« PreviousContinue »
the union of the two crowns and that of the countries should have proved highly unpropitious to Scotish literature. Scotland, becoming an appendage to the sister kingdom, was subjected, as Ireland has since been, to the worst of all governments, being abandoned to the conflict of rival families, who were alternately supported by the English administration ; so that it exhibited a species of anarchy under the auspices of a legitimate sovereign.
James I. was himself a poet, and specimens of his talent, such as it was, are to be found in many of our miscellanies. He also wrote some rules and cautels, for the use of professors of the art, which have been long, and perhaps deservedly, disregarded.
The most favourable sample of his Majesty's poetic skill has been lately obtained from the College library, Edinburgh, and will be found in the following page. It is prefixed to Fowler's translation of the Triumphs of Petrarch, a MS, before described.
We find by proof that into every age
In Phæbus' art some glistering star did shine, Who, worthy scholars to the Muses sage,
Fulfill'd their countries with their works divine.
So Homer was a sounding trumpet fine Amongst the Greeks, into his learned days;
So Virgil was among the Romans syne
In tongue Italic, in a sugar'd style,
For he, by poems that he did compile,
Fame: But thou triumphs o'er Petrarch's proper name!
Signed “ J. Rex.”
Otherwise known by the name of Democritus junior, was
bom in 1576, of an antient and genteel family, at Lindley, in Leicestershire. In 1593 he was entered a commoner at Brazen-nose College, in 1599 elected student of ChristChurch, and in 1816 made vicar of St. Thomas's, Oxford, which preferment, with the rectory of Segrave, in Leices. tershire," he kept," says Wood, “ with much ado to his “ dying day.” The same writer adds, “ He was an exact “ mathematician, a curious calculator of nativities, a gene“ral-read scholar, a thro'-paced philologist, and one that " understood the surveying of lands well;" and though“ a “ melancholy and humorous person," yet“ of great ho"nesty, plain-dealing, and charity.” Wood had also “heard some of the antients of Christ Church often say, that his
company was very merry, facete, and juvenile.” His “ Anatomy of Melancholy," a very singular work, in which Dr. Ferriar has detected the source of many of Sterne's most admired passages, was first published in 4to. 1621, and, after subsequently passing through seven editions in folio, has been lately republished. Wood says the bookseller got an estate by it; and that “ 'tis a book so full " of variety of reading, that gentlemen who have lost their “ time, and are put to a push for invention, may furnish " themselves with matter for common or scholastical dis“ course and writing." From what he farther observes it should seem that Sterne was not without precedent in his depredations upon Burton. “Several authors have unmer“ cifully stolen matter from the said book without any ac“ knowledgment, particularly one Will. Greenwood,” &c.
“ who, as others of the like humour do, sometimes takes « his quotations without the least mention of Democritus “junior.” Dr. Johnson thought highly of “the Anatomy ~ of Melancholy;" see swell's Life; and Mr.Warton in his notes to Milton's minor poems, p. 94, 2d ed. supposes that great poet“ to have borrowed the subject of L’Alle“gro and Il Penseroso, together with some particular “thoughts, expressions, and rhymes,” from the subsequent specimen. “As to the very elaborate work,” says Mr. Warton,“to which these visionary verses are no unsuitable “ introduction, the writer's variety of learning, his quota« tions from scarce and curious books, his pedantry
sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance, miscel“ laneous matter, intermixture of agreeable tales and illu“strations, and perhaps, above all, the singularities of his “ feelings, cloathed in an uncommon quaintness of style, “ have contributed to render it, even to modern readers, a
“ valuable repository of amusement and information.” Burton was fond of poetry, and left behind him a very
curious poetical and miscellaneous library, out of which he bequeathed to the Bodleian all the books not already contaired in it. He died in 1639 (very near the time of his own calculation), and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, where his bust may be seen, as well as a short Latin inscription, his own composition, on a monument erected by the care of his brother William, the antiquary and historian of Leicestershire.
The Abstract of Melancholy.
[Prefixed to “ The Anatomy of Melancholy:"]
When I go musing all alone,
All my joys to this are folly,
When I lie waking, all alone,
All my griefs to this are jolly,
When to myself I act, and smile,