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Blest, is to trace thy ways; there, might not we
Arm against passion with philosophy;
And, by the aid of leisure, so control
Whate'er is earth in us, to grow all soul?
Knowledge doth ignorance engender, when
We study mysteries of other men
And foreign plots. Do but in thy own shade,
Thy head upon some flow'ry pillow laid,
(Kind Nature's housewifery) contemplate all
His stratagems who labours to enthral
The world to his great master, and you'll find
Ambition mocks itself, and grasps the wind.
Not conquest makes us great, blood is too dear
A price for glory: honour doth appear
To statesmen like a vision in the night,
And, juggler-like, works on the deluded sight.
The unbusied only wise: for no respect
Endangers them to error; they affect
Truth in her naked beauty, and behold
Man with an equal eye, not bright in gold
Or tall in title ; so much him they weigh
As virtue raiseth him above his clay.
Thus let us value things; and since we find
Time bends us toward death, let's in our mind
Create new youth, and arm against the rude
Assaults of age; that no dull solitude
Of the country dead our thoughts, nor busy care
Of the town make us not think, where now we are
And whither we are bound ; Time ne'er forgot
His journey, though his steps we numb’red not.
Castara, by W. Habington,
FAREWELL TO THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD,
Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles;
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles;
Fame's but a hollow echo; gold pure clay;
Honour the darling but of one short day.
Beauty, th' eye's idol, but a damask'd skin;
State but a golden prison to live in,
And torture free-born minds: embroider'd trains
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins ;
And blood ally'd to greatness, is alone
Inherited, not purchas'd nor our own,
Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blood and birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill:
I would be high, but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke;
I would be rich, but see men, too unkind,
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind :
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected, whilst the ass goes free:
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud,
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud :
I would be poor, but know the humble
grass Still trampled on by each unworthy ass;
Rich hated : wise suspected: scorn'd if poor:
Great fear'd: fair tempted: high still envy'd more:
I have wish'd all; but now I wish for neither;
Great, high, rich, wise nor fair; poor I'll be rather.
Would the world now adopt me for her heir,
Would beauty's queen
entitle "The Fair,'
Fame speak me Fortune's minion, could I vie
Angels with India *; with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike Justice dumb,
As well as blind and lame, or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs: be call'd great master
In the loose rhymes of every poetaster ;
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives ;
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign,
Than ever fortune would have made them mine,
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.
Welcome pure thoughts, welcome ye silent groves,
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves :
Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring:
A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet virtue's face.
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace-cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-fac'd fears :
could I vie Angels with India.] An angel is a piece of coin, value ten shillings. The words to vie angels, are a periphrasis, and signify to com
See Sir J. Hawkins's note on the passage, Walton's Angler, p. 264. Cartwright uses the word angels :
You shall ne'er know what angels, pieces, pounds,
These names of want and beggary mean.
The Ordinary, Act II. Sc. iii.
Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn t' affect an holy melancholy;
And if Contentment be a stranger then,
I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven again.
My glass is half unspent? forbear t arrest
My thriftless day too soon: my poor request
Is that iny glass may run but out the rest.
My time-devouring minutes will be done
Without thy help; see! see how swift they run;
Cut not my thread before my thread be spun.
The gain's not great I purchase by this stay;
What loss sustain'st thou by so small delay,
To whom ten thousand years are but a day?
My following eye can hardly make a shift
To count my winged hours; they fly so swift,
They scarce deserve the bounteous name of gift.
The secret wheels of hurrying time do give
So short a warning, and so fast they drive,
That I am dead before I seem to live.
And what's a life? a weary pilgrimage,
Whose glory in one day doth fill the stage
With Childhood, Manhood, and decrepit Age.
And what's a life? the flourishing array
Of the proud summer-meadow, which to-day
Wears her green plush, and is to-morrow hay.
Read on this dial *, how the shades devour
My short-lived winter's day +! hour eats up hour;
Alas! the totals but from eight to four.
Behold these lillies, which thy hands have made
Fair copies of my life, and open laid
To view, how soon they droop, how soon they fade!
Shade not that dial night will blind too soon;
My non-aged day already points to noon;
How simple is my suit! how small my boon!
* Read on this dial, &c.] No poet whatever has introduced this circumstance with the happiness of Shakspeare, who compares the silent and almost imperceptible flight of beauty to the stealing shadow of a sun-dial. As the lines are in one of his minor poems, they may probably have escaped the notice of common readers :
Ah yet doth beauty like a dial hand
Steal from his figure, and no place perceiv'd;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d.
Poems, Constant Affection, Edit, 1640, The verses are incorrect, but the idea is fine : the shadow steals from the dial's hand, and not the dial's hand from the shadow.
+ My short-lived winter's day.] Dyer, in his well-known Grongar Hill, well denominates the smile of Fate,
A sun-beam in a winter's day. For further observations, on this piece, see Jackson's very elegant and sensible Letters, Vol. II. Let. xix.