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Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
The conscience, Friend, to' have lost them overplied
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.
This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
TO A VIRTUOUS YOUNG LADY.
LADY, that in the prime of earliest youth
Chosen thou hast: and they that overween,
To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,
And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure
Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,
Born 1620-Died 1678.
A CHARACTER in all respects, private, literary, and patriotic, so uncommonly excellent and noble as that of Marvell, can rarely be met with, either in the annals of history or the record of poetical biography.
He was educated at Cambridge, and afterwards travelled over a considerable part of Europe, and for some time was secretary to the English Embassy at Constantinople. He was one of Milton's most intimate friends, the champion of his reputation, and his assistant for nearly two years in his office of Latin Secretary to the Protector.
He defended the principles of freedom in his prose wr ngs with great vigor of eloquence and liveliness of humour. He mingled a playful exuberance of fancy and figure not unlike that of Burke, with a keenness of sarcastic wit, which has been imitated, but rarely equalled in the writings of Swift.
From the year 1660 till his death he sat in parliament as one of the representatives of his native city of Hull. "His atten
dance in the House of Commons," says the poet Campbell, “was uninterrupted, and exhibits a zeal in parliamentary duty that was never surpassed. Constantly corresponding with his constituents, he was at once earnest for their public rights and for their local interests. After the most fatiguing attendances, it was his practice to send them a minute statement of public proceedings, before he took either sleep or refreshment. Though he rarely spoke, his influence in both houses was so considerable, that when Prince Rupert, who often consulted him, voted on the popular side, it used to be said that the prince had been with his tutor. He was one of the last members who received the legitimate stipend for attendance, and his grateful constituents would often send him a barrel of ale as a token of their regard.
"The traits that are recorded of his public spirit and simple manners give an air of probability to the popular story of his refusal of a court-bribe. Charles the second, having met with Marvell in a private company, found his manners so agreeable, that he could not imagine a man of such complacency to possess inflexible honesty; he accordingly, as it is said, sent his lordtreasurer Danby to him the next day, who, after mounting several dark stair-cases, found the author in a very mean lodging, and proffered him a mark of his majesty's consideration. Marvell assured the lord-treasurer that he was not in want of the king's assistance, and humorously illustrated his independence by calling his servant to witness that he had dined for three days successively on a shoulder of mutton; at the same time giving a dignified and rational explanation of his motives to the minister."
His poetical productions are few, but they display a fancy lively, tender, and elegant; "there is much in them that comes from the heart warm, pure, and affectionate."
THE EMIGRANT'S SONG.
WHERE the remote Bermudas ride,
What should we do but sing his praise,
And sends the fowls to us in care,
Thus sung they, in the English boat,
Born 1631-Died 1700.
DRYDEN was educated at Westminster school, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He first exhibited his poetical powers in an eulogium on Oliver Cromwell; and this was followed, in 1660, by a poem "On the happy restoration and return of his sacred majesty Charles II." In 1665 he married the daughter of the Earl of Berkshire. At this period he became a writer for the stage, and in 1668 was appointed Poet Laureat and Historiographer Royal, with a joint salary of 200 pounds.
Shortly after the accession of James II. to the throne in 1665, Dryden abjured his previous religion, and became a Roman Catholic. This was the religion of his monarch, and this change in his own sentiments probably procured for him the addition of 100 pounds to his former revenue. But at the Revolution in 1688 he was stripped of all his offices and pensions, and from that time till his death in 1700, was compelled to rely for subsistence on the immediate profits of his poetical productions, composed at a certain rate per line. Among these were his translations of Juvenal, Persius, and Virgil, and some of his wost beautiful original poetry.
Dryden's poetry is very artificial, abounding in conceits and overstrained metaphors. But though he seldom writes twenty lines without something false and unnatural, his general conceptions are almost always noble, and he often exhibits in their execution an astonishing richness and sublimity of imagination. His great excellence lies in the mingled stateliness and harmony of his numbers. His versification is flowing and musical, and at the same time grand, energetic, and resounding, beyond that of any other English poet. He possessed great lyrical powers, as is evident from the few odes which he composed. His abilities as a satirist were likewise very admirable.
Yet he possessed no power of tenderness or pathos, very little wit or humour, and not much felicity in natural description. "The power that predominated in his intellectual operations," says Dr Johnson, " was rather strong reason than quick sensibility. Upon all occasions that were presented he studied rather than felt, and produced sentiments not such as nature enforces, but meditation supplies."
The moral character of a great part of Dryden's poetry deserves the severest censure. It is degraded and licentious in its tendency. For this there is no excuse in the assertion that he stooped to accommodate his writings to the depraved taste of the age in which he wrote. It is the characteristic of a virtuous mind not only to keep itself unspotted amidst the general corruption, but to send forth from its own purity a powerful counteracting and renovating influence. And Dryden possessed powers which might have enabled him to elevate and purify the moral sensibilities of the whole English nation. While he was a musing with his strains a sensual monarch and an immoral court, Milton was composing the Paradise Lost, in his own comparatively lonely, but virtuous and dignified retirement.
Dryden's prose is superior to his poetry. His style is exceedingly pure and beautiful; rich in the genuine idioms of his native tongue, chaste and regular in its flow, with full, but not superfluous ornament. It is often splendid, always musical, yet clear, easy, natural, and energetic.
His personal character presents much which is amiable and pleasant, but nothing noble or sublime. He was neither immoral nor religious.
CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON.
IMITATED FROM CHAUCER.
A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim train ;
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor;
For such on earth, his bless'd Redeemer bore.
But on eternal mercy lov'd to dwell.
To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard:
The tithes his parish freely paid, he took,
The country churls, according to their kind,
Yet of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the famish'd, and to clothe the bare;
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see.
"True priests," he said, "and preachers of the word,