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LIFE OF BEAUMONT.
SIR JOHN BEAUMONT, the son of Francis Beaumont, one of the judges of the common pleas, under Elizabeth, was born at Grace-dieu, in Leicestershire, in 1582. At the age of fourteen, he was admitted a gentleman-commoner in Broadgate's Hall, (since Pembroke College,) in Oxford ; and, having spent three years, chiefly in the study of classic poetry, he removed to one of the Inns of Court: but, probably, detesting a pursuit, for which he was poorly fitted, both by nature and cducation, he soon returned to Leicestershire, and married Elizabeth, daughter of John Fortescue, Esq. In 1626, he was made a baronet by king Charles; and, two years afterwards, we hear of his death.
Sir John Beaumont's reputation as a poet must chiefly depend upon his Bosworth Field, which is a close imitation of Homer, and is such an epic as one of the Niads would make. It is written with considerable richness of language, and harmony of numbers; but almost the only thing, which entitles it to be called an imitation of Homer, is, that the author often introduces a formal similie by “as when,' or so when.'
SIR JOHN BEAUMONT.
The winter's storme of ciuill warre I sing,
The king (whose eyes were neuer fully clos’d, Whose minde opprest with feareful dreams, sup
pos'd, That he in blood had wallow'd all the night) Leapes from his restlesse bed, before the light: Accursed Tirell is the first he spies, Whom threatning with his dagger, thus he cries. “How darst thou, villaine, so disturbe my sleepe? Were not the smother'd children buried deepe? And hath the ground again been ript by thee, That I their rotten carkases might see?”
The wretch, astonisht, hastes away to slide,
victorious care preuents Your slouthfull foes, that slumber in their tents. This precious time must not in vaine be spent, Which God (your helpe) by heau’nly meanes hath
lent." He (by these false coniectures) much appeas’d, Contemning fancies, which his minde diseas’d, Replies: “I should haue been asham'd to tell Fond dreames to wise men: whether Heau'n or
Hell, Or troubled nature, these effects hath wrought: I know, this day requires another thought, If some resistlesse strength my cause should crosse, Feare will increase, and not redeeme the losse; All dangers, clouded with the mist of feare, Seeme great farre off, but lessen comming neare. Away, ye black illusions of the night, If ye combin'd with Fortune; haue the might
To hinder my designes: ye shall not barre
charmes. “ Bring me,” saith he, “ the harnesse that I wore At Teuxbury, which from that day no more Hath felt the battries of a ciuill strife, Nor stood betweene destruction and my life.” Vpon his brest-plate he beholds a dint, Which in that field young Edward's sword did
print: This stirres remembrance of his heinous guilt, When he that prince's blood so foulely spilt. Now fully arm’d, he takes his helmet bright, Which, like a twinkling starre, with trembling light Sends radiant lustre through the darksome aire ; This maske will make his wrinkled visage faire. But when his head is couer'd with the steele, He tells his seruants, that his temples feele Deepe-piercing stings, which breed vnusuall paines, And of the heauy burden much complaines. Some marke his words, as tokens fram'd t expresse The sharpe conclusion of a sad successe. Then going forth, and finding in his way A souldier of the watch, who sleeping lay, Enragʻd to see the wretch neglect his part, He strikes a sword into his trembling heart; The hand of death, and iron dulnesse, takes 'Those leaden eyes, which nat’rall ease forsakes : The king this morning sacrifice commends, And, for example, thus the fact defends: “I leaue him, as I found him, fit to keepe The silent doores of euerlasting sleepe."