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In a rich jewell, and therein entrayl'd
Like two faire marble pillours they were seene,
She could them nimbly move, and after fly apace.
And in her hand a sharpe bore-speare she held,
Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre,
What a piece of " dulcet and harmonious music" is this! it is the murmuring of the golden stream of Pactolus of old; but we cannot find words to express the extent of our delight, and we must leave it to the fancy of our readers to frame fit epithets of admiration. Let the reader compare this description with that of Parthenia, and particularly the lines in italics with Fletcher's imitations of them.
It is but fair, however, to select something, in which our author has improved Spenser—his description of Envy, for instance, which, although it betrays the place from which it came, is superior to Spenser's—it is more dignified; Spenser's is more wild;—the latter has also given a description of the physical qualities; Fletcher has only delineated those of the mind.
Envy the next, Envy with squinted eyes;
Sick of a strange disease, his neighbour's health;
Each eye through divers optics slily leers,
Which both his sight and object's self bely;
And molehill faults to mountains multiply.
When needs he must, yet faintly, then he praises;
The poem is supposed to be sung by a Shepherd, which gives the poet an opportunity of introducing several interesting descriptions of rural scenery.
The following stanzas are pretty and fanciful.
The flow'rs that, frighten'd with sharp winter's dread,
Retire into their mother Tellus' womb,
The hedge, green satin pink'd and cut, arrays;
The heliotrope to cloth of gold aspires;
Th' imperial flow'r, his neck with pearl attires;
The introduction to the ninth canto is poetical, and worth quoting.
The bridegroom Sun, who late the earth espous'd,
Leaves his star-chamber; early in the east
The cheerful lark, mounting from early bed,
With sweet salutes awakes the drowsy light;
The lines which succeed on the decay of human greatness, and the ruin of principalities and powers, are some of the finest and most spirited in the poem, and for which the author has our unqualified praise.
"Fond man, that looks on Earth for happiness,
Why shouldst thou here look for perpetual good.
At ev'ry loss 'gainst heav'n's face repining 1
Where is the Assyrian lion's golden hide,
That all the east once grasp'd in lordly paw?
Hardly the place of such antiquity,
Or note of these great monarchies we find:
And empty name in writ is left behind:
* i. c. places.
That monstrous beast, which, nurs'd in Tiber's fen,
Did all the world with hideous shape affray;
And that black* vulture, which with deathful wing
Fletcher's description of fear is as follows:—
Still did he look for some ensuing cross,
His sense, he dare not trust (nor eyes, nor ears);
Harness'd with massy steel, for fence not fight;
His sword unseemly long he ready drew:
Compare this with Spenser's description.
Next him was Feare, all arm'd from top to toe,
* The Turk. f Faery Queen, b. iii. c. xii. st xii.
the English forces in Holland,* and was subsequently one of those gallant adventurers, who, in 1596, went to annoy the Spaniards in their West India settlements. With a brave, but small, band of two hundred and eighty men, he took the town of St. Jago, of which he kept possession two days and nights, against three thousand Portuguese, in which service eighty of his men were wounded. On his return to England, Sir Anthony received the honour of knighthood. As the model of his civil life, Sir Anthony selected his friend and patron, the famous Earl of Essex, who, in the true nobleness of his nature, gave him literally the best treasures of his mind in counselling him, and his care and fortune to help him forward. Early in the year 1599, Sir Anthony Sherley left England with twenty-five followers, most of them gentlemen, for the purpose of joining the Duke of Ferrara in his wars with the Pope; but, learning on his arrival at Augusta, that the wars were terminated, he proceeded to Venice, and, from that place, communicated his disappointment to the Earl, by whose advice the enterprize had been undertaken. It seems, that some expectation had been formed of the exploits of this small band of gentlemen, and it suited neither the inclination of the Earl, nor Sir Anthony, that it should end in nothing. It was therefore concerted between them, that Sir Anthony should undertake a journey into Persia, the object of which was, in the first place, to endeavour to prevail upon the king to unite with the Christian princes against the Turks; or, if this should fail, to establish a commercial intercourse betwixt this country and the East; with these grand objects, Sir Anthony mixed some private designs of his own for the improvement of his fortune. Such were the inducements to this undertaking, as avowed by Sherley in the History of his Travels, penned by himself—a publication in which statesman-like views and acute reflexions are mingled with pompous argumentation, and tedious ethical declamation— and in which he has purposely omitted what, though of less interest to him, is of most to posterity. Manwaring's discourse, on the contrary, possesses considerable interest—he describes not what he thought, but what he saw—and that in the most naive and engaging manner. He relates many traits of the character of Sir Anthony, and the sovereign whom he visited, that are not to be found in Sherley's publication, which was, in all probabi
* It may be worth while to mention, that Sir Anthony and Sir Nicholas Clifford were created, by the French king, knights of the order of St. Michael; but Queen Elizabeth took it so ill, that they should accept it without her leave, that she deprived them of it. Sandford's Geneal. Hist, of the Kings and Queens of England.