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Clowne. Why suppose, maister, I have offended you, is it lawful for the maister to beate the servant for all offences?
Smith. I, marry is it, knave.
Clowne. Then, maister, will I proove by lodgicke, that seeing all sinnes are to receyve correction, the maister is to be corrected of the man: and, sir, I pray you, what greater sinne is then jealousie? 'tis like a mad dogge, that for anger bites himselfe. Therefore, that I may do my duty to you, my good maister, and make a white sonne of you, I will beswinge jealousie out of you, as you shall love me the better while you live.
Smith. What, beat thy master, knave?
Clowne. What, beat thy man, knave? T, maister, and double beate you, because you are a man of credite; and therefore have at you, the fayrest of forty pence.
Smith. Alasse, wife, helpe, helpe, my man kils me.
Wife. Nay, even as you have baked, so brue; jealousie must be driven out by extremities.
Clowne. And that will I doe, mistresse.
Smith. Hold thy hand, Adam, and not onely I forgive and forget all, but I will give thee a good farme to live on.
Clowne. Bee gone, peasant, out of the compasse of my further wrathe, for I am a corrector of vice; and at night I will bring home my mistresse.
Smith. Even when you please, good Adam.
Clowne. When I please; marke thy words, tis a lease paroll, to have and to hold; thou shalt be mine for ever; and so let's goe to the alehouse." [exeunt.
The authors we have been considering possess not, it must be confessed, magicians' wands to move our feelings to any point they list. They do not display any deep insight into the mysteries of the heart, whose sweet affections they hardly touch,—neither is there any strong exhibition of the stormy conflicts of the mind, nor yet any deep vein of impassioned poetry. We see things as in "a glass darkly." But we must not forget that the drama was then in its nonage, nor expect that infancy will produce the fruits of maturity. For, although Greene as well as Kyd, Lilly, Peele, and Marlowe, were living at the time when Shakspeare began his dramatic career, they preceded him as writers for the stage, from which they departed just as he appeared.
Art. V. The Miscellaneous Works in Verse and Prose of Sir Thomas Overbury, Knt. with Memoirs of his Life. The tenth edition. London, 1754.
This little volume contains the remains of the unfortunate Sir Thomas Overbury, "one of the most finished gentlemen about the court" of James I. who fell a victim, as is well known, before the ungovernable passions of the Countess of Essex. The murder of this accomplished man is one of the most disgraceful passages of the history of England; but as the tragical story is always related there, we shall turn our attention from so gloomy a subject to the agreeable little volume before us. The sympathy which was universally felt for his melancholy fate is demonstrated by the first forty pages, which consist of elegies and tributes of grief and admiration from all quarters, "on the untimely death of Sir Thomas Overbury, poisoned in the Tower," and on his poem the " Wife," with manifold regrets that she " had grown husbandless of late." The only " Verse" by Sir Thomas Overbury himself, in the book, are his famous poem termed the " Wife," a smaller one on the "Choice of a Wife," and two or three elegies. The "Wife" is a didactic poem, and though the precepts which it gives are certainly not of a kind which the reader feels disposed to dispute, they have truly very little to recommend them, being far from remarkable for their ingenuity, and certainly not set off' by any charms of poetical grace or ornament. Our rage for reviving the forgotten does not extend so far as to inflict upon our readers many passages, containing nothing better than injunctions to disregard beauty, which, as Sir Thomas observes, is but "skin deep," and to prefer good, which "is a fairer attribute than white," expressed in a dry style and crabbed versification, though they may be on so universally interesting a subject as the Choice of a Wife. Nevertheless, there are some passages in this little poem which, if they are not of themselves worthy of being quoted, will at least serve as specimens of a composition which has been no small favorite in its day.
The following verses, though they may contain no sentiment of a very striking description, are written with some force of expression.
"So fair, at least, let me imagine her,
That thought to me is truth: opinion
With no eyes shall I see her, but mine own,
The face we may the seat of beauty call,
In it the relish of the rest doth lie;
And of the face the life moves in the eye.
Beauty in decent shape and colours lies,
The soul, which from no single part doth rise,
And is a meer spiritual harmony
Of ev'ry part, united in the eye.
Love is a kind of superstition,
Which fears the idol which itself hath fram'd;
Temper than from the object is inflam'd."
He thus expresses his opinion on the due portion of learning to be allowed in women; an important question, which doubtless is not unfrequently debated in the minds of all those who take an interest in the education of the female mind. Sir Thomas, it will be observed, is of the old school; and we fear the term "domestic charge" is obnoxious to unpleasant commentaries in these days, when cookery books and needleworks are not, as in the " olden time," the study and pursuits of our ladies of beauty and fashion.
"Give me next good, an understanding wife,
By nature wise, not learned by much art:
More scope of conversation impart:
A passive understanding to conceive,
And judgment to discern, I wish to find:
Learning and pregnant wit in womankind.
Domestic charge doth best that sex befit,
Contiguous bus'ness, so to fix the mind,
Their leisure 'tis corrupteth womankind;
Books are a part of man's prerogative,
In formal ink they thoughts and voices hold,
That we to them our solitude may give,
The small poem on the " Choice of a Wife" is in a lighter style, and composed in a more flowing versification. Take the following specimen.
"If I were to chuse a woman,
As who knows but I may marry,
Nor a tongue that may miscarry;
First, to make my choice the bolder,
I would have her child to such,
Than antiquity can touch;
Yet an antient stock may bring
Branches, I confess, of worth,
Those descents that brought them forth;
-Such a one as, when she's woo'd,
Blushes not for ill thoughts past;
That her dreams are ever chast;
In my visitation still,
I would have her scatter fears,
After protestations tears;
It is not, however, on the poetry, if it may be so called, of Overbury, that his reputation must be founded—it is the remainder of the volume, " the Characters or witty Descriptions of the Properties of sundry Persons," which display the fertile and ingenious character of his mind. From these we intend to make some extracts, which will we hope give a value and interest to this article. The book itself is seldom read, and not, on the whole, entertaining; but there are portions of it, and numerous portions too, which we think will impress the reader with a high opinion of the author's talent for observation, and his power of witty contrast and felicitous, though sometimes obscure, expression. No good heart can read the following beautiful picture of a " fair and happy milk-maid," without inwardly moaning over the fate of the gentle and accomplished man that conceived it. We hardly know of any passage in English prose, and that is saying no little, which inspires the mind of the reader with so many pleasing recollections, and which spreads so calm and purifying a delight over the spirit, as it broods over the idea of the innocent girl whose image Sir Thomas has here bodied forth:—" It will scent all the year long of June, like a new-made hay-cock."
A Fair and Happy Milkmaid
Is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of hers is able to put all face-physic out of countenance. She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue, therefore minds it not. All her excellencies stand in her so silently, as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel, which is herself, is far better than outsides of tissue; for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silk-worm, she is decked in innocence, a far better wearing. She doth not, with lying long in bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions: nature hath taught her too, immoderate sleep is rust to the soul; she rises therefore with Chanticlere, her dame s cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfu. In milking a cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk-press makes the milk whiter or sweeter; for never came almond-glore or aromatic ointment on her palm to taint it. The golded ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made hay-cock. She makes her hand hard with labour, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel, she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair, and in chusing her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and bee-hive are all her physic and surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone, and unfold sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, because she means none; yet, to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts, and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy, in that they are not palled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste, that she