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CHAPTER XV.

EDMUND WALLER, THOMAS BROWN, AND JEREMY TAYLOR.

EDMUND WALLER, born in 1605, was three years older than Milton; but I had a fancy for not dividing Herbert and Milton. As a poet he had a high reputation for many years, gained chiefly, I think, by a regard to literary proprieties, combined with wit. He is graceful sometimes; but what in his writings would with many pass for grace, is only smoothness and the absence of faults. His horses were not difficult to drive. He dares little and succeeds in proportion-occasionally, however, flashing out into true song. In politics he had no character -let us hope from weakness rather than from selfishness; yet, towards the close of his life, he wrote some poems which reveal a man not unaccustomed to ponder sacred things, and able to express his thoughts concerning them with force and justice. From a poem called Of Divine Love, I gather the following very remarkable passages : I wish they had been enforced by greater nobility of character. Still they are in themselves true. Even where we have no proof of repentance, we may see plentiful signs of

EDMUND WALLER: OF DIVINE LOVE.

213

a growth towards it. We cannot tell how long the truth may of necessity require to interpenetrate the ramifications of a man's nature. By slow degrees he discovers that here it is not, and there it is not. Again and again, and yet again, a man finds that he must be born with a new birth.

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That early love of creatures yet unmade,
To frame the world the Almighty did persuade.
For love it was that first created light,
Moved on the waters, chased away the night
From the rude chaos; and bestowed new grace
On things disposed of to their proper place-
Some to rest here, and some to shine above:
Earth, sea, and heaven, were all the effects of love.

*

Not willing terror should his image move,
He gives a pattern of eternal love :
His son descends, to treat a peace with those
Which were, and must have ever been, his foes.
Poor he became, and left his glorious seat,
To make us humble, and to make us great;
His business here was happiness to give
To those whose malice could not let him live.

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He to proud potentates would not be known :
Of those that loved him, he was hid from none.
Till love appear, we live in anxious doubt;
But smoke will vanish when that flame breaks out :
This is the fire that would consume our dross,
Refine, and make us richer by the loss.

Who for himself no miracle would make,
Dispensed with 1 several for the people's sake.
He that, long-fasting, would no wonder show,
Made loaves and fishes, as they eat them, grow.
Of all his power, which boundless was above,
Here he used none but to express his love ;
And such a love would make our joy exceed,
Not when our own, but others' mouths we feed.

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Amazed at once and comforted, to find
A boundless power so infinitely kind,
The soul contending to that light to fly
From her dark cell, we practise how to die,
Employing thus the poet's wingéd art
To reach this love, and grave it in our heart.
Joy so complete, so solid, and severe,
Would leave no place for meaner pleasures there :
Pale they would look, as stars that must be gone
When from the east the rising sun comes on.

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To that and some other poems he adds the following—a kind of epilogue.

ON THE FOREGOING DIVINE POEMS.

When we for age could neither read nor write,
The subject made us able to indite :
The soul with nobler resolutions decked,
The body stooping, does herself erect :
No mortal parts are requisite to raise
Her that unbodied can her Maker praise.

1 The with we should now omit, for when we use it we mean the opposite of what is meant here.

SIR THOMAS BROWN.

215

The seas are quiet when the winds give o'er :
So calm are we when passions are no more ;
For then we know how vain it was to boast
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost.
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes

bassion, Conceal that emptiness which age descries.

The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light, through chinks that time has made :
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become,
As they draw near to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

It would be a poor victory where age was the sole conqueror. But I doubt if age ever gains the victory alone. Let Waller, however, have this praise: his song soars with his subject. It is a true praise. There are men who write well until they try the noble, and then they fare like the falling star, which, when sought where it fell, is, according to an old fancy, discovered a poor jelly.

Sir Thomas Brown, a physician, whose prose writings are as peculiar as they are valuable, was of the same age as Waller. He partakes to a considerable degree of the mysticism which was so much followed in his day, only in his case it influences his literature most -his mode of utterance more than his mode of thought. His True Christian Morals is a very valuable book, notwithstanding the obscurity that sometimes arises in that, as in all his writings, from his fondness for Latin words. The following fine hymn occurs in his Religio Medici, in which he gives an account of his opinions. I am not aware of anything else that he has published in verse, though he must probably have written more to be able to write this so well. It occurs in the midst of prose, as the prayer he says every night before he yields to the death of sleep. I follow it with the succeeding sentence of the prose.

The night is come. Like to the day,
Depart not thou, great God, away.
Let not my sins, black as the night,
Eclipse the lustre of thy light.
Keep still in my horizon, for to me
The sun makes not the day but thee.
Thou whose nature cannot sleep,
On my temples sentry keep ; .
Guard me 'gainst those watchful foes
Whose eyes are open while mine close.
Let no dreams my head infest
But such as Jacob's templės blest.
While I do rest, my soul advance ;
Make my sleep a holy trance,
That I may, my rest being wrought,
Awake into some holy thought,
And with as active vigour run
My course as doth the nimble sun.
Sleep is a death : O make me try
By sleeping what it is to die,
And as gently lay my head
On my grave, as now my bed.
Howe'er I rest, great God, let me
Awake again at least with thee.
And thus assured, behold I lie
Securely, or to wake or die.
These are my drowsy days : in vain
I do now wake to sleep again:
O come that hour when I shall never
Sleep again, but wake for ever.

“This is the dormitive I take to bedward. I need no other laudanum than this to make me sleep; after

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