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Thy age, like ours, O soul of Sir John Cheek,
Hated not learning worse than toad or asp, [Greek. When thou taught'st Cambridge, and King Edward,
I DID but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs:
As when those hinds that were transform'd to frogs
Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny,
Which after held the sun and moon in fee.
But this is got by casting pearl to hogs;
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
And still revolt when truth would set them free.
Licence they mean when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good;
But from that mark how far they rove we see,
For all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.
VIII. TO MR. H. LAWES, ON THE PUBLISHING
HARRY, whose tuneful and well-measured song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent, not to scan
With Midas' ears, committing short and long;
Thy worth and skill exempt thee from the throng,
With praise enough for Envy to look wan;
To after-age thou shalt be writ the man,
That with smooth air couldst humour best our tongue,
Thou honour'st verse, and verse must lend her wing
To honour thee, the priest of Phoebus' quire,
That tunest their happiest lines in hymn or story.
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he woo'd to sing,
Met in the milder shades of purgatory.
IX. ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS. CATHERINE THOMSON, MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DECEASED DECEMBER 16, 1646.
WHEN faith and love, which parted from thee never, Had ripen'd thy just soul to dwell with God, Meekly thou didst resign this earthly load
Of death, called life; which us from life doth sever.
Thy works, and alms, and all thy good endeavour,
Staid not behind, nor in the grave were trod;
But, as faith pointed with her golden rod,
Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Love led them on, and faith, who knew them best
Thy hand-maids, clad them o'er with purple beam
And azure wings, that up they flew so drest,
And spake the truth of thee on glorious themes
Before the Judge; who thenceforth bid thee rest,
And drink thy fill of pure immortal streams.
X. TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX. FAIRFAX, whose name in arms through Europe rings,
Filling each mouth with envy or with praise, And all her jealous monarchs with amaze, And rumours loud that daunt remotest kings; Thy firm unshaken virtue ever brings
Victory home, though new rebellions raise Their Hydra heads, and the false North displays Her broken league to imp their serpent-wings. O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand
(For what can war, but endless war still breed?) Till truth and right from violence be freed, And public faith clear'd from the shameful brand Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed, While avarice and rapine share the land.
XI. TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL.
CROMWELL, Our chief of men, who through a cloud
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd, And on the neck of crowned fortune proud
Hast rear'd God's trophies, and his work pursued, While Darwen stream, with blood of Scots imbued, And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureate wreath. Yet much remains To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renown'd than war: new foes arise, Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves, whose Gospel is their maw.
XII. TO SIR HENRY VANE, THE YOUNGER.
VANE, young in years, but in sage counsel old,
Than whom a better senator ne'er held
The helm of Rome, when gowns, not arms, repell'd
The fierce Epirot and the African bold;
Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
The drift of hollow states hard to be spell'd;
Then to advise how war may, best upheld,
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
In all her equipage: besides to know
Both spiritual power and civil, what each means, What severs each, thou hast learn'd, which few
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe:
Therefore on thy firm hand religion leans
In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son.
XIII. ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT.
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipt stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that roll'd
Mother with infant down the rocks. The moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth way
The triple tyrant: that from these may grow
A hundred fold, who, having learn'd thy sway,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
XIV. ON HIS BLINDNESS.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide;
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask: but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke; they serve him best: his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.'
XV. TO MR. LAWRENCE.
LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius reinspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touch'd, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.
XVI. TO CYRIACK SKINNER.
CYRIACK, whose grandsire, on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause,
Pronounced, 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
Towards solid good what leads the nearest way; For other things mild Heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show, That with superfluous burden loads the day, And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
CYRIACK, this three years' day these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft 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 Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.
[mask, This thought might lead me through the world's vain Content though blind, had I no better guide.
XVIII. ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.
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 heaven 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 shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But, O! as to embrace me she inclined,
I waked; she fled; and day brought back my night.