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own private recreation am wont to resort to such innocent gaieties as the fathers of song have bequeathed to us, so I seldom fail to present them to my readers; and it happens that this philosopher, whom we have seen dealing with high and lofty thoughts, descanting like a hermit on the joys of solitude and the delights of the country,—and in this respect his odes are nothing inferior to his Essays ;—it happens that this identical Cowley hath left behind him the pleasantest of all pleasant ballads, which could hardly have been produced by any one except a thorough man of the world. It is entitled “The Chronicle," and contains a catalogue of all the fair ladies with whom he had at different times been enamoured. Never was list more amusing. It abounds in happy traits, especially the one, which tells to half an hour how long a silly beauty may hope to retain the heart of a man of sense. The expression when the haughty Isabella, unconscious of her conquest and marching on to fresh triumphs, beats out Susan “ by the bye,” has passed into one of those proverbs, of which doubtless as of many other by-words, they who use them little guess the origin.
“ The Chronicle” was written two hundred years ago. Ladies, dear ladies, if one could be sure that no man would open this book, if we were all together in (female) parliament assembled, without a single male creature within hearing, might we not acknowledge that the sex, especially that part of it formerly called coquette, and now known by the name of flirt, is very little altered since the days of the Merry Monarch ? and that a similar list compiled by some gay bachelor of Belgravia might, allowing for differences
of custom and of costume, serve very well as a companion to Master Cowley's catalogue ? I would not have a man read this admission for the world.
THE CHRONICLE. A BALLAD.
Margarita first possessed,
Margarita first of all;
Martha took the flying ball.
Martha soon did it resign
Beauteous Catherine gave place,
To Eliza's conquering face.
Eliza to this hour might reign,
Fundamental laws she broke,
And cast away her yoke.
Mary then, and gentle Anne,
Alternately they swayed,
And sometimes both I obeyed,
Another Mary then arose,
A mighty tyrant she !
Had not Rebecca set me free.
When fair Rebecca set me free,
But soon those pleasures fled;
And Judith reigned in her stead.
One month, three days, and half an hour Judith held the sovereign power :
Wondrous beautiful her face,
And so Susannah took her place.
By the artillery of her eye,
She beat out Susan, by the bye.
To whom ensued a vacancy. Thousand worse passions then possessed The interregnum of my breast,
Bless me from such an anarchy!
Gentle Henrietta then,
Then Joan, and Jane, and Audria,
And then a long et cetera.
But should I now to you relate,
The powder, patches, and the pins,
That make up all their magazines.
If I should tell the politic arts
The letters, embassies, and spies,
Numberless, nameless mysteries !
I more voluminous should grow,
Than Hollinshed or Stowe.
An higher and a nobler strain
Whom God grant long to reign ! I add a few original stanzas, which show Cowley's characteristic merits and defects ;—very few, since I must find room for some of those translations from Anacreon, which for grace, spirit, and delicacy will never be surpassed.
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
Pay with their grateful voice.
Here let me careless and unthoughtful lying,
With all their wanton boughs dispute,
Nor be myself, too, mute.
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
On whose enamelled bank I'll walk,
And hear how prettily they talk. Ah! wretched and too solitary he, Who loves not his own company;
He'll feel the weight of it many a day, Unless he call in sin or vanity
To help to bear it away.