University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

April,   pp. 452-564 PDF (74.3 MB)


Page 560

& BRACE OF CAVALIER POETS.      THE BOOK OF DAYS.              A BRACE OF CAVALIER POETS,
Wallis; and secondly, in the renowned Enleav'our,
under Captain Cook. The lords of the Admiralty
had, just previous to her death, signed a warrant,
admitting her to the privileges of an in-pensioner of
Greenwich Hospital, a boon she did not live to enjoy.
On her neck she had for some time worn a silver
collar, on which was engraved the following distich,
composed by Dr Johnson.
'Perpetui ambita bis terra praemia lactis,
Hac habet, altrici capra secunda Jovis.'
APRIL 29.
St Fiaehna of Ireland, 7th century. St Huah, abbot
or Cluni, 1109 ; St Robert. bbbot of Milesm-, 1110. St
Peter, martyr, 1252.
Born.-King Edward IV. of Englnd, 1441 (?) Rouen;
Nicolas Vansittart, Lord Hexiey, English saesnman, 1766.
Died. -John Cieveland, poet, 1659. St Michael's, College
H1; Mictia-1 Ruyter, I)utch adMiral, 1676, Syracuse;
Abh6 Ch irles de St Pierre, philanthiropist, 1743, Paris.
A BRACE OF CAVALIER POETS.
John Cleveland. the noted loyalist poet during
the reign of Charles the First and the Common-
weali, was a tutor and fellow of St John's
College, Cambridge.    His first appearance in
political strife was the determined opposition he
organized and maintained against the return of
Oliver Cromwell, then a comparatively obscure
candidate in the Puritan interest, as member of
Parliament for Cambridge. Cromwell's stronger
genius prevailing. lie gained the election by one
vote; upon which Cleveland, with the combined
foresight of poet and prophet, exclaimed that a
single vote had ruined the church and govern-
ment of England. On the breaking out of the
civil war, Cleveland joined the king at Oxford,
and greatly contributed to raise the spirits of
the cavaliers by his satires on the opposite party.
After the ruin of the royal cause. lie led a pre-
carious fugitive life for several years, till. in
1655, he was arrested, as ' one of great abilities,
averse, and dangerous to the Commonwealth.'
Cleveland then wrote a petition to the Protector,
in which. though he adroitly employed the most
effective arguments to obtain his release, he did
not abate one jot of his principles as a royalist.
He appeals to Cromwell'z, magnanimity as a
conquerer, saying:-' Methinks, I hear your
former achievements interceding with you not to
sully your glories with trampling on the pros-
trate, nor clog the wheel of your chariot with so
degenerous a triumph.      The most renowned
heroes have ever with such tenderness cherished
their captives, that their swords did but cut out
work for their courtesies.'*  He thus continues
-' I cannot conceit that my fidelity to my prince
should taint me in your opinion; I should rather
expect it would recommend me to your favour.
* This idea was paraphrased in Hudibras,-
'The ancient heroes were illustr'ous
For beiing benign, and tot blust'rous
Against a vanquished foe : their swords
Were sharp and trenchisnt. not their words,
And did in fight but cut work out
T' employ their courtesies about.'
0
My Lord, you see my crimes; as to my defence,
you bear it about you. I shall plead nothing in
my justification but your Highness' clemency,
which, as it is the constant inmate of a valiant
breast, if you be graciously pleased to extend it
to your suppliant, in taking me out of withering
durance, your Highness will find that mercy will
establish you more than power, though all the
days of your life were as pregnant with victories
as your twice auspicious third of September.'
The transaction was highly honourable to both
parties. Cromwell at once granted full liberty
to the spirited petitioner; though, personally, he
had much to forgive, as is clearly evinced by
Cleveland's
DEFINITION OF A PROTECTOR.
'What's a Protector? He's a stately thing,
That apes it in the nonage of a king;
A tragic actor-Cvsar in a clown,
He's a brass farthing stamped with a crown;
A bladder blown, with other breaths puffed full;
Not the Perillus, but Perillus' bull:
£Esop's proud ass veiled in the lion's skin;
An outward saint lined with a devil within:
An echo whence the royal sound doth come,
But just as barrel-head sounds like a drum;
Fantastic image of the royal head,
The brewer's with the king's arms quartered;
He is a counterfeited piece that shows
Charles his effigies with a copper nose;
In fine, he's one we must Protector call-
From whom, the King of kings protect us all.'
After his release, Cleveland went to London,
where he found a generous patron, and ended
his days in peace; though he did not live to be
rejoiced (or disappointed) by the Restoration.
Cleveland's poetry, at one time highly extolled,
now completely sunk in oblivion, has shared the
common fate of all works composed to support
and flatter temporary opinions and prejudices.
Contemporary with Milton, Cleveland was con-
sidereid imnmeasurably superior to the author of
Paradise Lost. Even Philips, Milton's nephew,
asserts that Cleveland was esteemed the best of
English poets.   Milton's sublime work could
searcely s'ruggle into print, while edition after
edition of Cleveland's coarse satires were passing
through the press ; now, when Cleveland is for-
gotten, we need say nothing of the estimation in
which Milton is held.
In connexion with the life of Cleveland, it may
be well to notice a brother cavalier poet, Richard
Lovelace, who in April 1642. was imprisoned by
the parliament in the Gatehouse, for presenting
a petition from the county of Kent, requesting
them to restore the king to his rights. It was
looked upon as an act of malignancY, or anti-
patriotic loyalism, as we might now explain it.
There is something fascinating in the gay, cava-
lier, self-devoted, poet nature, and tragic end of
Lovelace. It was while in prison that he wrote
his beautiful lyric, so heroic as to his sufferings,
so charmingly sweet to his love, so delightful
above all for its assertion of the independence of
the moral on the physical and external conditions.
When love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at my grates;
4 BRACE OF CAVALIER POETS.
A BRACE OF CAVALIER POETS,
THE BOOK OF DAYS.


Go up to Top of Page