« 上一頁繼續 »
The lust of kingdom knows no sacred faith,
Through bloody slaughter doth prepare the ways
0 wretched prince! nor dost thou yet record
Thus fatal plagues pursue the guilty race,
The wicked child thus brings to woful sire
But the poem by which Sackville is best known, is entitled «The Mirror for Magistrates." In it, most of the illustrious but unfortunate characters of English history, from the Conquest to the end of the fourteenth century, aro made to pass in review before the poet, who, conducted by Sorrow, descends, like Dante, into the infernal regions. Each character recites his own misfortunes in a separate soliloquy. But Sackville finished only the preface called the "Induction," and one legend, the Life of the Duke of Buckingham. He left the completion of the whole to Bichard Baldwyno and George Ferrers. These called in others to aid them, and the whole collection or set of poems was published in 1559, with this title, "A Mirror for Magistrates, wherein may be seen, by example of others, with how grievous plagues vices are punished, and how frail and how unstable worldly prosperity is found, even of those whom fortune seemeth most highly to favor."
The whole poem is one of a very remarkable kind for the age, and the part executed by Sackville exhibits a strength of description and a power of drawing allegorical characters scarcely inferior to Spenser, and had he completed the whole, and with the same power as that exhibited in the commencement, he would have ranked among die first poets of England.
ALLEGORICAL CHARACTERS IN HELL.
And first, within the porch and jaws ol hell,
Her eyes unsteadfast, rolling here and there,
Whirl'd on each place, as place that vengeance brought,
So was her mind continually in fear,
Tost and tormented with the tedious thought
Of those detested crimes which she had wrought;
With dreadful cheer, and looks thrown to the sky,
Wishing for death, and yet she could not die.
Next, saw we Dread, all trembling how he shook,
And, next, within the entry of this lake,
Sat fell Reverse, gnashing her teeth for ire:
Devising means how she may vengeance take;
Never in rest, till she have her desire;
But frets within so far forth with the fire
Of wreaking flames, that now determines she
To die by death, or 'veng'd by death to be.
When fell Revekoe, with bloody foul pretence,
His face was lean, and some-deal pined away,
His food, for most, was wild fruits of the tree,
Whose wretched state when we had well beheld,
With tender ruth on him, and on his fears,
In thoughtful cares forth then our pace we held;
And, by and by, another shape appears
(>f greedy Care, still brushing up the briers;
His knuckles knobb'd, his flesh deep dinted in,
With tawed hands, and hard ytanned skin:
The morrow gray no sooner hath begun
But let the night's black misty mantles rise,
By him lay heavy Sleep, the cousin of Death.
And next in order sad, Old-age we found:
There heard we him with broke and hollow plaint
Crook-back'd he was, tooth-shaken, and blear-eyed;
And fast by him pale Malabt was placed:
But, oh, the doleful sight that then wo see 1
We turn'd our look, and on the other side
A grisly shape of Famine mought we see:
With greedy looks, and gaping mouth, that cried
And roar'd for meat, as she should there have died;
Her body thin and bare as any tone,
Whereto was left nought but the case alone.
And that, alas, was gnawen every where,
Great was her force, whom stone-wall could not stay:
Her tearing nails snatching at all she saw;
With gaping jaws, that by no means yniay
Be satisfied from hunger of her maw,
But eats herself as she that hath no law;
Gnawing, alas, her carcase all in .vain,
Where you may count each sinew, bone, and vein.
Lastly, stood War, in glittering arms yclad,
Cities he sack'd, and realms (that whilom flower'd
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY. 1581—1613.
Sir Tuoxxs Ovxrbcrt, a miscellaneous writer, and "one of the most finished gentlemen about the court'' of James I., is well known by the tragic circumstances of his death. Born of an ancient family in Gloucestershire, after taking his degiee at the University of Oxford, he entered the Middle Temple as a law student. But his inclinations turning more to polite literature, he made an effort to advance his fortune at the court, and was successful. But opposing the infamous Countess of Essex in one of her criminal schemes, he was, by her influence, thrown into the Tower, and was scon after taken off by poison administered to him by her means, with the knowledge of her husband. The murder, though committed on the 13th of September, 1613, was not discovered till two years after, when all was brought to light, and four of the parties concerned were executed. But James, to his lasting disgrace, pardoned the two principals, the Countess ol Essex and her husband, that base favorite of James, the Earl of Somerset.
The murder of this accomplished man is one of the most disgraceful passages in the history of England, and the sympadiy which his fate excited is demonstrated by the many elegies and tributes of grief which were poured forth from all quarters "on the untimely death of Sir Thomas Overbury, poysoned in the Tower." Sir Thomas is known in letters, both as a poet and prose writer. In the former character, his chief productions are his once famous poem called "The Wife," and a smaller one called "The Choice of a Wife." The "Wife" is didactic in its nature, and though containing many good precepts, has little grace, iancy, or ornament. Two verses will suffice to give an idea of his manner:—
Give me, next good, an understanding wife,
By nature wise, not learned by much art;
More scope of conversation impart,
Woman's behavior is a surer bar
Than is their no; that fairly doth deny
Safe ev'n from hope:—in part to blame is she,
But as a prose writer, Sir Thomas Overbury takes higher rank. His « Characters or Witty Descriptions of the Properties of Sundry Persons," display the fertile and ingenious character of his mind. Of the following beautiful picture of "A Fair and Happy Milkmaid," a judicious critic remarks: ■ We hardly know any passage in English prose which inspires the mind of the reader with so many pleasing recollections, and which spreads so calm and purifying a delight over the spirit, as it broods over the idea of the innocent girl whose image Sir Thomas has here bodied forth:—1 It will scent all the Tear long of June, like a new-made hay-cock.'"
A FAIR AND HAPPY MILKMAID
Is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of hers is able to put all face-physic out of countenance. She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue, therefore minds it not. All her excellencies stand in her so silently, "as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel, which is herself, is far better than outsides of tissue; for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silkworm, she is decked in innocence, a far better wearing. She doth not, with lying long in bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions: nature hath taught her too, immoderate sleep is rust to the soul; she rises therefore with Chanticlere, her dame's cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfew. In milking a cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk-press makes the milk whiter or sweeter; for never came almond-glore or aromatic ointment on her palm to taint it. The golden ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made haycock. She makes her hand hard with labor, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her