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they stood for conscience, and resolv'd to die, rather than change the ancient purity of that religion which their ancestors and they had prosper'd in so many years; vow'd to their gods to sacrifice their lives, and die their daughters martyrs and their wives, before they would commit so great a sin against the faith they had been bred
TO HIS MISTRESS.
my guiltless breast,
it had so long supprest.
for ever to have lain; but that my sighs, like blasts of wind,
made it break out again.
TO THE SAME.
Do not mine affection slight
'cause my locks with age are white: your breasts have snow without, and snow within, while flames of fire in your bright eyes are seen.
Life of Butler,
page 1 Satire upon Marriage,
10 To his Mistress,
SIR JOHN DENHAM was the only son of Sir John Denham, knight, of Little Horsley in Essex, some time chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland, and one of the Lord Justices of that kingdom, by Eleanor daughter of Sir GarretMore, Baron of Mellefont in Ireland. He was born at Dublin in 1615. But in the space two years afterwards, his father being made one of the barons of the Exchequer in England, theson was brought with his parents to London, where he received his grammatical education. In 1631 he was entered a GentlemanCommoner in Trinity-College, Oxford. He was then 16 years of age, and according to Anthony Wood, looked upon as a slow, dreaming, young man, 'more addicted to gaming than to study. He resided here three years, passed his examinations, and was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He next took chambers in Lincoln's-Inn, and applied, for a time, closely to the study of common law. His propensity to gaming, however, continued, and subjected him to the depredations of adepts in the art. His father chid and threatened him; he grew repentant, and wrote, an Essay on Gaming, which he presented to his father. This effected a reconciliation. His father died in 1638. He again fell to gaming, and lost several thousand pounds. In 1641 he published a tragedy called The Sophy, which was much admired. Soon after he was high-sheriff for the county of Surry, and made governor of Farnham-Castle, by king Charles 1, but not understanding military affairs, he relinquished his post, and went to the king at Oxford.
In 1649 he there published his Cooper's Hill; “A poem,” says Dryden," which for majesty of style is, and ever will be, the standard of good writing.” His attachment to the royal cause during the civil wars gained him the confidence of the queen. She intrusted to our author, therefore, a message to the king, then a captive in the army. He afterwards resided some time in France, in the train of exiled royalty, and occasionally diverted the melancholy of the king and his retinue by poetic effusions. He returned to England in 1652, but as his estates had been seized and sold by an order of parliament, he accepted the hospitality of the earl of Pembroke, at Wilton. At the restoration he was received into the sunshine of court favour, succeeded Inigo Jones as surveyor general to the king's buildings, and at the coronation of Charles 2, dignified with the order of K. B. Jodulged by his royal master, and publicly esteemed, there was reason to hope that Sir John might have been securely happy, but human felicity is short and precarious, and man while deeming himself most secure, plunges unwarily into deep calainity, It was thus that our author by an injudicious marriage subjected himself to the bad dispositions of a wife. This unfortunate situation preyed so strongly upon his mind, that his understanding became disordered. This alienation of reason, was, however, only, temporary, for he afterwards enjoyed his wonted faculties, so as to write some verses on Cowley's death, whom he did not long survive. He died in March, 1668, at bis office near White-hall, and was interred in Westminsterabbey, near Chaucer, Spencer, and Cowley, the last of whom was his intimate friend. Tho’his early days seem to have been unruly and agitated, yet in ipatu
rer life he appears to have relinquished every vice, and to have closed his days with the composure of a christian, supported by faith and hope. Denhani's works have been frequently collected and published. The 6th edition appeared in 1719. His reputation seems, at present, to rest almost entirely on Cooper's Hill, a production which has conferred on him the rank and dignity of an original author.
“ He seems to have been," says Dr. Johnson," at least among us, the author of a species of composition that may be denominated LOCAL POETRY, of which the fundamendal subject is some particular landscape, to be poetically described, with the addition of such embellishments as may be supplied by historical retrospection, or incidental meditation; and that he is one of the writers that improved our taste, and advanced our language; whom therefore we ought to read with gratitude, tho' having done much, he lest much to do."
Bear me, oh! bear me to sequester'd scenes, the bow'ry mazes, and surrounding greens; to Thames's bạnks, which fragrant breezes fill, or where the Muses sport on Cooper's Hill. (On Cooper's Hill eternal wreaths shall grow while lasts the mountain, or wbile Thames shall flow.) Here his first lays majestic Denbam sung; there the last numbers flow'd from Cowley's tongue. Who now shall charm the shades where Cowley strung his living harp, and lofty Denham sung?
COOPER'S HILL. Sure there are poets which did never dream upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream of Helicon; we therefore may suppose those madé not poets, but the poets those, and as courts make not kings, but kings the court, so where the Muses and their train resort, Parnassus stands; if I can be to thee a poet, thou Parnassus art to me. Nor wonder if (advantag'd in my flight, by taking wing from thy auspicious height) through untrac'd ways and airy paths I fly, more boundless in my fancy than my eye; my eye, which swift as thought contracts the space that lies between, and first salutes the place crown'd with that sacred pile, so vast, so high, that whether 'tis a part of earth or sky uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud aspiring mountain, or descending cloud; Paul's, the late theme of such a Muse,* whose flight has bravely reach'd and soar'd above thy height; now shalt thou stand, tho'sword, or time or fire, or zeal, more fierce than they, thy fall conspire, secure, whilst thee the best of poets sings, preserv'd from ruin by the best of kings. Under his proud survey the City lies, and like a mist beneath a bill doth rise, whose state and wealth, the bus'ness and the crowd, seems at this distance but a darker cloud, and is, to him who rightly things esteems, no other in effect than what it seems; where, with like haste, tho' several ways, they run,
* Mr. Waller.