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If thou wilt bind me living to a course,
Sure we were made to grieve: at our first birth,
What is the existence of man's life
It is a storm, where the hot blood
It is a flower, which buds and grows,
It is a dream, whose seeming truth
Till in a mist of dark decay
It is a dial, which points out
It is a weary interlude, Which doth short joys, long woes include: The world the stage, the prologue tears, The acts vain hopes and varied fears ; The scene shuts up with loss of breath, And leaves no epilogue but death.
Like to the falling of a star,
Was born in London, in 1594, and after studying at both Oxford and Cambridge, had a curacy for some time at St. Albans, but embracing the Roman religion, gave up his profession, and after a short career as a schoolmaster, went to London, and became a writer of plays. There are thirty-five pieces in Dyce's edition of his Dramatic Works, recently published. He and his wife died, of grief, or exposure, the day after the great fire in London.
The glories of our birth and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
And plant fresh laurels where they kill :
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
All hands must come
To the cold tomb,
This poet was born of a good family at Bentworth, near Alton, in 1588, and at sixteen was sent to Oxford, where, says Campbell, he had just begun to fall in love with the mysteries of logic, when his father called him home to hold the plough. He was even afraid of being put to some mechanical trade, when he contrived to escape to London, and with great simplicity had proposed to try his fortune at court. He was surprised to find that to succeed he must be a flatterer; and so, to show his independence, wrote his “ Abuses Whipt and Stript,” for which he was sent to prison, where he was visited by some of the finest geniuses of the time, and where he wrote his “Shepherd's Hunting.” After a while he was liberated, but he continued to be an active religious and political partisan ; and though King James, to whom he dedicated his “ Hymns and Songs of the Church,” made him a captain of horse, and quartermaster-general of his regiment, in the expedition against the Scots, under the Earl of Arundel, no sooner had the civil war broke out than he sold his estate to raise a troop for the Parliament. He was not very fortunate as a soldier, but Cromwell made him a major-general of the horse and foot for the county of Surrey. Upon the restoration, the estates he had acquired were taken from him, and he was cast into prison, where, after being treated with great severity for three years, he died in 1677. Mr. Wilmot has shown, in his “Lives of the Sacred Poets,” that there has been very little intelligent criticism of Wither, and that he was a much truer poet and more worthy man than it has been the custom to represent him. The reader of the following extracts will agree to a high estimate of his abilities.
EXTRACT FROM A PRISONER'S LAY.
First think, my soul, if I have foes
Thou shouldst by much more careful be,
By my late hopes that now are crossed,
Had Christ not thy Redeemer been,
Or when through me thou seest a man
Think if in that such grief thou see,
These iron chains, these bolts of steel,
For by their grief thou shalt do well
Again, when he that feared to die
Then think between thy heart and thee,
When with a serious musing I behold