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Yet to that deity which dwells in you,
Your virtuous soul, I now not sacrifice ;
These are petitions, and not hymns; they sue
But that I may survey the edifice.
In all religions as much care hath been
Of temples' frames, and beauty, as rites within.
As all which go to Rome, do not thereby
Esteem religions, and hold fast the best,
But serve discourse, and curiosity,
With that which doth religion but invest,
And shun th' entangling labyrinths of schools,
And make it wit, to think the wiser fools :
So in this pilgrimage I would behold
You as you are virtue's temple, not as she,
What walls of tender crystal her enfold,
What eyes, hands, bosom, her pure altars be!
And after this survey, oppose to all
Babblers of chapels, you th' Escurial.
Yet not as consecrate, but merely as fair ;
On these I cast a lay and country eye.
Of past and future stories, which are rare,
I find you all record, and prophecy.
Purge but the book of fate, that it admit
No sad nor guilty legends, you are it.
If good and lovely were not one, of both
You were the transcript, and original,
The elements, the parent, and the growth
And every piece of you, is both their all,
So entire are all your deeds, and you, that you
Must do the same things still : you cannot two.
But these (as nice thin school divinity
Serves heresy to further or repress)
Taste of poetic rage, or flattery,
And need not, where all hearts one truth profess; Oft' from new proofs, and new phrase, new doubts grow, As strange attire aliens the men we know. Leaving then busy praise, and all appeal,
To higher courts, sense's decree is true, The mine, the magazine, the commonweal,
The story of beauty, in Twick’n’am is, and you. Who hath seen one, would both ; as, who had been In paradise, would seek the cherubin.
Man is a lump, where all beasts kneaded be,
Wisdom makes him an ark where all agree;
The fool, in whom these beasts do live at jar,
Is sport to others, and a theatre.
Nor 'scapes he so, but is himself their prey;
All which was man in him, is eat away,
And now his beasts on one another feed,
Yet couple in anger, and new monsters breed.
How happy’s he, which hath due place assigned
To his beasts, and disaforested his mind!
Empal'd himself to keep them out, not in;
Can sow, and dares trust corn where they've been ;
Can use his horse, goat, wolf, and every beast,
And is not ass himself to all the rest.
Else, man not only is the herd of swine,
But he's those devils too, which did incline
Them to a headlong rage, and made them worse :
For man can add weight to heaven's heaviest curse.
As souls (they say) by our first touch, take in
The poisonous tincture of original sin:
So, to the punishments which God doth fling,
Our apprehension contributes the sting.
To us, as to his chickens, he doth cast
Hemlock; and we, as men, his hemlock taste.
We do infuse to what he meant for meat,
Corrosiveness, or intense cold or heat.
For God no such specific poison hath
As kills we know not how; his fiercest wrath
Hath no antipathy, but may be good
At least for physic, if not for our food.
Thus man, that might be his pleasure, is his rod,
And is his devil, that might be his God.
Since then our business is, to rectify
Nature, to what she was, we're led awry
By them, who man to us in little show:
Greater than due, no form we can bestow
On him; for man into himself can draw
All, all his faith can swallow, or reason chaw.
All that is filled, and all that which doth fill,
All the round world, to man is but a pill :
In all it works not, but it is in all
Poisonous, or purgative or cordial.
For knowledge kindles calentures in some,
And is to others icy opium.
As brave as true, is that profession than
Which you do use to make: that you know man.
This makes it credible, you have dwelt upon
All worthy books, and now are such an one;
Actions are authors, and of those in you
Your friends find every day a mart of new.
To the Countess of Bedford. To have written then, when you writ, seemed to me Worst of spiritual vices, simony; And not t' have written then, seems little less Than worst of civil vices, thanklessness. In this, my doubt I seem'd loth to confess, In that, I seem'd to shun beholdingness. But 'tis not so, nothing, as I am, may Pay all they have, and yet have all to pay. Such borrow in their payments, and owe more By having leave to write so, than before. Yet since rich mines in barren grounds are shown, May not I yield (not gold) but coal or stone? Temples were not demolished, though profane: Here Peter, Jove's—there Paul have Dian's fane. So, whether my hymns you admit or choose, In me you've hallowed a pagan muse ; And denizen'd a stranger, who, mistaught By blamers of the times they marred, hath sought Virtues in corners, which now bravely do Shine in the world's best part, or all, in you*. I have been told, that virtue in courtiers' hearts Suffers an ostracism, and departs. Profit, ease, fitness, plenty, bid it go, But whither, only knowing you, I know ;
* " Or all it, you.” Anderson's Poets.
You, or your virtue, two vast uses serves,
It ransoms one sex, and one court preserves ;
There's nothing but your worth, which being true,
Is known to any other, not to you.
And you can never know it: to admit
No knowledge of your worth, is some of it.
But since to you, your praises discords be,
Stop others' ills, to meditate with me.
Oh! to confess we know not what we would,
Is half excuse, we know not what we should.
Lightness depresseth us, emptiness fills,
We sweat and faint, yet still go down the hills;
As new philosophy arrests the sun,
And bids the passive earth about it run,
So we have dulld our mind, it hath no ends:
Only the body's busy, and pretends ;
As dead low earth eclipses and controls
The quick high moon: so doth the body, souls.
In none but us, are such mixed engines found,
As hands of double office : for the ground
We till with them, and them to heaven we raise;
Who prayerless labours, or, without this, prays,
Doth but one half: that's none. He which said, plough
And look not back, to look up doth allow.
Good seed degenerates, and oft obeys
The soil's disease, and into cockle strays.
Let the mind's thoughts be but transplanted so,
Into the body, and bastardly they grow.
What hate could hurt our bodies like our love?
We but no foreign tyrants could remove,
These not engraved, but inborn dignities-
Caskets of souls, temples, and palaces.
For bodies shall from death redeemed be:
Souls but preserved, not naturally free ;
As men to our prisons, new souls to us are sent,
Which learn it there, and come in innocent.
First seeds of every creature are in us,
Whate'er the world hath bad, or precious,
Man's body can produce. Hence hath it been
That stones, worms, frogs, and snakes in man are seen.
But whoe'er saw, though nature can work so,
That pearl, or gold, or corn in man did grow?
We've added to the world Virginia, and sent
Two new stars lately to the firmament:
Why grudge we us (not heaven) the dignity
T'increase with ours, those fair souls' company?
But I must end this letter ; though it do
Stand on two truths, neither is true to you.
Virtue hath some perverseness ; for she will
Neither believe her good, nor others ill.
Even in your virtue's best paradise,
Virtue hath some, but wise degrees of vice.
Too many virtues, or too much of one,
Begets in you unjust suspicion ;
And ignorance of vice, makes virtue less,
Quenching compassion of our wretchedness.
But these are riddles; some aspersion
Of vice becomes well some complexion.
Statesmen purge vice with vice, and may corrode
The bad with bad-a spider with a toad;
For so, ill thralls not them, but they tame ill,
And make her do much good against her will.
But in your commonwealth or world in you,
Vice hath no office, or good work to do ;
Take then no vicious purge, but be content
With cordial virtue, your known nourishment.
To the Countess of Bedford.-On New Year's Day.
This twilight of two years, not past nor next,
Some emblem is of me, or I of this :
Who, meteor-like, of stuff and form perplext,
Whose what, and where, in disputation is,
If I should call me anything, should miss.
I sum the years, and me, and find me not
Debtor to th' old, nor creditor to the new : That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot,
Nor trust I this with hopes, and yet scarce true,
This bravery is since these time show'd me*, you. * In Anderson,
“ Since these times showed me you.” The old edition is as in the text, but with no comma at me.-ED.