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Of all the glories ^ make noon gay
This is the morn ;
This rock buds forth the fountain of the streams of day;
In joy's white annals lives this hour,
When life was bom,
No cloud-scowl on his radiant lids, no tempest-lower.



I Which understood.



CRASHA W—HYMN OF THE NA TIVITY. 243

Life, by this light's nativity,
All creatures have ;
Death only by this day's just doom is forced to die.
Nor is death forced ; for, may he lie
Throned in thy grave,
Death will on this condition be content to die.

When we come, in the writings of one who has
revealed masterdom, upon any passage that seems
commonplace, or any figure that suggests nothing
true, the part of wisdom is to brood over that point ;
for the piobability is that the barrenness lies in us,
two factors being necessary for the result of sight —
the thing to be seen and the eye to see it. No doubt
the expression may be inadequate, but if we can
compensate the deficiency by adding more vision, so
much the better for us.

In the second stanza there is a strange combination
of images : the rock buds ; and buds a fountain ; the
fountain is light. But the images are so much one
at the root, that they slide gracefully into each other,
and there is no confusion or incongruity : the result is
an inclined plane of development.

I now come to the most musical and most graceful,
therefore most lyrical, of his poems. I have left out
just three stanzas, because of the sentimentalism of
which I have spoken : I would have left out more if
I could have done so without spoiling the symmetry
of the poem. My reader must be friendly enough to
one who is so friendly to him, to let his peculiarities
pass unquestioned — amongst the rest his conceits, as
well as the trifling discord that the shepherds should
be called, after the classical fashion — ill agreeing,

R 2



244 ENGLAND'S AN TIP HON.

from its associations, with Christian song — Tityrus
and Thyrsis.

A HYMN OF THE NATIVITY SUNG BY THE SHEPHERDS.

Chorus. Come, we shepherds, whose blest sight
Hath met love's noon in nature's night;
Come, lift we up our loftier song,
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all our world of vrell-stolen i joy

He slept, and dreamed of no such thing,

While we found out heaven's fairer eye,
And kissed the cradle of our king :

Tell him he rises now too late

To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
Than he e'er showed to mortal sight —

Than he himself e'er saw before,

Which to be seen needs not his light :

Tell him, Tityrus, where thou hast been ;

Tell him, Thyrsis, what thou hast seen.

TUyrtis. Gloomy night embraced the place
Where the noble infant lay :
The babe looked up and showed his face :

In spite of darkness it was day.
It was thy day, sweet, and did rise
Not from the east, but from thy eyes.

Chorus. It was thy day, sweet, &c.

Thyrsis. Winter chid aloud, and sent

The angry north to wage his wars :
The north forgot his fierce intent,

And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes' persuasive powers,
Where he meant frosts, he scattered flowers.
Chorics. By those sweet eyes', &c.

1 How unpleasant conceit can become. The joy of seeing the Saviour
was stolen because they gained it in the absence of the sun !



HYMN OF THE NATIVITY. 245

Both, We saw thee in thy balmy nest,

Young dawn of our eternal day ;
We saw thine eyes break from the east,

And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we blessed the sight ;
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
Chorus. We saw thee, &c.

Tityrus. " Poor world," said I, " what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger ?
Is this the best thou canst bestow —

A cold and not too cleanly manger?
Contend, the powers of heaven and earth.
To fit a bed for this huge birth."

Chorus. Contend, the powers, &c.

Thyrsis. " Proud world," said I, " cease your contest.
And let the mighty babe alone :
The phoenix builds the phoenix' nest —

Love's architecture is his own.
The babe, whose birth embraves this mora,
Made his own bed ere he was bom."

Chorus. The babe, whose birth, &c.

Tifyrus, I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow.

Come hovering o'er the place's head,
Offering their whitest sheets of snow

To furnish the fair infant's bed :
"Forbear," said I ; "be not too bold :
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold."
Chorus. "Forbear," said I, &c.

TTiyrsis. I saw the obsequious seraphim

Their rosy fleece of fire bestow ;
For well they now can spare their wings,

Since heaven itself lies here below.
" Well done," said I ; " but are you sure
Your down, so warm, will pass for pure?**
Chorus. "Well done," said I, &c



21*



246 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

Full Chorus. Welcome all wonders in one sight !

Eternity shut in a span !
Summer in winter ! day in night !

Heaven in earth, and God in man !
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth I

* « * ♦

Welcome — though not to those gay flies
Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings —

Slippery souls in smiling eyes —

But to poor shepherds, homespun things,

Whose wealth's their flocks, whose wit's to be

Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when young April's husband showers

Shall bless the fruitful Maia's bed,
We'll bring the firstborn of her flowers

To kiss thy feet, and crown thy head :
To thee, dear Lamb ! whose love must keep
The shepherds while they feed their sheep.

To thee, meek Majesty, soft king

Of simple graces and sweet loves.
Each of us his lamb will bring,

Each his pair of silver doves.
At last, in fire of thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

A splendid line to end with ! too good for the pre-
ceding one. All temples and altars, all priesthoods
and prayers, must vanish in this one and only sacri-
fice. Exquisite, however, as the poem is, we cannot
help wishing it looked less heathenish. Its decora-
tions are certainly meretricious.

From a few religious poems of Sir Edward Sher-
burne, another Roman Catholic, and a firm adherent
of Charle§ I.^ J choose the following — the only one I
care for.



ANDRE W MAR VELL. 247



AND THEY LAID HTM IN A MANGER.

Happy crib, that wert, alone,

To my God, bed, cradle, throne I

Whilst thy glorious vileness I

View with divine fancy's eye.

Sordid filth seems all the cost,

State, and splendour, crowns do boast.

See heaven's sacred majesty
Humbled beneath poverty ;
Swaddled up in homely rags,
On a bed of straw and flags !
He whose hands the heavens displayed,
And the world's foundations laid,
From the world 's almost exiled.
Of all ornaments despoiled.
Perfumes bathe him not, new-bom ;
Persian mantles not adorn ;
Nor do the rich roofs look bright
With the jasper's orient light.

Where, O royal infant, be
The ensigns of thy majesty ;
Thy Sire's equalizing state;
And thy sceptre that rules fate ?
Where's thy angel-guarded throne.
Whence thy laws thou didst make known —
Laws which heaven, earth, hell obeyed ?
These, ah ! these aside he laid ;
Would the emblem be— of pride
By humility outvied.

I pass by Abraham Cowley, mighty reputation as
he has had, without further remark than that he is
too vulgar to be admired more than occasionally, and
too artificial almost to be, as a poet, loved at all.

Andrew Marvell, member of Parliament for Hull
both before and after the Restoration, was twelve
years younger than his friend Milton. Any one of



248 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

some half-dozen of his few poems is to my mind
worth all the verse that Cowley ever made. It is a
pity he wrote so little ; but his was a life as diligent,
I presume, as it was honourable.

ON A DROP OF DEW.

See how the orient dew,

Shed from the bosom of the mom
Into the blowing roses,
Yet careless of its mansion new

For the clear region where 'twas bom.

Round in itself encloses, used intransitively.

And in its little globe's extent,
Frames as it can its native element.
How it the purple flower does slight,

Scarce touching where it lies.
But gazing back upon the skies,
Shines with a mournful light,
Like its own tear,
Because so long divided from the sphere :
Restless it rolls, and unsecure,

Trembling lest it grow impure,
Till the warm sun pity its pain.
And to the skies exhale it back again.

So the soul, that drop, that ray
Of the clear fountain of eternal day,
Could it within the human flower be seen.
Remembering still its former height.
Shuns the sweet leaves and blossoms green ;
And, recollecting its own light,
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express
The greater heaven in an heaven less.
In how coy a figure wound.
Every way it turns away.
So the world excluding round,

Yet receiving in the day ;
Dark beneath but bright above.
Here disdaining, there in love.



THE CORONET. 249



How loose and easy hence to go !
How girt and ready to ascend !
Moving but on a point below,
It all about does upwards bend.
Such did the manna's sacred dew distil —
White and entire,^ though congealed and chill-
Congealed on earth, but does, dissolving, run
Into the glories of the almighty sun.

Surely a lovely fancy of resemblance, exquisitely
wrought out ; an instance of the lighter play of the
mystical mind, which yet shadows forth truth.

THE CORONET.

When for the thorns with which I long too long,
With many a piercing wound,
My Saviour's head have crowned,
I seek with garlands to redress that wrong,

Through every garden, every mead
I gather flowers— my fruits are only flowers —

Dismantling all the fragrant towers
That once adorned my shepherdess's head ;
And now, when I have summed up all my store,
Thhiking— so I myself deceive-
So rich a chaplet thence to weave
As never yet the King of glory wore;|
Alas ! I find the serpent old,
That, twining in his speckled breast,
About the flowers disguised does fold,
With wreaths of fame and interest.
Ah, foolish man that wouldst debase with them
And mortal glory, heaven's diadem !
But thou who only couldst the serpent tame,
Either his slippery knots at once untie.
And disentangle all his winding snare,
Or shatter too with him my curious frame, ^



1 A trisyllable. * His garland.



250 ENGLAND 'S ANTIPHON.

And let these wither, that so he may die,
Though set with skill, and chosen out with care ;
That they, while thou on both their spoils dost tread,
May crown thy feet that could not crown thy head.

A true sacrifice of worship, if not a garland of
praise ! The disciple would have his works tried by
the fire, not only that the gold and the precious
stones may emerge relucent, but that the wood and
hay and stubble may perish. The will of God alone,
not what we may have effected, deserves our care.
In the perishing of our deeds they fall at his feet :
in our willing their loss we crown his head.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A MOUNT OF VISION — HENRY VAUGHAN.

We have now arrived at the borders of a long, dreary
tract, which, happily for my readers, I can shor4;en
for them in this my retrospect. From the heights
of Henry Vaughan's verse, I look across a stony
region, with a few feeble oases scattered over it, and
a hazy green in the distance. It does not soften the
dreariness that its stones are all laid in order, that the
spaces which should be meadows are skilfully paved.

Henry Vaughan belongs to the mystical school,
but his poetry rules his theories. You find no more
of the mystic than the poet can easily govern ; in fact,
scarcely more than is necessary to the highest poetry.
He develops his mysticism upwards, with relation to
his higher nature alone: it blossoms into poetry. His
twin-brother Thomas developed his mysticism down-
wards in the direction of the material sciences— a true
effort still, but one in which the danger of ceasing to
be true increases with increasing ratio the further it is
carried.

They were born in South Wales in the year 162 1.
Thomas was a clergyman ; Henry a doctor of medi-



252 ENGLAND 'S ANTIPHON,

cine. Both were Royalists, and both suffered in the
cause — Thomas by expulsion from his living, Henry
by imprisonment. Thomas died soon after the
Restoration ; Henry outlived the Revolution.

Henry Vaughan was then nearly thirty years
younger than George Herbert, whom he consciously
and intentionally imitates. His art is not comparable
to that of Herbert : hence Herbert remains the master ;
for it is not the thought that makes the poet ; it is
the utterance of that thought in worthy presence of
speech. He is careless and somewhat rugged. If he
can get his thought dressed, and thus made visible, he
does not mind the dress fitting awkwardly, or even
being a little out at elbows. And yet he has grander
lines and phrases than any in Herbert. He has occa-
sionally a daring success that strikes one with aston-
ishment. In a word, he says more splendid things
than Herbert, though he writes inferior poems. His
thought is profound and just ; the harmonies in his
soul are true ; its artistic and musical ear is defective.
His movements are sometimes grand, sometimes
awkward. Herbert is always gracious — I use the
word as meaning much more than graceful.

The following poem will instance Vaughan's fine
mysticism and odd embodiment :

COCK-CROWING.
Father of lights ! what sunny seed,
"What glance of day hast thou confined
Into this bird ? To all the breed
This busy ray thou hast assigned ;

Their magnetism works all night,

And dreams of Paradise and light.



HENR V VA UGHAN—COCK-CRO WING. 253



Their eyes watch for the morning hue ;

Their little grain, ^ expelling night,

So shines and sings, as if it knew

The path unto the house of light :
It seems their candle, howe'er done,
Was tined2 and lighted at the sun.

If such a tincture, such a touch,
So firm a longing can empower,
Shall thy own image think it much
To watch for thy appearing hour ?
If a mere blast so fill the sail,
Shall not the breath of God prevail ?

O thou immortal Light and Heat,

"Whose hand so shines through all this frame,

That by the beauty of the seat.

We plainly see who made the same !

Seeing thy seed abides in me,

Dwell thou in it, and I in thee.

To sleep without thee is to die ;

Yea, 'tis a death partakes of hell ;

For where thou dost not close the eye.

It never opens, I can tell :

In such a dark, Egyptian border

The shades of death dwell and disorder

Its joys and hopes and earnest throws.
And hearts whose pulse beats still for light,
Are given to birds, who but thee knows
A love-sick soul's exalted flight ?
Can souls be tracked by any eye
But his who gave them wings to fly ?

Only this veil, which thou hast broke.

And must be broken yet in me ;

This veil, I say, is all the cloak

And cloud which shadows me from thee.
This veil thy full-eyed love denies.
And only gleams and fractions spies.

1 The " sunny seed " in their hearts.

' From tine or tind^ to set on fire. Hence tinder.



22



254 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

O take it off. Make no delay,
But brush me with thy light, that I
May shine unto a perfect day,
And warm me at thy glorious eye.

O take it off; or, till it flee.

Though with no lily, stay with me.

I have no room for poems often quoted, therefore

not for that lovely one beginning " They are all gone

into the world of light;" but I must not omit The

Retreaty for besides its worth, I have another reason

for presenting it.

THE RETREAT.

Happy those early days when I
Shined in my angel -infancy !
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy ought
But a white, celestial thought ;
"When yet I had not walked above
A mile or two from my first love,
And, looking back, at that short space
Could see a glimpse of his bright face ;
"When on some gilded cloud or flower
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity ;
Before I taught my tongue to wound
My conscience with a sinful sound.
Or had the black art to dispense
A several sin to every sense ;
But felt through all this fleshly dress
Bright shoots of everlastingness.
O how I long to travel back.
And tread again that ancient track !
That I might once more reach that plain
Where first I left my glorious train.
From whence the enlightened spirit sees
That shady city of palm-trees.



COMPARISON WITH WORDSWORTH. 255

But ah ! my soul with too much stay
Is drunk, and staggers in the way !
Some men a forward motion love,
But I by backward steps would move ;
And when this dust falls to the urn,
In that state I came return.

Let any one who is well acquainted with Words-
worth's grand ode — that on i\\Q Intimations of Immor-
tality — turn his mind to a comparison between that
and this : he will find the resemblance remarkable.
Whether T/ie Retreat suggested the form of the
Ode is not of much consequence, for the Ode is the
outcome at once and essence of all Wordsworth's
theories ; and whatever he may have drawn from The
Retreat is glorified in the Ode. Still it is interesting
to compare them. Vaughan believes with Words-
worth and some other great men that this is not our
first stage of existence ; that we are haunted by
dim memories of a former state. This belief is not
necessary, however, to sympathy with the poem, for
whether the present be our first life or no, we
have come from God, and bring from him conscience
and a thousand godlike gifts. — " Happy those early
days," Vaughan begins : " There was a time," begins
Wordsworth, "when the earth seemed apparelled
in celestial light." " Before I understood this place,"
continues Vaughan : " Blank misgivings of a creature
moving about in worlds not realized," says Words-
worth. "A white celestial thought," says Vaughan:
" Heaven lies about us in our infancy," says Words-
worth. "A mile or two off, I could see his face,"
says Vaughan : ** Trailing clouds of glory do we



256 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.



come/' says Wordsworth. " On some gilded cloud
or flower, my gazing soul would dwell an hour,"
says Vaughan : " The hour of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower," says Wordsworth.

Wordsworth's poem is the profounder in its philo-
sophy, as well as far the grander and lovelier in its
poetry ; but in the moral relation, Vaughan's poem is
the more definite of the two, and gives us in its
close, poor as that is compared with the rest of it, just
what we feel is wanting in Wordsworth's — the hope
of return to the bliss of childhood. We may be
comforted for what we lose by what we gain ; but
that is not a recompense large enough to be divine :
we want both. Vaughan will be a child again. For
the movements of man's life are in spirals : we go
back whence we came, ever returning on our former
traces, only upon a higher level, on the next up-
ward coil of the spiral, so that it is a going back
and a going forward ever and both at once. Life is,
as it were, a constant repentance, or thinking of it
again : the childhood of the kingdom takes the place
of the childhood of the brain, but comprises all that
was lovely in the former delight. The heavenly
children will subdue kingdoms, work righteousness,
wax valiant in fight, rout the armies of the aliens,
merry of heart as when in the nursery of this world
they fought their fancied frigates, and defended their
toy-battlements.

Here are the beginning and end of another of
similar purport ;



FANCY'S AID TO THINKING. 257



CHILDHOOD.

I cannot reach it ; and my striving eye
Dazzles at it, as at eternity.
"Were now that chronicle alive,
Those white designs which children drive,
And the thoughts of each harmless hour,
With their content too in my power,
Quickly would I make my path even.
And by mere playing go to heaven.



An age of mysteries ! which he
Must live twice that would God's face see ;
"Which angels guard, and with it play —
Angels which foul men drive away.

How do I study now, and scan

Thee more than e'er I studied man,

And only see, through a long night, 'i

Thy edges and thy bordering light !

O for thy centre and mid-day !

For sure that is the narrow way !

Many a true thought comes out by the help of a
fancy or half-playful exercise of the thinking power.
There is a good deal of such fancy in the following
poem, but in the end it rises to the height of the
purest and best mysticism. We must not forget
that the deepest man can utter, will be but the type
or symbol of a something deeper yet, of which
he can perceive only a doubtful glimmer. This will
serve for general remark upon the mystical mode,
as well as for comment explanatory of the close of
the poem.



22



258 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON



THE NIGHT.
John iii. 2.

Through that pure virgin-shrine,
That sacred veil^ drawn o'er thy glorious noon,
That men might look and live, as glowworms shine,
And face the moon,

Wise Nicodemus saw such light

As made him know his God by night.

Most blest believer he,
Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes,
Thy long-expected healing wings could see
When thou didst rise !

And, what can never more be done.

Did at midnight speak with the sun !

O who will tell me where
He found thee at that dead and silent hour?
What hallowed solitary ground did bear
So rare a flower.

Within whose sacred leaves did lie

The fulness of the Deity?

No mercy-seat of gold.

No dead and dusty cherub, nor carved stone,

But his OAvn living works did my Lord hold
And lodge alone,
Where trees and herbs did watch and peep
And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.
Dear night ! this world's defeat ;

The stop to busy fools ; care's check and curb.

The day of spirits ; my soul's calm retreat
Which none disturb !
Christ's progress, and his prayer time,^
The hours to which high heaven doth chime ! '

1 The body of Jesus.

2 Mark 1. 35 ; Luke xxi. 37. The word time must be associated both
•m!Ci\ progress dind prayer — his walking-time and prayer-time.

3 This is an allusion to the sphere-music : the great heavens is a clock
whose hours are those when Jesus retires to his Father ; and to these
hours the sphere-music gives the chime.



THE CELL AND THE SILENCE. 259

God's silent, searching flight ; ^
When my Lord's head is filled with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night.
His still, soft call ;

His knocking tiine;^ the soul's dumb watch,

"When spirits their fair kindred catch.

Were all my loud, evil' days
Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent.
Whose peace but by some angel's wing or voice
Is seldom rent,

Then I in heaven all the long year

Would keep, and never wander here.

But living where the sun
Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tire
Themselves and others, I consent and run
To every mire ;

And by this world's ill guiding light,

Err more than I can do by night

There is in God, some say,
A deep but dazzling darkness ; as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
See not all clear :

O for that night ! where I in him

Might live invisible and dim !

This is glorious ; and its lesson of quiet and retire-
ment we need more than ever in these hurried days
upon which we have fallen. If men would but be still
enough in themselves to hear, through all the noises
of the busy light, the voice that is ever talking on
in the dusky chambers of their hearts ! Look at his
love for Nature, too ; and read the fourth stanza in
connexion with my previous remarks upon symbolism.

1 He continues his poetic synonyms for the night.

2 " Behold I stand at the door and knock."
' A monosylhble

S 2



262 ENGLAND'S ANTIPHON.

on the other hand, he is the forerunner as well of some
one that must yet do what Wordsworth has left almost
unattempted, namely — set forth the sympathy of
Nature with the aspirations of the spirit that is born
of God, born again, I mean, in the recognition of the
child's relation to the Father. Both Herbert and
Vaughan have thus read Nature, the latter turning
many leaves which few besides have turned. In this
he has struck upon a deeper and richer lode than even
Wordsworth, although he has not wrought it with
half his skill. In any history of the development of
the love of the present age for Nature, Vaughan,
although I fear his influence would be found to
have been small as yet, must be represented as the
Phosphor of coming dawn. Beside him, Thomson
is cold, artistic, and gray: although larger in scope,
he is not to be compared with him in sympathetic
sight. It is this insight that makes Vaughan a
mystic. He can see one thing everywhere, and all
things the same — yet each with a thousand sides
that radiate crossing lights, even as the airy particles


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