Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/62

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Books Condemned to be Burnt.

as of more than ephemeral truth and interest:—

"Who seeks to please all men each way,
And not himself offend,
He may begin his work to-day,
But God knows when he'll end."

Little appears to be known of Rowlands, but, like Bishop Hall, he could turn his pen to various purposes with great facility; for the prayers which he is thought to have composed, and which are published with the rest of his works in the admirable edition of 1870, are of as high an order of merit as the religious works of his more famous contemporary.

The only wonder is that the Archbishop did not enforce the burning of much more of the literature of the Elizabethan period, whilst he was engaged on such a crusade. He may well, however, have shrunk appalled from the magnitude of the task, and have thought it better to touch the margin than do nothing at all. And, after all, in those days a poet was lucky if they only burnt his poems, and not himself as well. In 1619 John Williams, barrister, was actually hanged, drawn, and quartered, for two poems which were not even printed, but which exist in manuscript at Cambridge to this day. These were Balaam's Ass and the Speculum Regale.