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I therefore will begin : Soul of the age !
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage !
My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little farther to make thee a room :
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so my brain excuses
I mean with great, but disproportioned Muses;
For if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers,
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line,
And though thou had small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honor thee, I would not seek
For names, but call forth thundering Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us.
Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time,
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm!
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joyed to wear the dressing of his lines,
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy Art,
My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part
For though the poet's matter Nature be,
His Art doth give the fashion; and that he
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses' anvil, turn the same
And himself with it, that he thinks to frame;
Or for the laurel he may gain to scorn;
For a good poet's made, as well as born.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanced, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage
Or influence chide or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like
And despairs day but for thy volume's light.
ODE TO HIMSELF. (Written after the failure of his comedy, “ The New Inn," which was miser
ably acted and sharply criticised, Jan. 19, 1629.)
COME, leave the loathèd stage,
And the more loathsome age;
Where pride and impudence, in faction knit,
Usurp the chair of wit!
Inditing and arraigning every day
Something they call a play.
Let their fastidious, vain
Commission of the brain
Run on and rage, sweat, censure, and condemn;
They were not made for thee, less thou for them.
Say that thou pourest them wheat,
And they will acorns eat;
'Twere simple fury still thyself to waste
On such as have no taste!
To offer them a surfeit of pure bread
Whose appetites are dead !
No, give them grains their fill,
Husks, draff to drink or swill;
If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine,
Envy them not, their palate's with the swine.
Leave things so prostitute
And take the Alcaic lute;
Or thine own Horace, or Anacreon's lyre;
Warm thee by Pindar's fire;
And though thy nerves be shrank and blood be cold,
Ere years have made thee old,
Strike that disdainful heat,
Throughout, to their defeat,
As curious fools, and envious of thy strain,
May blushing swear no palsy's in thy brain.
But when they hear thee sing
The glories of thy king,
His zeal to God, and his just awe o'er men;
They may, blood-shaken then,
Feel such a flesh-quake to possess their powers,
As they shall cry: “Like ours
In sound of peace or wars,
No harp e'er hit the stars,
In tuning forth the acts of his sweet reign,
And raising Charles his chariot 'bove his Wain."
EPITAPH ON ELIZABETH L. H.
Wouldst thou hear what man can say
In a little ? Reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die :
Which in life did harbor give
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault,
Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was ELIZABETH;
The other — let it sleep in death,
Fitter, where it died to tell,
Than that it lived at all. Farewell!
EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE.
UNDERNEATH this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death! ere thou hast slain another,
Learned and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.
FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS, a Jewish historian, born at Jerusalem, A.D. 37; died at Rome about A.D. 100. He was of a noble sacerdotal family. He calls himself simply Josephus ; the prenomen Flavius seems to have been assumed in honor of the Flavian gens of Rome. At the age of twenty-six he went to Rome in order to procure the liberation of some of his friends whom the Roman procurator Felix had caused to be arrested. This visit to Rome apparently took place while Paul was a prisoner there; but there is no evidence that Josephus ever heard of the apostle. He quite ignores the existence of the Christians.
He afterwards bore a conspicuous part in the contests of his people with the Romans and the imperial government of Rome, rising finally to great favor with the Emperor Vespasian and his two immediate successors. He passed the years of his literary activity at Rome, living in dignified ease upon a royal pension and in a luxurious residence, enjoying also the rights of citizenship. The products of these favoring circumstances are the “ History of the War of the Jews against the Romans, and of the Fall of Jerusalem,” the “ Judaic Antiquities," which begin with the Creation and extend to A.D. 66, and an “ Autobiography.” As an eye-witness of much that he records, his work merits attention; but it is the subject of much controversy and doubt.
THE CREATION, AS NARRATED BY JOSEPHUS.
(From the “ Antiquities.”) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth did not come into sight, but was covered with thick darkness, and a wind moved upon its surface. God commanded that there should be light; and when that was made he considered the full mass, and separated the light and the darkness; and the name he gave to the one was Night, and the other he called Day; and he named the beginning of light and the time of rest the evening and the morning ; and this was indeed the first day. But Moses said it was one day, the cause of which I