1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Drummond

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 3:164-66.



The influence of scenery over the mind and heart of Drummond of Hawthornden, constituted one of the principal charms of his life, after the death of the accomplished Miss Cunningham. His retirement to Hawthornden was the renewal of happiness. There, in the meridian of life, Drummond tasted the hours of enjoyment, which had been denied to his youth. Thither Johnson travelled, to enjoy the pleasures of his conversation; and there, with attention, he perused the best of the Greek, Roman, and Italian authors; charming the peaceful hours in playing upon his lute favourite Scottish and Italian airs; and many an hour was by him devoted to the fascinating movements of chess.

The loss of Miss Cunningham, in his youth, increased that habitual melancholy to which he was constitutionally disposed, and gave rise to many of those sonnets, the sweetness and tenderness of which — possessing all the Doric elegancies of "Comus" — for mellowness of feeling and tender elevation of sentiment, may vie with some of the best Grecian models.

How beautiful is the Sonnet to his Lute — and the one so well imitated from a passage in Guarini's Il Pastor Fido!

Sweet Spring! thou com'st with all thy goodly train,
Thy head in flames, thy mantle bright with flowers,
The zephyrs curl the green locks of the plain,
The clouds for joy in pearls weep down the showers.
—Sweet Spring! — thou com'st — but ah! my pleasant hours,
And happy days, with thee come not again;
The sad memorials only of my pain,
Do with thee come, which turn my sweets to sours:
Thou art the same, which still thou wert before,
Delicious, lusty, amiable, fair;
But she, whose breath embalm'd the wholesome air,
Is gone; nor gold, nor gems, can her restore:—
Neglected virtue, seasons go and come,
When thine, forgot, lie closed in a tomb!—