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equally adapted to the sublime conceptions of Milton, to the various and sparkling imagination of Cowley, and to the wit and sagacity of Butler.
But it is very remarkable, that the general characteristics of the poetry composed during this period, are such as indicate a very high degree of refinement: a curious and elaborate selection of words and images, a nice arrangement of versification, and a tone of gallantry so easy and playful, that we should suspect the writers of having formed their compositions amidst the peaceful splendour and luxury of Versailles, rather than at the court or in the camp of a prince, who passed from the throne to the scaffold through a continued series of anxiety and struggle.
In fact, Charles I. though generally in embarassed, and often in necessitous, circumstances, was always the active and liberal patron of literature, as well as of the fine arts, all of which he loved, and perfectly understood. “ During the
prosperous state of the king's affairs (says lord “ Orford, Hist. Paint. Vol. II. p. 147.) the plea
sures of the court were carried on with much “ taste and magnificence. Poetry, painting, mue sic, and architecture, were all called in to make “ them rational amusements; and I have no doubt 66 but the celebrated festivals of Louis XIV, were
" copied from the shows exhibited at Whitehall, in “ its time THE MOST POLITE COURT IN EUROPE. “ Ben Jonson was the laureat; Inigo Jones, the “ inventor of the decorations; Laniere and Fera“bosco composed the symphonies; the king, the
queen, and the young nobility, danced in the “ interludes.” Taste, and wit, and gaiety, disappeared during the subsequent reign of republicanism; and the general gloom was seldom interrupted, except by the compositions of a few cavaliers, who amused themselves by harassing with ridicule, the dull and insipid manners of their puritanical enemies.
The reader will find in bishop Percy's “ Reliques " of Ancient English Poetry," (Vol. II. p. 338, 4th edit.) some verses by Charles I. which lord Orford has, rather too hastily, condemned as most uncouth and inharmonious, at the same time he has recognized in them some good sense, and a strain of majestic piety.
Mr. Headley, in his Biographical Sketches, p. 39, has very justly observed, that “ Carew has the ease, without the “pedantry of Waller, and perhaps less conceit. He re“ minds us of the best manner of lord Lyttelton. Waller “ is too exclusively considered as the first man who brought “ versification to any thing like its present standard. “ Carew's pretensions to the same merit are seldom suffi. “ ciently either considered or allowed.” Lord Clarendon, however, has remarked of his poems, that, “ for the sharp“ ness of the fancy, and for the elegance of the language “in which that fancy was spread, they were at least equal, “ if not superior, to any of that time. But his glory was “ that, after fifty years of his life spent with less severity “ and exactness than they ought to have been, he died with “ the greatest remorse for that licence, and with the greatest “ manifestation of Christianity, that his best friends could
“ desire." Carew is generally supposed to have died young in 1639, and
I have therefore placed his birth about 1600, though, from the preceding passage from Clarendon, it seems probable that his birth ought to be placed earlier, or his death later. The earliest edition of his works which I have seen, was printed in 1642, which, however, is called in the title the second edition.
Sweetty breathing vernal air,
Thou, if stormy Boreas throws
PERSUASIONS TO LOVE.
Think not, 'cause men flattering say,