Ben: Jonson Page

The Forest.

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F  O  R  E  S  T.


Why I write not of Love.


Ome act of Love's bound to rehearse,
 I thought to bind him, in my Verse:
 Which when he felt, Away (quoth he)
 Can Poets hope to fetter me?
It is enough, they once did get
Mars, and my Mother, in their Net:
I wear not these my Wings in vain,
With which he fled me: and again,
Into my Rhimes could ne're be got
By any art. Then wonder not,
That since, my Numbers are so cold,
When Love is fled, and I grow old.

I I.

To Penshurst.

Hou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
   Of touch, or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polish'd Pillars, or a Roof of Gold:
   Thou hast no lanthern, whereof Tales are told;
Or Stair, or Courts; but stand'st an ancient Pile,
   And these grudg'd at, are reverenc'd the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks, of Soil, of Air,
   Of Wood, of Water: therein thou art fair.
Thou hast thy Walks for health, as well as sport:
   Thy Mount, to which the Dryads do resort,
Where Pan, and Bacchus their high Feasts have made,
   Beneath the broad Beech, and the Chestnut shade;
That taller Tree, which of a Nut was set,
   At his great Birth, where all the Muses met.
There, in the writhed Bark, are cut the Names
   Of many a Sylvane, taken with his Flames,
And thence the ruddy Satyrs oft provoke
   The lighter Fauns, to reach thy Lady's Oke.
Thy Copp's too, nam'd of Gamage, thou hast there,
   That never fails to serve thee season'd Deer,
When thou would'st Feast, or exercise thy Friends.
   The lower Land, that to the River bends,
Thy Sheep, thy Bullocks, Kine, and Calves do feed:
   The middle Grounds thy Mares, and Horses breed.
Each Bank doth yield thee Conies; and the Topps
   Fertile of Wood, Ashore, and Sydney's Copp's,
To crown thy open Table, doth provide
   The purpled Pheasant, with the speckled side:
The painted Partridg lyes in every Field,
   And, for thy Mess, is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high-swoln Medway fail thy Dish,
   Thou hast thy Ponds, that pay thee tribute Fish,
Fat, aged Carps, that run into thy Net.
   And Pikes, now weary their own Kind to eat,
As loth, the second Draught, or Cast to stay,
   Officiously, at first, themselves betray.

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Bright Eels, that emulate them, and leap on Land,
   Before the Fisher, or into his Hand.
Then hath thy Orchard Fruit, thy Garden Flowers,
   Fresh as the Air, and new as are the Hours.
The early Cherry, with the later Plum,
   Fig, Grape, and Quince, each in his time doth come:
The blushing Apricot, and woolly Peach
   Hang on thy Walls, that every Child may reach.
And though thy Walls be of the Country Stone,
   They're rear'd with no Man's ruin, no Man's grone;
There's none, that dwell about them, wish them down;
   But all come in, the Farmer and the Clown:
And no one empty-handed, to salute
   Thy Lord, and Lady, though they have no Sute.
Some bring a Capon, some a rural Cake,
   Some Nuts, some Apples; some that think they make
The better Cheeses, bring 'em; or else send
   By their ripe Daughters, whom they would commend
This way to Husbands; and whose Baskets bear
   An Emblem of themselves, in Plum, or Pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
   Add to thy free Provisions, far above
The need of such? whose liberal Board doth flow,
   With all, that Hospitality doth know!
Where comes no Guest, but is allow'd to eat,
   Without his fear, and of thy Lord's own Meat:
Where the same Bear, and Bread, and self-same Wine,
   That is his Lordship's, shall be also mine.
And I not fain to sit (as some, this day,
   At great Mens Tables) and yet dine away.
Here no Man tells my Cups; nor, standing by,
   A Waiter, doth my Gluttony envy:
But gives me what I call for, and lets me eat,
   He knows, below, he shall find plenty of Meat;
Thy Tables hoard not up for the next day,
   Nor, when I take my Lodging, need I pray
For Fire, or Lights, or Livory: all is there;
   As if thou, then, wert mine, or I raign'd here:
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
   That found King James, when hunting late, this way,
With his brave Son, the Prince, they saw thy Fires
   Shine bright on every Hearth as the desires
Of thy Penates had been set on Flame,
   To entertain them; or the Country came,
With all their zeal, to warm their welcom here.
   What (great, I will not say, but) sudden chear
Didst thou, then, make 'em! and what praise was heap'd
   On thy good Lady, then! who therein, reap'd
The just Reward of her high Huswifery;
   To have her Linnen, Plate, and all Things nigh,
When she was far: and not a Room, but drest,
   As if it had expected such a Guest!
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.
   Thy Lady's noble, fruitful, chast withall.
His Children thy great Lord may call his own:
   A Fortune, in this Age, but rarely known.
Q q                                   They   

298 The Forest.                 

They are, and have been taught Religion: Thence
   Their gentler Spirits have suck'd Innocence.
Each morn, and even, they are taught to pray,
   With the whole Houshold, and may, every day,
Read, in their virtuous Parents noble Parts,
   The mysteries of Manners, Arms, and Arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
   With other Edifices, when they see
Those proud ambitious Heaps, and nothing else,
   May say, their Lords have built, but thy Lord dwells.

I I I.

To Sir Robert Wroth.

Ow blest art thou, canst love the Country, Wroth,
   Whether by Choice, or Fate, or both!
And, though so near the City, and the Court,
   Art tane with neithers Vice, nor Sport:
That at great Times, art no ambitious Guest,
   Of Sheriffs Dinner, or Mayor's Feast.
Nor com'st to view the better Cloth of State;
   The richer Hangings, or Crown-plate;
Nor throng'st (when Masquing is) to have a sight
   Of the short Bravery of the Night;
To view the Jewels, Stuffs, the Pains, the Wit
   There wasted, some not paid for yet!
But canst, at home, in thy securer rest,
   Live, with unbought Provision blest;
Free from proud Porches, or their gilded Roofs,
   'Mongst loughing Heards, and solid Hoofs:
Along'st the curled Woods, and painted Meads,
   Through which a Serpent River leads
To some cool, courteous Shade, which he calls his,
   And makes Sleep softer than it is!
Or, if thou list the Night in watch to break,
   A-bed canst hear the loud Stag speak,
In spring, oft roused for their Master's Sport,
   Who, for it, makes thy House his Court;
Or with thy Friends; the heart of all the Year,
   Divid'st, upon the lesser Deer;
In Autumn, at the Partridg mak'st a Flight,
   And giv'st thy gladder Guests the Sight;
And, in the Winter, hunt'st the flying Hare,
   More for thy Exercise, than Fare;
While all, that follow, their glad Ears apply
   To the full greatness of the Cry:
Or hauking at the River, or the Bush,
   OtOr shooting at the greedy Thrush,
Thou dost with some Delight the Day out-wear,
   Although the coldest of the Year!
The whil'st the several Seasons thou hast seen
   Of Flowry Fields, of cop'ces Green,
The mowed Meadows, with the fleeced Sheep,
   And Feasts, that either Shearers keep;
The ripened Ears, yet humble in their height,
   And Furrows laden with their weight;
The Apple-harvest, that doth longer last;
   The Hogs return'd home fat from mast;
The Trees cut out in log; and those Boughs made
   A Fire now, that lend a Shade!
Thus Pan, and Sylvane, having had their Rites,
   Comus, puts in, for new Delights;
And fills thy open Hall with mirth, and cheer
   As if in Saturns Reign it were;
Apollo's Harp, and Hermes Lyre resound,
   Nor are the Muses Strangers found:
The rout of rural Folk come thronging in,
   (Their rudeness then is thought no Sin)
Thy noblest Spouse affords them welcome Grace;
   And the great Heroes, of her Race,
Sit mixt with loss of State, or Reverence.
   Freedom doth with Degree dispense.
The jolly Wassal walks the often round,
   And in their Cups, their Cares are drown'd:

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They think not, then, which side the Cause shall leese,
   Nor how to get the Lawyer Fees.
Such, and no other was that Age, of old,
   Which boasts t'have had the Head of Gold.
And such since thou canst make thine own content,
   Strive, Wroth, to live long innocent.
Let others watch in guilty Arms, and stand
   The fury of a rash command,
Go enter Breaches, meet the Cannons rage,
   That they may Sleep with Scars in Age.
And shew their Feathers shot, and Colours torn,
   And brag that they were therefore born.
Let this Man sweat, and wrangle at the Bar,
   For every price in every Jar,
And change Possessions, oftner with his Breath,
   Than either Money, War, or Death:
Let him, than hardest Sires, more disinherit,
   And each where boast it as his Merit,
To blow up Orphans, Widows, and their States;
   And think his Power doth equal Fates.
Let that go heap a Mass of wretched Wealth,
   Purchas'd by Rapine, worse than Stealth,
And brooding o're it sit, with broadest Eyes,
   Not doing good, scarce when he dyes.
Let thousands more go flatter Vice, and win,
   By being Organs to great Sin,
Get Place and Honor, and be glad to keep
   The Secrets, that shall break their Sleep:
And so they ride in Purple, eat in Plate,
   Though Poyson, think it a great Fate.
But thou, my Wroth, if I can truth apply,
   Shalt neither that, nor this envy:
Thy Peace is made; and, when Man's state is well,
   'Tis better, if he there can dwell.
God wisheth, none should wrack on a strange Shelf:
   To him Man's dearer, than t'himself.
And, howsoever we may think Things sweet,
   He always gives what he knows meet;
Which who can use is happy: Such be thou.
   Thy Mornings and thy Evenings Vow
Be Thanks to him, and earnest Prayer, to find
   A body Sound, with sounder Mind;
To do thy Country service, thy self right;
   That neither Want do thee affright,
Nor Death; but when thy latest Sand is spent,
   Thou may'st think Life, a Thing but lent.

I V.

To the World.

A farewel for a Gentlewoman, virtuous and noble.

Alse World, good-night, since thou hast brought
   That Hour upon my Morn of Age,
Hence-forth I quit thee from my Thought,
   My part is ended on thy Stage.
Do not once hope, that thou canst tempt
   A Spirit so resolv'd to tread
Upon thy Throat, and live exempt
   From all the Nets that thou canst spread.
I know thy Forms are studied Arts,
   Thy subtil Ways, be narrow Straits;
Thy curtesy but sudden Starts,
   And what thou call'st thy Gifts are Baits.
I know too, though thou Strut, and Paint,
   Yet art thou both shrunk up, and old;
That only Fools make thee a Saint,
   And all thy Good is to be sold.
I know thou whole art but a Shop
   Of Toys, and Trifles, Traps, and Snares,
To take the weak, or make them stop:
   Yet art thou falser than thy Wares.
And, knowing this should I yet stay,
   Like such as blow away their Lives,
And never will redeem a Day,
   Enamor'd of their golden Gyves?

              The Forest. 299

Or having 'scap'd shall I return,
   And thrust my Neck into the Noose,
From whence so lately, I did burn,
   With all my Powers, my self to loose?
What Bird, or Beast is known so dull,
   That fled his Cage, or broke his Chain,
And tasting Air, and Freedom 'twull
   Render his Head in theirthere again?
If these, who have but Sense, can shun
   The Engins, that have them annoy'd;
Little, for me, had Reason done,
   If I could not thy Ginns avoid.
Yes, threaten, do. Alas I fear
   As little, as I hope from thee:
I know thou canst nor shew, nor bear
   More hatred, than thou hast to me.
My tender, first, and simple Years
   Thou did'st abuse, and then betray;
Since stird'st up Jealousies and Fears,
   When all the Causes were away.
Then, in a Soil hast planted me,
   Where breathe the basest of thy Fools;
Where envious Arts professed be,
   And Pride, and Ignorance the Schools,
Where nothing is examin'd, weigh'd,
   But, as 'tis rumor'd, so believ'd:
Where every Freedom is betray'd,
   And every Goodness tax'd, or griev'd.
But, what we're born for, we must bear:
   Our frail Condition it is such,
That, what to all may happen here,
   If't chance to me, I must not grutch.
Else, I my state should much mistake,
   To harbour a divided Thought
From all my Kind: that, for my sake,
   There should a Miracle be wrought.
No, I do know, that I was born
   To Age, Misfortune, Sickness, Grief:
But I will bear these, with that scorn,
   As shall not need thy false Relief.
Nor for my Peace will I go far,
   As Wand'rers do, that still do rome;
But make my Strengths, such as they are,
   Here in my Bosom, and at home.


S O N G.


Ome my Celia, let us prove,
 While we may, the Sports of Love;
Time will not be ours, for ever:
He, at length, our good will sever.
Spend not then his Gifts in vain:
Suns, that set, may rise again:
But, if once we lose this Light,
'Tis, with us, perpetual Night.
Why should we defer our Joys?
Fame, and Rumor are but Toys.
Cannot we delude the Eyes
Of a few poor houshold Spies?
Or his easier Ears beguil,
So removed by our wile?
'Tis no Sin, Loves Fruit to steal,
But the sweet Theft to reveal:
To be taken, to be seen,
These have Crimes accounted been.

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V I.

To the Same.

Iss me, Sweet: The wary Lover
 Can your Favours keep, and cover,
When the common courting Jay
All your Bounties will betray.
Kiss again: no Creature comes.
Kiss, and score up wealthy sums
On my Lips, thus hardly sundred,
While you Breathe. First give a hundred,
Then a thousand, then another
Hundred, then unto the t'other
Add a thousand, and so more:
Till you equal with the Store,
All the Grass that Rumney yields,
Or the Sands in Chelsey Fields,
Or the Drops in silver Thames,
Or the Stars, that gild his Streams,
In the silent Summer-Nights,
When Youths ply their stoln Delights.
That the Curious may not know
How to tell 'em as they flow,
And the Envious, when they find
What their Number is, be pin'd.

V I I.

S O N G.

That Women are but Mens Shadows.

Ollow a Shadow, it still flies you,
   Seem to fly it, it will pursue:
So court a Mistress, she denies you;
   Let her alone, she will court you.
Say, are not Women truly, then,
   Stil'd but the Shadows of us Men?
At morn, and even, Shades are longest?
   At noon, they are short, or none:
So Men at weakest, they are strongest,
   But grant us perfect, they're not known.
Say, are not Women truly, then,
   Stil'd but the Shadows of us Men?

V I I I.

S O N G.

To Sickness.

Hy, Disease, dost thou molest
 Ladies? and of them the best?
   Do not Men, ynow of Rites
   To thy Altars, by their Nights
   Spent in Surfeits: and their Days,
   And Nights too, in worser ways?
      Take heed, Sickness, what you do,
      I shall fear, you'll Surfeit too.
   Live not we, as, all thy Stalls,
   Spittles, Pest-house, Hospitals,
   Scarce will take our present Store?
      And this Age will build no more:
   'Pray thee, feed contented, then,
   Sickness; only on us Men.
   Or if it needs thy Lust will taste
   Woman-kind; devour the waste
   Livers, round about the Town.
But forgive me, with thy Crown
They maintain the truest Trade,
And have more Diseases made.
   What should, yet, thy Pallat please?
   Daintiness, and softer Ease,
   Sleeked Lims, and finest Blood?
   If thy Leanness love such Food,
Q q 2         There

300 The Forest.                 

   There are those, that, for thy sake,
   Do enough; and who would take
   Any pains; yea, think it price,
   To become thy Sacrifice.
   That distil their Husband's Land
   In Decoctions; and are man'd
   With ten Emp'ricks, in their Chamber,
   Lying for the Spirit of Amber.
   That for the Oyl of Talck, dare spend
   More than Citizens dare lend
   Them, and all their Officers.
   That to make all Pleasure theirs,
   Will by Coach, and Water go,
   Every Stew in Town to know;
   Dare entail their loves on any,
   Bald, or blind, or nere so many:
   And, for thee at common Game,
   Play away, health, wealth, and fame.
These, Disease, will thee deserve:
And will, long ere thou should'st starve,
On their Bed most prostitute,
Move it, as their humblest Sute,
In thy Justice to molest
None but them, and leave the rest:

I X.

S O N G.


Rink to me, only, with thine Eyes,
   And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a Kiss but in the Cup,
   And I'll not look for Wine.
The Thirst, that from the Soul doth rise,
   Doth ask a Drink divine:
But might I of Jove's Nectar sup,
   I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosy Wreath,
   Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
   It could not withered be.
But thou thereon did'st only breathe,
   And sent'st it back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
   Not of it self, but thee.

X.similarly untitled in 1616 folio, entitled 
'Praeludium.' in Gifford's edition

Nd must I sing? what Subject shall I chuse?
 Or whose great Name in Poets Heaven use?
For the more countenance to my active Muse?

Hercules? alas his Bones are yet sore,
With his old earthly Labours. T'exact more,
Of his dull god-head, were Sin. I'll implore

Phbus? No, tend thy Cart still. Envious day
Shall not give out, that I have made thee stay,
And found'red thy hot Team, to tune my lay.

Nor will I beg of thee, Lord of the Vine,
To raise my Spirits with thy conjuring Wine,
In the green Circle of the Ivy Twine.

Pallas, nor thee, I call on, mankind Maid,
That, at thy Birth, mad'st the poor Smith affraid,
Who, with his Ax, thy Father's Midwife plaid.

Go, cramp dull Mars, light Venus, when he Snorts,
Or, with thy Tribade Trine, invent new Sports,
Thou, nor thy loosness with my making Sorts.

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Let the old Boy, your Son, ply his old Task,
Turn the stale Prologue to some painted Mask,
His absence in my Verse, is all I ask.

Hermes, the Cheater, shall not mix with us,
Though he would steal his Sisters Pegasus,
And rifle him: or pawn his Petasus.

Nor all the Ladies of the Thespian Lake,
(Though they were crusht into one Form) could make
A Beauty of that Merit, that should take

My Muse up by Commission: No, I bring
My own true Fire. Now my Thought takes wing,
And now an Epode to deep Ears I sing.

X I.


Ot to know Vice at all, and keep true state,
      Is Virtue, and not Fate:
Next, to that Virtue, is to know Vice well,
            And her black spight expel.
Which to effect (since no Breast is so sure,
            Or safe, but she'll procure
Some way of entrance) we must plant a Guard
            Of Thoughts to Watch, and Ward
At th'Eye and Ear (the Ports unto the Mind)
            That no strange, or unkind
Object arrive there, but the Heart (our Spy)
            Give knowledge instantly,
To wakeful Reason, our affections King:
            Who (in th'examining)
Will quickly taste the Reason, and commit
            Close, the close Cause of it.
'Tis the securest Policy we have,
            To make our Sense our Slave.
But this true Course is not embrac'd by many:
            By many? scarce by any.
For either our Affections do rebel,
            Or else the Sentinel
(That should ring Larum to the Heart) doth sleep,
            Or some great Thought doth keep
Back the Intelligence, and falsly Swears,
            Th'are base, and idle Fears
Whereof the loyal Conscience so complains.
            Thus by these subtile Trains,
Do several Passions invade the Mind,
            And strike our Reason blind.
Of which usurping Rank, some have thought Love
            The first; as prone to move
Most frequent Tumults, Horrors, and Unrests,
            In our enflamed Breasts:
But this doth from the Cloud of Error grow,
            Which thus we over-blow.
The Thing, they here call Love, is blind Desire,
            Arm'd with Bow, Shafts, and Fire;
Inconstant, like the Sea, of whence 'tis born,
            Rough, swelling, like a Storm:
With whom who Sails, rides on the surge of Fear,
            And Boils, as if he were
In a continual Tempest. Now, true Love
            No such Effects doth prove;
That is an Essence far more gentle, fine,
            Pure, perfect, nay divine;
It is a golden Chain let down from Heaven,
            Whose Links are bright, and even.
That falls like Sleep on Lovers, and combines
            The soft, and sweetest Minds
In equal Knots: This bears no Brands, nor Darts,
            To murther different Hearts,
But, in a calm, and god-like Unity,
            Preserves Community.
O, wh

              The Forest. 301

O, who is he, that (in this peace) enjoys
            Th' Elixir of all Joys?
A Form more fresh, than are the Eden Bowers,
            And lasting, as her Flowers:
Richer than Time, and as Time's Virtue, rare:
            Sober, as saddest Care:
A fixed Thought, an Eye untaught to glance;
            Who (blest with such high Chance)
Would, at suggestion of a steep desire,
            Cast himself from the Spire
Of all his Happiness? But soft: I hear
            Some vicious Fool draw near,
That cries, we Dream, and swears there's no such thing,
            As this chaste Love we sing.
Peace Luxury, thou art like one of those
            Who, being at Sea, suppose,
Because they move, the Continent doth so.
            No, Vice, we let thee know,
Tho' thy wild thoughts with Sparrows Wings do flie,
            Turtles can chastly die;
And yet (in this t'express our selves more clear)
            We do not number here,
Such Spirits as are only Continent,
            Because Lust's means are spent:
Or those, who doubt the Common Mouth of Fame,
            And for their Place and Name,
Cannot so safely sin. Their Chastity
            Is meer Necessity.
Nor mean we those, whom Vows and Conscience
            Have fill'd with Abstinence:
Tho' we acknowledg, who can so abstain,
            Makes a most blessed Gain.
He that for love of Goodness hateth Ill,
            Is more Crown-worthy still,
Than he, which for Sin's Penalty forbears;
            His Heart sins, tho' he fears.
But we propose a Person like our Dove,
            Grac'd with a Phnix love;
A Beauty of that clear, and sparkling light,
            Would make a Day of Night,
And turn the blackest Sorrows to bright Joys:
            Whose od'rous Breath destroys
All taste of bitterness, and makes the Air
            As sweet as she is fair.
A Body so harmoniously compos'd,
            As if Nature disclos'd
All her best Symmetry in that one Feature!
            O, so Divine a Creature,
Who could be false to? chiefly when he knows
            How only she bestows
The wealthy treasure of her love on him;
            Making his Fortunes swim
In the full flood of her admir'd perfection?
            What savage, brute affection,
Would not be fearful to offend a Dame
            Of this excelling Frame?
Much more a noble, and right generous mind
            (To vertuous moods inclin'd)
That knows the weight of guilt: He will refrain
            From thoughts of such a strain.
And to his Sense object this Sentence ever,
            Man may securely sin, but safely never.

X I I.

E P I S T L E.

Elizabeth Countess of Rutland.

Hil'st that, for which all Vertue now is sold,
   And almost every Vice, almighty Gold,
That which, to boot with Hell, is thought worth Heaven,
   And for it, Life, Conscience, yea Souls are given,

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Toyles, by grave custom, up and down the Court,
   To every Squire, or Groom, that will report
Well, or ill, only all the following Year,
   Just to the weight their this days Presents bear;
While it makes Huishers serviceable Men,
   And some one apteth to be trusted then,
Though never after; whiles it gains the Voice
   Of some grand Peer, whose Air doth make rejoice
The Fool that gave it; who will want, and weep,
   When his proud Patron's Favours are asleep;
While thus it buys great Graee,Grace and hunts poor Fame;
   Runs between Man, and Man; 'tween Dame, and Dame;
Solders crackt Friendship; makes Love last a day;
   Or perhaps less: whil'st Gold bears all this sway,
I, that have none (to send you) send you Verse.
   A Present which (if elder Writs reherse
The truth of Times) was once of more esteem,
   Than this, our Guilt, nor golden Age can deem,
When Gold was made no Weapon to cut Throats,
   Or put to flight Astrea, when her Ingots
Were yet unfound, and better plac'd in earth,
   Than, here, to give Pride fame, and Peasants birth.
But let this Dross carry what price it will
   With noble Ignorants, and let them still,
Turn, upon scorned Verse, their Quarter-face:
   With you, I know, my off'ring will find grace.
For what a Sin 'gainst your great Father's Spirit,
   Were it to think, that you should not inherit
His love unto the Muses, when his skill
   Almost you have, or may have, when you will?
Wherein wise Nature you a Dowry gave,
   Worth an Estate, treble to that you have.
Beauty, I know, is good, and Blood is more;
   Riches thought most: But, Madam, think what store
The World hath seen, which all these had in trust,
   And now lie lost in their forgotten Dust.
It is the Muse alone, can raise to Heaven,
   And, at her strong Arms end, hold up, and even,
The Souls, she loves. Those other glorious Notes,
   Inscrib'd in touch or marble, or the Cotes
Painted, or carv'd upon our great Mens Tombs,
   Or in their Windows; do but prove the Wombs,
That bred them, Graves: when they were born, they dy'd,
   That had no Muse to make their Fame abide.
How many equal with the Argive Queen,
   Have Beauty known, yet none so famous seen?
Achilles was not first, that valiant was,
   Or, in an Army's head, that lockt in brass,
Gave killing strokes. There were brave Men, before
   Ajax, or Idomen, or all the store,
That Homer brought to Troy; yet none so live:
   Because they lack'd the sacred Pen, could give
Like life unto 'em. Who heav'd Hercules
   Unto the Stars? or the Tyndarides?
Who placed Jasons Argo in the Sky?
   Or set bright Ariadnes Crown so high?
Who made a Lamp of Berenices Hair?
   Or lifted Cassiopea in her Chair?
But only Poets, rapt with Rage divine?
   And such, or my hopes fail, shall make you shine.
You, and that other Star, that purest light,
   Of all Lucina's Train; Lucy the bright.
Than which, a nobler Heaven itself knows not.
   Who, though she have a better Verser got,
(Or Poet, in the Court account) than I,
   And, who doth me (though I not him) envy,
Yet, for the timely Favours she hath done,
   To my less sanguine Muse, wherein she hath won
My grateful Soul, the subject of her powers,
   I have already us'd some happy hours,
To her remembrance; which when time shall bring
   To curious light, to Notes, I then shall sing,
Will prove old Orpheus Act no Tale to be:
   For I shall move Stocks, Stones, no less than he.

302 The Forest.                 

Then all, that have but done my Muse least grace,
   Shall thronging come, and boast the happy place
They hold in my strange Poems, which, as yet,
   Had not their Form touch'd by an English Wit.
There like a rich, and golden Pyramid,
   Born up by Statues, shall I rear your Head,
Above your under-carved Ornaments,
   And shew, how, to the Life, my Soul presents
Your Form imprest there: not with tickling Rhimes,
   Or Common-places, filch'd, that take these Times,
But high, and noble matter, such as flies
   From Brains entranc'd, and fill'd with Extasies;
Moods, which the god-like Sydney oft did prove,
   And your brave Friend, and mine so well did love.
Who, whereso're he be
The rest is lost.      

X I I I.

E P I S T L E.

Katherine, Lady Aubigny.

I S grown almost a danger to speak true
   Of any good Mind, now: There are so few.
The bad, by number, are so fortify'd,
   As what they've lost t'expect, they dare deride.
So both the Prais'd, and Praisers suffer: Yet,
   For others ill, ought none their good forget.
I, therefore, who profess my self in Love,
   With every Virtue, whereso're it move,
And howsoever; as I am at Feud
   With Sin and Vice, though with a Throne endu'd;
And, in this Name, am given out dangerous
   By Arts, and Practice of the Vicious,
Such as suspect themselves, and think it fit
   For their own cap'tal Crimes, t'indite my Wit;
I, that have suffer'd this; and, though forsook
   Of Fortune, have not alter'd yet my look,
Or so my self abandon'd, as because
   Men are not just, or keep no holy Laws
Of Nature, and Society, I should faint;
   Or fear to draw true Lines, 'cause others Paint:
I, Madam, am become your Praiser. Where,
   If it may stand with your soft Blush to hear,
Your Self but told unto Your Self, and see
   In my Character, what your Features be,
You will not from the Paper slightly pass:
   No Lady, but at sometime loves her Glass.
And this shall be no false one, but as much
   Remov'd, as you from Need to have it such.
Look then, and see your Self. I will not say
   Your Beauty; for you see that every day:
And so do many more. All which can call
   It perfect, proper, pure, and natural,
Not taken up o'th'Doctors, but as well
   As I, can say, and see it doth excel.
That asks but to be censur'd by the Eyes:
   And, in those outward Forms, all Fools are wise.
Nor that your Beauty wanted not a Dower,
   Do I reflect. Some Alderman has power,
Or cos'ning Farmer of the Customs so,
   T'advance his doubtful Issue, and o'reflow
A Princes Fortune: These are gifts of Chance,
   And raise not Virtue; they may Vice enhance.
My Mirror is more subtil, clear, refin'd,
   And takes, and gives the Beauties of the mind.
Though it reject not those of Fortune: such
   As Blood, and Match. Wherein, how more than much
Are you engaged to your happy Fate,
   For such a Lot! that mixt you with a State
Of so great Title, Birth, but Virtue most,
   Without which, all the rest were sounds, or lost.

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'Tis only that can Time, and Chance defeat:
   For he, that once is good, is ever great.
Wherewith, then Madam, can you better pay
   This blessing of your Stars, than by that way
Of Virtue, which you tread? What if alone?
   Without Companions? 'Tis safe to have none.
In single paths, Dangers with ease are watch'd:
   Contagion in the Preasealternate spelling of 'Press' is soonest catch'd.
This makes, that wisely you decline your Life,
   Far from the maze of Custom, Error, Strife,
And keep an even, and unhalter'd Gait;
   Not looking by, or back, (like those, that wait
Times, and Occasions, to start forth, and seem)
   Which though the turning World may disesteem,
Because that Studies Spectacles, and Shows,
   And after varied, as fresh Objects goes,
Giddy with Change, and therefore cannot see
   Right, the right way: yet must your comfort be
Your Conscience, and not Wonder, if none asks
   For Truth's Complexion, where they all wear Masks.
Let who will follow Fashions, and Attires,
   Maintain their Liedgers forth, for Foreign Wyres,
Melt down their Husbands Land, to pour away
   On the close Groom, and Page, on New-years Day,
And almost, all Days after, while they live;
   (They find it both so witty, and safe to give)
Let'em on Poulders, Oyls, and Paintings, spend,
   Till that no Usurer, nor his Bawds dare lend
Them, or their Officers: and no Man know,
   Whether it be a Face they wear, or no.
Let 'em waste Body, and 'State; and after all,
   When their own Parasites laugh at their Fall,
May they have nothing left, whereof they can
   Boast, but how oft they have gone wrong to Man:
And call it their brave Sin. For such there be
   That do sin only for the Infamy:
And never think, how Vice doth every hour,
   Eat on her Clients, and some one devour.
You, Madam, young have learn'd to shun these Shelves,
   Whereon the most of Mankind wreck themselves,
And, keeping a just Course, have early put
   Into your Harbour, and all passage shut
'Gainst Storms, or Pirats, that might charge your Peace;
   For which you worthy are the glad Increase
Of your blest Womb, made fruitful from above
   To pay your Lord the pledges of chaste Love:
And raise a noble Stem, to give the Fame,
   To Clifton's Blood, that is deny'd their Name.
Grow, grow, fair Tree, and as thy Branches shoot,
   Hear, what the Muses sing above thy Root,
By me, their Priest (if they can ought Divine)
   Before the Moons have fill'd their triple Trine,
To crown the Burden which you go withall,
   It shall a ripe and timely Issue fall,
T'expect the Honours of great Aubigny:
   And greater Rites, yet writ in Mystery,
But which the Fates forbid me to reveal.
   Only, thus much, out of a ravish'd Zeal,
Unto your Name, and goodness of your Life,
   They speak; since you are truly that rare Wife,
Other great Wives may blush at: when they see
   What your try'd manners are, what theirs should be.
How you love one, and him you should; how still
   You are depending on his Word, and Will;
Not fashion'd for the Court, or Stranger's Eyes;
   But to preaseplease him, who is the dearer Prize
Unto himself, by being so dear to you.
   This makes, that your Affections still be new,
And that your Souls conspire, as they were gone
   Each into other, and had now made one.
Live that one, still; and as long years do pass,
   Madam, be bold to use this truest Glass:
Wherein, your Form, you still the same shall find;
   Because nor it can change, nor such a Mind.

              The Forest. 303

X I V.

O D E.

To Sir
William Sydney, on his Birth-day.

O W that the Hearth is crown'd with smiling Fire,
   And some do Drink, and some do Dance,
Some Ring,
Some Sing,
   And all do strive t'advance
The gladness higher:
            Wherefore should I
            Stand silent by.
               Who not the least,
               Both love the Cause, and Authors of the Feast?
Give me my Cup, but from the Thespian Well,
   That I may tell to Sydney, what
This Day
Doth say,
   And he may think on that
Which I do tell:
            When all the Noise
            Of these forc'd Joys,
               Are fled and gone,
               And he, with his best Genius left alone.
This Day says, then, the number of glad Years
   Are justly summ'd, that make you Man;
Your Vow
Must now
   Strive all right ways it can,
T'out-strip your Peers:
            Since he doth lack
            Of going back
               Little, whose Will
               Doth urge him to run wrong, or to stand still.
Nor can a little of the common store,
   Of Nobles Virtue, shew in you;
Your Blood
So good
   And great, must seek for new,
And study more:
            Nor weary, rest
            On what's deceas't.
               For they, that swell
               With Dust of Ancestors, in Graves but dwell.
'Twill be exacted of your Name, whose Son,
   Whose Nephew, whose Grandchild you are;

[column break]

And Men,
Will, then,
   Say you have follow'd far,
When well begun:
            Which must be now,
            They teach you, how.
               And he that stays
               To live until to Morrow'hath lost two Days.
So may you live in Honour, as in Name,
   If with this Truth you be inspir'd;
So may
This Day
   Be more, and long desir'd:
And with the Flame
            Of Love be bright,
            As with the light
               Of Bonfires. Then
               The Birth-day shines, when Logs not burn, but Men

X V.

To Heaven.

Ood, and great God, can I not think of thee,
   But it must, straight, my Melancholy be?
Is it interpreted in me Disease,
   That, laden with my Sins, I seek for Ease?
O, be thou Witness, that the Reins dost know,
   And Hearts of all, if I be sad for Show,
And judge me after: if I dare pretend
   To ought but Grace, or aim at other End.
As thou art All, so be thou All to me,
   First, midst, and last, converted one, and three;
My Faith, my Hope, my Love: and in this state,
   My Judge, my Witness, and my Advocate.
Where have I been this while exil'd from thee?
   And whither rapt, now thou but stoup'st to me?
Dwell, dwell here still: O, being every-where,
   How can I doubt to find thee ever, here?
I know my state, both full of Shame, and Scorn,
   Conceiv'd in Sin, and unto Labour born,
Standing with Fear, and must with Horror fall,
   And destin'd unto judgment, after all.
I feel my Griefs too, and there scarce is Ground,
   Upon my Flesh t'inflict another Wound.
Yet dare I not complain, or wish for Death
   With holy Paul, lest it be thought the Breath
Of Discontent; or that these Prayers be
   For weariness of Life, not love of thee.

T H E   E N D.


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© 2003 by Clark J. Holloway.