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human life; in the words of one of our greatest divines, when speaking of a departed friend, they form a little volume, which we may constantly carry in our bosom. As a son, he was most amiable; his tender respect to his mother increased with his years; he alleviated her sorrows, covered her imperfections, and comforted her age. In the discharge of his sacred office he was diligent and unwearied; every cottage-threshold was familiar to his feet, and his charity was only bounded by his fortune. The sadness, which he considered one of the most becoming characteristics of a clergyman, was m his own case relieved by a decent and serene mirth; for he said, that nature could not " bear everlasting droopings," and that pleasantness of disposition was " a great way to do good." The writer of the sketch prefixed to his Remains, speaks of his "conscientious expense of time, which he ever measured by the pulse, that native watch God has set in every one of us. His eminent temperance and frugality; his private fastings; his mortifications of the body; his extemporary exercises at the sight or visit of a charnel-house; at the stroke of a passing-bell, when ancient charity used, said he, to run to church and assist the dying Christian with prayers and tears." He was also scrupulously careful in the observance of all appointed fasts, and he welcomed the "dear fast of Lent" in a poem of several stanzas. He suffered no opportunity to escape of inculcating the truths of the Gospel. In the chancel of the Church, we are informed by Aubrey, were many apt sentences of Scripture. At his wife's seat, My life is Aid with Christ in God, Coloss. iii. 3,—a text which he has taken for the subject of one of his poems; and above, "in a little window blinded within a veil ill-painted," Thou art my hidingplace. Psalm xxxii.
Besides his musical recreations, he was very fond of angling, which was then a favourite amusement of many eminent men. Donne was "a great practitioner and patron" of the art; Duport, the Greek professor, styled himself candidatum arundinis; and Sir Henry Wotton described it as " idle time, not idly spent."
Herbert's literary talents are not to be estimated from his productions. "God," he said, "has broken into my study, and taken off my chariot-wheels: I have nothing worthy of God." His youth was devoted to the acquirement of academic praise. In.his maturer years, the allurements of a learned Court, and the prospect of fame and honour promised by the favour of the King, served to distract his mind from any great pursuit; and when he entered the Church, he put away all objects of worldly ambition, and only sought to prove himself a true and humble disciple of his Master. His scholarship was sound and elegant; the freedom and vigour of his Latin stylo were acknowledged by Lord Bacon, and Bishop Andrews carried a Greek letter written by him in his bosom. Wo may infer that he was also a good mathematician; for in the Country Parson he recommends " the mathematics as the only wonder-working knowledge." Of his acquaintance with Italian literature, he has only left us a slight testimony, in the translation of Coniaro's Treatise on Temperance, a work he undertook at " the request of a noble personage," and of which he sent a copy, not many months before his death, to a few friends who were forming a plan of diet-regulation. The second edition was published at Cambridge, in 1634, with the Hygiasticon of Leonard Lessius.
As a poet, he once enjoyed a wonderful popularity; and when Walton wrote, twenty thousand copies of the Temple had been circulated. The first edition,—of which a copy is preserved in the Library of Trinity College,— appeared at Cambridge in 1632*. The history of this
* It had reached a seventh in 1656.
work is beautiful. Having taken leave of Mr. Duncon, and intrusted him with a message to "his brother Ferrar," he did, says Walton, with so sweet a humility as seemed to exalt him, bow down to Mr. Duncon, and with a thoughtful and contented look, say, " Sir, I pray deliver this little book to my dear brother Ferrar, and tell him he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed between God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus, my Master, in whose service I have now found perfect freedom. Desire him to read it; and then, if he can think it may turn to the advantage of any poor, dejected soul, let it be made public; if not, let him burn it. For I, and it, are less than the least of God's mercies." His poetical character has been drawn with considerable accuracy, by Baxter. This celebrated non-conformist had, in his youth, been introduced to the notice of Sir Henry Herbert, by whom he was kindly received: but he had not resided at Whitehall more than a month, when he was "glad to be gone," being offended with the negligent observance of the Sabbath. "But I must confess," he says, "after all, that next the Scripture Poems, there are none so savoury to me, as Mr. George Herbert's. I know that Cowley, and others, far excel Herbert in wit and accurate composure; but as Seneca takes with me above all his contemporaries, because he speaketh things by words feelingly and seriously, like a man that is past jest, so Herbert speaks to God, like a man that really believeth in God, and whose business in the world is most with God: heart-work and heaven-work make up his books*."
Having mentioned Herbert, says Mr. Coleridge in the Friend, that model of a man, a gentleman, and a clergyman, let me add, that the quaintness of some of his thoughts, (not of his diction, than which nothing can be
* From Poetical Fragments, &c, 1681.
more pure, manly, and unaffected), has blinded modern readers to the great general merit of his poems, which are for the most part excellent in their kind. The lines upon Employment are eminently pathetic and beautiful :—
If, as a flower doth spread and die,
The sweetness and the praise were Thine,
For as thou dost impart Thy grace,
Let me not languish, then, and spend
All things are busy, only I
I am no link of thy great chain,
And the verses upon Grace are equally plaintive and harmonious; the thought in the third stanza is very pleasing, and the concluding prayer of the poet is the more affecting from the remembrance of its speedy fulfilment :—
My stock lies dead, and no increase
Drop from above!
If still the sun should hide his face,
0 come, for Thou dost know the way,
Drop from above!
The poem on Life is, in the conception, very beautiful, and some of the lines could only have emanated from a mind of true poetical feeling; but the same affected taste which marred the verses upon Virtue, is also discoverable here:—
1 made a posie while the day ran by;
My life within this band:
And wither in my hand.
Time's gentle admonition:
Yet sug'ring the suspicion.
And after death for cures.
It be as brief as yours.
Of the epithets and individual thoughts that ever distinguish the work of a true poet, the Temple affords more specimens than I have space to enumerate. But one exquisite verse may be quoted, in which the appearance of the Church of God is contrasted with the pomps of earth:—
And when I view abroad both regiments,
The world's and Thine;
The other fine, &c. Frailty.