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And that the floures of many divers hewe,
Here is that most charming of descriptions and pictures, Emelie in the Garden :
Thus passeth yere by yere, and day by day,
I n'o: which was the finer of hem two.
The great charm of Chaucer consists in his simplicity of detail, combined with dramatic effect, and his love of rural sights and sounds. We find the following estimate of his genius in the British Quarterly Review:-"He is, perhaps, the most picturesque poet we possess: his paintings are fresh, glittering and off-hand, done to the life. His love of nature resembles an intoxication of spirit: his sketches are bright with perpetual sunshine,-his flowers are always in bloom, fragrant with odoriferous perfumes, and gemmea with sparkling dew-drops. From mere narrative and playful humor, up to the heights of imaginative and impassioned song, his genius has exercised itself in nearly all styles of poetry, and won imperishable
laurels in all." Need we wonder, then, that Coleridge, like many others in the line of the Muses' priesthood, took such especial delight in poring over his beautiful living pictures and vivid sketches of character? We might, indeed, rather marvel, with another noted poet, that the bard should have seen so distinctly in that gray, misty morning of literature, and that his landscapes should still look green in the very dews of Spring. Tennyson beautifully styles him—
The first warbler, whose sweet breath
The spacious times of great Elizabeth
Campbell, with all a poet's appreciation, has thus beautifully expressed our obligations to the great pioneer poet :—
Chaucer! our Helicon's first fountain-stream,
Our morning Star of song, that led the way
Of Spenser's lights and Shakspeare's perfect day.
That still they live and breathe in fancy's view,
The evils of the protracted civil war in England, prevented not only the progress of literature, but even prostrated its very existence for upwards of a century after the death of Chaucer. With the exceptions of Gower, Wyatt, Raleigh, and Surrey, we meet with no great poet till the age of Spenser. The brilliant character of the EARL OF SURREY,-both as to his military career and scholastic attainments, as well as his sad end,-alike endear him to memory. His celebrated poem, written during his unjust imprisonment at Windsor, is universally admired; and some of his sonnets are no less beautiful. Here is one :
The sootè seson, that bud and bloom forth brings,
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.
Of SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, it has been said, that his literary renown rests more upon his prose than his verse; Cowper indeed refers to him as "warbler of poetic prose ;"-yet he has his eminent place
among the poets, and here is an effusion of his muse: it is styled Wooing Stuffe:
Faint amorist,-what, dost thou think
Th' Elysian fields, that durst not venture
He that loves, and fears to try,
Doth she chide thee? 'Tis to show it,
Silence fully grants thy suit:
Tush-she loves to hear thee woo:
Doth she call the faith of man
Into question? Nay, forsooth, she loves thee than :
He that after ten denials,
Dares attempt no further tryals,
Hath no warrant to acquire
Sidney's Defence of Poesie has long been a favorite with scholars. Professor Marsh characterizes it as "the best secular specimen of prose yet written in England:" and adds, that "it is destined to maintain its high place in æsetical literature." The Arcadia
is the other prose production by which he is most known, although it is now but seldom read. Recently was exhibited before the Archæological Society at Salisbury, a copy of this production, between the leaves of which was found wrapped up a lock of Queen Elizabeth's hair, and some complimentary lines addressed by Sidney, when very young, to the maiden queen. The hair was soft and bright, of a light-brown color, inclining to red, and on the paper enclosing it was written :-"This lock of Queen Elizabeth's own hair was presented to Sir Philip Sidney by her majesty's owne faire hands, on which he made these verses, and gave them to the queen on his bended knee, A. D. 1573." And pinned to this was another paper on which was written, in a different hand-said to be Sidney's own-these lines:
Her inward worth all outward show transcends,
Like sparkling gems her virtues draw the sight,
And in her conduct she is alwaies bright.
When she imparts her thoughts, her words have force,
The gentle Sidney was one of the especial favorites of the queen, whom she styled "her Jewel of the times," for the noble virtues he illustrated by his heroic life. Every one remembers his brave words, when, fallen on the battle-field, and suffering from thirst caused by loss of blood, as he ordered the cup presented to him to be given to the wounded soldier, saying, "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine." All England mourned his loss, for every one revered and loved him. Hear Shakspeare's tribute to his memory::
His honour stuck upon him as the sun
In the gray vault of heaven,—and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move
To do brave acts!