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Falkland, whose notice cast a lustre on all to whom it was extended'.


About the time when Oxford was surrendered to the parliament, he followed the Queen to Paris", where he became secretary to the Lord Jermin, afterwards Earl of St. Albans 3, and was employed in such correspondence as the royal cause required, and particularly in cyphering and decyphering the letters that passed between the King and Queen; an employment of the highest confidence and honour. So wide was his province of intelligence that for several years it filled all his days and two or three nights in the week *.

In the year 1647 his Mistress was published; for he imagined, as he declared in his preface to a subsequent edition 5, that 'poets are scarce thought freemen of their company without paying some duties, or obliging themselves to be true to Love".'

This obligation to amorous ditties owes, I believe, its original to the fame of Petrarch, who, in an age rude and uncultivated, by his tuneful homage to his Laura, refined the manners of the lettered world, and filled Europe with love and poetry. But the basis of all excellence is truth: he that professes love ought to feel its power'. Petrarch was a real lover, and Laura doubt

foot less deserved his tenderness. Of Cowley we are told by Barnes,

who had means enough of information, that, whatever he may talk of his own inflammability and the variety of characters by which his heart was divided, he in reality was in love but once, and then never had resolution to tell his passion 3.

'Hurd's Cowley, i. 9; post, CowLEY, 106.

2 In 1646. Dict. Nat. Biog.

3 Created Baron Jermyn in 1643,
and Earl of St. Albans in 1660. He
was suspected of being the Queen's
lover at this time, and her husband
after the King's death. Masson's
Milton, iii. 495; Clarendon's Hist.
vii. 622, 633. Cowley, in his will,
described him as 'my Lord and once
kind Master.' Cunningham, Lives of
the Poets, i. 63. See post, WALLER,
23, 63 n., 104.

Hurd's Cowley, i. 10; post, DEN-
HAM, 13.

5 The folio of 1656.

6 He continues: Sooner or later they must all pass through that trial,

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This consideration cannot but abate in some measure the 15 reader's esteem for the work and the author.

To love excellence

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is natural; it is natural likewise for the lover to solicit reciprocal is lowered.

regard by an elaborate display of his own qualifications. The desire of pleasing has in different men produced actions of heroism and effusions of wit; but it seems as reasonable to appear the champion as the poet of an 'airy nothing,' and to quarrel as to write for what Cowley might have learned from his master Pindar to call the 'dream of a shadow '.'

It is surely not difficult, in the solitude of a college or in the 16

bustle of the world, to find useful studies and serious employ. Bodi not

ment. No man needs to be so burthened with life as to squander it in voluntary dreams of fictitious occurrences. The man that sits down to suppose himself charged with treason or peculation, and heats his mind to an elaborate purgation of his character from crimes which he was never within the possibility of committing, differs only by the infrequency of his folly from him who praises beauty which he never saw, complains of jealousy which he never felt, supposes himself sometimes invited and sometimes forsaken, fatigues his fancy, and ransacks his memory, for images which may exhibit the gaiety of hope or the gloominess of despair, and dresses his imaginary Chloris or

imitatur in Oda cui titulus, The Chronicle [Eng. Poets, vii. 137], ubi plus centum amicas enumerat ; qui revera, quum unicam tantum haberet, prae nimia tamen verecundia, nunquam illam, licet in iisdem aedibus manentem, de amore compellare ausus est; quod ex certa relatione accepimus.' Barnes's Anacreon, 1705, Preface, p. 32.

'Poesy is not the picture of the poet, but of things and persons imagined by him. He may be in his own practice and disposition a philosopher, nay a Stoic, and yet sometimes speak with the softness of an amorous Sappho :

"ferat et rubus asper amomum
[VIRGIL, Ecl. iii. 89].'

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COWLEY, Eng. Poets, vii. 17. In his Essay of Greatness, Cowley says: If I were ever to fall in love again (which is a great passion, and therefore I hope I have done with it) it would be, I think, with prettiness

rather than with majestical beauty.'
Eng. Poets, ix. 80.

According to Pope 'he was much
in love with his Leonora [Heleonora],
who is mentioned at the end of that
good ballad of his on his different
mistresses [The Chronicle, ib. vii.
140]. She was married to Dean
Sprat's brother, and Cowley never
was in love with anybody after.'
Spence's Anecdotes, p. 286.


Cowley, in his Life and Fame,
says to Life :-

'Dream of a shadow! a reflection

From the false glories of the gay
reflected bow

Is a more solid thing than thou.'
Eng. Poets, viii. 147.
In a note on this in Pindarick
Odes, 1674, p. 39, he writes:-'Ti dé
τις, τί δ' οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος.
PINDAR. Quid est aliquis, aut quid
est nemo? Somnium umbrae homo
est.' See Pindar, P. viii. 136.

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Phyllis sometimes in flowers fading as her beauty, and sometimes in gems lasting as her virtues.

17 At Paris, as secretary to Lord Jermin, he was engaged in transacting things of real importance with real men and real women', and at that time did not much employ his thoughts upon phantoms of gallantry. Some of his letters to Mr. Bennet, afterwards Earl of Arlington, from April to December in 1650, are preserved in Miscellanea Aulica, a collection of papers published by Brown 3. These letters, being written like those of other men whose mind is more on things than words, contribute no otherwise to his reputation than as they shew him to have been above the affectation of unseasonable elegance, and to have known that the business of a statesman can be little forwarded by flowers of rhetorick.

18 One passage, however, seems not unworthy of some notice. Speaking of the Scotch treaty then in agitation:



'The Scotch treaty,' says he, 'is the only thing now in which we are vitally concerned; I am one of the last hopers, and yet cannot now abstain from believing, that an [the] agreement will be made: all people upon the place incline to that of union [to that opinion]. The Scotch will moderate something [somewhat] of the rigour of their demands; the mutual necessity of an accord is visible, the King is persuaded of it [, and all mankind but two or three mighty tender consciences about him]. And to tell you the truth (which I take to be an argument above all the rest), Virgil has told the same thing [me something] to that


This expression from a secretary of the present time would be considered as merely ludicrous, or at most as an ostentatious

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where; though I was in business of
great and honourable trust; though I
ate at the best table...yet I could not
abstain from renewing my old school-
boy's wish, in a copy of verses to the
same effect:-

"Well then; I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne'er
agree," &c.'
Ib. ix. 123; viii, 29.

3 Miscellanea Aulica; or a Collec-
tion of State Treatises, never before
publish'd. Faithfully collected from
their Originals by Mr. T. Brown.
1702. One of Cowley's letters bears
date Sept. 13, 1653, p. 158.
4 lb. p. 130.

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display of scholarship; but the manners of that time were so tinged with superstition, that I cannot but suspect Cowley of having consulted on this great occasion the Virgilian lots', and to have given some credit to the answer of his oracle.

Some years afterwards, 'business,' says Sprat, 'passed of 21 course into other hands'; and Cowley, being no longer useful at Paris, was in 1656 sent back into England that, 'under pretence of privacy and retirement, he might take occasion of giving notice of the posture of things in this nation?'



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Soon after his return to London he was seized by some mes- 22 sengers of the usurping powers, who were sent out in quest of another man; and, being examined, was put into confinement, from which he was not dismissed without the security of a thousand pounds given by Dr. Scarborow 3.

This year he published his poems with a preface, in which 23 ge he seems to have inserted something, suppressed in subsequent editions, which was interpreted to denote some relaxation of his loyalty. In this preface he declares, that 'his desire had been

Consulting the Virgilian lots, Sortes Virgilianae, is a method of divination by the opening of Virgil, and applying to the circumstances of the peruser the first passage in either of the two pages that he accidentally fixes his eyes on.' For Charles I and Falkland thus turning up in the Bodleian, as it was reported, the Aeneid, iv. 615; xi. 152 see Johnson's Works, vii. 6n. See also Diary of Dr. Edward Lake, under Jan. 29, 1677–8, quoted by Cunningham, Lives of the Poets,i. 9. 2 Hurd's Cowley, i. 11.

3 lb. In an ode addressed to him he says, 'with enormous and disgusting hyperbole' (post, COWLEY, 80):'Scarce could the sword dispatch

more to the grave Than thou didst save;

By wondrous art, and by successful


The ruins of a civil war thou dost alone repair.'

Eng. Poets, viii. 143. Aubrey tells how 'at Oxford Harvey grew acquainted with Dr. Charles Scarborough, then a young physitian; and whereas before he marched up and downe with the army, he tooke him to him, and made him ly in his

chamber and said to him:-"Prithee
leave off thy gunning and stay here;
I will bring thee into practice." Brief
Lives, i. 299. See post, WALLER, 86.

Sprat writes:-'Some have en-
deavoured to bring his loyalty in
question upon occasion of a few lines
in the preface to one of his books....
Seeing his good intentions were so
ill interpreted he told me, the last time
that ever I saw him, that he would
have them omitted in the next im-
pression.' Hurd's Cowley, i. 12, 14.

Hearne, writing about a copy given by Cowley to the Bodleian, remarks how strongly 'he speaks for the republicans and Oliverians.' Hearne's Remains, i. 260; where, in a note, the suppressed passage is quoted. Among other things Cowley says:-'When the event of battle and the unaccountable will of God has determined the controversy, and that we have submitted to the conditions of the conqueror, we must lay down our pens as well as arms, we must march out of our cause itself, and dismantle that, as well as our towns and castles, of all the works and fortifications of wit and reason by which we defended it.'


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for some days [years] past, and did still very vehemently continue, to retire himself to some of the American plantations, and to forsake this world for ever'.'

From the obloquy, which the appearance of submission to the usurpers brought upon him, his biographer has been very diligent to clear him, and indeed it does not seem to have lessened his reputation. His wish for retirement we can easily believe to be undissembled; a man harassed in one kingdom and persecuted in another who, after a course of business that employed all his days and half his nights in cyphering and decyphering, comes to his own country and steps into a prison, will be willing enough to retire to some place of quiet, and of safety 2. Yet let neither our reverence for a genius, nor our pity for a sufferer, dispose us to forget that, if his activity was virtue, his retreat was cowardice 3. He then took upon himself the character of Physician, still, according to Sprat, with intention to dissemble the main design [intention] of his coming over, and, as Mr. Wood relates, 'complying with the men then in power (which was much taken notice of by the royal party), he obtained an order to be created Doctor of Physick, which being done to his mind (whereby he gained the ill-will of some of his friends), he went into France again, having made a copy of verses on Oliver's death ".'


This is no favourable représentation, yet even in this not much wrong can be discovered. How far he complied with the men in power is to be enquired before he can be blamed. It is not said that he told them any secrets, or assisted them by intelligence, or any other act. If he only promised to be quiet, that they in whose hands he was might free him from confinement, he did what no law of society prohibits.


The man whose miscarriage in a just cause has put him in

Eng. Poets, vii. 13.

2 In the Preface Cowley says that no one ought to envy poets the imaginary happiness' of posthumous fame, since they find commonly so little in present that it may be truly applied to them, which St. Paul speaks of the first Christians, "If their reward be in this life, they are of all men the most miserable.” Ib. vii. 11.

3 Johnson ends his sixth Rambler,

entitled Happiness not local, with reflections on Cowley's desire 'to retire himself.'

4 Hurd's Cowley, i. 34. Cowley himself says:—' For to make myself absolutely dead in a poetical capacity, my resolution at present is never to exercise any more that faculty. It is, I confess, but seldom seen that the poet dies before the man.' Eng. Poets, vii. II.

5 Fasti Oxon. ii. 210.

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