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Since thou hast robbed me of my heart,
By those resistless powers
To those fair eyes of yours,
To hold a slave in pyne ;
'Tis not my freedom I do cave, By deprecating pains;
Sure, liberty he would not have
Who glories in his chains:
To pity, if thou canst not love,
AGAINST EXTREMES IN LOVE.
There is no worldly pleasure here below Which by experience doth not folly prove,
But among all the follies that I know,
The sweetest folly in the world is love; But not that passion which with fools' con
Above the reason bears imperious sway, Making their lifetime a perpetual lent,
As if a man were born to fast and pray. No, that is not the humour I approve,
As either yielding pleasure or promotion:
I like a mild and lukewarm zeal in love, Although I do not like it in devotion;
For it has no coherence with my creed,
If all that say they die, had died indeed, Sure long e're now the world had had an end.
Besides, we need not love but if we please;
No destiny can force men's disposition; And how can any die of that disease,
Whereof himself may be his own physician?
But some seem so distracted of their wits, That I would think it but a venial sin, To take some of those innocents that sit
In Bedlam out, and put some lovers in. Yet some men, rather than incur the slander
Of true apostates, will false martyrs prove :
But I am neither Iphis nor Leander,
I'll neither drown nor hang myself for love.
Methinks a wise man's actions should be such
As always yield to reason's best advice: Now for to love too little or too much Are both extremes, and all extremes are vice.
Yet have I been a lover by report,
Yea, I have died for love as others do, But, praised be God, it was in such a sort, That I revived within an hour or two. Thus have I lived, thus have I loved till now,
And find no reason to repent me yet; And whosoever otherways will do, His courage is as little as his wit.
THE EARL OF STIRLING.
ALTHOUGH the most voluminous ofour ancient poetical remains, and presenting no linguistic difficulties to the modern reader, the poems of Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, contain fewer pieces of popular interest than those of any of his predecessors, and this notwithstanding that their author was the subject of much admiration on the part of his contemporaries.
His family is traced to Somerled, Thane of Argyle, and Lord of the Isles, who, in 1164, fell fighting against Malcolm IV., in a battle at Renfrew. His successor, John, Lord of the Isles, of the time of Robert II., married Mary, the daughter of that monarch, and their third son, Alexander, is the common progenitor, of two families who adopted his patronymic as their surname; the one, the Macalisters of Loup, taking the Gaelic rendering of the name, and the other, the Alexanders of Menstrie, the English. The Earls of Argyle, whose favourite residence of Castle Campbell is in the neighbourhood, bestowed the lands of Menstrie upon Alexander, the son of this grandson of Robert II.
William Alexander, the poet, was the son of Alexander Alexander, the fifth laird of Menstrie, and was born in 1580, at the family mansion-house, which still stands on the march between Alloa and Logie, about five miles from Stirling. He is said to have been educated at Glasgow University, and,
being a young man of promising parts, was selected as the travelling companion of Gillesbuig Gruamach (Archibald the Sullen), seventh Earl of Argyle. They visited France, Italy, and Spain, of which countries Alexander learned the languages.
After his return home, he, in 1603, published the tragedy of Darius, at Edinburgh. Shortly after this, he repaired to London, where, in 1604, he published his sonnets and songs, under the title of Aurora. They were his first production, and appear to refer to a veritable love affair; if so, he was an unsuccessful suitor, but soon got over his disappointment by marrying Janet, the daughter and heiress of Sir William Erskine, titular Archbishop of Glasgow. His excluding them from the collected edition of his works in 1637, lends colour to the supposition that their subject was a real, not an ideal mistress. They are dedicated to the Countess of Argyle, and may be regarded his most poetical compositions. The "Parænesis to Prince Henry," which is after the manner of Bellenden's Address to James V., also appeared this year, and if the cause of his appointment as a gentleman of the Prince's privy chamber, which immediately followed, his promotion is creditable to both the King and the poet. It is reckoned his most unexceptionable poem. In 1607, he published his tragedies, now increased to four, viz., “Darius,” "Croesus," "The Alexandrian Tragedy,"
and "Julius Cæsar," in one volume, under the title of The Monarchicke Tragedies, dedicated to the King. In 1612, Prince Henry's death was the cause of much and general regret, and numerous elegies were written on the event. Alexander contributed to the number, but failed to rise to the occasion.
In 1613, he was appointed gentleman usher to Prince Charles, and in 1614 received the honour of knighthood,'along with the appointment of Master of Requests. Being some time in Scotland this year, he was visited by Drummond of Hawthornden, with whom he formed a most intimate friendship. He also published at Edinburgh the four first hours of his "Doomes Day, or the great day of the Lord's Judgment." It was afterwards extended to twelve hours, and is beyond doubt his greatest labour, if not his greatest work. It is a religious poem, evidently inspired by the study of the Apocalypse, and, in an unsymmetrical way, passes over some of the ground shortly afterward taken up by the author of Paradise Lost. The following stanza will serve as a specimen of the style and the matter. It is taken from the twelfth hour, in which the renovated order of things is fully detailed :—
"As Adam once (whilst naked) free from sinne,
No barenesse, robes, but brightnesse deckes the skinne,
Which no way else could be so much decored : For nakedness when shining every where, Is purenesse, and not impudency there." Dr Irving remarks, that the author's "varied knowledge, his power of reflec
tion, and his vigour of intellect, are on many occasions conspicuously displayed; but to have supported the fervour of poetry through so extended a work, on such a subject, would have demanded genius of the first order."
With the exception of a fragment entitled "Jonathan," Doomes Day is his last original work, but he is known to have assisted the King in his translation of the Psalms. After 1621, he became involved in political business, the details of which have little bearing upon his literary career, and may therefore be slightly referred to. James' plantation of Ulster seems to have suggested something similar for Canada; and Sir William drew up a scheme, in September 1861, for creating an order of nobility, which came to be known as Nova Scotia Baronetcies, to be obtained on the purchase of a certain portion of an immense grant of land placed at his disposal by the King. But the scheme, which did not come into practical operation till the accession of Charles I., ultimately brought little profit and less reputation to its originator. The right of printing the Psalms, which were not published till after James' death, granted to Alexander for thirty-one years, also proved a barren gift.
In 1626 he was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland, and in 1630 he was created Lord Alexander of Tullibody and Viscount Stirling, while in 1631 he was appointed an extraordinary judge of the Court of Session. That he all along retained the confidence of his royal masters, is evinced by the successive favours bestowed upon him; yet there is sufficient evidence that his