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sion, or slight illustration. No modern monarch can be much exalted by hearing that, as Hercules had his club, he has his navy.
But of the praise of Waller, though much may be taken away, much will remain; for it cannot be denied that he added something to our elegance of diction, and something to our propriety of thought; and to him may be applied what Tasso said, with equal spirit and justice, of himself and Guarini, when, having perused the Pastor Fido, he cried out “if he had not read Aminta, he had never excelled it.”
As Waller professed himself to have learned the art of versification from Fairfax, it has been thought proper to subjoin a specimen of his work, which, after Mr. Hoole's translation, will, perhaps, not be soon reprinted. By knowing the state in which Waller found our poetry, the reader may judge how much he improved it.
Erminia's steed (this while) his mistresse bore
Through forrests thicke among the shadie treene,
Her feeble hand the bridle reines forlore,
Halfe in a swoune she was for feare, I weene;
But her fit courser spared nere the more,
To beare her through the desart woods unseene
Of her strong foes, that chas'd her through the plaine,
And still pursu'd, but still pursu'd in vaine.
Like as the wearie hounds at last retire,
Windlesse, displeased, from the fruitlesse chace,
When the slie beast Tapisht in bush and brire,
No art nor paines can rowse out of his place:
The christian knights so full of shame and ire
Returned backe, with faint and wearie pace!
Yet still the fearful dame fled, swift as winde,
Nor euer staid, nor euer lookt behinde.
Through thicke and thinne, all night, all day, she driued,
Withouten comfort, companie, or guide,
Her plaints and teares with euery thought reuiued,
She heard and saw her greefes, but nought beside.
But when the sunne his burning chariot diued
In Thetis waue, and wearie teame vntide,
On Iordans sandie bankes her course she staid,
At last, there downe she light, and downe she laid.
Her teares, her drinke; her food, her sorrowings,
This was her diet that vnhappie night:
But sleepe (that sweet repose and quiet brings)
To ease the greefes of discontented wight,
Spred foorth his tender, soft, and nimble wings,
In his dull armes foulding the virgin bright;
And loue, his mother, and the graces kept
Strong watch and warde, while this faire ladie slept.
The birds awakte her with their morning song,
Their warbling musicke pearst her tender eare,
The murmuring brookes and whistling windes among
The ratling boughes, and leaues, their parts did beare;
Her eies vnclos'd beheld the groues along
Of swaines and shepherd groomes, that dwellings weare:
And that sweet noise, birds, winds, and waters sent, Prouokte againe the virgin to lament.
Her plaints were interrupted with a sound
That seem'd from thickest bushes to proceed,
Some iolly shepheard sung a lustie round,
And to his voice had tun'd his oaten reed;
Thither she went, an old man there she found,
(At whose right hand his little flock did feed)
Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among,
That learn'd their father's art, and learn'd his song.
Beholding one in shining armes appeare,
The seelie man and his were sore dismaid;
But sweet Erminia comforted their feare,
Her ventall vp, her visage open laid.
You happie folke, of heau'n beloued deare,
Work on (quoth she) vpon your harmlesse traid,
These dreadfull armes, I beare, no warfare bring
To your sweet toile, nor those sweet tunes you sing.
But father, since this land, these townes and towres,
Destroied are with sword, with fire and spoile,
How may it be, unhurt, that you and yours
In safetie thus, applie your harmlesse toile ?
My sonne (quoth he) this pore estate of ours
Is euer safe from storme of warlike broile;
This wildernesse doth vs in safetie keepe,
No thundring drum, no trumpet breakes our sleepe.
Haply iust heau'n's defence and shield of right,
Doth loue the innocence of simple swaines,
The thunderbolts on highest mountains light,
And seld or neuer strike the lower plaines:
So kings haue cause to feare Bellonaes might,
Not they whose sweat and toile their dinner gaines,
Nor ever greedie soldier was entised
By pouertie, neglected and despised.
O pouertie, chefe of the heau'nly brood,
Dearer to me than wealth or kingly crowne!
No wish for honour, thirst of other's good,
Can moue my hart, contented with my owne:
We quench our thirst with water of this flood,
Nor fear we poison should therein be throwne:
These little flocks of sheepe and tender goates
Giue milke for food, and wooll to make us coates.
We little wish, we need but little wealth,
From cold and hunger vs to cloath and feed;
These are my sonnes, their care preserues from stealth
Their father's flocks, nor servants moe I need:
Amid these groues I walke oft for my health,
And to the fishes, birds, and beastes giue heed,
How they are fed, in forrest, spring and lake,
And their contentment for ensample take.
Time was (for each one hath his doting time,
These siluer locks were golden tresses than)
That countrie life I hated as a crime,
And from the forrests sweet contentment ran,
To Memphis stately pallace would I clime,
And there became the mightie Caliphes man,
And though I but a simple gardner weare,
Yet could I marke abuses, see and heare.
Entised on with hope of future gaine,
I suffred long what did my soule displease;
But when my youth was spent, my hope was vaine,
I felt my native strength at last decrease;
I gan my losse of lustie yeeres complaine,
And wisht I had enjoy'd the countries peace;
I bod the court farewell, and with content
My later age here have I quiet spent.
While thus he spake, Erminia husht and still
His wise discourses heard, with great attention,
His speeches graue those idle fancies kill,
Which in her troubled soule bred such dissention;
After much thought reformed was her will,
Within those woods to dwell was her intention,
Till fortune should occasion new afford,
To turne her home to her desired lord.
15 She said, therefore, O shepherd fortunate! That troubles some didst whilom feele and proue, Yet liuest now in this contented state, Let my mishap thy thoughts to pitie moue, To entertaine me, as a willing mate In shepherd's life, which I admire and loue;
Within these pleasant groues, perchance, my hart
Of her discomforts may vnload some part.
If gold or wealth, of most esteemed deare,
If iewells rich, thou diddest hold in prise,
Such store thereof, such plentie have I seen,
As to a greedie minde might well suffice:
With that downe trickled many a siluer teare,
Two christall streams fell from her watrie eies;
Part of her said misfortunes than she told,
And wept, and with her wept that shepherd old.