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To the Countess of Bedford. Madam,
I have learned by those laws wherein I am a little conversant, that he which bestows any cost upon the dead, obliges him which is dead, but not the heir; I do not therefore send this paper to your ladyship, that you should thank me for it, or think that I thank you in it; your favours and benefits to me are so much above my merits, that they are even above my gratitude, if that were to be judged by words which must express it : But, madam, since your noble brother's fortune being yours, the evidences also concerning it are yours, so his virtue being yours, the evidences concerning it, belong also to you, of which by your acceptance this may be one piece, in which quality I humbly present it, and as a testimony how entirely your family possesseth Your ladyship’s most humble and thankful servant,
OBSEQUIES TO Lord HARRINGTON'S BROTHER.
Thou at this midnight see'st me, and as soon As that sun rises to me, midnight's noon, All the world grows transparent, and I see Through all, both church and state, in seeing thee; And I discern by favour of this light, Myself, the hardest object of the sight. God is the glass; as thou when thou dost see Him who sees all, see'st all concerning thee, So, yet unglorified, I comprehend All, in these mirrors of thy ways, and end; Though God be our true glass, through which we see All, since the being of all things is he, Yet are the trunks which do to us derive Things, in proportion fit by perspective, Deeds of good men, for by their living here, Virtues, indeed remote, seem to be near; But where can I affirm, or where arrest My thoughts on his deeds ? which shall I call best? For fluid virtue cannot be look'd on, Nor can endure a contemplation; As bodies change, and as I do not wear Those spirits, humours, blood I did last year; And, as if on a stream I fix mine eye, That drop, which I looked on, is presently Pushed with more waters from my sight, and gone, So in this sea of virtues, can no one Be insisted on; virtues, as rivers, pass, Yet still remains that virtuous man there was; And as if man feeds on man's flesh, and so Part of his body to another owe, Yet at the last two perfect bodies rise, Because God knows where every atom lies; So, if one knowledge were made of all those, Who knew his minutes well, he might dispose His virtues into names, and ranks; but I Should injure nature, virtue, and destiny, Should I divide and discontinue so, Virtue, which did in one entireness grow. For as he that would say, spirits are fram'd Of all the purest parts that can be nam'd, Honours not spirits half so much, as he Which says, they have no parts, but simple be ;
So is it of virtue ; for a point and one Are much entirer than a million. And had fate meant to have his virtues told, It would have let him live to have been old, So then, that virtue in season, and then this, We might have seen, and said, that now he is Witty, now wise, now temperate, now just : In good short lives, virtues are fain to thrust, And to be sure betimes to get a place, When they would exercise, lack time, and space. So was it in this person, forced to be For lack of time, his own epitome. So to exhibit in few years as much, As all the long breath'd chronicles can touch ; As when an angel down from heaven doth fly, Our quick thought cannot keep him company, We cannot think, now he is at the sun, Now through the moon, now he through the air doth run, Yet when he's come, we know he did repair To all twixt heaven and earth, sun, moon and air. And as this angel in an instant, knows, And yet we know, this sudden knowledge grows By quick amassing several forms of things, Which he successively to order brings; When they, whose slow-paced lame thoughts cannot go So fast as he, think that he doth not so ; Just as a perfect reader doth not dwell, On every syllable, nor stay to spell, Yet without doubt he doth distinctly see And lay together every A, and B; So, in short lived good men, is not understood Each several virtue, but the compound good. For, they all virtue's paths in that pace tread, As angels go, and know, and as men read. O why should then these men, these lumps of balm Sent thither, the world's tempest to becalm, Before by deeds they are diffused and spread, And so make us alive, themselves be dead? O soul, O circle, why so quickly be Thy ends, thy birth and death, closed up in thee? Since one foot of thy compass still was placed In heaven, the other might securely have paced
In the most large extent, through every path,
And daily hadst from him, who gave it thee,
* Speaking of the consternation at Queen Elizabeth's death, he says, “When every one of you in the city were running up and down like ants with their eggs bigger than themselves, every man with his bags, Almighty God sent down his spirit of unity.” -SERM. cliv.