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Diving into his watery funeral :
But Eridan to Cedron must submit
His fowery shore ; nor can he envy it,
• That heavenly voice I more delight to hear,
To chide the winds, or living bees, that fly
About the laughing blooms of sallowy, Rocking asleep the idle grooms that lazy lie. Of the third-rate poets of this age, Wither and Quarles are two of the most remarkable. Popular in their own day, their voluminous writings have fallen into general neglect; yet it would not be difficult to select from them many beautiful passages. The · Emblems of Quarles may still be met with in the poor man's cottage, with their ludicrous accompaniment of prints, which, from their striking oddity, have perhaps generally proved more attractive than the poetry. But this book
But this book appears to have met with unfair treatment, having been tampered with and garbled by unprincipled editors, and the purchaser cannot always be sure of obtaining a correct copy. The general style, however, of both these poets is heavy, and wanting in refinement. There is a deficiency of genius, a paucity of those brilliant passages, those electric thoughts, and musical phrases, which are so frequent in the works of a true poet. Even their best passages are too near to mediocrity. They please; but they neither surprise nor charm. Mr. Cattermole has given a few extracts from Wither, and many from Quarles; of which our limited space precludes our making any use.
In passing from Quarles to George Herbert, we are conscious of an emotion like that which the traveller feels when he leaves a tract of country where the landscape possesses no extraordinary interest, and enters upon scenery which is highly picturesque, and which presents new and striking changes at every turn of the road: or, our emotion is like that of the same traveller, when, after the mists and clouds of morning, the su: lats forth, and gives light and color to the unvarying grey of the ture.
The poems of Herbert are full of light. They have mucn ' f the sunshine of genius; but more of the brighter and lovelie: glow of piety. This is the charm which we feel even in his most trivial compositions. He is as quaint and full of conceits as any of his contemporaries, and there is scarcely one of his poems in which we do not meet with something that offends our ju ment; but, however odd the turn of thought may be, the warfli of piety
with which it is accompanied gives it a loveliness which belongs not to itself.
The life also of Herbert was of that devout and holy character which gives an irresistible recommendation to an author's writings. He not only practised what he taught, but in so eminent a degree, as to distinguish him from common men, to fit him for an example, and incline us to listen to his instructions. His biography, by Izaak Walton, is generally known. It is written with all the good old man's gentle enthusiasm, and with his usual felicity of language. But had Herbert not had a tenth of the excellencies which really belonged to him, he would, in Izaak's estimation, have been a saint of the first water: for he was both a Churchman and an angler. To have appeared in either of these characters would have ensured him no mean panegyric; but where both were conjoined there was the last touch of perfection. Walton would scarcely have looked on an apostle with greater reverence; and he himself somewhere intimates that these fathers of the church are entitled to additional respect because of their piscatory occupations.
George, the poet, was the younger brother of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, well known to literary men, as a writer of an original but eccentric turn of mind. The early life of the poet was passed at Cambridge, where he attracted considerable notice, and was made public orator, in which capacity he was introduced to King James the First, and received many indications of his favor. Allured by the charms of a court life, he in a great degree abandoned the calm retreats of his college, and the pleasures of literature; till the death of two of his patrons, and soon after that of the king himself, left him without hope of preferment. From that time he devoted himself to the duties of the Christian ministry; and, whether disappointed ambition, or whatever other feeling, was the first motive to this important step, the sincerity of his piety cannot be questioned.
Herbert is the poet of the Church of England, and we confess that this circumstance, more than all his quaintness, lessens our sympathy with his writings. His attachment to his church amounts almost to a disease. It might be a natural consequence of his education and position in society ; but we cannot help regarding it as a defect in his mental constitution that he appears to have beheld no beauty in the Christian system but through the medium of the Anglican rites and ceremonies. Christianity is, in his poems, so identified with his own church that a Christian of another communion can sometimes hardly recognize its features in the poet's description.
We are by no means unsusceptible of those sublime emotions produced by the noble style of architecture employed in our cathedrals. We have, in the days of our youth, felt the glow
which is inspired by the gorgeous perspective of aisle and roof; and storied windows richly dight;' and by all that may, not unappropriately, be called the romantic in religion. But time and truth, fatal antagonists of romance, bave dispelled the charm; and, in place of the splendid illusions of fancy, have left stern and sober realities. The village spire, which is so prominent a feature in British landscape, instead of awakening pleasing emotions, painfully reminds us of a mischievous ecclesiastical system, which has for ages perpetuated ignorance, inculcated fatal errors, hindered the progress of religion, and destroyed the souls of men.*
In some of the following specimens of Herbert's poetry his attachment to the Church of England appears to us a blemish, and not a beauty.
"THE BRITISH CHURCH.
Both sweet and bright.
When she doth write.
"A fine aspect, in fit array,
Shows who is best.
* In the form of baptism for infants, as well
as in the catechism, the Church of England teaches that the infant, when baptized, is regenerated with the Holy Spirit, and received as the child of God by adoption. In the order of confirmation, the bishop plainly declares that the children brought to be confirmed have received the forgiveness of all their sins; while the only qualification requisite is their being able to say the creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments,' and to answer to the other questions of this short catechism. In the Visitation of the Sick, the minister employs the following awful language: 'I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'
But however fatal the influence of these false doctrines may be on an ignorant population, they are probably exceeded in effect by the burial service. There are many thousands of persons who live in babitual neglect of all public worship, and in the commission of almost every crime. The only occasion, excepting marriage, on which these people attend the church is at the funeral of a relative. The deceased person may have been, in all respects, like themselves, ignorant of religion, and practically wicked. Yet they hear the officiating minister pronounce him blessed, and represent him as reposing in certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life; and they return to a life of crime with the assurance that it will end in their admission into heaven. How dreadfully destructive must the teaching of this church be; and how many thousands must have been led, by its false doctrines, to everlasting ruin! These are some of the reasons why we cannot sympathise with its poetry; and why the sound of the church-going bell'has for us no charm.
Or else undress’d.
• She, on the hills, which wantonly
By her preferr’d,
For her reward.
She, in the valley, is so shy
About her ears.
While she avoids her neighbour's pride,
And nothing wears.
And long may be !
And none but thee.'
The two little poems which follow, are, in almost every stanza, characteristic both of the beauties and of the conceits of Herbert.
O my chief good,
And each grief tell?
• Shall I thy woes
Shall all thy death ?
· Or shall each leaf,
Of the true vine ?
Then let each hour
And be my sun.
Or rather let
Each sin may so.'
* I got me flowers to strew thy way ;
The fancy of Herbert is so wild that, at every flower or pebble by the roadside it starts, and runs away with him ; nor does any rhetorical curb seem adequate to the task of guiding and controlling it. The poem on Sunday' very fairly exemplifies the untamed character of his muse; for which purpose a few stanzas from it will be sufficient. But it will be seen that even the extravagance of its conceits does not destroy its beauty, which is of a high order.
Sundays the pillars are,
spare And hollow room with vanities. They are the fruitful bed and borders In God's rich garden: that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders. • The Sundays of man's life, Threaded together on time's string Make bracelets to adorn the wife Of the eternal, glorious King. On Sunday, heaven's gate stands ope; Blessings are plentiful and rife;
More plentiful than hope.
• This day my Saviour rose, And did inclose this light for his ; That, as each beast his manger knows, Man might not of his fodder miss.