon the roll of epic aristocracy."-Ret. Rev. . 324.

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With open ears, and ever-waking eyes,

And flying feet, Love's fire she from the sight Of all her maids does carry, as from spies;

Jealous, that what burns her, might give thern light. Beneath a myrtle covert now does spend

In maids' weak wishes, her whole stock of thought; Fond maids! who love with mind's fine stuft would mend,

Which Nature purposely of bodies wrought.
She fashions him she loved of angels kind,

Such as in holy story were employd
To the first fathers from th' Eternal Mind.

And in short visions only are enjoy d.
As eagles then, when nearest heaven they fly,

Of wild impossibles soon weary grow;
Feeling their bodies find no rest so high,

And therefore perch on earthly things below: So now she yields; him she an angel deem'd

Shall be a man, the name which virgins fear; Yet the most harmless to a maid he seemd,

That ever yet that fatal name did bear. Soon her opinion of his liurtless heart,

Affection turns to faith; and then love's fire To heaven, though bashfully, she does impart;

And to her mother in the heavenly choir.
If I do love, (said she,) that love, O Heaven!

Your own disciple, Nature, bred in me;
Why should I hide the passion you have given,

Or blush to show effects which you decree?

And you, my alter'd mother, (grown above

Great nature, which you read and reverenced here,)
Chide not such kindness, as you once call'd love,

When you as mortal as my father were.
This said, her soul into her breast retires;

With Love's vain diligence of heart she dreams
Herself into possession of desires,

And trusts unanchor'd hope in fleeting streams:
Already thinks the duke her own spoused lord,

Cured, and again from bloody battle brought,
Where all false lovers perish’d by his sword,

The true to her for his protection sought.
She thinks how her imagined spouse and she

So much from heaven may by her virtues gain,
That they by time shall ne'er o'ertaken be,

No more than Time himself is overta’en.
She thinks of Eden-life; and no rough wind

In their pacific sea shall wrinkles make;
That still her lowliness shall keep him kind,

Her cares keep him asleep, her voice awake.
She thinks, if ever anger in him sway,

(The youthful warrior's most excused disease,)
Such chance her tears shall calm, as showers allay

The accidental rage of winds and seas.
Thus to herself in day-dreams Birtha talks:

The duke, (whose wounds of war are healthful grown)
To cure Love's wounds, seeks Birtha where she walks :

Whose wandering soul seeks him to cure her own.
Yet when her solitude he did invade,

Shame (which in maids is unexperienced fear)
Taught her to wish night's help to make more shade,

That love (which maids think guilt) might not appear,
And she had fled him now, but that he came

So like an awed and conquer'd enemy,
That he did seem offenceless, as her shame;

As if he but advanced for leave to fly.
Of his minor pieces, we have room but for the following beautiful

The lark now leaves his watery nest,

And, climbing, shakes his dewy wings;
He takes this window for the east;

And to implore your light, he sings-
Awake, awake, the morn will never rise,
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.
The merchant bows unto the seaman's star,

The ploughman from the sun his season takes,
But still the lover wonders what they are

Who look for day before his mistress wakes.
Awake, awake, break through your veils of lawn;
Then draw your curtains, and begin the dawn.

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