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EDWARD FAIRFAX, the truly poetical translator of Tasso, was the second son of Sir Thomas Fairfax, of Denton, in Yorkshire. His family were all soldiers; but the poet, while his brothers were seeking military reputation abroad, preferred the quiet enjoyment of letters at home. He married and settled as a private gentleman at Fuyston, a place beautifully situated between the family seat at Denton and the forest of Knaresborough. Some of his time was devoted to the management of his brother Lord Fairfax's property, and to superintending the education of his lordship's children. The prose MSS. which he left in the library of Denton sufficiently attest his literary industry. They have never been published, and, as they relate chiefly to religious controversy, are not likely to be so; although his treatise on witchcraft, recording its supposed operation upon his own family, must form a curious relic of superstition. Of Fairfax it might, therefore, well be said
"Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind
Believed the magic powers which he sung*."
Of his original works in verse, his History of Edward the Black Prince has never been pub
lished; but Mr. A. Chalmers (Biog. Dict. art. Fairfax) is, I believe, as much mistaken in supposing that his Eclogues have never been collectively printed, as in pronouncing them entitled to high commendation for their poetry. A more obscurely stupid allegory and fable can hardly be imagined than the fourth eclogue, preserved in Mrs. Cooper's Muse's Library its being an imitation of some of the theological pastorals of Spenser is no apology for its absurdity. When a fox is described as seducing the chastity of a lamb, and when the eclogue writer tells us that
"An hundred times her virgin lip he kiss'd, As oft her maiden finger gently wrung," who could imagine that either poetry, or ecclesiastical history, or sense or meaning of any kind, was ever meant to be conveyed under such a conundrum ?
The time of Fairfax's death has not been discovered; it is known that he was alive in 1631; but his translation of the Jerusalem was published when he was a young man, was inscribed to Queen Elizabeth, and forms one of the glories of her reign.
FROM FAIRFAX'S TRANSLATION OF TASSO'S JERUSALEM DELIVERED,
RINALDO, after offering his devotions on Mount Olivet, enters on the adventure of the Enchanted Wood.
It was the time, when 'gainst the breaking day,
This bright, that dark; that earthly, this divine:
Thus to himself he thought: how many bright
Thus as he mused, to the top he went,
And there kneel'd down with reverence and
His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent;
Remember not, but let thy mercy fall,
Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew
And o'er his head, let down from clearest skies,
[ The fourth eclogue alone is in print; nor is a MS. copy of the whole known to exist.]
The heavenly dew was on his garments spread,
The lovely whiteness of his changed weed
Forward he pass'd, and in the grove before
There lute, harp, cittern, human voice, he heard,
A dreadful thunder-clap at last he heard,
On the green banks, which that fair stream inbound,
And so exchanged their moisture and their shade.
The knight some way sought out the flood to pass,
He turn'd, amazed to see it troubled so,
Where'er he stepp'd, it seem'd the joyful ground
The manna on each leaf did pearled lie;
He look'd, he listen'd, yet his thoughts denied
And far above all other plants was seen
Upon the tree his eyes Rinaldo bent,
An hundred plants beside, even in his sight, Childed an hundred nymphs, so great, so dight.
Such as on stages play, such as we see
And wantonly they cast them in a ring,
As does its centre the circumference ;
Thou comest to cure our princess, faint and sick For love, for love of thee, faint, sick, distress'd; Late black, late dreadful was this forest thick, Fit dwelling for sad folk, with grief oppress'd ; See, with thy coming how the branches quick Revived are, and in new blossoms dress'd!
This was their song; and after from it went First a sweet sound, and then the myrtle rent.
Before him stepp'd, embraced the plant, and cry'd-See where he comes!-Array'd in glitt❜ring white
Ah! never do me such a spiteful part,
To cut my tree, this forest's joy and pride;
Put up thy sword, else pierce therewith the heart
Of thy forsaken and despised Armide;
Appear'd the man, bold, stately, high and great ;
For through this breast, and through this heart, The camp received him with a joyful cry,— unkind,
To this fair tree thy sword shall passage find.
He lift his brand, nor cared, though oft she pray'd, And she her form to other shape did change; Such monsters huge, when men in dreams are laid, Oft in their idle fancies roam and range :
A cry, the hills and dales about that fill'd;
THE history of this author is quite unknown, except that he was a prolific pamphleteer in the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I. Ritson has mustered a numerous catalogue of his works, to which the compilers of the Censura Literaria have added some articles. It has been remarked by the latter, that his muse is generally found in low company, from which it is inferred that he frequented the haunts of dissipation. The conclusion is unjust-Fielding was not a blackguard, though he wrote the adventures of
TRAGEDY OF SMUG THE SMITH.
FROM THE NIGHT RAVEN.
A SMITH for felony was apprehended,
A thief that steals must die therefore, that's flat.
FROM HIS EPIGRAMS, NO. XXXVII.
In the Letting of Humour's Blood, in the Head Vein.
AN honest vicar and a kind consort,
For all her guests to the next ale-house went,
Then, pray thee, let us two in love go drink,
FOOLS AND BABES TELL TRUE.
Two friends that met would give each other wine,
With water and sugar: so the same being brought
THE MARRIED SCHOLAR.
A SCHOLAR, newly enter'd marriage life,
I would be such a book you love to read.
"Marry," said he, " 'twere best an almanack:
Is, every year we have a new, you know*.”
[* Malone attributes this saying to Dryden, but it was said before Dryden was born; is in Rowlands, and among the jests of Drummond of Hawthornden.]
JOHN DONNE, D.D.
[Born, 1573. Died, 1631.]
but the chancellor would not again take him into his service; and the brutal father-in-law would not support the unfortunate pair. In their distress, however, they were sheltered by Sir Francis Wolley, a son of Lady Ellesmere by a former marriage, with whom they resided for several years, and were treated with a kindness that mitigated their sense of dependence.
Donne had been bred a catholic, but on mature reflection had made a conscientious renunciation of that faith. One of his warm friends, Dr. Morton, afterwards bishop of Durham, wished to have provided for him, by generously surrendering one of his benefices: he therefore pressed
THE life of Donne is more interesting than his poetry. He was descended from an ancient family; his mother was related to Sir Thomas More, and to Heywood, the epigrammatist. A prodigy of youthful learning, he was entered of Hart Hall, now Hertford College, at the unprecedented age of eleven: he studied afterwards with an extraordinary thirst for general knowledge, and seems to have consumed a considerable patrimony on his education and travels. Having accompanied the Earl of Essex in his expedition to Cadiz, he purposed to have set out on an extensive course of travels, and to have visited the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem. Though compelled to give up his design by the insuper-him to take holy orders, and to return to him able dangers and difficulties of the journey, he did not come home till his mind had been stored with an extensive knowledge of foreign languages and manners, by a residence in the south of Europe. On his return to England, the Lord Chancellor Ellesmere made him his secretary, and took him to his house. There he formed a mutual attachment to the niece of Lady Ellesmere, and without the means or prospect of support, the lovers thought proper to marry. The lady's father, Sir George More, on the declaration of this step, was so transported with rage, that he insisted on the chancellor's driving Donne from his protection, and even got him imprisoned, together with the witnesses of the marriage. He was soon released from prison,
the third day with his answer to the proposal. "At hearing of this," (says his biographer,) "Mr. Donne's faint breath and perplexed countenance gave visible testimony of an inward conflict. He did not however return his answer till the third day; when, with fervid thanks, he declined the offer, telling the bishop that there were some errors of his life which, though long repented of, and pardoned, as he trusted, by God, might yet be not forgotten by some men, and which might cast a dishonour on the sacred office." We are not told what those irregularities were; but the conscience which could dictate such an answer was not likely to require great offences for a stumbling-block. This occurred in the poet's thirty-fourth year.