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And as a hero, whom his baser foes
In troops surround, now these assails, now those,
Though prodigal of life, disdains to die
By common hands : but if he can descry
Some nobler foe approach, to him he calls,
And begs his fate, and then contented falls.
So when the king a mortal shaft lets fly
From his unerring hand, then glad to die,
Proud of the wound, to it resigns his blood,
And stains the crystal with a purple flood.
This a more innocent and happy chase
Than when of old, but in the self-same place,
Fair Liberty pursued, and meant a prey
To lawless power, here turn'd, and stood at bay ;
When in that remedy all hope was plac'd
Which was, or should have been at least, the last.
Here was that Charter seal'd, wherein the crown
All marks of arbitrary power lays down:
Tyrant and slave, those names of hate and fear,
The happier style of king and subject bear:
Happy, when both to the same centre move,
When kings give liberty, and subjects love.
Therefore not long in force this Charter stood;
Wanting that seal, it must be seal'd in blood.
The subjects arm’d, the more their princes gave,
The advantage only took the more to crave:
Till kings, by giving, gave
elves away, And ev'n that power that should deny betray. • Who gives constrain’d, but his own fear reviles, Not thank'd, but scorn'd; nor are they gifts, but
spoils.' Thus kings, by grasping more than they could hold, First made their subjects by oppression bold; And popular sway, by forcing kings to give More than was fit for subjects to receive, Ran to the same extremes ; and one excess Made both, by striving to be greater, less. When a calm river, rais'd with sudden rains, Or snows dissolv’d, o'erflows the adjoining plains, Vol. I.
The husbandmen with high-rais'd banks secure
Their greedy hopes, and this he can endure;
But if with bays and dams they strive to force
His channel to a new or narrow course,
No longer then within his banks he dwells,
First a torrent, then a deluge, swells ;
Stronger and fiercer by restraint, he roars,
And knows no bound, but makes his power his
ON Mr. ABRAHAM COWLEY'S DEATH,
And Burial amongst the ancient Poets.
OLD Chaucer, like the morning star,
To us discovers day from far ;
His light those mists and clouds dissolv'd,
Which our dark nation long involv'd;
But he descending to the shades,
Darkness again the age invades.
Next (like Aurora) Spenser rose,
Whose purple blush the day foreshows ;
The other three with his own fires
Phæbus, the poet's god, inspires ;
By Shakspeare's, Jonson's, Fletcher's lines
Our stage's lustre Rome's outshines ;
These poets near our princes sleep,
And in one grave their mansion keep.
They liv'd to see so many days,
Till time had blasted all their bays:
But cursed be the fatal hour
That pluck'd the fairest, sweetest flower
That in the Muses' garden grew,
And amongst wither'd laurels threw!
Time, which made them their fame outlive,
To Cowley scarce did ripeness give.
Old mother Wit, and Nature, gave
Shakspeare and Fletcher, all they have ;
In Spenser, and in Jonson, Art
Of slower Nature got the start;
But both in him so equal are,
None knows which bears the happier share.
To him no author was unknown,
Yet what he wrote was all his own :
He melted not the ancient gold,
Nor, with Ben Jonson, did make bold
To plunder all the Roman stores
Of poets and of orators.
Horace's wit and Virgil's state
He did not steal, but emulate ;
And when he would like them appear,
Their garb but not their clothes did wear.
He not from Rome alone, but Greece,
Like Jason, brought the Golden Fleece,
To him that language (though to none
Of the others) as his own was known.
On a stiff gale (as Flaccus sings)
The Theban swan extends his wings,
When through the ethereal clouds he flics ;
To the same pitch our swan doth rise.
Old Pindar's flights by him are reach'd,
When on that gale his wings are stretch'd,
His fancy and his judgment such,
Each to the other seem'd too much;
His severe judgment (giving law)
His modest fancy kept in awe;
As rigid husbands jealous are,
When they believe their wives too fair.
His English streams so pure did flow,
As all, that saw and tasted, know:
But for his Latin vein, so clear,
Strong, full, and high, it doth appear,
That were immortal Virgil here,
Him for his judge he would not fear.
Of that great portraiture so true
A copy, pencil never drew.
My Muse her song had ended here,
But both their genii straight appear :
Joy and amazement her did strike;
Two twins she never saw so like,
'Twas taught by wise Pythagoras
One soul might through more bodies pass :
Seeing such transmigration there,
She thought it not a fable here.
Such a resemblance of all parts,
Life, death, age, fortune, nature, arts,
Then lights her torch at theirs, to tell
And show the world this parallel :
Fix'd and contemplative their looks,
Still turning over Nature's books ;
Their works chaste, moral, and divine,
Where profit and delight combine ;
They, gilding dirt, in noble verse
Rustic philosophy rehearse.
When heroes, gods, or godlike kings,
They praise, on their exalted wings
To the celestial orbs they climb,
And with the harmonious spheres keep time.
Nor did their actions fall behind
Their words, but with like candour shin'd;
Each drew fair characters, yet none
Of these they feign'd excels their own.
Both by two generous princes lov'd,
Who knew, and judg'd what they approv'd :
Yet having each the same desire,
Both from the busy throng retire.
Their bodies, to their minds resign'd,
Car'd not to propagate their kind :
Yet though both fell before their hour,
Time on their offspring hath no power:
Nor fire nor fate their bays shall blast,
Nor death's dark veil their day o'ercast.
To Sir Richard Fanshaw, upon his Translation of
UCH is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
That few but such as cannot write, translate:
But what in them is want of art or voice,
In thee is either modesty or choice.
While this great piece, restor'd by thee, doth stand
Free from the blemish of an artless hand,
Secure of fame thou justly dost esteem
Less honour to create than to redeem.
Nor ought a genius less than his that writ
Attempt translation ; for transplanted wit
All the defects of air and soil doth share,
And colder brains like colder climates are :
In vain they toil, since nothing can beget
A vital spirit but a vital heat.
That servile path thou nobly dost decline
Of tracing word hy word, and line by line :
Those are the labour'd births of slavish brains,
Not the effect of poetry but pains;
Cheap vulgar arts, whose narrowness affords
No fight for thoughts, but poorly sticks at words.
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue
To make translations and translators too :
They but preserve the ashes, thou the flame,
True to his sense, but truer to his fame :
Fording his current, where thou find'st it low
Lett'st in thine own, to make it rise and flow,
Wisely restoring whatsoever grace
It lost by change of times, or tongues, or place."
Nor fetter'd to his numbers and his times,
Betray'st his music to unhappy rhymes.
Nor are the nerves of his compacted strength
Stretch'd and dissolv'd into unsinew'd length :
Yet, after all, (lest we should think it thine)
Thy spirit to his circle dost confine.