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PHINEAS FLETCHER.

PHINEAS was the elder brother of Giles Fletcher, and, like him, was a clergyman. He possessed high poetic gifts, which were rendered nugatory by his preposterous choice of a subject. His Purple Island is a poetic treatise on anatomy, written in the form of allegory, and perversely adorned with much of poetic imagery out of place.

HAPPINESS OF THE SHEPHERD'S LIFE. Thrice, oh, thrice happy, shepherd's life and state ! When courts are happiness, unhappy pawns ! His cottage low and safely-humble gate Shuts out proud Fortune, with her scorns and fawns : No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep: Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep; Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep. No Serian worms he knows, that with their thread Draw out their silken lives : nor silken pride : His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need, Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed : No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright; Nor begging wants his middle fortune bite : But sweet content exiles both misery and spite. Instead of music, and base flattering tongues, Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise ; The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs, And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes : In country-plays is all the strife he uses; Or sing, or dance unto the rural Muses; And but in music's sports all difference refuses. His certain life, that never can deceive him, Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content: The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him With coolest shades, till noon-tide rage is spent : His life is neither toss'd in boist'rous seas Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease; Pleased and full blest he lives, when he his God can please. His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps, While by his side his faithful spouse hath place ; His little son into his bosom creeps, The lively picture of his father's face :

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.

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Never his humble house nor state torment him

; Less he could like, if less his God had sent him; And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, content him.

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.

BEAUMONT and FLETCHER are names inseparably united by the dramatic works which they wrote in common. Francis Beaumont belonged to the ancient family of Beaumont; he was born, and, in his early life, lived at their seat, Grace Dieu, in Charnwood Forest; and was, so far as is known, a Catholic, his family having survived as such to a period long subsequent to that of the poet's death, which took place A.D. 1616.

John Fletcher was the son of Dr. Fletcher, Bishop of London, and was born A.D. 1576. He died of the plague in 1625. Their mutual friendship constitutes the greater part of what is recorded of these two poets, who, as we are told, had “a single bench in the same house between them, and wore the same cloak.” The Maid's Tragedy, and Philaster, two of their best plays, are attributed to Beaumont exclusively; and Fletcher composed many, likewise, unaided. Beaumont is supposed to have possessed most of scholarship, robustness, and taste; Fletcher the more luxuriant fancy. With Ben Jonson they take rank immediately after Shakespeare. Their genius could not but have made them, long since, far more generally known, had it not been for the immense mass of their works, in which what is first-rate is obscured by what is of inferior worth. A sadder defect is the indecency which defaces many of their plays. That these have not been expurgated long since is the more inexcusable, as it is well known that immoral passages were frequently introduced into plays by the actors for the amusement of a ribald audience, and without the knowledge of the authors.

FROM THE MAID'S TRAGEDY. Aspatia, forsaken by her lover, finds her maid Antiphila working a picture of Ariadne. The expression of her sorrow to Antiphila and the other attendant thus concludes:

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Then, my good girls, be more than women wise,
At least be more than I was : and be sure
You credit any thing the light gives light to,
Before a man. Rather believe the sea
Weeps for the ruin'd merchant when he roars;
Rather the wind courts but the pregnant sails,

When the strong cordage cracks; rather the sun
Comes but to kiss the fruit in wealthy autumn,
When all falls blasted. If you needs must love,
Forced by ill fate, take to your maiden bosoms
Two dead cold aspics, and of them make lovers ;
They cannot flatter nor forswear; one kiss
Makes a long peace for all. But man, -
Oh that beast man! Come, let's be sad, my girls.
That downcast eye of thine, Olympias,
Shows a fine sorrow. Mark, Antiphila ;
Just such another was the nymph Enone,
When Paris brought home Helen. Now a tear,
And then thou art a piece expressing fully
The Carthage queen, when from a cold sea-rock,
Full with her sorrow, she tied fast her eyes
To the fair Trojan ships, and having lost them,
Just as thine eyes do, down stole a tear. Antiphila !
What would this wench do if she were Aspatia ?
Here she would stand till some more pitying god
Turn'd her to marble! 'Tis enough, my wench:
Show me the piece of needlework you wrought.

Antiph. Of Ariadne, madam ?
Asp. Yes, that piece.

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Fie, you have miss'd it here, Antiphila.
You're much mistaken, wench
These colours are not dull and pale enough
To show a soul so full of misery
As this sad lady's was ;-do it by me;
Do it again by me, the lost Aspatia,
And you shall find all true but the wild island.
Suppose I stand upon the sea-beach now,
Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown with the wind,
Wild as that desert; and let all about me
Tell that I am forsaken. Do my face,
If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow,
Thus, thus, Antiphila : strive to make me look
Like sorrow's monument; and the trees about me,
Let them be dry and leafless ; let the rocks
Groan with continual surges, and behind me
Make all a desolation. Look, look, wenches,
A miserable life of this poor picture!

FROM THE TRAGEDY OF PHILASTER.

Philaster's description of his page to his mistress Arethusa.
Arethusa.

How shall we devise
To hold intelligence, that our true loves,
On any new occasion, may agree
What path is best to tread ?
Philaster.

I have a boy,
Sent by the gods, I hope, to this intent,
Not yet seen in the court. Hunting the buck
I found him sitting by the fountain side,
Of which he borrow'd some to quench his thirst,
And paid the nymph again as much in tears :
A garland lay him by, made by himself
Of many several flowers, bred in the bay,
Stuck in that mystic order that the rareness
Delighted me. But ever when he turn'd
His tender eyes upon 'em, he would weep
As if he meant to make them grow again.
Seeing such pretty helpless innocence
Dwell in his face, I ask'd him all his story.
He told me that his parents gentle died,
Leaving him to the mercy of the fields,
Which gave him roots, and of the crystal springs,
Which did not stop their courses, and the sun,
Which still, he thank'd him, yielded him his light.
Then took he up his garland, and did show
What every flower, as country people hold,
Did signify, and how all order'd thus
Express’d his grief, and to my thoughts did read
The prettiest lecture of his country art
That could be wish'd, so that methought I could
Have studied it. I gladly entertain'd him,
Who was as glad to follow; and have got
The trustiest, loving'st, and the gentlest boy
That ever master kept. Him will I send
To wait on you, and bear our hidden love.

GEORGE HERBERT. GEORGE HERBERT, a descendant of the ancient family of that name, was born A.D. 1593. His manifold accomplishments rendered him a universal favourite, and qualified him for success in any walk of life. After much consideration he resolved to shun court favour and the public gaze; and he became a clergyman. His life was passed in the exact discharge of his professional duties, and in the composition of poetry. For conscientiousness, simplicity of life, piety, scholarship, and intellectual refinement, he was alike admirable. His poetic genius was of a high order; and, in spite of quaintness and occasional conceits, his poems must ever be valued for their depth and vigour of thought, as well as for their condensation of diction. He died A.D. 1632.

VIRTUE.

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
Sweet dews shall weep thy fall to-night,

For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,

And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shows you have your closes,

And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives,
But when the whole world turns to coal,

Then chiefly lives.

MATIN HYMN.

I cannot ope mine eyes
But thou art ready there to catch
My morning soul and sacrifice,
Then we must needs for that day make a match.
My God, what is a heart?
Silver, or gold, or precious stone,
Or star, or rainbow, or a part
Of all these things, or all of them in one ?
My God, what is a heart ?
That thou shouldst it so eye

and

W00,
Pouring upon it all thy art,
As if that thou hadst nothing else to do?
Indeed, man's whole estate
Amounts, and richly, to serve thee;
He did not heaven and heart create,
Yet studies them, not him by whom they be.

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