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In that so much unhappy, had not he
VAUGHAN was born in Wales, on the banks of the Uske, in Brecknockshire, in 1614. His father was a gentleman, but, we presume, poor, as his son was bred to a profession. Young Vaughan became first a lawyer, and then a physician; and we suppose, had it not been for his advanced life, he would have become latterly a clergyman, since he grew, when old, exceedingly devout. In life, he was not fortunate, and we find him, like Chamberlayne, complaining bitterly of the poverty of the poetical tribe. In 1651, he published a volume of verse, in which nascent excellence struggles with dim obscurities, like a young moon with heavy clouds. But his 'Silex Scintillans,' or Sacred Poems, produced in later life, attests at once the
6 depth of his devotion, and the truth and originality of his genius. He died in 1695.
Campbell, always prone to be rather severe on pious poets, and whose taste, too, was finical at times, says of Vaughan• He is one of the harshest even of the inferior order of the school of conceit; but he has some few scattered thoughts that meet the eye amidst his harsh pages, like wild flowers on a barren heath.' Surely this is rather harsh' judgment. At the same time, it is not a little laughable to find that Campbell has himself appropriated one of these wild flowers.' In his beautiful 'Rainbow,' he cries—
• How came the world's gray fathers forth
To mark thy sacred sign!'
• How bright wert thou when Shem's admiring eye,
For thy new light, and trembled at each shower!' Indeed, all Campbell's' Rainbow' is just a reflection of Vaughan's, and reminds you of those faint, pale shadows of the heavenly bow you sometimes see in the darkened and disarranged skies of
spring. To steal from, and then strike down the victim, is more suitable to robbers than to poets.
Perhaps the best criticism on Vaughan may be found in the title of his own poems, 'Silex Scintillans.' He had a good deal of the dulness and hardness of the flint about his mind, but the influence of poverty and suffering,—for true it is that
They learn in suffering what they teach in song: and latterly the power of a genuine, though somewhat narrow piety, struck out glorious scintillations from the bare but rich rock. He ranks with Crashaw, Quarles, and Herbert, as one of the best of our early religious poets; like them in their faults, and superior to all of them in refinement and beauty, if not in strength of genius.
ON A CHARNEL-HOUSE.
Where are you, shoreless thoughts, vast-tentered 1 hope,
1. Vast-tentered :' extended.- Air-mongering:' dealing in air or unsubstantial visions.
Calm these high furies, and descend to men.
ON GOMBAULD'S ENDYMION. I've read thy soul's fair night-piece, and have seen The amours and courtship of the silent queen; Her stolen descents to earth, and what did move her To juggle first with heaven, then with a lover; With Latmos' louder rescue, and, alas! To find her out, a hue and cry in brass; Thy journal of deep mysteries, and sad Nocturnal pilgrimage; with thy dreams, clad In fancies darker than thy cave; thy glass Of sleepy draughts; and as thy soul did pass In her calm voyage, what discourse she heard Of spirits; what dark groves and ill-shaped guard Ismena led thee through; with thy proud flight O’er Periardes, and deep-musing night Near fair Eurotas' banks; what solemn green The neighbour shades wear; and what forms are seen In their large bowers; with that sad path and seat Which none but light-heeled nymphs and fairies beat, Their solitary life, and how exempt From common frailty, the severe contempt They have of man, their privilege to live A tree or fountain, and in that reprieve What ages they consume: with the sad vale Of Diophania; and the mournful tale Of the bleeding, vocal myrtle :—these and more, Thy richer thoughts, we are upon the score To thy rare fancy for. Nor dost thou fall From thy first majesty, or ought at all Betray consumption. Thy full vigorous bays Wear the same green, and scorn the lean decays Of style or matter; just as I have known Some crystal spring, that from the neighbour down