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1623. The lives of these two men seem to have been singularly easy and free from trouble; and were, probably, marked by few incidents worthy of record. Phineas led a happy existence in a country parish, occupying himself with the duties of his sacred office, and beguiling his leisure hours with literary pursuits. Of the career of Giles little or nothing is known, except that his benefice was at Alderton in Suffolk.
The poems of Phineas consist of 'The Purple Island,' 'Piscatory Eclogues,' and various miscellanies. The Purple Island,' or The Isle of Man,' has been styled, 'a rhymed lecture on anatomy.' The subject (describing, with wearisome minuteness, the peculiarities of the bores, muscles, arteries, and veins of the human body, and comparing them to various features of landscape scenery) is peculiarly unfortunate. There is also a description of the Virtues and Vices, which engage and fight, like Milton's armies,-the Virtues being saved, when in a dangerous plight, by the interposition of a good angel. This angel was intended to represent the pedantic Stuart who was governing England when the poem was published; and it is humiliating to find that Phineas Fletcher should thus have consented to pander to the love of flattery, which beset the weak King James. Though many parts of this poem are heavy and wearisome, it is occasionally spirited and interesting.
The longest poem written by Giles Fletcher was entitled 'Christ's Victory and Death,' and was published in 1610. Many parts of it are extremely grand, evincing a power over language, and a richness of imagery, which would not have disgraced some of the best poets of the day. The natural descriptions and lofty beauties of this poem abundantly testify to the talent of the author. The faults are many and glaring; but these offences in point of taste were unfortunately only too common at the time; so that the judgment of a poet was often vitiated by false and inconsistent criterions of criticism. The constant allusions to profane history, which are intermingled with the solemn account of the Saviour's birth, temptation, passion, and resurrection, cannot fail to jar upon the feelings of the modern reader, whilst the plot is often confused and degraded by the strange mixture of allegory with truth.
We give three verses from the fable of the bower of Vaine Delight:'
"The garden like a ladye faire was cut,
Like twinkling stars, that sparkle in the evening blue,
'Upon a hillie banke her head shee caste,
On which the bower of Vaine-delight was built,
And with green fillets in their prettie cauls them bound.
While she supinely sleeps, ne to be waked fears.'
THOMAS CAREW may be regarded as the precursor and representative of a numerous class of poets-courtiers of a gay and gallant school, who, to personal accomplishments, rank, and education, united a taste and talent for the conventional poetry then most popular and generally cultivated. Their influence may be traced in the works of Cowley and Dryden. Carew and Waller were perhaps the best of their class. Rochester was undoubtedly the most debased. Very little high sentiment is to be found in the poetical works of this school; the loftiest ambition of the authors seeming to be to praise ingeniously, and to flatter profusely. A careful selection from the writings of Carew, repudiating much that is unworthy of notice, and retaining the exquisite and unblemished lines which he occasionally penned, might be welcome to the English public.
We had intended to compare the literature of this age with the various poetical tendencies of our own; and would have drawn attention to that sudden thirst for the acquisition of knowledge, which, in the Elizabethan period, stimulated the mind of the people as by a 'forcible impulse,'-causing the
genius of these writers to take astonishing 'strides towards perfection.' But we have already overpassed our due limits, and must not pursue this discussion. Our poets deserve a concluding apostrophe, and they shall receive it in the lines of Wordsworth :
'Blessings be on them and eternal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares,
ART. III.-1. On the Germination, Development, and Fructification of the higher Cryptogamia; and on the Fructification of the Coniferæ. By DR. WILHELM HOFMEISTER. Translated by FREDERICK CURREY, M.A., F.R.S., Sec. L.S. One Vol. 8vo. The Ray Society. 1862.
2. Ferns: British and Exotic. By E. J. LowE, Esq., F.R.A.S., F.G.S., F.L.S., F.Z.S., &c. Eight Vols. 8vo. Groombridge
3. A priced (and partially descriptive) Catalogue of Stove, Greenhouse, and hardy Exotic and British Ferns, Selaginellas, and Lycopods, offered for Sale by ABRAHAM STANSFIELD AND SONS, Vale Nurseries, Todmorden. December, 1860.
4. A Catalogue of Ferns, Exotic and Indigenous, offered for Sale by ROBERT KENNEDY, Conservatories, Covent Garden, London, W.C. 1860.
Ir is no wonder that the cultivation of Ferns is increasing in popular esteem. The wide, and ever wider, diffusion of the principles of correct taste is training the eye of the multitude to discern other charms than those of gorgeous colour, and to seek, in flowing lines and graceful curves, in minutely fretted outlines, in slenderness which is not weakness, in verdure ever soft and fresh and tender, an exquisite delight which is perhaps more refined than that which is found in flowers, however rich, however lovely. We remember, in our earlier horticultural days, the remark of a lady, honoured in memory now, but quite of the old school, expressing wonder that we should like to have 'fern' in the garden. To her eye the filix mas was as the filix fæmina; the Polystichum as the Lastrea; it was 'fern ;' not 'a fern,' but 'fern' in the abstract, identified with the acres of brake she had been used to see in her youth, and esteemed as vile as the vilis alga of the poet. But her youthful ideas were imbibed nearly a century ago; and doubtless, if she had lived to these days, she would have learned to inspect, with discriminating delight, the varying filagree work of the many fronds that arch over her son's cherished fernery, and to watch their development with an interest not inferior to his own.
It has been well observed, that ferns are always in bloom. Winter and summer are alike to most of the stove and green
house species, and many of our native kinds retain their leaves through the winter, with their lustre heightened by the fogs, and scarcely dimmed by the frosts. To a conservatory or hothouse, ferns lend a peculiar charm; the exquisite lightness and grace of their forms combine with their evergreen verdure to relieve and so to augment the effect of even the aristocratic orchids. A constant interest attaches to them: new fronds are protruding their curled heads from the damp soil; the adolescents are expanding their hundred arms, the mature are displaying their curious and beautiful fructification, or forming young offspring-plants to dangle in the air at their tips,-so that the pleased culturist has ever something to explore, something to admire.
To see our native species to advantage, let a stranger of refined taste roam amidst the tall hedged lanes and 'ferny combes' of sweet Devon, in whose mild and moist climate somewhat of the balmy breath of the tropics is inhaled, brought to her shores by the impinging waves of the mighty Gulf-stream. There the ferns attain a magnificence of dimensions and a permanence of freshness seen in scarcely any other district of the land. We have in our eye at this moment a lane, one side of which is formed by a bank very nearly perpendicular, and about fifteen feet high; the whole face of this steep is densely clothed with the hart's-tongue, whose glossy green fronds, two feet in length and four inches in breadth, spring out in the most beautiful arches from the top to the bottom, many of them strangely crisped and curled, and many displaying that tendency to multiplied fission which forms so interesting a feature in this species, wherever it is found in luxuriance. Not far off is an old wall, the upper half of which is one unbroken sheet of trichomanes spleenwort, intermingled with ceterach and wallrue, the tufts springing out of the old decayed mortar so close together as to make a continuous shaggy surface of the elegantly fringed fronds. This same lane presently leads into an open wood, where, beneath the great timber-trees sparsely scattered, enormous crowns of the male fern and the dilated bucklerfern grow up on all sides, forming vast basket-shaped hollows of seven or eight feet in diameter, of which the individual fronds attain a length of five feet by actual admeasurement.
Or, let him visit sweet Killarney,-that lake of renown, which