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(1605–1687.) EDMOND WALLER was born at Coleshill, in Hertfordshire, in the year 1605. His mother was sister to the patriot Hampden. He entered Parliament at the early age of eighteen, and at the same time commenced a long era of poetical production. In 1630 he married, and became a widower the same year. He now devoted his attentions and his muse in a hopeless suit to Lady Dorothea Sidney, eldest daughter of the Earl of Leicester. This lady he celebrated under the name of Sacharissa. He was convicted of having been concerned in a plot to surprise the City Militia and to let in the king's forces; and for this he was sentenced to pay a fine of £10,000, and to suffer a year's imprisonment. At the expiration of this term he went over to France; from which, after ten years of exile, he returned during the Protectorate. He wrote a vigorous panegyric at the time of Cromwell's death; and with a timeserving but inferior inspiration, welcomed Charles II. to the throne of his ancestors. Waller served in several Parliaments, during which, according to Bishop Burnet, he was the delight of the House of Commons. He died at Beaconsfield in 1687.
The following lines form the third canto of a poem " Of Divine Love,” in six cantos, which he wrote at four-score, as an amende for long years of frivolity. His regret then was that he had not dedicated his more youthful muse to serious subjects; but he professed that his lofty argumont elevated him to its own height; and that, apart from the feebleness of his aged faculties, the subject brought its own inspiration, and made him “able to indite."
Not willing terror should his image move,
Legions of angels, which he might have used
He to proud potentates would not be known;
Could we forbear dispute and practise love,
He that alone would wise and mighty be,
Nor should we be with this command dismayed;
that, where his precepts fail, His practice as a pattern may prevail
. His love at once, and dread instruct our thought; As man He suffered, and as God He taught. Will for the deed He takes : we may with ease Obedient be, for if we love we please. Weak though we are, to love is no hard task, And love for love is all that heaven does ask. Love! that would all men just and temperate make, Kind to themselves and others for his sake.
'Tis with our minds as with a fertile ground, Wanting this love they must with weeds abound, (Unruly passions) whose effects are worse Than thorns and thistles springing from the curse.
(1618-1667.) ABRAHAM COWLEY, the posthumous son of a respectable tradesman, was born in London in the year 1618. He was admitted as a king's scholar at Westminster, and elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in his eighteenth year. When his opinions, which were obnoxious to the Parliamentary party, caused his ejection from Cambridge, he sought the more loyal University of Oxford, and studied there for some time. He accompanied the queen to Trance, where he served her as secretary, and was employed on various important and secret missions. After twelve years of expatriation, Cowley returned to England, where he hoped great things from the gratitude of the restored king, Charles II. Disappointed, however, in his expectations of state preferment, he obtained, through Lord St. Alban's and the Duke of Buckingham, the lease of some lands belonging to the queen, worth about £300 per annum. On this provision he settled at Chertsey, an ancient town on the Surrey side of the Thames, which, unfortunately, he did not experience to be a paradise. Cowley passed about seven years in his retirement, and died, after a fortnight's illness, July 28th, 1667. “Here the last accents fell from Cowley's tongue," is the inscription which still appears upon a projecting portion of the house in which he lived; and a room called after his name, and adorned with his relics and souvenirs, still engages the pious care of the present occupant. Cowley's remains were conveyed by water to Westminster, and were interred with considerable splendour in the abbey.
Cowley's genius was precocious; before he was fifteen he published a volume of poems, under the title of “Poetic Blossoms,” one of the pieces in which, “The Tragical History of Pyramus and Thisbe,” had been written five years before. The four books of his un. finished epic, entitled “ Davideis,” were mostly written while he was a student of Trinity College, Cambridge. Other works were, a pastoral drama, called Love's Riddle;" a Latin comedy, "Naufragium Joculare;" "The Mistress;" and a comedy, first known as “The Guardian," and afterwards, with alterations, as “ The Cutter of Coleman Street;" and the “Pindarique Odes.” Dr. Thomas Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, Cowley's literary executor, wrote the life of the poet; and, in accordance with his will, revised all his works that had been already printed, and collected “ those papers which he had designed for the press.” The popularity of Cowley as a poet, once so wide spread and remarkable, is now barely sustained by the respectability of his character as a Christian.
THE USE OF IT IN DIVINE MATTERS. Some blind themselves, 'cause possibly they may
Be led by others a right way;
Tis that there was no wind.
If our forefathers erred or no,
Trust not God concerning men.
Their course here to direct;
Imaginary gold t' enjoy:
And gild the passage as they fly;
they fall, and meet the opposing ground, What but a sordid slime is found ? Sometimes their fancies they 'bove reason set,
And fast, that they may dream of meat;
And bastard forms obtrude;
She Saul through his disguise did know,
“Behold the gods arise.” In vain, alas! these outward hopes are tried;
Reason within 's our only guide;
Its old original fall;
With a reasonable mind,
May with our reason join.
With thousand lights of truth divine;
It makes but all one galaxy.
So vast, and dangerous as these,
Without the compass too below.