« PreviousContinue »
And fain would know his birth, and what he were;
How there erected; and how long agone:
Enquires and asks his fellow traveller
What he hath heard, and his opinion:
And he knows nothing, then he turns again,
And looks and sighs; and then admires afresh,
And in himself with sorrow doth complain
The misery of dark forgetfulness :
Angry with Time that nothing should remain,
Our greatest wonder's wonder to express.
Then Ignorance, with fabulous discourse,
Robbing fair Art and Cunning of their right,
Tells how those stones were by the devil's force
From Afric brought to Ireland in a night;
And thence to Brittany, by magic course,
From giants hauds redeem'd by Merlin's slight;
And then near Ambri plac'd, in memory
Of all those noble Britons murther'd there
By Hengist and his Saxon treachery,
Coming to parley in peace
With this old legend then Credulity
Holds her content, and closes up her care.
+ And as for thee, thou huge and mighty frame,
That standst corrupted so with Time's despite,
And giv’st false evidence against their fame
That set thee there to testify their right;
* And then near Ambri plac'd in memory, &c.] See Selden's Notes to Drayton's Poly-Olbion, Song 3, Mr. Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, Vol. I. p. 53.
+ A few lines of inferior merit are here omitted.
And art become a traitor to their name*,
That trusted thee with all the best they might ;
Thou shalt stand still bely'd and slandered,
The only gazing-stock of Ignorance,
And by thy guile the wise admonished,
Shall never more desire such hopes t' advance,
Nor trust their living glory with the dead
That cannot speak, but leave their fame to chance.
Consid’ring in how small a room do lie,
And yet lie safe, (as fresh as if alive)
All those great worthies of antiquity,
Which long foreliv'd thee, and shall long survive;
Who stronger tombs found for eternity,
Than could the pow'rs of all the earth contrive.
Where they remain these trifles to upbraid,
Out of the reach of spoil, and way of rage;
Tho' Time with all his pow'r of years hath laid
Long batt'ry, back'd with undermining Age;
Yet they make head only with their own aid,
And war with his all-conqu’ring forces wage;
Pleading the heaten's prescription to be free,
And t' have a grant t' endure as long as he.
Musophilus, by S. Daniel.
* And art become a traitor to their name.] Thus Drayton, speak. ing of the same place:
IlI did those mighty men to trust thee with their story,
That hast forgot their names, who rear'd thee for their glory:
For all their wondrous cost, thou that hast serv'd them so,
What 'tis to trust to tombs, by thee we easily know.
Poly-Olbion, Song 3.
End and beginning of each thing that grows,
Whose self no end, nor yet beginning knows;
That hath no eyes to see, nor ears to bear,
Yet sees and bears, and is all
ear; That no where is contain'd, and yet is every where.
Changer of all things, yet immutable,
Before and after all, the first and last;
That moving all is yet immoveable;
Great without quantity, in whose forecast
Things past are present, things to come are past;
Swift without motion, to whose open eye
The hearts of wicked men unbreasted lie,
At once absent and present to them, far and nigh.
It is no flaming lustre made of light,
No sweet concent, or well-tim'd harmony;
Ambrosia for to feast the appetite,
Or flow'ry odour mix'd with spicery,
No soft embrace or pleasure bodily.
And yet it is a kind of inward feast,
A harmony that sounds within the breast, An odour, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.
A heav'nly feast no hunger can consume,
A light unseen yet shines in every place ;
A sound no time can steal, a sweet perfume
No winds can scatter, an entire embrace
That no satiety can e'er unlace.
Ingrac'd into so high a favour, there
The saints, with their compeers, whole worlds outwear, And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear.
Christ's Triumph, by G. Fletcher,
Part II. stan. 39–42,
Tr’Egyptians, amidst their solemn feasts,
Used to welcome and present their guests
With the sad sight of man's anatomy,
Serv'd in with this loud motto, 'All must die.'
Fools often go about, when as they may
Take better 'vantage of a nearer way:
Look well into your bosoms: do not flatter
Your known infirmities : behold, what matter
Your flesh was made of. Man, cast back thine eye
Upon the weakness of thine infancy;
See how thy lips hang on thy mother's breast
Bawling for help, more helpless than a beast.
Liv'st thou to childhood ? then behold what toys
Do mock the sense, how shallow are thy joys.
Com'st thou to downy years? See how deceits
Gull thee with golden fruit, and with false baits
Slily beguile the prime of thine affection.
Art thou attain'd at length to full perfection
Of ripen'd years? Ambition bath now sent
Thee on her frothy errand; Discontent
Pays thee thy wages. Do thy grizly hairs
Begin to cast account of many cares
Upon thy head? The sacred lust of gold
Now fires thy spirit *, for fleshly lust too cold
Makes thee a slave to thine own base desire,
Which melts and hardens at the selfsame fire.
Art thou decrepit? then thy very breath
Is grievous to thee, and each grief's a death.
Look where thou list, thy life is but a span,
Thou art but dust, and, to conclude,-a man.
Thy life's a warfare, thou a soldier art,
Satan's thy foeman, and a faithful heart
Thy two-edg'd weapon, patience is thy shield,
Heaven is thy chieftain, and the world thy field.
To be afraid to die, or wish for death,
Are words and passions of despairing breath;
Who doth the first the day doth faintly yield,
And who the second basely flies the field.
Man's not a lawful steersman of his days,
His bootless wish nor hastens nor delays :
We are God's hired workmen; he discharges
Some late at night, and (when he list) enlarges
Others at noon, and in the morning some:
relieve himself till he bid come:
If we receive for one half day as much
As they that toil till evening, shall we grutch?
Job Militant, by F. Quarles, Med. viii.
.the sacred lust of gold Now fires thy spirit.] Sacred is here used in the sense of ac. cursed, like the auri sacra fames of Virgil. Æn. III. 57.