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Our life fame pierceth longer at the end,
And books it farther backward do extend."
The small poem on the " Choice of a Wife" is in a lighter style, and composed in a more flowing versification. Take the following specimen.
"If I were to chuse a woman,
As who knows but I may marry,
First, to make my choice the bolder,
Yet an antient stock may bring
Those descents that brought them forth;
Yet such hills, tho' gilded show,
Soonest feel the age of snow.
Such a one as, when she's woo'd,
That her dreams are ever chast;
In my visitation still,
I would have her scatter fears,
It is not, however, on the poetry, if it may be so called, of Overbury, that his reputation must be founded-it is the remainder of the volume," the Characters or witty Descriptions of the Properties of sundry Persons," which display the fertile and ingenious character of his mind. From these we intend to
make some extracts, which will we hope give a value and interest to this article. The book itself is seldom read, and not, on the whole, entertaining; but there are portions of it, and numerous portions too, which we think will impress the reader with a high opinion of the author's talent for observation, and his power of witty contrast and felicitous, though sometimes obscure, expression. No good heart can read the following beautiful picture of a "fair and happy milk-maid," without inwardly moaning over the fate of the gentle and accomplished man that conceived it. We hardly know of any passage in English prose, and that is saying no little, 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 :-"It will scent all the year 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 silk-worm, 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 curfu. 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 golded 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 hay-cock. She makes her hand hard with labour, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel, she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair, and in chusing her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and bee-hive are all her physic and surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone, and unfold sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, because she means none; yet, to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts, and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy, in that they are not palled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste, that she
dare tell them; only a Friday's dream is all her superstition; that she conceals for fear of anger. Thus lives she, and all her care is, she may die in the spring time, to have store of flowers stuck upon her winding-sheet."
The character of "A Serving-Man" is of a very different cast from the last, but is very amusing.
"Is a creature, which, though he be not drunk, is not his own He tells, without asking, who owns him, by the superscription of his livery; his life is, for ease and leisure, much about gentlemanlike. His wealth, enough to suffice nature, and sufficient to make him happy, if he were sure of it, for he hath little, and wants nothing; he values himself higher or lower as his master is; he hates or loves the men as his master doth the master. He is commonly proud of his master's horses or his Christmas; he sleeps when he is sleepy, is of his religion only; the clock of his stomach is set to go an hour after his. He seldom breaks his own cloaths. He never drinks but double, for he must be pledged; nor commonly without some short sentence nothing to the purpose, and seldom abstains till he comes to be a-thirst. His discretion is to be careful for his master's credit, and his sufficiency to marshal dishes at a table, and carve well. His neatness consists much in his hair and outward linnen. His courting language, visible jests, and against his matter fails, he is always ready furnished with a song. His inheritance is the chambermaid, but often purchaseth his master's daughter, by reason of opportunity, or for want of a better; he always cuckolds himself, and never marries but his own widow; his master being appeased, he becomes a retainer, and entails himself and his posterity upon his heir males for ever."
The "Noble Spirit" is in a noble style-a character of true philosophical elevation, which could have been composed by no one who did not "speak what the spirit within him dictated."
A Noble Spirit
"Hath surveyed and fortified his disposition, and converts all occurrences into experience, between which experience and his reason there is marriage, the issue are his actions. He circuits his intents, and seeth the end before he shoots. Men are the instruments of his
art, and there is no man without his use; occasion incites him, none enciteth him, and he moves by affection, not for affection; he loves glory, scorns shame, and governeth and obeyeth with one countenance, for it comes from one consideration. He calls not the variety of the world chances, for his meditation hath travelled over them, and his eyes, mounted upon his understanding, seeth them as things underneath. He covers not his body with delicacies, nor excuseth these
delicacies by his body, but teacheth it, since it is not able to defend its own imbecility, to shew or suffer. He licenceth not his weakness to wear fate, but knowing reason to be no idle gift of nature, he is the steers-man of his own destiny. Truth is his goddess, and he takes paines to get her, not to look like her; he knows the condition of the world, that he must act one thing like another, and then another; to these he carries his desires, and not his desires him, and sticks not fast by the way, (for that contentment is repentance) but knowing the circle of all courses, of all intents, of all things, to have but one center or period, without all distraction he hasteth thither, and ends there as his true natural element. He doth not contemn fortune, but not confess her; he is no gamester of the world, (which only complain and praise her) but being only sensible of the honesty of actions, contemns a particular profit as the excrement or scum. Unto the society of men he is a sun, whose clearness directs their steps in a regular motion. When he is more particular, he is the wise man's friend, the example of the indifferent, the medicine of the vicious. Thus time goeth not from him, but with him, and he feels age more by the strength of his soul than the weakness of his body. Thus feels he no pain, but esteems all such things as friends, that desire to file off his fetters, and help him out of prison."
A Melancholy Man" is also drawn in a masterly
A Melancholy Man
"Is a strayer from the drove, one that nature made sociable because she made him a man, and crazed disposition hath altered, unpleasing to all, as all to him; straggling thoughts are his content, they make him dream waking, there's his pleasure. His imagination is never idle, it keeps his mind in a continual motion, as the poise the clock; he winds up his thoughts often, and as often unwinds them. Penelope's web thrives faster; he'll seldom be found without the shade of some grove, in whose bottom a river dwells; he carries a cloud in his face, never fair weather; his outside is framed to his inside, in that he keeps a decorum, both unseemly. Speak to him, he hears with his eyes, ears follow his mind, and that's not at leisure. He thinks of business, but never does any; he is all contemplation, no action; he hews and fashions his thoughts as if he meant them to some purpose, but they prove unprofitable as a piece of wrought timber to no use. His spirits and the sun are enemies, the sun bright and warm, his humour black and cold. Variety of foolish apparitions people his head, they suffer him not to breathe, according to the necessity of nature, which makes him sup up a draught of as much air at once, as would serve at thrice. He denies nature her due in sleep, and over pays her in watchfulness; nothing pleases him long but that which pleases his own fancies, they are the consuming evils, and evil consumptions that consume him alive. Lastly, he is a man only in shew, but comes short of the better part, a whole reasonable soul, which is man's chief pre-eminence and sole mark from creatures sensible."
"The Sailor" is very humorous, and also very curious, as shewing the immutable nature of the effects of his mode of life. A "Fine Gentleman," or " An Amorist," of the days of James the First, is neither the man of fashion nor the lover of modern times; but the mariner who fought and conquered under Drake or Frobisher, is the same being that fought and conquered under Nelson or Howe.
"Is a pitched piece of reason caulked and tackled, and only studied to dispute with tempests. He is part of his own provision, for he lives ever pickled; a fair wind is the substance of his creed, and fresh water the burden of his prayers. He is naturally ambitious, for he is ever climbing out of sight; as naturally he fears, for he is ever flying; time and he are every where, ever contending who shall arrive first; he is well winded, for he tires the day, and outruns darkness; his life is like a hawk's, the best part mewed, and if he lives till three coats, is a master. He sees God's wonders in the deep, but so as they rather appear his play-fellows, than stirrers of his zeal; nothing but hunger and hard rocks can convert him, and then but his upper deck neither, for his hold neither fears nor hopes; his sleeps are but reprievals of his dangers, and when he awakes 'tis but next stage to dying his wisdom is the coldest part about him, for it ever points to the north, and it lies lowest, which makes his valour every tide o'erflow it. In a storm 'tis disputable, whether the noise be more his or the elements, and which will first leave scolding? on which side of the ship he may be saved best? whether his faith be starboard faith, or larboard, or the helm at that time not all his hope of heaven? his keel is the emblem of his conscience, till it be split he never repents, then no farther than the land allows him. His language is a new confusion, and all his thoughts new nations: his body and his ship are both one burthen, nor is it known who stows most wine or rowls most, only the ship is guided, he has no stern; a barnacle and he are bred together, both of one nature, and, 'tis fear'd, one reason; upon any but a wooden horse he cannot ride, and if the wind blows against him he dare not, he swarms up to his seat as to a sail yard, and cannot sit unless he bear a flag-staff; if ever he be broken to the saddle, 'tis but a voyage still, for he mistakes the bridle for a bowling, and is ever turning his horse tail; he can pray, but 'tis by rote, not faith, and when he would he dares not, for his brackish belief hath made that ominous. A rock or a quicksand pluck him before he be ripe, else he is gathered to his friends at Wapping."
This is the conclusion of "the Soldier," which, like the most of this ingenious work, is too much infected with that love of conceit, so fatal to most of the writers in the reign of the pedantic James.
"In charity he goes beyond the clergy, for he loves his greatest enemy best, much drinking. He seems a full student, for he is a