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BROWNE'S BRITTANIA'S PASTORALS.
At once the wind was laid ; the whispering sound
These lines, admirable as they are, were suggested by the following, which exhibit the same fine variety of pause. Their sound must have haunted the ear of Dryden.
Each river, every rill
vapours to attend her will.
As loth to waken any singing birdi-Browne. Mr. Campbell, in his “ Specimens of the British Poets," has given a few passages from Browne. But while Campbell acknowledges that the poetry is not without beauty, he seems to sneer at those who have thought the fourth eclogue of Browne's “Shepherd's Pipe" the precursor of Milton's Lycidas. “A single simile” (he observes) “ about a rose constitutes all the resemblance !” This is not the case. The simile of the rose is as follows:
Or else her rarest smells delighting
Here is not an absolute plagiarism, but there is evidently a borrowed suggestion--a kind of debt which a great poet is often found to owe even to his inferiors. But it is not this single passage
alone which shows, that Milton's perusal of Browne's verses had left an impression on his ear and mind that influenced him in the composition of his Lycidas. Browne, in the introduction to his eclogue, explains that “the author bewails the death of one, whom he shadoweth forth under the name of Philarete ;” and Milton in his pastoral monody also“ bewails a friend” under a poetical name. The general plan, the occasion, the sentiments and the illustrations of both poems, are very similar—a similarity that is too close to be an accidental coincidence. That the passage about the rose is not the only one that seems to have given a hint to Milton, the following lines will convince any reader in the habit of tracing out poetical beauties to their first source, which is often too obscure and dim to strike a careless
Behold our flowery beds :
In the place of the words sad embroidery in the last line, Milton originally wrote (as is known from the various readings in his manuscript copy) sorrow's livery; which was perhaps a slight shade nearer to the imagery of Browne.
Browne was born in Devonshire, and has made his native county--the garden of England- the scene of his Pastorals. I honor him for his boldness, his good sense, and his good taste, in breaking through the silly custom of carrying the British Muse to foreign regions, in search of beauties that are no where more easily found than in our own delightful land.
ON THE DEATH OF
NEVER, oh ! never, this sin-tainted earth,
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WHEN thou wert nigh the world was bright,
And life a lovely dream;
Or hailed the lunar beam ;-
The breast that would not feel this calm profound,
that would not love this landscape fair,
But, ah ! no scene of loveliness may last !