Page images

ence to his senior brother. Giles was bred at Cam. bridge, and died at his living of Alderston, in Suffolk, in 1623. Phineas was educated at the same university, and wrote an account of its founders and learned men. He was also a clergyman, and held the living of Hilgay, in Norfolk, for twenty-nine years. They were both the disciples of Spenser, and, with bis diction gently modernized, retained much of his melody and luxuriant expression. Giles, inferior as he is to Spenser and Milton, might be figured, in his happiest moments, as a link of connexion in our poetry between those congenial spirits, for he reminds us of both, and evidently gave hints to the latter in a poem on the same subject with Paradise Regained.

Giles's “ Temptation and Victory of Christ” has a tone of enthusiasm peculiarly solemn. Phineas, with a livelier fancy, had a worse taste. He lavished on a bad subject the graces and ingenuity that would have made a fine poem on a good design. Through five cantos of his “Purple Island,” he tries to sweeten the language of anatomy by the flowers of poetry, and to support the wings of allegory by bodily instead of spiritual phenomena. Unfortunately in the remaining cantos he only quits the dissecting table to launch into the subtlety of the schools, and describes Intellect, the Prince of the Isle of Man, with his eight counsellors, Fancy, Memory, the Common Sense, and the five external Senses, as holding out in the Human Fortress against the Evil Powers that besiege it. Here he strongly resembles the old Scottish poet Gavin Douglas, in his poem of King Heart. But he outstrips all allegorists in conceit, when he exhibits Voletta, or the Will, the wife of Intellect, propt in her fainting fits by Repentance, who administers restorative waters to the Queen, made with lip's confession and with “ pickled sighs,” stilled in the alembic of a broken spirit. At the approach of the combat between the good and evil powers, the interest of the narration is somewhat quickened, and the parting of the sovereign and the queen, with their champions, is not unfeelingly pourtrayed.

Long at the gate the thoughtful Intellect
Staid with his fearful queen and daughter fair;
And when the knights were past their dim aspect,
They follow'd them with vows and many a prayer:
At last they climb up to the castle's height,
From which the deeds of every knight,
And mark'd the doubtful end of this intestine fighto

As when a youth, bound for the Belgic war,
Takes leave of friends upon the Kentish shore,
Now are they parted; and he sail'd so far,
They see not now, and now are seen no more ;
Yet, far off, viewing the white trembling sails,
The tender mother soon plucks off her vails,
And, shaking them aloft, unto her son she hails.

[ocr errors]

But the conclusion of the Purple Island sinks inte such absurdity and adulation, that we could gladiy

wish the poet back again to allegorizing the bladder and kidneys. In a contest about the eternal salvation of the human soul, the event is decided by King James the First (at that time a sinner upon earth) descending from heaven with his treatise on the Revelations under his arm, in the form of an angel, and preceding the Omnipotent, who puts the forces of the dragon to the rout.

These incongruous conceptions are clothed in harmony, and interspersed with beautiful thoughts: but natural sentiments and agreeable imagery will not incorporate with the shapeless features of such a design, they stand apart from it like things of a different element, and, when they occur, only expose its deformity. On the contrary, in the brother's poem of Christ's Triumph, its main effect, though somewhat sombrous, is not marred by such repul. sive contrasts; its beauties, therefore, all tell in relieving tedium, and reconciling us to defects.




But Justice had no sooner Mercy seen
Smoothing the wrinkles of her father's brow,
But up she starts, and throws herself between:
As when a vapour from a moory slough,

Meeting with fresh Eöus, that but now
Open'd the world, which all in darkness lay,
Doth heaven's bright face of his rays disarray,
And sads the smiling orient of the springing day.

She was a virgin of austere regard :
Not as the world esteems her, deaf and blind ;
But as the eagle, that hath oft compar'd
Her eye with heaven's, so, and more brightly

Her lamping sight: for she the same could wind
Into the solid heart, and, with her ears,
The silence of the thought loud speaking hears,
And in one hand a pair of even scales she wears.

No riot of affection revel kept
Within her breast, but a still apathy
Possessed all her soul, which softly slept
Securely without tempest; no sad cry
Awakes her pity, but wrong'd Poverty,
Sending his eyes to heav'n swimming in tears,
With hideous clamours ever struck her ears,
Whetting the blazing sword that in her hand she


The winged lightning is her Mercury,
And round about her mighty thunders sound:
Impatient of himself lies pining by
Pale Sickness, with his kercher'd head upwound,
And thousand noisome plagues attend her round.

But if her cloudy brow but once grow foul,
The flints do melt, and rocks to water roll,
And airy mountains shake, and frighted shadows


Famine, and bloodless Care, and bloody War ;
Want, and the want of knowledge how to use
Abundance; Age, and Fear, that runs afar
Before his fellow Grief, that aye pursues
His winged steps; for who would not refuse
Grief's company, a dull and raw-bon'd spright,
That lanks the cheeks, and pales the freshest sight,
Unbosoming the cheerful breast of all delight?


Upon two stony tables, spread before her,
She leant her bosom, more than stony hard ;
There slept th' impartial judge and strict restorer:
Of wrong or right, with pain or with reward;
There hung the score of all our debts--the card
Where good, and bad, and life, and death, were

painted: Was never heart of mortal so untainted, But, when that scroll was read, with thousand terrors


Witness the thunder that Mount Sinai heard,
When all the hill with fiery clouds did fame,

« PreviousContinue »