Puslapio vaizdai

natural manner, and uttered in words so fitted to them, that they may seem to be incapable of appearing in any other.

Vivacity and animal spirits are also present in much of Suckling's poetry, and they cause an almost total absence of anything like the romantic. He seemed determined to make love, as they make hay, "while the sun shines ;" and as a sport, too—not a necessity or an impulse Accordingly, if one mistress was not kind, he tried another; and even if she was kind, he did the same: holding it as an incontrovertible point in Cupid's casuistry that fruition is the grave of love, past, present, and to come.

Add to the foregoing, an occasional, but not very frequent, antithetical and paradoxical turn of thought and mode of expression, and a perfect absence of all scruples about adopting ideas and even whole passages verbatim from other poets, when they happened to suit his purpose-and we have named what strike us as being the chief superficial characteristics of this writer's minor pieces. We will only observe further respecting them generally, that, notwithstanding the lightness, ease, spirit, and gaieté de cœur, which they almost every where exhibit, they are not without evidences of the writer having possessed a vein of profound thought, which he every now and then turned up a portion of in the course of his light and desultory ramblings; he occasionally dropped a deep philosophical truth as indifferently as one drops a pin, without caring whether anybody picked it up or not.

We shall now proceed to lay before the reader several of Suckling's pieces; taking them without any particular regard to the order in which they occur in his works, but pointing out briefly (as we present them) the manner in which they seem to illustrate what has now been said.

The first example we shall give is a piece which he calls A Session of the Poets. It may be considered as partly in the nature of a good-humoured satire on his brother poets, in which some of their characteristics are made apparent by the manner in which they behave themselves, on being called to attend a session or meeting in which the laureat wreath is to be placed on the head of the worthiest. This piece is chiefly interesting on account of the notice it takes of the minor poets of that time. In this respect, however, it may be looked upon as more curious than authentic-which latter indeed it does not pretend to be-but merely a pleasant jeu d'esprit at his companions' and rivals' expense. Since the appearance of this piece we have had four others of a similar nature-one anonymous, printed among the State Poems; the Trial for the Bays, by Lord Rochester; the Election of a Poet Laureat, by Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham; and in our own times, (and

with all due respect to the foregoing great names be it spoken) incomparably the best, by Leigh Hunt, called The Feast of the Poets. The one before us is gay, witty, agreeable, and careless even to slovenliness-particularly in the versification.

"A session was held the other day,
And Apollo himself was at it (they say)
The laurel that had been so long reserv'd,
Was now to be given to him best deserv'd.
Therefore the wits of the town came thither,
'Twas strange to see how they flocked together,
Each strongly confident of his own way,
Thought to gain the laurel away that day.

There Selden, he sate hard by the chair;
Weniman not far off, which was very fair;
Sands with Townsend, for they kept no order;
Digby and Shillingsworth a little further:


There was Lucan's translator too, and he
That makes God speak so big in's poetry;
Selwin and Walter, and Bartlets both the brothers;
Jack Vaughan and Porter, and divers others.

The first that broke silence was good old Ben,
Prepar'd before with Canary wine,

And he told them plainly he deserv'd the bays,
For his were call'd works, where others were but plays.


Bid them remember how he had purg'd the stage
Of errors that had lasted many an age,
And he hopes they did not think the Silent Woman,
The Fox, and the Alchymist out-done by no man.

Apollo stopp'd him there, and bad him not go on,
"Twas merit, he said, and not presumption
Must carry't; at which Ben turned about,
And in great choler offer'd to go out:


Those that were there thought it not fit
To discontent so ancient a wit;

And therefore Apollo call'd him back again,
And made him mine host of his own New Inn.

Tom Carew was next, but he had a fault
That would not well stand with a laureat;
His muse was hard bound, and th' issue of's brain
Was seldom brought forth but with trouble and pain.


All that were present there did agree,

A laureat muse should be easie and free:

Yet sure 'twas not that, but 'twas thought that his grace Consider'd he was well, he had a cup-bearer's place.

Will. Davenant asham'd of a foolish mischance
That he had got lately travelling in France,
Modestly hop'd the handsomness of's muse
Might any deformity about him excuse.


Surely the company would have been content,
If they could have found any precedent;
But in all their records either in verse or prose,
There was not one laureat without a nose.

To Will Bartlet sure all the wits meant well,
But first they would see how his snow would sell:

Will smil❜d, ana swore in their judgments they went less,
That concluded of merit upon success.

Suddenly taking his place again,

He gave way to Selwin, who streight stept in ;
But alas! he had been so lately a wit,
That Apollo hardly knew him yet.

Toby Matthews (pox on him, how came he there ?)
Was whispering nothing in some bodie's ear,
When he had the honour to be nam'd in court:
But sir, you may thank my Lady Carlile for❜t:

For had not her care furnisht you out
With something of handsome, without all doubt
You and your sorry lady muse had been
In the number of those that were not let in.

In haste from the court two or three came in,
And they brought letters (forsooth) from the queen,
"Twas discreetly done too, for if th' had come
Without them, th' had scarce been let into the room.

Suckling next was call'd, but did not appear,
Bnt straight one whisper'd Apollo i'th' ear,
That of all men living he cared not for't,
He loved not the muses so well as his sport;

And prized black eyes, or a lucky hit
At bowls, above all the trophies of wit;
But Apollo was angry, and publickly said
"Twere fit that a fine were set upon's head.

Wat Montague now stood forth to his tryal,
And did not so much as suspect a denial;
But witty Apollo asked him first of all,
If he understood his own pastoral.

For if he could do it, 'twould plainly appear
He understood more than any man there,
And did merit the bayes above all the rest;
But the monsieur was modest, and silence confest.

During these troubles in the court was hid

One that Apollo soon mist, little Cid :

And having spied him, call'd him out of the throng, And advis'd him in his ear not to write so strong.

Murrey was summon'd, but 'twas urged that he
Was chief already of another company.

Hales set by himself most gravely did smile
To see them about nothing keep such a coil;
Apollo had spied him, but knowing his mind
Past by, and call'd Faulkland that sate just behind :


He was of late so gone with divinity,
That he had almost forgot his poetry,
Though to say the truth (and Apollo did know it)
He might have been both his priest and his poet.

At length who but an alderman did appear,
At which Will. Davenant began to swear;
But wiser Apollo bade him draw nigher,
And when he was mounted a little higher,

Openly declared that the best sign
Of good store of wit's to have good store of coin:
And without a syllable more or less said,
He put the laurel on the alderman's head.

At this all the wits were in such a maze,
That for a good while they did nothing but gaze
One upon another, not a man in the place
But had discontent writ in great in his face.

Only the small poets clear'd up again,
Out of hope, as 'twas thought, of borrowing:
But sure they were out, for he forfeits his crown
When he lends any poets about the town."

The manner in which "Old Ben" is mentioned in this, is very characteristic; the notice of the writer's intimate friend and associate, Will. Davenant, is curious, as shewing the feeling with which such matters were treated in those days; and the reference to the writer himself is the pleasantest of all, notwithstanding its evident affectation.

Nothing can be more easy, graceful, and flowing, than the versification of what follows; and there are (as we shall see) many other pieces equally perfect in this respect: which seems to shew that this slovenliness of the first piece we have given, was admitted advisedly, not unconsciously. Perhaps he intended it as a humorous heightening of the satire of the pieceas if the merits of minor poets was a theme not calling for a very careful treatment. But besides the elegant simplicity with which the following piece is expressed throughout, it is one of those from which, taken together, a most instructive theory of love might be formed, and that on which the writer seems not only to have acted, but to have written almost exclusively.

""Tis now, since I sat down before

That foolish fort, a heart,

(Time strangely spent!) a year, and more;
And still I did my part:

Made my approaches, from her hand.
Unto her lip did rise;

And did already understand
The language of her eyes.

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