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ANNO ÆTATIS XIX. At a VACATION Exercise in the COLLEGE, part
Latin, part English. The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began.
Written in 1627.
Hail native language, that, by sinews weak, Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak And madest imperfect words, with childish trips, Half unpronounced, slide through my infant-lips, Driving dumb silence from the portal door, Where he had mutely sat two years before : Here I salute thee, and thy pardon ask, That now I use thee in my latter task : Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee, I know my tongue but little grace can do thee, Thou need'st not be ambitious to be first, Believe me I have thither pack'd the worst : And, if it happen, as I did forecast, The daintiest dishes shall be serv'd up last; I pray thee then deny me not thy aid, For this same small neglect, that I have made: But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure, And, from thy wardrobe, bring thy chiefest treasure; Not those new-fangled toys, and trimming slight, Which takes our late fantastics with delight, But call those richest robes, and gay'st attire, Which deepest spirits, and choicest wits desire : I have some naked thoughts, that rove about, And loudly knock to have their passage out ; And, weary of their place, do only stay Till thou hast deck'd them in thy best array ; That so they may, without suspect or fears, Fly swiftly to this fair assembly's ears; Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse, Thy service in some graver subject use ;
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound :
Such, where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful deity,
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings,
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire.
Then, passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,
May tell, at length how green-eyed Neptune raves,
In Heaven's defiance, mustering all his waves.
Then sing of secret things, that came to pass,
When beldam Nature in her cradle was ;
And last, of kings, and queens, and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus once told,
In solemn songs, at king Alcinous' feast,
While sad Ulysses' soul, and all the rest,
Are held, with his melodious harmony,
In willing chains, and sweet captivity.
But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
Expectance calls thee now another way,
'Thou know'st it must be now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy predicament :
Then quick about thy purposed business come,
That, to the next, I may resign my room.
Then Ens is represented as father of the Predica
ments, his two sons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance, with his canons, which Ens, thus speak
ing, explains. Good luck befriend thee, son ; for at thy birth, The faery ladies danced upon the hearth; Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy, Come tripping to the room, where thou didst lie, And sweetly singing round about thy bed, Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head. She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still, From eyes of mortals, walk invisible : Yet there is something that doth force my fear, For once it was my dismal hap to hear A Sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age, That far events full wisely could presage,
And, in time's long and dark prospective glass,
Foresaw what future days should bring to pass ;
“ Your son,” says she, “nor can you it prevent,
Shall subject be to many an accident.
O'er all his brethren he shall reign a king,
Yet every one shall make him underling,
And those, that cannot live from him asunder,
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under ;
In worth and excellence he shall out-go them,
Yet, being above them, he shall be below them;
From others he shall stand in need of nothing,
Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing,
To find a foe it shall not be his hap,
And peace shall lull him in her flowery lap;
Yet shall he live in strife, and at his door,
Devouring war shall never cease to roar :
Yea, it shall be his natural property
To harbour those that are at enmity.
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knot ?"
The next, Quantity and QUALITY spake in prose ,
then Relation was called by the same. Rivers, arise : whether thou be the son Of utmost Tweed, or Oose, or gulfy Dun, Or Trent, who, like some earth-born giant, spreads His thirsty arms, along the indented meads, Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath, Or Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death, Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lee, Or coaly Tine, or ancient hallow'd Dee; Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name; Or Medway smooth, or royal-tower' Thame,
[The rest was proše.]
ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATIC POET,
W. SHAKSPEARE.* What needs my Shakspeare, for his honour'd bones, The labour of an age in piled stones?
* This Epitaph is dated 1630, in Milton's own edition of his poems, in 1673.
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid,
Under a star-ypointing pyramid ?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou, in our wonder and astonishment,
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath, from the leaves of thy unvalued book,
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble, with too much conceiving;
And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER,
Who sickened at the time of his vacancy, being forbid
to go to London, by reason of the Plague.*
Here lies old Hobson ; Death hath broke his girt,
And here, alas, hath lard him in the dirt ;
Or else the ways being foul, twenty to one,
He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.
'Twas such a shifter, that if truth were known,
Death was half glad when he had got him down ;
For he had, any time this ten years full,
Dodg'd with him, betwixt Cambridge and The Bull.
And surely Death could never have prevail'd,
Had not his weekly course of carriage fail'd ;
But lately finding him so long at home,
And thinking now his journey's end was come,
And that he had ta’en up his latest inn,
In the kind office of a chamberlain,
Show'd him his room, where he must lodge that night,
Pullid off his boots, and took away the light.
If any ask for him, it shall be said,
“ Hobson has supp’d, and 's newly gone to bed."
Here lieth one, who did most truly prove
That he could never die while he could move ;
Hobson, the Cambridge carrier, died Jan. 1, 1630, while
the plague was in London.
+ In Bishopsgate-street, London.
So hung his destiny, never to rot,
While he might still jog on and keep his trot;
Made of sphere-metal, never to decay,
Until his revolution was at stay.
Time numbers motion, yet without a crime
'Gainst old truth motion number'd out his time;
And like an engine moved with wheel and weight,
His principles being ceased, he ended straight.
Rest, that gives all men life, gave him his death,
And too much breathing put him out of breath;
Nor were it contradiction to affirm,
Too long vacation hasten'd on his term.
Merely to drive the time away he sicken'd,
Fainted, and died, nor would with ale be quicken'd;
“Nay," quoth he, "on his swooning bed outstretch'a,
If I mayn't carry, sure I'll ne'er be fetch'd;
But vow, though the cross doctors all stood hearers,
For one carrier put down to make six bearers."
Ease was his chief disease, and to judge right,
He died for heaviness, that his cart went light;
His leisure told him, that his time was come,
And lack of load made his life hurdensome,
That e'n to his last breath, there be that say it,
As he were press’d to death, he cried, “More weight;"
But had his doings lasted as they were,
He had been an immortal carrier.
Obedient to the moon, he spent his date
In course reciprocal, and had his fate
Link'd to the mutual flowing of the seas,
Yet, strange to think, his wain was his increase :
His letters are deliver'd all, and gone,
Only remains this superscription.