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in the Minds of this Generation and will be
From whence he was constantly deputed to that
Heu fragile humanum Genus. Heu terrestria Vana!
We regret that our limits in this number prevent us from doing justice to the remains of Marvel in this article. We, however, propose, in some future number, to resume the consideration of his poetry, and enter upon that of his prose works.
ART. VIII. Resolves; Divine, Moral, and Political. The Eighth Impression, with new and several other Additions, both in Prose and Verse, not extant in the former Impressions. By Owen Felltham, Esq. London: Printed for Peter Dring, and are to be sold at the Sun, in the Poultry, next door to the Rose Tavern. 1661.
In a note by the late M. Gilchrist, upon some verses, written by Felltham, to the memory of Ben Jonson, we find the following observation: "It seems something remarkable, that nothing should be known of a book so popular as Felltham's Resolves has always been, beyond the bare circumstances related by Oldys in his MS. notes on Langbaine, of his father, Thomas Felltham, being a Suffolkman, and that Owen was one of three children." It is, indeed, remarkable, and yet so literally the case, that Mr. Cumming, the latest editor of the Resolves, who, we believe, during the fourteen years that elapsed between the first and second editions of his reprint, sought, with unwearied diligence, for further particulars of Felltham, was not able to add a single fact of importance to this brief record of
his author's private history. But the assertion, that the "Resolves have always been popular," is only partially correct. It is true, they had passed through twelve editions previous to 1709, but another century had nearly elapsed ere an attempt was made to awaken public attention in their favour, by a small compilation, entitled "The Beauties of Owen Felltham," containing a selection from twenty or thirty of the Essays. The work itself was then fast gliding into oblivion, when accident threw into the way of Mr. James Cumming, a gentleman connected with Indian affairs, who had the taste to discover the merit of Felltham's lucubrations, and the spirit to rescue them from the neglect to which they had well-nigh fallen a prey.He published an edition of the Resolves, (with some account of the author and his writings) in 1806, and a subsequent one in 1820, with the addition of a selection from the poetry of Felltham.
As two impressions of this re-publication have appeared, we are bound to assume, that it has met with fair encouragement; but we have seldom seen it ourselves in the hands of general readers, and we cannot help suspecting that our review will introduce it to the notice of many who never even heard of the name of Owen Felltham.
The Resolves, in all the editions, we believe, except the first, consist of two parts, styled Centuries; but the first edition contains the latter part only, composed by the author when in his eighteenth year, and revised by him afterwards. Both parts comprise a series of Essays, on subjects connected with religion, morality, and the conduct of life; and they appear to have been termed Resolves,-because, at the conclusion of each Essay, the author generally forms resolutions founded on his own precepts, having, as he states in his early Preface, written and published his Reflections," not so much to please others as profit himself." In this direct personal application, they differ from the "Essays, Civil and Moral," of Lord Bacon, to which they otherwise bear a frequent resemblance in manner, and still more in matter, the subjects of a great many of the Resolves being the same as those treated on by the illustrious writer
The following is the list of editions given by Mr. Cumming, of which we have only seen the 7th and 8th:
1st edition, date uncertain, 12mo | 8th edition
...1677.... fol. ....1696.... fol. .1799....8vo.
alluded to. The style of Owen Felltham is not always equal. He is occasionally prolix; his illustrations are two multipled; and his language is sometimes loose and familiar. He likewise participates in the antithetical and punning propensity of Arthur Warwick, as in the passage-" It is from where there is no judgement, that the heaviest judgment comes." But his general style is nervous and appropriate; rather close and pointed than diffusive, though at times really eloquent. His phrases are such as, to use his own words, "are expressively pertinent, which lead the mind to something beside the naked truth."He is prodigal of metaphor and quotation, and has, perhaps, on that account, been accused of pedantry; but, surely, if to quote at all from ancient writers be allowable, such allusions as the following add both force and interest to the maxims they are intended to support.
"I like of Solon's course, in comforting his constant friend; when, taking him up to the top of a turret, overlooking all the piled buildings, he bids him think, how many discontents there had been in those houses since their framing,-how many are, and how many will be; then, if he can, to leave the world's calamities, and mourn but for his own. To mourn for none else were hardness and injustice. To mourn for all, were endless. The best way is, to uncontract the brow, and let the world's mad spleen fret, for that we smile in woes.
"Silence was a full answer in that philosopher; that being asked what he thought of human life,—said nothing, turned him round, and vanished."
How delicate and how appropriate is the Scriptural metaphor of St. Bernard, in the succeeding extract.
"Meditation is the soul's perspective glass; whereby, in her long remove, she discerneth God, as if he were nearer hand. I persuade no man to make it his whole life's business. We have bodies as well as souls; and even this world, while we are in it, ought somewhat to be cared for. As those States are likely to flourish, where execution follows sound advisements; so is man, when contemplation is seconded by action. Contemplation generates; action propagates. Without the first, the latter is defective; without the last, the first is but abortive, and embryous. Saint Bernard compares contemplation to Rachel, which was the more fair; but action to Leah, which was the more fruitful. I will neither always be busy, and doing; nor ever shut up in nothing but thought. Yet, that which some would call idleness, I will call the sweetest part of my life; and that is, my thinking. Surely, God made so many varieties in his creatures, as well for the inward soul, as for the outward senses; though he made them primarily for his own free-will and glory. He was a monk of an honester age, that being asked how he could endure that life, without the pleasure of books, answered-The nature of the
creatures was his library; wherein, when he pleased, he could muse upon God's deep oracles."
Owen Felltham's resemblance to Lord Bacon, to which we have before alluded, is very apparent in passages like these.
"Science by much is short of wisdom. Nay, so far, as I think, you shall scarce find a more fool than sometimes a mere scholar. He will speak Greek to an ostler, and Latin familiarly to women that understand it not. Knowledge is the treasure of the mind, but discretion is the key; without which it lies dead, in the dulness of a fruitless rest. The practic part of wisdom is the best. A native ingenuity is beyond the watchings of industrious study. Wisdom is no inheritance; no, not to the greatest clerks. Men write commonly more formally than they practise; and they, conversing only among books, are put into affectation, and pedantism. He that is built of the press, and the pen, shall be sure to make himself ridiculous.
"Every age both confutes old errors, and begets new. Yet still are we more entangled; and the further we go, the nearer we approach a sun that blinds us. He that went furthest in these things, we find ending with a censure of their vanity, their vexation. "Tis questionable, whether the progress of learning hath done more hurt or good, whether the schools have not made more questions than they have decided."
Like the great Chancellor, too, he often brings the imagination of the poet to aid the wisdom of the philosopher. Bacon has been much extolled for the splendour of his imagery: we doubt whether many metaphors could be produced from his works, surpassing the beauty of those which we shall quote from the Resolves.
"Learning is like a river, whose head being far in the land, is, at first rising, little, and easily viewed: but, still as you go, it gapeth with a wider bank; not without pleasure and delightful winding, while it is on both sides set with trees, and the beauties of various flowers. But still the further you follow it, the deeper and the broader 'tis; till at last, it inwaves itself in the unfathomed ocean; there you see more water, but no shore,-no end of that liquid fluid vastness. In many things we may sound Nature, in the shallows of her revelations. We may trace her to her second causes; but, beyond them, we meet with nothing but the puzzle of the soul, and the dazzle of the mind's dim eyes. While we speak of things that are, that we may dissect, and have power, and means to find the causes, there is some pleasure, some certainty. But, when we come to metaphysics, to long buried antiquity, and unto unrevealed divinity, we are in a sea, which is deeper than the short reach of the line of man. Much may be gained by studious inquisition; but more will ever rest, which man cannot discover.
"What is that man good for, that cannot be trusted in his own oluntary relations? One would break that dial into atoms, whose
false lines only serve to mislead-whose every stealing minute attempts to shame the sun. Speech is the commerce of the world, and words are the cement of society. What have we to rest upon in this world, but the professions and declarations that men seriously and solemnly offer? When any of these fail, a ligament of the world is. broke; and whatever this upheld as a foundation, falls. Truth is the good man's mistress, whose beauty he dares justify against all the furious tiltings of her wandering enemies; 'tis the buckler under which he lies securely covered from all the strokes of adversaries. It is indeed a deity; for God himself is truth, and never meant to make the heart and tongue disjunctives.
"He that lives long, does many times outlive his happiness. As evening tempests are more frequent, so they carry a blacker terror along youth, like the sun, oft rises clear and dancing; when the afternoon is cloudy, thick, and turbulent.
Age, like a long travailed horse, rides dull toward his journey's end; while every new setter out gallops away, and leaves him to his melancholic trot. In youth, untamed blood does goad us into folly; and, till experience reins us, we ride unbitted, wild; and, in a wanton fling, disturb ourselves, and all that come but near us. In age,. ourselves are with ourselves displeased. We are looked upon by others as things to be endured, not courted or applied to. Who is it will be fond of gathering fading flowers? Fruits past maturity grow less to be esteemed. Beauty itself, once autumned, does not tempt."
Proceeding from style to sentiment, we are every where, in the Resolves, impressed with a high opinion of our author's excellent good sense and knowledge of mankind. He has (as he says of the wise man) "a knowing, and a practical judgement of his own, that can direct him in the maze of life-in the bustle of the world-in the twitches and the twirls of fate." We could cite a great many passages that exemplify this quality in a high degree: let a few suffice.
"All that affect things over-violently, do over-violently grieve in the disappointment; which is yet occasioned, by that, the too much earnestness. Whatsoever I wish for, I will pursue easily, though I do it assiduously and if I can, the hand's diligence shall go without the leaping bounds of the heart: so, if it should happen well, I shall have more content, as coming less expected.
"That mind which cannot keep its own determinations private, is not to be trusted either with his own or other's business. He lets in so much light as will not suffer his designs to sleep; so they come to be disturbed, while they should gather strength by repose. If the business be of what is yet to come, 'tis vanity to boast of it; 'tis all one with the almanack, to rove at what weather will happen. We boast of that, which, not being in our power, is none of our own. The bird that flies, I may as well call mine. He digs in sand, and lays his