Five epithalamic stanzas by the celebrated Oxford poet and Royalist. Princess Mary was the eldest daughter of Charles I and ten years old at the time of the wedding, 2 May 1641; Evans (1951) 752. William Cartwright was as much admired by his contemporaries as he and his fellow cavalier poets were later condemned by romantic critics.
Alexander Pope: "He [Pope] mentioned Cleveland and Cartwright as equally good, or rather equally bad. — What a noise was there made about the superior merits of those two writers?" ca. 1734-36; in Spence, Anecdotes, ed. Singer (1820) 144.
Charles Kingsley: "His minor poems are utterly worthless, out-Cowleying Cowley in frigid and fantastic conceits; and his various addresses to the king and queen are as bombastic, and stupid, and artificial, as any thing which disgraced the reigns of Charles II. or his brother" "Plays and Puritans" in Miscellanies (1859) in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 2:72.
A. W. Ward: "He was a most enthusiastic royalist in the most royalist city and community of the kingdom; and, in a sense, he died a martyr to his political sentiment. In an age of 'florid and seraphical preachers,' this designation was attached distinctively to the youthful succentor of Salisbury Cathedral and junior proctor of the University. It is therefore but natural that among the panegyrical poets of an age given to panegyric, Cartwright's efforts in this direction should have remained unsurpassed. His muse devoted herself with that unshrinking courtliness which has often characterised our old Universities to singing the praises of the King, the Queen, their 'fourth child,' their 'sixth child,' and all the royal family, as occasion might demand, invite or suggest.... Other events belonging to the sphere of the Court chronicler prompted longer and loftier strains returns from journeys across the border or abroad, marriages, and above all occasions sacred to Lucina, the favourite deity, and indeed the safest inspiration, of panegyrical poets" The English Poets, ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (1880) 2:227-28.
George Saintsbury: "Cartwright, a short-lived man but a hard student, shows best in his drama. In his occasional poems, strongly influenced by Donne, he is best at panegyric, worst at burlesque and epigram. In 'On a Gentlewoman's Silk Hood' and some other pieces he may challenge comparison with the most futile of the metaphysicals; but no one who has read his noble elegy on Sir Bevil Grenvil, unequal as it is, will think lightly of Cartwright" History of Elizabethan Literature (1887; 1909) 383.
Amids such heat of Business, such State Throng,
Disputing right and wrong,
And the fierce Justle of unclos'd Affairs,
What mean those glorious pairs?
That youth? that Virgin? those all drest?
The whole, and every face a feast?
Great Omen, O ye Powers,
May this your Knot be Ours;
Thus where Cold things with hot did jar,
And Dry with Moyst made mutuall War,
Love from that Mass did leap,
And what was but an heap,
Rude and ungather'd; swift as thought was hurl'd
Into the Beauty of an Ord'red World.
Go then into his Arms, New as the Morn,
Tender as Blades of Corn,
Soft as the Wooll that Nuptiall posts did Crown,
Or the hallow'd Quinces down,
That Rituall Quince which Brides did eat
When with their Bridegrooms they would treat;
Though you are young as th' Hours,
Or this fresh Months first Flowers,
Yet if Love's Priests can ought discern,
Fairest you are not now to learn
What Hopes, what Sighs, what Tears,
What Joys are, or what Fears;
Ere Time to lower Souls doth motion bring
The Great break out, and of themselves take Wing.
And you (great Sir) 'mongst Spears and Bucklers Born,
And by your Father sworn
To work the Web of his designs Compleat,
Yeeld to this milder Heat,
Upon the same rich Stock we know
Valour and Love doth planted grow;
But Love doth first inspire
The Soul with his soft fire,
Chafing the Breast for noble deeds,
Then in that Seat true Valour Breeds;
So Rocks first yeeld a Tear,
Then Gems that will not wear;
So oft the Grecian Swords did first divide
The Bridall Cake, then pierce the Enemy's side.
D' you see (or am I false) yond tender Vine
Methinks on every Twine
Tyara's, Scepters, Crowns, Spoiles, Trophies wears,
And such rich burdens bears;
Which, hanging in their Beautious shapes,
Adorn her Boughs like swelling grapes.
But Time forbids the Rites
Of gath'ring these delights,
And only Sighs allows till he
Hath better knit, and spread your Tree;
Where Union would last long
She fixeth in the yong;
And so grows up; Great Spirits with more Love
Defer their Joyes, than Others do them prove.
But when her Zone shall come to be untide,
And She be twice your Bride,
When She shall blush, and straight wax pale, and then
By turns do both agen;
When her own bashfulness shall prove
The second Nonage to her Love;
Then you will know what Bliss
Angels both have and miss;
How Souls do mix and take fresh growth,
In neither whole, and whole in both;
Pleasures that none can know
But such as have stay'd so;
We from long Loves at last to Hymen send,
But Princes Fires begin, where Subjects end.
[Poems (1651) 289-91]