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Pronounc'd, and in his volumes taught our laws, Which others at their bar so often wrench; To day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench In mirth, that after no repenting draws; Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause, And what the Swede intends, and what the French. To measure life learn thou betimes, and know Tow’rd solid good what leads the nearest way; For other things mild Heav'n a time ordains And disapproves that care, though wise in shew, That with superfluous burden loads the day, And when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
Cyriac, this three years day these eyes, tho' clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Berest of light, their seeing have forgot,
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heav'n's hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer
Right onward. What supports me? dost thou ask:
The conscience, Friend, to ve lost them overply'd
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe talks from side to side.
This thought might lead me thro' the world's
Content though blind, had I no better guide.
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclin'd,
I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.
'Tis not a pyramid of marble stone,
Though high as our ambition;
'Tis not a tomb cut out in brass, which can
Give life to th' ashes of a man,
But verses only; they shall fresh appear
Whilst there are men to read or hear,
When time shall make the lasting brass decay,
And eat the pyramid away,
Turning that monument wherein men trust
Their names to what it keeps, poor dust;
Then shall the epitaph remain, and be
New graven in eternity.
Poets by death are conquer'd, but the wit
Of poets triumphs over it.
What cannot verse When Thracian Orpheus took
His lyre, and gently on it strook,
The learned stones came dancing all along,
And kept time to the charming song.
With artificial pace the warlike pine,
The elm and his wife the ivy twine,
With all the better trees which erst had stood
Unmov'd forsook their native wood.
The laurel to the poet's hand did bow,
Craving the honour of his brow;
And ev'ry loving arm embrac'd, and made
With their officious leaves a shade.
The beasts, too, strove his auditors to be,
Forgetting their old tyranny:
The fearful hart next to the lion came,
And the wolf was shepherd to the lamb.
Nightingales, harmless syrens of the air,
And muses of the place, were there;
Who, when their little windpipes they had found
Unequal to so strange a sound,
O'ercome by art and grief, they did expire,
And fell upon the conqu'ring lyre.
Happy, O happy they whose tomb might be,
Mausolus! envied by thee!
THE COMPLAINT. In a deep vision's intellectual scene, Beneath a bow'r for sorrow made, Th'uncomfortable shade Of the black yew's unlucky green, Mix'd with the mourning willow's careful gray, Where rev'rend Cam cuts out his famous way, The melancholy Cowley lay; And, lo! a Muse appeared to his clos'd sight, (The Muses oft in lands of vision play) Body'd, array'd, and seen by an internal light: A golden harp with silver strings she bore, A wondrous hieroglyphic robe she wore, In which all colours and all figures were
That nature or that fancy can create,
That art can never imitate,
And with loose pride it wanton'd in the air.
In such a dress, in such a well-cloth'd dream,
She us'd of old near fair Ismenus' stream
Pindar, her Theban favourite, to meet; [feet.
A crown was on her head, and wings were on her
She touch'd him with her harp and rais'd him from
The shaken strings melodiously resound.
“Art thou return’d at last,” said she,
“To this forsaken place and me?
Thou prodigals who did'st so loosely waste
Of all thy youthful years the good estate;
Art thou return'd, here to repent too late?
And gather husks of learning up at last,
Now the rich harvest-time of life is past,
And winter marches on so fast?
But when I meant t' adopt thee for my son,
And did as learn’d a portion assign
As ever any of the mighty Nine
Had to their dearest children done;
When I resolv'd t” exalt thy anointed name
Among the spiritual lords of peaceful fame;
Thou changeling! thou, bewitch'd with noise and
Wouldst into courts and cities from me go; [shew,
Wouldst see the world abroad, and have a share
In all the follies and the tumults there;
Thou wouldst, forsooth' be something in a state,
And business thou wouldst find, or wouldst
Business! the frivolous pretence [create:
Of human lusts to shake off innocence;
Business! the grave impertinence;
Business! the thing which I of all things hate;
Business! the contradiction of thy fate.
Go, renegado! cast up thy account,
And see to what amount
Thy foolish gains by quitting me:
The sale of knowledge, fame, and liberty,
The fruits of thy unlearn'd apostacy.
Thou thought'st if once the public storm were past,
All thy remaining life should sunshine be:
Behold the public storm is spent at last,
The sovereign is toss'd at sea no more,
And thou, with all the noble company,
Art got at last to shore:
But whilst thy fellow-voyagers I see,
All march’d up to possess the promis'd land,
Thou still alone, alas! dost gaping stand
Upon the naked beach, upon the barren sand.
As a fair morning of the blessed spring, After a tedious stormy night,
Such was the glorious entry of our king;
Enriching moisture dropp'd on every thing:
Plenty he sow'd below, and cast about him light.
But then, alas! to thee alone,
One of Old Gideon's miracles was shewn,
For ev'ry tree, and ev'ry herb around,
With pearly dew was crown'd,
And upon all the quicken'd ground
The fruitful seed of Heav'n did brooding lie,
And nothing but the Muse's fleece was dry.
It did all other threats surpass,
When God to his own people said,
(The men whom thro' long wand'rings he had led)
That he would give them ev’n a heav'n of brass:
They look’d up to that heav’n in vain,
That bounteous heav'n' which God did not restrain
Upon the most unjust to shine and rain.
The Rachel, for which twice seven years and more,
Thou didst with faith and labour serve,
And didst (if faith and labour can) deserve,
Tho' she contracted was to thee,
Giv'n to another thou didst see,
Giv'n to another, who had store
Offairer and of richer wives before,
And not a Leah left, thy recompense to be.
Go on, twice sev’n years more, thy fortune try,
Twice sev’n years more God in his bounty may
Give thee to fling away
into the court's deceitful lottery:
But think how likely ’tis that thou,
With the dull work of thy unwieldy plough,
Shouldst in a hard and barren season thrive,
Shouldst even able be to live;
Thou! to whose share so little bread did fall
In the miraculous year when manna rain'd on all.”
Thus spake the Muse, and spake it with a smile,
That seem'd at once to pity and revile:
And to her thus, raising his thoughtful head,
The melancholy Cowley said:
“Ah! wanton foe! dost thou upbraid
The ills which thou thyself hast made?
When in the cradle innocent I lay,
Thou, wicked spirit! stolest me away,
And my abused soul didst bear
into thy new-found worlds, I know not where,
Thy golden Indies in the air;
And ever since I strive in vain
My ravish'd freedom to regain;
Still I rebel, still thou dost reign ;
Lo, still in verse, against thee I complain.
There is a sort of stubborn weeds,
Which, if the earth but once it ever breeds,
No wholesome herb can near them thrive,
No useful plant can keep alive:
The foolish sports I did on thee bestow
Make all my art and labour fruitless now; [grow.
Where once such fairies dance, no grass doth ever
When my new mind had no infusion known, Thou gav'st so deep a tincture of thine own,
That ever since I vainly try
To wash away th’ inherent dye:
Long work, perhaps, may spoil thy colours quite,
But never will reduce the native white.
To all the ports of honour and of gain
I often steer my course in vain;
Thy gale comes cross, and drives me back again.
Thou slacken'st all my nerves of industry,
By making them so oft to be
The tinkling strings of thy loose minstrelsy.
Whoever this world's happiness would see,
Must as entirely cast off thee,
As they who only heav'n desire
Do from the world retire.
This was my error, this my gross mistake,
Myself a demi-votary to make.
Thus with Sapphira and her husband's fate,
(A fault which I, like them, am taught too late)
For all that I gave up I nothing gain,
And perish for the part which I retain.
Teach me not then, O thou sallacious Muse!
The court and better king t'accuse;
The heav'n under which I live is fair,
The fertile soil will a full harvest bear:
Thine, thine is all the barrenness, if thou
Mak'st me sit still and sing, when I should plough.
When I but think how many a tedious year
Our patient sovereign did attend
His long misfortunes' fatal end;
How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear,
On the Great Sovereign's will he did depend,
I ought to be accurs'd if I refuse
To wait on his, O thou fallacious Muse!
Kings have long hands, they say, and tho' I be
So distant, they may reach at length to me.
However, of all princes, thou [slow.
Shouldst not reproach rewards for being small or
Thou! who rewardest but with pop’lar breath,
And that too, after death !
At the large foot of a fair hollow tree,
Close to plow'd ground, seated commodiously,
His ancient and hereditary house,
There dwelt a good substantial Country Mouse,
Frugal, and grave, and careful of the main.
A City Mouse, well coated, sleek, and gay,
A mouse of high degree, which lost his way,
Wantonly walking forth to take the air,
Had arriv'd early, and belighted there
For a day's lodging. The good hearty host
(The ancient plenty of his hall to boast)
Did all the stores produce that might excite,
With various tastes, the courtier's appetite:
Fitches and beans, peason, and oats, and wheat,
And a large chesnut, the delicious meat
Which Jove himself, were he amouse, would eat.
And for a hautgout, there was mix'd with these
The swerd of bacon, and the coat of cheese,
The precious relics which at harvest he
Had gather'd from the reaper's luxury.
Freely (said he) fall on, and never spare,
The bounteous Gods will for to-morrow care.
And thus at ease on beds of straw they lay,
And to their genius sacrific'd the day:
Yet the nice guest's Epicurean mind
(Though breeding made him civil seem and kind)
Despis'd this country feast, and still his thought
Upon the cakes and pies of London wrought.
Your bounty and civility (said he) *.
Which I'm surpris'd in these rude parts to see,
Shews that the Gods have given you a mind
Too noble for the fate which here you find.
Why should a soul so virtuous and so great
Lose itself thus in an obscure retreat?
Let savage beasts lodge in a country den,
You should see towns, and manners know, and men;
And taste the gen’rous lux'ry of the court,
Where all the mice of quality resort;
Where thousand beauteous shes about you move,
And by high fare are pliant made to love.
We all ere long must render up our breath,
No cave or hole can shelter us from death.
Since life is so uncertain and so short,
Let's spend it all in feasting and in sport.
Come, worthy sir! come with me, and partake
All the great things that mortals happy make.
Alas! what virtue hath sufficient arms
T'oppose bright honour and soft pleasure's charms?
What wisdom can their magic force repel
It draws this rev'rend hermit from his cell.
It was the time, when witty poets tell,
“That Phoebus into Thetis' bosom fell:
“She blush'd at first, and then put out the light,
“And drew the modest curtains of the night.”
Plainly, the truth to tell, the sun was set,
When to the town our weary'd trav’llers get.
To a lord's house, as lordly as can be,
Made for the use of pride and luxury,
They come; the gentle courtier at the door
Stops, and will hardly enter in before;
But 'tis, sir, your command, and being so,
I'm sworn to obedience; and so in they go.
Behind a hanging in a spacious room,
(The richest work of Mortlake's noble loom)
They wait awhile, their weary'd limbs to rest
Till silence should invite them to their feast,
“About the hour that Cynthia's silver light
“Had touch'd the pale meridies of the night.”
At last the various supper being done,
It happen'd that the company was gone
Into a room remote, servants and all,
To please their noble fancies with a ball.
Our host leads forth his stranger, and does find
All fitted to the bounties of his mind.
Still on the table half-fill'd dishes stood,
And with delicious bits the floor was strew'd.
The courteous mouse presents him with the best,
And both with fat varieties are bless'd:
Th’industrious peasant ev'ry where does range,
And thanks the Gods for his life's happy change.
*" in the midst of a well-freighted pie
They both at last, glutted and wanton lie:
When, see the sad reverse of prosp’rous fate,
And what fierce storms on mortal glories wait:
With hideous noise down the rude servants come,
Six dogs before run barking into the room;
The wretched gluttons fly with wild affright,
And hate the fullness which retards their flight.
Our trembling peasant wishes now, in vain,
That rocks and mountains cover'd him again.
Oh how the change of his poor life he curs'd!
This of all lives, said he, is sure the worst.
Give me again, ye Gods! my cave and wood;
With peace, let tares and acorns be my food.
Philosophy! the great and only heir
Of all that human knowledge which has been
Unforfeited by man's rebellious sin,
| Though full of years he doth appear,
(Philosophy' I say, and call it he,
For whatsoe'er the painter's fancy be,
It a male virtue seems to me)
Has still been kept in nonage till of late,
Nor manag'd or enjoy’d his vast estate. [thought,
Three or four thousand years, one would have
To ripeness and perfection might have brought
A science so well bred and nurs'd,
And of such hopeful parts, too, at the first;
But, oh! the guardians and the tutors then,
(Some negligent, and some ambitious men)
Would ne'er consent to set him free,
Or his own nat'ral pow'rs to let him see,
Lest that should put an end to their authority.
That his own bus'ness he might quite forget,
They amus'd him with the sports of wanton wit;
With the deserts of poetry they fed him,
Instead of solid meats t” increase his force;
Instead of vig'rous exercise they led him
Into the pleasant labyrinths of ever-fresh discourse:
Instead of carrying him to see
The riches which do hoarded for him lie
In Nature's endless treasury,
They chose his eye to entertain
(His curious, but not cov'tous eye)
With painted scenes and pageants of the brain.
Some few exalted sprits this latter age has shewn,
That labour'd to assert the liberty
(From guardians who were now usurpers grown)
Of this old minor, still captiv'd Philosophy;
But 'twas rebellion call'd, to fight
For such a long-oppressed right.
Bacon, at last, a mighty man! arose,
Whom a wise king and nature chose
Lord Chancellor of both their laws,
And boldly undertook the injur’d pupil's cause.
Authority, which did a body boast,
Though 'twas but air condens'd, and stalk'd about
Like some old giant's more gigantic ghost,
To terrify the learned rout
With the plain magic of true reason's light,
He chas'd out of our sight,
Nor suffer'd living men to be misled
By the vain shadows of the dead: [tom fled:
To graves, from whence it rose, the conquer'd phan-
He broke that monstrous God which stood,
In midst of th' orchard, and the whole did claim,
Which with a useless scythe of wood,
And something else not worth a name,
(Both vast for shew, yet neither fit
Or to defend or to beget,
Ridiculous and senseless terrors') made
Children and superstitious men afraid.
The orchard's open now, and free;
Bacon has broke that scarecrow deity:
Come, enter all that will,
Behold the ripen'd fruit,come, gather now your fill!
Yet still, methinks, we fain would be
Catching at the forbidden tree;
We would be like the Deity;
When truth and falsehood, good and evil, we
Without the senses' aid within ourselves would see;
For 'tis God only who can find
All nature in his mind.
From words, which are but pictures of the thought,
(Though we our thoughts from them perversely
To things, the mind's right object, he it brought;
Like foolish birds to painted grapes we flew.
He sought and gather'd for our use the true;
And when on heaps the chosen bunches lay,
He press'd them wisely the mechanic way,
Till all their juice did in one vessel join,
Ferment into a nourishment divine,
The thirsty soul's refreshing wine.
Who to the life an exact piece would make,
Must not from others' work a copy take;
No, not from Rubens or Vandyck;
Much less content himself to make it like
Th’ ideas and the images which lie
In his own fancy or his memory:
No, he before his sight must place
The natural and living face;
The real object must command
Each judgment of his eye and motion of his hand.
From these, and all long errors of the way,
In which our wand'ring predecessors went,
And, like th' old Hebrews, many years did stray
In deserts, but of small extent,
Bacon! like Moses, led us forth at last;
The barren wilderness he pass'd,
Dd on the very border stand
Of the bless'd promis'd land,
And from the mountain's top of his exalted wit,
Saw it himself, and shew’d us it.
But life did never to one man allow
Time to discover worlds, and conquer too;
Nor can so short a line sufficient be
To fathom the vast deeps of Nature's sea:
The work he did we ought t'admire,
And were unjust if we should more require
From his few years, divided 'twixt th' excess
Of low affliction and high happiness:
For who on things remote can fix his sight,
That's always in a triumph or a fight!
From you, great champions ! we expect to get
These spacious countries but discover'd yet;
Countries where yet, instead of Nature, we
Her image and her idols worship'd see:
These large and wealthy regions to subdue,
Tho' learning has whole armies at command,
Quarter'd about in every land,
A better troop she ne'er together drew.
Methinks, like Gideon's little band,
God with design has pick'd out you,
To do these noble wonders by a few.
When the whole host he saw, They are, said he,
Too many to o'ercome for me:
And now he chooses out his men,
Much in the way that he did then :
Not those many, whom he found
Idly extended on the ground
To drink, with their dejected head,
The stream, just so as by their mouths it fled:
No ; but those few who took the waters up,
And made of their laborious hands the cup.
Thus you prepard, and in the glorious fight
Their wondrous pattern, too, you take:
Their old and empty pitchers first they brake,
And with their hands then lifted up the light.
Iö sound too the trumpets here!
Already your victorious lights appear;
New scenes of Heav'n already we espy,
And crowds of golden worlds on high.
Which from the spacious plains of earth and sea
Could never yet discover'd be
By sailor's or Chaldean's watchful eye.
Nature's great works no distance can obscure,
No smallness her near objects can secure:
Ye'ave taught the curious sight to press
Into the privatest recess
Of her imperceptible littleness:
Ye'ave learn'd to read her smallest hand,
And well begun her deepest sense to understand.
Mischief and true dishonour fall on those
Who would to laughter or to scorn expose
So virtuous and so noble a design,
So human for its use, for knowledge so divine.
The things which these proud men despise, and call
Impertinent, and vain, and small,
Those smallest things of nature let me know,
Rather than all their greatest actions do.
Whoever would deposed truth advance
Into the throne usurp'd from it,
Must feel at first the blows of ignorance,
And the sharp points of envious wit.
So when, by various turns of the celestial dance,
In many thousand years
A star, so long unknown, appears,