Three Poems upon the death of the late Usurper Oliver Cromwell (1682)/Chapter 2
To the Reverend
SEeing you are pleas'd to think fit that these Papers should come into the publick, which were at first design'd to live only in a Desk, or some private friends hands; I humbly take the boldness to commit them to the Security which your name and protection will give them with the most knowing part of the world. There are two things especially in which they stand in need of your defence. One is, that they fall so infinitely below the full and lofty Genius of that excellent Poet, who made this way of writing free of our Nation: The other, that they are so little proportion'd and equal to the renown of that Prince on whom they were written. Such great Actions and Lives deserving rather to be the Subjects of the Noblest Pens and most Divine Phansies, than of such small beginners and weak essayers in Poetry, as my self. Against these dangerous Prejudices, there remains no other shield than the universal Esteem and Authority, which your judgment and approbation carries with it. The right you have to them, Sir, is not only upon the account of the Relation you had to this great Person, nor of the General favour which all Arts receive from you; but more peculiarly by reason of that obligation and zeal with which I am bound to dedicate my self to your service. For, having been a long time the object of your care and Indulgence towards the advantage of my studies and fortune, having been moulded (as it were) by your own hands, and form'd under your Government; not to intitle you to any thing which my meaness produces, would not only be injustice, but sacrilege. So that if there be any thing here tolerably said, and which deserves Pardon, it is yours, Sir, as well as he, who is
Your most Devoted and
Of the Late
' TIs true, Great Name thou art secure
From the forgetfulness and Rage
Of Death or Envy, or devouring Age.
Thou canst the force and teeth of Time endure.
Thy Fame, like men, the elder it doth grow,
Will of it self turn whiter too
Without what needless Art can do;
Will live beyond thy breath, beyond thy Hearse,
Though it were never heard or sung in verse.
Without our help, thy Memory is safe;
They only want an Epitaph,
That does remain alone
Alive in an Inscription
Remembred only on the Brass or Marble Stone.
'Tis all in vain what we for thee can do,
All our Roses and Perfumes
Will but officious folly shew,
And pious Nothings to such mighty Tombs.
All our Incence, Gums and Balm
Are but unnecessary duties here:
The Poets may their spices spare
Their costly Numbers and their tuneful feet:
That need not be inbalm'd, which of it self is sweet.
We know to praise thee is a dangerous proof
Of our Obedience and our Love:
For when the Sun and Fire meet,
Th' ones extinguish't quite;
And yet the other never is more bright.
So they that writ of Thee and joyn
Their feeble names With Thine,
Their weaker sparks with thy Illustrious light,
Will lose themselves in that ambitious thought,
And yet no Flame to thee from them be brought.
We know, blest Spirit, thy mighty name
Wants not Addition of another's Beam;
It's for our Pens too high and full of Theam.
The Muses are made great by thee, not thou by them.
Thy Fames eternal Lamp will live
And in thy Sacred Urn survive,
Without the food or Oyl, which we can give.
'Tis true; but yet our duty calls our Songs
Duty Commands our Tongues,
Though thou want not our praises, we
Are not excus'd for what we owe to thee:
For so men from Religion are not freed.
But, from the Altars, Cloud must rise,
Though Heaven it self doth nothing need;
And though the Gods don't want, an Earthly Sacrifice.
Great life of Wonders, whose each year
Full of new Miracles did appear!
Whose every Month might be,
Alone a Chronicle or a History!
Others great Actions are
But thinly scatter'd here and there;
At best, all but one single Star:
But thine the Milky way,
All one continued light, and undistinguish't day.
They throng'd so close, that nought else could be seen
Scarce any common Sky did come between
What shall I say, or where begin?
Thou mayest in double Shapes be shown;
Or in thy Arms, or in thy Gown.
Like Iove sometime with Warlike Thunder, and
Sometimes with peaceful Scepter in thy hand,
Or in the Field, or on the Throne;
In what thy Head, or what thy Arm hath done.
All that thou didst was so refin'd,
So full of Substance, and so strongly joyn'd;
So pure, so weighty Gold,
That the least grain of it,
If fully spread and beat,
Would many leaves, and mighty volumes hold.
Before thy name was publish't, and whilst yet
Thou only to thy self wert great;
Whilst yet thy happy Bud
Was not quite seen, or understood;
It then sure signs of future greatness shew'd;
Then thy domestick worth
Did tell the World, what it would be
When it should fit occasion see,
When a full Spring should call it forth.
As bodies, in the Dark and Night,
Have the same Colours, the same Red and VVhite,
As in the open day and Light;
The Sun doth only show
That they are bright, not make them so:
So whilst, but private Walls did know
What we to such a Mighty mind should owe:
Then the same vertues did appear
Though in a less, and more Contracted Sphear;
As full, though not as large as since they were.
And like great Rivers, Fountains, though
At first so deep, thou didst not go;
Though then thine was not so inlarg'd a flood
Yet when 'twas Little, 'twas as clear as good.
'Tis true, thou wast not born unto a Crown,
The Scepter's not thy Fathers, but thy own.
Thy Purple was not made at once in haste,
But after many other colours past,
It took the deepest Princely Dye at last.
Thou didst begin with lesser Cares
And private Thoughts took up thy private Years:
Those hands which were ordain'd by Fates
To change the World, and alter States,
Practic'd, at first, that vast design
On meaner things, with equal mind.
That Soul, which should so many Scepters sway.
To whom so many Kingdoms should obey,
Learn'd first to rule in a Domestick way:
So Government, it self began
From Family, and single Man,
Was by the small relations first
Of Husband and of Father nurst
And from those less beginnings past,
To spread it self, o're all the World at last.
But when thy Country (then almost enthrall'd)
Thy Vertues and thy Courage call'd,
When England did thy Arms intreat
And t'had been sin in thee, not to be great;
When every Stream, and every Flood,
Was a true vein of Earth, and ran with blood.
When unus'd Arms, and unknown War,
Fill'd every place, and every Ear;
When the great Storms and dismal Night
Did all the Land afright;
'Twas time for thee, to bring forth all our Light.
Thou left'st thy more delightful Peace
Thy Private life and better ease;
Then down thy Steel and Armor took,
Wishing that it still hung upon the hook;
When death had got a large Commission out
Throwing her Arrows and her Stings about;
Then thou (as once the healing Serpent rose)
Was't lifted up, not for thy self but us.
Thy Country wounded 'twas, and sick before,
Thy Wars and Arms did her restore:
Thou knew'st where the disease did lye
And like the Cure of Simpathy,
Thy strong and certain Remedy
Unto the Weapon didst apply,
Thou didst not draw the Sword, and so
Away the Scabbard throw;
As if thy Country shou'd
Be the inheritance of Mars and Blood;
But that when the great work was spun
War in it self should be undone:
That Peace might land again upon the shore
Richer and better than before.
The Husbandman no Steel should know
None but the useful Iron of the Plow;
That bays might creep on every Spear.
And though our Sky was over-spread
With a destructive Red,
'Twas but till thou, our Sun, didst in full light appear.
When Ajax dyed, the Purple Blood
That from his Gaping Wounds had flow'd
Turn'd into Letters, every Leaf
Had on it writ his Epitaph:
So from that Crimson Flood
Which thou by fate of times wert led
Unwillingly to Shed
Letters and Learning rose, and were renew'd.
Thou fought'st not out of Envy, Hope or Hate,
But to refine the Church and State;
And like the Romans, what er'e thou
In the Field of Mars didst mow,
Was, that a holy Island thence might grow.
Thy Wars, as Rivers raised by a Shour
Which Welcome louds do pour;
Though they at first may seem
To carry all away, with and inraged Stream
Yet did not happen, that they might destroy
Or the better parts annoy;
But all the filth and Mud to scower
And leave behind a Richer Slime,
To give a birth to a more happy power.
In Field unconquer'd, and so well
Thou didst in Battels, and in Arms excel,
That Steelly Arms themselves might be
Worn out in War as soon as thee.
Success so close upon thy Troops did wait,
As if thou first hadst conquered Fate;
As if uncertain Victory
Had been first overcome by thee;
As if her wings were clipt and could not flee,
Whilst thou didst only serve,
Before thou hadst what first thou didst deserve.
Others by thee did great things do,
Triumph'st thy self and mad'st them Triumph too:
Though they above thee did appear,
As yet in a more large and higher sphear,
Thou the Great Sun, gav'st light to every Star.
Thy self an Army wert alone,
And mighty Troops contain'dst in one:
Thy only Sword did guard the Land
Like that which flaming in the Angels hand
From Men God's Garden did defend:
But yet thy Sword did more than his,
Not only guarded, but did make this Land a Paradise.
Thou sought'st not to be high or great,
Not for a Scepter or a Krown,
Or Ermyne, Purple or the Throne;
But as the Vestal heat
Thy Fire was kindled from above alone.
Religion putting on thy shield
Brought thee Victorious to the Field:
Thy Arms like those which ancient Hero's wore
VVere given by the God thou didst adore:
And all the Swords, thy Armies had
Were on an Heavenly Anvil made.
Not Int'rest, or any weak desire
Of Rule, or Empire, did thy mind inspire:
Thy valour like the holy Fire,
Which did before the Persian Armies go,
Liv'd in the Camp, and yet was sacred too.
Thy mighty Sword anticipates
VVhat was reserv'd for Heaven, and those blest Seats
And makes the Church triumphant here below.
Though Fortune did not hang on thy Sword,
And did obey thy mighty word;
Though Fortune for thy side, and thee,
Forgot her lov'd Inconstancy;
Amidst thy Arms and Trophies Thou
Wert Valiant, and Gentle too;
Wounded'st thy self, when thou didst kill thy Foe.
Like Steel, when it much work hath past
That which was rough doth shine at last;
Thy Arms by being oftner us'd, did smoother grow;
Nor did thy Battels make thee proud or high;
Thy Conquest rais'd the State not thee:
Thou overcame'st thy self in every Victory.
As when the Sun in a directer line
Upon a Polish'd Golden Shield doth shine,
The Shield reflects unto the Sun again his Light;
So when the Heavens smil'd on the in Fight,
When thy propitious God had lent
Success and Victory to thy Tent;
To Heaven again the Victory was sent.
England, till thou didst come,
Confin'd her Valour home;
Then onr own Rocks did stand
Bounds to our Fame as well as Land;
And were to us as well
As to our Enemies unpassable:
We were asham'd, at what we read;
And blush't at what our Fathers did;
Because we came so far behind the dead.
The British Lyon hung his Main and droopt,
To slavery and burthens stoopt,
With a degenerate sleep, and Fear
Lay in his Den and languish't there;
At whose least voice before
A trembling Eccho ran through every Shore,
And shook the World at every Rore.
Thou his subdued Courage didst restore,
Sharpen his Claws, and in his Eyes
Mad'st the same dreadful Lightning rise;
Mad'st him again afright the neighbouring Floods
His mighty Thunder sound through all the woods.
Thou hast our Military Fame redeem'd
Which was lost, or Clouded seem'd,
Nay more, Heaven did by thee bestow
On us at once an Iron Age, and Happy too.
Till thou Command'st, that Azure Chains of Waves
Which Nature round about us sent
Made us to every Pirate slaves,
Was rather burden than an Ornament.
Those fields of Sea that washt our shores
Were plow'd and reap'd, by other hands than ours.
To us the Liquid Mass
Which doth about us run
As it is to the Sun,
Only a Bed to sleep in was.
And not, as now, a powerful throne
To shake and sway, the World Thereon.
Our Princes in their hand a Globe did shew,
But not a perfect one
Compos'd of Earth and Water too.
But thy Command the Floods obey'd;
Thou all the Wilderness of Water sway'd;
Thou didst but only Wed the Sea
Not make her equal, but a slave to thee.
Neptune himself did bear thy Yoke,
Stooped and trembled at thy Stroke:
He that ruled all the Main
Acknowledg'd thee his Soveraign.
And now the Conquer'd Sea doth pay
More Tribute to thy Thames; than that unto the Sea.
Till now our Valour did our selves more hurt;
Our Wounds to other Nations were a sport;
And as the Earth, our Land produced
Iron and Steel which should to tear our selves be used.
Our Strength within it self did break,
Like Thundering-Cannons Crack,
And kill those that were nere;
While the Enemies secur'd and untouch't were.
But now our Trumpets thou hast made to sound
Against our Enemies Walls in Foraign-ground,
And yet no Eccho back on us returning found.
England is now the happy peaceful Isle,
And all the World the while
Is exercising Arms and Wars
With forraign or Intestine Jars.
The Torch extinguish't here, we lend to others Oyl,
We give to all, yet know our selves no fear,
We reach the Flame of ruine and of death
Where e're we please Our Swords t'unsheath.
we in calm and temperate Regions breath.
Like to the Sun, whose heat is hurl'd
Through every corner of the World;
Whose Flame through all the Air doth go,
And yet the Sun himself the while no fire doth know.
Besides the Glories of thy peace
Are not in number, nor in value less;
Thy hand did Cure and close the Scars
Of our bloody Civil Wars;
Not only Lanc'd, but heal'd the Wound;
Made us again, as healthy and as sound.
When now the Ship was well nigh lost
After the Storm upon the Coast,
By its Mariners endanger'd most;
When they their Ropes and Helms had left,
When the Planks asunder cleft,
And Floods came roaring in with mighty sound;
Thou a safe Land, and Harbour for us found,
And savedst those that would themselves have drown'd.
A work which none but Heaven and thee could do,
Thou mad'st us happy whe're we would or no:
Thy Judgment, Mercy, Temperance so great,
As if those Vertues only in thy mind had seat.
Thy Piety not only in the Field but Peace,
When Heaven seem'd to be wanted least.
Thy Temples not like Janu's only were
Open in time of VVar:
VVhen thou hadst greater cause of fear
Religion and the Awe of Heaven possest,
All places and all times alike, thy Breast.
Nor didst thou only for thy Age provide,
But for the years to come beside,
Our after-times, and late posterity
Shall pay unto thy Fame, as much as we;
They too, are made by thee.
When Fate did call thee to a higher Throne,
And when thy Mortal work was done,
When Heaven did say it, and thou must be gon:
Thou him to bear thy burthen chose,
Who might (if any could) make us forget thy loss:
Nor hadst thou him design'd,
Had he not been
Not only to thy Blood, but Vertue Kin;
Not only Heir unto thy Throne, but Mind.
'Tis He shall perfect all thy Cures
And, with as fine a Thread, weave out thy Loom.
So, One did bring the Chosen people from
Their Slavery and Fears,
Led them through their Pathless Road,
Guided himself by God,
He brought them to the Borders: but a Second hand
Did settle and Secure them, in the Promis'd Land.