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dress to his native country: premising, that it is far from having been in our power to select, as we at first intended, every good passage from these poems, to which we must refer our reader if he is pleased with what we have already presented to him. We fairly give him notice, that he must arm himself with no ordinary share of patience; and in his search after mere poetical imagery or expression, expect not the way to be beguiled with one particle of interest arising from the subject or story. William Browne lived immediately after the reign of Elizabeth, and thus speaks patriotically:
"Haile thou, my native soile! thou blessed plot,
Such wood-ground, pastures, quarries, wealthy mynes,
The third of these volumes contains the Shepherd's Pipe and the Inner Temple Masque, with other smaller poems of Browne, and some complimentary eclogues by his friends Brooke and Davies, addressed to him on the publication of the Shepherd's Pipe. The whole of this latter poem is written in a puling and "waterish vein," except a few passages, which may claim the merit of musical versification, and nearly the whole of the fourth eclogue, which is of a higher mood. This is the author's elegy on the death of his friend, Mr. Thomas Manwood, whom he terms Philarete; from which it is supposed that Milton conceived the idea of celebrating the memory of Mr. Edward King, in a pastoral form, under the name of Lycidas. The action, if it may be so called, of the two poems, is not unlike, and there are one or two similar sentiments: farther than this it would be absurd to push the comparison. The poem of Milton is the production of a mighty genius, such as "sage poets, taught by the heavenly muse, story'd of old in high immortal verse:" while all the merit the Philarete can claim is, that it is composed in a strain of natural sorrow, expressed in a
gentle and equable flow of melodious verse. Some of the stan zas are tame and weak, and others disfigured by conceit―but, in nearly all those we shall quote, he may have been supposed to have begun, "wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy, to meditate his rural minstrelsy."
"Under an aged oke was Willy laid,
Willy, the lad who whilome made the rockes
To ring with joy, whilst on his pipe he plaid,
And from their masters woo'd his neighb'ring flocks:
But now o're-come with dolors deepe
That nie his heart-strings rent:
Ne car'd he for his silly sheepe,
Ne car'd for merriment.
But chang'd his wonted walkes
For uncouth paths unknowne,
Where nought but trees might hear his plaints,
Autumne it was, when droopt the sweetest floures,
Yet fell their leaves not half so fast
As was his seate, so was his gentle heart,
Meeke and dejected, but his thoughts as hie
Broke was his tuneful pipe
That charm'd the christall floods.
O what is left can make me leave to mone!
It solitarie seemes.
Behold our flowrie beds;
Their beauties fade, and violets
'Tis not a cypresse bough, a count'nance sad,
A standing herse in sable vesture clad,
And vow to keepe thy fame alive
That can suppresse my griefe:
Cypresse may fade, the countenance be changed,
A tombe pluckt down, or els through age be rotten.
Can rase out with a thought:
These have a sev'ral fixed date,
Which ended, turne to nought.
Yet shall all my truest cause
Of sorrow firmly stay,
When these effects the wings of time
Shall fanne and sweepe away.
Looke as a sweet rose fairely budding forth
Bewrayes her beauties to th' enamour'd morne, Untill some keene blast from the envious north Killes the sweet bud that was but newly borne, Or else her rarest smels delighting
Make her herselfe betray,
Some white and curious hand inviting
So stands my mournfull case,
For had he been lesse good,
He yet (uncorrupt) had kept the stocke
In deepest passions of my griefe-swolne breast
That so few yeeres should make thee so much blest,
Is this to die? No: as a ship
Well built, with easie wind
A lazy hulke doth farre out-strip,
So Philarete fled,
Quicke was his passage given,
Then not for thee these briny tears are spent,
Faile of their pleasing powre;
All glorious daies seem ugly nights,
Embroider should the earth,
But briny teares distill,
Since Flora's beauties shall no more
Be honour'd by thy quill.
This said, he sigh'd, and with o'er-drowned eyes
Gaz'd on the heavens for what he mist on earth;
Then from the earth full sadly gan arise
As farre from future hope, as present mirth,
As ever sorrow trode,
He went, with mind no more to trace
The Inner Temple Masque has also been thought to have suggested the Comus of Milton. Here, again, it is true that there are some touches which remind the reader of Milton, and the subjects are very similar-being the tempting of Ulysses by Circe, who uses similar inducements and incantations with her son Comus, followed by similar effects. But, as in the case of the Lycidas, the Masque of Comus is, perhaps, the finest poem, of its length, in this or any language; while that of Browne is a meagre sketch, containing but a few lines of poetic beauty. The Syren's song, which they sing to induce Ulysses and his companions to come on shore, has been much commended by Warton.
It has been observed by Mr. Chalmers, that this masque must have been represented when Milton was only twelve years of age, and it was not printed till many years after his death; so that the chance of his having seen it, is even less than the chance of his having imitated it. Inquiries of this nature are, however, otherwise of no importance than as they indicate the steps which a great poet took to nourish and educate his own genius. For let all be traced to its source which Milton owed to all the books he ever studied, (and there are frequent marks of Browne having been a considerable favourite,) his glory would not be diminished a scruple.
We can, however, afford no more space to the task which we have been attempting, of restoring William Browne to the possession of the bays which flourished brightly on his brow during his life-time, but quickly withered and have never since revived. We have extracted a sufficient portion from his works to enable all to form their own judgements of his merits. We have claimed no very lofty praise for him; but some share of the attention of the lovers of English poetry, and of those interested in the history of our noble language, we are sure he deserves. He is merely a descriptive poet, and has not attempted to reach the higher walks of poetry. There is no passion of any kind in his productions, nor is there either pathos or humour. His invention, which is esteemed the soul of poetry, gives birth to but a tame and languid progeny of characters and incidents. Yet, with all this, he is a pleasing and amiable poet in his way, and his faults and vices are chiefly attributable to the want of taste, judgement, and knowledge of mankind, incident to the very early age at which he wrote. He seems to have observed the face of nature with the quick eye of a lover, and the scenes and incidents which he could draw from actual experience he has developed with a natural and lively pen. Had he trusted to nature more confidently, and more implicitly followed the bent of his own genius, strengthened by time, he would have excelled in the ethical cast of poetry in which Cowper is so eminent a master, and would, like him, have made his rural observations the ornaments and not the staple of his poetry.-On the contrary, we have a bald and spiritless imitation of the descriptive and allegorical parts of Spenser-and what Spenser, with all the richness and vigour of his genius, failed to render an animated creation, Browne could only be expected to produce lifeless and naked. In the commencement of this article, we observed that he had not succeeded in preserving the character of a shepherd, and it is true so far that the real poet is constantly appearing, and that he is put to most awkward expedients to describe the persons and habits of those he introduces, frequently his contemporaries, as guardians of their flocks; but the