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1. OF MYSELF.
It is a hard and nice (delicate) subject for a man to write of himself; it grates his own heart to say anything of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear anything of praise from him. There is no danger from me of offending him in this kind (way); neither my mind, nor my body, nor my fortune, allow me any materials for that vanity. It is sufficient for my own contentment that they have preserved me from being scandalous, or remarkable on the defective side. But, besides that, I shall here speak of myself, only in relation to the subject of these precedent discourses (i.e. the previous essays), and shall be likelier thereby to fall into the contempt, than rise up to the estimation, of most people.
As far as my memory can return back into my past life, before I knew, or was capable of guessing, what the world, or the glories or business of it were, the natural affections of my soul gave me a secret bent of a version from them, as some plants are said to turn away from others, by an antipathy imperceptible to themselves, and inscrutable to man's understanding. Even when I was a very young boy at school, instead of running about on holidays and playing with my fellows, I was wont to steal from them, and walk into the fields, either alone with a book, or with some one companion if I could find any of the same temper. I was, then, too, so much an enemy to all constraint, that my masters could never prevail on me by any per
(1) “Cowley's prose, very unlike his verse, as Johnson has observed, is perspicuous and unaffected. His few essays may even be reckoned among the earliest models of good writing. In that, especially, on the death of Cromwell (till losing his composure, he falls a little into the vulgar style, towards the close), we find an absence of pedantry, an easy and graceful choice of idiom, an unstudied harmony of periods, which had been perceived in very few writers of the two preceding reigns. His thoughts,' says Johnson, are natural, and his style has a smooth and placid equability which has never yet attained its due commendation. Nothing is far-sought or hard-laboured; but all is easy without feebleness, and familiar without grossness." "—Hallam, Lit. of Europe, ii. 511.
(2) Disparagement, fr. old Fr. disparager, wh, fr. low Lat. disparagare to marry a man to an inferior; hence to degrade, undervalue, disgrace.
suasions or encouragements to learn without book (by heart) the common rules of grammar, in which [matter] they dispensed with me alone, because they found I made a shift to do the usual exercise out of my own reading and observation. .....
I believe I can tell the particular little chance that filled my head first with such chimes of verse, as have never since left ringing there :—for I remember, when I began to read, and to take some pleasure in it, there was wont to lie in my mother's parlour (I know not by what accident, for she herself never in her life read any book but of devotion), but there was wont to lie Spenser's works. This I happened to fall upon, and was infinitely delighted with the stories of the knights, and giants, and monsters, and brave (beautiful) houses (or palaces), which I found everywhere there (though my understanding had little to do with all this); and by degrees, with the tinkling of the rhyme and the dance of the numbers; so that, I think, I had read him all over before I was twelve years old.
With these affections of mind, and my heart solely set upon letters (literature), I went to the University of Cambridge]; but was soon torn from thence' by that violent public storm (the civil war) which would suffer nothing to stand where it did, but rooted up every plant, even from the princely cedars to me the hyssop. Yet, I had as good fortune as could have befallen me in such a tempest; for I was cast by it into the family of one of the best persons, and into the court of one of the best princesses, of the world. Now, though I was here engaged in ways most contrary to the original design of my life, that is, into much company, and no small business, and into a daily sight of greatness, both militant and triumphant? (for that was the state then of the English and French courts), yet all this was so far from altering my opinion, that it only added the confirmation of reason to that which was before but natural inclination. I saw plainly all the paint (the outside show) of that kind of life the nearer I came to it, and that beauty, which I did not fall in love with, when, for aught I knew, it was real,
(1) “In 1643, being now Master of Arts, he (Cowley) was, by the prevalence of the Parliament, ejected from Cambridge, and sheltered himself at St. John's College, in Oxford.”—Johnson's Lives of the Poets, iii. 6.
(2) “ About the time when Oxford was surrendered to the Parliament, he followed the queen to Paris, where he became secretary to the Lord Jermyn, afterwards Earl of St. Alban's."-16., p. 7.
(3) Militant and triumphant, i.e. greatness in the court, engaged in war in England, and in gaiety and pageantry in France. See for the true meaning of triumph, note 3, p. 129.
was not like (likely) to bewitch or entice me, when I saw that it was adulterate. I met with several great persons, whom I. liked very well, but could not perceive that any part of their greatness was to be liked or desired, no more than I would be glad or content to be in a storm, though I saw many ships which rid (rode) safely and bravely in it. A storm would not agree with my stomach, if it did with my courage. Though I was in a crowd of as good company as could be found anywhere, though I was in business of great and honourable trust,' though I “eat” (ate) at the best table, and enjoyed the best conveniences for present subsistence that ought to be desired by a man of my condition, in banishment and public distresses, yet I could not abstain from renewing my old schoolboy's wish, in a copy of verses to the same effect:
“Well then, I now do plainly see,
This busy world and I shall ne'er agree,” &c. And I never then proposed to myself any other advantage from his majesty's happy restoration, but the getting into some moderately convenient retreat in the “country," which I thought, in that case, I might easily have compassed, as well as some others, who, with no greater probabilities or pretences, bave arrived (attained) to extraordinary fortunes.
2. EULOGIUM OR QUASI-EULOGIUM ON
CROMWELL'S CAREER. (FROM "A DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE GOVERNMENT OF OLIVER CROM
WELL,"'2 PUBLISHED IN 1661.) What can be more extraordinary than that a person of mean birth, no fortune, no eminent qualities of body, which have sometimes, or of mind, which have often, raised men to the
(1) “He was employed,” Johnson tells us, “in such correspondence as the royal cause required, and particularly in ciphering and deciphering the letters that passed between the king and queen-an employment of the highest confidence and honour." - Lives of the Poets, iii. 7.
(2) Cowley represents himself as having attended the funeral of Cromwell, and after returning home, fallen into a vision, in which a spirit, whom he appears to identify with the author of evil, vindicates in the above passage the successful career of the Protector. The next extract is the reply given in the vision by Cowley himself, who, no doubt, cordially detested Cromwell. The third extract is part of a discussion of Cromwell's title to the name of tyrant.
highest dignities, should have the courage to attempt, and the happiness' (good fortune) to succeed in, so improbable a design as the destruction of one of the most ancient and most solidlyfounded monarchies upon the earth ? that he should have the power or boldness to put his prince and master to an open and infamous death; to banish that numerous and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a parliament;2 to trample upon them, too, as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster (i.e. Barebone's parliament) out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called sovereign 3 in England; to oppress (subdue) all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for a while, and to command them victoriously at last; to overrun each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north ; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted [as] a brother to the gods of the earth; to call together parliaments with a word of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth; to be humbly and daily petitioned, that he would be pleased to be hired, at the rate of two millions a year, to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant; to have the estates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal as was the little inheritance of his father, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and, lastly (for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory), to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity; to die with (in) peace at home, and triumph abroad; to be buried among kings, and with more than regal solemnity; and to leave a name behind him not to be extinguished but with the whole world; which, as it is now too little for his praises, so might have been, too, for his conquests, if the short line of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal designs.
(1) Happiness, fr. old Norse happ, good luck; hence Eng. hap, meaning, how ever, luck simply, good or bad. Felicity, fr. Lat. felir, lucky, very nearly corresponds in meaning ; but properly the former is the “sober certainty of waking bliss," and felicity is the actual, but not assured, possession of good fortune.
(2) Parliument, fr. Fr. parlement, talking, a talking assembly, fr. Fr. parler, wh. fr. paroler, wh. fr. parole, a word, wh. fr. Italian parola, wh. fr. Lat. parabola, wh, fr. Greek trapaßoln, a parable, a proverb or by-word.
(3) Sovereign. See Hobbes's grand definition of the word sovereign, p. 185.
3. PHILIPPIC AGAINST CROMWELL.
(FROM THE SAME WORK.) WHAT can be more extraordinarily wicked' than for a person, such as yourself qualify him rightly, to endeavour not only to exalt himself above, but to trample upon, all his equals and betters ? to pretend freedom for all men, and, under the help of that pretence, to make all men his servants ? to take arms against taxes of scarce two hundred thousand pounds a year, and to raise them to above two millions? to quarrel for the loss of three or four ears (i.e. those of Prynne, Leighton, and Bastwick), and strike off three or four hundred heads ? to fight against an imaginary suspicion of, I know not what, two thousand guards to be fetched (said to be fetched) for the king, I know not whence, and to keep up for himself no less than forty thousand ? to pretend the defence of parliaments, and violently to dissolve all even of his own calling, and almost choosing to undertake the reformation of religion, to rob it even to the very skin, and then to expose it naked to the rage of all sects and heresies ? to set up counsels of rapine, and courts of murder ? to fight against the king under à commission for him ; to take him forcibly out of the hands of those for whom he had conquered him; to draw him into his net with protestations and vows of fidelity; and when he had caught him in it, to butcher him with as little shame as conscience or humanity, in the open face of the whole world ? to receive a commission for the king and parliament, and then to murder (as I said) the one and destroy no less impudently the other? to fight against monarchy when he declared for it (declared himself in favour of it), and
(1) Wicked, bad. A distinction, which seems to have escaped notice, may perhaps be made between these two common words. Wicked was at first written wicke, or wik, probably equivalent to quick, alive. Robert de Brunne speaks of "a wik traytour and cherle ;” and in the “Story of Genesis and Exodus” we have “wicke giscing," wicked covetousness. A wicked man, then, would seem to be one who is always earnest and energetic in his evil doing; whereas bad, is probably fr. M.G. bauds, deaf or dumb, i.e. senseless, spiritless, insipid. It is this word “baud" which is used for savourless salt in Luke xiv. 34. A bad man, then, is one who is stupid and senseless in evil, having no leaning towards good ; hence we speak of a bad disposition, but of a wicked action, the one being torpid towards good, the other active towards evil.
(2) Call, choose. To call may be a merely official act, done for another; but to choose is personal, and involves the idea of power. The original M.G. kiusan, A.S. ceosan, signified to prove or test, then, to choose after proving or trying, which is generally the sense in English.