Page images






383 studied with his twin-brother Thomas, the alchemist, at Jesus College, Oxford. Both of the brothers suffered deprivation and imprisonment in the royal cause, though Thomas only actually bore arms for the King. About 1645 we find Henry settled as a physician in his native county, the county of the Silures, whence he always described himself as Silurist." 1


It was almost inevitable that Vaughan should start his poetic life as a disciple of Ben Jonson. His first-fruits as an author were accordingly Poems, with the Tenth Satire of Juvenal Englished, published in 1646. Other translations followed on Olor Iscanus (Swan of Usk), written about 1647, published without authority in 1651. Meantime a serious illness had profoundly deepened and intensified Vaughan's religious convictions, as may be seen in the devoutly mystical tone of his chief work, Silex Scintillans (Sparks from the Flint), or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, London, 1650, re-issued with a second part in 1655. This second part contains the crown of all Vaughan's poetry, the now widely famous:

They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit lingering here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,

And my sad thoughts doth clear.

Such poems as these had little interest for the age of Rochester and Burnet. Aubrey himself could not find a word to recommend the literary productions of his relative to Anthony Wood. Vaughan lived on obscurely at Skethrog until April 23rd, 1695, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot." Vaughan was forgotten effectually for fully

1 They were born, says Aubrey, at Llansanfraid in Brecknockshire by the River Uske (Isca). Their grandmother was an Aubrey their father, "a coxcombe and no honester than he should be-he cosened me of 50.s. once."

a century after his death until, at the close of the eighteenth century, a copy of Silex Scintillans fell into the hands of Wordsworth. Subsequently to this, in his notices of the English poets written in 1819, Campbell speaks of Vaughan as one of the harshest even of the inferior order of the school of conceit, though he allows him a few scattered thoughts "like wild flowers on a barren heath." The passage of another century has greatly increased Vaughan's fame, though it still reposes upon a few rare beams of transcendental beauty, emerging from a cumulus of thought, the general tone of which is dark and obscure, while in form it is often chaotic and rugged. The durability of his fame is ensured by his two poems, Beyond the Veil and The World:

I saw eternity the other night,

Like a great ring of pure and endless light,

and by that beautiful fragment, The Retreat, in which the perfected grandeur of the Intimations of Immortality is so distantly yet distinctly foreshadowed.1

1 Two singular compilers of religious Emblems," hymns, songs, pious aphorisms, and the like in this period were that most cavalier of Roundheads, George Wither, and that most plebeian of Royalists, Francis Quarles. As a poet, of course, Wither reaches "starry heights" far above Quarles. A natural warbler, in his darling measure, the heptasyllabic, he published delicate poetry between 1611 and 1622 (The Shepheards Hunting, Withers Motto, Fair Virtue, and Fidelia, which enshrines that famous and most exquisite song, "Shall I, wasting in despair?") and went on drivelling in verse almost down to his death in 1667, æt. 79. The joy and confidence and lilting elasticity of his early secular poems present a sharp contrast to the scholarly sweetness of Drummond or the subtleties and perversities of Donne. While pent in the Marshalsea Gaol in early years, Wither reverted with fond yearning to the sylvan beauties of his native Bentworth, of Alton, and the silver pool of Alresford, so that Charles Lamb says with some justice


that his prison notes are finer and fresher, if not freer, than the woodnotes of his poetical brethren. The godly Quarles was a staunch loyalist, but his poetry is opaque and partakes more of Jordan than of Helicon; it serves as letterpress to the Latin mottoes and strange Dutch emblems which constitute the Emblemes. By Fra. Quarles of 1635. Succeeding ages have agreed to describe these expositions as quaint; but what Horace Walpole thought subject for derision, we should only expect Charles Lamb to find delectable. The Emblemes are entertaining in an early edition, not otherwise. The Poetry of Wither is to be studied in the excellent edition of Frank Sidgwick (2 vols., 1903). The copious Quarles-dull, peaceful, prolific, a fond votary of the angle down along his slow-moving native streams of Essex-was included by Grosart in his Chertsey Worthies Library (3 vols., 1874). Three other serious poets of the age of Milton must be included in this brief mention. William Habington, a Wigornian (1605-1654), wrote a tedious panegyrical miscellany called Castara, 1634, in honour of his adored wife, Lucy Herbert. John Pordage (1607-1681), an astrological parson and Behmenist mystic, calling himself "Father Abraham," who survived a highly dangerous charge of Pantheism, wrote a quantity of very strange mystical verse of a theological tendency. Thirdly and lastly, the new-discovered poet, Thomas Traherne (1635-1674), who combined peculiarities of Donne and Cowley with equally contrary characteristics of the simple and saintly Herbert and the mystical and obscure Vaughan. The son of a cobbler at Hereford, Traherne was educated at Brasenose, Oxford, and is noted by the unsparing curiosity of Aubrey as having entertained a phantom apprentice in a red waistcoat in his chamber by moonlight. After publishing one or two divinity tracts, notably Roman Forgeries, 1673, he died at Teddington in the capacity of chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgman, and was buried October 10th, 1674. In some of his transcendental poems such as The Salutation, The Choice, Love, Thoughts, The Estate, written in a very irregular metre and manifestly inspired in large measure by George Herbert, Traherne occasionally hits upon expressions, ideas, and even phrases curiously premonitory of Blake and Wordsworth. He is a true poet of very limited range, and the world is indebted to Bertram Dobell for the handsome collection of his Poetical Works (Dobell, 1903).




What went they out to see? A man clothed in purple and fine linen? No, indeed; but an obscure, harmless man; a man in poor clothes, his loins usually girt in a coarse gown, or canonical coat; of a mean stature and stooping, and yet more lowly in the thoughts of his soul: his body worn out, not with age, but study and holy mortifications; his face full of heat pimples, begot by his unactivity and sedentary life. . . . God blessed him with so blessed a bashfulness that in his younger days his pupils might easily look him out of countenance; so neither then, nor in his age did he willingly ever look any man in the face: and was of so mild and humble a nature that his poor parish-clerk and he did never talk, but with both their hats on, or both off, at the same time: and to this may be added. that though he was not purblind, yet he was short or weaksighted; and where he fixed his eyes at the beginning of his sermon, there they continued till it was ended; and the reader has a liberty to believe that his modesty and dim sight were some of the reasons why he trusted Mrs. Churchman to choose his wife."-WALTON, Life of Mr. Richard Hooker.

An age of ecclesiastical controversy-Richard Hooker-The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity-Archbishop Ussher-Sir Henry Savile-John Selden-Sir Henry Wotton-The "evermemorable" John Hales-William Chillingworth-Francis Godwin.

As Elizabeth's reign progressed, the spread of Puritanism -that is, of distinctively Calvinistic forms of religionindicated the approaching breakdown of the basis of compromise on which Elizabethan uniformity in religious matters rested. It was natural that one of the first symptoms should take the form of an attack upon the bishops; many of these were in the Elizabethan régime extremely worldly

and self-seeking men, chosen rather for their pliancy and power of "forking up" than for any spiritual or moral pre-eminence. The Puritans objected to them not only for their sponginess, but on principle as institutions savouring of Popery and as guardians of an Act of Uniformity which legalised the use of the old vestments and lent itself to catholic interpretation. Nor were the Puritans the only enemies of the bishops, upon whose wealth the poorer clergy of all shades looked askance. At court also there was a party gluttonous for more Church property. Such factors produced the Martin Marprelate controversy-a virulent paper and pamphlet war which raged from 1589 to 1593, in spite of all the threats and prohibitions of constituted authorities. But the age was one of ecclesiastical controversies, and disputes were rife between Anglican and Catholic theologians, between High and Low Church within the pale of the Establishment, between "Marians" and "Genevans," between Brownists and Presbyterians, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, and so all round the circle. Two of the most noted books of the time were thus produced by apologists for the Anglican settlement-Bishop John Jewel, (whose Latin Apologia for the Church of England appeared in 1564, and was Englished by the sister of Lady Burghley and mother of Lord Bacon) and the "judicious Hooker."

Richard Hooker, born in March, 1554, was a native of Exeter and a nephew of John Hooker, otherwise known as John Vowel, the foremost of Holinshed's editors when the famous Chronicle came to be re-edited in 1597. This uncle paid for Richard's schooling at the High School, and found a patron for the promising boy in the famous Dr. Jewel. Jewel knew Cole, President of Corpus Christi College at Oxford, where Hooker was accordingly (1568) entered as a clerk or servitor. Hooker stayed on at college as a scholar greatly respected for his Hebrew and other linguis

« PreviousContinue »