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There are no modern writers, perhaps, who have succeeded better in love-verses than the English; and it is indeed just, that the fairest ladies should inspire the best poets. Never was there a more copious fancy or greater reach of wit than what appears in Dr. Donne ; nothing can be more gallant or genteel than the poems of Mr. Waller; nothing more gay or sprightly than those of sir John Suckling; and nothing fuller of variety and learning than Mr. Cowley's. However, it may be observed, that among all these, that softness, tenderness, and violence of passion, which the ancients thought most proper for love-verses, is wanting: and at the same time that we must allow Dr. Donne to have been a very great wit; Mr. Waller a very gallant writer ; sir John Suckling a very gay one ; and Mr. Cowley a great genius ; yet methinks I can hardly fancy any one of them to have been a very great lover. And it grieves me, that the ancients, who could never have handsomer women than we have, should nevertheless be so much more in love than we are. But it is probable the great reason of this may be the cruelty of our ladies ; for a man must be imprudent indeed to let his passion take very deep root, when he has no reason to expect any sort of return to it. And if it be so, there ought to be a petition made to the fair, that they would be pleased sometimes to abate a little of their rigour for the propagation of good verse. I do not mean, that they should confer their favours upon pone but men of wit, that would be too great a confinement indeed: but that they would admit them upon the same foot with other people ; and if they please now and then to make the experiment, I fancy they will find entertainment enough from the very variety of it.
There are three sorts of poems that are proper for love : pastorals, elegies, and lyric verses; under which last, I comprehend all songs, odes, sonnets, madrigals, and stanzas.
Of all these, pastoral is the lowest, and, upon that account, perhaps most proper for love ; siuce it is the nature of that passion to render the soul soft and humble. These three sorts of poems ought to differ, not only in their numbers, but in the designs, and in every thought of them. Though we have no difference between the verses of pastoral and elegy in the modern languages, yet the numbers of the first ought to be looser and not so sonorous as the other; the thoughts more simple, more easy,
and more humble. The design ought to be the representing the life of a shepherd, not only by talking of sheep and fields, but by showing as the truth, sincerity, and innocence, that accompanies that sort of life : for though I know our masters, Theocritus and Virgil, have not always conformed in this point of innocence ; Theocritus, in his Daphnis, baving made his love too wanton, and Virgil, in his Alexis, placed his passion upon a boy; yet (if we 'may be allowed to censure those whom we must always reverence) I take both those things to be faults in their poems, and should have been better pleased with the Alexis, if it had been made to a woman; and with the Daphnis, if he had made his shepherds more modest. When I give humility and modesty as the character of pastoral, it is not, however, but that a shepherd may be allowed to boast of his pipe, his songs, his flocks, and to show a contempt of his rival, as we see both Theocritus and Virgil do. But this must be still in such a manner, as if the occasion offered itself, and was not sought, and proceeded rather from the violence of the shepherd's passion, than any natural pride or malice in him.
There ought to be the same difference observed between pastorals and elegies, as between the life of the country and the court. In the first, love ought be represented as among shepherds, in the other as among gentlemen. They ought to be smooth, clear, tender, and passionate. The thoughts may be bold, more gay, and more elevated, than in pastoral. The passions they represent, either more gallant or more violent, and less innocent than the others. The subjects of them, prayers, praises, expostulations, quarrels, reconcilements, threatenings, jealousies, and in fine, all the natural effects of love.
Lyrics may be allowed to bandle all the same subjects with elegy, but to do it however in a different manner. An elegy ought to be so entirely one thing, and every verse ought so to depend upon the other, that they should not be able to subsist alone ; or, to make use of the words of a great modern critic', there must be
a just coherence made Between each thought, and the whole model laid So right, that every step may higher rise,
Like goodly mountains, till they reach the skies. Lyrics, on the other hand, though they ought to make one body as well as the other, yet may consist of parts that are entire of themselves. It being a rule in modern languages, that every stanza
" Lord Mulgrave.
ought to make up a complete sense without runving into the other. Frequent sentences, which are accounted faults in elegies, are beauties here. Besides this, Malherbe, and the French poets after him, have made it a role in the stanzas of six lines, to make a pause at the third ; and in those of ten lines, at the third and the seventh. And it must be confessed, that this exactness renders them inuch more musical and harmonious; though they have not always been so religious in observing the latter rule as the former.
But I am engaged in a very vain, or a very foolish design : those who are critics, it would be a presumption in me to pretend I could instruct; and to instruct those who are not, at the same time I write myself, is (if I may be allowed to apply another man's simile) like selling arms to an enemy iu time of war : though there ought, perhaps, to be more indulgence shown to things of love and gallantry than any others, becanse they are generally written when people are young, and intended for ladies who are not supposed to be very old; and all young people, especially of the fair sex, are more taken with the liveliness of fancy, than the correctness of judgment. It may be also observed, that to write of love well, a man must be really in love ; and to correct his writings well, he must be out of love again. I am well enough satisfied I may be in circumstances of writing of love, but I am almost in despair of ever being in circumstances of correcting it. This I hope may be a reason for the fair and the young to pass over some of the faults; and as for the grave and wise, all the favour I shall beg of them is, that they would not read them. Things of this nature are calculated only for the former. If love-verses work upon the ladies, a man will not trouble himself with what the critics say of them: and if they do not, all the commendations the critics can give him will make but very little amends. All I shall say for these trifles is, that I pretend not to vie with any man whatsoever. I doubt not but there are several now living who are able to write better on all subjects than I am upon any one : but I will take the boldness to say, that there is no one man among them all who shall be readier to acknowledge his own faults, or to do justice to the merits of other people.
TO HIS BOOK.
The lawyer, to reward his tedious care,
Go, little Book, and to the world impart
To chase the fatal poison from our breast?
EPIGRAM. WRITTEN IN A LADY'S TABLE-BOOK. WITH what strange raptures would my soul be blest, Were but her book an emblem of her breast ! As 'I from that all former marks efface, And, uncontrol'd, put new ones in their place; So might I chase all others from her heart, And my own image in the stead impart. But, ah! how short the bliss would prove, if he Who seiz'd it next, might do the same by me!
THE POWER OF VERSE,
TO HIS MISTRESS.
THE UNREWARDED LOVER.
Let the dull merchant curse his angry fate,
While those bright eyes subdue where'er you will,
In vain the Tyrian queen' resigns her life,
Ye gods! she weeps; behold that falling shower! For the bright glory of a spotless wife,
See how her eyes are quite dissolv'd in tears! If lying bards may false amours rehearse,
Can she in vain that precious torrent pour ? And blast her name with arbitrary verse;
Oh, no, it bears away my doubts and fears : While one?, who all the absence of her lord
'Twas pity sure that made it fow: Had her wide courts with pressing lovers stor'd,
For the same pity, stop it now; Yet, by a poet grac'd, in deathless rhymes, For every charming, heavenly drop, that from those Stands a chaste pattern to succeeding times.
eyes does part, With pity then the Muses' friends survey, Is paid with streams of blood, that gush from my Nor think your favours there are throwo away;
o'erflowing heart. Wisely like seed on fruitful soil they 're thrown, To bring large crops of glory and renown:
Yes, I will love; I will believe you true, For as the Sun, that in the marshes breeds
And raise my passions up as high as e'er; Nothing but nauseous and unwholesome weeds, Nay, I'll believe you false, yet love you too, With the same rays, on rich and pregnant earth, Let the least sign of penitence appear. 'To pleasant flowers and useful fruits gives birth :
I'll frame excuses for your fault, So favours cast on fools get only shame,
Think you surpris'd, or meanly caught; On poets shed, produce eternal fame,
Nay in the fury, in the height of that abhorrid Their generous breasts warm with a genial fire,
embrace, And more than all the Muses can inspire.
Believe you thought, believe at least you wish'd,
me in the place.
Oh, let me lie whole ages in those arms,
And on that bosom lull asleep my cares: JEALOUSY.
Forgive those foolish fears of fancy'd harms, Who could more happy, who more blest could That stab my soul, while they but move thy live,
(move? And think, unless I lov'd thee still, (tears; Than they whom kind, whom amorous passions
I had not treated thee so ill; (certaiu signs What crowns, what empires, greater joys could for these rude pangs of jealousy are much more give,
Of love, than all the tender words an amorous Than the soft chains, the slavery of Love?
Torment me with this horrid rage no more ; That gnawing doubt, that anxious fear, that danger
Oh smile, and grant one reconciling kiss! That terrible tormenting rage, that madness, Jea
Ye gods, she's kind! I'm ecstasy all o'er! lousy.
My soul 's too narrow to contain the bliss.
Thou pleasing torture of my breast, In vain Celinda boasts she has been true,
Sure thou wert fram'd to plague my rest, In vain she swears she keeps vntouch'd her Since both the ill and good you do, alike my peace Dire Jealousy does all my pains renew, (charms;
destroy ; And represents her in my rival's arms: That kills me with excess of grief, this with excess His sighs I hear, his looks I view,
of joy. I see her damn'd advances too; (see I see her smile, I see her kiss : and, oh! methinks I Her give up all those joys to him, she should reserve for me.
CURE OF JEALOUSY: lagrateful fair-one! canst thou hear my groans?
What tortures can there be in Hell, Canst thou behold these tears that fill my eyes? Compar'd to what fond lovers feel, And yet, unmov'd by all my pains, my moans,
When, doating on some fair one's charms,
If merit could not gain your love,
As lions, though they once were tame,
Yet if sharp wounds their rage inflame, frenzies, more
Lift up their stormy voices, roar, New pangs to one whom hopeless love had plagued And tear the keepers they obey'd before : too much before.
So fares the lover when bis breast
By jealous phrenzy is possest;
Forswears the nymph for whom he burns, Dress up your rage in its most hideous form,
Yet straight to her whom he forswears returns.
No, though you from my kindness fly, The love comes in, the fear gues out;
The cloud of Jealousy 's dispellid,
now aloud proclaim
Raptures too great to be exprest,
Though hard the torment 's to endure, ' Dido. · Penelope.
Who would not have the sickness for the cure?