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6th, 1631-2, and his steward, therefore, whoever he was, did not long reap the benefit of his malpractices.

At length, remembering that he had long since vowed a pilgrimage to the Queen of Bohemia as soon as he had a present worthy of her acceptance, Wither set out for Holland with his version of the Psalms, in his "own esteem the best jewel" he possessed. This unfortunate Princess, whose talents and virtues were not more fitted to adorn prosperity than to cheer and alleviate the sorrows of an adverse fortune, was then seeking to dispel the gloom of her situation by the amusements of her garden and her books. Holland, in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, abounded in scholars, and the sequestered court of Elizabeth made up in brilliancy of intellect what it wanted in splendour of outward circumstances. Among its principal luminaries were Gerard Vorst, the painter; the illustrious Descartes, who, weary of his voluntary banishment at Amsterdam, had taken up his residence in the village of Egmond, from whence he made frequent visits to the Queen, to whose eldest daughter, Elizabeth, he dedicated his Principia Philosophise; and Anna Schurman, "the gem of Utrecht," a poet, a sculptor, an engraver, and a linguist.

Wither, in his praise of the Queen, only spoke the sentiments of all who knew her; and when he said that she "had conquered a kingdom in the hearts of many millions of people," he probably remembered the appellation of "Queen of Hearts," which the affection of those among whom she lived had bestowed upon her. But his gratitude led him too far; the parallel between the misfortunes of the Queen and those of the Psalmist, might have been omitted with advantage.

His translation was printed in the Netherlands in 1632, in a very neat form. The merits of the work scarcely bear a just proportion to the toil expended on it; the diction is generally clear and simple, and the versification easy and harmonious, yet it can only be viewed as a moderate improvement upon preceding efforts. The most gifted labourer in this Sacred Vineyard should only hope for qualified success; and the highest meed in the power of the critic to award, seems to he the praise of having done best what "no one can do well*." Sidney, Spenser, and Milton, have each adventured in this difficult path. The Psalms of Spenser are lost: those of Sidney contain some sweet lines; while the specimens given by Milton, with a single exception, do not rise beyond the strain of Hopkins.

Wither obtained for his Psalms a patent, conferring on him the privilege of having them bound up with all Bibles; but the opposition of his old enemies, the stationers, was not exhausted. The following extract from a MS. lettert, supposed to be addressed by Edward Rossingham to Sir Thomas Puckering, on the 23rd of January, 1633, ■throws an interesting light on this subject.

"Upon Friday last, Wither, the English poet, convented before the Board all or most of the stationers of London. The matter is this: Mr. "Wither hath, to please himself, translated our singing psalms into another verse, which he counts better than those the Church hath so long used, and therefore he hath been at the charge to procure a patent from his Majesty under the Broad Seal, that his translation shall be printed and bound to all Bibles that are sold. The stationers refusing to bind them, and to sell them with the Bible, (the truth is, nobody would buy the Bible with such a clog at the end of it,) and because some of them stood upon their guard, and would not suffer Mr. Wither with his officers to come into

* Johnson.

t In the British Museum, communicated by Mr. D'Israeli to Sir Egerton Brydges.

their shops and seize upon such Bibles as wanted his additions, therefore he complained of them for a contempt of the great seal. After their lordships had heard the business pro and con. at length, their lordships thought good to damn his patent in part; that is, that the translation should no longer be sold with the Bible, but only by itself."

Wither did not remain long in Holland, but the publication of his Emblems in 1634 may have been promoted by his residence in that country. The origin of the work is related in the preface:—" These Emblems, graven in copper, by Crispinus Passoeus (with a motto in Greek, Latin, or Italian, round about every figure, and with two lines or verses in one of the same languages paraphrasing those mottoes), came into my hands almost twenty years past. The verses were so mean that they were afterwards cut off from the plates; yet the workmanship being judged very good for the most part, and the rest excusable, some of my friends were so much delighted in the graver's art, and in those illustrations which, for my own pleasure, I had made upon some few of them, that they requested mo to moralize the rest, which I condescended unto, and they had been brought to view many years ago, but that the copper-prints (which are now gotten) could not be procured out of Holland upon any reasonable terms." The prints, in their original state, as published by John Janson, at Arnheim, are said to have possessed considerable merit*. The illustrations, alluded to by Wither, were written by Gabriel Rollenhagius, in Latin verse, and are often incorrect.

The Emblems are dedicated to Charles the First and Lis Queen. The writer's reflections could not have been very agreeable if, in after-times, he cast his eyes over this "Epistle Dedicatory," in which he celebrates the virtues * Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. 2, p. 246.

of the monarch, the wealth and tranquillity of the people, and prophesied

A chaste, a pious, and a prosperous age.

Throughout the Emblems, he shows himself a warm and steady supporter of the monarchy and the Church. In the fifteenth illustration of the second book, he ridicules the puritanical sanctity of the times, and inveighs against those who fancied that they brought sincere "oblations to God," when they "roared out imprecations" against all whom they esteemed wicked, as well as those who sought to obtain their requests,

By praying long, and repetitions vain *.

And underneath the picture of the Crown and Sceptre he wrote,

Grant, Lord, these isles for ever may be blest
With what in this our emblem is exprest.

He alludes to the increase of sectarian dissatisfaction; but it is only to pray that the goodness and patience of the Sovereign may, by the grace of God, "make up a blessed concord." Then, indeed, the poet could return thanks to heaven, that while his fathers had been obliged to worship "in private and obscured rooms," he lived in an age when the "sounds of gladness" were heard every day in "the goodly temples." And when, with something of true prophetic vision, he declared that men were already beginning to icantonize (a most happy expression) in matters of religion, and let "that loathing in" which made the manna tasteless; even then, he could entreat

* And in the twenty-fifth illustration of the first book, when speaking of true devotion,—

Nor is it up and down the land to seek, To find those well-breath'd lecturers that can Preach thrice a Sabbath, and six times a week, Yet be as fresh as when they first began. The reader may, perhaps, remember the eloquent South's invective against "the copious flow and cant "of the fanatics.

the Almighty to prolong his mercy, and to watch over the fruit in the vineyard, that the Light of Grace might not be displaced from "the Golden Candlestick." He was still a frequenter of the Church, and an humble follower of her ordinances. How melancholy a change was to be wrought in a few years! In 1646 he discovered that all the misery of the country had been produced by the Church, that she was the source of all the "late troubles," that her " avarice and pride" divided the island, and that from her

At first the firebrands came

That set this empire in a flame*.

He was now reduced to considerable poverty t. The Hymns and Songs of the Church, far from enriching his estate, had impoverished it considerably more than three hundred pounds; and " impartial death and wasting time," he complained, had removed those friends from whom he could have asked a favour with a certainty of obtaining it. He might well turn over, with a sad and desolate heart, the leaves of the Thankful Register, in which were recorded the names of his noble patrons. Among them death had, indeed, been busy. The Duke of Richmond {; the father of Henry Earl of Holland, who, as the poet gratefully remembered, had sought him out in poverty and obscurity to protect and succour him; William, the accomplished and generous Earl of Pembroke, and many more, had gradually fallen away from his side. Sorrow, if not always the mother of virtue, is frequently its nurse; and the loss of his friends probably contributed to impart

* What Peace for the Wicked.

t The allusion to the fallen fortunes of his family is not without dignity:

I never yet did murmuringly complain,
Although those moons have long been on the wane,
Which on their silver shields my elders wore,
In battles, and in triumphs heretofore.—lliust. 48, book 3.
t Uncle of James Duke of Lennox.

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