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And though I should but ill be understood,
In wholly equalling our sin and theirs,
And measuring by the scanty thread of wit
What we call holy, and great, and just, and good, (Methods in talk whereof our pride and ignorance inake use), And which our wild ambition foolishly compares
With endless and with infinite;
Yet pardon, native Albion, when I say,
Among thy stubborn sons there haunts that spirit of the Jews,
That those forsaken wretches who to-day
Revile his great ambassador,
Seem to discover what they would have done
(Were his humanity on earth once more)
To his undoubted Master, Ileaven's Almighty Son.
But zeal is weak and ignorant, though wond'rous proud,
Though very turbulent and very loud;
The crazy composition shows,
Like that fantastic medley in the idol's toes,
Made up of iron mix'd with clay,
This crumbles into dust,
That moulders into rust,
Or melts by the first shower away.
Nothing is fix'd that mortals see or know,
Unless, perhaps, some stars above be so;
And those, alas, do show,
Like all transcendent excellence below;
In both, false mediums cheat our sight,
And far exalted objects lessen by their height:
Thus primitive Sancroft moves too high
To be observed by vulgar eye,
And rolls the silent year
On his own secret regular sphere,
And sheds, though all unseen, his sacred influence here.
Kind star, still may'st thou shed thy sacred influence here,
Or from thy private peaceful orb appear;
For sure we want some guide from heaven to show
The way which every wand'ring fool below
Pretends so perfectly to know:
And which, for aught I sec, and much I fear,
The world has wholly miss'd;
I mean the way which leads to Christ:
Mistaken idiots ! see how giddily they run,
Led blindly on by avarice and pride;
What mighty numbers follow them,
Each fond of erring with his guide:
Some whom ambition drives, seek Ileaven's high Son
In Cæsar's court, or in Jerusalem :
Others, ignorantly wise,
What could the sages gain but unbelieving scorn ;
Their faith was so uncourtly, when they said
That Heaven's high Son was in a village born;
That the world's Savior had been
In a vile manger laid,
And foster'd in a wretched inn?
Necessity, thou tyrant conscience of the great,
Say, why the church is still led blindfold by the state ;
Why should the first be ruin'd and laid waste,
To mend dilapidations in the last?
And yet the world, whose eyes are on our mighty prince,
Thinks Heaven has cancell'd all our sins,
And that his subjects share his happy influence ;
Follow the model close, for so I'm sure they should,
But wicked kings draw more examples than the good.
And divine Sancroft, weary with the weight
Of a declining church, by faction, her worst foe, oppress'd,
Finding the mitre almost grown
A load as heavy as the crown, Wisely retreated to his heavenly rest.
Ah! may no unkind earthquake of the state,
Nor hurricano from the crown, Disturb the present mitre, as that fearful storm of late, Which, in its dusky march along the plain,
Swept up whole churches as it list,
Wrapp'd in a whirlwind and a mist;
Like that prophetic tempest in the virgin reign,
And swallow'd them at last, or flung them down.
Such were the storms good Sancroft long has borne;
The mitre, which his sacred head has worn,
Was, like his master's crown, inwreath'd with thorn.
Death's sting is swallow'd up in victory at last,
The bitter cup is from him pass’d;
Fortune in both extremes
Though blasts from contrariety of winds,
Yet to firm heavenly minds,
Is but one thing under two different names ;
And even the sharpest eye that has the prospect seon
Confesses ignorance to judge between;
And must to human reasoning opposite conclude,
To point out which is moderation, which is fortitude.
Thus Sancroft, in the exaltation of retreat,
Shows lustre that was shaded in his seat;
Short glimm’rings of the prelate glorified ;
Which the disguise of greatness only served to hide
Why should the sun, alas ! be proud
Though fringed with evening gold the cloud appears so gay, 'Tis but a low-born vapor kindled by a ray:
At length 'tis overblown and past,
Puff’d by the people's spiteful blast,
The dazzling glory dims their prostituted sight,
No deflower'd eye can face the naked light:
Yet does this high perfection well proceed
From strength of its own native seed,
This wilderness, the world, like that poetic wood of old,
Bears one, and but one branch of gold,
Where the bless'd spirit lodges like the dove,
And which (to heavenly soil transplanted) will improve,
To be, as 'twas below, the brightest plant above;
For, whate'er theologic lev’llers dream,
There are degrees above, I know,
As well as here below, (The goddess Muse herself has told me so,) Where high patrician souls, dress'd heavenly gay,
Sit clad in lawn of purer woven day,
There some high-spirited throne to Sancroft shall be given,
In the metropolis of Heaven;
Chief of the mitred saints, and from archprelate here,
Translated to archangel there.
Since, happy saint, since it has been of inte
Either our blindness or our fate,
To lose the providence of thy cares,
Pity a miserable church's tears,
That begs the powerful blessings of thy pray’rs.
Some angel, say, what were the nation's crimes,
That sent these wild reformers to our times:
Say what their sensolese malice meant,
To tear religion's lovely face;
Strip her of ev'ry ornament and grace,
In striving to wash off th' imaginary paint?
Religion now does on her deathbed lie,
TIeart-sick of a high fever and consuming atrophy;
How the physicians swarm to show their mortal skill,
And by their college arts methodically kill:
Reformers and physicians differ but in name,
One end in both, and the design the same;
Cordials are in their talk, while all they monn
Is but the patient's death and gain !.--
Check in thy satire, angry Muse,
Or a more worthy subject choose:
Let not the outcasts of this outcast age
Proroke the honor of my Muse's rage,
Nor be thy mighty spirit rais'd,
Since Heaven and Cato both are pleas'd-
ODE TO THE HON. SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
Written at Moor-park in June. 1689.
VIRTUE, the greatest of all monarchies !
Till its first emperor, rebellious man,
Deposed from off his seat,
It fell, and broke with its own weight
Into small states and principalities,
By many a petty lord possess’d,
But ne'er since seated in one single breast.
'Tis you who must this land subdue,
The mighty conquest's left for you,
The conquest and discovery too:
Search out this Utopian ground,
Virtue's Terra Incognita,
Where none ever led the way,
Nor ever since but in descriptions found;
Like the philosopher's stone,
With rules to search it, yet obtain’d by none.
We have too long been led astray;
Too long have our misguided souls been taught
With rules from musty morals brought,
'Tis you must put us in the way;
Let us (for shame!) no more be fed
With antique relics of the dead,
The gleanings of philosophy;
Philosophy, the lumber of the schools,
The roguery of alchemy;
And we, the bubbled fools,
Spend all our present life in hopes of golden rules.
But what does our proud ignorance learning call ?
We oddly Plato's paradox make good,
Our knowledge is but mere remembrance all ;
Remembrance is our treasure and our food;
Nature's fair table-book, our tender souls,
We scrawl all o'er with old and empty rules,
Stale memorandums of the schools:
For learning's mighty treasures look
Into that deep grave, a book ;
Think that she there does all her treasures hide,
And that her troubled ghost still haunts there since she died;
Confine her walks to colleges and schools ;
Her priest, her train, and followers, show,
As if they all were spectres too!
They purchase knowledge at th' expense
Of common breeding, common sense,
Affect ill-manner'd pedantry,
Rudeness, ill-nature, incivility.
And sick with dregs and knowledge grown,
Which greedily they swallow down,
Still cast it up and nauseate company.
Curst be the wretch! nay, doubly curst!
(If it may lawful be
To curse our greatest enemy),
Who learn'd himself that heresy first
(Which since has seized on all the rest),
That knowledge forfeits all humanity;
Taught us, like Spaniards, to be proud and poor,
And fling our scraps before our door!
Thrice happy you have 'scaped this general pest;
Those mighty epithets, learned, good, and great,
Which we ne'er joined before, but in romances meet,
We find in you at last united grown.
You cannot be compared to one:
I must, like him that painted Venus' face,
Borrow from every one a grace ;
Virgil and Epicurus will not do,
Their courting a retreat like you,
Unless I put in Cæsar's learning too:
Your happy frame at once controls
This great triumvirate of souls.
Let not old Rome boast Fabius fate;
Ile sav'd his country by delays,
But you by peace.
You bought it at a cheaper rate;
Nor has it left the usual bloody scar,
To show it cost its price in war;
War, that mad game the world so loves to play,
And for it does so dearly pay;
For, though with loss or victory a while
Fortune the gamesters does beguile,
Yet at the last the box sweeps all away.
Only the laurel got by peace
No thunder e'er can blast:
Th' artillery of the skies
Shoots to the earth and dies :
And ever green and flourishing 'twill last,
Nor dipp'd in blood, nor widow's tears, nor orphan's cries
About the head crown'd with these bays,
Like lambent fire, the lightning plays; Nor its triumphal cavalcade to grace,
Makes up its solemn train with death;