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tion, the manly and vigorous language in which they clothed their fine thoughts, were beyond his reach. Yet he is neither without tenderness, nor fancy, and writes about nature in an easy, luxuriant style, and with a zest and heartiness which is sometimes charming. In one respect he might have been worthily imitated, by the poets of the century succeeding his own; for he describes nature naturally, singing, in mellifluous notes, of beauty which he has himself observed and enjoyed. Had Browne yielded himself up to the sweet influences of the country, instead of suffering his powers to be in subjection to the potent spirits around him, he might have left a rural poem, which would have given as much pleasure to this generation, as his pastorals seem to have given to his contemporaries. As it is, he afforded suggestions to a poet of a far higher order, for Keats would not have written "Endymion " if he had not first read the pastorals of Browne.
STANLEY. And his "Philarete" produced a "Lycidas." No mere rhymester ever succeeded in thus quickening the poetic life in other men; and therefore is Browne entitled to a place in the noble fraternity of poets.
TALBOT. Some of Browne's rural passages have a genuine ring about them, which is very pleasant. One feels sure that he loved what he wrote about, and found a poet's enjoyment in his work. His poems abound with similies, and the greater number, indeed, all the best of them, are taken from the sights, with which a country liver is most familiar. Let me read you two or three of these passages. They will give a fair notion of Browne's style. The first picture I select may be entitled
As a nimble squirrel from the wood,
With sticks and stones, and many a sounding hollow,
And now I will read you the description of
A MAY-DAY SCENE.
"As I have seen the Lady of the May,
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains
My next extract may bear the title of
"But, as when some kind nurse doth long time keep
She lays down in his cradle, stints his cry
The following description, quaint, delicate, and beautiful, may have bewitched the soul of Keats, and charmed the fancy of Leigh Hunt. Although far inferior to that drawn in the "Eve of St. Agnes," we shall do no dishonour to the great junior poet, if we call it
"And as a lovely maiden, pure and chaste,
That shrieks for sorrow as she lays it down;
Prepares for sweetest rest, while sylvans greet her,
But to what the poet compares this fair maiden need not
HARTLEY. Neither should the passage itself, nor the quotation which preceded it, if we kept strictly to our compact. The lines, however, are not only pretty in themselves, but are a good specimen of Browne's style; we must, therefore, forget that the recital of them is out of order.
TALBOT. There has been more than one offence of this kind committed already, of which I am innocent; there will, I trow, be many more, before our readings are concluded. But I will return at once into the narrow region of poetry which we have elected to explore, and read you, as my last illustration from "Britannia's Pastorals,"
AN EARLY MORNING SCENE.
"By this had Chanticleer, the village cock,
HARTLEY. It is impossible to treat any poet fairly, by
short extracts from his writings; but a luxuriant, discursive, I had almost said, slip-shod poet like Browne, should be read continuously, or not at all. The charm, whatever it may be, of his poems, is greatly owing to the feeling that runs through them, and to their rhythmical cadence. And yet, if only to prove the truth of TALBOT's assertion, I feel inclined to transgress even more than he has done, and to read one non-rural passage from the Pastorals, which touches on the feelings and aspirations of the poet. The egotism of a poet, unlike other egotism, is universally attractive. You will like Browne all the better when I have read it:
“What now I sing is but to pass away
I like the pleasing cadence of a line,
Struck by the concert of the sacred nine.