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-1640.] THE LESS-KNOWN BRITISH POETS. COWLEY. But Jonathan his son, and only good, Was gentle as fair Jordan's useful flood; Whose innocent stream, as it in silence goes, Fresh honours and a sudden spring bestows On both his banks, to every flower and tree; The manner how lies hid, the effect we see: But more than all, more than himself, he loved The man whose worth his father's hatred moved; For when the noble youth at Dammin stood, Adorned with sweat, and painted gay with blood, Jonathan pierced him through with greedy eye, And understood the future majesty Then destined in the glories of his look: He saw, and straight was with amazement strook, To see the strength, the feature, and the grace Of his young limbs; he saw his comely face, Where love and reverence so well-mingled were, And head, already crowned with golden hair: He saw what mildness his bold sp’rit did tame, Gentler than light, yet powerful as a flame: He saw his valour by their safety proved; He saw all this, and as he saw, he loved.
What art thou, Love! thou great mysterious thing? From what hid stock does thy strange nature spring ? 'Tis thou that movst the world through every part, And holdst the vast frame close, that nothing start From the due place and office first ordained; By thee were all things made, and are sustained. Sometimes we see thee fully, and can say From hence thou tookst thy rise, and wentst that way; But oftener the short beams of Reason's eye See only there thou art, not how, nor why. How is the loadstone, Nature's subtle pride, By the rude iron woo'd, and made a bride?
How was the weapon wounded? what hid flame
The strong and conquering metal overcame?
Love (this world's grace) exalts his natural state;
He feels thee, Love! and feels no more his weight.
Ye learned heads whom ivy garlands grace,
Why does that twining plant the oak embrace ?
The oak, for courtship most of all unfit,
And rough as are the winds that fight with it.
How does the absent pole the needle move?
How does his cold and ice beget hot love?
Which are the wings of lightness to ascend?
Or why does weight to the centre downwards bend?
Thus creatures void of life obey thy laws,
And seldom we, they never, know the cause.
In thy large state, life gives the next degree,
Where sense and good apparent places thee;
But thy chief palace is man's heart alone;
Here are thy triumphs and full glories shown:
Handsome desires, and rest, about thee flee,
Union, inheritance, zeal, and ecstasy,
With thousand joys, cluster around thine head,
O'er which a gall-less dove her wings does spread:
A gentle lamb, purer and whiter far
Than consciences of thine own martyrs are,
Lies at thy feet; and thy right hand does hold
The mystic sceptre of a cross of gold.
Thus dost thou sit (like men, ere sin had framed
A guilty blush) naked, but not ashamed.
What cause, then, did the fab’lous ancients find,
When first their superstition made thee blind?
'Twas they, alas ! 'twas they who could not see,
When they mistook that monster, Lust, for thee.
Thou art a bright, but not consuming, flame;
Such in the amazed bush to Moses came,
When that, secure, its new-crown'd head did rear,
And chid the trembling branches' needless fear;
Thy darts are healthful gold, and downwards fall,
Soft as the feathers that they are fletched withal.
Such, and no other, were those secret darts
Which sweetly touched this noblest pair of hearts :
Still to one end they both so justly drew,
As courteous doves together yoked would do:
No weight of birth did on one side prevail;
Two twins less even lie in Nature's scale:
They mingled fates, and both in each did share;
They both were servants, they both princes were.
If any joy to one of them was sent,
It was most his to whom it least was meant;
And Fortune's malice betwixt both was cross'd,
For striking one, it wounded the other most.
Never did marriage such true union find,
Or men's desires with so glad violence bind;
For there is still some tincture left of sin,
And still the sex will needs be stealing in.
Those joys are full of dross, and thicker far;
These, without matter, clear and liquid are.
Such sacred love does heaven's bright spirits fill,
Where love is but to understand and will,
With swift and unseen motions such as we
Somewhat express in heighten'd charity.
O ye bless'd One! whose love on earth became
So pure, that still in heaven 'tis but the same!
There now ye sit, and with mix'd souls embrace,
Gazing upon great Love's mysterious face,
And pity this base world, where friendship’s made
A bait for sin, or else at best a trade.
Ah, wondrous prince! who a true friend couldst be
When a crown flatter'd, and Saul tweaten'd thee!
Who held'st him dear whose stars thy birth did cross,
And bought'st him nobly at a kingdom's loss!
Israel's bright sceptre far less glory brings,
There have been fewer friends on earth than kings.
To this strong pitch their high affections flew,
Till Nature's self scarce looked on them as two.
Hither flies David for advice and aid,
As swift as love and danger could persuade ;
As safe in Jonathan's trust his thoughts remain,
As when himself but dreams them o'er again.
My dearest lord! farewell,' said he, ‘farewell;
Heaven bless the King; may no misfortune tell
The injustice of his hate when I am dead:
They ’re coming now; perhaps my guiltless head
Here, in your sight, must then a-bleeding lie,
And scarce your own stand safe for being nigh.
Think me not scared with death, howe'er 't appear;
I know thou canst not think so: it is a fear
From which thy love and Dammin speaks, me free;
I've met him face to face, and ne'er could see
One terror in his looks to make me fly
When virtue bids me stand; but I would die
So as becomes my life, so as may prove
Saul's malice, and at least excuse your love.'
He stopped, and spoke some passion with his eyes. • Excellent friend !' the gallant prince replies ; • Thou hast so proved thy virtues, that they ’re known To all good men, more than to each his own. Who lives in Israel that can doubtful be Of thy great actions ? for he lives by thee. Such is thy valour, and thy vast success, That all things but thy loyalty are less ; And should my father at thy ruin aim, "Twould wound as much his safety as his fame.
Think them not coming, then, to slay thee here,
But doubt mishaps as little as you fear;
For, by thy loving God, whoe'er design
Against thy life, must strike at it through mine,
But I my royal father must acquit
From such base guilt, or the low thought of it.
Think on his softness, when from death he freed
The faithless king of Am'leks cursed seed;
Can he t'a friend, t'a son, so bloody grow,
He who even sinned but now to spare a foe?
Admit he could; but with what strength or art
Could he so long close and seal up his heart?
Such counsels jealous of themselves become,
And dare not fix without consent of some;
Few men so boldly ill great sins to do,
Till licensed and approved by others too.
No more (believe 't) could he hide this from me,
Than I, had he discovered it, from thee.'
Here they embraces join, and almost tears,
Till gentle David thus new-proved his fears :
*The praise you pleased, great prince! on me to spend,
Was all outspoken, when you styled me friend :
That name alone does dangerous glories bring,
And gives excuse to the envy of a king.
Whatodid his spear, force, and dark plots, impart
But some eternal rancour in his heart?
Still does he glance the fortune of that day
When, drowned in his own blood, Goliath lay,
And covered half the plain; still hears the sound
How that vast monster fell, and strook the ground:
The dance, and, David his ten thousand slew,
Still wound his sickly soul, and still are new.
Great acts t' ambitious princes treason grow,
So much they hate that safety which they owe.