1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Randolph

Owen Feltham, "On his beloved Friend the Author, and his ingenious Poems" Randolph, Poems (1638) sigs **3v-***.



What need these busy wits? who hath a Mine
His owne, thus rich, needs not the scatter'd shine
Of lesser heapes: Day dimmes a taper's light:
And Lamps are uselesse, where there is no night.

Why then this traine of writers? forreigne verse
Can adde no honour to a Poet's hearse,
Whose every line, which he to paper lent,
Builds for himselfe a lasting Monument.
Brave verse this priviledge hath; Though all be dumbe,
That is the Authors Epitaph and Tombe.
Which when ambitious Pyles, th' ostents of Pride,
To dust shall fall, and in their ruins hide
Their then no more remembred Founders Name:
These (like Apollo ever young) shall fame
The first composer; whose weigh'd workes shall tell
What Noble thoughts did in his bosome dwell.

But now I find the cause: they that doe praise
Desert in others, for themselves plant Baies:
For he that praises merit, loves it: thus
Hee's good, for goodnesse that's solicitous.
Else, though Hee diamonds keenly pointed write,
They but proclaime a quainter Hypocrite:
Thus in the future, it shall honour bee,
That men shall read their names bound up with thee,
So country Moles, that would at Court appeare,
Intrude some Camels traine that does live there.
So Creatures that had drown'd else, did imbarke
With Noah, and liv'd by being in his Arke.

Or if not thus; as when in Royall state
Nobles attend Kings to inaugurate:
Or as last yeare when you both courts did see
Beget joyes noone in th' University;
All the learn'd tribe in reverend Habits meet,
As if the Schooles were turn'd into the street;
Where each one strove such duty to put on,
As might give honour to their own Sunnes Sunne.
Such honour here our dimmer pennes would have,
In pompe to wait him to his solemne grave:
Since what he was, his own fruits better show,
Then those which planted here, by others, grow.
Rich jewels in themselves such lustre cast,
As gold about them, is no grace, but Wast.

Such was his Genius: Like the eyes quick wink;
Hee could write sooner, then an other think.
His play was Fancies flame, a lightning wit,
So shot, that it could sooner pierce, then hit.
What e're he pleas'd, though but in sport to prove,
Appear'd as true, as pitty dwells with love.
Had he said thus, That discreet zeale might stan
Both with the Jesuit, and the Puritan,
T'had been believ'd; That frost from heat proceeds.
That chastity from ease, and fulnesse breeds;
That women ought to wooe, as Eve at first
Woo'd Man, to make the world, and man accurst.
All would be taken up for Truth: and sense
Which knew Truth coming, would not going hence.

Had he maintain'd Rich Lucans worke had been
Meere History; there would no pen be seen,
To call it Poem. If for Caesar stood,
Great Pompey should be neither weak, nor Good.
Oh! had he liv'd to plead the craggy Law,
Which now unsetled holds the world in awe.
He would have met some Ostracisme, I feare,
Lest he had charm'd the purple Judge to erre.

Nor could he only in his Native speech
Robe his ripe thoughts; but even the Copious, Rich,
And lofty Greek, with Latine, did appeare
In him, as Orient in their proper sphere:
That when in them, himselfe he pleas'd t' expresse;
The ravisht hearer, could not but confesse,
He might as well old Rome, or Athens claime
For birth, as Britaine, circled with the Maine.

'Tis true, we have these languages still left;
But spoken, as apparrell got by theft
Is worne: disguis'd, and shadowed. Had hee
Liv'd but with us, till grave maturity;
Though wee should ever in his change have lost,
Wee might have gaind enough whereof to boast
Our nations better Genius; But now
Our hopes are nipt, e're they began to blow
And sure I am, his losse must needs strike deep,
For whom in verse, thus Englands Eye doth weepe.
Whose teares thus dew'd upon his mournefull dust
I will not longer trouble. They that must
Carp though at best things; let them only read;
These Poems here will strike that humour dead.
Which I should praise too: but in them I see
There is one blemish; for he hath nam'd mee.
Else, I'le not think the Reader so distrest
In wit: but that he will admire the rest.
Concluding thence, though in his forenoon-youth,
(And what I now shall write is modest truth,)
He knowes not him, who doth so much excell,
That could so quickly, doe so much, so well.
OWEN FELTHAM Gent.