Part 2 out of 7
Where could so firm integrity be found?
Well born, and wealthy, wanting no support,
You steer betwixt the country and the court:
Nor gratify whate'er the great desire,
Nor grudging give what public needs require. 130
Part must be left, a fund when foes invade;
And part employ'd to roll the watery trade:
Even Canaan's happy land, when worn with toil,
Required a sabbath-year to mend the meagre soil.
Good senators (and such as you) so give,
That kings may be supplied, the people thrive.
And he, when want requires, is truly wise,
Who slights not foreign aids, nor over-buys;
But on our native strength, in time of need, relies.
Munster was bought, we boast not the success; 140
Who fights for gain, for greater makes his peace.
Our foes, compell'd by need, have peace embraced:
The peace both parties want, is like to last:
Which, if secure, securely we may trade;
Or, not secure, should never have been made.
Safe in ourselves, while on ourselves we stand,
The sea is ours, and that defends the land.
Be then the naval stores the nation's care,
New ships to build, and batter'd to repair.
Observe the war, in every annual course; 150
What has been done, was done with British force:
Namur subdued, is England's palm alone;
The rest besieged, but we constrain'd the town;
We saw the event that follow'd our success;
France, though pretending arms, pursued the peace;
Obliged, by one sole treaty, to restore
What twenty years of war had won before.
Enough for Europe has our Albion fought:
Let us enjoy the peace our blood has bought.
When once the Persian king was put to flight, 160
The weary Macedons refused to fight:
Themselves their own mortality confess'd:
And left the son of Jove to quarrel for the rest.
Even victors are by victories undone;
Thus Hannibal, with foreign laurels won,
To Carthage was recall'd, too late to keep his own.
While sore of battle, while our wounds are green,
Why should we tempt the doubtful die again?
In wars renew'd, uncertain of success;
Sure of a share, as umpires of the peace. 170
A patriot both the king and country serves:
Prerogative and privilege preserves:
Of each our laws the certain limit show;
One must not ebb, nor the other overflow:
Betwixt the prince and parliament we stand;
The barriers of the state on either hand:
May neither overflow, for then they drown the land.
When both are full, they feed our bless'd abode;
Like those that water'd once the paradise of God.
Some overpoise of sway, by turns, they share; 180
In peace the people, and the prince in war:
Consuls of moderate power in calms were made;
When the Gauls came, one sole dictator sway'd.
Patriots, in peace, assert the people's right;
With noble stubbornness resisting might:
No lawless mandates from the court receive,
Nor lend by force, but in a body give.
Such was your generous grandsire; free to grant
In parliaments, that weigh'd their prince's want:
But so tenacious of the common cause, 190
As not to lend the king against his laws;
And, in a loathsome dungeon doom'd to lie,
In bonds retain'd his birthright liberty,
And shamed oppression, till it set him free.
O true descendant of a patriot line,
Who, while thou shar'st their lustre, lend'st them thine!
Vouchsafe this picture of thy soul to see;
'Tis so far good, as it resembles thee:
The beauties to the original I owe;
Which when I miss, my own defects I show: 200
Nor think the kindred Muses thy disgrace:
A poet is not born in every race.
Two of a house few ages can afford;
One to perform, another to record.
Praiseworthy actions are by thee embraced;
And 'tis my praise, to make thy praises last.
For even when death dissolves our human frame,
The soul returns to heaven from whence it came;
Earth keeps the body--verse preserves the fame.
* * * * *
[Footnote 24: 'John Dryden:' this poem was written in 1699; the person
to whom it is addressed was cousin-german to the poet, and a younger
brother of the baronet. He repaid this poem by a 'noble present' to his
[Footnote 25: 'Rebecca's heir:' he inherited his mother's fortune.]
[Footnote 26: 'Gibbons:' Dr Gibbons, physician.]
[Footnote 27: 'Maurus:' Sir Richard Blackmore.]
[Footnote 28: 'Milbourn:' the foe of Dryden's 'Virgil,' and a
[Footnote 29: 'Garth:' author of 'The Dispensary.']
[Footnote 30: 'Namur subdued:' in 1695, King William took Namur, after a
siege of one month.]
[Footnote 31: 'Treaty:' the treaty of Ryswick, concluded in September
* * * * *
TO SIR GODFREY KNELLER, PRINCIPAL PAINTER TO HIS MAJESTY.
Once I beheld the fairest of her kind,
And still the sweet idea charms my mind:
True, she was dumb; for Nature gazed so long,
Pleased with her work, that she forgot her tongue;
But, smiling, said, She still shall gain the prize;
I only have transferr'd it to her eyes.
Such are thy pictures, Kneller: such thy skill,
That Nature seems obedient to thy will;
Comes out and meets thy pencil in the draught;
Lives there, and wants but words to speak her thought. 10
At least thy pictures look a voice; and we
Imagine sounds, deceived to that degree,
We think 'tis somewhat more than just to see.
Shadows are but privations of the light;
Yet, when we walk, they shoot before the sight;
With us approach, retire, arise, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expressing all.
Such are thy pieces, imitating life
So near, they almost conquer in the strife;
And from their animated canvas came, 20
Demanding souls, and loosen'd from the frame.
Prometheus, were he here, would cast away
His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay;
And either would thy noble work inspire,
Or think it warm enough, without his fire.
But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise;
This is the least attendant on thy praise:
From hence the rudiments of art began;
A coal, or chalk, first imitated man:
Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall, 30
Gave outlines to the rude original;
Ere canvas yet was strain'd, before the grace
Of blended colours found their use and place,
Or cypress tablets first received a face.
By slow degrees the godlike art advanced;
As man grew polish'd, picture was enhanced:
Greece added posture, shade, and perspective;
And then the mimic piece began to live.
Yet perspective was lame, no distance true,
But all came forward in one common view: 40
No point of light was known, no bounds of art;
When light was there, it knew not to depart,
But glaring on remoter objects play'd;
Not languish'd, and insensibly decay'd.
Rome raised not art, but barely kept alive,
And with old Greece unequally did strive:
Till Goths, and Vandals, a rude northern race,
Did all the matchless monuments deface.
Then all the Muses in one ruin be,
And rhyme began to enervate poetry. 50
Thus, in a stupid military state,
The pen and pencil find an equal fate.
Flat faces, such as would disgrace a screen,
Such as in Bantam's embassy were seen,
Unraised, unrounded, were the rude delight
Of brutal nations only born to fight.
Long time, the sister arts, in iron sleep,
A heavy sabbath did supinely keep:
At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise,
Stretch all their limbs, and open all their eyes. 60
Thence rose the Roman, and the Lombard line:
One colour'd best, and one did best design.
Raphael's, like Homer's, was the nobler part,
But Titian's painting look'd like Virgil's art.
Thy genius gives thee both; where true design,
Postures unforced, and lively colours join.
Likeness is ever there; but still the best,
Like proper thoughts in lofty language dress'd:
Where light, to shades descending, plays, not strives,
Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives. 70
Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought:
Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought.
Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight;
With awe, I ask his blessing ere I write;
With reverence look on his majestic face;
Proud to be less, but of his godlike race.
His soul inspires me, while thy praise I write,
And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight:
Bids thee, through me, be bold; with dauntless breast
Contemn the bad, and emulate the best. 80
Like his, thy critics in the attempt are lost:
When most they rail, know then, they envy most.
In vain they snarl aloof; a noisy crowd,
Like women's anger, impotent and loud.
While they their barren industry deplore,
Pass on secure, and mind the goal before.
Old as she is, my Muse shall march behind,
Bear off the blast, and intercept the wind.
Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth;
For hymns were sung in Eden's happy earth: 90
But oh! the painter Muse, though last in place,
Has seized the blessing first, like Jacob's race.
Apelles' art an Alexander found;
And Raphael did with Leo's gold abound;
But Homer was with barren laurel crown'd.
Thou hadst thy Charles a while, and so had I;
But pass we that unpleasing image by.
Rich in thyself, and of thyself divine,
All pilgrims come and offer at thy shrine.
A graceful truth thy pencil can command; 100
The fair themselves go mended from thy hand.
Likeness appears in every lineament;
But likeness in thy work is eloquent.
Though nature there her true resemblance bears,
A nobler beauty in thy peace appears.
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame,
Flesh looks less living in the lovely dame.
Thou paint'st as we describe, improving still,
When on wild nature we ingraft our skill;
But not creating beauties at our will. 110
But poets are confined in narrower space,
To speak the language of their native place:
The painter widely stretches his command;
Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land.
From hence, my friend, all climates are your own,
Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none.
All nations all immunities will give
To make you theirs, where'er you please to live;
And not seven cities, but the world would strive.
Sure some propitious planet, then, did smile, 120
When first you were conducted to this isle:
Our genius brought you here to enlarge our fame;
For your good stars are everywhere the same.
Thy matchless hand, of every region free,
Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.
Great Rome and Venice early did impart
To thee the examples of their wondrous art.
Those masters then, but seen, not understood,
With generous emulation fired thy blood:
For what in nature's dawn the child admired, 130
The youth endeavour'd, and the man acquired.
If yet thou hast not reach'd their high degree,
'Tis only wanting to this age, not thee.
Thy genius, bounded by the times, like mine,
Drudges on petty draughts, nor dare design
A more exalted work, and more divine.
For what a song, or senseless opera
Is to the living labour of a play;
Or what a play to Virgil's work would be,
Such is a single piece to history. 140
But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live:
Kings cannot reign, unless their subjects give;
And they who pay the taxes, bear the rule:
Thus thou, sometimes, art forced to draw a fool:
But so his follies in thy posture sink,
The senseless idiot seems at last to think.
Good heaven! that sots and knaves should be so vain,
To wish their vile resemblance may remain!
And stand recorded, at their own request,
To future days, a libel or a jest! 150
Else should we see your noble pencil trace
Our unities of action, time, and place:
A whole composed of parts, and those the best,
With every various character express'd;
Heroes at large, and at a nearer view,
Less, and at distance, an ignobler crew.
While all the figures in one action join,
As tending to complete the main design.
More cannot be by mortal art express'd;
But venerable age shall add the rest: 160
For time shall with his ready pencil stand;
Retouch your fingers with his ripening hand;
Mellow your colours, and embrown the tint;
Add every grace, which time alone can grant;
To future ages shall your fame convey,
And give more beauties than he takes away.
* * * * *
[Footnote 32: Supposed to be an acknowledgment of a copy of the Chandos
portrait of Shakspeare given to Dryden by Kneller.]
* * * * *
TO HIS FRIEND THE AUTHOR, JOHN HODDESDON, ON HIS DIVINE EPIGRAMS.
Thou hast inspired me with thy soul, and I
Who ne'er before could ken of poetry,
Am grown so good proficient, I can lend
A line in commendation of my friend.
Yet 'tis but of the second hand; if ought
There be in this, 'tis from thy fancy brought.
Good thief, who dar'st, Prometheus-like, aspire,
And fill thy poems with celestial fire:
Enliven'd by these sparks divine, their rays
Add a bright lustre to thy crown of bays. 10
Young eaglet, who thy nest thus soon forsook,
So lofty and divine a course hast took
As all admire, before the down begin
To peep, as yet, upon thy smoother chin;
And, making heaven thy aim, hast had the grace
To look the Sun of righteousness i' the face.
What may we hope, if thou go'st on thus fast,
Scriptures at first; enthusiasms at last!
Thou hast commenced, betimes, a saint; go on,
Mingling diviner streams with Helicon; 20
That they who view what epigrams here be,
May learn to make like, in just praise of thee.
Reader, I've done, nor longer will withhold
Thy greedy eyes; looking on this pure gold
Thou'lt know adulterate copper, which, like this,
Will only serve to be a foil to his.
* * * * *
TO MY FRIEND MR J. NORTHLEIGH, AUTHOR OF "THE
PARALLEL," ON HIS "TRIUMPH OF THE BRITISH
So Joseph, yet a youth, expounded well
The boding dream, and did the event foretell;
Judged by the past, and drew the Parallel.
Thus early Solomon the truth explored,
The right awarded, and the babe restored.
Thus Daniel, ere to prophecy he grew,
The perjured Presbyters did first subdue,
And freed Susanna from the canting crew.
Well may our monarchy triumphant stand,
While warlike James protects both sea and land; 10
And, under covert of his sevenfold shield,
Thou send'st thy shafts to scour the distant field.
By law thy powerful pen has set us free;
Thou studiest that, and that may study thee.
* * * * *
ELEGIES AND EPITAPHS.
TO THE MEMORY OF MR OLDHAM.
Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think, and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mould with mine!
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorr'd alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out, the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
Whilst his young friend performed, and won the race. 10
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the smoothness of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betray'd.
Thy generous fruits, though gather'd ere their prime,
Still show'd a quickness; and maturing time 20
But mellows what we write, to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail! and farewell, farewell, thou young,
But, ah! too short, Marcellus of our tongue!
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
* * * * *
[Footnote 33: 'Mr Oldham:' John Oldham, the satirist, died of the
small-pox in his 30th year, 1683.]
* * * * *
TO THE PIOUS MEMORY OF THE ACCOMPLISHED YOUNG LADY MRS ANNE
KILLIGREW, EXCELLENT IN THE TWO SISTER ARTS OF POESY AND PAINTING.
AN ODE. 1685.
Thou youngest virgin-daughter of the skies,
Made in the last promotion of the blest;
Whose palms, new pluck'd from Paradise,
In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
Rich with immortal green above the rest:
Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
Thou roll'st above us, in thy wandering race,
Or, in procession fix'd and regular,
Mov'st with the heavens' majestic pace;
Or, call'd to more superior bliss,
Thou tread'st, with seraphims, the vast abyss:
Whatever happy region is thy place,
Cease thy celestial song a little space;
Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
Since Heaven's eternal year is thine.
Hear then a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse,
In no ignoble verse;
But such as thy own voice did practise here,
When thy first fruits of Poesy were given;
To make thyself a welcome inmate there:
While yet a young probationer,
And candidate of heaven.
If by traduction came thy mind,
Our wonder is the less to find
A soul so charming from a stock so good;
Thy father was transfused into thy blood:
So wert thou born into a tuneful strain,
An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
But if thy pre-existing soul
Was form'd, at first, with myriads more,
It did through all the mighty poets roll,
Who Greek or Latin laurels wore,
And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
If so, then cease thy flight, O heaven-born mind!
Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore:
Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find,
Than was the beauteous frame she left behind:
Return to fill or mend the choir of thy celestial kind.
May we presume to say, that, at thy birth,
New joy was sprung in heaven, as well as here on earth?
For sure the milder planets did combine
On thy auspicious horoscope to shine,
And even the most malicious were in trine.
Thy brother angels at thy birth
Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high,
That all the people of the sky
Might know a poetess was born on earth.
And then, if ever, mortal ears
Had heard the music of the spheres,
And if no clustering swarm of bees
On thy sweet mouth distill'd their golden dew,
'Twas that such vulgar miracles
Heaven had not leisure to renew:
For all thy blest fraternity of love
Solemnized there thy birth, and kept thy holiday above.
O gracious God! how far have we
Profaned thy heavenly gift of Poesy!
Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
Debased to each obscene and impious use,
Whose harmony was first ordain'd above
For tongues of angels, and for hymns of love!
O wretched we! why were we hurried down
This lubrique and adulterate age,
(Nay added fat pollutions of our own,)
To increase the streaming ordures of the stage?
What can we say to excuse our second fall?
Let this thy vestal, Heaven, atone for all:
Her Arethusian stream remains unsoil'd,
Unmix'd with foreign filth, and undefiled:
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
Art she had none, yet wanted none;
For nature did that want supply:
So rich in treasures of her own,
She might our boasted stores defy:
Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,
That it seem'd borrow'd where 'twas only born.
Her morals too were in her bosom bred.
By great examples daily fed,
What in the best of books, her father's life, she read:
And to be read herself she need not fear;
Each test, and every light, her Muse will bear,
Though Epictetus with his lamp were there.
Even love (for love sometimes her Muse express'd)
Was but a lambent flame which play'd about her breast:
Light as the vapours of a morning dream,
So cold herself, whilst she such warmth express'd,
'Twas Cupid bathing in Diana's stream.
Born to the spacious empire of the Nine,
One would have thought she should have been content
To manage well that mighty government;
But what can young ambitious souls confine?
To the next realm she stretch'd her sway,
For Painture near adjoining lay,
A plenteous province, and alluring prey.
A Chamber of Dependencies was framed,
(As conquerors will never want pretence,
When arm'd, to justify the offence)
And the whole fief, in right of poetry, she claim'd.
The country open lay without defence:
For poets frequent inroads there had made,
And perfectly could represent
The shape, the face, with every lineament,
And all the large domains which the Dumb Sister sway'd;
All bow'd beneath her government,
Received in triumph wheresoe'er she went.
Her pencil drew whate'er her soul design'd,
And oft the happy draft surpass'd the image in her mind.
The sylvan scenes of herds and flocks,
And fruitful plains and barren rocks,
Of shallow brooks that flow'd so clear,
The bottom did the top appear:
Of deeper, too, and ampler floods,
Which, as in mirrors, show'd the woods;
Of lofty trees, with sacred shades,
And perspectives of pleasant glades,
Where nymphs of brightest form appear,
And shaggy satyrs standing near,
Which them at once admire and fear.
The ruins, too, of some majestic piece,
Boasting the power of ancient Rome or Greece,
Whose statues, friezes, columns broken lie,
And, though defaced, the wonder of the eye;
What nature, art, bold fiction e'er durst frame,
Her forming hand gave feature to the name.
So strange a concourse ne'er was seen before,
But when the peopled ark the whole creation bore.
The scene then changed: with bold erected look
Our martial king the sight with reverence strook:
For not content to express his outward part,
Her hand call'd out the image of his heart:
His warlike mind, his soul devoid of fear,
His high-designing thoughts were figured there,
As when, by magic, ghosts are made appear.
Our phoenix queen was portray'd too so bright,
Beauty alone could beauty take so right;
Her dress, her shape, her matchless grace,
Were all observed, as well as heavenly face.
With such a peerless majesty she stands,
As in that day she took the crown from sacred hands:
Before a train of heroines was seen,
In beauty foremost, as in rank, the queen.
Thus nothing to her genius was denied,
But like a ball of fire the further thrown,
Still with a greater blaze she shone,
And her bright soul broke out on every side.
What next she had design'd Heaven only knows:
To such immoderate growth her conquest rose,
That fate alone its progress could oppose.
Now all those charms, that blooming grace,
The well-proportion'd shape, and beauteous face,
Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
In earth the much lamented virgin lies.
Not wit, nor piety could Fate prevent;
Nor was the cruel destiny content
To finish all the murder at a blow,
To sweep at once her life, and beauty too;
But, like a harden'd felon, took a pride
To work more mischievously slow,
And plunder'd first, and then destroy'd.
Oh, double sacrilege on things divine,
To rob the relic, and deface the shrine!
But thus Orinda died:
Heaven, by the same disease, did both translate:
As equal were their souls, so equal was their fate.
Meantime her warlike brother on the seas
His waving streamers to the wind displays,
And vows for his return, with vain devotion, pays.
Ah, generous youth! that wish forbear,
The winds too soon will waft thee here:
Slack all thy sails, and fear to come,
Alas, thou know'st not thou art wreck'd at home!
No more shalt thou behold thy sister's face,
Thou hast already had her last embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou ken'st from far
Among the Pleiads a new-kindled star,
If any sparkles than the rest more bright,
'Tis she that shines in that propitious light.
When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound,
To raise the nations under ground:
When in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
The judging God shall close the book of fate:
And there the last assizes keep,
For those who wake, and those who sleep;
When rattling bones together fly,
From the four corners of the sky;
When sinews o'er the skeletons are spread,
Those clothed with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
And foremost from the tomb shall bound,
For they are cover'd with the lightest ground;
And straight, with inborn vigour, on the wing,
Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
There thou, sweet saint, before the quire shalt go,
As harbinger of heaven, the way to show,
The way which thou so well hast learn'd below.
* * * * *
[Footnote 34: 'Killigrew:' a lady of remarkable promise alike in
painting and poetry; maid of honour to the Duchess of York; died at the
age of 25, in 1685; her father an eminent clergyman, her brother a wit.]
[Footnote 35: 'Orinda:' Mrs Catherine Philips, author of a book of
poems, died, like Mrs Killigrew, of the small-pox, in 1664, being only
thirty-two years of age.]
* * * * *
UPON THE DEATH OF
THE EARL OF DUNDEE.
Oh, last and best of Scots! who didst maintain
Thy country's freedom from a foreign reign;
New people fill the land now thou art gone,
New gods the temples, and new kings the throne.
Scotland and thee did each in other live;
Nor wouldst thou her, nor could she thee survive.
Farewell! who dying didst support the state,
And couldst not fall but with thy country's fate.
* * * * *
[Footnote 36: This is translated from a Latin elegy by Dr Pitcairn.]
* * * * *
A PANEGYRICAL POEM, DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE COUNTESS OF
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF ABINGDON, &c.
MY LORD,--The commands, with which you honoured me some months ago, are
now performed: they had been sooner; but betwixt ill health, some
business, and many troubles, I was forced to defer them till this time.
Ovid, going to his banishment, and writing from on shipboard to his
friends, excused the faults of his poetry by his misfortunes; and told
them, that good verses never flow but from a serene and composed spirit.
Wit, which is a kind of Mercury, with wings fastened to his head and
heels, can fly but slowly in a damp air. I therefore chose rather to
obey you late than ill: if at least I am capable of writing anything, at
any time, which is worthy your perusal and your patronage. I cannot say
that I have escaped from a shipwreck; but have only gained a rock by
hard swimming, where I may pant a while and gather breath: for the
doctors give me a sad assurance, that my disease never took its leave of
any man, but with a purpose to return. However, my lord, I have laid
hold on the interval, and managed the small stock, which age has left
me, to the best advantage, in performing this inconsiderable service to
my lady's memory. We, who are priests of Apollo, have not the
inspiration when we please; but must wait until the god comes rushing on
us, and invades us with a fury which we are not able to resist: which
gives us double strength while the fit continues, and leaves us
languishing and spent at its departure. Let me not seem to boast, my
lord, for I have really felt it on this occasion, and prophesied beyond
my natural power. Let me add, and hope to be believed, that the
excellency of the subject contributed much to the happiness of the
execution; and that the weight of thirty years was taken off me while I
was writing. I swam with the tide, and the water under me was buoyant.
The reader will easily observe that I was transported by the multitude
and variety of my similitudes; which are generally the product of a
luxuriant fancy, and the wantonness of wit. Had I called in my judgment
to my assistance, I had certainly retrenched many of them. But I defend
them not; let them pass for beautiful faults amongst the better sort of
critics: for the whole poem, though written in that which they call
Heroic verse, is of the Pindaric nature, as well in the thought as the
expression; and, as such, requires the same grains of allowance for it.
It was intended, as your lordship sees in the title, not for an elegy,
but a panegyric: a kind of apotheosis, indeed, if a heathen word may be
applied to a Christian use. And on all occasions of praise, if we take
the ancients for our patterns, we are bound by prescription to employ
the magnificence of words, and the force of figures, to adorn the
sublimity of thoughts. Isocrates amongst the Grecian orators, and
Cicero, and the younger Pliny, amongst the Romans, have left us their
precedents for our security; for I think I need not mention the
inimitable Pindar, who stretches on these pinions out of sight, and is
carried upward, as it were, into another world.
This, at least, my lord, I may justly plead, that if I have not
performed so well as I think I have, yet I have used my best endeavours
to excel myself. One disadvantage I have had; which is, never to have
known or seen my lady: and to draw the lineaments of her mind, from the
description which I have received from others, is for a painter to set
himself at work without the living original before him: which, the more
beautiful it is, will be so much the more difficult for him to conceive,
when he has only a relation given him of such and such features by an
acquaintance or a friend, without the nice touches, which give the best
resemblance, and make the graces of the picture. Every artist is apt
enough to flatter himself (and I amongst the rest) that their own ocular
observations would have discovered more perfections, at least others,
than have been delivered to them: though I have received mine from the
best hands, that is, from persons who neither want a just understanding
of my lady's worth, nor a due veneration for her memory.
Dr Donne, the greatest wit, though not the greatest poet of our nation,
acknowledges, that he had never seen Mrs Drury, whom he has made
immortal in his admirable "Anniversaries." I have had the same fortune,
though I have not succeeded to the same genius. However, I have followed
his footsteps in the design of his panegyric; which was to raise an
emulation in the living, to copy out the example of the dead. And
therefore it was, that I once intended to have called this poem "The
Pattern:" and though, on a second consideration, I changed the title
into the name of the illustrious person, yet the design continues, and
Eleonora is still the pattern of charity, devotion, and humility; of the
best wife, the best mother, and the best of friends.
And now, my lord, though I have endeavoured to answer your commands; yet
I could not answer it to the world, nor to my conscience, if I gave not
your lordship my testimony of being the best husband now living: I say
my testimony only; for the praise of it is given you by yourself. They
who despise the rules of virtue both in their practice and their morals,
will think this a very trivial commendation. But I think it the peculiar
happiness of the Countess of Abingdon to have been so truly loved by you
while she was living, and so gratefully honoured after she was dead. Few
there are who have either had, or could have, such a loss; and yet fewer
who carried their love and constancy beyond the grave. The exteriors of
mourning, a decent funeral, and black habits, are the usual stints of
common husbands: and perhaps their wives deserve no better than to be
mourned with hypocrisy, and forgot with ease. But you have distinguished
yourself from ordinary lovers, by a real and lasting grief for the
deceased; and by endeavouring to raise for her the most durable
monument, which is that of verse. And so it would have proved, if the
workman had been equal to the work, and your choice of the artificer as
happy as your design. Yet, as Phidias, when he had made the statue of
Minerva, could not forbear to engrave his own name, as author of the
piece: so give me leave to hope, that, by subscribing mine to this poem,
I may live by the goddess, and transmit my name to posterity by the
memory of hers. It is no flattery to assure your lordship, that she is
remembered, in the present age, by all who have had the honour of her
conversation and acquaintance; and that I have never been in any company
since the news of her death was first brought me, where they have not
extolled her virtues, and even spoken the same things of her in prose,
which I have done in verse.
I therefore think myself obliged to thank your lordship for the
commission which you have given me: how I have acquitted myself of it,
must be left to the opinion of the world, in spite of any protestation
which I can enter against the present age, as incompetent or corrupt
judges. For my comfort, they are but Englishmen, and, as such, if they
think ill of me to-day, they are inconstant enough to think well of me
to-morrow. And after all, I have not much to thank my fortune that I was
born amongst them. The good of both sexes are so few, in England, that
they stand like exceptions against general rules: and though one of them
has deserved a greater commendation than I could give her, they have
taken care that I should not tire my pen with frequent exercise on the
like subjects; that praises, like taxes, should be appropriated, and
left almost as individual as the person. They say, my talent is satire:
if it be so, it is a fruitful age, and there is an extraordinary crop to
gather. But a single hand is insufficient for such a harvest: they have
sown the dragons' teeth themselves, and it is but just they should reap
each other in lampoons. You, my lord, who have the character of honour,
though it is not my happiness to know you, may stand aside, with the
small remainders of the English nobility, truly such, and, unhurt
yourselves, behold the mad combat. If I have pleased you and some few
others, I have obtained my end. You see I have disabled myself, like an
elected speaker of the house: yet like him I have undertaken the charge,
and find the burden sufficiently recompensed by the honour. Be pleased
to accept of these my unworthy labours, this paper-monument; and let her
pious memory, which I am sure is sacred to you, not only plead the
pardon of my many faults, but gain me your protection, which is
ambitiously sought by, my lord, your lordship's most obedient servant,
* * * * *
As when some great and gracious monarch dies,
Soft whispers, first, and mournful murmurs rise
Among the sad attendants; then the sound
Soon gathers voice, and spreads the news around,
Through town and country, till the dreadful blast
Is blown to distant colonies at last;
Who then, perhaps, were offering vows in vain,
For his long life, and for his happy reign:
So slowly, by degrees, unwilling fame
Did matchless Eleonora's fate proclaim, 10
Till public as the loss the news became.
The nation felt it in the extremest parts,
With eyes o'erflowing, and with bleeding hearts;
But most the poor, whom daily she supplied,
Beginning to be such, but when she died.
For, while she lived, they slept in peace by night,
Secure of bread, as of returning light;
And with such firm dependence on the day,
That need grew pamper'd, and forgot to pray:
So sure the doll, so ready at their call, 20
They stood prepared to see the manna fall.
Such multitudes she fed, she clothed, she nursed,
That she herself might fear her wanting first.
Of her five talents, other five she made;
Heaven, that had largely given, was largely paid:
And in few lives, in wondrous few, we find
A fortune better fitted to the mind.
Nor did her alms from ostentation fall,
Or proud desire of praise; the soul gave all:
Unbribed it gave; or, if a bribe appear, 30
No less than heaven--to heap huge treasures there.
Want pass'd for merit at her open door;
Heaven saw, He safely might increase His poor,
And trust their sustenance with her so well,
As not to be at charge of miracle.
None could be needy, whom she saw, or knew;
All in the compass of her sphere she drew:
He, who could touch her garment, was as sure,
As the first Christians of the apostles' cure.
The distant heard, by fame, her pious deeds, 40
And laid her up for their extremest needs;
A future cordial for a fainting mind;
For, what was ne'er refused, all hoped to find,
Each in his turn; the rich might freely come,
As to a friend; but to the poor 'twas home.
As to some holy house the afflicted came,
The hunger-starved, the naked and the lame;
Want and diseases fled before her name.
For zeal like her's her servants were too slow;
She was the first, where need required, to go; 50
Herself the foundress and attendant too.
Sure she had guests sometimes to entertain,
Guests in disguise, of her great Master's train:
Her Lord himself might come, for aught we know;
Since in a servant's form He lived below:
Beneath her roof He might be pleased to stay;
Or some benighted angel, in his way,
Might ease his wings, and, seeing heaven appear
In its best work of mercy, think it there:
Where all the deeds of charity and love 60
Were, in as constant method as above,
All carried on; all of a piece with theirs;
As free her alms, as diligent her cares;
As loud her praises, and as warm her prayers.
Yet was she not profuse; but feared to waste,
And wisely managed, that the stock might last;
That all might be supplied, and she not grieve,
When crowds appear'd, she had not to relieve:
Which to prevent, she still increased her store;
Laid up, and spared, that she might give the more. 70
So Pharaoh, or some greater king than he,
Provided for the seventh necessity:
Taught from above his magazines to frame,
That famine was prevented ere it came.
Thus Heaven, though all-sufficient, shows a thrift
In His economy, and bounds His gift:
Creating, for our day, one single light;
And his reflection, too, supplies the night.
Perhaps a thousand other worlds, that lie
Remote from us, and latent in the sky, 80
Are lighten'd by his beams, and kindly nursed;
Of which our earthly dunghill is the worst.
Now, as all virtues keep the middle line,
Yet somewhat more to one extreme incline,
Such was her soul; abhorring avarice,
Bounteous, but almost bounteous to a vice:
Had she given more, it had profusion been,
And turn'd the excess of goodness into sin.
These virtues raised her fabric to the sky;
For that, which is next heaven, is Charity. 90
But, as high turrets, for their airy steep,
Require foundations in proportion deep;
And lofty cedars as far upward shoot,
As to the nether heavens they drive the root:
So low did her secure foundation lie,
She was not humble, but Humility.
Scarcely she knew that she was great, or fair,
Or wise, beyond what other women are;
Or, which is better, knew, but never durst compare:
For to be conscious of what all admire, 100
And not be vain, advances virtue higher.
But still she found, or rather thought she found,
Her own worth wanting, others' to abound;
Ascribed above their due to every one--
Unjust and scanty to herself alone.
Such her devotion was, as might give rules
Of speculation to disputing schools,
And teach us equally the scales to hold
Betwixt the two extremes of hot and cold;
That pious heat may moderately prevail, 110
And we be warm'd, but not be scorch'd with zeal:
Business might shorten, not disturb, her prayer;
Heaven had the best, if not the greater share.
An active life long orisons forbids;
Yet still she pray'd, for still she pray'd by deeds.
Her every day was Sabbath; only free
From hours of prayer, for hours of charity:
Such as the Jews from servile toil released;
Where works of mercy were a part of rest;
Such as blest angels exercise above, 120
Varied with sacred hymns and acts of love:
Such Sabbaths as that one she now enjoys,
Even that perpetual one, which she employs
(For such vicissitudes in heaven there are)
In praise alternate, and alternate prayer.
All this she practised here; that when she sprung
Amidst the choirs, at the first sight she sung:
Sung, and was sung herself in angels' lays;
For, praising her, they did her Maker praise.
All offices of heaven so well she knew, 130
Before she came, that nothing there was new:
And she was so familiarly received,
As one returning, not as one arrived.
Muse, down again precipitate thy flight!
For how can mortal eyes sustain immortal light?
But as the sun in water we can bear--
Yet not the sun, but his reflection there,
So let us view her, here, in what she was,
And take her image in this watery glass:
Yet look not every lineament to see; 140
Some will be cast in shades, and some will be
So lamely drawn, you'll scarcely know 'tis she.
For where such various virtues we recite,
'Tis like the milky-way, all over bright,
But sown so thick with stars,'tis undistinguish'd light.
Her virtue, not her virtues, let us call;
For one heroic comprehends them all:
One, as a constellation is but one,
Though 'tis a train of stars, that, rolling on,
Rise in their turn, and in the zodiac run: 150
Ever in motion; now 'tis faith ascends,
Now hope, now charity, that upward tends,
And downwards with diffusive good descends.
As in perfumes composed with art and cost,
'Tis hard to say what scent is uppermost;
Nor this part musk or civet can we call,
Or amber, but a rich result of all;
So she was all a sweet, whose every part,
In due proportion mix'd, proclaim'd the Maker's art.
No single virtue we could most commend, 160
Whether the wife, the mother, or the friend;
For she was all, in that supreme degree,
That as no one prevail'd, so all was she.
The several parts lay hidden in the piece;
The occasion but exerted that, or this.
A wife as tender, and as true withal,
As the first woman was before her fall:
Made for the man, of whom she was a part;
Made to attract his eyes, and keep his heart.
A second Eve, but by no crime accursed; 170
As beauteous, not as brittle, as the first:
Had she been first, still Paradise had been,
And Death had found no entrance by her sin:
So she not only had preserved from ill
Her sex and ours, but lived their pattern still.
Love and obedience to her lord she bore;
She much obey'd him, but she loved him more:
Not awed to duty by superior sway,
But taught by his indulgence to obey.
Thus we love God, as author of our good; 180
So subjects love just kings, or so they should.
Nor was it with ingratitude return'd;
In equal fires the blissful couple burn'd;
One joy possess'd them both, and in one grief they mourn'd.
His passion still improved; he loved so fast
As if he fear'd each day would be her last.
Too true a prophet to foresee the fate
That should so soon divide their happy state;
When he to heaven entirely must restore
That love, that heart, where he went halves before. 190
Yet as the soul is all in every part,
So God and he might each have all her heart.
So had her children too; for charity
Was not more fruitful, or more kind than she:
Each under other by degrees they grew;
A goodly perspective of distant view.
Anchises look'd not with so pleased a face,
In numbering o'er his future Roman race,
And marshalling the heroes of his name,
As, in their order, next to light they came. 200
Nor Cybele, with half so kind an eye,
Survey'd her sons and daughters of the sky;
Proud, shall I say, of her immortal fruit?
As far as pride with heavenly minds may suit.
Her pious love excell'd to all she bore;
New objects only multiplied it more.
And as the chosen found the pearly grain
As much as every vessel could contain;
As in the blissful vision each shall share
As much of glory as his soul can bear; 210
So did she love, and so dispense her care.
Her eldest thus, by consequence, was best,
As longer cultivated than the rest.
The babe had all that infant care beguiles,
And early knew his mother in her smiles:
But when dilated organs let in day
To the young soul, and gave it room to play,
At his first aptness, the maternal love
Those rudiments of reason did improve:
The tender age was pliant to command; 220
Like wax it yielded to the forming hand:
True to the artificer, the labour'd mind
With ease was pious, generous, just, and kind;
Soft for impression, from the first prepared,
Till virtue with long exercise grew hard:
With every act confirm'd, and made at last
So durable as not to be effaced,
It turn'd to habit; and, from vices free,
Goodness resolved into necessity.
Thus fix'd she virtue's image, that's her own, 230
Till the whole mother in the children shone;
For that was their perfection: she was such,
They never could express her mind too much.
So unexhausted her perfections were,
That, for more children, she had more to spare;
For souls unborn, whom her untimely death
Deprived of bodies, and of mortal breath;
And (could they take the impressions of her mind)
Enough still left to sanctify her kind.
Then wonder not to see this soul extend 240
The bounds, and seek some other self, a friend:
As swelling seas to gentle rivers glide,
To seek repose, and empty out the tide;
So this full soul, in narrow limits pent,
Unable to contain her, sought a vent
To issue out, and in some friendly breast
Discharge her treasures, and securely rest:
To unbosom all the secrets of her heart,
Take good advice, but better to impart:
For 'tis the bliss of friendship's holy state, 250
To mix their minds, and to communicate;
Though bodies cannot, souls can penetrate.
Fix'd to her choice, inviolably true,
And wisely choosing, for she chose but few.
Some she must have; but in no one could find
A tally fitted for so large a mind.
The souls of friends, like kings in progress, are
Still in their own, though from the palace far:
Thus her friend's heart her country dwelling was
A sweet retirement to a coarser place; 260
Where pomp and ceremonies enter'd not,
Where greatness was shut out, and business well forgot.
This is the imperfect draught; but short as far
As the true height and bigness of a star
Exceeds the measures of the astronomer.
She shines above, we know; but in what place,
How near the throne, and Heaven's imperial face,
By our weak optics is but vainly guess'd;
Distance and altitude conceal the rest.
Though all these rare endowments of the mind 270
Were in a narrow space of life confined,
The figure was with full perfection crown'd;
Though not so large an orb, as truly round.
As when in glory, through the public place,
The spoils of conquer'd nations were to pass,
And but one day for triumph was allow'd,
The consul was constrain'd his pomp to crowd;
And so the swift procession hurried on,
That all, though not distinctly, might be shown:
So in the straiten'd bounds of life confined, 280
She gave but glimpses of her glorious mind:
And multitudes of virtues pass'd along;
Bach pressing foremost in the mighty throng,
Ambitious to be seen, and then make room
For greater multitudes that were to come.
Yet unemploy'd no minute slipp'd away;
Moments were precious in so short a stay.
The haste of heaven to have her was so great,
That some were single acts, though each complete;
But every act stood ready to repeat. 290
Her fellow-saints with busy care will look
For her bless'd name in Fate's eternal book;
And, pleased to be outdone, with joy will see
Numberless virtues, endless charity:
But more will wonder at so short an age,
To find a blank beyond the thirtieth page;
And with a pious fear begin to doubt
The piece imperfect, and the rest torn out.
But 'twas her Saviour's time; and, could there be
A copy near the Original, 'twas she. 300
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the temple, and expire:
So was she soon exhaled, and vanish'd hence;
A short sweet odour, of a vast expense.
She vanish'd, we can scarcely say she died;
For but a now did heaven and earth divide:
She pass'd serenely with a single breath;
This moment perfect health, the next was death:
One sigh did her eternal bliss assure;
So little penance needs, when souls are almost pure. 310
As gentle dreams our waking thoughts pursue;
Or, one dream pass'd, we slide into a new;
So close they follow, such wild order keep,
We think ourselves awake, and are asleep:
So softly death succeeded life in her,
She did but dream of heaven, and she was there.
No pains she suffer'd, nor expired with noise;
Her soul was whisper'd out with God's still voice;
As an old friend is beckon'd to a feast,
And treated like a long-familiar guest. 320
He took her as He found, but found her so,
As one in hourly readiness to go:
Even on that day, in all her trim prepared;
As early notice she from heaven had heard,
And some descending courier from above
Had given her timely warning to remove;
Or counsell'd her to dress the nuptial room,
For on that night the Bridegroom was to come.
He kept His hour, and found her where she lay
Clothed all in white, the livery of the day. 330
Scarce had she sinn'd in thought, or word, or act;
Unless omissions were to pass for fact:
That hardly death a consequence could draw,
To make her liable to nature's law:
And, that she died, we only have to show
The mortal part of her she left below:
The rest, so smooth, so suddenly she went,
Look'd like translation through the firmament;
Or, like the fiery car, on the third errand sent.
O happy soul! if thou canst view from high, 340
Where thou art all intelligence, all eye;
If, looking up to God, or down to us,
Thou find'st that any way be pervious,
Survey the ruins of thy house, and see
Thy widow'd, and thy orphan family:
Look on thy tender pledges left behind;
And, if thou canst a vacant minute find
From heavenly joys, that interval afford
To thy sad children, and thy mourning lord.
See how they grieve, mistaken in their love, 350
And shed a beam of comfort from above;
Give them, as much as mortal eyes can bear,
A transient view of thy full glories there;
That they with moderate sorrow may sustain
And mollify their losses in thy gain:
Or else divide the grief; for such thou wert,
That should not all relations bear a part,
It were enough to break a single heart.
Let this suffice: nor thou, great saint, refuse
This humble tribute of no vulgar Muse: 360
Who, not by cares, or wants, or age depress'd,
Stems a wild deluge with a dauntless breast;
And dares to sing thy praises in a clime
Where vice triumphs, and virtue is a crime;
Where even to draw the picture of thy mind,
Is satire on the most of human kind:
Take it, while yet 'tis praise; before my rage,
Unsafely just, break loose on this bad age;
So bad, that thou thyself hadst no defence
From vice, but barely by departing hence. 370
Be what, and where thou art: to wish thy place,
Were, in the best, presumption more than grace.
Thy relics (such thy works of mercy are)
Have, in this poem, been my holy care.
As earth thy body keeps, thy soul the sky,
So shall this verse preserve thy memory;
For thou shalt make it live, because it sings of thee.
* * * * *
[Footnote 37: 'Third errand:' Enoch and Elias were the first two.]
* * * * *
ON THE DEATH OF AMYNTAS.
A PASTORAL ELEGY.
'Twas on a joyless and a gloomy morn,
Wet was the grass, and hung with pearls the thorn;
When Damon, who design'd to pass the day
With hounds and horns, and chase the flying prey,
Rose early from his bed; but soon he found
The welkin pitch'd with sullen clouds around,
An eastern wind, and dew upon the ground.
Thus while he stood, and, sighing, did survey
The fields, and cursed the ill omens of the day,
He saw Menalcas come with heavy pace; 10
Wet were his eyes, and cheerless was his face:
He wrung his hands, distracted with his care,
And sent his voice before him from afar.
Return, he cried, return, unhappy swain!
The spungy clouds are fill'd with gathering rain:
The promise of the day not only cross'd,
But even the spring, the spring itself is lost.
Amyntas--oh!--he could not speak the rest,
Nor needed, for presaging Damon guess'd.
Equal with heaven young Damon loved the boy, 20
The boast of nature, both his parents' joy,
His graceful form revolving in his mind;
So great a genius, and a soul so kind,
Gave sad assurance that his fears were true;
Too well the envy of the gods he knew:
For when their gifts too lavishly are placed,
Soon they repent, and will not make them last.
For sure it was too bountiful a dole,
The mother's features, and the father's soul.
Then thus he cried; the morn bespoke the news: 30
The morning did her cheerful light diffuse:
But see how suddenly she changed her face,
And brought on clouds and rain, the day's disgrace!
Just such, Amyntas, was thy promised race:
What charms adorn'd thy youth, where nature smiled,
And more than man was given us in a child!
His infancy was ripe: a soul sublime
In years so tender that prevented time:
Heaven gave him all at once; then snatch'd away,
Ere mortals all his beauties could survey: 40
Just like the flower that buds and withers in a day.
The mother, lovely, though with grief oppress'd,
Reclined his dying head upon her breast.
The mournful family stood all around;
One groan was heard, one universal sound:
All were in floods of tears and endless sorrow drown'd.
So dire a sadness sat on every look,
Even Death repented he had given the stroke.
He grieved his fatal work had been ordain'd
But promised length of life to those who yet remain'd. 50
The mother's and her eldest daughter's grace,
It seems, had bribed him to prolong their space.
The father bore it with undaunted soul,
Like one who durst his destiny control:
Yet with becoming grief he bore his part,
Resign'd his son, but not resign'd his heart:
Patient as Job; and may he live to see,
Like him, a new increasing family!
Such is my wish, and such my prophecy.
For yet, my friend, the beauteous mould remains; 60
Long may she exercise her fruitful pains!
But, ah! with better hap, and bring a race
More lasting, and endued with equal grace!
Equal she may, but further none can go:
For he was all that was exact below.
Damon! behold yon breaking purple cloud;
Hear'st thou not hymns and songs divinely loud?
There mounts Amyntas; the young cherubs play
About their godlike mate, and sing him on his way!
He cleaves the liquid air, behold he flies, 70
And every moment gains upon the skies!
The new-come guest admires the ethereal state,
The sapphire portal, and the golden gate;
And now admitted in the shining throng,
He shows the passport which he brought along:
His passport is his innocence and grace,
Well known to all the natives of the place.
Now sing, ye joyful angels, and admire
Your brother's voice that conies to mend your quire
Sing you,--while endless tears our eyes bestow: 80
For like Amyntas none is left below.
* * * * *
ON THE DEATH OF A VERY YOUNG GENTLEMAN.
He who could view the book of destiny,
And read whatever there was writ of thee,
O charming youth, in the first opening page,
So many graces in so green an age,
Such wit, such modesty, such strength of mind,
A soul at once so manly and so kind;
Would wonder, when he turn'd the volume o'er,
And after some few leaves should find no more,
Nought but a blank remain, a dead void space,
A step of life that promised such a race. 10
We must not, dare not think, that Heaven began
A child, and could not finish him a man;
Reflecting what a mighty store was laid
Of rich materials, and a model made:
The cost already furnish'd; so bestow'd,
As more was never to one soul allow'd:
Yet after this profusion spent in vain,
Nothing but mouldering ashes to remain,
I guess not, lest I split upon the shelf,
Yet durst I guess, Heaven kept it for himself; 20
And giving us the use, did soon recall,
Ere we could spare, the mighty principal.
Thus then he disappeared, was rarified;
For 'tis improper speech to say he died:
He was exhaled; his great Creator drew
His spirit, as the sun the morning dew.
'Tis sin produces death; and he had none,
But the taint Adam left on every son.
He added not, he was so pure, so good,
'Twas but the original forfeit of his blood: 30
And that so little, that the river ran
More clear than the corrupted fount began.
Nothing remain'd of the first muddy clay;
The length of course had wash'd it in the way:
So deep, and yet so clear, we might behold
The gravel bottom, and that bottom gold.
As such we loved, admired, almost adored,
Gave all the tribute mortals could afford.
Perhaps we gave so much, the powers above
Grew angry at our superstitious love: 40
For when we more than human homage pay,
The charming cause is justly snatch'd away.
Thus was the crime not his, but ours alone:
And yet we murmur that he went so soon;
Though miracles are short and rarely shown.
Learn, then, ye mournful parents, and divide
That love in many, which in one was tied.
That individual blessing is no more,
But multiplied in your remaining store.
The flame's dispersed, but does not all expire; 50
The sparkles blaze, though not the globe of fire.
Love him by parts, in all your numerous race,
And from those parts form one collected grace:
Then, when you have refined to that degree,
Imagine all in one, and think that one is he.
* * * * *
UPON YOUNG MR ROGERS OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE.
Of gentle blood, his parents' only treasure,
Their lasting sorrow, and their vanish'd pleasure,
Adorn'd with features, virtues, wit, and grace,
A large provision for so short a race;
More moderate gifts might have prolong'd his date,
Too early fitted for a better state;
But, knowing heaven his home, to shun delay,
He leap'd o'er age, and took the shortest way.
* * * * *
ON THE DEATH OF MR PURCELL.
SET TO MUSIC BY DR BLOW.
1 Mark how the lark and linnet sing;
With rival notes
They strain their warbling throats,
To welcome in the spring.
But in the close of night,
When Philomel begins her heavenly lay,
They cease their mutual spite,
Drink in her music with delight,
And, listening, silently obey.
2 So ceased the rival crew, when Purcell came;
They sung no more, or only sung his fame:
Struck dumb, they all admired the godlike man:
The godlike man,
Alas! too soon retired,
As he too late began.
We beg not hell our Orpheus to restore:
Had he been there,
Their sovereign's fear
Had sent him back before.
The power of harmony too well they knew:
He long ere this had tuned their jarring sphere,
And left no hell below.
3 The heavenly choir, who heard his notes from high,
Let down the scale of music from the sky:
They handed him along,
And all the way he taught, and all the way they sung
Ye brethren of the lyre, and tuneful voice,
Lament his lot; but at your own rejoice:
Now live secure, and linger out your days;
The gods are pleased alone with Purcell's lays,
Nor know to mend their choice.
* * * * *
EPITAPH ON THE LADY WHITMORE.
Fair, kind, and true, a treasure each alone,
A wife, a mistress, and a friend in one,
Rest in this tomb, raised at thy husband's cost,
Here sadly summing what he had, and lost.
Come, virgins, ere in equal bands ye join,
Come first, and offer at her sacred shrine;
Pray but for half the virtues of this wife,
Compound for all the rest, with longer life;
And wish your vows, like hers, may be return'd,
So loved when living, and when dead so mourn'd.
* * * * *
EPITAPH ON SIR PALMES FAIRBONE'S TOMB IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
SACRED TO THE IMMORTAL MEMORY OF SIR PALMES FAIRBONE, KNIGHT, GOVERNOR
OF TANGIER; IN EXECUTION OF WHICH COMMAND, HE WAS MORTALLY WOUNDED BY A
SHOT FROM THE MOORS, THEN BESIEGING THE TOWN, IN THE FORTY-SIXTH YEAR OF
HIS AGE. OCTOBER 24, 1680.
Ye sacred relics, which your marble keep,
Here, undisturb'd by wars, in quiet sleep:
Discharge the trust, which, when it was below,
Pairbone's undaunted soul did undergo,
And be the town's Palladium from the foe.
Alive and dead these walls he will defend:
Great actions great examples must attend.
The Candian siege his early valour knew,
Where Turkish blood did his young hands imbrue.
From thence returning with deserved applause, 10
Against the Moors his well-flesh'd sword he draws;
The same the courage, and the same the cause.
His youth and age, his life and death, combine,
As in some great and regular design,
All of a piece throughout, and all divine.
Still nearer heaven his virtues shone more bright,
Like rising flames expanding in their height;
The martyr's glory crown'd the soldier's fight.
More bravely British general never fell,
Nor general's death was e'er revenged so well; 20
Which his pleased eyes beheld before their close,
Follow'd by thousand victims of his foes.
To his lamented loss for time to come
His pious widow consecrates this tomb.
* * * * *
UNDER MR MILTON'S PICTURE, BEFORE HIS
Three Poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England, did adorn.
The first, in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
The next, in majesty; in both the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she join'd the former two.
* * * * *
[Footnote 38: In Tonson's folio edition.]
* * * * *
ON THE MONUMENT OF A FAIR MAIDEN LADY, WHO DIED AT BATH, AND IS
Below this marble monument is laid
All that heaven wants of this celestial maid.
Preserve, O sacred tomb! thy trust consign'd;
The mould was made on purpose for the mind:
And she would lose, if, at the latter day,
One atom could be mix'd of other clay.
Such were the features of her heavenly face,
Her limbs were form'd with such harmonious grace:
So faultless was the frame, as if the whole
Had been an emanation of the soul: 10
Which her own inward symmetry reveal'd
And like a picture shone, in glass anneal'd.
Or like the sun eclipsed, with shaded light:
Too piercing, else, to be sustain'd by sight.
Each thought was visible that roll'd within:
As through a crystal case the figured hours are seen.
And Heaven did this transparent veil provide,
Because she had no guilty thought to hide.
All white, a virgin-saint, she sought the skies:
For marriage, though it sullies not, it dyes. 20
High though her wit, yet humble was her mind:
As if she could not, or she would not find
How much her worth transcended all her kind.
Yet she had learn'd so much of heaven below,
That, when arrived, she scarce had more to know:
But only to refresh the former hint,
And read her Maker in a fairer print.
So pious, as she had no time to spare
For human thoughts, but was confined to prayer.
Yet in such charities she pass'd the day, 30
'Twas wondrous how she found an hour to pray.
A soul so calm, it knew not ebbs or flows,
Which passion could but curl, not discompose.
A female softness, with a manly mind:
A daughter duteous, and a sister kind:
In sickness patient, and in death resign'd.
* * * * *
[Footnote 39: This Lady is interred in the Abbey-church. Her name was
Mary Frampton. She died in 1698.]
* * * * *
EPITAPH ON MRS MARGARET PASTON, OF BURNINGHAM IN NORFOLK.
So fair, so young, so innocent, so sweet,
So ripe a judgment, and so rare a wit,
Require at least an age in one to meet.
In her they met; but long they could not stay,
'Twas gold too fine to mix without allay.
Heaven's image was in her so well express'd,
Her very sight upbraided all the rest;
Too justly ravish'd from an age like this,
Now she is gone, the world is of a piece.
* * * * *
ON THE MONUMENT OF THE MARQUIS OF WINCHESTER.
He who in impious times undaunted stood,
And 'midst rebellion durst be just and good;
Whose arms asserted, and whose sufferings more
Confirm'd the cause for which he sought before,
Rests here, rewarded by an heavenly prince,
For what his earthly could not recompense.
Pray, reader, that such times no more appear:
Or, if they happen, learn true honour here.
Ask of this age's faith and loyalty,
Which, to preserve them, Heaven confined in thee.
Few subjects could a king like thine deserve;
And fewer such a king so well could serve.
Blest king, blest subject, whose exalted state
By sufferings rose, and gave the law to fate!
Such souls are rare, but mighty patterns given
To earth, and meant for ornaments to heaven.
* * * * *
[Footnote 40: Winchester, a staunch royalist, besieged two years in his
castle of Basing, died in 1674.]
* * * * *
SONGS, ODES, AND A MASQUE
THE FAIR STRANGER.
1 Happy and free, securely blest,
No beauty could disturb my rest;
My amorous heart was in despair,
To find a new victorious fair.
2 Till you descending on our plains,
With foreign force renew my chains:
Where now you rule without control
The mighty sovereign of my soul.
3 Your smiles have more of conquering charms,
Than all your native country arms;
Their troops we can expel with ease,
Who vanquish only when we please.
4 But in your eyes, oh! there's the spell,
Who can see them, and not rebel?
You make us captives by your stay,
Yet kill us if you go away.
* * * * *
[Footnote 41: This song is a compliment to the Duchess of Portsmouth,
Charles's mistress, on her first coming to England.]
* * * * *
ON THE YOUNG STATESMEN.
WRITTEN IN 1680.
1 CLARENDON had law and sense,
Clifford was fierce and brave;
Bennet's grave look was a pretence,
And Danby's matchless impudence
Help'd to support the knave.
2 But Sunderland, Godolphin, Lory,
These will appear such chits in story,
'Twill turn all politics to jests,
To be repeated like John Dory,
When fiddlers sing at feasts.
3 Protect us, mighty Providence!
What would these madmen have?
First, they would bribe us without pence,
Deceive us without common sense,
And without power enslave.
4 Shall free-torn men, in humble awe,
Submit to servile shame;
Who from consent and custom draw
The same right to be ruled by law,
Which kings pretend to reign?
5 The duke shall wield his conquering sword,
The chancellor make a speech,
The king shall pass his honest word,
The pawn'd revenue sums afford,
And then, come kiss my breech.
6 So have I seen a king on chess
(His rooks and knights withdrawn,
His queen and bishops in distress)
Shifting about, grow less and less,
With here and there a pawn.
* * * * *
[Footnote 42: 'Laurence Hyde,' afterwards Earl of Rochester, is the
person here called Lory.]
* * * * *
A SONG FOR ST CECILIA'S DAY,1687.
1 FROM harmony, from heavenly harmony
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
Arise, ye more than dead.
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it rail,
The diapason closing full in Man.
2 What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
3 The trumpet's loud clangour
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries, hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge!'tis too late to retreat.
4 The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.
5 Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs, and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion,
For the fair, disdainful dame.
6 But oh! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.
7 Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees uprooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
An angel heard, and straight appear'd,
Mistaking earth for heaven.
As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the bless'd above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.
* * * * *
[Footnote 43: 'St Cecilia's Day': 22d November-birthday of St Cecilia,
the patron saint of music-a Roman lady martyred in the third century,
said to have been taught music by an angel.]
* * * * *
THE TEARS OF AMYNTA, FOR THE DEATH OF DAMON.
1 On a bank, beside a willow,
Heaven her covering, earth her pillow,
Sad Amynta sigh'd alone:
From the cheerless dawn of morning
Till the dews of night returning,
Singing thus she made her moan:
Hope is banish'd,
Joys are vanish'd,
Damon, my beloved, is gone!
2 Time, I dare thee to discover
Such a youth and such a lover;
Oh, so true, so kind was he!
Damon was the pride of nature,
Charming in his every feature;
Damon lived alone for me;
Who so lived and loved as we?
3 Never shall we curse the morning.
Never bless the night returning,
Sweet embraces to restore:
Never shall we both lie dying,
Nature failing, Love supplying
All the joys he drain'd before:
Death come end me,
To befriend me:
Love and Damon are no more.
* * * * *
THE LADY'S SONG.
1 A Choir of bright beauties in spring did appear,
To choose a May-lady to govern the year;
All the nymphs were in white, and the shepherds in green;
The garland was given, and Phyllis was queen:
But Phyllis refused it, and sighing did say,
I'll not wear a garland while Pan is away.
2 While Pan and fair Syrinx are fled from our shore,
The Graces are banish'd, and Love is no more:
The soft god of pleasure, that warm'd our desires,
Has broken his bow, and extinguish'd his fires;
And vows that himself and his mother will mourn,
Till Pan and fair Syrinx in triumph return.
3 Forbear your addresses, and court us no more;
For we will perform what the Deity swore:
But if you dare think of deserving our charms,
Away with your sheephooks, and take to your arms;
Then laurels and myrtles your brows shall adorn,
When Pan, and his son, and fair Syrinx return.
* * * * *
[Footnote 44: Intended to apply to the banishment of King James and his
wife, Mary of Este.]
* * * * *
1 Fair, sweet, and young, receive a prize
Reserved for your victorious eyes:
From crowds, whom at your feet you see,
O pity, and distinguish me!
As I from thousand beauties more
Distinguish you, and only you adore.
2 Your face for conquest was design'd,
Your every motion charms my mind;
Angels, when you your silence break,
Forget their hymns, to hear you speak;
But when at once they hear and view,
Are loth to mount, and long to stay with you.
3 No graces can your form improve,
But all are lost, unless you love;
While that sweet passion you disdain,
Your veil and beauty are in vain:
In pity then prevent my fate,
For after dying all reprieve's too late.
* * * * *
High state and honours to others impart,
But give me your heart:
That treasure, that treasure alone,
I beg for my own.