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he wrote two books of his poem for which he is most known—his » Gondibert''—under the patronage of Henrietta Maria, that "ill-fated, ill-advisea 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 Cowcs 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 ofT, expecting immediately to bo 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, G53—601. 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 ambush, laid by th'e jealous Oswald. A parley succeeds, and it is finally agreed that the quar rel 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. Ho 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 which, 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 it1 "In the character and love of Birtha," remarks an able critic, " we have a
1 This poem nas divided tlie critics. Bishop Hurd, in his "Letters on Chivalry and Romance," finds fault with Davenant because he rejects all machinery and snpernatural agency. On the otner liand, Dr. Aikln ably defends him. Read—"Miscellanies in Prose, by John Aikln, M. D., and LcUtla Rarbauld:" also, the prefatory remarks in the fourth volume of Anderson's "BriUsh Poets j" also, tome criticisms of Headley in hia "Select Beauties," p. xlvl.: also, "Retrospect) vc Review," U. 304: 'ino a tew gmjd 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.
To Astragon, heaven for succession gave
One only pledge, and Birtha was her name;
And she succeeded her in face and fame.
She ne*er saw courts, yet courts could have undone
Her nets, the most prepared could never shun;
She never had in busy cities been,
Ne'er warm'd with hopes, nor e'er allay'd with fears;
And sin not seeing, ne'er had use of tears.
But here her father's precepts gave her skill,
In Spring, she gather'd blossoms for the still;
And as kind nature with calm diligence
Her own free virtue silently employs.
So were her virtues busy without noise.
Whilst her great mistress, Nature, thus she tends,
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;
Black melancholy mists, that fed despair
Through wounds' long rage, with sprinkled vervain clear'd;
And with rich fumes his sullen senses cheer'd.
He that had served great Love with reverend heart,
For Love makes Birtha shift with Death his dart,
Her heedless innocence as little knew
The wounds she gave, as those from Love she toon;
1 "The longer we dwell upon this noble but unfinished monument of the genius of Sir William Davenant, the more does our admiration of It Increase, and we regret that the unjust attacks which wi re made against tt at the time, (or whatever else was the cause,) prevented Its completion. It alglit then, notwithstanding the prophetical oblivion to which Bishop HurJ has, wiUi some acrimony, rtndemued It, have been entitled to a patent of nobility, and had its name Inscribed upon Uie CM of •P>c aristocracy."—«.-<. Sen. II SU.
And Love lifts high each secret shaft he drew;
Love he had lik'd, yet never lodg'd before;
But finds him now a bold unquiet guest;
And, enter'd, never lets the master rest.
So strange disorder, now he pines for health,
She not the robber knows, yet feels the stealth,
She, full of inward questions, walks alone,
To take her heart aside in secret shade; But knocking at her breast, it scem'd or gone
Or by confederacy was useless made;
Or else some stranger did usurp its room;
One so remote, and new in every thought, As his behavior sl^ows him not at home,
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
Of all her maids does carry, as from spies;
Jealous, that what burns her, might give them light
Beneath a myrtle covert now does spend
In maids' weak wishes, her whole stock of thought;
Fond maids I who love with mind's fine stuff would mend Which Nature purposely of bodies wrought
She fashions him she loved of angels kind,
Such as in holy story were employ'd
And in short visions only are enjoy'd.
As eagles then, when nearest heaven they fly,
Of wild impossibles soon weary grow; Feeling their bodies find no rest so high,
And therefore perch on earthly tilings below:
So now she yields; him she an angel deem'd
Yet the most harmless to a maid he seem'd,
Soon her opinion of his hurtless heart,
Affection turns to faith; and then love's fire
To heaven, though bashfully, she does impart;
If I do love, (said she,) that love, 0 Heaven!
Your own disciple, Nature, bred in me;
Or blush to show effects which you decree1
And you, my alter'tl mother, (grown above
Chide not such kindness, as you once call'd love,
This said, her soul into her breast retires;
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
She thinks how her imagined spouse and she
That they by time shall ne'er o'erlaken be,
She thinks of Eden-life; and no rough wind
In their pacific sea shall wrinkles make;
Her cares keep him asleep, her voice awake.
She thinks, if ever anger in him sway,
(The youthful warrior's most excused disease,)
Such chance her tears shall calm, as showers allay
Thus to herself in day-dreams Birtha talks:
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.
And she had fled him now, but that he came
So like an awed and conquer'd enemy,
As if he but advanced for leave to fly.
01 his minor pieces, we have room but for the following beautiful SONO.
The lark now leaves his watery nest,
He takes this window for the east;
Awake, awake, the morn will never rise.
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.
The merchant bows unto the seaman's star
The ploughman from the sun his season takes ,
But siill the lover wonders what they are
Awake, awake, break through your veils of lawn,
Then draw your curtains, anil begin the dawn.
MARGARET, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE. Died 1673.
This lady was the daughter of Sir Charles Lucas, and was born about the end of the reign of James the First. She early manifested a fondness for literary pursuits, and the greatest care was bestowed upon her education. Having been appointed one of the maids of honor to Henrietta Maria, the queen of Charles the First, she attended her when she fled to France, during the civil commotions; and having met with the Marquis of Newcastle at Paris, she there became his wife in 1645. Her lord, soon after their marriage, went to Antwerp to reside, and found her a most faithful and affectionate companion of his long and honorable exile. At tho Restoration they returned to England.
"The labors of no modern authoress can be compared, as to quantity, with those of our indefatigable duchess, who has filled nearly twelve volumes, folio, with plays, poems, orations, philosophical discourses, &c. Herwritings show that she possessed a mind of considerable power and activity, with much imagination, but not one particle of judgment or taste."1
MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY.
As I was musing by myself alone,
My thoughts brought several things to work upon:
At last came two, which diversely were drest,
One Melancholy, t'other Mirth exprest;
Here Melancholy stood in black array,
And Mirth was all in colors fresh and gay.
Mirth laughing came, and running to me, flung
Her fat white arms about my neck, there hung,
Embraced and kiss'd me oft, and stroked my cheek,
Saying, she would no other lover seek:
I'll sing you songs, and please you every day,
Invent new sports to pass the time away;
I'll keep your heart, and guard it from that thief,
Dull Melancholy, Care, or sadder Grief,
And make your eyes with Mirth to overflow;
With springing blood your checks soon fat shall grow;
Your legs shall nimble be, your body light,
And all your spirits, like to birds in flight.
Mirth shall digest your meat, and make you strong,
Shall give you health, and your short days prolong;
Refuse me not, but take me to your wife;
For I shall make you happy all your life.
But Melancholy, she will make you lean,
Your cheeks shall hollow grow, your jaws be seen;
Your eyes shall buried be within your head,
And look as pale as if you were quite dead;
1 JVv. Alexander Dycc's "Specimens of British Poetesses." Read, also, a very excellent notice of ber In Sir Egerton Brydgcs's "Imaginative Biography," in which be remarks, "that considerable as Is the alloy of absurd passages in many of her grace's compositions, there are few of them in which there ore not proofs of an acUve, thinking, original mind. Her imagination was quick, copious, and »*mrtlmea ever, beautiful, yet her taslc appears lo hive Ocmi not only uncultivated, but, perhaps, 3rig*n:illy dciittive