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Fair Charmer, cease, nor make your voice's prize A heart resign’d the conquest of your eyes : Well might, alas! that threat'ned vessel fail, Which winds and lightning both at once assail. We were too blest with these enchanting lays, Which must be heav'nly when an Angel plays: But killing charms your lover's death contrive, Lest heav'nly music should be heard alive. Orpheus could charm the trees : but thus a tree, Taught by your hand, can charm no less than he: A poet made the silent wood pursue,
11 This vocal wood had drawn the Poet too.
On a fan of the Author's design, in which was painted
the story of CEPHALUS and PROCRIS, with the Motto, AURA VENI.
Come, gentle Air! th' Æolian shepherd said, While Procris panted in the secret shade ; Come, gentle Air ! the fairer Delia cries, While at her feet her swain expiring lies. Lo the glad gales o'er all her beauties stray, Breathe on her lips, and in her bosom play! In Delia's hand this toy is fatal found, Nor could that fabled dart more surely wound: Both gifts destructive to the givers prove; Alike both lovers fall by those they love. 10 Yet guiltless too this bright destroyer lives, At Random wounds, nor knows the wound she gives: She views the story with attentive eyes, And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
In the following love-verses is a strain of sensibility which the reader will be pleased, I suppose, to see, being now first published from a manuscript of Mr. Gray: “With beauty, with pleasure, surrounded, to languish, To weep without knowing the cause of my anguish ; To start from short slumbers, and wish for the morning, To close my dull eyes when I see it returning; Sighs sudden and frequent, looks ever dejected, Words that steal from my tongue by no meaning connected ; Ah say, fellow swains, how these symptoms befel me? They smile, but reply not; sure Delia will tell me."
Pope has imitated Waller with elegance, especially in the verses on a fan of his own design ; for he designed with dexterity and taste.
The application of the story of Cephalus and Procris is as ingenious as Waller's Phoebus and Daphne. Waller abounds, perhaps to excess, in allusions to mythology and the ancient classics. The French, as may be imagined, complain that he is too learned for the ladies. The following twelve lines contain three allusions, delicate indeed; but some may deem them to be too far-fetched, too much crowded, and not obvious to the lady to whom they were addressed, on her singing a song of his composing :
“ Chloris, yourself you so excel,
But of his voice, the boy had burn'd.” Here is matter enough compressed together for Voiture to have spun out into fifty lines. If I was to name my favourite among Waller's smaller pieces, it should be his Apology for having loved before. He begins by saying, “ That they who never had been used to the surprising juice of the grape, render up their reason to the first delicious cup.” This is sufficiently gallant ; but what he adds has much of the sublime, and is like a thought of Milton's:
“ To man that was i' th' evening made,
And could no higher rise." Which of the French writers has produced any thing at once so gallant and so lofty ?
The English versification was much smoothed by Waller ; who used to own, that he derived the harmony of his numbers from Fairfax's Tasso, who well-vowelled his lines, though Sandys was a melodious versifier, and Spenser has perhaps more variety of music than either of them. A poet who addresses his pieces to living characters, and confines himself to the subjects and anecdotes of his own times, like this courtly author, bids fairer to become popular, than he that is employed in higher scenes of poetry and fiction, which are more remote from common manners. It may be remarked lastly of Waller, that there is no pas. sion in his love-verses; and that one elegy of Tibullus, so well imitated by Hammond, and so unjustly censured by Johnson, excels a volume of the most refined panegyric. It is remarkable that Waller never mentions Milton, whose Comus, and smaller poems, preceded his own; but were unsuitable to the French taste, on which Waller was formed.
Fair Charmer, cease, nor make your voice's prize A heart resign'd the conquest of your eyes : Well might, alas! that threat'ned vessel fail, Which winds and lightning both at once assail. We were too blest with these enchanting lays, 5 Which must be heav'nly when an Angel plays: But killing charms your lover's death contrive, Lest heav'nly music should be heard alive. Orpheus could charm the trees : but thus a tree, Taught by your hand, can charm no less than he: A poet made the silent wood pursue,
11 This vocal wood had drawn the Poet too.