John Churton Collins.

A treasury of minor British poetry selected and arranged with notes .. online

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The Honourable Entertainment given to the Queeris Majesty
in Progress at Elvetham in Hampshire by the Right Honour-
able the Earl of Hertford, 1591, and afterwards in England's


From The Rape of Lucrece.


From The Fair Maid of the Exchange. I have excised
one stanza.


From The Faithful Shepherdess.


From Valentinian. A mazer is a bowl or goblet.


From England's Helicon.


This charming lyric is from Captain Tobias Hume's First
Part of Airs French, Polish and others together published
in 1605. We owe its recovery to Mr. A. H. Bullen, who has
printed it in his Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Eliza-
bethan Age.


From Davison's Poetical Rhapsody.


From England's Helicon, where it appears as one of three
poems taken from John Dowland's Book of Tablaturefor the


From A Handefull fo Pleasant Deities, etc., 1584. The


initials appended to this quaint poem are T. P. ; who he was,
I know not. I have shortened it by omitting three stanzas.


From the Arcadia.


From the Two Noble Kinsmen. As this play was written
after Beaumont's death, this lyric maybe assigned to Fletcher ;
it is hardly likely that it belongs to Shakespeare, who is
supposed to have assisted in the composition of the play.


From Lodge's novel, Rosalynde : or Euphues* Golden


From England's Helicon. Constable is one of the most
charming and musical of the Elizabethan Lyrists. Born
about 1555, he passed much of his life in exile, as he was a
Roman Catholic. Beside contributing four beautiful lyrics
to England's Helicon, he was the author of a collection of
sonnets entitled Diana, and also of some religious sonnets.
The date of his death is uncertain.


From The Captain.


From Philip Rosseter's Booke of Ay res, 1601. Little more
is known of Thomas Campion, one of the most charming of
Elizabethan lyric poets, than that he studied at Cambridge,
belonged at one time to the society of Gray's Inn but subse-
quently became a physician and practised in London, dying
in the spring of 1619-20. His poems have been collected
and edited by Mr. A. H. Bullen, who may be said to have
been the first to introduce him to modern readers. To the


first couplet of the last stanza there is a curious parallel in
Shakespeare's 2 Henry IV. n. 2, "Well thus we play the
fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the
clouds and mock us."


The Petrarch of the North is far inferior to his master and
model in sweetness, in grace, and in exquisite felicity of ex-
pression, but he is his rival in other respects.


From Astrophel and Stella^ sonnet ex, one of the noblest
sonnets in our language. More than one passage in this sonnet
shows that it found response in Shakespeare.


Though this beautiful lyric is somewhat hackneyed I could
not omit it. It is from the Comedy of Patient Grissell, written
in conjunction by Dekker, Chettle, and Haughton.


This poem was no doubt suggested by Martial, Epigram xc.
book ii. Mean = moderate, and sleeps probably = somnia,


From the Reliquiae Wottonianae. I give Dr. Hannah's
text. Ben Jonson was so fond of these verses that he tran-
scribed them with his own hands and had them by heart.
See his Conversations with Drummond and Gifford's note.
Jonson seems to have transcribed them from memory.


From Old Damon's Pastoral in England's Helicon.



From the Reliquiae Wottonianae. Dr. Hannah gives as
the title of this poem " Upon the Sudden Restraint of the
Earl of Somerset then falling from favour." It probably has
reference to the fall of Somerset in 1615, but Park supposes,
though on no good grounds, that it has reference to Bacon.


The ordinary reading in the second line is "will serve
Thee." I restore the rhyme.


From his Elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, printed in Todd's
Spenser, vol. vi. pp. 82-96.


From the Paradise of Dainty Devices. Appended to it are
the initials M. T., which Percy who reprints it in his Reliques
thinks may be the reversed initials of Thomas Marshall,
whose initials are attached to another poem in the collection.


The author of this powerful poem, which was first printed
in 1608 in the second edition of Davison's Poetical Rhapsody,
cannot be ascertained with certainty. It has been commonly
attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh, and is included by Birch in
his edition of Raleigh's Works, and by Sir Egerton Brydges
in his edition of Raleigh's Poems. It is attributed to Raleigh
in a MS. poem in the Chetham Library at Manchester (8012,
p. 107) undoubtedly written while Raleigh was still alive, and
among the Ashmolean MSS. at Oxford are two poems, one
purporting to be an answer to it, and the other a defence of
it by Raleigh himself. The defence was probably not by
Raleigh, but it is plain that the writer had no doubt that
Raleigh was the author of the original poem. The pre-
sumptive evidence therefore in favour of Raleigh is strong.
It has been assigned to Lord Essex, to Francis Davison, to Sir
Edward Dyer, to Joshua Sylvester and to others, but on utterly


unsatisfactory grounds. For a full discussion of the question
see Dr. Hannah's admirable edition of Poems by Sir Henry
Wotton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, pp. 188-199.


From Divine Meditations and Elegies, 1622. The pathos
and beauty of this lyric far outweigh its imperfect rhymes and
the singular grammatical solecism in the first stanza. Of its
author nothing more is known than that he belonged to a
good family, was baptized in February 1585, and that he is
probably to be identified with Captain John Hagthorpe, who
was serving in the navy between April and September 1626.


From Spectacles, 25, 27. Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618) is
one of the few Elizabethan poets who deserves more atten-
tion than he has received from modern students.


From Nosce Te-ipsum, a poem on the Immortality of the
Soul, first published in 1 599 ; one of the most eloquent and
powerful philosophic poems in our language.


From Flowers of Zion.


From the History of Women, book iv. It is an epitaph
on Ethelburga, Queen of the West Saxons.


From the Maid's Tragedy.

From Spectacles, 10, n.


William Alexander (1580-1640) created in June 1633 Earl
of Stirling, was the author of a long and dreary poem on the
Day of Jiidgment, some miscellaneous poems, and of four
Monarchicke Tragedies: Crasus, Darius, the Alexandrian


Tragedy and Julius Ccesar. The extract given is from
Darius, which appeared in 1603. It has been supposed that
Shakespeare had this passage in his mind when he wrote
the superb verses in the Tempest, iv. i., " And like the base-
less fabric," etc. Person was fond of quoting Stirling's lines
which he pronounced to be superior to Shakespeare's ; but,
stately and majestic though they are, few would agree with
Person. It may be added that Stirling afterwards greatly
altered and spoilt the second stanza : see the version in his
Collected Works, 1637. I give the passage as it appears in
the quarto, 1603.


This eloquent religious poet, a member of the Society of
Jesus, was born about 1562, and was executed, a martyr to
his faith, in February 1594-95. Well might Ben Jonson say
(Conversations with DrummoncT) that had he written this
piece he would have been content to destroy many of his
own pieces.


Written by Donne in the severe illness which brought
him to the point of death three years after he became Dean
of St. Paul's. See Walton's Life.


These verses were written by Sir Walter Raleigh on the
night before his execution, and were found in his Bible.


From the 42nd section of Stephen Hawes' Pastime of
Pleasure, first printed in 1509. Of Hawes nothing more is
known than that he was a native of Suffolk, and was Groom
of the Privy Chamber to Henry VII. His poem on the
whole is tedious, but it has much more merit than is com-
monly allowed, and historically it is of great importance.
Both Sir Walter Scott and Longfellow have appropriated
the last beautiful couplet of the extract given in the text,
without however acknowledging their indebtedness to Hawes.




To his son Vincent on his birthday, November 1630, being
then three years old. Corbet (1582-1635) was successively
Bishop of Oxford and Norwich, and no more jovial Bishop
ever adorned or astonished the Episcopal bench. The
poems by which he is best known are his Faerief Farewell
and his Iter Boreale, but Corbet had as little of the touch of
the poet as Swift.


From Silex Scintillans, part i. In this beautiful poem is
undoubtedly to be found the germ of Wordsworth's great Ode.


From The Mistress of Philarete. Instead of selecting
from Wither poems which are now somewhat hackneyed,
viz. the lyrics " Shall I wasting in despair," and " Hence away
thou siren leave me," and the fine passage about the power
of poetry in the Fourth Eclogue of the Shepherd's Hunting^
I have chosen this which Charles Lamb marked as " of pre-
eminent merit," a judgment in which every one must concur.


From the Miscellaneous Thoughts in his Remains, vol. i.
pp. 244, 245. I have connected the two fragments by omit-
ting some verses which intervene. It is difficult to associate
with the author of Hudibras sentiment so noble and refined
as these verses express. No critic, so far as I know, has


noticed that underlying the wit, worldliness, and cynicism of
Butler was a fine, if thin, vein of poetic sensibility which peeps
out timidly even in Hudibras.


From Hesperides. Herrick's best lyrics are among the
commonplaces of every anthology, and are therefore excluded
from this. If I cannot give his diamonds I have endeavoured
to give two or three of his pearls.


From Castara.


From Castara. Love has rarely found so pure and lofty
a laureate as Habington. His Laura was Lucy Herbert. I
have ventured to curtail this poem by the omission of the
four stanzas which intervene in the original between the
second and the last.


From Hesperides. This pretty poem is in rhythm an
echo of the second song in Ben Jonson's Masque The Gipsies


William Cartwright, born, according to one account, in
1615, to another in 1611, passed most of his life at Oxford,
as a lecturer and preacher, dying prematurely in 1643. His
Comedies, Tragi-Comedies, and poems were published post-
humously in 1651. Ben Jonson is reported to have said of
him, " My son Cartwright writes all like a man," a compliment
which Cartwright rewarded by an eloquent poem to Jonson's
memory. As a lyrical poet he belongs to the Metaphysical


I have been told that this poem was a great favourite
with Tennyson, who was fond of quoting the lines beginning
" But at my back." He has himself borrowed from it.


From the Masque of Semele. Act ii. Scene i.


Cotton's masterpiece is Winter, but it is much too long
for introduction here, and it is impossible to shorten it
without injury. In originality, vigour, and verve Cotton has no
superior in that brilliant school of poets to which he be-
longs ; and yet it is remarkable that his miserable travesty
of the first and second books of the ^Eneid should have
gone through upwards of fifteen editions, while the poems
printed in 1689, in which his genius displays itself, should
never have been reprinted till 1810.


From Abdelazar : or The Moor's Revenge. Mrs. Behn's
lyrics are at their best among the best of their kind.


Dr. Walter Pope was a well-known figure among wits and
men of science between about 1658, when he was proctor
at Oxford, and 1714 when he died. In 1660 .he succeeded
Sir Christopher Wren as Gresham Professor of Astronomy.
This poem was first published in 1693. It was reprinted in
Nichols's Select Collection, vol. i. p. 173 ; and in Songs and
Ballads, chiefly collected by Robert, Earl of Oxford, vol. ii.
There are two versions, the shorter one, which I give, being
the best. A charming Latin paraphrase of the longer
version will be found in Vincent Bourne's Poemata. It is
gratifying to know that fortune allowed Dr. Pope to realise
his ideal. In his quaint and delightful Life of Seth Ward
he says, " I thank God that I am arrived at a good old age
without gout or stone, with my intellectual senses but little
decayed and my intellectuals, though none of the best, yet
as good as ever they were." In the last stanza but one the
allusion is to a tradition of the Turks to the effect that, when


any one is born into the world, a certain quantity of meat
and drink is apportioned to him for consumption during his
mortal existence, and that when it is consumed he dies ; the
moral being that a man who desires to live long must be
thrifty in his meat and drink.


From Hesperides.


Katherine Fowler, born in 1631, married about 1647 James
Philips of Cardigan, died 22nd June 1664, in the thirty-third
year of her age. "The matchless Orinda" is the author of many
poems of a grave and serious cast, which by no means dis-
credit the eulogies of Cowley and Dryden. Her poems were
published in quarto in 1664, under the title of "Poems, by the
incomparable Mrs. K." There were many subsequent editions.
I give the text, not as it appears in the quarto, but as it appears
in the Poems, by Eminent Ladies, for that is the best text.


From Epigrams of All Sorts, 1670. This is not the only
really beautiful poem written by Flecknoe. See note on cix.


Burd, maiden. This pathetic poem is from Herd's Col-
lection. It is printed in Chambers's Scottish Songs, and in
Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy, and from thence has often been
transcribed. The date and authorship are alike unknown.
The story on which it was founded is briefly this. Helen
Irving, the daughter of the Laird of Kirconnel in Dumfries-
shire, had two suitors, Adam Fleming of Kirkpatrick and the
Laird of Blacket House. Fleming was the favourite, and
one afternoon, when the lovers were together, the Laird, mad
with jealousy, levelled his cross-bow at his successful rival,
and Helen, perceiving him doing so, threw herself before
her lover to shield him from the arrow, and received it in her
breast, dying instantly.


From The Broken Heart.


From Clarastella, 1650. Nothing is certainly known
about Heath, but he is a very accomplished poet, who
deserves to be rescued from the oblivion into which he has


Henry King (1591-1669) was a student of Christ Church
in 1608 and afterwards Chaplain to Charles I. and Dean of
Rochester. He died, Bishop of Chichester, in 1669. He
versified the Psalms, and published in 1657 a small volume
of "Poems, Elegies, Paradoxes, and Sonnets." Terse and
serious reflection, clothed in fluent and often graceful verse, is
the predominating characteristic of his poetry.


From the Emblems, Book ii. Epig. xv.

From the Emblems, Book ii. Embl. v.


In the original this Hymn comprises twenty-six stanzas.
As the choice lay between omission and curtailment, I have
adopted the latter, and not I think to the detriment of the
poem, for many of the excised stanzas are flat and harsh
and much below the level of what is best in it ; and what is
best is truly noble. The only tolerable poem of Yalden his
Hymn to Darkness is a parody of this.


From the poem entitled Reason in the Miscellanies.
Never perhaps has the distinction between Reason and Faith


been so happily defined. The poem may be compared with
the magnificent lines at the opening of Dryden's Religio

From Emblem xiv. Book i.


Robert Gomersal ( 1 600- 1 646) was a student of Christ Church
and a distinguished preacher at Oxford. He became subse-
quently Vicar of Thorncombe in Devonshire. He was the
author of a volume of sermons, of some meditations in verse
on the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of Judges, of a
tragedy entitled Lodowick Sforza^ and of some occasional
poems printed in 1633 fr m which the extract given is
taken. I have freely excised without marking the excisions.
Readers will be reminded of Dryden's famous lines in
Aurengzebe, Act iv. Scene i, " When I consider life," etc.


From the Silex Scintillans, Part i. Vaughan has never
been so popular as Herbert, and yet, as a poet, he is greatly
superior to him. How noble is his lyric commencing " Thou
that know'st for whom I mourn " ; how really sublime his
poem The World; how pregnant the eloquence of his Con-
stellation^ which anticipates, though with an infusion of lofty
piety, Matthew Arnold's Self-dependence.


From Wifs Recreations , ed. 1650. It is not unlikely,
but it is by no means certain, that those verses were written
by Herrick. They appear with poems which are unquestion-
ably his, and are very much in his style. They were first
included among Herrick's poems by Mr. Carew Hazlitt.



Poor Flecknoe's chief claim to immortality is his associa-
tion with Dryden's satire on Shadwell Mac Flecknoe. He
was for upwards of half a century an industrious scribbler.
His first poem is dated 1626, and he is supposed to have died
about 1678. There are, however, one or two real gems to be
found among his rubbish, and this is one of them.


To the harsh and uncouth style of this noble Platonist is
probably to be attributed the fact that his works are so com-
pletely forgotten. Never perhaps has rapt mysticism found
more intense expression than in his poems and prose dis-


From Gondibert, Canto vi. One of the distinguishing
characteristics of Davenant is the gravity and stateliness of
his paradoxes and conceits, but this poem is really fine.


From the Sacred Poems. This is Crashaw's note at per-
fection. In the expression of rapt enthusiasm he has no rival
among English religious poets.


From the Ode to the Memory of Charles Morwent. John
Oldham (1653-1683) whose premature death was lamented
by Dryden, is chiefly known by his Satires on the Jesuits,
but it is in Pindarics or irregular Odes, in the one from
which this extract is taken, and particularly in those on Ben
Jonson and Homer, and in his Dithyramb, that his genius,
which had a touch of nobility in it, is discernible.

CXI 1 1

From the Fourth Emblem of Book v.


From the Sacred Poems.


From the Elegy On the Death of Mr. William Hervey.
I have considerably shortened this poem ; the original
consists of nineteen stanzas ; it has not, I venture to think,
suffered from curtailment.


The date of this Epitaph is 1666, but I cannot remember
where I found it. The second couplet is to be found slightly
altered in Sir H. Wotton's poems.


This passage is the one good thing in Garth's once
famous mock-heroic poem, The Dispensary (1696) ; it is in
the third canto. Cowper has borrowed and inserted the
second line in his Lines on the Receipt of his Mother's Picture.


These beautiful verses were written by Waller after he
had completed his eightieth year, if not even later. They
conclude his Divine Poems. I omit the six introductory


It is impossible to settle with certainty the authorship of
this poem. It is printed in Bishop King's Poems, and is
attributed to King by Headley, Hazlitt, Campbell, Johnstone,
and Cattermole. But it has also been attributed to Francis
Beaumont, though not on equally satisfactory evidence.


This is the one poem in Herbert which is not marred by


his characteristic defects, affected quaintness, extravagance,
prosaic baldness, and discordant rhythm.


From the Religio Medici, Part ii. Sect. 12. "This," says
Browne, " is the dormitive I take to bedward. I need no other
laudanum than this to make me sleep ; after which I close
mine eyes in security, content to take my leave of the sun,
and sleep unto the resurrection."


From her Poems and Fancies, 1653, p. 135. There are
beautiful little fragments to be found in the wilderness of the
Duchess's poetry and prose.


These are the last three stanzas of the concluding poem
of Castara.


From Carew's Cesium Britannicicm.


From Microcosmus, a moral masque, 1637. Of Thomas
Nabbes nothing is certainly known beyond the facts that he
was born in 1605, was matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford,
in 1621, and contributed somewhat extensively to the drama
during the reign of Charles I.

cxxvi I

Epitaph on Eleanor Freeman, who died in 1650, aged 21,
and was buried in Tewkesbury Church, Gloucestershire. It
is printed in Headley's Specimens, vol. ii. p. 74.

2 C




From Miscellany Poems by a Lady, 1713. Anne Kings-
mill, born about 1660, married Heneage Finch, fourth Earl
of Winchilsea, and died in August 1720. This poetess is
chiefly known from Wordsworth's remark, that her Nocturnal
Reverie is one of the few poems, in the interval intervening
between the publication of Paradise Lost and the Seasons^
which contain a new image of external nature. In a letter
to Dyce, Wordsworth says, " There is one poetess to whose
writings I am especially partial, the Countess of Winchilsea.
I have perused her poems frequently, and should be happy
to name such passages as I think most characteristic of her
genius," and in a subsequent letter (see Wordsworth's
Memoirs^ vol. ii. pp. 228, 229) he names them. I have, how-
ever, ventured to select a poem not noted by Wordsworth,
as the object of these selections is not so much to illustrate
the genius of particular poets, as to give poems interesting
in themselves.


Poor Pattison's story is a very sad one. Born at Peas-
marsh, near Rye, in 1706, he was educated at Sidney Sussex
College, Cambridge. But quitting Cambridge, before taking
his degree, he became involved in many troubles and
difficulties, being at one time on the point of starvation.
He died in London, July 1727, in his twenty-first year. His


poems have much merit, and his Morning Contemplation,
from which the extract is taken, is a very pleasing descriptive


This fine stanza is from Fenton's Ode to Lord Cower,
which Pope, according to Johnson, pronounced to be the
next Ode in the English language to Dry den's Cecilia.
Modern criticism would not corroborate Pope's verdict.
Fenton's Pindaric Odes have, at times, great dignity and
eloquence, and some of his Tales, if they rival Prior's in
indecency, rival them also in grace, terseness, and wit.


Of the author of this spirited Anacreontic, George
Alexander Stevens, an account will be found in Baker's
Biographia Dramatica. He wrote several plays, but made
himself chiefly conspicuous by travelling about England and
America, and delivering an extraordinary " medley of sense
and nonsense, wit and ribaldry," which he called " a Lecture
upon Heads." In 1761 he published a volume of Miscellanies
entitled The Choice Spirit? Chaplet, to which he contributed
several rollicking and most spirited ballads, among them
The Marine Medley, and a song, " Once the Gods of the
Greeks," which I have been almost tempted to add. He
died in 1784. An edition of his poems, with a memoir of
the author by W. H. Badham, appeared after his death.


Paraphrased from Fontenelle.


Written by the famous Lord Peterborough to Mrs.
Howard, afterwards Countess of Suffolk. The verses are


printed in Swift's Works, and in the Suffolk Papers, Intro-
duction, vol. i. p. 46.


From Dodsley's Collection, vol. vi. p. 326.


From Dodsley's Collection, vol. viii. p. 243. Robert
Craggs, Earl Nugent, was a conspicuous, but not eminent
figure among politicians between 1741 and 1788. Some of
his poems are printed in Dodsley's Collection, and in the
New Foundling Hospital for Wit. The Ode which he
wrote on his temporary conversion to Protestantism, though
too highly praised by Walpole, is vigorous and eloquent.


Aaron Hill (1685-1750) was an accomplished poet and
dramatist, who had the distinction of being one of the very
few gentlemen to be found among the Men of Letters of his
time. This impressed Pope, who laid the scourge so lightly

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Online LibraryJohn Churton CollinsA treasury of minor British poetry selected and arranged with notes .. → online text (page 14 of 19)