(These writings have been updated in language where possible)
My Peace I give unto you. John 14:27
Who can conceive, much less express,
The inward peace which they possess,
Who, by the indwelling of the light,
Have put satanic powers to flight;
In whom, renewed and born again,
The Lord of life does live and reign:
Renewed, restored, purged, purified,
And natural rovings laid aside;
Cleansed by the blood, kept by the grace,
That sin in them scarce finds a place;
The temple swept, prepared, then blessed
With presence of an heavenly guest,
A guest, not for a night or twain,
But one that always will remain;
Yes, such a guest as does impart,
That joy which overcomes the heart,
A joy so great, no tongue of man,
Express the fullness of it can;
And this unutterable bliss,
Flows from the love of God to His.
O! love immense, and without bound,
To all that in the Truth are found,
words are too short to set it forth
In its extent, and real worth.
The wife, that in the bosom lies,
Is precious in the husband's eyes;
The sucking babe is very near,
The only Son, exceeding dear;
Tender the apple of the eye,
Friends and relations very nigh;
But yet this love does far transcend
That to wife, child, eye, parent, friend.
These metaphors are all too low,
The nature of this love to show;
No tongue is able to declare,
How dear to God His children are;
Only the sense of it is felt,
Which breaks the heart and makes it melt.
The devil over-reached men by a slight,
When first he taught them to oppose the light,
For he himself in darkness dwells; and he
That hates the light, must need in darkness be:
Pride-craft indeed! He knows the light who shun,
Must needs into the thickest darkness run,
And he so craftily his plot has laid,
That many simple ones he has betrayed,
To tread the path that leads to death's dark cell,
Until by a sad mistake they come to Hell.
I know my heart is loyal to my prince,
I never harbored a disloyal thought,
And if my pen or tongue has given offence,
That error has through ignorance been wrought;
For which, when proved, I will for mercy cry,
And thankful live, or uncomplaining die.
Edward Burrough was a young and powerful Quaker minister, who first convinced Thomas Ellwood of the Truth. He died a martyr's death in prison at the young age of twenty-eight. The King, hearing of his imprisonment and sickness, sent an order for his release. But the mayor of London, seriously opposed to the Quakers' young effective minister that was convincing thousands to leave the Church of England to become a Quaker, delayed the release until he died. Ellwood and many Quakers were shattered at the loss. Ellwood picks up the story: " at length, my muse, not bearing to be any longer mute, broke
forth in the following acrostic: (a special type of poem in which the first letter in each line, which also spells a message - being in this acrostic - ELLWOODS LAMENTATION FOR HIS ENDEARED EDWARD BURROUGH) which she called-
A PATHETIC EULOGY ON THE DEATH
OF THAT DEAR AND FAITHFUL
SERVANT OF GOD,
Who died 14th of the Twelfth Month, 1662.
And thus she (his muse, the internal poet) introduced it:-
How long shall grief lie smothered? Ah! How long
Shall sorrow's signet seal my silent tongue?
How long shall sighs me suffocate, and make
My lips to quiver and my heart to ache?
How long shall I with pain suppress my cries,
And seek for holes to wipe my watery eyes?
Why may not I, by sorrow thus oppressed,
Pour forth my grief into another's breast?
If that be true which once was said by one,
That" He mourns truly who does mourn alone:”
Then may I truly say, my grief is true,
Since it has yet been known to very few.
Nor is it now mine aim to make it known
To those to whom these verses may be shown;
But to assuage my sorrow-swollen heart,
Which silence caused to taste so deep of smart.
This is my end, that so I may prevent
The vessel's bursting by a timely vent.
Who can forbear, when such things spoke he hears,
His grave to water with a flood of tears ?
E cho ye woods, resound ye hollow places,
L et tears and paleness cover all men's faces.
L et groans, like claps of thunder, pierce the air,
W hile I the cause of my just grief declare.
O that mine eyes could, like the streams of Nile,
O verflow their watery banks;
and you meanwhile
D rink in my trickling tears, oh thirsty ground.
S o might you henceforth fruit fuller be found.
L ament, my soul, lament; your loss is deep,
A nd all that Zion love sit down and weep
M ourn, O ye virgins, and let sorrow be
E ach damsel's dowry, and, (alas, for me!)
N 'er let my soul and sighs have an end
T ill I again embrace my ascended friend;
A nd until I feel the virtue of his life
T o console me, and repress my grief:
I nfuse into my heart the oil of gladness
O need more, and by its strength remove that sadness
N ow pressing down my spirit, and restore
F ully that joy I had in him before;
O f whom a word I willingly would stammer forth,
R ather to ease my heart than show his worth:
H is worth, my grief, which words too shallow are
I n demonstration fully to declare,
S ighs, sobs, my best interpreters now are.
E nvy begone; black Momus quit the place;
N ever more, Zoilus, show your wrinkled face.
D raw near, ye bleeding hearts, whose sorrows are
E qual with mine; in him you had like share.
A dd all your losses up, and you will see
R emainder will be naught but woe is me.
E ndeared lambs, ye that have the white stone,
D o know full well his name - it is your own.
E ternitized be that right worthy name;
D eath has but killed his body, not his fame,
W hich in its brightness shall forever dwell,
A nd like a box of ointment sweetly smell.
R ighteousness was his robe; bright majesty
D ecked his brow; his look was heavenly.
B old was he in his Master's quarrel, and
U ndaunted; faithful to his Lord's command.
R equiting good for ill; directing all
R ight in the way that leads out of the fall.
O pen and free to every thirsty lamb;
U nspotted, pure, clean, holy, without blame.
G lory, light, splendor, luster, was his crown,
H appy his change to him; the loss our own.
Virtue alone, which evidence ought to have,
Does make men happy, if beyond the grave.
While I had thus been breathing forth my grief,
In hopes thereby to get me some relief,
I heard, I thought, his voice say, "Cease to mourn:
I live; and though the veil of flesh once worn
Be now stripped off, dissolved, and laid aside,
My spirit's with you, and shall so abide.”
This satisfied me; down I threw my quill,
Willing to be resigned to God's pure will.
Burrough's biography, letters, and writings are available on this site.
How long, alas, shall vain thoughts in me rest,
And find a lurking place within my breast!
How long, how long, before I a conqueror be,
And over my own self get the victory!
Ah, how disgustful is it when I find,
Some little trivial thought possess my mind!
Often have I set myself to keep the door,
That no vain cogitation enter more,
And reckoned too, so strict a watch to keep,
That nothing unexamined in should creep;
But on a sudden, when I least suspected,
An idle thought has Satan interjected,
Which, like a little thief, has open set
The door, for greater rovers in to get.
I'll trust myself no more; I see 'tis vain,
man of himself no conquest can obtain;
To Him will I betake myself, from whom,
Each good and perfect lift, I know, does come;
His succor will I beg, His aid implore,
Who for the helpless, still has help in store.
You Israel's shepherd, you alone can keep
My soul, who neither slumber does nor sleep;
You everywhere, who does all places fill,
Who are both perfect power and perfect will,
You all-sufficient are; no thought can fly
The scrutiny of your all-discerning eye;
And you, dear Father, too commanded has
Your children, all their care on you to cast,
Which I most gladly do; but yet not so,
As henceforth careless in myself to grow;
No, I resolve still on the watch to be,
Not in my own strength, but empowered by you.
Set you the watch, O Lord, appoint the guard,
give you the charge; O help me so to ward,
That no vain thought into my mind may slip,
But in the embryo may receive a nip;
You , who for me has great deliverance wrought,
Deliver too from every idle thought.
To such as stand idle in the Market-place
Why do you trifle thus your time away?
Why are you of such treasure so profuse?
Do you expect to have another day,
Who of the present make so ill a Use?
How can it be?
The moment that is past, will come no more,
The hour misspent, can never be recalled,
Old Chronos has but one poor lock before,
His head behind is altogether bald;
Take that from me.
Be therefore wise in time, while yet an hour
Is lent you, lest when that is vainly spent,
It never should again be in your power
(Although with tears ye seek it) to repent;
For God is just.
And though He frequently does man invite,
To cease from evil, and accept of grace,
Yet, if fond man persists His love to slight,
Mercy withdraws, justice steps in her place,
And die he must.
I faint; my dying breath will not suffice
To midwife forth my words; my faltering tongue
Resigns its office to my weeping eyes;
Speak eyes, and do my faithful heart no wrong.
Ye crystal fountains set your sluices wide,
Stream forth your tears like a full flowing tide;
Draw up the flood-gates, let the torrent flow
In its right current, whether fast or slow.
Blessed is the man, whose heart is found,
When trials come, upright and sound,
Whom not the hopes of greatest gain,
Nor fear of most tormenting pain,
Nor yet the most magnetic pleasure,
Nor honors heaped up without measure,
Can cause to shrink or start aside,
And leave the strait way for the wide.
This is the state on which my eye is fixed,
Oh! that no cloud may ever come between,
But that my heart may henceforth always dwell,
In that which does all earthly things excel;
For he alone can stand the dreadful shock,
Whose house is built on the eternal rock.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
(This first section in brackets is a complicated preface to the poem, denying the power of poetic flesh and imploring the spirit to power his pen.)
[Of worship I presume to sing,
Yet from the nine no aid implore,
Shiloh's out-vies Castalia's spring,
Assist blessed power whom I adore;
Breathe on my muse, and fill her quill
With sacred dews from Hermon-hill.
Momus be gone, fly all you vain,
Who the wit of poems place
In florid strains, my muse is plain;
Fine cloth exceeds fantastic lace
On Kersey set; I leave those flights,
To such as fiction most delights.
Let them also avoid the place,
Should there be of that scoffing stock,
Who are so destitute of grace,
They at the Spirit's influence mock;
To such my muse no pleasure brings,
Who scorn the power by which she sings.]
But come all you who Truth embrace,
Whose souls do pure religion love,
Who prize the lift of sacred grace,
Whose treasure lies in realms above;
No all, that are not foes, draw near,
And grant my song a willing ear.
In early times, when man was made,
Before the priesthood was confined,
While Truth in Adam's household stayed,
And God adored by all mankind;
No form of worship, that appears,
Had been prescribed for many years.
While men with God a converse kept,
And on Him did devoutly wait,
He gracious, while they waked or slept,
Did so their minds illuminate,
That they not only knew His will,
But by His aid could it fulfill.
Before the flood, and after long,
The patriarchs directed were,
Both when to warble out their song,
And how to open heavens fate by prayer;
Whatever act the Lord required,
Their hearts He thereunto inspired.
But after that, heaven did decree,
In special love to Abraham,
That his posterity should be
Sacred to Him, and bear His name;
A worship asked at their hand,
Which did in observations stand.
What must be offered, when and where,
Each part was carefully expressed;
The various modes prescribed were
For sacrificing, and the rest;
Set-times were fixed for solemn feasts,
Difference between clean, and unclean beasts.
This legal worship, as it stood
In meats and drinks, and carnal rites,
Were types of that eternal good,
To which the gospel all invites;
The longest date that it could claim,
Was but till reformation came.
When that auspicious time drew nigh,
The morning of that day was come,
The word, descending from on high,
Took sinless flesh in virgin's womb;
At whose blessed birth, heaven's host rejoice,
And pour their hymns with raptured voice.
Shiloh, so often foretold, thus come,
His death the temple-veil did rend,
And being of those types the sum,
That dispensation had its end;
It was fit the servant should withdraw,
When he the master's presence saw.
But yet, ever Christ would abrogate
A worship so long time in use,
And disannul the legal state,
He did a better introduce;
This law was not in marble cut,
But in the heart and conscience put:
For so the prophets, in God's name,
While yet the law in vigor stood,
Did by authority proclaim:
He said (who, what He says makes good).
After those days, I in the heart
My fear will place, and law impart.
Again; and it shall come to pass,
My Spirit on all flesh I'll pour,
On young and old, the lad and lass,
Shall feel the virtue of this shower;
Not of the priest shall law be sought,
But all your sons, of God be taught.
Happy they! who such a teacher have,
And yield thereto a willing ear;
From all that's hurtful He will save,
If in His law they persevere:
O! that mankind therein would walk,
Nor some against, some only for, it talk.
The Son of God, who from heaven came,
And fully man's redemption wrought,
When met by the Samaritan dame,
The true approved worship taught:
Not at that city, (Jerusalem) or this mount,
Though revered for Jacob's fount;
But who the Father will adore,
Whether bond or free, aged or youth,
Must worship not as heretofore
In types, but in Spirit and Truth:
God's a Spirit! — among Jews and greeks,
Such inward worshipers He seeks.
Not those who serve in repetitions,
Or in prescriptions, as the Jews,
Nor yet in oral, vain traditions,
Such as Samaritans did use:
The Jewish faith in symbols stood,
The Samaritan's was never good.
Types, shadows, sacraments and signs,
Did on this dispensation wait;
Who to the gospel-worship joins,
Shadows must leave to the shadowy state:
It is not the fatted calf that skips,
Is offered now, but calves of lips.
thanks and praise, sacrifices are
To God most pleasing, when they spring
From a pure heart He does prepare,
And then excites His acts to sing:
True Christians use both heart and tongue,
Whenever a hymn or psalm is sung.
Not chanting, in a formal mote,
States touched in ancient song,
Perverting what the psalmist wrote,
Whose case cannot to all belong;
'Tis who their own experience bring,
With Spirit and with judgment sing.
Instead of incense to perfume
The altar, from the soul arise
In flames (that warm but not consume)
Sighs, supplications, groans and cries,
Which though but weak, do never fail,
At mercy's fountain to prevail.
We know not what to ask—Paul taught;
Who then shall forms appoint?
True prayer is by the Spirit wrought,
With which heaven does each child anoint;
He that best knows what we should have,
Inwardly teaches what to crave.
This then of worship is the sum,
To wait in Spirit on the Lord,
That at what time He deigns to come,
The soul may hear His living word,
And with alacrity fulfill,
What He makes known to be His will.
For when the mind on God is stayed,
In silence waiting to be taught,
The world's concerns aside are laid,
Nor licence given to one vain thought;
The Lord does to that soul draw near,
And with instruction fills its ear.
Instructed still, the soul does cleave,
The Lord His virtue does impart,
Discoveries of His will He leaves,
Which operate upon the heart;
A sacrifice He does prepare,
Whether thanksgiving, praise or prayer.
great is the pleasure God does take
In such oblations; in His sight
That soul is dear, he'll not forsake,
But in His book his name will write:
The joys that the obedient feel,
Nor men nor angels can reveal.
To a friend in America
My heart is with you, but I dare not give
Myself the pleasure of a wandering thought,
That I to see the day may ever live,
When to America I may be brought;
Where I that peaceful solitude may find,
Which more than riches would delight my mind.
But here I'm fixed, my station here is set,
By Him whose will is sovereign to mine,
My work and service tie me here as yet,
At which I bless my God, I don't repine;
O! may my spirit always take delight,
In that which is most pleasing in His sight.
Deus est qui cuncta gubernat
Except the Lord the city keep,
The watchman watches but in vain;
The adversary in will creep,
And hardly be got out again.
So close his stratagems are laid,
So deep and many are his wiles,
The sentinels by him betrayed,
And he the watchman too beguiles.
Sometimes Truth's colors up he sets,
As if indeed a friend he were,
And by that practice in he gets,
Before his falsehood does appear.
And, which is worst, within are some,
That always treacherous have been,
Who when he to the gate does come,
Too ready are to let him in.
Lord! You are He in whom I trust,
On whom my safety does depend;
You only can subdue the lust,
You only can the place defend.
My weakness, Lord, I daily find,
'Tis you alone sufficient are,
To you therefore, I have resigned
The care and keeping of my heart.
Be you commander there in chief,
Place you the guard, the watchman set,
At each assault send you relief,
Let Satan no advantage get.
Put you the enemy to flight,
Break you his strength, his works destroy,
Discomfit you his forces quite,
And fill my soul with lasting joy.
Take too a course with those within,
That would the place to him betray,
Burn up the ground that brings forth sin,
And the rebellious nature slay.
Then shall I praise your holy name,
And hallelujahs to you sing,
My tongue and Pen extend your fame,
Who are my God, and Zion's King.
When love and hate before my fancy pass,
They look, I think, like a prospective glass;
If on another person's failings, I
Do chance at any time to cast an eye,
Love takes the end that does extenuate;
The opposite is held by squint-eyed Hate.
But if, on the other hand, I have a mind,
To view their actions who to me are kind,
Love presently presents unto mine eye
That glass, which their good turns will magnify:
Hate too would be as forward, if she might,
To clap her partial glass before my sight:
But I am weary of her; — for I know,
She to all goodness is a mortal foe:
love's the best glass by far; yet many choose,
To look through that which sight does most abuse.
ALL IS VANITY
See here the state of man as in a glass,
And how the fashion of this world does pass.
Some in a tavern spend the longest day,
While others hawk and hunt the time away.
Here one his mistress courts; another dances;
A third incites to lust by wanton glances.
This wastes the day in dressing; the other seeks
To set fresh colors on her withered cheeks,
That, when the sun declines, some dapper spark
May take her to spring garden or the park.
Plays some frequent, and balls; others their prime
Consume at dice; some bowl away their time.
With cards some wholly captivated are;
From tables others scarce an hour can spare.
One to soft music enslaves his ear;
At shovel-board another spends the year.
The Pall Mall this accounts the only sport;
That keeps a racket in the tennis-court.
Some strain their very eyes and throats with singing,
While others strip their hands and backs at ringing.
Another sort with greedy eyes are waiting
Either at cock-pit or some great bull-baiting.
This dotes on running horses; the other fool
Is never well but in the fencing-school.
Wrestling and football, nine-pins, prison-base,
Among the rural clowns find each a place.
Nay, Joan unwashed will leave her milking-pail
To dance at May-pole, or a Whitsun ale.
Thus wallow most in sensual delight,
As if their day should never have a night,
Until Nature's pale-faced sergeant them surprise,
And as the tree then falls, just so it lies.
Now look at home, you who these lines do read,
See which of all these paths yourself do tread,
And before it is too late that path forsake,
Which, followed, will you miserable make.
After I had thus enumerated some of the many vanities in
which the generality of men misspent their time, I sang the
following ode in praise of virtue :-
Wealth, beauty, pleasures, honors, all adieu;
I value virtue, far, far more than you.
You are all but toys
For girls and boys
To play withal; at best deceitful joys.
She lives forever; you are transitory,
Her honor is unstained; but your glory
Is mere deceit,
A painted bait,
Hung out for such as sit on folly's gate.
True peace, content, and joy on her attend;
You, on the contrary, your forces bend
To blear men's eyes
Which fools embrace, but wiser men despise.
Love is a scion cropped from virtue's tree,
And grafted in the stock of purity;
Planted at first in nature's choicest soil,
Before the fiend did nature's beauty spoil;
But there transplanted to a richer ground,
Than can in all dame nature's realm be found,
Where being well manured, it takes deep toot
Downward, and branches upward forth does shoot:
The sap, which does this stately tree maintain,
Is sympathy; which runs as in a vein
Through every branch, causing it first to sprout,
And before awhile, young tender buds spring out.
Nor is it barren, but much fruit does bear,
To taste most pleasing, and to sight most fair;
A sound substantial fruit, that can endure
The sharpest frost, and yet continue pure:
And that ye may this fruit the more admire,
Take notice, that I call it chaste desire.
The author being pressed to show his mind,
What is true love, what not, has here defined.
I call not that true love, which can admit
Of heats and colds like to an ague-fit;
Those rivers which, their banks do overflow,
In a few hours their empty channels show.
That's not true love, that's grounded upon wealth,
Or has the least regard to worldly self;
For such an one, might he his end obtain,
Would prostitute his very wife for gain.
Nor can he with true lovers have a place,
Who's love depends upon some pretty face,
Which age or sickness having once defaced,
The very ground-work of his love is razed.
And since that sordid thing self-interest,
Is able to defile the chastest breast,
If not prevented; therefore I declare,
That it and true love inconsistent are.
Such marks as these, I could add many more
Like watchtowers, tending to forewarn the jolly
But young unskillful mariners, before
They split their vessels on the rocks of folly.
But for this theme let this suffice, while I,
Tired with the subject, borrow wings and fly
Into a higher orb, where I may view,
That love who's choicest epithet is true.
That I call love, that only love I call,
Whose birth appears to be celestial;
That, and that only, I account true love,
Which in the sphere of chastity does move.
He's a true lover (not who can subdue,
Monsters and giants for his mistress sake,
And sighs perhaps and weep, with much ado,
For fear she should some other happy make;
But) who so far her happiness prefers
Before his own, that he can be content
To sacrifice his own to purchase hers,
Though with the price of his own banishment.
A hearty lover wholly does devote
Himself, to make her happy whom he loves,
And does with might and main her good promote,
Although destructive to his hopes it proves.
He that loves truly, loves to that degree,
Whatever notions libertines may spread,
That he would be content, yes, joy to see
His mistress bless some worthier person's bed.
Nor can true love to hatred ever turn,
Although it never should acceptance find,
But like a lamp, clear to the last would burn,
And thereby manifest a noble mind.
Such amorous motions then conclude we must,
How speciously so ever they are decked,
Proceed not from true love, but filthy lust,
Which each chaste breast should study to reject.
If virtue move
A man to love,
How can he then refuse?
If nature move,
Unless he prove,
How knows he what to choose?
For vice's look
For virtue's took
By many an honest heart,
Who think they're safe,
Till felt they have
Her deadly stinging smart:
And then too late,
Cry O! my fate!
Was ever grief like mine?
I thought my love
Sprung from above,
And that it was divine;
But now I find,
With grief of mind,
That from the earth it came,
And that the fruit,
Which there does shoot,
Is nought but grief and shame.
Thus honest men
Are, now and then,
Deceived by beauty's bait,
Which makes them choose
Pleasure, and lose
A far more happy state.
Nor can man be
From danger free,
But as he does abide,
In that which will
That nature kill,
And keeps close to his guide.
Which if he does so,
'Twill to him show
Each motion's root and ground,
That in this day
No folly may
In Israel be found.
Which is the cry,
Of one whose eye
Has been too apt to stray;
Who could not stand,
Did not God's hand
Support him day by day.
It is not wealth, nor worldly self,
Could my affection take,
I am not such a friend to self,
To suffer for its sake.
'Tis not the features of a face,
Could captivate mine eye,
I have seen some of the sweetest grace,
Yet kept my liberty.
What was it then, stout heart, I pray,
Did you to love incline?
Can you , without presumption, say
It was a power divine?
Much I could say, did need require,
In favor of my love,
But I choose rather to retire,
Let it itself approve.
'Twas tow'rds the evening of the day,
When books lie still, and scholars play,
That having got an hour to spare,
I walked out to take the air;
To which the heavens did invite,
With smiles that promised delight.
My walk upon a bank I took,
Which was the margin to a brook,
Whose crystal streams so small did slide,
As if they feared to be descried,
Save that a pebble, here and there,
Whispered their flight into mine ear.
Hence I designed to take a view,
Of nature in her richest hue:
Nor should I think my labor lost
To see the like at double cost.
The birds, in various notes, did sing
A penegyrick to the spring;
Each strove, I think, to do her best,
But Philomel excelled the rest;
The trees served for a shady screen,
Hung round with canopies of green,
And some were here and there imbossed
With blossoms, at dame nature's cost,
Which with a gentle Zephyr played,
And pretty whist'ling murmurs made.
Which way so ever I turned mine eye,
I saw well-mixed variety;
The fine wrought tapestry of the field,
Did many pretty landscapes yield;
Here wheat, there barley, did appear,
Some in the blade, some in the ear;
The peas in bloom, and beans in flower,
Stood waiting for a gentle shower;
For fear of which, in haste home flies
The bee with honey-laden thighs.
The meadows, in their grass-green vest,
I thought were very neatly dressed,
Not only neat, but richly fraught,
With checkered flowers finely wrought,
cowslips and violets intermixed,
And tufted daises cast between;
Each object did affect my sight,
With sweetest innocent Delight.
But stayed I there? Oh no, my heart
Cried still, give me the better part,
Let me with Him for ever live,
That to these things does being give;
Exterior things may please each sense,
And be enjoyed without offence,
But nothing but a power divine,
Can make their virtues truly mine;
your wisdom, therefore so infuse
Into my heart, that I may use
your creatures as they ought to be,
And still return the praise to thee,
To whom the highest praise is due,
O God most holy, just and true.
Upon his dear deceased Friends,
Isaac and Mary Penington,
Since first made one, as one they lived together
In heart and mind, in flesh and spirit one,
'Till death in part this unity did sever,
By taking him and leaving her alone,
In silent grief his absence to bemoan.
He being gone she could not long survive,
But daily from his death began to die,
And rather seemed to be, than was alive:
Restless, till by his side she came to lie,
Her spirit joined to his again on high.
Thus death, by whom the parting blow was given,
Brought them together again, in earth and heaven.
In Remembrance of my Friend,
Upon September's eighteenth day,
In sixteen hundred eighty two,
Death took a virtuous dame away,
Who of her equals left but few;
She widow was, but now is gone
To Springett and to Penington.
For personal endowments held
She justly was, to few behind;
But those wherein she most excelled,
Were the endowments of the mind:
My pen, I fear, would wrong her worth,
Should I attempt to set them forth.
I therefore purposely abstain,
From seeking words, to speak her praise,
I know 'twould labour be in vain,
Her Fame no words can higher raise;
Let others sing her worth, while I
Honor and love her memory.
Ah me! how bitter is this cup to drink!
How do I tremble when on it I think!
Surely, to fight with tigers, or to rouse
Old hungry lions, were less hazardous;
Yea, I should think I made a happy change,
To meet a bear, whom hunger makes to range,
Or to encounter with a dragon fierce,
Whose scaly hide no sword did ever pierce.
But what! do I demur; still make delay!
Seem yet to doubt, whether I should obey,
Or rebel prove! let no such tainting thought,
Into my yet untainted breast be brought.
Why stay I? Why forbear then to proceed?
Success crowns acts; delays but danger breed,
And strength in weakness, faithfulness does find,
When slothfulness is often left behind.
The Bleating Sheep;
or the Flock's Complaint of their Shepherds.
Woe to the Shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves—
Ye feed not the Flock —
but with Force and with Cruelty have ruled hem.—
Therefore, thus saith the Lord, 'Behold I am against the Shepherds, I will require my Flock at their hand.' Eze 34.
In older times, before shepherds were so great,
So high, so Lordly, so ambitious grown;
Long time before the pontifical seat,
With which the world has been so plagued, was known;
Before that voice was heard, which stories say,
Was spoke from heaven by an angel's tongue,
[Poison is poured into the church this day]
When Constantine his great revenues flung
Amongst the gaping shepherds, ever much wealth,
Had made them proud and lazy; long before this,
While they their conventicles had by stealth,
And glad were when informers they could miss.
How honorable was the shepherd's trade
In those blessed times! how much to be desired,
When none unto himself advantage made
Over the flock, when none to lordly rule aspired.
Not seeking theirs but them; content to live
(And living well thereon, 'cause therein blessed)
Upon the milk the sheep did freely give;
Thus were the shepherds fed, sheep not oppressed.
Nor were, meanwhile, the fleecy flock ingrate,
But right regardful of their pastor's pains,
With cheerful hearts they did communicate
Of each good thing, that human life sustains.
In sweet communion thus they walked together,
And mutual comfort in each other had,
What was a grief to one, was grief to either,
And what made one rejoice, made the other glad.
The shepherds for the sheep no pains did spare,
But for their safety labored, watched and prayed;
The sheep were conscious of the shepherds care,
And unto them a due observance paid:
And both the shepherds and the sheep did aim,
In all they undertook, with heart and tongue,
To magnify the supreme shepherd's name,
To whom both sheep and shepherds did belong.
Thus was it in the morning of that day,
Which on the heathen world long since did break,
And thus it held, while simple Truth bore sway,
As stories sacred and profane do speak.
But ah! how short a time that day did last,
How soon eclipsed was that glorious Light!
How quickly was its brightness overcast,
And buried in the grave of dusky night!
Which never to be enough lamented loss,
The ruin of so excellent a state,
By what unhappy means it came to pass,
My muse will in the following lines relate.
Blessed with a peaceful time, the fruitful flock
grew numerous, fat, and with fair fleeces clad,
After they had sustained many a shock
From wolves, bears, tigers, and from dogs run mad.
Enriched with plenty by the bounteous hand
Of the great shepherd, whose indulgent care
Over his flock, his treasures did expand,
And all good things did for his sheep prepare.
The grateful flock, of quiet thus possessed,
And having now of worldly wealth good store,
Remembered, with a right regardful breast,
The sufferings of their pastors heretofore.
With open hand, and with enlarged heart,
(Such is the nature of a bounteous mind)
They to their pastors did their wealth impart,
Each striving how to leave the rest behind.
None thought he gave enough, all studied how
They to their shepherds might their love express,
Each seemed to vie, which should the church endow,
Most amply with the goods he did possess.
Thus they went on a while; but e'er 'twas long,
The glue of gold to pastoral fingers stuck,
Th' attractive power of riches was so strong,
It did them from their honest labors pluck.
The Phrygian fabler tells us of a hen,
That one egg daily added to the store,
Until her dame her over-fed, and then
She grew so over-fat, she laid no more.
So did it with these ancient shepherds fare,
Who while a spare and temp'rate life they led,
Upon their flock, nor care nor pains did spare;
What pity 'twas they e'er were over-fed.
For after that, through too indulgent love,
And injudicious zeal, the well-fleeced sheep,
Upon their shepherds (who had learnt t' improve
Their bounty) did un-needed riches heap.
The shepherds who, by that time were become,
(Not better, but) more greedy than before,
The more they in superfluous plenty swam,
The more they wanted, and still craved the more.
The sheep, by blind devotion led, still give,
In hopes at length the shepherds mouths to fill,
Scarce leaving to themselves whereon to live,
And yet the gaping shepherds craved still.
At length the shepherds, in some grand offence,
Some of the chief bell-weathers having caught,
Wrang from them great endowments on pretense,
Large gifts to them, would expiate the fault.
By various arts the wily shepherds get,
From the unthinking sheep, still more and more,
And what at first was gift, they now call debt,
The sheep must now pay, what they gave before.
Full-fed, the shepherds quickly idle grew,
Betook themselves to a voluptuous ease,
Their due attendance on the flock withdrew,
And studied chiefly how themselves to please.
Then discord rose among them, how to part
Their ill-got wealth; they could not well agree,
Only in this they all were of one heart,
That by them all the flock should fleeced be.
Themselves they therefore into cycles cast,
Some small, some great, some low, some too too high,
And that the model might the better last,
They gave their plan the name of hierarchy.
The higher orbs the sturdier shepherds take,
And thereof, as their own, themselves possess,
Where fair provisions for themselves they make,
Leaving the lower circles to the less.
Those under-shepherds, servants to the rest,
Thus left to scramble for what t'others left,
Each carved for himself as he thought best,
So parting, though unequally, their theft.
To these the master-shepherds did commit
The flock (which was before their common care)
Who fed them once or twice a week a-bit,
And that too with but dry and feeble fare.
The master-shepherds having thus devolved,
Upon their journey-men, the working part,
Their genius wholly to indulge resolved,
And with soft pleasures satiate their heart.
For palaces and lofty seats they build,
Wherein they live in most resplendent state,
Supplied with all things that delight may yield
To wanton sense, and nature captivate.
Ambition now prevails to swelling pride
And portly pomp; they now let loose the rein,
Drawn in their coach and six, abroad they ride,
Attended with a great and splendid train.
Of the chief-wearers, these precedence claim,
In state conventions are above them placed,
Most of them condescending by nature; by name,
Two always with the style of patronize are graced.
High titles they ambitiously affect,
Sure token of foul arrogance and pride,
And to be called, my lord, your grace, expect,
For which judicious sheep do them deride.
A common sheep, being by chance in place,
Where he an under-shepherd heard e'er while
Saying to one of these, 'may it please your grace;'
Wished him more grace in heart, though less in style:
Yet the bare name of lordship will not do,
They lordship love, and will dominion have
Over both the sheep, and under-shepherds too,
Who at their graces hands for grace must crave.
To these the under-shepherds tribute pay,
Which does them in a poor condition keep,
And makes them with a sharper hunger prey,
Upon the harmless and poor helpless sheep:
Wherein the master-shepherds them support,
Not only with their countenance, but power,
That by the assistance of their shepherd's court,
They may the sheep, and what they have devour.
And they so many ways have found to pull,
Lock after lock from the deluded sheep,
That they scarce leave the sheep enough of wool,
Them from the blasts of poverty to keep.
Besides the gen'ral tax they on them lay,
Whereby the flock they yearly decimate;
For every little cheer, they make them pay,
And oft too at unconscionable rate.
A ram and ewe may not with nuptial rite
Together join, but there must present be
Some one of these, who to them must recite
The spousal words, for which he claims a fee.
And when the pregnant ewe her lamb does yean,
The shepherd will another tag-lock get,
By telling them, that now the ewe is clean,
And may again among the flock be set.
Some certain rites too must performed be,
To give the lamb admittance to the fold,
For which the shepherd claims another fee;
And thus the sheep both old and young are polled.
When a sheep dies, the shepherd dirge must say
Over the corpse, when to the grave 'tis brought,
For which he will be sure to have his fee,
And mortuary, if the sheep left ought.
Thus the poor sheep the shepherds do oppress,
And with exactions peel on ev'ry hand,
Nor can the sheep expect to find redress,
While they must to th' oppressors judgment stand:
For in the shepherds courts these pleas are tried,
If any hardy sheep to pay refuse,
Where shepherds, or their creatures, still preside,
Who serve such sheep, as Christ was served by Jews.
For having there condemned them, right or wrong,
They over to the sec'lar power are turned,
To be in prison cast among a throng
Of criminals, and in some countries burned.
These are the courts, which the sheep must tolerate,
From shepherds who them cruelly entreat,
Such hardships as enforce them to complaint,
And vent their sorrows with a mournful bleat.
Ah! who can without indignation hear,
How shepherds do the sheep in bondage keep!
Who can from shedding show'rs of tears forbear,
At the bemoanings of the bleating sheep!
Site Editor's Comment: I always understood that the spring rites of the may pole was a ritual of lust and release from the frustration of the winter being gone. But I did not know the origin to have been from a rich prostitute of Rome. In the time of Ellwood and Fox, aside from the games of drunken lust, the pole also had a statue of the King placed on the top, so that everyone was dancing around the King in a form of idol worship, which Fox seriously testified against.
Or, an Account of the Rise of May-games,
When Rome was wholly pagan, long before
The virgin's womb our blessed Saviour bore,
There lived in Rome a most lascivious dame,
A noted harlot, Flora was her name,
Who prostituting of herself for hire,
great wealth did, with great infamy, acquire.
This filthy strumpet, when she came to die,
Bequeathed her treasures to Rome's treasury;
For, she her heir, the Roman people made,
Of what she got by her venereal trade;
And that her memory might still abide
Among them, by her will she did provide,
That on her birthday, certain wanton games
Should celebrated be by Roman dames,
Which that they might not for the charge decline,
Part of her wealth she thereto did assign.
So large a legacy (however got)
The Roman senate thought deserved not
To be condemned: Yet, that the filthy stain,
Of her lewd life, might not too long remain
A blemish on them; they a way contrive,
The whore to bury, Flora keep alive,
Her they a goddess feign; whom deified,
They make over fruits and flowers to preside;
To her they altars raise, and by decree
Appoint the rites of her solemnity.
The common people, in next age adore
Her, whom their fathers knew to be a whore,
And, drenched in superstitious darkness, fear
They neither flowers nor fruits should have that year,
If they to keep her festivals forbear.
Yet 'cause the better part did still retain
A sense, how she her goddess-hood did gain,
Such as had due regard unto their honor,
Would rather venture that, than wait upon her;
But all the strumpets of the town, and such
As had of fame or modesty not much,
Unto her altars flocked, and danced the round,
Some naked, some in party-colors gown,
Having their heads with flowery garlands crowned.
Nor spared they wine, but in full bowls did quaff,
And at each others antic festives laugh;
The rein was quite let loose, and they were best
Accounted of, could break the rudest jest.
Torches were used, to intimate that night
Had been the time of Flora's chief delight;
And to denote how lustful she had been,
The goat and hare in these her games were seen:
Thus did they dearly celebrate her day,
Upon the calendar of the month called May.
Thus 'twas, while heathenish superstition reigned,
Before the gospel Light dominion gained
Over pagan darkness; but when once the day,
The illustrious day of Christ broke forth, away
These filthy vapors rolled: the gospel Light,
From Christian hearts dispelled this darkness quite;
Nor can the patrons of these May-games now,
Of such lewd pastimes any footsteps show,
Among the ancient Christians, even in Rome,
From where those pagan rites at first did come.
But after that, through Satan's wiles, in men
From Truth to error had relapsed again,
After the power of godliness was lost,
And formal Christians of more form did boast,
When Christian Rome was three times worse become
In some respects, than had been heathen Rome;
Then to debauch the nations, up were brought
Some pagan rites, condemned of old as nought,
Among these the May-games, with such variation,
As suited best the humor of each nation:
How in this island they were used of old,
Is that which in the next place shall be told.
On Flora's birthday, a long pole they raise
In marketplaces, or in parting ways,
A painted pole, on which there hang, displayed,
Fine garlands of the choicest flowers made,
On top of which a weathercock is set,
Emblem of those who do such sports abet.
Unto this pole, the looser class resort,
And spend their time in time-wasting sports;
The fiddle or the bag-pipe calls them forth,
And they come foremost, who are of least worth;
Here old and young, of either sex do meet,
And with obscene discuss each other greet;
About the tree, they in disorder dance,
As children on their hobby-horses prance;
Confusedly they intermix in routs,
And drown the fiddle with their deafening shouts:
One breaks a bawdy jest, wherein does follow,
From all the rabble, an applauding hollow;
With scoffs, derisions, jeers, they entertain
Each other, and whatever's loose and vain;
And who most archly can the mimic play,
Is sure, for praise, to bear the hell away.
The liberty, which at such times they use,
With scoffs and jokes the passers-by to abuse,
Has passed into a proverb, that 'tis said,
Of such an one they a mere May-game made;
For in these revel-routs, they countenance
Whatever tends profaness to advance.
Nor are these dry feasts; Flora does pretend
To guard the vine, and store of barley send,
And therefore sure, her votaries will not fail,
To steep their brains that day in wine or ale;
In brimful bowls, or glasses, then they house,
And healths on bare and bended knees carouse;
The health they drink, perhaps of some great Lord,
Who's well-grown woods their May-pole did afford,
Who's honor, doubtless, would have risen higher,
Had he bestowed it on the poor for fire.
Patrons of May-poles, if they please may see,
The original of this their vanity;
Yes all, the rise of May-games may behold,
Who for them are so strenuous and bold:
'Tis Flora's feast, a strumpet void of shame,
The institution from the Romans came,
But they were heathen; what is that to we,
Who boast a nobler birth, a higher pedigree?
Oh Britons! give your views a higher aim;
Nor slur with pagan rites the Christian name.
An Epistle to a friend
Via recta ad vitam beatam.
You that a happy life would lead
Here, and enjoy hereafter rest,
The path of virtue do you tread,
In which none ever walked unblessed:
Which that you may not miss, your friend
The following rules do recommend.
Let to the Lord your earliest thought,
The first fruit of your waking heart,
Be every morning duly brought,
And offered as an hallowed part.
To Him your thanks are due, who kept
Your soul in safety while you slept.
That tribute paid, get up and dress,
And let your habit modest be,
Not gay nor costly to excess,
And from fantastic fashions free:
That garb, I think, is most complete,
That's without affectation neat.
When dressed retire, and wait to feel
An holy breathing in you rise,
With strong desires to God! that He'ill
Bless you in that day's exercise:
Well is that course like to be run,
That is with holy prayer begun.
Divine assistance thus implored,
your proper business set about,
While God does time and strength afford,
That you may finish it throughout.
What good to do, your hand does find,
Perform it with a cheerful mind.
An idle life by all means shun,
However great your incomes are;
Thousands have thereby been undone,
For 'tis the devil's surest snare:
Fly lustful sloth, and always find
work for your body or your mind.
Feed not too high, nor curious be
In pleasing of your appetite;
Plain things with nature best agree,
Too rich, and much, destroy her quite:
Let temperance, without more ado,
Be butler, cook, and carver too.
But moderation chiefly use
In drinking; of strong drinks take heed,
Reiterated cups refuse,
And take no more than you do need:
Who does himself o'ercharge with wine,
Makes, what God made a man, a swine.
A slave to the pipe by no means be,
Who but the devil on smoke would feed?
Since God was pleased to make you free,
Ne'er come in bondage to a weed.
He hit the mark, who all excess
Declared to be in drunkenness.
In all your dealings plainness use;
With honest gains yourself content;
Another's weakness don't abuse,
Nor use fair words to circumvent:
Who heaps up wealth by fraud and guile,
Heaps wrath unto himself mean while.
Be pitiful unto the poor,
Compassion of the needy take;
Relieve the hungry with your store,
Provision for the orphan make:
Who on the poor does freely spend,
To God, that well repays, does lend.
Of widows and of fatherless,
And such as can't themselves defend,
When force or fraud does them oppress,
Plead you the cause and stand their friend:
The helpless who from wrong protect,
May help themselves from God expect.
To justice steadfastly adhere,
Without respect to friend or foe;
Let neither flattery nor fear,
Make you against your judgment go:
Impartial stand; let nought prevail,
But right alone, to turn the scale.
Of pride and stateliness beware,
An haughty look and scornful eye;
Vain-glory shun, self-praise forbear,
all vaunting and ambition fly:
For of all fools, pronounce I durst,
The self-conceited fool the worst.
Be hospitable, let your door
To strangers open freely stand;
And if their need your help implore,
Dismiss them with a liberal hand:
Some have, receiving unknown guest,
With angels company been blessed.
Among your neighbors live in peace,
Occasions of contention shun;
Use all just means that strife may cease,
Wherever you find it is begun:
Rememb'ring who it was that said,
They blessed shall be that peace have made.
In friendship constant be and true,
your friend in danger stand you by,
Forsake him not whatever ensue,
But for him even dare to die:
Who in true friendship are combined,
Have in two bodies but one mind.
If you prefer a married life,
Let not a blind affection guide,
But in the choosing of a wife,
Let sound discretion find the bride:
Yet like and love before you take—
What off again you can not shake.
When having chose, you now are wed,
Still bear in mind what you did grant;
Be faithful to your marriage bed,
And keep your solemn covenant:
Who violate the nuptial ties,
Make God and man their enemies.
If children you obtain, their will
Subdue betimes, before it grows strong;
Indulge them not in ought that's ill,
Lest both yourself and them you wrong:
Who let their children headstrong grow,
Make sure their own and children's woe.
Toward your servants gentle be,
Not ruling with a rigorous hand;
The less imperious you they see,
The more you'll have 'em at command:
He best is served throughout the year,
That's served more for love than fear.
To all be affable and kind,
Not surly and morose, but free;
By courteous carriage others bind,
To love, regard, and honor you:
Of all the ways for rising high,
The safest is humility.
Your anger, though provoked, restrain;
Her perfect work let patience have;
By gentle bearing, you may gain
Him that the provocation gave:
A soft reply makes anger cease,
But hasty words will strife increase.
In your whole course, still have your eye
To God; His aid therein implore;
On Him in all, for all, rely;
Him with an upright heart adore:
A blessing you must needs attend,
Who does with God begin and end.
I commune with my own heart.
Grateful sensations urge my voice, O lend
Your sacred ear! my Father, God, and friend,
Assist the strain, while by reflection led,
I backward view the years gone over my head.
As far as my frail memory can trace,
I find vestiges of your love and grace;
Through every period of my life, I see
Your saving providence and clemency;
There's scarce a day, through the revolving year,
But I remark some token of your care:
A sense of which deeply impressed my mind,
Humbled my heart, and made my soul resigned;
Engaged me oft to cry, on bended knee,
Draw me O God! and I'll run after thee.
And should you deign a competence to give,
your laws shall be revered while I live;
And when I die, admitted to your throne,
In endless praise my gratitude be shown.
But on your mercy still must I confide,
For though I vowed, yet I have stepped aside,
Infringed your laws, your statutes unrevered,
And the first nature has too much appeared;
So that I may this fair confession make,
The Spirit's willing, but the flesh is weak.
Therefore I beg, O! let your grace subdue
Each erring passion, and my heart renew,
That to my friends, I this account may give,
Like pious Paul, I'm dead, and yet, I live!
And now the life, that animates this clod,
Leans on the faith of the dear Son of God,
Who for my sake alone the wine-press trod.
The worship, heaven with approbation crowns,
Consists not in cringes, or in sounds;
In ceremonies, or in cut of coat,
Nor in long prayers, expressed all by tote;
'Tis not performed with tuned instrument
In costly domes, houses magnificent,
Which strike the senses, and affections draw
Into a superstitious lifeless awe;
But unreformed, and leaves the soul as poor,
As impotent, and filthy as before.
No! genuine worship is a nobler thing,
Love's its original and only spring;
It is performed in Spirit and in heart,
By the ability God does Himself impart;
And it consists in a holy living,
In prayer, in praise, and true thanksgiving.
The Internal Monitor
You need not say, with mental sighs, O man!
Who will unfold Jehovah's mystical plan?
Who bring the sacred pandects from the sky?
That we may hear, and with the terms comply.
Who perch upon the morning's early breeze?
And waft it to us from beyond the seas.
Or, who descend to the unmeasured deep,
And fetch it where tremendous waters sleep?
For in your heart the word's divinely wrote,
Indelible and fair, without a blot;
Speaks every tongue beneath the cope of heaven,
Extensive as the light! to all it is given.
Unto this oracle attention give,
Obey its dictates, and your soul shall live.
Nor need you say, wherewith, alas, shall I
Approach the great eternal deity?
Or how prostrate myself to gain his eye?
Shall I before His awful presence come
With yearling-calves, in a full hecatomb?
Will rams in thousands please from Bashan's soil?
Or, shall I give ten thousand rills of oil?
Shall my first-born be offered as a toll,
The body's fruit ransom the guilty soul?
No! none of these, Jehovah will delight;
your heart is conscious of the thing that's fight.
The rule is short—be merciful, be just,
And humbly in your maker put your trust.
What words Jehovah! shall I choose
To express my thanks to you ?
What reverential posture use?
Down on my face or knee?
External forms may seem devout,
Yet no acceptance find;
Nor all the pomp of words, without
A correspondent mind.
The heart's an index; read me, there
See gratitude and praise;
For competence, a conscience clear,
With health, and length of days;
For one true friend, an offspring large;
And what is dearer still,
For love, that did my debts discharge,
And brought from heaven your will.
Shall I, O God! thus highly blessed,
Ever disobedient prove,
Or make revealed truths a jest,
And skeptic reasoning love?
Shall I prefer a transient sin,
Renounce your sacred laws,
And slight your holy checks within,
To gain the world's applause?
No; rather let my hand forget
To guide the passive quill;
My eyes in total darkness set,
My laboring heart stand still.
SOLITARY THOUGHTS ON THE UNCERTAINTY OF ALL HUMAN THINGS
Transibunt cito, quæ vos mansura putatis.”
What ground, alas! has any man
To set his heart on things below,
Which, when they seem most like to stand,
Fly like an arrow from a bow?
Things subject to exterior sense
Are to mutation most prepense.
If stately houses we erect,
And therein think to take delight,
On what a sudden are we checked,
And all our hopes made groundless quite!
One little spark in ashes lays
What we were building half our days.
If on estates an eye we cast,
And pleasure there expect to find,
A secret providential blast
Brings disappointment to our mind.
Who's now on top ere long may feel
The circling motion of the wheel.
If we our tender babes embrace,
And comfort hope in them to have,
Alas! in what a little space
Is hope laid with them in the grave!
Whatever promises content
Is in a moment from us rent.
But is there nothing, then, that's sure
For man to six his heart upon?
Nothing that always will endure
When all these transient things are gone?
Sad state where man, with grief oppressed,
Finds nought wherein his mind may rest.
Oh yes! there is a God above,
Who unto men is also nigh,
On whose unalterable love
We may with confidence rely.
No disappointment can befall
While trusting Him that's all in all.
In Him over all if we delight,
And in His precepts pleasure take,
We shall be sure to do aright.
Tis not His nature to forsake.
A proper object He alone
For man to set his heart upon.
TO THE HOLY ONE
Eternal God! Preserver of all those
(Without respect of person or degree,)
Who in your faithfulness their trust repose,
And place their confidence alone in you,
Be you my succor; for you know that I
On your protection, Lord, alone rely.
Surround me, Father, with your mighty power;
Support me daily by your holy arm;
Preserve me faithful in the evil hour;
Stretch forth your hand to save me from all harm;
Be you my helmet, breastplate, sword, and shield,
And make my foes before your power to yield.
Teach me the spiritual battle so to fight
That when the enemy shall me beset,
Armed head to foot with armor of your light,
A perfect conquest o'er him I may get,
And with your battle-axe may cleave the head
Of him who bites that part whereon I tread.
Then, being from domestic foes set free,
The cruelties of men I shall not fear,
But in your quarrel, Lord, undaunted be,
And for your sake the loss of all things bear,
Yea, though in dungeons locked, with joy will sing
A song of praise to you , my God, my King.
A SONG OF PRAISE
Thy love, dear Father! and your tender care
Have in my heart made a strong desire
To celebrate your name with praises rare,
That others, too, your goodness may admire,
And learn to yield to what you do require.
Many have been the trials of my mind,
My exercises great, great my distress;
Full oft my ruin has my foe designed;
My sorrows then my pen cannot express,
Nor could the best of men afford redress.
When thus beset to you I lift mine eye,
And with a mournful heart my moan do make.
How oft with eyes overflowing did I cry,
My God, my God, oh do not me forsake,
Regard my tears, some pity on me take!
And to the glory of your holy name,
eternal God! whom I both love and fear,
I hereby do declare I never came
Before your throne, and found you loath to hear,
But always ready with an open ear.
And though sometimes though seems your face to hide,
As one that had withdrawn your love from me,
'Tis that my faith may to the full be tried,
And that I thereby may the better see
How weak I am, when not upheld by you.
For underneath your holy arm I feel,
Encompassing with strength as with a wall,
That if the enemy trip up my heel,
You ready are to save me from a fall.
To you belong thanksgivings over all!
And for your tender love, my God, my King,
My heart shall magnify you all my days;
My tongue of your renown shall daily sing;
My pen shall also grateful trophies raise,
As monuments to your eternal praise.
Upon the Excellently Learned JOHN MILTON.
(John Milton (December 9, 1608 – November 8, 1674) was an English poet, prose polemicist, and civil servant for the English Commonwealth. Most famed for his epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton is celebrated as well for his eloquent treatise condemning censorship, Areopagitica. He has long been considered the supreme English poet. In his later years, be became blind, unable to read, but still able to write. He employed young Thomas Ellwood as his reader, passing his knowledge and moulding Ellwood's thinking and writing skills. When Milton asked Ellwood to review his new work, Paradise Lost, Ellwood asked if he thought of writing something on paradise found; which soon resulted in Milton's Pardise Regained. Ellwood had a deep affection for Milton and wrote the following in tribute to his poetic accomplishments.
Within this arch embalmed does lie
One whose high fame can never die;
Milton, whose most ingenious pen
Obliged has all learned men.
Great his undertakings were,
(None greater of their kind,)
Which sufficiently declare
The worth and greatness of his mind.
Poorly adversaries he declined,
And battle with the chiefest joined.
Not even the royal portraiture
Proudly could before him stand,
But fell and broke,
Not able, as it seems, to endure
The heavy stroke
Of his iconoclastic hand.
Thus the so-famed Eikon Basilike*
Became the trophy of his victory.
*[The Eikon Basilike (meaning Royal Portrait) was a book of poetry, depicting the deposed and beheaded King Charles I as a Christian martyr. It was reprinted several times and was very popular. Because it roused the sympathy for the dead king, and fostered antipathy towards the Puritan Parliament that had been victorious in the civil war that resulted in the king's deposing, Parliament commissioned John Milton to write a rebuttal, named The Iconoclast in which he was successful in turning public opinion - thus the reference above to the heavy stroke of the iconoclastic hand.]
On his triumphant chariot too did wait
One who had long the crown of learning wore,
And of renown had treasured up good store,
But never found an equal match before,
Which puffed him up, and made him too elate.
This was the great Salmatius, he whose name
Had towered so high upon the wing of fame,
And never knew till now
What 'twas, alas! to bow;
For many a gallant captive by the heel
Had he in triumph dragged at's chariot-wheel.
But now is willing to stoop, and see the bough
Torn from his own to deck another's brow.
This broke his heart; for, having lost his fame,
He died 'tis hard to say whether through grief or shame.
Thus great Salmatius, in his winding sheet,
Lies prostrate at far greater Milton's feet—
Milton in whom all brave endowments meet!
The majesty of poesy he revived,
The common road forsaking,
And unto Helicon a new track making, (
To write in measures without rhyme contrived.
He knew the beauty of a verse well made
Doth in a just and due proportion lie
Of parts, true feet, right cadence, symphony,
(A thing by vulgar poets lightly weighed,)
Not in the tinkling chime
Of a harsh and far-fetched rhyme.
Two great examples of this kind he left,
(The natural issue of his teeming brain);
One shows how man of Eden was bereft;
In t'other man does paradise regain,
So far as naked notion can attain.
Nature in him a large foundation laid,
And he had also superbuilt thereon
A structure great, indeed, and fair enough,
Of well-prepared and finely-polished stuff,
Admired by all but equaled by none.
So that of him it might be said
(And that most truly too,)
Nature and art
Had played their part,
As if they had a wager laid
Which of them most for him should do.
His natural abilities
Were doubtless of the largest size;
And thereunto he surely had acquired
Learning as much as could be well desired.
More known his learning was not than admired.
Profound his judgment was and clear;
His apprehension of the highest strain;
His reason all before it down did bear,
So forcible, demonstrative, and plain
It did appear.
Lofty fancy, deep conceit,
Style concise and language great
Rendered his discourse complete,
On whatsoever subject he did treat.
Invention never higher rose
In poetic strains or prose.
In tongues he so much skill had got,
He might be called The Polyglot.
Even they against whom he writ
Could not but admire his wit,
And were forced to confess
(For indeed it was in vain
To deny a thing so plain,)
That their parts than his were less.
Unto him the muses sent,—
And that, too, not in compliment;
For doubtless 'twas his due,
As all that knew him knew—
The title of most excellent,
Of which title may he rest
Now and evermore possessed!