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They are recited among the best performances of the kind, and with applause, by Francis Meres, a cotemporary critic, who wrote in 1598 138. But whatever fame they had acquired, it soon received a check, which was never recovered. They were condemned to the flames, as licentious and immoral, by an order of bishop Bancroft in 1599. And this is obviously the chief reason why they are not named by our author, in the Specialities of his Life, written by himself, after his preferment to a bishopric "39. They were, however, admired and imitated by Oldham. And Pope, who modernised Donne, is said to have wished he had seen Hall's Satires sooner. But had Pope undertaken to modernise Hall, he must have adopted, because he could not have improved, many of his lines. Hall is too finished and smooth for such an operation. Donne, though he lived so many years later, was susceptible of modern refinement, and his asperities were such as wanted and would bear the chisel.
I was informed by the late learned bishop of Glocester, that in a copy of Hall's Satires, in Pope's library, the whole first Satire of the sixth book was corrected in the margin, or interlined, in Pope's own hand ; and that Pope had written at the head of that Satire, Optina Satira.
Milton, who had a controversy with Hall, as I have observed, in a remonstrance called An Apology for Smectymnuus, published in 1641, rather unsuitably and disingenuously goes out of his way, to attack these Satires, a juvenile effort of his dignified adversary, and under every consideration alien to the dispute. Milton's strictures are more sarcastic than critical; yet they deserve to be cited, more especially as they present a striking specimen of those awkward attempts at humour and raillery, which disgrace his prose works.
“ Lighting upon this title of Toothless Satyrs, I will not conceal ye what I thought, readers, that sure this must be some sucking satyr, who might have done better to have used his coral, and made an end of breeding ere he took upon him to wield a satyr's whip. But when I heard him talk of scouring the shields of elvish knights '4', do not blame me if I changed my thought, and concluded him some desperate cutler. But why his scornful Muse could never abide with tragick shoes her ancles for to hide “, the pace of the verse told me, that her mawkin kuuckles were never shapen to that royal bus
1* Wits Treas. f. 282. It is extraordinary, that they should not have afforded any choice flowers to England's Parnasgus, printed in 1600.
139 Shaking of the Olive, or his Remaining Works, 1660), 4to. Nor are they here inserted.
140 A misquoted line in The Defiance to Envy, prefixed to the Satires. I will give the whole passage, which is a compliment to Spenser, and shows how happily Hall would have succeeded in the majestic march of the long stanza.
Or scoure the rusted swordes of elvish knights,
Worthy of brasse, and hoary marble stone. 141 B. i. '1.
. That is, have done.
kin. And turning by chance to the sixth (seventh] Satyr of his second book, I was confirmed: where having begun loftily in Heaven's universal alphabet, he falls down to that wretched poorness and frigidity as to talk of Bridge Street in Heaven, and the ostler of Heaven "43. And there wanting other matter to catch him a beat, (for certain he was on the frozen zone miserably benummed) with thoughts lower than any beadle's, betakes him to whip the sign-posts of Cambridge alehouses, the ordinary subject of freshmen's tales, and in a strain as pitiful. Which, for him who would be counted the first English satyrist, to abase himselfe to, who might have learned better among the Latin and Italian satyrists, and, in our own tongue, from the Vision and Creede of Pierce Plowman, besides others before him, manifested a presumptuous undertaking with weak and unexamined shoulders. For a satyr is, as it were, born out of a tragedy, so ought to resemble his parentage, to strike bigh, and adventure dangerously at the most eminent vices among the greatest persons, and not to creep into every blind taphouse that fears a constable more than a satyr. But that such a poem should be toothless, I still affirm it to be a bull, taking away the essence of that which it calls itself. For if it bite neither the persons nor the vices, how is it a satyr ? And if it bite either, how is it toothless ? So that toothless satyrs, are as much as if he had said toothless teeth, &c.” 143
With Hall's Satires should be rauked his Mundus alter et idem, an ingenious satirical fiction in prose, where, under a pretended description of the Terra Australis, he forms a pleasant invective against the characteristic vices of various nations, and is remarkably severe on the church of Rome. This piece was written about the year 1600, before he had quitted the classics for the fathers, and published some years afterwards, against his consent. Under the same class should also be mentioned his Characterismes of Vertues, a set of sensible and lively moral essays, which contain traces of the Satires 144.
I take the opportunity of observing here, that among Hall's prose works are some metaphrastic versions in metre of a few of David's Psalms '", and three anthems, or hymns,
142 Hall supposes that the twelve signs of the zodiac are twelve inns, in the high-street of Heaven,
............With twelve fayre signes
Euer well tended by our star-divines, Of the astrologers, who give their attendance, some are ostlers, others chamberlaines, &c. The zodiacal sign Aquarius, he supposes to be in the Bridge Street of Heaven. He alludes to Bridge Street at Cambridge, and the signs are of inns at Cambridge.
143 Apology for Smectymnuus, Milton's prose works, vol. i. p. 186; edit. Amst. 1698, fol. See also p. 185. 187. 191.
14 Works ut supr. p. 171. Under the character of the Hypocrite, he says, “When a rimer reads his poeme to him, he begs a copie, and perswades the presse, &c.” p. 187. Of the Vaine-glorious : “ He sweares bigge at an ordinary, and talkes of the court with a sharp voice.- He calls for pheasants at a common inne.-If he haue bestowed but a little summe in the glazing, pauing, parieting, of Gods house, you shall find it in the church-window.” (See Sat. B. iv. 3.) “ His talke is, how many mourners he has furnished with gownes at his father's funerals, what exploits he did at Cales and Newport, Sc.” p. 194, 195. Of the Busie-bodie: “ If he see but two men talke and reade a letter in the streete, he runnes to them and askes if he may not be partner of that secret relation : and if they deny it, he offers to tell, since he cannot heare, wonders : and then falls vpon the report of the Scottish mine, or of the great fish taken vp at Linne, or of the freezing of the Thames, &c." p. 188. Of the Superstitious : “ He never goes without an erra pater in his pocket.—Every lanterne is a ghost, and every noise is of chaines, &c.” p. 189. These pieces were written after the Gunpowder Plot, for it is mentioned, p. 196.
145 Works, ut supr. p. 151. In the Dedication he says, “ Indeed my poetry was long sithence out of date, and yelded her place to grauer studies, Scc.” In his Epistles he speaks of this unfinished undertaking. “ Many great wits haue vndertaken this task.- Among the rest were those two rare spirits of the Sidnyes; to whom poesie was as natvrall as it is affected of others: and our worthy friend Mr. Sylvester hath shewed me how happily he hath sometimes turned from his Bartas to the sweet singer of
written for the use of his Cathedral. Hall, in his Satires, had condemned this sort of poetry.
An able inquirer into the literature of this period has affirmed, that Hall's Epistles, written before the year 1613 14, are the first example of epistolary composition which England had seen. Bishop Hall," says, was not only our first satirist, but was the first who brought epistolary writing to the view of the public: which was common in that age to other parts of Europe, but not practised in England till he published his own Epistles"?.” And Hall himself, in the Dedication of his Epistles to Prince Henry, observes,
“Your grace shall herein perceiue a new fashion of discourse by epistles, new to our language, vsuall to others: and, as nouelty is neuer without plea of vse, more free, more familiar 148.”
The first of our countrymen, however, who published a set of his own letters, though not in English, was Roger Ascham, who flourished about the time of the Reformation; and when that mode of writing had been cultivated by the best scholars in various parts of Europe, was celebrated for the terseness of his epistolary style. I believe the second published correspondence of this kind, and in our own language, at least of any impor-, tance after Hall, will be found to be Epistolæ Hoelianæ, or the Letters of James Howell, a great traveller, an intimate friend of Jonson, and the first who bore the office of the royal historiographer, which discover a variety of literature, and abound with much entertaining and useful information 149.
Israel. There is none of all my labours so open to all censures. Perhaps some think the verse harsh, whose nice eare regardeth roundnesse more than sense. I embrace smoothnesse, but affect it not." Dec. ii. Ep. v. p. 302, 303. ut supr.
14 See Works, ut supr. p. 275.
149 Epistolæ Hoelianæ, Familiar Letters, domestic and foreign, divided into sundry Sections, partly historical, political, and philosophical. Lond. 1645, 4to. They had five editions from 1645 to 1673, inclusive. A third and fourth volume was added to the last impression.
I must not dismiss our satirist without observing, that Fuller has preserved a witty encomiastic English Epigram by Hall, written at Cambridge, on Greenham's book of The Sabbath, before the year 1592. Church History, B. ix. Cent. xvi. §. vii. pag. 220, edit. 1655, fol. I find it also prefixed to Greenham's Works, in folio, 1601.
The encomiastic Epigram noticed in Mr. Warton's note is now added to his Satires, with a few smaller pieces from his Remains, and his Elegy on Dr. Whitaker from Mr. Nichols's Collection.
Bishop Hall's reputation is so thoroughly established for his learning and piety, that the publi tation of any work which bears his name, and was undoubtedly of his composition, must be acceptable to the reader. Mr. Pope saw these Satires, but so late in life that he could only bestow this commendation on them, which they truly deserve, to “wish he had seen them sooner."
The ingenious Mr. Walley, in his Inquiry into the Learning of Shakspeare, has taken particular notice of them. Page 41, in the notes, he says,
“ Bishop Hall was born in 1574, and, publishing these Satires twenty-three years after, was, as he himself asserts, in the Prologue, the first satirist in the English language.
I first adventure, follow me who list,
4 And if we consider the difficulty of introducing so nice a poem as satire into a nation, we must allow it required the assistance of no common and ordinary genius. The Italians had their Ariosto, and the French their Regnier, who might have served him as models for imitation; but he copies after the ancients, and chiefly Juvenal and Persius ; though he wants not many strokes of elegance and delicacy, which show him perfectly acquainted with the manner of Horace. Among the several discouragements which attended his attempt in that kind, he mentions one peculiar to the language and nature of the English versification, which would appear in the translation of one of Persius's Satires : ' The difficulty and dissonance whereof,' says he, shall make good my assertion ; besides the plain experience thereof in the Satires of Ariosto; save which, and one base French satire, I could never attain the view of any for ny direction. Yet we may pay him almost the same compliment which was given of old to Homer and Archilochus : for the improvements which have been made by succeeding poets, bear no manner of proportion to the distance of time between him and them. The verses of bishop Hall are in general extremely musical and flowing, and are greatly preferable to Dr. Donne's, as being of a much smoother cadence ; neither shall we find him deficient, if compared with his successor, in point of thought and wit ; and to exceed him with respect to his characters, which are more numerous, and wrought up with greater art and strength of colouring. Many of his lines would do honour to the most ingenious of our modern poets; and some of them have thought it worth their labour to imitate him, especially Mr. Oldham. Bishop Hall was not only our first satirist, but was the first who brought epistolary writing to the view of the public; which was common in that age to other parts of Europe, but not practised in England, till he published his own Epistles. It may be proper to take notice, that the Virgidemiarum arę not printed with his other writings ; and that all account of them is omitted by him, through his extreme modesty, in The Specialties of his life, prefixed to the third volume of his works in folio. I cannot forbear mentioning a Latin book of his, equally valuable and forgotten, called Mundus alter et idem: where, ander a pretended description of the Terra Australis, he gives us a very ingenious satire on the vices and follies of mankind."
The author's Postscript to his Satires will perhaps now be better placed here by way of Preface.
“ It is not for every one to relish a true and natural satire, being of itself, besides the nature and inbred bitterness and tastness of particulars, both hard of conceit and harsh of style, and therefore