Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

“ Then is the Soul a nature, which contains

-He that spread the skies
The power of sense, within a greater power;

And fixed the earth first formed the Soul in man,"
Which doth employ and use the Sense's pains,
But sits and rules within her private bower.”

and touches successively on false opinions of the

creation of Souls. Then he dwells at some length on The next section of the poem argues against those the belief of those fathers of the Church who held, as who see in the soul no more than the temperature of he thinks wrongly, that corruption could spread by humours of the body.

the birth of one Soul from another.

“None are so gross, as to contend for this,

ference of season, daylight, climate, form of man; l'hat Souls from bodies may traducéd be;

she also has a quickening power, and a power also Between whose natures no proportion is,

that she sends abroad, her sense, which through five When root and branch in nature still agree.

organs“ views and searcheth all things everywhere."

The poem dwells on the eyes, guides to the body here “ But many subtile wits have justified,

“which else would stumble in eternal night,”
That Souls from Souls spiritually may spring ;
Which (if the nature of the Soul be tried)
Will even in nature prove as gross a thing."

“Yet their best object, and their noblest use,

Hereafter in another world will be,

When God in them shall heavenly light infuse, Reasons against this opinion he draws first from

That face to face they may their Maker see.” nature. All things are made of nothing or of stuff already formed. There is no stuff or matter in the

It dwells on the other gates of sense by which outSoul, she must be created out of nothing, "and to

ward things enter the Soul, --hearing, taste, smelling, create to God alone pertains.” After more reasons

feeling, and the common sense by which their several which treat of Adam's fall , foreknowledge, freewiil, perceptions were brought together for transmission

to the brain. Fancy and memory, the passions and and the grace of God. The next topic is the reason

affections of the soul are then passed in review; and of the union of Soul with Body

after them the intellectual powers, wit, reason, under

standing, opinion, judgment, and, through knowledge “ That both of God and of the world partaking,

brought by understanding, at last wisdom. The poet Of all that is, man might the image bear."

then ascribes to the Soul innate ideas,

[blocks in formation]

“ Nor hath He given these blessings for a day,

Nor made them on the body's life depend; The Soul, though made in time, survives for aye ;

And though it hath beginning, sees no end."

“ Nor could the world's best spirits so much err,

If death took all, that they should all agree, Before this life, their honour to prefer :

For what is praise to things that nothing be?”

Again, if the Soul stood by the Body's prop,

This passage leads

up

to the climax of the poem in its closing argument that the Soul is immortal and cannot be destroyed.

" Her only end is never-ending bliss,

Which is, the eternal face of God to see; Who last of ends and first of causes is :

And to do this, she must eternal be.”

“ We should not find her half so brave and bold,

To lead it to the wars, and to the seas, To make it suffer watchings, hunger, cold,

When it might feed with plenty, rest with ease.”

The poet bases this upon five reasons. One is man's unlimited desire to learn or know, which springs from the essence of the Soul, and with this desire a power “ to find out every truth if she had time."

Another reason is that as the good Soul by scorn of the Body's death shows that she cannot die, the wicked Soul proves her eternity by fear of death.

The Soul's craving for continuance is shown also " by tombs, by books, by memorable deeds," and by care for posterity ; true notes of immortality written by Nature herself in our heart's tables. Finally, even those who reason against the Soul's immortality use the Soul's power to conceive its immortality, and prove it by the act of reasoning against it.

“ But since our life so fast away doth slide,

As doth a hungry eagle through the wind, Or as a ship transported with the tide,

Which in their passage leave no print behind :

“ Of which swift little time so much we spend,

While some few things we through the sense do strain, That our short race of life is at an end,

Ere we the principles of skill attain :

“ So when we God and angels do conceive,

And think of truth, which is eternal too; Then do our minds immortal forms receive,

Which if they mortal were, they could not do.

“Or God (which to vain ends hath nothing done)

In vain this appetite and pow'r hath given, Or else our knowledge which is here begun

Hereafter must be perfected in heaven.”

“ And as if beasts conceiv'd what reason were,

And that conception should distinctly show, They should the name of reasonable bear;

For without reason none could reason know.

Another reason is the Soul's aspiration to eternity.

“ So when the Soul mounts with so high a wing

As of eternal things she doubts can move, She proofs of her eternity doth bring

Even when she strives the contrary to prove.”

“ Water in conduit-pipes can rise no higher

Than the well-head, from whence it first doth spring; Then since to Eternal God she doth aspire,

She cannot be but an eternal thing."

After arguing that the Soul is indestructible, the poet answers objections to faith in her immortality, from the intellectual dotage of old men, idiocy, madness. The defects are in the sense's organs. The Soul does not lose her power to see, “though mists and clouds do choke her window light.”

Who ever ceased to wish, when he had health, or having wisdom was not vexed in mind ?

* So, when the Soul finds here no true content,

And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take, She doth return from whence she first was sent,

And flies to Him that first her wings did make."

“ These imperfections then we must impute

Not to the agent but the instrument : We must not blame Apollo, but his lute,

If false accords from her false strings be sent.”

[blocks in formation]

" Think of her worth, and think that God did mean siderable attainments, and to mistake his own good

This worthy Mind should worthy things embrace : humoured shrewdness for the statesman's grasp Blot not her beauties with thy thoughts unclean,

of thought. He meant well, and sought to deal Nor her dishonour with thy passion base.

wisely with the pressing questions of his day, but

he had no aspiration strong enough to lift him up “Kill not her quick’ning power with surfeitings; out of himself; he had no motive of action so conMar not her sense with sensuality;

tinuous as a complacent wish to maintain his personal Cast not her serious wit on idle things;

position as a phenix of intelligence, and the supreMake not her free-will slave to vanity.

macy in Church and State of his own office of king.

He did not regard the supremacy of the Crown in “ And when thou think'st of her eternity,

England as means to an end, but as in itself the end Think not that death against our nature is;

towards which he should shape his policy. He had Think it a birth: And when thou go'st to die,

no wish to oppress subjects who did not thwart him. Sing like a swan, as if thou went'st to bliss.

Though he was bred a Protestant, the Roman Catho

lics might reasonably expect from the son of Mary " And if thou, like a child, didst fear before,

Queen of Scots relief from a tyranny under which Being in the dark, where thou didst nothing see,

they all incurred the punishment of death for hearing Now I have brought thee torchlight, fear no more;

mass, and priests of theirs who led pure and exemNow when thou diest, thou canst not hoodwinked be.

plary lives, as well as those who plotted the overthrow

of the Protestant rule in England, were sent to the And thou, my Soul, which turn’st with curious eye

gallows. James was treated with, before his accesTo view the beams of thine own form divine,

sion to the throne, and gave good hope to the Roman Know, that thou canst know nothing perfectly,

Catholics. No quiet subject, he said, should be perseWhile thou art clouded with this flesh of mine.

cuted for his religion. That also was his private pur“ Take heed of over-weening, and compare

pose, though it implied only toleration to the laity.

The Roman Catholic priests being, as he felt, natural Thy peacock's feet with thy gay peacock's train :

enemies to the supremacy of the crown in Church Study the best and highest things that are, But of thyself an humble thought retain.

matters, he meant to send them all abroad if possible.

Desire for the subversion of Protestant rule in England “ Cast down thyself, and only strive to raise

had been, of course, intensified by penalties of death The glory of thy Maker's sacred Name:

for celebrating mass, and fines on recusants.

There were two under-currents of Roman Catholic Use all thy powers, that blessed Power to praise, Which gives thee power to be, and use the same.”

plotting when James came to England: one was set in movement by the Jesuits, who looked for help from Spain in setting a Roman Catholic upon the

throne; the other was a wild scheme of a secular CHAPTER VIII.

priest, William Watson, who hated the Jesuits, and

had a plan of his own for carrying the king off to the REIGN OF JAMES I.—DONNE, ANDREWES, GILES Tower, and there converting him. Discovery of

FLETCHER, QUARLES, WITHER, AND OTHERS. --A.D. Watson's plot implicated other men in suspicions. 1603 TO A.D. 1625.

Lord Cobham was arrested, and from him accusation

passed on to Sir Walter Raleigh, whom James had MPATIENCE of the Ro- promptly begun to strip of honour and possessions.

man Catholics under laws After a trial, in November, 1603 (at which Raleigh, that made it high treason of all men in England the one least open to such a for them to come near to charge, had been denounced by the Attorney-General, the Lord's Table in the Sir Edward Coke, as a monster with an English way their consciences re- face, but a Spanish heart”—Raleigh, whose ruling quired, zeal of the Puri- passion might almost be said to be animosity to tans, some resentment also Spain, and whom James eventually caused to be

among quiet English executed at the wish of Spain), Sir Walter Raleigh INITIAL

Churchmen of the mea- was condemned to death as guilty of high treason To Genesis in King James's Autho.

sures by which Archbishop by sharing in a plot to depose James, and make rized Version of the Biblo (1611). Whitgift sought through Arabella Stuart queen.

Raleigh was respited, but the High Court of Commission to enforce Church detained during the next twelve years as a prisoner unity, made the new sovereign's probable treatment in the Tower of London. It was there that he of religious questions a matter of deep interest when resolved to write a History of England, prefaced by James I. came to the throne.

the story of the four great Empires of the World; The king was a man of thirty-seven, more gifted his design being to take a large view of the life of by education than by nature, though he had much man upon earth that should set forth the Divine natural shrewdness in dealing with the surfaces wisdom. In his Preface, Raleigh says—"The exof things to make up for the want of any power amples of Divine Providence everywhere found (the to look far below the surface. It was not bis first divine histories being nothing else but a confault that the base flattery of courts had taught tinuation of such examples) have persuaded me to him from childhood to over-estimate his own fetch my beginning from the beginning of all things:

[graphic]

66

con

to wit, Creation.” He does, in fact, in the tive books pleased God to take that glorious Prince out of the which form the substantial fragment of his work, world to whom they were directed; whose unspeakpublished in 1614, carry the History of the World able and never-enough lamented loss hath taught me from the Creation to the end of the second Mace- to say with Job, · Versa est in luctum cithara mea, donian war.

As critical history, Raleigh's work et organum meum in vocem flentium' (My harp is abounds with erudition of his time; but the detail turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of of events, wherever the matter commanded Raleigh's them that weep).” The reference is to the death, fullest interest, is, from time to time, kindled with in November, 1612, of the king's popular eldest son, vigorous and noble thought, and flashes out the glory Prince Henry, who had not long before obtained his and the praise of God from depths of the religious father's promise that Raleigh should be set free at life of an Elizabethan hero.

Christmas. Raleigh was set free in January, 1616, The first chapter of the History opens with argu- to prepare for the voyage to Guiana, by which he ment that the Invisible God is seen in His Crea- expected to enrich the English Crown with a distures, and ends by saying, “ Let us resolve with

covery of gold. The voyage was disastrous, and St. Paul, who hath taught us that there is but one Raleigh, "with English face and Spanish heart," God, the Father; of whom are all things, and we in could not resist a chance it gave him of again Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are attacking Spain. The King of Spain asked for his all things, and we by Him ; there are diversities of head; and James I. decreed his execution, without operations, but God is the same, which worketh all trial, upon the fifteen-years-old conviction of treason. in all.” The last chapter of Raleigh's History as far Raleigh was executed in October, 1618. as it was written closes with these thoughts on

Raleigh's conviction had arisen from events connected with the earliest Roman Catholic plots against

Protestant sovereignty in England. They were assoTHE ELOQUENCE OF DEATH.

ciated at the opening of his reign with other incidents Kings and Princes of the World have always laid before

that confirmed James in one of his views of policy, and them the actions, but not the ends, of those great ones which

on the 22nd of February he issued a proclamation preceded them. They are always transported with the glory of the one, but they never mind the misery of the other, till

ordering all Jesuits and seminary priests to leave

the realm before the 19th of March. But he forgave they find the experience in themselves. They neglect the

the Roman Catholic laity their fines as recusants; he advice of God while they enjoy life, or hope it; but they follow the counsel of Death, upon his first approach. It is

had placed a Roman Catholic upon his Privy Council ; he that puts into man all the wisdom of the world, without

and he was making peace with Spain. The prospeaking a word; which God with all the words of His law,

clamation for expulsion of the priests immediately promises, or threats, doth not infuse. Death, which hateth

produced another plot. The day of issue of the and destroyeth man, is believed. God, which hath made him proclamation was the day after Ash Wednesday, and loves him, is always deferred. I have considered, saith 1604; and in the beginning of Lent, Robert Catesby Solomon, all the works that are under the sun, and, behold, called Thomas Winter to London to join with all is vanity and vexation of spirit: but who believes it, till

himself and John Wright in a plot for blowing up Death tells it us? It was Death which, opening the con- the Parliament House. At the end of April, an science of Charles the Fifth, made him enjoin his son Philip Englishman of known audacity, Guido Fawkes, was to restore Navarre ; and King Francis the First of France, brought from Flanders.

brought from Flanders. Thomas Percy, who was to command that justice should be done upon the murderers related to the Earl of Northumberland, completed of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres, which till then the number of five, who were first bound by an oath he neglected. It is therefore Death alone that can suddenly of secrecy to united effort for attainment of their make man know himself. He tells the proud and insolent, purpose. On the 24th of May, 1604, Percy took a that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant;

house adjoining the Parliament House, and Guido makes them cry, complain, and repent; yea, even to hate Fawkes, under the name of John Johnson, lived their forepassed happiness. He takes the account of the with him as a servant. The house at Lambeth in rich, and proves him a beggar; a naked beggar, which hath

which Catesby lodged was taken for use in storing interest in nothing, but in the gravel that fills his mouth.

materials. At the end of the year, Parliament being He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and

expected to meet in February, 1605, underground makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness; and

boring was begun at the wall of the Parliament they acknowledge it.

House, which was nine feet thick. When Parliament O eloquent, just, and mighty Death, whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou

was prorogued until October, the work was relaxed; hast done; and whom all the world hath Pattered, thou only conspirators heard that there ran under the Parlia

it was then resumed again under difficulties, till the hast cast out of the world and despised. Thou hast drawn

ment House a cellar from which a stock of coals was together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man; and covered it all over with these two

being sold off, and of which they could obtain a

lease. narrow words: Hic jacet.

Thomas Percy bought the lease of the cellar,

which he said he needed for his coals. They soon There remains one added paragraph. Lastly, placed in it twenty barrels of powder from the house whereas this book, by the title it hath, calls itselt at Lambeth, and covered them with billets of wood the First Part of the General History of the World, and fagots. Then they rested till September, when implying a Second and Third Volume, which I also fresh powder was brought in to make good any intended and have hewn out; besides many other damage by damp. But Parliament was prorogued discouragements persuading my silence, it hath to the 5th of November, and they had again leisure

« ForrigeFortsett »