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Taught from above his magazines to frame,
That famine was prevented ere it came.
Thus Heaven, though all-sufficient, shows a thrift
In his economy, and bounds his gift;
Creating for our day one single light ;
And his reflection too supplies the night.
Perhaps a thousand other worlds, that lie
Remote from us and latent in the sky,
Are lightened by his beams, and kindly nurst;
Of which our earthly dunghill is the worst.
Now, as all virtues keep the middle line,
Yet somewhat more to one extreme incline,
Such was her soul, abhorring avarice,
Bounteous, but almost bounteous to a vice :
Had she given more, it had profusion been,
And turned the excess of goodness into sin.
These virtues raised her fabric to the sky;
For that which is next Heaven is charity.
But as high turrets for their airy steep
Require foundations in proportion deep,
And lofty cedars as far upward shoot
As to the nether heavens they drive the root,
So low did her secure foundation lie ;
She was not humble, but humility.
Scarcely she knew that she was great or fair
Or wise beyond what other women are,
Or, which is better, knew, but never durst compare.
For to be conscious of what all admire,
And not be vain, advances virtue higher.
But still she found, or rather thought she found,
Her own worth wanting, others to abound;
Ascribed above their due to every one,
Unjust and scanty to her self alone.
Such her devotion was as might give rules
Of speculation to disputing schools,
And teach us equally the scales to hold
Betwixt the two extremes of hot and cold;
That pious heat may moderately prevail,
And we be warmed, but not be scorched with zeal.
Business might shorten, not disturb her prayer;
Heaven had the best, if not the greater share.
An active life long oraisons * forbids;
Yet still she prayed, for still she prayed by deeds.
Her every day was Sabbath ; only free
From hours of prayer, for hours of charity.
Such as the Jews from servile toil releast,
Where works of mercy were a part of rest;
Such as blest angels exercise above,
Varied with sacred hymns and acts of love ;
* Dryden's spelling, oraison, is preserved; it is the French word, showing the origin from the Latin orare, to pray, which is not apparent in the word as now spelt, orison.
Such Sabbaths as that one she now enjoys,
Even that perpetual one, which she employs
(For such vicissitudes in Heaven there are)
In praise alternate and alternate prayer.
All this she practised here; that when she sprung
Amidst the quires, at the first sight she sung ;
Sung, and was sung her self, in angels' lays;
For, praising her, they did her Maker praise.
All offices of Heaven so well she knew,
Before she came, that nothing there was new;
And she was so familiarly received
As one returning, not as one arrived.
Muse, down again precipitate thy flight.
For how can mortal eyes sustain immortal light?
But as the sun in water we can bear,
Yet not the sun, but his reflection there,
So let us view her here in what she was,
And take her image in this watery glass :
Yet look not every lineament to see ;
Some will be cast in shades, and some will be
So lamely drawn, you scarcely know 'tis she.
For where such various virtues we recite,
'Tis like the milky way, all over bright,
But sown so thick with stars, 'tis undistinguished light.
Her virtue, not her virtues, let us call;
For one heroic comprehends them all:
One, as a constellation is but one,
Though 'tis a train of stars that, rolling on,
Rise in their turn and in the Zodiac run,
Ever in motion ; now 'tis faith ascends,
Now hope, now charity, that upward tends,
And downwards with diffusive good descends.
As in perfumes composed with art and cost,
'Tis hard to say what scent is uppermost;
Nor this part musk or civet can we call,
Or amber, but a rich result of all ;
So she was all a sweet, whose every part,
In due proportion mixed, proclaimed the Maker's art.
No single virtue we could most commend,
Whether the wife, the mother, or the friend;
For she was all, in that supreme degree,
That as no one prevailed, so all was she.
The several parts lay hidden in the piece ;
The occasion but exerted that or this.
A wife as tender, and as true withal,
As the first woman was before her fall :
Made for the man, of whom she was a part;
Made to attract his eyes and keep his heart.
A second Eve, but by no crime accurst;
As beautious, not as brittle as the first.
Had she been first, still Paradise had been,
And death had found no entrance by her sin.
- - - - - - -
So she not only had preserved from ill
Her sex and ours, but lived their pattern still.
Love and obedience to her lord she bore;
She much obeyed him, but she loved him more :
Not awed to duty by superior sway,
But taught by his indulgence to obey.
Thus we love God, as author of our good;
So subjects love just kings, or so they should.
Nor was it with ingratitude returned;
In equal fires the blissful couple burned ;
One joy possessed them both, and in one grief they mourned.
His passion still improved; he loved so fast,
As if he feared each day would be her last.
Too true a prophet to foresee the fate
That should so soon divide their happy state :
When he to Heaven entirely must restore
That love, that heart, where he went halves before. 190
Yet as the soul is all in every part,
So God and he might each have all her heart.
So had her children too; for charity
Was not more fruitful or more kind than she ;
love to her
Each under other by degrees they grew;
A goodly perspective of distant view.
Anchises looked not with so pleased a face,
In numbering o'er his future Roman race,
And marshalling the heroes of his name,
As in their order next to light they came.*
Nor Cybele t with half so kind an eye
Surveyed her sons and daughters of the sky;
Proud, shall I say, of her immortal fruit ?
As far as pride with heavenly minds may suit.
Her pious love excelled to all she bore;
205 Her care New objects only multiplied it more.
And as the chosen found the pearly grain
As much as every vessel could contain ;
As in the blissful vision each shall share
As much of glory as his soul can bear;
So did she love, and so dispense her care.
Her eldest thus, by consequence, was best,
As longer cultivated than the rest.
The babe had all that infant care beguiles,
And early knew his mother in her smiles :
But when dilated organs let in day
To the young soul, and gave it room to play,
At his first aptness the maternal love
Those rudiments of reason did improve :
The tender age was pliant to command ;
Like wax it yielded to the forming hạnd :
* The prospective array of his Roman descendants displayed by Anchises to Æneas in the shades below, in the sixth book of the Eneid. + Cybele was wife of Saturn, and mother of Jupiter and other gods and goddesses.
True to the artificer, the laboured mind
With ease was pious, generous, just, and kind;
Soft for impression, from the first prepared,
Till virtue with long exercise grehv hard :
With every act confirmed, and made at last
So durable as not to be effaced,
It turned to habit ; and, from vices free,
Goodness resolved into necessity. *
Thus fixed she virtue's image, that's her own,
Till the whole mother in the children shone ;
For that was their perfection ; she was such,
They never could express her mind too much.
So unexhausted + her perfections were,
That for more children she had more to spare;
For souls unborn, whom her untimely death
Deprived of bodies and of mortal breath ;
And, could they take the impressions of her mind,
Enough still left to sanctify her kind.
Then wonder not to see this soul extend friendship The bounds, and seek some other self, a friend :
As swelling seas to gentle rivers glide,
To seek repose, and empty out the tide,
So this full soul, in narrow limits pent,
Unable to contain her, sought a vent
To issue out, and in some friendly breast
Discharge her treasures, and securely rest :
To unbosom all the secrets of her heart,
Take good advice, but better to impart.
For 'tis the bliss of friendship’s holy state
To mix their minds, and to communicate;
Though bodies cannot, souls can penetrate :
Fixed to her choice, inviolably true,
And wisely choosing, for she chose but few.
Some she must have ; but in no one could find
A tally fitted for so large a mind.
The souls of friends like kings in progress are ;
Still in their own, though from the palace far:
Thus her friend's heart her country dwelling was,
A sweet retirement to a coarser place;
Where pomp and ceremonies entered not,
Where greatness was shut out, and business well forgot.
This is the imperfect draught; but short as far
As the true height and bigness of a star
Exceeds the measures of the astronomer.
She shines above, we know ; but in what place,
How near the throne and Heaven's imperial face,
By our weak optics is but vainly guest; I
Distance and altitude conceal the rest. * For this use of the verb resolve compare “The Hind and the Panther," part 1, line 446.
+ Unexhausted, so printed in the original edition, and inexhausted in the Ode on Mrs. Anne Killigrew, line 28.
i Gresé, spelt ghest by Dryden.
on the shortness of her life.
Though all these rare endowments of the mind
Were in a narrow space of life confined,
The figure was with full perfection crowned,
Though not so large an orb, as truly round.*
As when in glory, through the public place,
The spoils of conquered nations were to pass,
And but one day for triumph was allowed,
The Consul was constrained his pomp to crowd ;
And so the swift procession hurried on,
That all, though not distinctly, might be shown :
So, in the straitened bounds of life confined,
She gave but glimpses of her glorious mind;
And multitudes of virtues passed along,
Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng,
Ambitious to be seen, and then make room
For greater multitudes that were to come.
Yet unemployed no minute slipped away;
Moments were precious in so short a stay.
The haste of Heaven to have her was so great
That some were single acts, though each complete
But every act stood ready to repeat.
Her fellow saints with busy care will look
For her blest name in Fate's eternal book ;
And, pleased to be outdone, with joy will see
Numberless virtues, endless charity :
But more will wonder at so short an age
To find a blank beyond the thirtieth page;
And with a pious fear begin to doubt
The piece imperfect, and the rest torn out.
But 'twas her Saviour's time ; and, could there be
A copy near the original, 'twas she. +
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the temple, and expire;
So was she soon exhaled, and vanished hence,
A short sweet odour, of a vast expense.
She vanished, we can scarcely say she died ;
For but a now I did heaven and earth divide :
She passed serenely with a single breath;
This moment perfect health, the next was death :
One sigh did her eternal bliss assure;
So little penance needs, $ when souls are almost pure.
As gentle dreams our waking thoughts pursue,
Or, one dream passed, we slide into a new;
* For this simile of an orb see notes on the poem on Oliver Cromwell, stanza 5, "Absalom and Achitophel," 839, and Elegy on Lord Hastings.
+ Jesus Christ was cruciñed in his thirty-third year.
1 For this use of now, as a substantive for moment, compare “Threnodia Augustalis," line 28 and note.
This use of the verb to need for the passive to be needed is of very common occurrence. See, among other instances,
“But little learning needs in noble blood."
The Hind and the Panther, iii. 468.