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and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a parliament; to trample upon them too as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called sovereign in England; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for awhile, and to command them victoriously at last ; to over-run each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north ; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted a brother to the gods of the earth; to call together parliaments with a word of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth; to be humbly and daily petitioned that he would please to be hired, at the rate of two millions a year, to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant; to have the estates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal as was the little inheritance of his father, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and lastly (for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory, to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity; to die with peace at home, and triumph abroad ; to be buried among kings, and with more than regal solemnity; and to leave a name behind him, not to be extinguished, but with the whole world; which, as it is now too little for his praises, so might have been too for his conquests, if the short line of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal designs ?
SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT. 1605—1668. SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT, though now read chiefly by the antiquary in English literature, had, in his lifetime, considerable celebrity as a writer. He was born in 1605 at Oxford, where his father kept an inn, and was educated at that university. He early began to write for the stage, and on Ben Jonson's death was made Poet-Laureate. In the civil wars he held a considerable post in the army, and was knighted by the king; but on the decline of the royalists, whose cause he had espoused, he sought refuge in France, where
1 From the Latin laureatus, “crowned with laurel." Under the Roman emperors, poets contended at the public games, and the prize was a crown of oak or olive leaves. From this custom, most of the European sovereigns assumed the privilege of nominating a court poet with various titles. Eng land, traces of this office are found as early as the reign of Henry III., (1216-1272,) but the express title, poet-laureate, does not occur till the reign of Edward IV., (1461—1483,) when John Kay received the appointment. The office was made patent by Charles I., and the salary fixed at £100 per year, and a tierce of wine. In the reign of George III. the salary was increased, and the wine dispensed with, and also the custom of requiring annual odes. The succession of poets-lanreate has been, I be lie se, since Davenant's day, John Dryden, Nahum Tate, Nicholas Rowe, Laurence Eusden, Colley Cibber, William Whitehead, Thomas Warton, Henry James Pye, and Robert Southey
he wrote two books of his poem for which he is most known-his “Gondi. bert” under the patronage of Henrietta Maria, that “ill-fated, ill-advised queen” of Charles I. By her he was despatched with a colony of artificers for Virginia. He had scarcely cleared the French coast when his vessel was taken by a parliamentary ship, and he was sent prisoner to Cowes Castle. Here, with great composure and manliness of mind, he continued his poem till he had carried through about one-half of what he designed, when he suddenly broke off, expecting immediately to be led to execution. His life, however, was spared, through the intercession of two aldermen of York, (whom Davenant had rescued from great peril in the civil wars,) united to the then all-powerful influence of Milton. After his release he supported himself by writing plays till the Restoration, when, beautiful to relate, it is believed that Milton himself was spared at his intercession, in return for his own preservation.
The fame of Sir William Davenant rests principally on his heroic poem, Gondibert; the main story of which, as far as developed, is as follows. Duke Gondibert and Prince Oswald were renowned knights, in the reign of Aribert, king of Lombardy, 653-661. Oswald sought the hand of Rhodalind, the only daughter of Aribert, and heiress to the crown: but the king preferred Gondibert,-a choice in which Rhodalind fully concurred. It happened that
"In a fair forest, near Verona's plain,
Fresh, as if Nature's youth chose there a shade,
Loyal and young, a solemn hunting made." The duke, on his return from the chase, is surprised by an ainbush, laid by the jealous Oswald. A parley succeeds, and it is finally agreed that the quarrel shall be decided by the two leaders and three of the chief captains on each side. The combat accordingly takes place. Oswald and two of his friends are slain, and a third wounded and disarmed. Oswald's men are therefore so enraged that they immediately commence a general attack upon Gondibert, who is victorious, though severely wounded. He retires to the house of Astragon, a famous physician, where he is scarcely recovered from his wounds before he receives others of a more gentle kind from the eyes of Birtha, the daughter of Astragon, by whose permission he becomes her professed but secret lover. While the friends of Oswald are forming schemes of revenge for their recent defeat, a messenger arrives from Aribert to signify his intention of honoring Gondibert with the hand of Rhodalind; and he and his daughter follow shortly afterwards. The duke is therefore obliged to accompany them back to the court, and leave behind that which is far more precious to him than a crown or Rhodalind. On parting from Birtha, he gives her an emerald ring, which had been for ages the token of his ancestors to their betrothed brides; and whichi, by its change of color, would indicate any change in his affection. The arrival of some of the party at the capital concludes this singular and original fragment of a poem,—for a fragment it must be called, and we cannot but deeply regret that the author did not finish it.1
« In the character and love of Birtha,” remarks an able critic, “ we have a
1 This poem has divided the critics. Bishop Hurd, in his "Letters on Chivalry and Romance," finds fault with Davenant because he rejects all machinery and supernatural agency. On the other hand, Dr. Aikin ably defends him. Read~"Miscellanies in Prose, by John Aikin, M. D., and Letitia Barbauld :" also, the prefatory remarks in the fourth volume of Anderson's "British Poets;" also, some criticisms of Headley in his "Select Beauties," p. xlvi.; also, “Retrospective Review," ii. 304 : and a few good remarks in Campbell's Specimens," iv. 97.
picture of most absolute loveliness and dove-like simplicity. Never was that delightful passion portrayed with a more chaste and exquisite pencil.” 1
CHARACTER AND LOVE OF BIRTHA.
One only pledge, and Birtha was her name;
And she succeeded her in face and fame.
With untaught looks and an unpractised heart;
For nature spread them in the scorn of art.
Ne'er warm'd with hopes, nor e'er allay'd with fears;
And sin not seeing, ne'er had use of tears.
Which with incessant business fill'd the hours;
In Autumn, berries; and in Summer, flowers.
Her own free virtue silently employs,
So were her virtues busy without noise.
The busy household waits no less on her;
Though all her lowly mind to that prefer.
The just historians Birtha thus express,
And tell how, by her sire's example taught,
And his fled spirits back by cordials brought;
Through wounds' long rage, with sprinkled veryain clear'd;
And with rich fumes his sullen senses cheer'd.
In these old wounds worse wounds from him endures;
And she kills faster than her father cures.
The wounds she gave, as those from Love she took;
The longer we dwell upon this noble but unfinished monument of the genius of Sir William Devenant, the more does our admiration of it increase, and we regret that the unjust attacks which were made against it at the time, (or whatever else was the cause,) prevented its completion. It n.ight then, notwithstanding the prophetical oblivion to which Bishop Hurd has, with some acrimony, condemned it, have been entitled to a patent of nobility, and had its name inscribed upon the roll of eple aristocracy."--Ret. Rev. 41. 324.
And Love lifts high each secret shaft he drew;
Which at their stars he first in triumph shook !
But finds him now a bold unquiet guest;
And, enter'd, never lets the master rest.
Makes him conceal this reveller with shame;
And never but in songs had heard his name.
She, full of inward questions, walks alone,
To take her heart aside in secret shade;
Or by confederacy was useless made;
One so remote, and new in every thought,
Nor the guide sober that him thither brought.
With open ears, and ever-waking eyes,
And flying feet, Love's fire she from the sight
Jealous, that what burns her, might give thein light,
In maids' weak wishes, her whole stock of thought;
Which Nature purposely of bodies wrought,
Such as in holy story were employd
And in short visions only are enjoy d.,
Of wild impossibles soon weary grow;
And therefore perch on earthly things below:
Shall be a man, the name which virgins fear;
That ever yet that fatal name did bear.
Affection turns to faith; and then love's fire . .,
And to her mother in the heavenly choir.
Your own disciple, Nature, bred in me; maana hata
Or blush to show effects which you decree ?
And you, my alter'd mother, (grown above
Great nature, which you read and reverenced here,)
When you as mortal as my father were.
With Love's vain diligence of heart she dreams
And trusts unanchor'd hope in fleeting streams:
Cured, and again from bloody battle brought,
The true to her for his protection sought.
So much from heaven may by her virtues gain,
No more than Time himself is overta'en.
In their pacific sea shall wrinkles make;
Her cares keep him asleep, her voice awake.
(The youthful warrior's most excused disease,)
The accidental rage of winds and seas.
The duke, (whose wounds of war are healthful grown)
Whose wandering soul seeks him to cure her own.
Shame (which in maids is unexperienced fear)
That love (which maids think guilt) might not appear.
So like an awed and conquer'd enemy,
As if he but advanced for leave to fly.
And, climbing, shakes his dewy wings;
And to implore your light, he sings,-
The ploughman from the sun his season takes, 0909. But still the lover wonders what they are
Who look for day before his mistress wakes.