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EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE1.
AN EPITAPH ON MASTER PHILIP GRAY,
Reader, stay ;
For if such men as he could die,
[From The Forest.]
Is virtue and not Fate;
And her black spite expel.
Or safe, but she'll procure
Of thoughts to watch and ward | Mary, sister of Sir Philip Sidney (who wrote his Arcadia for her), and mother of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. She died in 1621, and is buried in Salisbury Cathedral.
2 The following is only the earlier (general) part of this fine Epode, 'sung to deep ears.'
At the eye and ear, the ports unto the mind,
That no strange or unkind
Give knowledge instantly
Who, in th' examining,
Close the close cause of it.
To make our sense our slave.
By many ? scarce by any.
Or else the sentinel,
Or some great thought doth keep
They are base and idle fears
Thus, by these subtle trains
And strike our reason blind.
[From The Forest.]
Good and great God! can I not think of Thee,
Where have I been this while exiled from Thee,
[WILLIAM DRUMMOND was born at the manor-house of Hawthornden near Edinburgh on December 13, 1585, and died there December 4, 1649. His chief poetical works are Teares on the Death of Mæliades (Prince Henry), 1613; Poems, 1616; Forth Feasting, a panegyricke to the King's most excellent Majestie, 1617; Flowers of Sion, 1623; The Entertainment of the high and mighty monarch Charles, 1633; The Exequies of the Honourable Sir Anthony Alexander, Kn 1638. Besides these he wrote innumerable political pamphlets, &c., and a considerable historical work. More important are his well-known Conversations with Ben Jonson, of which an authentic copy was discovered by Mr. David Laing and printed by him in 1832. A unique copy of the Poems, printed on one side of the paper only, and containing Drummond's autograph corrections, is in the Bodleian Library. It varies most curiously from the later editions.]
The interest of Drummond lies chiefly, for a modern reader, in the circumstances of his life. He is one of the earliest instances in our literature of the man of letters pure and simple ; of the man who writes neither for his ad, like the great dramatists his contemporaries, nor to adorn the leisure moments of an active life, like Chaucer and Sir Philip Sidney, but who, when his fortune allows him to choose his career, elects to write for the sake of writing. It is true he travelled, both as a very young man and later ; he corresponded regularly with his Scottish friends at the courts of James and Charles, especially with Sir William Alexander Earl of Stirling, the poet and statesman; he took part in such royal festivities as a rare chance might bring to Edinburgh ; he keenly felt and sharply criticised the course of public affairs; but for all this his centre and his home as the beautiful house on the bank of the Esk, into the solitudes of which even the din of Bishops' Wars could scarcely penetrate. Other poets are known by their names alone; we talk of Jonson and Herrick, of Dryden and Addison ; but Drummond is for all time Drummond of Hawthornden.
His countrymen did not till lately do much honour to Drummond. At the end of the seventeenth century that by which his name was chiefly kept alive was a macaronic poem, Polemo-Middinia, which modern criticism hesitates to attribute to his hand. In 1711 Bishop Sage and the Scottish antiquary Thomas Ruddiman published Drummond's works in prose and verse, but this volume, though it still remains the only edition that contains his prose as well as his poetry, is uncritical, and is a tribute to Drummond rather as a politician than as a poet. Fifty years ago, however, Mr. David Laing, to whom Scottish literature and history owe so much, analysed and set in order the mass of manuscript which the last representative of the poet had given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, forty years before. Then followed the Maitland Club edition of his poems (1833) ; and then, in our own day, came Professor Masson with a characteristic volume, doing for Drummond after his kind what the same biographer had long been doing for Milton after his kind-setting him against a rich background of the circumstances of his time. The dominant impression which we derive from Professor Masson's book is an impression of Drummond in his relation to public events; of the royalist and episcopalian born to “unhappy times and dying days’; writing pamphlets, satires, letters at intervals : turning his skill in verse to the service of the Court when occasion served, but brooding in discontent, for the most part silent, over the slow but certain triumph of Argyle and his presbyterians. Yet though this element is essential to our understanding of Drummond, there are other elements in him that have also to be taken into account. He has had a love story, as sweet while it lasted and as pathetic in its end as any that ever inspired a poet; it is the memory of the fair Mary Cunningham of Barns, who died on the eve of their wedding, that keeps him unmarried till nearly fifty : and, at least till the political clouds close round him, he is, as we said, a man of letters, the friend of Drayton and Sir William Alexander, and the entertainer of Ben Jonson.
Drummond is a literary and even learned poet. With Alexander, he deliberately preferred to write English, as it was spoken in England, rather than his native Scotch. His wealth and his leisure enabled him to surround himself with books ; he was familiar with both ancient and modern literature. An interesting gift of his to the newly founded University of Edinburgh has