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FROM " A DIRGE."
My dear companions all, and you, my tender flocks ! Farewell, my pipe, and all those pleasing songs whose moving strains Delighted once the fairest nymphs that dance upon the plaius !
You discontents, whose deep and over-deadly smart
And others joy,
WILLIAM BROWNE was descended from a respectable stock, and born at Tavistock A.D. 1590. He was educated at Oxford, and returned thither, in his later life, as tutor to the Earl of Caernarvon. He lived subsequently in the family of the Earl of Pembroke; and is supposed to have settled finally at Ottery St. Mary's, in Devonshire. He died A.D. 1645. There is in the poetry of William Browne an extraordinary sense of the beautiful, and a vivid appreciation of pastoral and sylvan scenery. His muse is of a delicate temperament, and seems ever to breathe a southern air. In his descriptive passages he rather delineates special objects, like the ancients, than presents us with landscapes, like the modern poets. In moral sweetness and inventive grace he bears an analogy to Spenser, though he lacks his strength and variety.
their pretty rivilets from their urne;
This while the foud, which yet the rocke up pent, And suffered not with jocund merriment
To tread rounds in his spring, came rushing forth,
Right so this river stormes : But broken forth, as Tavy creepes upon The westerne vales of fertile Albion. Here dashes roughly on an aged rocke, That his extended passage doth up locke; There intricately ’mongst the woods doth wander, Losing himself in many a wry meander : Here, amorously bent, clips some faire meade ; And then, disperst in rills, doth measures treade Upon her bosom ’mongst her flow'ry rankes : There in another place beares downe the bankes Of some day-labouring wretch: heere meets a rill, And with their forces joynde cut out a mill Into an iland; then in jocund guise Survayes his conquest, lauds his enterprise : Here digs a cave at some high mountaine's foote; There undermines an oak, tears up his roote : Thence rushing to some country farme at hand, Breakes o'er the yeoman's mounds; sweepes from his land His harvest hope of wheate, of rye, or pease, And makes that channell which was shepheard's lease : Here, as our wicked age doth sacriledge, Helpes downe an abbey; then a naturall bridge By creeping under ground he frameth out; As who should say he eyther went about To right the wrong he did, or hid his face For having done a deed so vile and base : So ranne this river on, and did bestirre Himselfe to finde his fellow-traveller.
Before the labouring bee had left the hive,
Look, as a sweet rose fairly budding forth
Betrays her beauties to th' enamour'd morn,
Make herself betray
To pluck her thence away.
[Born 1596—died 1666.] JAMES SHIRLEY, the last great dramatist of the early school, was born in London A.D. 1596, and educated first at Oxford, and subsequently at Cambridge. On leaving the University he took orders, and held a living at St. Alban's. Becoming a Roman Catholic, he surrendered his ecclesiastical preferment, and earned his subsistence as a teacher in a grammar-school. Soon afterwards he repaired to London, where he was eminently successful as a dramatic writer, and had other opportunities of advancement, of which, had he not stood averse to courtly arts, he might have largely availed himself. In 1637 Shirley went to Ireland; and several of the plays which he wrote at this time were first acted in the theatre established in Dublin by John Ogilby, under the patronage of the Earl of Strafford. On the breaking out of the great Rebellion, Shirley took the side of the monarchy. The restoration of Charles II. produced no change in his depressed fortunes. The theatres were reopened; but their license exceeded even that which had preceded the reign of Puritanism. Shirley had resolved to write for them no more; and he kept his resolution. He lived chiefly in London till the great fire of 1666. The fatigues and losses connected with that event were too much for his then enfeebled frame; he and his wife sank beneath the shock, and died on the same day. They were buried together in the church of St. Giles in the Fields, Middlesex.
The blamelessness of Shirley's life, and the amiability of his disposition, made him the favourite of his contemporaries. In dramatic composition he possessed an extraordinary facility and originality, as well as great copiousness of thought, brilliancy of fancy, and richness of imagery. Of his lyrical genius the following is a noble specimen.
DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST.
Are shadows, not substantial things.
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds.
All heads must come
To the cold tomb;
The life of Milton must ever be differently regarded according to the religious and political opinions of those who reflect on it. He was born A.D. 1608, and received an education both learned and religious from his father, a clergyman and accomplished musician. At Cambridge he was distinguished not only for his youthful learning, but for his noble beauty, which won for him the name of the • lady" of his college. On leaving the University he continued to prosecute his studies with intense assiduity at his father's house at Horton in Buckinghamshire. Rich in all the classic learning of