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ABRAHAM COWLEY, a poet of considerable dis- | virtue of a degree which he obtained, by mandamus,

from Oxford, in December, 1657.

tinction, was born at London, in 1618. His father, who was a grocer by trade, died before his birth; but his mother, through the interest of her friends, procured his admission into Westminster school, as a king's scholar. He has represented himself as so deficient in memory, as to have been unable to retain the common rules of grammar: it is, however, certain that, by some process, he became an elegant and correct classical scholar. He early imbibed a taste for poetry; and so soon did it germinate in his youthful mind, that, while yet at school, in his fifteenth or sixteenth year, he published a collection of verses, under the appropriate title of Poetical Blossoms.

After the death of Cromwell, Cowley returned to France, and resumed his station as an agent in the royal cause, the hopes of which now began to revive. The Restoration reinstated him, with other royalists, in his own country; and he naturally expected a reward for his long services. He had been promised, both by Charles I. and Charles II., the Mastership of the Savoy, but was unsuccessful in both his applications. He had also the misfortune of displeasing his party, by his revived comedy of "The Cutter of Coleman-street," which was construed as a satire on the cavaliers. At length, through the interest of the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of St. Alban's, he obtained a lease of a farm at Chertsey, held under the queen, by which his income was raised to about 300l. per annum. From early youth a country retirement had been a real or imaginary object of his wishes; and, though a late eminent critic and moralist, who had himself no sensibility to rural pleasures, treats this taste with severity and ridicule, there seems little reason to decry a propensity, nourished by the favourite strains of poets, and natural to a mind long tossed by the anxieties of business, and the vicissitudes of an unsettled condition.

In 1636 he was elected a scholar of Trinity college, Cambridge. In this favourable situation he obtained much praise for his academical exercises; and he again appeared as an author, in a pastoral comedy, called Love's Riddle, and a Latin comedy, entitled, Naufragium Joculare; the last of which was acted before the university, by the members of Trinity college. He continued to reside at Cambridge till 1643, and was a Master of Arts when he was ejected from the university by the puritanical visiters. He thence removed to Oxford, and fixed himself in St. John's college. It was here that he engaged actively in the royal cause, and was present in several of the king's journeys and expeditions, but in what quality, does not appear. He ingratiated himself, however, with the principal persons about the court, and was particularly honoured with the friendship of Lord Falkland.

When the events of the war obliged the queenmother to quit the kingdom, Cowley accompanied her to France, and obtained a settlement at Paris, in the family of the Earl of St. Alban's. During an absence of nearly ten years from his native country, he took various journeys into Jersey, Scotland, Holland, and Flanders; and it was principally through his instrumentality that a correspondence was maintained between the king and his consort. The business of cyphering and decyphering their letters was entrusted to his care, and often occupied his nights, as well as his days. It is no wonder that, after the Restoration, he long complained of the neglect with which he was treated. In 1656, having no longer any affairs to transact abroad, he returned to England; still, it is supposed, engaged in the service of his party, as a medium of secret intelligence. Soon after his arrival, he published an edition of his poems, containing most of those which now appear in his works. In a search for another person, he was apprehended by the messengers of the ruling powers, and committed to custody; from which he was liberated, by that generous and learned physician, Dr. Scarborough, who bailed him in the sum of a thousand pounds. This, however, was possibly the sum at which he was rated as a physician, a character he assumed by

Cowley took up his abode first at Barn-elms, on the banks of the Thames; but this place not agreeing with his health, he removed to Chertsey. Here his life was soon brought to a close. According to his biographer, Dr. Sprat, the fatal disease was an affection of the lungs, the consequence of staying too late in the fields among his labourers. Dr. Warton, however, from the authority of Mr. Spence,. gives a different account of the matter. He says, that Cowley, with his friend Sprat, paid a visit on foot to a gentleman in the neighbourhood of Chertsey, which they prolonged, in free conviviality, till midnight; and that missing their way on their return, they were obliged to pass the night under a hedge, which gave to the poet a severe cold and fever, which terminated in his death. He died on July 28. 1667, and was interred, with a most honourable attendance of persons of distinction, in Westminster-abbey, near the remains of Chaucer and Spenser. King Charles II. pronounced his eulogy, by declaring, "that Mr. Cowley had not left a better man behind him in England.'

At the time of his death, Cowley certainly ranked as the first poet in England; for Milton lay under a cloud, nor was the age qualified to taste him. And although a large portion of Cowley's celebrity has since vanished, there still remains enough to raise him to a considerable rank among the British poets. It may be proper here to add, that as a prose-writer, particularly in the department of essays, there are few who can compare with him in elegant simplicity.

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HAT shall I do to be for ever known, And make the age to come my own? I shall, like beasts or common people, die, Unless you write my elegy;

Whilst others great, by being born, are grown;
Their mothers' labour, not their own.

In this scale gold, in th' other fame does lie,
The weight of that mounts this so high.
These men are Fortune's jewels, moulded bright;
Brought forth with their own fire and light:
If I, her vulgar stone, for either look,

Out of myself it must be strook.

Yet I must on. What sound is't strikes mine ear?
Sure I Fame's trumpet hear:

It sounds like the last trumpet; for it can
Raise up the buried man.

Unpast Alps stop me; but I'll cut them all, And march, the Muses' Hannibal. Hence, all the flattering vanities that lay Nets of roses in the way!

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I'LL sing of heroes and of kings,
In mighty numbers, mighty things.
Begin, my Muse! but lo! the strings
To my great song rebellious prove;
The strings will sound of nought but love.
I broke them all, and put on new;
'Tis this or nothing sure will do.
These, sure, (said I) will me obey;
These, sure, heroic notes will play.
Straight I began with thundering Jove,
And all th' immortal powers; but Love,
Love smil'd, and from m' enfeebled lyre
Came gentle airs, such as inspire
Melting love and soft desire.
Farewell, then, heroes! farewell, kings
And mighty numbers, mighty things!
Love tunes my heart just to my strings.


THE thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again,
The plants suck-in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and, when he 'as done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light;
They drink and revel all the night.
Nothing in nature 's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there; for why
Should every creature drink but I;
Why, man of morals, tell me why?


LIBERAL Nature did dispense
To all things arms for their defence;
And some she arms with sinewy force,
And some with swiftness in the course;
Some with hard hoofs or forked claws,
And some with horns or tusked jaws :
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And some with scales, and some with wings,
And some with teeth, and some with stings.
Wisdom to man she did afford,

Wisdom for shield, and wit for sword.
What to beauteous womankind,
What arms, what armour, has sh' assign'd?
Beauty is both; for with the fair

What arms, what armour, can compare?
What steel, what gold, or diamond,
More impassible is found?

And yet what flame, what lightning, e'er
So great an active force did bear?
They are all weapon, and they dart
Like porcupines from every part.
Who can, alas! their strength express,
Arm'd, when they themselves undress,
Cap-a-pie with nakedness?


OFT am I by the women told,
Poor Anacreon! thou grow'st old:
Look how thy hairs are falling all;
Poor Anacreon, how they fall!
Whether I grow old or no,
By th' effects, I do not know;
This, I know, without being told,
'Tis time to live, if I grow old;
'Tis time short pleasures now to take,
Of little life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake.


A MIGHTY pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss ;
But, of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.
Virtue now, nor noble blood,
Nor wit by love is understood;
Gold alone does passion move,
Gold monopolizes love.

A curse on her, and on the man
Who this traffic first began!

A curse on him who found the ore!
A curse on him who digg'd the store!
A curse on him who did refine it!
A curse on him who first did coin it!
A curse, all curses else above,
On him who us'd it first in love!
Gold begets in brethren hate;
Gold in families debate;
Gold does friendships separate;
Gold does civil wars create.
These the smallest harms of it!
Gold, alas! does love beget.


FILL the bowl with rosy wine!
Around our temples roses twine!
And let us cheerfully awhile,
Like the wine and roses, smile.
Crown'd with roses, we contemn
Gyges' wealthy diadem.
To day is ours, what do we fear?
To day is ours; we have it here:
Let's treat it kindly, that it may
Wish at least, with us to stay.
Let's banish business, banish sorrow;
To the gods belongs to-morrow.


UNDERNEATH this myrtle shade, On flowery beds supinely laid, With odorous oils my head o'er-flowing, And around it roses growing, What should I do but drink away The heat and troubles of the day? In this more than kingly state Love himself shall on me wait. Fill to me, Love; nay fill it up; And mingled cast into the cup Wit, and mirth, and noble fires, Vigorous health and gay desires. The wheel of life no less will stay In a smooth than rugged way: Since it equally doth flee, Let the motion pleasant be. Why do we precious ointments show'r? Nobler wines why do we pour? Beauteous flowers why do we spread, Upon the monuments of the dead? Nothing they but dust can show, Or bones that hasten to be so. Crown me with roses whilst I live, Now your wines and ointments give; After death I nothing crave, Let me alive my pleasures have, All are Stoics in the grave.

X. THE GRASSHOPPER. HAPPY Insect! what can be In happiness compar'd to thee? Fed with nourishment divine, The dewy Morning's gentle wine! Nature waits upon thee still, And thy verdant cup does fill; 'Tis fill'd wherever thou dost tread, Nature's self's thy Ganymede. Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing; Happier than the happiest king! All the fields which thou dost see, All the plants, belong to thee; All that summer-hours produce, Fertile made with early juice. Man for thee does sow and plow; Farmer he, and landlord thou! Thou dost innocently joy; Nor does thy luxury destroy; The shepherd gladly heareth thee, More harmonious than he.

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