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he finds the defence has been nothing but a Point of Honour. Thereupon :
March, march-quoth I—the word straight give,
Let's lose no time, but leave her;
And hold it out for ever.
As will no siege abide ;
Only to feed her pride ! 16 His parting attitude when, after taking a ghastly inventory of feminine departed attractions, comparable, without the piety, to Vaughan's Charnel-house, and for gloom, without the horizon of immortality, to Herbert's Mortification, he bids Farewell to Love,17 is more degrading. It is that of a slave spurning under foot a dead master.
I dare say there was exaggeration in his invectives. I am inclined to doubt the sincerity of his declared hatred of women, as I doubt the sincerity of his pursuit of them. He was infatuated with society; and, woman being the gate to it, he had to storm her, or pretend it, in order to enter. She was a wit's natural text; and, resenting while admitting the necessity, he sang and reviled her. But whether he were the cynic he proclaims himself, or only playing a part, the sourness equally tainted his verse. As a result he has bequeathed to literature a battery of epigrams, and not a tear of tenderness.
Sir John Suckling—Poems, Plays, and Other Remains, edited by W. C. Hazlitt. Second Edition. Two vols. 1892.
1 A Session of the Poets, stanza 25.
6 To My Dearest Rival.
9 Fickle and False—Song to a Lute. Tragedy—The Sad One, Act iv, Sc. iii.
Aglaura-Song, Act iv, Sc. i. 11 A Ballade-Upon a Wedding, stanzas 8, 10, 11, and 12. 12 To my Friend Will. Davenant on his other Poems. 13 If you refuse me once. 14 Detraction Execrated. 15 Vol. i, p. 19. 16 "Tis now since I sat down before, stanzas 4, 5, 6, 7. 19 Farewell to Love.
A BEAUTIFUL character. A modest second to Sidney among warrior poets. Though a Courtier, Cavalier, and Soldier, little tainted by the fashionable dissipations of his years, rank, and profession. Women's adorer and champion:
He who lov'd best, and them defended best. The 'best of brothers’.2 Prodigal, not for his own pleasures, but for the sake of his family, his comrades, and a cause he esteemed holy. A valiant combatant for King and Church from the time he quitted, an early-ripe scholar, Gloucester Hall. In his slow death, from the effects of wearisome detention in London, and the privations of poverty, uncomplaining. Never murmuring even at misfortunes in love. In any and every phase of his brief but varied career, diligent and devoted, except, apparently, in the service by which alone his memory was to survive—that of the Muses.
Though I do not suppose, in the condescending spirit of an early editor, that he treated his productions as ' merely the amusements of an active soldier', I doubt if he ever regarded versifying seriously enough. The distaste for labouring over it was rather specially detrimental in the kind which he particularly favoured. The two Lucastas, the first printed in his lifetime, and the second published by his brother Dudley's pious care after his death, are a circle of songs on the single text of Love. On any one given theme fancy, which abhors compulsion, will spontaneously light up only a spot here and there. The dexterity
of an artist, though one of nature's poets, like Shakespeare, or Sidney, Lovelace's own 'celestial' pattern, is needed to supply the necessary lapses. Lovelace had not the training or patience to perform the duty; and the consequence is that his verse sinks often to a low level. I confess myself to having been visited by an occasional doubt, when not under the spell of his best, whether he may have been only among the potentialities in poetry, not the actualities; whether there be but casual sparks, not the durable fire of a poetic soul. But the scepticism has been merely transient. I do not think it possible to consider his work as a whole without recognizing him as an inspired poet, not simply as the author of a few inspired poems.
Elsewhere, as well as in them, the waters, if not very deep, run over sands which will be found by those who search to contain gold. Amarantha's shining hair, braided no more, but let flutter with the freedom an audacious hand had restored to it, gleams in the sunshine,
and scatters day, three centuries after.3 Gratiana, dancing and singing, still with each step, each note, raises and treads out a suitor's hopes, till—
when she ceas'd, we sighing saw
Unto their rounds their music's aid;
The Graces danced, and Apollo play'd.4 Lucasta weeps so enchantingly that the God of Day in sympathy, after having in vain
With his handkerchief of light,
Kiss'd the wet pearls away,
shrouds his rays in clouds of his own tears, until she smiles again, and he with her. There could not be a prettier picture in words than of two young children ; the boy :
Like Love in arms; he wrote but five,
But thin, because her eyes were near.6 When, from indolence, or carelessness, he has been extravagant or trite, we often are surprised by a sudden flash ; such as, in Love Made in the First Age, by the retrospect of primaeval innocence :
No palace to the clouds did swell,
In the piazza of her hair ; ? or by the lovely anticipation, in Lucasta's Rose, of Tennyson's Maud :
See ! rosy is her bower,
Her bed a rosy nest
By a bed of roses press’d. 8 Strange that even a beauty's cold heart, which had thus been wooed, should, on the idle rumour of such a lover's death, have hurried to the altar with a rival !
And he has other notes than of love, though rarer. Not many nobler, more sympathetic, epitaphs have been