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instances of the same false style, in its various divisions and subdivisions.* Of Cowley's serious poems, the Complaint is the one I like the best; and some of his translations in the Essays, as those on Liberty and Retirement, are exceedingly good. The Odes to Vandyke, to the Royal Society, to Hobbes, and to the latter Brutus, beginning “Excellent Brutus,” are all full of ingenious and high thoughts, impaired by a load of ornament and quaint disguises. The Chronicle, or list of his Mistresses, is the best of his original lighter pieces : but the best of his poems are the translations from Anacreon, which remain, and are likely to remain unrivalled. The spirit of wine and joy circulates in them; and though they are lengthened out beyond the originals, it is by fresh impulses of an eager and inexhaustible feeling of delight. Here are some of them :
“ The thirsty earth soaks
See his Lives of the British Poets, Vol. I.
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
the sea, and, when he 'as done,
This is a classical intoxication; and the poet's imagination, giddy with fancied joys, communicates its spirit and its motion to inanimate things, and makes all nature reel round with it. It is not easy to decide between these choice pieces, which may be reckoned among the delights of human kind; but that to the Grasshopper is one of the happiest as well as most serious :
Happy insect, what can be
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing;
Cowley's Essays are among the most agreeable prose-compositions in our language, being equally recommended by sense, wit, learning, and interes ing personal history, and written in a style quite free from the faults of his poetry. It is a
pity that he did not cultivate his talent for
prose more, and write less in verse, for he was clearly a man of more reflection than imagination. The Essays on Agriculture, on Liberty, on Solitude, and on Greatness, are all of them delightful. From the last I may give his account of Senecio as an addition to the instances of the ludicrous, which I have attempted to enumerate in the introductory Lecture; whose ridiculous affectation of grandeur Seneca the elder (he tells us) describes to this effect : “ Senecio was a man of a turbid and confused wit, who could not endure to speak any but mighty words and sentences, till this humour grew at last into so notorious a habit, or rather disease, as became the sport of the whole town : he would have no servants, but huge, massy fellows; no plate or household-stuff, but thrice as big as the fashion: you may
me, for I speak it without raillery, his extravagancy came at last into such a madness, that he would not put on a pair of shoes, each of which was not big enough for both his feet: he would eat nothing but what was great, nor touch any fruit but horseplums and pound-pears : he kept a mistress that was a very giantess, and made her walk too always in chiopins, till, at last, he got the surname of Senecio Grandio.” This was certainly the most absurd person we read of in antiquity. Cowley's
character of Oliver Cromwell, which is intended as a satire, (though it certainly produces a very different impression on the mind), may vie for truth of outline and force of colouring with the masterpieces of the Greek and Latin historians. It may serve as a contrast to the last extract.
“ What can be more extraordinary, than that a person of mean birth, no fortune, no eminent qualities of body, which have sometimes, or of mind, which have often, raised men to the highest dignities, should have the courage to attempt, and the bappiness to succeed in, so improbable a design, as the destruction of one of the most ancient and most solidly-founded monarchies upon, the earth? That he should have the power or boldness to put his prince and master to an open and infamous death; to banish that numerous and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a Parliament; to trample upon them too as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unbeard-of monster out of their ashes ; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called sovereign in England ; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for a while, and to command them victoriously at last; to over-run