At once the wind was laid ; the whispering sound
Was dumb; a rising earthquake rocked the ground ;
With deeper brown the rove was overspread,
A sudden horror seized his giddy head,
And his ears tinyled and his colour fled.—Dryden.

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.

leafe swept

Each river, every rill

vapours to attend her will.
These pitchy curtains drew 'twixt earth and heaven,
And as night's chariot through the ayre was driven,
Clamour grew dumb; unheard was shepherd's song,
And silence girt the woods ; no warbling tongue
Talked to the echo; satyrs broke their dance,
And all the upper world lay iu a trance.
Only the curled streames soft chidings kept;
And little gales that from the green
Dry summer's dust, in fearful whispering stirred

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:

[From Browne.]
Looke as the sweet rose fairely buddeth forth
Bewrayes her beauties to the enamoured morn,
Until some keene blast from the envious north
Killes the sweet bud that was but newly borne,

Or else her rarest smells delighting
Make her, herself betray,
Some white and curious hand inviting
To plucke her thence away.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

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 :
Their beauties fade, and violets
For sorrow hang their heads.

The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine.
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears.


[blocks in formation]

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.



NEVER, oh ! never, this sin-tainted earth,
The realm of care, hath holier pilgrim trod !
The priest of Nature, Poetry, and God !
His words were bodied radiance, and his worth
An angel's dower. There seemed nor gloom nor dearth
When he but smiled. His thoughts were lovelier far
Than flower or gem, or sun or moon or star,
Or river-waves that dance in summer mirth.
Of transitory hopes the base control
He proudly spurned for heaven's eternal day.
A death-spark touched his tenement of clay,
And forth upsprang towards its destined goal
The flame divine. A purer spirit never
Hath joined the choir that hymn their God for ever!

[ 185 ]



WHEN thou wert nigh the world was bright,

And life a lovely dream;
I basked beneath the warm sun's light,

Or hailed the lunar beam ;-
In every mood, by night or day,
The time too swiftly passed away.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The breast that would not feel this calm profound,

that would not love this landscape fair,
Though in their mortal make beyond compare,
In spiritual life were senseless and unsound.
This glassy lake—the silent hills around-
The western clouds where rests, like woven air,
In tresses wild, the day god's golden hair-
All seem in sleep's divine enchantment bound.
Nor brute nor human form, nor cot nor cave,
Nor palace proud, nor sign nor sound of life
Is seen or heard ; not lonelier is the grave;
And yet this lovely solitude is rife
With food for living thought, and few would crave
A holier refuge from the loud world's strife.


But, ah ! no scene of loveliness may last !
The earth is all mutation. Sunny skies-
The meadows gay-the sleeping lake that lies
A broad bright sheet of gold—are soon o'ercast.
O’er all these silent hills loud gales have past,
And erelong shall return. The gorgeous dyes
Of sun-set clouds,—the calm night's countless eyes,-
Shall vanish at the rude storm's trumpet-blast.
'Tis thus too with the soul.

Eternal change
Of mood and passion seems her lot below;
Nature and man with kindred movement range
From fair to foul, from happiness to woe,
Again to light and joy-reversion strange-
And naught a long monotony may know.

« VorigeDoorgaan »