by William Alexander
A great Assemblie doth with state begin,
And of some soules the processe is surveigh'd,
So more to tax the Iews, and Christians sinne,
Here in the ballance is before them layd,
Each Ethnicks part to be compar'd, brought in
In judgement now, their errors to upbraid:
Yet all excuses, which such can revolve,
Do damne but others, not themselves absolve.
O what strange sight! what monstrous meeting now?
One moment musters all the ages gone;
Borne, flown, driv'n, or drawn up, I wot not how,
Large is that Crowne which compasses the Throne;
All for each time whom Nature did allow,
What numbers must they make when joyn'd in one?
Whil'st I do looke about, below, on high,
Still clouds of people do confine mine eye.
Oft thousands were in populous squadrons set,
Whil'st haughty Monarchs others Empires sought,
But nor men now, more nations last are met,
Who once in all, but differ then in nought,
No severall customes, usuall censures get,
As when some Civile, some are barbarous thought,
No garments mark'd, nor signe of hand, nor head:
All naked judg'd, as they at first were made.
What store of tongues oft hungry eares have fed?
Since men from one, did more at Babel take,
And these (licentious) many bastards bred,
Which (mixt like Mules) did strange conjunctions make;
But now at last all by one language led,
(Confusions curse remov'd) as first turne backe,
At least the judge none to interpret needs,
No heart from him hides thoughts, the tongue lesse deeds.
The spatious world at first could scarce containe,
Them whom one age by common course brought forth,
Though both by sea and land more ground to gaine,
With Colonies disper'st, East, West, South, North,
Who all their wits for wayes to live did strayne,
Yet, dreaming glory, vaunted shewes of worth:
Th'earth whil'st her entrails every one did teare,
Was forc'd to bury whom she could not beare.
Death walkes so slowly with his sleepy pace,
(Though last not look'd for oft times he arrive)
That even to haste mans never resting race,
Both warre and sicknesse violently strive;
What natures selfe would bound in little space,
Art to precipitate doth meanes contrive:
Else th'earth surcharg'd would starve her nurslings soon,
Too populous mankinde by it selfe undone.
But loe all these who had beene guests below,
Since first an Angell Eden came to guard,
This huge assembly joyn'd in one, doth show,
From whence none can escape, nor can be spar'd,
Yet now no ground, no, not no grave they owe,
No strife for marches, lands alike are shar'd:
None for old claimes then doth another cite,
But even of them all memory would quite.
No kinsman, friend, nor old acquaintance here,
Though long disjoyn'd, and soone perchance to part,
Doe meet as men by mutuall duties deare,
With pleasant count'nance, and affecting heart;
That fatall doome to be pronounc'd so neere,
(Which joy or griefe for ever must impart)
With racking cares doth so distract the minde,
That then no other thought a place can finde.
No tyrant here (attended by his thralles,)
Doth terrour give, no, but doth it receive,
And now imperiously no master calls,
A humble servant, nor a fawning slave,
That height of minde a present feare appalles,
And breakes that swelling which made many rave:
Though now great difference be of mortals made,
"All shall meet equals, but must first be dead.
Though some whose greatnesse thousands had o're-thrown,
So that their fame (trac'd by amazement) flyes,
Are here scarce mark'd, till for confusion shown,
When all their deeds the heavens great Censor tryes;
Yet others are then earst made better known,
Who whil'st alive deluded credulous eyes,
And seem'd in show, as Angels once of light,
But are the children of eternall night.
Worst at that time, these trembling troupes endure,
Who know, yet not performe their masters will,
Though judgements threaten, promises allure,
To follow what is good, and flye from ill,
Whose senses false against their soules conjure,
That spirituall power which God inspires to kill:
Who doe neglect, I, and despise that grace,
Which even with Angels purchase might a place.
With high disdaine of soules the Soveraigne mov'd,
A kindled count'nance, flames forth terrour then,
At them who seem'd religion to have lov'd,
Vile hypocrites, curst excrements of men,
And their vast hearts (the cosening maske remov'd)
Shew each thing that they thought, both where, and when:
Till much to wonder, godly men are brought,
Who mark them monsters, whom they Saints had thought.
That troupe on Sathans coat Gods badge which beares,
Who hatching mischiefe, holinesse pretend,
With whoorish sighs, and with adulterous teares,
Their actions all to court opinion tend;
Weigh'd words, school'd looks, squar'd steps, fain'd griefes, and fears,
As others earst betray themselves in end:
"All judgements then from errours maze redeem'd,
"Do see things as they were, not as they seem'd.
Can any minde conceive their great distresse,
Who (whil'st ambition at vaine ends doth ayme)
As wit rul'd all, or that all went by guesse,
So for their course a faction strong to frame,
Have no Religion, any do professe,
A lump of wax, a show, an idle name;
They then shall finde though once not trusting it,
Slight craft but folly, simple goodnesse wit.
Some (too secure) do ballance justice light,
And some with dreames (whil'st desp'rate) mercies range,
But such dissemblers mounting mischiefes height,
Then both these two bred blasphemie more strange:
They mock Gods wisedome, providence, and might,
As who not knows, not cares, or may not venge:
Christ of the worst the worst sort to define,
Their portion did with hypocrites assigne.
As colours (when compar'd) best knowne appeare,
The truth of all exactly to disclose,
So some may make (when they are matched here)
On more sure grounds the judgement to repose:
We see God doth (that things may be made cleare)
To persons persons, sinne to sinne oppose,
That crimes found monstrous though of lesse degree,
May make the more abhominable be.
That Queene whose name heavens register still beares,
What king they had the Hebrews so to teach,
Who came from farre (neglecting vulgar feares)
A mortals sight, and temporall ends to reach,
And as most happy envy did their eares,
Who might enjoy the treasures of his speech,
She (whil'st wits wonders did her minde amaze)
Damn'd liberall fame as niggard of his praise.
She may that day be parallell'd with some,
When humaniz'd our Saviour did remaine,
Who one (more great then Solomon) at home,
Not sought, not heard, but did when found disdaine:
What monstrous madnesse did their minds o're-come,
Who had, like swine, such pearles expos'd in vaine?
An Ethnicke thus may damne the Hebrews then,
A stranger natives, and a woman men.
Wo to Bethsaida, and Corazin burst,
Whom Tyrus straight, and Sidon may appall;
They (had they seene thy sights no more accurst)
In dust with sackcloth had lamented all;
And Capernaum, who mock mercy durst,
Though high as heaven, low downe to hell shall fall:
That which thou saw'st had filthy Sodom seene,
It long a City crown'd with Bayes had beene.
That stately Towne whence fame at first did sound,
Whose greatnesse once all Nations did admire,
When her the Lord had threatned to confound,
Straight prostrated to pacifie his ire,
All (wrapt in sackcloth) grovelings on the ground,
Who humbled soone a pardon did acquire.
She may condemne a number of this age,
Who, when rebuk'd for sinne, not grieve but rage.
Those who of old without the Law did live,
And (to themselves a law) lov'd good, loath'd ill;
May for more blisse, at least lesse torment strive,
With those who had it, yet contemn'd it still:
For them fraile glory, or plaine good, did drive,
Where these a hop'd reward, paine fear'd, knowne will:
Then muse some of the Gentiles deeds burst forth,
Till Christians blush who come behinde in worth.
Though God, nor what he crav'd was then not knowne,
Yet of Religion a degener'd seed,
Industrious Nature in each heart had sowen,
Which fruits (though wilde) did in abundance breed,
And their great zeale which was to Idols showen,
Shall damne their coldnesse who the Scriptures reade:
They left did stray, who call'd were truth neglect,
These foolish are, they wicked in effect.
Learn'd Athens glory, wisedome-lovers light,
Did utter things which Angels tongues might deck,
Though sure to scape Gods scourge, each creatures sight,
Yet, he would vice (loath'd for it selfe) reject,
And as his Dæmon did direct him right;
Last, when accus'd, a Martyr in effect,
Lifes race well runne, glad innocent to dye,
Did (Idols damn'd) all Gods (save one) deny.
His Scholar next for vertues treasure lov'd,
By all the world divine was justly call'd:
Whil'st nought by faith, by nature too much mov'd,
The Third (his Master who all Asia thrall'd)
Who thought of God, much said, but little prov'd,
For all his knowledge, said as quite appall'd,
With paine he ranne, with doubt did end his race,
Then did the Thing of Things entreat for grace.
By speculation of a pregnant minde,
With Nature wrestling, though by her o're-throwne,
Those did of force by dumbe perswasions finde
A power supreame, by speaking works oft showne;
Whom they (though thus in time and state borne blinde)
Did seek not call'd, did reverence though not knowne:
Not seeking heaven, the way to it they trac'd,
And (faithlesse trusting) what not reach'd, embrac'd.
May not such men damne many thousands now,
Who fall confounded in so great a light?
Though learn'd in all which reason doth allow,
They have Gods will, heavens way, directed right,
Yet worse then these that to base Idols bow,
What grip't not feele, not see what is in sight,
But Atheists vile abhominable die,
Whose hearts, whose deeds the Deity do deny.
These excrements of th'earth, the heavens refuse,
Of mankinde Monsters, Natures utter staine,
Who do Religion as a garment use,
And think both heaven and hell names which some faine,
O when they finde (who now of this doth muse?)
A Court, a Iudge, a devill, a place of paine;
Since neither faith, nor arguments could move,
The demonstration terrible shall prove.
The soules of such impiety more spoils,
Then following Idols Laban who did stray;
Then fugitives who (fled from sundry soils)
Their Gods as goods did beare with them away;
Then that sackt Towne whose foe (to mock their foils)
Said, Let their angry gods with them still stay:
Such superstitions, Atheists are prophane,
They grant no God, and these too many faine.
225The Idols Prelats who long earnest stood,
Bath'd th'earth with teares, did th'aire with sighs condense;
And call'd on Baal all deform'd with blood,
As like their Idols having lost all sense:
They may upbraid a troupe of Levies brood,
Who (wanting zeale) with ought but paines dispense:
Then whil'st (though vow'd to heaven) they earth embrace,
But for meere forme do coldly use their place.
You who of God the will reveal'd neglect,
And do his Law not labour to fulfill,
Mark how the Ethnicks Idols did affect,
In dangerous times depending on their will,
And did of them the answers much respect,
Though ænigmatick, and ambiguous still.
In th'end whose fraud, or ignorance appear'd,
Which save th'events no commentary clear'd.
What trust from men had that horn'd devill procur'd,
Whose oracle (renown'd through many Lands)
By labour huge, paine, heat, and thirst endur'd,
Made many haunt his solitary sands,
And ere his harme by him could be procur'd,
Did quite confound Cambyses and his bands;
Whom he ador'd who that kings kingdome reft,
Whom Cato scorn'd, and unconsulted left.
Who hath not heard by fame strange tales oft told,
Of him to whom at Delphos troups did throng,
Who finely could æquivocate of old,
Abhomination of all Nations long,
Whom to accuse the Lydian King was bold
As false, ingrate, and having done him wrong?
Though he them all deceiv'd who him ador'd,
Yet was his Temple with rich treasures stor'd.
To smooth those mindes which were of light depriv'd,
Them through all parts who (still triumphing) went,
(Whil'st hels black hosts to guard their Altars striv'd)
Storms, thunders, earth-quakes, swallow'd, bruis'd and rent,
And them (as theirs) to Stygian darknesse driv'd,
Who good design'd, but of an ill intent:
"Thus sacriledge is plagu'd as worst of evils,
"Let none rob Churches, though they be the devils.
Not onely these two celebrated be,
To whom strange shapes, and names, as soils, they gave,
But from a number what heaven did decree,
The simple people credulous did crave:
Who did not trust the Dodonæan tree,
And how that Apis food did take, or leave?
Though Plutoes name no oracle would chuse,
Till at Christs birth all fail'd, he all did use.
The famous Sibylls (admirable thought)
By times and places which distinguish'd were,
Of which ones books twice scorn'd, thrice valu'd, bought,
Rome strictly kept with a religious care,
From which her fates she long with reverence sought,
As all charactred mystically there.
The great regard which to their books was borne,
May justly damne them who the Scriptures scorne.
These sonnes of Rechab who did wine contemne,
So to obey their earthly father still,
If that obedience (eminent in them)
Check'd who despis'd their spirituall parents will;
May not they once the stubbornnesse condemne,
Of carelesse Christians prone to nought save ill?
Who not like them fraile pleasures do forbeare,
But even Christs easie yoke do irke to beare?
They who did trust all that which was divin'd,
By raving augures drunk with sacred Boules,
Each circumstance commenting to their minde,
Of eatings, intrails, cryes, and flights of fowls:
Ecclipses, thundrings, meteors of each kinde,
As sure presages thought, poore simple soules,
Their testimony may a number grieve,
Who what great Prophets told would not beleeve.
Some Gentiles once whose knowledge was not cleare,
Who to Religion blindly did aspire,
By treasures, toils, and what they thought most deare,
Of Idols sought to pacifie the ire:
And lesse then naturall, heavenly to appeare,
Did offer up their children in the fire:
Thus as we should (though in the ground they err'd)
What they thought God to all things they preferr'd.
For Phrigian warre the Grecian generall bent,
By windes adverse whil'st stay'd on Aulis cost,
(As his advice the rigorous Augur lent)
To expiate his crime, and free the host,
He (in a sacrifice) before he went,
To get a whore his virgin-daughter lost,
And did (in show) as much to scape a storme,
As Abraham aym'd or Ipthee did performe.
No man can think, and not for horror start,
What sacrifice some barbarous Indians us'd,
Whil'st oft of men bow'd back on stones by art,
(A meanes to bend the breast, and belly chus'd)
The smoaking entrails, and the panting heart,
They in their zeale most barbarously abus'd.
Whose ugly Priest his Lord resembled right,
In colour, forme, and minde, a monstrous sight.
Religions reverence when in soules infus'd,
(Though with false grounds) doth absolutely sway,
Romes second King for this a Nymphes name us'd,
And Africks victor oft alone did stay;
Long with his hind Sertorius troups abus'd,
And Mahomet his Dove did trust betray:
Where shows prepost'rous did prevaile so much,
What would the truth reveal'd have done with such?
That for his glory which God did direct,
Who do deny, abstract, or who impaires,
And his adopted day (prophane) neglect,
Who made all dayes, wrought six, and numbers theirs,
Then unto them he justly may object,
How Gentiles long with superstitious cares
Their Idols feasts solemnly did observe,
And though in forme, not in intent did swerve.
What thousands did to Ioves Olympicks throng,
Which (kept precisely) times great count did found;
The Pythian sports their patron prais'd as strong,
Who the great Serpent, did a lesse confound:
Old Saturn (Sathan) he was honour'd long,
Where slaves like Lords, both did like beasts abound;
His feast was grac'd by mutuall gifts and gaines,
Who had two faces, and so many names.
The Isthmian playes which Theseus first began,
To honour Neptune numbers did afford;
In naked troups the Lupercalianes ranne
With leathern thongs for beating others stor'd;
With mysteries which commons could not scanne,
(For Dis a Dowry) Ceres was ador'd,
And Romes good Goddesse, author of much ill,
Though Clodius was disclos'd, did cloake such still.
With old Silenus staggering in a trance,
For Thebes great drunkard feasts they did decree,
Whil'st first a victor, then a God by chance,
His fierie breeding never quench'd could be;
Troups of all sorts transported in a dance,
At his strange orgies howling went to see.
With Ivie darts of women madding still,
One her own sonne, a band did Clio's kill.
You who with slack desires not hot, nor cold,
Each sacred thought when scarce conceiv'd do kill,
Mark them who were to their owne fancies sold,
How that their zeale (though blinde) was fervent still:
Whose Altars, feasts, and oracles of old,
They reverenc'd more then you the great Gods will.
Their Augurs they observ'd with much respect,
You Prophets and Evangelists neglect.
With works of worth (good in a high degree)
Some Infidels did such perfections show,
That by our best they hardly match'd can be,
Whil'st we admire their strength, our weaknesse know,
And if my Makers will not govern'd me
To aske no reason where I reverence ow
Oft would I grieve, and even strange thoughts embrace,
That such good Natures should have had no grace.
These Persian Kings whom Prophets pennes renowne,
What Ashur took did to Gods flock restore,
And Edicts made to build their Church, and Towne,
Both rendring theirs, and aiding them with more,
Of them two Brothers (striving for the Crowne)
With mutuall gifts kept kindnesse as before,
Yea, he who raign'd, the other grac't, and rais'd;
A rare example, never match'd, oft prais'd.
Straight when one nam'd a message from the Lord,
The wicked Eglon rose (all pride supprest)
And (as he dream'd) with sacred robes decor'd,
When Greeks great Monarch saw the Iews great Priest,
Their God (ere knowne) with reverence he ador'd,
And (as they crav'd) did leave their Realme in rest:
Such Kings who God and his did thus respect,
May damne who God do know, yet him neglect.
Who parents honour more then Gentiles sought?
All Sparta's youth to reverence th'Ancients us'd;
That so his Syre from bondage might be brought,
The gallant Cimon fetters not refus'd;
These two by Solon who were happy thought,
Did draw their mothers Coach as horses chus'd:
Though (as was promis'd) not long life to try,
They in the Temple (well employ'd) did dye.
More of their children Romans did exact,
Then God commands, or Nature doth admit;
He from himselfe whom freedome did distract,
Did (his two sonnes accus'd) in judgement sit;
(Vnhappy he who ever prais'd the fact)
And them to death austerely did commit:
This, as their crime, Romes state, his credit urg'd,
By some of force, best by himselfe was purg'd.
That valorous youth who strict command receiv'd,
(His Father absent) for no fight to presse,
By courage flatter'd, and by th'enemies brav'd,
That for a battell did himselfe addresse;
His Syre return'd, would no way have him sav'd,
But since his will, warres right, he durst transgresse:
Both as a victor, and a rebell made,
Caus'd first to crowne, and then strike off his head.
Thus (whil'st admir'd) Romes liberties first lampe,
And her sterne Captaine, daunting nature farre,
Th'one in the towne, the other in the campe,
Left rare examples both for peace and warre,
Which eminent in every minde did stampe
The reverence due to them that rulers are;
"Too fond on fame, or in their course sincere,
"Good Citizens, but Fathers too severe.
Though this strict course which parents thus did take,
To grace their charge, did but from rigour flow,
All (though they may not spoile, what God doth make)
May boldly use what they so much doe owe;
Some Ethnickes children, if we doe looke backe,
By piety did admirable grow:
"And onely then when just affections shine,
"By being naturall, men doe prove divine.
Rude Corialanus, (high disdaine conceiv'd)
Wrong'd by a part of Rome, reveng'd on all,
When left by friends, by foes with joy receiv'd,
He made them quake who did the world appall;
And when no hope was how they might be sav'd,
"(Loe, nought save kindenesse can make courage thrall)
His mothers teares to melt his rigour serv'd,
Who lost himselfe that his might be preserv'd.
The weaker sexe, to piety more prone,
By rare examples, oft have beene renown'd,
When many murthers were bewail'd by none,
An isles whole men in bloud by women drown'd,
The aged Thoas (stolne out from his throne)
His daughter sav'd, though next him to be crown'd,
Whose Lord (though milde) one cruell did acquire,
Who kill'd her children, where she sav'd her sire.
Where all were ill, that Lady onely good,
Who though she had (of worth what wonders rife?)
Incestuous parents, brothers stain'd with bloud,
Time, state, sexe, race, oppos'd, with all at strife,
Blinde father led, griev'd mothers comfort stood,
Her brothers funerals urg'd with ventred life:
In Thebes she Altars more deserv'd to have,
Then one to wine, to lust another slave.
The heavens great Monarch with such favour fram'd
His law to nature, nature to his law,
That even in parts where he was never nam'd,
At least his precepts where they never saw,
To bragge of good, of evill to be asham'd,
A borne instinct, depth in each brest did draw:
As some from vice, strict statutes did restraine,
Some freely vertuous, did great glory gaine.
Those two brave Princes first for worth and place,
The glory of the Greeke and Persian states,
And of Romes brood, the best for warre, or peace,
Who (Carthage conquering) stablish'd floting fates,
Those three (at fortunes height, whom youth did grace,)
Had Captives noble, gallant, fayre, great baits:
Yet them not wrong'd, though won, and from their foes,
But sav'd their honour, and asswag'd their woes.
That hunter stout, the forc'd Amazons sonne,
Though tempted oft by most unlawfull lust,
He not by threatnings, nor allurements wonne,
Liv'd godlesse, godly, where no law was, just,
Yet one (Buls sister right) enraged runne,
To worke his death, abus'd his fathers trust:
Till him fierce horses, rent, not tainted still,
A Martyrs image for not doing ill.
He who was sav'd when lost, and lost when sav'd,
Who did his father kill, and mother wed,
Was still (thoughts pure) not guilty, but deceiv'd,
For, when he knew where errour had him led,
(His eyes pull'd out, no comfort more receiv'd,)
A greater griefe repentance never bred:
As Kings from law, free (as unknowne) from shame,
Yet (his owne Iudge) he no excuse would frame.
That powerfull speaker, who did Lais leave,
And scorn'd to buy remorse at such a rate,
Last may to plead against those Christians crave,
Sold to their owne, and others lusts of late,
In sinnes exchange, who filthy traffique have,
(Save what she gave, they sell) vile Sodomes mate:
But those are worse, by an imposed price,
Who farme Gods statutes, and doe value vice.
As onely Iewell which doth it array,
Shames crimson Ensignes, beauties credit save;
The vestall Virgins who from fame did stray,
(Straight buried quicke) to thousands terrour gave;
These who still pure, in their first state did stay,
Were carried, crown'd, in triumph to the grave:
Then valour, shamefastnesse more praise deserves,
That doth force others, this it selfe preserves.
That second sexe, if as the first, as free,
To burst out all which bashfull thoughts restraine,
For continency in a high degree,
The Gentiles scroules a number would containe;
But women all in this unhappy be,
None knowes, save one, what praise they sometime gaine,
Who, with his vice, their vertue keepes unknowne,
And onely they get fame when quite o'rethrowne.
If scaping Tarquin, Lucrece quite obscure,
Would have conceal'd the foule attempt for shame,
And, loth more harme or scandall to procure,
Had had (if chast) for chastity no fame,
But when deflowr'd to prove her selfe still pure.
So to prevent an ignominious name:
Steele onely help'd, shame gave the wound indeed,
The modest Matron did but blush, not bleed.
What women have their mates more dearely lov'd,
Then she whose death redeem'd Admetus life?
Then she whose part the burning embers prov'd;
Then pale Paulina, in a generous strife?
Then she (high courage by affection mov'd)
Who said (when having try'd the fatall knife)?
Have have, deare Pætus this gives me no paine,
But when thou wound'st thy selfe, then am I slaine.
What course for chastnesse can more glory claime,
Then thrall'd Virginia's, Virgin still to stand,
On honours Altar, offred up to fame,
Forc'd for affection, by the fathers hand,
Who chus'd no childe to have, ere one with shame,
As courage, rage, and vertue did command:
Syre, lover, luster, childe, whose part was chiefe,
For kindenesse, madnesse, high disdaine, and griefe?
The Gentiles mindes with lofty fancies great,
Though violent, and subject oft to change,
They did encroach by strength on every State,
Whil'st bent for conquest, glory, or revenge,
Yet loath'd they gaines, which grew by base deceit,
With Spartans onely stealing was not strange:
But, though too sharpe their youth o're-look'd a space,
All when surpris'd, were punish'd with disgrace.
Of sinnes discharg'd, though theft the least would seeme,
Not against God, but men, scarce that indeed,
Not life, nor honour, what they may redeeme,
Perchance superfluous, and anothers need,
Yet then to kill, scorne Parents, lust, blaspheme,
This both more danger, and disgrace doth breed:
Ah earthly drosse, the greatest care imparts!
Theeves, but mens goods, their goods doe steale their hearts.
Some Ethnickes were so farre from robbing ought,
Or coveting what was anothers right,
That what they had by birth, by gift, or bought,
They spar'd to spend for pleasure as they might.
But (whil'st their lives were vertues mirrours thought)
They by rare temperance reach'd perfections height:
Whil'st bodies needs, mindes treasures they pursu'd,
They first themselves, and then the world subdu'd.
That famous Thales, one of seven, thought wise,
The golden badge who each to other gave,
When some him scorn'd, who riches did despise,
As what himselfe not able was to have,
His pregnant sprite new traffique did devise,
Which (when enrich'd) he straight, as loath'd, did leave:
To shew good wits, might such things quickly gaine,
But should their strength for greater treasures straine.
That City sack't, whereas his wealth was thought,
Then Crœsus, or then Crassus richer he,
Who said, when ask'd if he were rob'd of ought,
By one who purpos'd it restor'd should be,
Of fortunes some, of minde, he could rob nought,
My treasure where I goe is still with me:
Such goods indeed divine should wit bewitch,
Which (th'owners not more poore) make others rich.
The worlds great Conquerour, conquer'd did remaine,
By him who was within his Tub retir'd,
Since holding nought of him, as in disdaine,
To let the Sunne shine free, who him requir'd;
Whil'st those about scarce could their wrath restraine,
The King cry'd out, as who his course admir'd:
If Alexander not, this so moves me,
That I, no doubt, Diogenes would be.
This shew'd the greatnesse of that Monarchs minde;
They must be all Philosophers or Kings,
Who would the world to serve their humour binde,
So to contemne, or to command all things;
As few the one, all may the other finde,
And what first had the most contentment brings:
Great conquests trouble, where contempt may please,
The one yeelds glory, and the other ease.
Who Greece did grace, the best man whom she bred,
To worke his friends content, his enemies harmes,
Who made the Thebans of their neighbours dread,
By active studies, philosophicke armes,
Who left for children, conquests where he led,
And dy'd victorious, compast with alarmes:
He was though still in charge, and honoured most,
(As poore) when dead entomb'd at common cost.
O Natures glory, Fortunes Phœnix, stay!
I must admire that which I seldome see,
Though (when once rais'd) thy vertue might make way,
How could'st thou, poore, grow great, great, not rich be?
Heaven to the world this wonder would bewray,
That poverty and greatnesse might agree:
But though thy worth, the time, the state conspir'd,
So poore a Magistrate might be admir'd.
In trust with money, Cato's care was such,
That he himselfe, not onely did no wrong,
But in his shadow would let no man touch,
What any way did to the State belong;
This mans integrity renown'd so much,
Then Cæsar (as more just) esteem'd more strong:
It many thousands may one day accuse,
Who (Questors) did their charge corruptly use.
Romes ancient Consuls from the plough retir'd,
To fight great Kings, and conquer forraine States,
In food and garments meane, for minde admir'd,
Did scorne gold offred, loath corruptions baits,
Where some (though knowing God) to wealth aspir'd,
By treason, usury, and all deceits:
If the first Cato doth in hell remaine,
He may be Censor to appoint their paine.
Bloud was so odious in each Ethnickes sight,
That who did kill (as inhumane) none lov'd,
Save when just warre, or law, whil'st ballanc'd right,
Did kindle courage, or the judgement mov'd;
The wise Pericles, though long great, he might
As foe, or judge, have fierce, or rigorous prov'd,
He bragg'd when dying, that in Athens towne,
None, by his meanes, had worne a mourning gowne.
Farre from tast-pleasing charmes which harme us must,
(So as more simple, I doe thinke lesse bad)
They who of soules did transmigrations trust,
All cruelty in such a horrour had,
That they would neither kill for sport, nor lust,
What moov'd, or felt, for ought which suffred, sad:
These who abhorr'd by death, to nurse their life,
With Iewes who grudg'd for flesh, may stand in strife.
Milde lenity in Siciles tyrant shin'd,
When one (though damn'd to dye) enlarg'd a space,
If not returning at the time assign'd,
Did binde a friend, his danger to embrace,
And when come backe, with a most generous minde,
He did redeeme his pledge, and urg'd his place:
That man (though mercilesse,) a pardon gave,
And with such two, to be a third did crave.
As if that each mans griefe had beene his owne,
Ones death to signe, scarce Titus could endure;
The like by Nero (but in shewe) was showne,
A fatall warrant when one did procure,
Who wish'd that letters he had never knowne,
That, as his heart, his hand might have beene pure:
Of meekenesse thus that monster did esteeme,
"No nature is so bad, but good would seeme.
They who inrag'd did tyrannize in Rome,
And all who from their mindes did pitty barre,
With that black band in judgement once may come,
Who call'd Inquisitors Tormentors are,
And may in justice plead a milder doome,
Nor these in cruelty who passe them farre;
Since then strange tortures which they frame of late,
None us'd on th'earth, nor fain'd in Hell more great.
Of Christians scandall, infamie of Men,
You sheepe in shew, but ravenous Wolves indeede,
Whil'st vow'd religious, irreligious then,
Who fayne devotion whil'st you mischiefe breede,
And doe detest the persecutions Ten,
Yet by one endlesse doe them all exceede;
Who make religion as an art of evills,
A priviledge for men to turne quite devills.
You who (breath weigh'd as winde, and blood as dust)
Ambiguously æquivocating rave,
Who vent out faith to trafficke so for trust,
Glose on an oath, with warrant doe deceave,
Then you, earst Gentiles, Barbars now more just;
If lesse Religion, yet more faith they have;
Marke what of theirs may once upbraid your shame,
Who have no sence of sinne, nor care of fame.
To those of Athens once a course propos'd,
Which (as he told who onely heard it nam'd)
Great profit might afford, but if disclos'd,
As monstrous was as any could be dream'd,
They (though a multitude) all well dispos'd,
Ere further known, that purpose quite disclaim'd;
What thing so worthie as would be defrai'd,
By honours losse to bitter tongues betraid?
That stout Athenian whom great Xerxes sought,
Who (twise deluded) had his death design'd,
And long the same would with great summes have bought,
(His memory did so torment his mind,)
Yet came to him though warranted by nought
Save that he thought a generous foe to find;
Not like to them who from faith given have swerv'd,
Who trusted him (though hated) he preserv'd.
Those two whose rigour first did Rome displease,
Who long great Captaines, last great Tyrants grew,
Whil'st bent what way to murther with most ease,
By papers one, by signes another slew;
Of those one once, on whom foes sought to seaze,
Fled to his rivall danger did eschew;
And he though cruell, false, and his chiefe foe,
Yet would when trusted, not take vengeance soe.
Fabricius did his Enemy advise,
That his Phisitian poyson did intend,
And with great scorne his judgement did despise,
Who had foes just, a Traytour to his friend;
And this to doe nought else did him entise,
But that no Crime might his reproach pretend;
This man all Treason did abhorre soe much,
That even Suspition could his fame not touch.
Romes second founder, who Gaules rage did stay,
When by assult, a Citty bent to take,
A schoole-master his students did betray,
Their parents soe all Supplicants to make;
He who did loath to vanquish such a way,
Him naked straight, them stor'd with rods, sent back,
That they his stripes with interest might restore,
All beating him, who did beate them before.
When Zamaes field had chang'd Italian fates,
Whil'st there conferr'd (not fear'd to be deceav'd)
The two great leaders of the rivall States,
Of warres chiefe chiefes the Carthaginian crav'd,
He plac't himselfe next two of former dates,
Whil'st though not nam'd, his foe more praise receav'd,
To whom he told if not o're-com'd by thee,
Then I had thought my selfe first of the three.
A law too popular bent to have crost,
Whil'st all the Senate was conjur'd in one,
When Marius fail'd, in whom they trusted most,
That all with him from their first course were gone,
Then brave Metellus not his courage lost,
But us'de those words, not yeelding when alone,
"A Pilots part in calmes can not be spi'd,
"In dangerous times true worth is onely tri'd.
To part the world those who did first agree,
When in his Shippe for nought save feasting stor'd,
One offered was by seising upon three;
Of all their Empires to bee onely lord;
But weighing duty in a high degree,
To stray from faith that infidell abhor'd;
And (though thus tempted) from his faith not fell;
In this, this Pompey, Cæsar did excell.
A number such as I have marked here,
Of vertue zealous, jealous of their fame,
Who held both faith, and mutuall duties deere,
Did treason loath, and all what fraude did frame,
At last in judgment boldly may compeere,
Those who more knowledge had the more to blame,
What men did con'nant, what God did command,
Both humane, divine, who brake every band.
He who chang'd natures course, did nations daunt,
Who made great hostes to flie, the Sunne to stay,
He even to those whom purpos'd to supplant,
Like to provoke who did him first betray,
Did firmely keepe what he did rashly graunt:
"None can his owne, by others faults defray:
"To violate an oath all should forbeare,
"And thinke (though not to whom) by whom they sweare.
O what great losse did Christians once receave!
By Ladislaus, urg'd to be perjur'd,
Whil'st Turkes from Christ for vengeance due did crave,
Since he (by him prophan'd) had beene injur'd?
Was he not false who freed one to deceave?
But though his pardon, Gods was not procur'd;
"Those who with strangers upright not remaine,
"Do both themselves and their religion staine.
Then shall the maske from Monsters be remoov'd,
Who keepe whil'st cruell piety in show,
And false to friends, to Princes Traitors prov'd,
The bonds of Nature (vipers vile) o'rethrow,
With fire in darknesse ominously lov'd,
Who (Nero's wish) would kill all with one blow;
Like Rebells bent to cloake rebellion still,
Who faining God to serve, his servants kill.
That which can reach to heaven, and God embrace,
The soules chiefe treasure whil'st kept free from staine,
On earth a vertue, and in heaven a grace,
Which flow'd from God, we fixe on him againe,
Religions oracle, the ground of peace,
Which onely serves all trust to entertaine;
"If wanting faith, of good exhausted then,
"None can converse with God, nor yet with men.
That pretious pledge, that voluntary band,
Both heavenly, earthly, necessarily us'd,
Which can the key of hearts, of heavens command,
A beautious virgin, vile when once abus'd,
Who prostituted now in every land,
For feare of fraud, when offered, is refus'd,
Since she corrupted serv'd to snare the just;
Wrong'd confidence more harmes, then cold distrust.
Base avarice, matcht with ambition blind,
(Faith forfeiting) have so ennobled Art,
That in this age the differing two might find,
Fit cause for each of them to act his part,
He who still laugh'd, yet nothing did allow,
He who still weeping at each thing repin'd;
If th'one scorn'd folly, th'other evills would waile,
For both of them fitt objects would not faile.
Ah save those two what can the world afford!
One would still sway, the other sinke the mind,
Yet who mockes all with most delight is stor'd,
No moments pleasure can the other find;
Who laughes, he lives, as if of all things lord;
Who weepes, himselfe a Slave to all doth bind;
"But follies all to miseries doe turne,
"And he shall hence have joy, who heere doth mourne.
These Gentiles thus who great examples gave,
And though not godly, given to vertue liv'd,
Though aymd at oft, could not the Centre have,
Hoys'd all their Sailes, but at no port arriv'd,
Their deeds damne others, but themselves not save,
For their owne glory, not for Gods, who striv'd;
And (as they hop'd) the world did give them fame,
But since not sought, they can no further claime.
They who on earth did with great pleasure passe,
That time and course which fates (they thought) decreed,
And when death did dissolve this mortall masse,
Would guesse, or else dispute, what should succeed,
Whil'st (as first shining) breaking last like glasse,
If soules immortall were, they doubts did breed:
Yet by their fancies freed themselves from paines,
To walke with joy along'st th'Elysian Plaines.
What cold amazement then their mindes confounds,
Whil'st from his Tombe each one astonish'd starts,
And heares strange trumpets (thundring forth dread sounds)
Cite naked bodies, yea with naked hearts,
The flying Serjeants circling flaming rounds,
So to assemble people from all parts;
At that Tribunall which with terrour shines,
To give account of all their soules designes.
Yet when they heare who liv'd in light accus'd,
Of crimes more odious then they did commit,
And that their deeds, as arguments are us'd
To damne them more, who worse did use their wit,
In hope their ignorance should be excus'd,
By that great Iudge (who lightning flames) doth sit:
It seemes (whil'st this some comfort first implyes)
A little courage from despaire doth rise.
They by all shifts doe seeke themselves to cleare,
Whom nought from errour offred to reclaime,
Had we (say they) O Lord but chanc'd to heare,
As Ninive a Prophet in thy name,
No doubt (disdaining what we hold most deare)
Thy word had serv'd rules for our deeds to frame:
As they with sack-cloth, humbled in the dust,
We griev'd for sinne, had fix'd in thee our trust.
Of thee what people could more knowledge have,
Then by thy selfe had at the first been showne?
Who could give backe more then they did receive?
Or honour thee whom they had never known?
Ah how could we the light of nature leave,
Or whil'st thy will was hid, but use our owne?
Shall we be judg'd by lawes, not given to us,
What not commanded, violating thus?
That looke which can cure some, wound others too,
As Peters comfort, doth breed their despaires;
They finde that what their rebell Syre did doe,
Had forfeited himselfe, and all his heires,
A Prince when wrong'd should not vile traitours woe,
But when entreated (hearkning to their cares)
Is (if he grant of grace, that they may live)
Milde if he doe forgive, just not to give.
Of our first father, of grosse earth the sonne,
(Fruits of forbidden fruits which all concerne)
As did the crime, the costly knowledge wonne,
Went to his race, which without bookes all learne,
So that thenceforth bright wisdome was begunne,
Which of all things with judgement might discerne,
And (rotten branches of a poison'd root)
Each soule doth hatch some seeds of that blacke fruit.
The fatall heires of knowing ill and good,
Ere Statutes grav'd in stone were set in sight,
How God was pleas'd, or griev'd, they understood,
As the first errour did direct them right,
So that all those who were before the floud,
Were damn'd, or sav'd, judg'd by innated light:
That science rob'd, which Natures law did prove,
Of ignorance all colour did remove.
O! how the Ethnickes then with grievous moanes,
For desp'rate anguish roaring horrour howle
A heavy murmur with rebounding groanes,
Doth breath abroad the burthen of each soule;
Some who of late had been enstall'd in Thrones,
Are then abhorr'd, as Stygian Monsters foule:
O what strange change is at an instant wrought!
Most wretched they, who had been happy thought.
Last updated January 14, 2019