1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Pordage

Joseph Haslewood, "Poems by Samuel Pordage" Censura Literaria 8 (1808) 247-51.



Poems upon several occasions. By S[amuel] P[ordage] Gent. London: Printed by W. G. for Henry Marsh, at the Princes Arms in Chancery-lane, and Peter Dring at the Sun in the Poultrey neer the Counter. 1660. 28 leaves.

Dr. John Pordage, Rector of Bradfield, Berkshire, the author's father, was tried for insufficiency before the committee for plundered ministers appointed during the inter-regnum, and the cause dismissed in his favour March 27, 1651. About three years afterwards the same charges were revived with additional contemptible matter, founded upon visions and witchcraft, and unfitting the cognizance of any court of judicature. After several adjourned meetings and long examinations, puerile and inconsistent, he was finally ejected Dec. 8, 1654, as "ignorant and very insufficient for the work of the ministry." The report of the proceedings, as drawn up by himself, is inserted among the State Trials, and proves the common expression applicable, "He was no conjurer."

Notwithstanding the result of the prosecution, the family appears to have continued to reside at Bradfield. Samuel Pordage, our author, subscribes the preface to his translation of the Troas of Seneca, (published 1660) from "Bradfieldae, Cal. Novembris." He also wrote Stanzas on the Coronation of Charles II. a tragedy called Hero and Mariamne; a tragi-comedy named the Siege of Babylon; and the romance of Eliana. In 1679, after the death of the author, John Reinolds, he published the sixth edition, with cuts, of God's Revenge against murder, and first added the Revenge against Adultery; at which period he had just entered a member of the Society of Lincoln's Inn. He appears to have been formerly head steward of the lands to Philip (the second of that name) Earl of Pembroke, who succeeded to the title 1652. His claim to notice as a poet is founded on a pile of rubbish, and his name would probably have been buried with the multitude and forgotten, but for the niche obtained in the Biographica Dramatica, and his contumelious attack upon Dryden by the poems of Azariah and Hushai, and the Medal Reversed. He is mentioned by Langbaine, in 1691, as lately if not then living.

This tasteless collection has an elegy on Charles I. and panegyrics on Charles II. and General Monk; the remainder are chiefly amatory, burthened with overstrained conceits, and language forced and inharmonious. The following specimens will suffice as the best, and for the remainder let the stream of oblivion glide on undisturbed.

"To Sylvia weeping."
Fair Sylvia, you possess more treasures than
The rubie east; those weeping eyes more gems
Than the rich store-house of the ocean,
For you at pleasure can those chrystal streams
Which trickle from the fountaines of your eyes
Convert int' orient pearls; but richer prize.

What taking charmes lye in your sweeter face,
When freed from cloudy-weeping griefs you smile
With a clear brow! If tears with such a grace
Become; if so much lustre has the foile
To Beauty; what excess of glory then
Will bud from those sweet lights, when fair agen?

Now the (like silver'd Cynthia's beauty, when
The interposing earth hides her bright face)
Dost suffer an ecclipse; thy tears restrain
Thy beautie's radiant beams; tears fill the place
Of bounteous light; yet is that shadow fair;
Others with which (at best) may not compare.

Phoebus now hides behind a watery cloud
His brighter head; by which we better may
Gaze on his light: thy suns (fair Sylvia) shroud
Themselves behind a cloud of tears to day,
Out of like kindness; and suppress their bright
And splendid beams, to favour my weak sight.

Enough, fair Sylvia! clear those Cynthian lights,
From that ecclipse of sorrow; wipe away
That hanging cloud of tears; which still excites
Your stillborn grief such pearly price to pay:
Were you enflam'd with scorching love, as I,
Its ardor soon those dewy pearls would dry.

After Aurora with her silver showers
Has wash'd her grandame Tellus' chapped face.
A pleasant zephyrus the dark heaven scours,
And Sol steps out with a far greater grace
After a storm fair weather doth succeed;
Let sable grief your whiter joys then breed.

I long to see those fairer suns to shine,
Freed from the dewy moisture of a tear,
Now they would seem (after this) more divine,
As Phoebus after an eclipse more clear:
Let day the night succeed, and cease to mourn,
Banish griefs night, whilst joy's day takes its turn.

"Absence."
Such is the melancholy earth, when light
Flies thence, and leaves its room to sable night;
When darkness, cold and shadows dwell upon
Her surface; some pale glimmerings of the moon
Is all she can expect; a mourner then
She is till Phoebus brings his day agen:
Such is the matchless, mateless turtle dove,
Sighing its murmurs for its absent love:
Such is the body when the soul is fled,
Such Pyramus supposing Thisbe dead:
Such the male palm the female broken down;
As I am now, my fairest Sylvia's gone,
My wither'd head declines apace, my green
And growing youth to sprout no more is seen.
My blood's grown cold, and frozen; every limb
As if it wanted heat, and life doth seem.
My hoarse complaints the very rocks do move,
Who eccho the last accents of my love;
A silent night inhabits my sad breast,
And now no chearful thought will be my guest.
Till her return, whose eyes will cause a day,
Thus must I in my own unquiet stay;
Wishing for the bright morning, which must rise
From th' luminaries of fair Sylvia's eyes.

J. H .
Conduit street.