Page images


Time was, and that was term’d the time of gold,
When world and time were young, that now are old,
(When quiet Saturn sway'd the mace of lead,
And pride was yet unborn, and yet unbred ;)
Time was, that whiles the autumn fall did last,
Our hungry sires gaped for the falling mast

Of the Dodonian oaks;
Could no unhusked acorn leave the tree,
But there was challenge made whose it might be;
And if some nice and liquorous appetite
Desired more dainty dish of rare delight,
They scaled the stored crab with clasped knee,
Till they had sated their delicious eye:
Or search'd the hopeful thicks of hedgy rows,
For briary berries, or haws, or sourer sloes:
Or when they meant to fare the fin'st of all,
They lick'd oak-leaves besprint with honey fall.
As for the thrice three-angled beech nutshell,
Or chestnut's armed husk, and hide kernel,
No squire durst touch, the law would not afford,
Kept for the court, and for the king's own board.
Their royal plate was clay, or wood, or stone;
The vulgar, save his hand, else he had none.
Their only cellar was the neighbour brook:
None did for better care, for better look.
Was then no plaining of the brewer's 'scape,
Nor greedy vintner mix'd the stained grape.
The king's pavilion was the grassy green,
Under safe shelter of the shady treen.
Under each bank men laid their limbs along,
Not wishing any ease, not fearing wrong:
Clad with their own, as they were made of old,

Not fearing shame, not feeling any cold.
But when by Ceres' huswifery and pain,
Men learn'd to bury the reviving grain,
And father Janus taught the new-found vine
Rise on the elm, with many a friendly twine:
And base desire bade men to delven low,
For needless metals, then 'gan mischief grow.
Then farewell, fairest age, the world's best days,
Thriving in all as it in age decays.
Then crept in pride, and peevish covetise,
And men grew greedy, discordous, and nice.
Now man, that erst hail-fellow was with beast,
Wox on to ween himself a god at least.
Nor aery fowl can take so high a flight,
Though she her daring wings in clouds have dight;
Nor fish can dive so deep in yielding sea,
Though Thetis' self should swear her safëty;
Nor fearful beast can dig his cave so low,
As could he further than earth's centre go;
As that the air, the earth, or ocean,
Should shield them from the gorge of greedy man.
Hath utmost Ind ought better than his own?
Then utmost Ind is near, and rife to gone,
O nature ! was the world ordain'd for nought
But fill man's maw, and feed man's idle thought ?
Thy grandsire's words savour'd of thrifty leeks,
Or manly garlic; but thy furnace reeks
Hot steams of wine; and can aloof descry
The drunken draughts of sweet autumnitie.
They naked went; or clad in ruder hide,
Or home-spun russet, void of foreign pride:
But thou canst mask in garish gauderie,
To suit a fool's far-fetched livery.
A French head join'd to neck Italian:

Thy thighs from Germany, and breast from Spain:
An Englishman in none, a fool in all :
Many in one, and one in several.
Then men were men; but now the greater part
Beasts are in life, and women are in heart.
Good Saturn self, that homely emperor,
In proudest pomp was not so clad of yore,
As is the under-groom of the ostlery,
Husbanding it in work-day yeomanry.
Lo! the long date of those expired days,
Which the inspired Merlin's word foresays;
When dunghill peasants shall be dight as kings,
Then one confusion another brings:
Then farewell, fairest age, the world's best days,
Thriving in ill, as it in age decays.


Seest thou how gaily my young master goes,
Vaunting himself upon his rising toes;
And pranks his hand upon his dagger's side,
And picks his glutted teeth since late noontide?
"Tis Ruffio: Trow'st thou where he dined to-day?
In sooth I saw him sit with Duke Humphray.
Many good welcomes, and much gratis cheer,
Keeps he for every straggling cavalier,
And open house, haunted with great resort;
Long service mix'd with musical disport.
Many fair younker with a feather'd crest,
Chooses much rather be his shot-free guest,
To fare so freely with so little cost,
Than stake his twelvepence to a meaner host.
Hadst thou not told me, I should surely say
He touch'd no meat of all this livelong day.

For sure methought, yet that was but a guess,
His eyes seem'd sunk for very hollowness;
But could he have (as I did it mistake)
So little in his purse, so much upon his back?
So nothing in his maw ? yet seemeth by his belt,
That his gaunt gut no too much stuffing felt.
Seest thou how side it hangs beneath his hip?
Hunger and heavy iron makes girdles slip;
Yet for all that, how stiffly struts he by,
All trapped in the new-found bravery.
The nuns of new-won Calais his bonnet lent,
In lieu of their so kind a conquerment.
What needed he fetch that from furthest Spain.
His grandam could have lent with lesser pain ?
Though he perhaps ne'er pass'd the English shore,
Yet fain would counted be a conqueror.
His hair, French-like, stares on his frighted head,
One lock, Amazon-like, dishevelled,
As if he meant to wear a native cord,
If chance his fates should him that bane afford.
All British bare upon the bristled skin,
Close notched is his beard both lip and chin;
His linen collar labyrinthian set,
Whose thousand double turnings never met:
His sleeves half hid with elbow pinionings,
As if he meant to fly with linen wings.
But when I look, and cast mine eyes below,
What monster meets mine eyes in human show?
So slender waist with such an abbot's loin,
Did never sober nature sure conjoin,
Lik'st a strawn scarecrow in the new-sown field,
Rear'd on some stick, the tender corn to shield;
Or if that semblance suit not every deal,
Like a broad shake-fork with a slender steel.




mels of affectation in style and manner which bound many of the poets of that period. The wits of Charles II. were more disgustingly licentious; but their very carelessness saved them from the conceits of their predecessors; and, while lowering the tone of morality, they raised unwittingly the standard of taste. Some of the songs of Lovelace, however, such as To Althea, from Prison,' are exquisitely simple, as well as pure. Sir Egerton Brydges has found out that Byron, in one of his bepraised paradoxical beauties, either copied, or coincided with, our poet. In the ‘Bride of Abydos' he says of Zuleika

"The mind, the music breathing from her face.' Lovelace had, long before, in the song of Orpheus Mourning for his Wife,' employed the words

“Oh, could you view the melody

every grace,
And music of her face,

You'd drop a tear ;
Seeing more harmony

In her bright eye

Than now you hear.' While many have praised, others have called this idea nonsense; although, if we are permitted to speak of the harmony of the tones of a cloud, why not of the harmony produced by the consenting lines of a countenance, where every grace melts into another, and the various features and expressions fluctuate into a fine whole? Whatever, whether it be the beauty of the human face, or the quiet lustre of statuary, or the mild glory of moonlight, gives the effects of music, and, like that divine art,

· Pours on mortals a beautiful disdain,' may surely become music's metaphor and poetic analogy.




1 When Love, with unconfined wings,

Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings

To whisper at my grates;

« PreviousContinue »