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The Patriarchs, Kings, and Prophets most renown'd,
Who came with God by conference friends to be,
And (whil'st his Law was of their lives the ground)
By him from wants and dangers were made free,
And in all temporall blessings did abound,
Yet did but Christ by Types and figures see:
O how they joy now to behold his face,
Whom they by faith did whil'st they liv'd imbrace!
What sudden lightning cleares my cloudie brow,
And bends faint hopes to follow forth their aimes?
At Christs right hand a band more bright doth bow,
Then Summers Sun when mustring all his beams;
The prospect of my thoughts is pleasant now;
Ioy doth disperse all melancholy dreames;
Hence, hence all ye whose sprits are still prophane,
This sacred ground no vulgar foot must staine.
The first of them that throng about the Throne,
Is he, save God, who once no fellow had;
Of all the Syre, and yet a Sonne to none,
Was rich when naked, never poore till clad;
Long'd not, nor loath'd, nor griev'd, when as alone,
What could displease, where he was best, none bad?
Though never childe what childishnesse more strange,
Who for an apple Paradise did change?
To that brave Garden with all pleasure stor'd,
When banish'd Adam heavily look'd back,
As griev'd to thinke of what he had beene Lord,
Whil'st every object anguish more did make;
An angry Angel bragg'd him with a sword,
God threatned had, how could he comfort take?
A Prince depriv'd, forc'd servile works to try,
So tortur'd first, and then condemn'd to dye.
But that short griefe, to endlesse joy is chang'd,
He lives more happy, that he once was dead,
The promis'd seed (so Evah was reveng'd)
Sting'd in the heele, did bruise the Serpents head;
O monstrous worke, from reason far estrang'd!
What harm'd him most, hath him more happy made:
He lives (where first he was in feare to fall)
(Free from restrictions) to no danger thrall.
Two doe succeed to this great sonne of slime,
(Though one was elder) eldest borne to light,
Who heard their father sigh forth many time
His fall, wives weakenesse, and the Serpents slight,
Not for the losse, griev'd onely for his crime,
And so much more, that it had wrong'd their right:
While as they him, and he his Maker lov'd,
His wail'd rebellion their obedience mov'd.
Loe, (next to Edens) Adams greatest losse,
That faithfull Sheepheard, whom no staine could taint,
First gold refin'd (all upright) free from drosse,
In whom (it seemes) heaven piety would paint,
Since first (thus goodnesse mischiefe straight must tosse)
Whom persecution did designe a Saint:
An innocent for gratefull offring slaine,
Whose suffring did a Martyrs glory gaine.
The old mans griefe with comfort to asswage
(Gods owne when weake are strengthened still by grace)
I here see Seth, who after Cains rage,
(A pledge of favour) fill'd his brothers place,
With other ancients of that infant age,
Most part of whom from him deriv'd their race:
In his sonnes time (whil'st vice had flow'd ov'r all)
On God againe, who then began to call.
He most is mark'd amidst this glorious traine,
Who walk'd with God, when here, as wholly his,
And such perfection did below attaine,
That death not tooke him as the custome is,
But, as secur'd by priviledge from paine;
The fabulous Grecians fondly glaunc'd at this,
Yet fail'd in forme, and did pervert the sense,
No Eagle, no, but Angels bare him hence.
The time of Adam first much knowledge bred,
Who told heavens will, and warn'd how Satan rag'd,
For all were learn'd, though bookes they never read.
Whil'st many Ages could not make one ag'd;
But when Gods sonnes did with mens daughters wed,
(Though Giants, weake) all were to vice engag'd:
And since all those were never purg'd till drown'd,
That time yeelds few for piety renown'd.
Most happy he who first (though scorn'd a space)
To preach repentance, eminently stood,
Both threatning judgement, and yet offring grace,
As he was made, to make the world grow good;
Then (all else lost) did save some of his race,
Their soules from sinne, their bodies from the floud:
And last (worlds victor) even by Angels prais'd,
His Arke triumphall to the clouds was rais'd.
Whil'st widow'd fields which seem'd their guests to waile,
(As all distill'd in teares) could not be dry'd;
The drooping flowers with hanging heads grown pale,
Did seeme to mourne, that thus all creatures dy'd,
Lest th'earth (thus spoil'd) to bring forth fruits might faile,
Industrious Noah, husbandry first try'd:
For which to him, fond Ancients, Altars fram'd,
Whil'st Saturne, Ianus, and Ogyges nam'd.
O! what strange things by deare experience past,
Could this man tell, amazement to constraine?
Who saw the world first full, then all turn'd waste,
Yet liv'd himselfe to people it againe,
Till from his race great Kings did rise at last,
Who him for Syre not knew, or did disdaine:
Whil'st old (and poore perchance) with toyle and strife,
Glad (by his labour) to maintaine his life.
There are two sonnes whom anguish did entrance,
To heare the third, their fathers scorne proclaime,
Who forward, backward, blindely did advance,
Even from themselves to hide their fathers shame,
Lest that their eyes had guilty beene by chance,
As sure their hearts could no such horrour dreame:
The fathers blessing hath effectuall prov'd,
We see how Cham was curs'd, they truely lov'd.
Shem, fathers heire, a Lampe of light design'd,
Melchisedech, a mighty Prince, or Priest,
With whom God did communicate his minde,
A speciall labourer after Noahs rest,
I see with him some others of his kinde,
Till Abram rose, who follow'd him for best:
Arpashad, Shelah, Eber, Pelag stand,
Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah in one band.
Of Iaphets race at first, some forward throng,
(The rest (turn'd Gentiles) godlinesse did leave)
Who surfetting on Natures pleasures long,
At last (quite stumbling) drunke with vice did rave,
And when once stray'd, still more and more went wrong,
Till last recall'd, the Lord their seed did save:
In Tents of Shem, since Iaphet came to dwell,
His numbers now doe all the rest excell.
Who shines so bright? I must to marke him stay,
The Churches stocke, from whom it did descend,
The first cleare Lampe who did direct heavens way,
Perfections patterne, imitations end,
Whom righteousnesse did as a robe array,
Who eate with Angels, was profess'd Gods friend:
Of all the faithfull, call'd the father still,
Whose pleasure was to doe his Makers will.
A straying stranger, he (whil'st poore he seem'd)
Gave Lot his choice of lands, so peace to bring,
And him when Captive by the sword redeem'd,
Both liberall, valorous, yet a greater thing,
His friend once free, no treasure more esteem'd,
Who scorn'd to be beholding to a King:
Was onely weake when he disclaim'd his wife,
Not firme with God, or else too fond on life.
When Sodomes ruine justly was design'd,
God to this man whom he so dearely lov'd,
Would (ere effected) justifie his minde,
By his applause, as glad to be approv'd,
Who durst contest, but could ten good not finde,
Else by his meanes, heavens army was remov'd,
In league with God by Sacrament receiv'd,
Who true religion, heretable leav'd.
His lifted hand had aym'd the fatall wound,
(A course most strange, which thoughts can scarce embrace)
Yet not distracted, but in judgement sound,
To kill his sonne, and all the promis'd race;
(Whil'st faith triumph'd, both sense and reason bound)
Till him an Angell stayd (O wondrous case!)
“Her birth, who barren was, an offring made,
“Had beene by natures course, not borne, nor dead.
He in whose bosome, Saints have had their rest,
Who was for God from friends and soile estrang'd,
Hath still his Nephew neere (a wandring guest)
On fields too faire, his roving flockes who rang'd,
Which he at last, as ugly, did detest,
His wife transform'd, himselfe deform'd, both chang'd:
He, though not burn'd, yet smoak'd, had Sodomes smell,
Whil'st fled from flames, when safe, as choak'd, he fell.
That sacrifice (though offered) who not dy'd,
First type of Christ, his suffering who presag'd,
For whom God did (when famine was) provide,
And for dig'd fountaines budding broyles asswag'd,
Yea, was for fathers cause, his guard and guide,
Till at his wealth for envy, heathens rag'd:
Though substance thought, that but a shadow darke,
Scarce of his riches pointed at a sparke.
There that great wrestler, halfe of one times brood,
Who was ere borne against his brother bent,
And last us'd fraud, when force could doe no good,
(The meanes were bad, though happy the event)
But with heavens Monarch bravely struggling stood,
Till blest by force, he thence a Victor went:
To dreame of Angels, who on th'earth did lye,
A stone his pillow, curtain'd by the skye.
He thus whom God nor man could not appall,
(By beauty onely to turne captive mov'd)
Twice seven years sold, was made a wretches thrall,
And yet the time seem'd short because he lov'd;
Still when high thoughts his hopes to minde did call,
Rough blasts seem'd smooth, even suffrings pleasant prov'd:
No storme him mov'd, save onely Rachels frowne,
Whose leavy Garland did his labours crowne.
O happy shepheard! flattring but his flocke,
In minde a Monarch, but more free from toyles,
Whose Crowne an Ivy wreath, whose throne some rocke,
His staffe a Scepter, Lord of many soiles,
At night the Stars, all day the Sunne his clocke,
He fed his sheep, they him, proud of their spoiles:
And whil'st corrivall'd by encroaching beames,
Her eyes his glasse, and hers some Crystall streames.
Whil'st poore, thus pleas'd, nought could occurre save good,
But straight when rich, he tortur'd did remaine,
His daughter ravish'd, sonnes involv'd in bloud,
The best belov'd (as he imagin'd) slaine,
When old and weake, forc'd farre to shift for food,
Whence (save his bones) nought was brought back againe:
“His dayes both few and evill, he last confest,
“Not wealth nor honour, death yeelds onely rest.
But what rare beauties ravish now mine eyes,
Of which I thinke her one, who grosly fail'd,
By whom first man was borne, all mankinde dyes,
Whose errour still her ruin'd race hath wail'd?
But (rack'd with pangs which all her sexe oft tryes)
No doubt repentance many times prevaile:
Whil'st breeding more to plant the world withall,
In place of one, whom she had made to fall.
She, whose great beauty, Kings in vaine did crave,
First of her sexe, whom sacred pennes applaud,
Who yong, still barren, did when old conceive,
Yet (fondly curious) did her selfe defraud,
And made a Mayd her equall of a slave,
Her rivals raiser, her owne husbands bawd:
For which due paine, she justly did abide,
“Of slaves preferr'd, none can endure the pride.
From drawing water, an attending Mayd,
Whil'st nobly humble, honourably kinde,
Straight (highly match'd) with gorgeous robes array'd,
By struggling twins, a mother was design'd,
Of which for one (as franke affection sway'd)
She boldly ventred, though her mate was blinde,
Whom she beguil'd, not wrong'd, and (calme in strife)
Though alwaies faithfull, was a cunning wife.
Of rivall sisters emulous in love,
The Churches mothers, Iacobs joyes surmis'd,
The ones weake eyes, now bright as starres doe move,
Whom God would grace, when man too much despis'd;
She though least faire, yet did most fertile prove,
Whose mate loves oddes, found by opinion pris'd:
In minde, and armes, two brides at once embrac'd,
Whil'st sense and fancy, severall circuits trac'd.
Long after death, she who to waile was spy'd,
When from compassion, Herod quite did swerve,
Not mercenarily match'd, whom for a Bryde,
Twice seven years service scarcely could deserve;
Yet (stain'd by breeding whil'st her Syre was guide)
Imbezled Idols, did with fraud preserve:
Long long'd to beare, yet by her wish was griev'd,
First known, whose death made Evahs curse beleev'd.
Her mother neere, that ravish'd daughter stayes,
Whose curiousnesse much mischiefe did procure;
A gorgeous beauty whil'st it guardlesse strayes,
If not inviting, doth at least allure;
O what huge evils, a moments sport repayes,
Her brothers murtherers, and her selfe a whore?
Here lust by bloud, and shame was purg'd by teares,
Such bitter fruits a womans wandring beares.
The old arch-Fathers chiefe whom Iewes renowne,
Their names by Tribes distinguish did their race,
His fathers strength who might have claym'd the Crowne,
Had not his glory melted in disgrace,
Like water (when rais'd high) which must fall downe,
For pleasure foule, had forfeited his place,
Yet when his brothers would their brother kill,
Then, onely kinde, he stay'd th'intended ill.
Hearts big with vengeance, whil'st for bloud they long'd,
Two worst of twelve, in mischiefe, brothers sworne,
Mans sacred match, Gods covenant, both wrong'd,
The mocke of marriage, circumcisions scorne,
To murther numbers by base treason throng'd,
Till for their fault, (with inward anguish torne
Their holy father, horrours height conceiv'd,
But though their wrath was curs'd, themselves were sav'd.
He who himselfe with courage should acquite,
Still like a Lyon, fighting for his prey,
Stor'd with abundance, dandled with delight,
Whom all his brothers freely should obey,
With bloud of Grapes made red, with milke made white,
Till Shiloh came, who did the Sceptre sway;
From him did spring the Author of our peace,
The height of goodnesse, and the ground of grace.
But yet at home he was unhappy long,
His eldest sonne (high hopes defrauding) dead,
The next (too grosly working nature wrong)
Had straight Gods judgement pour'd upon his head:
The third held backe from whom he did belong,
He (though their Syre) to breed them heires was made,
A whore-like widow tempting him to lust,
Whom first he damn'd, but (bound by signes) held just.
Here are the rest of fertile Leahs brood,
And of the Mayds for birth, who with her striv'd,
Not stayn'd as ill, nor yet much prais'd for good,
Who sheepheards still in vaguing lodgings liv'd,
Did sell their brother, brought their father food,
And highly griev'd for former harme contriv'd,
With them comes Rachels last and dearest boy,
On whom his father doted oft for joy.
But then all these, one more transports me now,
Who did of dreames the mysteries unfold,
To whom Sunne, Moone, and Starres eleven did bow,
As for their Atlas, who should them uphold;
“But envies basenesse cannot worth allow:
For, brag'd by death, he for a slave was sold:
Yet wrought they good, who mischiefe did intend,
A bad beginning for so brave an end.
In fortunes favour, and in strength for age,
To taste stayn'd pleasure, him by all their charmes,
Not beauty (grac'd by greatnesse) could engage,
Though offered, and alone, and in his armes;
Whil'st love to lust, and lust all turn'd to rage,
His chastnesse blame, his goodnesse bred him harmes:
The Syre for love afflicted did remaine,
And onely he because of his disdaine.
He whom for state, affliction had prepar'd,
Whil'st from a Prison to a Palace brought,
Where sold a slave, was straight a Prince declar'd,
Clad with rich robes, the chiefe by suiters sought,
In time of plenty, who for famine car'd,
Sav'd all the subjects, yet the kingdome bought:
Both rich and godly, O how rare a thing!
Of God the Prophet, Minion of the King.
Not proud, when prosp'ring (as when rais'd o'rethrowne)
His heart grew humble, when his fortune great,
Where some for shame had not his brothers showne,
Whose scorned basenesse might his fame abate,
He (tenderly disposed to his owne,)
Did from distresse redeeme their wretched state:
And, where (unnaturall) they had him betray'd,
Their cruelty with courtesie repay'd.
Thrice happy man, as high in worth as place,
Whose fortunes course did strangely ebbe and flow,
From murther, bondage, ruine, and disgrace,
In Pharo's kingdome, greatest Prince to grow,
In whom true vertue garnish'd was with grace,
To gaine industrious, liberall to bestow:
And yet in this his chiefe contentment stood,
That he had liv'd to doe his Father good.
Though fail'd in earthly, sharpe in spirituall sight,
When Ioseph thought that Iacob was beguil'd,
Who (straight whil'st crossing) seeming wrong, went right,
Here are his sonnes from whom two Tribes were stil'd:
In scattred Levies roome, one rose in might,
What father knowes how God will blesse a childe?
Whil'st God his good, by his owne vertue breeds,
The yongest thus the eldest oft exceeds.
When raging malice had put off her maske,
All kindenesse, duty, and compassion gone,
The straw abstracted, doubling still their taske,
Even Mid-wives, murtherers, birth and death made one,
Here sundry are, who helpe from God did aske,
And under burdens heavily did grone:
“But though affliction force devotions teares,
“Curs'd are those workes which such oppression reares.
From murther scap'd, by flouds for death confin'd,
He when scarce borne, whom God did strangely keepe;
Of Reeds his Cradle, rocking with the winde,
As lulling him, the softly sounding deepe,
Did seeme to sing (with kisses cold too kinde)
Hence monsters, hence, doe not disturbe his sleepe:
Who makes our Nymphs all passionate to prove,
Whil'st Egypts Princesse comes to court his love.
Yet with his race he rather choos'd to smart,
Then to be held for Pharoh's daughters brood,
And with an Hebrew boldly taking part,
Kill'd one of Egypt who against him stood;
How could base envy poyson so a heart?
He guerdon'd was with ill for doing good,
Till in exile farre from his friends remov'd,
Great Pharoh's nursling Iethro's shepheard prov'd.
Though low below, yet much esteem'd above,
He straight was choos'd a Legate for the Lord,
And did to bragge a King heavens Herauld prove,
By sounds from flames with rare instructions stor'd;
His sacred message wonders did approve,
That it confirm'd, he boldly might record:
The hand soone leprous, was as quickly pure,
Which drugges, nor charmes, did not procure, nor cure.
His staffe, though stiffe, in bending circles turn'd,
Left frothy furrowes, where it till'd the ground;
Eyes, flamie globes (as sparkling poyson) burn'd,
Still stretch'd to strike, else threatning in a round,
Then arch'd, at th'earth (all rais'd in rain-bowes) spurn'd,
Whil'st waving colours did with feare confound:
Whose swelling horrour bragg'd some storme to be,
Both bow and shaft, an animated tree.
Who wonders not what wonders then were wrought,
Whil'st bent for God, each element tooke armes?
Flouds turn'd to bloud, forth croaking squadrons brought,
Th'earth, (pride to curbe) from dust rais'd abject swarmes,
(Th'ayre glooming darke) black clouds of flies long fought;
Plagues, thunder, tempests, all inflicted harmes:
Till that the kingdome was with anguish fill'd,
Whil'st in each house the hop'd-for heire was kill'd.
The parted depths, that God might gaine renowne,
(Though liquid firme,) with waves empall'd a way,
Till in one drop they all at once fell downe,
As which for Pharoh, in an ambush lay,
And (even whil'st walking dry) did thousands drowne,
Iewes State a time, still Egypts tombe to stay:
What slaughter huge? and yet no bloud was spill'd?
No striker seene, all by one blow were kill'd.
He dry'd the Sea, from rockes a floud did draw,
Chiefe wonder-worker, wonderfull in all,
And yet a farre Canaan onely saw,
Since stumbling once, though free from any fall,
Heavens Oracle, the organ of the law;
When last (sinnes curse) his corps to death was thrall,
An Angell it to hide from Satan reft,
That superstition had no relict left.
His brother first did gorgeous garments weare,
With robes in state, a consecrated Priest,
And names of Tribes in pretious stones did reare,
With gold and silke embroydered on his brest,
Whose long worne staffe did straight ripe Almonds beare,
And in the Church a monument did rest:
He though he grudg'd, and Iewes first Idoll made,
Was grac'd alive, and glorifi'd when dead.
Their sister Miriam, mirrour of her kinde,
With flaming ardour, ravish'd up above,
To sing Gods praise, she with true zeale inclin'd,
Scorn'd mortall matches, courting still his love,
Yet, envy once so tainted had her minde,
Her bodies beauties all did leprous prove:
Till he whose harme she studied to contrive,
Her pardon sought, the meekest man alive.
He who from Israel forc'd the Plague to part,
The bravest impe of that annoynted brood,
No thirst of praise, nor hatred in his heart,
Whose act seem'd ill, but his intent was good;
O happy man, how strange was his desert,
By murther saving, blest for shedding bloud!
“A godly zeale, which nothing can controule,
“As pretious incense, offers up the soule.
Neere Moses stands that valorous brood of Nun,
By whose direction Israel reach'd her marke,
From whom for reverence, Iordan backe did runne,
As which would not presume to touch the Arke;
He as his debtor did arrest the Sunne,
Till foes were kill'd, that it should not grow darke:
Weake hornes for trumpets sounding downe a wall,
It, even ere breach'd (as breath'd away) did fall.
That man for worth, whom all the world renownes,
With greatest gallants rank'd by fame doth stand,
Their match in conquering, more in scorning crownes,
Who would but God obey, not men command,
And (nations ruin'd) razing States and Townes,
Did not retaine, no, did but part their land:
This warriour onely held for great may be,
From avarice, and from ambition free.
His fellow spye, who would not witnesse wrong,
But high in minde, had Gyants in contempt,
And breathing courage, staggering troupes among,
From abject feare, even dastards did exempt,
When eighty sixe yeares old, both stout and strong,
A dangerous conquest bravely did attempt:
“Mindes cleare and calme from guilty stormes secure,
Make Natures strength as doubled to endure.
Next him comes he who did his daughter wed,
Who was for valour, a reward design'd,
But in that brest, what host could feare have bred,
Where love and courage both enflam'd the minde?
He (first of Iudges) grudging squadrons led,
To curbe the pride of heathens haughty kinde:
Who when that Israel to base Idols bow'd,
To plague them suffred were, but not allow'd.
When Moabs Monarch made Gods people grone,
And them from bondage no way would enlarge,
He who heavens Legat rais'd him from his throne,
A fatall message boldly to discharge;
And he who kill'd sixe hundred all alone,
Against whose goade, no steele could serve for targe:
“Those shew fraile life, a prey of every hand,
“Who (theirs contemn'd) anothers will command.
I see that Dame whom Hebrewes honour most,
The glory of her sexe, a staine to men,
A Prophetesse, a Iudge, chiefe of an host,
Whose parts might furnish Fames most liberall pen;
Of such a one, no Ethnicke scroule can boast,
Not martiall Ladies, nor Sibyllaes ten:
What greater worth could any brest embrace,
In warre couragious, just in time of peace?
Next her comes he who did refuse to fight,
Unlesse her count'nance gave his courage life,
For which although his foes were put to flight,
The Captaines death gave glory to a wife;
Which, though he much presum'd, what judgements height?
Not Sword, nor Launce did grace, no, not a knife:
This did him kill, who armies did command,
A little naile, and in a woman's hand.
His mother said (puff'd up by former broiles)
What stayes my Sonne? he some great matter tryes,
The souldiers to reward, they part the spoiles,
Whil'st vaunting Victors scorne the Captives cryes,
Some dainty Lady doth defray his toyles,
His eares drinke praises, trophees feast his eyes:
Thus she with dreames was flattered all the space,
Whil'st he (poore wretch) was dying with disgrace.
Who Baal spoil'd, his clients did deride,
(Though of his race the man neglected most)
From threshing wheate, which he for feare would hide,
Did (call'd by God) come to command an host,
Whose favour twice by severall signes was try'd,
Whil'st staggering doubts his resolution crost:
The fields all faire, his fleece quite drench'd did lye,
And when all else was wet, was onely dry.
This victory, God for his owne would stampe,
And lest that it had seem'd by numbers sway'd,
Of every thousand ten, but kept the campe,
The rest remov'd, and of those few who stay'd,
Each crush'd a Pitcher, and held forth a Lampe,
Brave sounds and lightning, to make men dismaid:
A barly cake most monstrous did appeare,
The sword of Gideon kill'd ere it came neare.
This man when offered fled a Soveraignes place,
So modest first, and afterwards devout,
With all the jewels which his troupes did grace,
An Ephod made (though bright) his onely blote,
Which did procure the ruine of his race,
By making Iewes (too superstitious) dote:
“None should serve God, but as himselfe directs,
“A good intention may breed bad effects.
That Gileadite, who when exil'd from home,
In forraine parts a martiall man excell'd,
Not loathing all, for being wrong'd by some,
Did save their states, who him from his expell'd,
And Ammons Army two wayes did o'recome,
To yeeld by reason, and by force compell'd:
“Men (not like beasts) should know for what they fight,
“That valour may maintaine, not make a right.
When haughty Ephraim out of time too bold,
And basely grudging at anothers good,
With words outragious (arrogantly told)
Him to contemne whom God exalted, stood,
That sudden heate procur'd an endlesse cold,
The pride of thousands quickly quench'd with bloud,
First civile warre, that with the Iewes was seene,
Though since they oft have thus unhappy beene.
When generous Iephte, did with state returne,
The pointed object of a generall joy,
Whose daughters brest with longing thoughts did burne
Whil'st she made haste, his triumph to convoy;
Can one from mirth be made so quickly mourne?
Who sav'd all else, must he his owne destroy?
She singing came, but straight went backe and wept,
A vow too rash to be so strictly kept.
That Nazarite (as singular renown'd)
Whose heads each haire, a man in strength contain'd,
Ah then one woman, all more weake were found,
Whose charming bosome, glories colour stain'd,
She of his soule the mystery did sound,
Who first by bloud, and last for gold was gain'd:
His sacred secret he to her bewray'd,
And she him straight to all his foes betray'd.
Strange madnesse thus, did raze his judgements Fort,
What none could force that he would needs afford;
This gorgeous creature, curious Natures sport,
A living Idoll, by blinde zeale ador'd,
She, she triumphs upon a doting sort,
Who will be slaves, even where there wants a Lord:
And bearing sway, no reason some can move,
“Those who usurpe their power, must tyrants prove.
God by this man, strange wonders bent to show,
He curious riddles, Sphinx-like could contrive;
And as his strength, that men his wit might know,
To purchase praise by stratagems would strive;
Fields forc'd by fire, seem'd lightning from below,
Whil'st those who fled, that which they fled did drive:
This course it seemes did shew his nature right,
The flames his force, the Foxes shew his flight.
His deeds farre past the reach of their conceit,
Who fain'd great persons, glosing on things gone;
He of a Towne did raze the guarded gate,
And (braving numbers) carried it alone;
He (bursting bands) a thousand dayes did date,
And with no weapon, save an abject bone
Which (whil'st in flouds of sweat he all was drench'd)
His rage with bloud, his thirst with water quench'd.
But what behold I now? how great a change?
Haires quite raz'd, hands bound, and his eyes put out,
Gaz'd at by troupes (as if some monster strange)
Whom once they fear'd, the flocking Pagans flout,
Till desp'rate courage burning with revenge,
Pull'd downe their Temple, smoothering all about,
Where thousands kill'd, life sold at no base rate,
A famous ruine rear'd his tombe in state.
Here with the rest, who judg'd the Hebrew race,
And them from foes, in justice did maintaine,
Though last in number, one comes first in place,
Whom long his mother (griev'd) had wish'd in vaine,
By prayer purchas'd, and bred up in grace,
Who, beg'd from God, was given him backe againe,
By whom when but a childe, he thrice was call'd,
A Iudge, and Prophet, twise in state enstall'd.
Yet when fond Israel urg'd a King to have,
Though grieving God, this much did vex his minde,
The danger showne of that which they did crave,
Not onely freely he their Prince design'd,
But when in wrath the Lord did quite him leave,
Did labour long that he might favour finde;
This course his heart free from ambition prov'd,
Who thus left rule, and his successour lov'd.
Two Hebrews crown'd, he kill'd one heathnish King,
A reverent Iudge who purchas'd true respect;
He all the people did together bring,
And boldly ask'd what person could object,
Whose oxe or asse he tooke, or any thing
For doing wrong, or justice to neglect;
A glorious challenge, and a vaunt not vaine,
To brave a state, as free from any staine.
Now marke I one, th'earth bred no other such,
For temperance, patience, charitie, and love,
Whom God did praise, till Satan envied much,
And thus did tempt, that he this gold might prove;
Thou kept'st him so that none his state could touch,
This hirelings heart thy gifts doe onely move;
Let him but taste of ruine and disgrace,
And he will straight blaspheme thee to thy face.
His children feasting whil'st he pensive stands,
What strange ill newes straight all at once arrived?
Whil'st th'asses fed, the oxen plow'd thy lands,
Sabæans hence them violently drived;
Rob'd are thy camels by Chaldean bands,
Thy Sheepe of life flames (sent from heaven) deprived;
Thy Sonnes are smothered by a houses fall,
Save wee who speake, kill'd are thy servants all.
When passion first prevail'd (as one forlorne)
Their course impetuous did him so confound,
With head all spoild of haires, and garments torne,
He worship'd God (fall'n groveling on the ground)
Then said, As by my dame first naked borne,
So naked last, dust must my body bound;
The Lord did give, the Lord doth take againe,
Blest be his name; I grieve, but not complaine.
With soares growne loathsome, of all wretches chiefe,
By friends quite left, by servants not obey'd,
Curse God and die (as desperate of reliefe)
His wife first cri'd, that had from duty strai'd;
Who came to comfort, did augment his griefe,
And thought those plagues his wickednesse bewrai'd,
Till charg'd with anguish grudging at the rod,
He (to debate his cause) durst chalenge God.
By golden speeches (with much power) express'd,
How short a time man wrapt in woes did live;
Last humbling him till he his fault confess'd,
The Lord did speake, as cited there to strive,
Who check'd his friends for having truth transgress'd,
And for his cause would only them forgive;
His riches doubled, multipli'd his race,
Both old, and happie, Iob did die in peace.
What stately troope doth dazell so my sight,
As for their worth, so in their number rare;
Those all are kings, as walking in Gods light,
Who kept his law with a religious care,
And brave lieutenants did his battels fight,
Yea, highly griev'd, when falne in any snare;
They now have gain'd (all weakenesses laid downe)
A boundlesse kingdome, an eternall Crowne.
He whome the Lord to be a king design'd,
A Shepheard boy (whil'st reckning all his brood)
Whom his owne father scarce could call to mind,
Vs'd (as a drudge) to beare his brothers food,
He (whil'st at his high sprite the rest repin'd)
Did seale his valour with a Giants blood:
And for his love expos'd to dangerous toiles,
In dowry gave two hundred Pagans spoiles.
His Thousands Saul Ten thousands David kill'd;
This envi'd praise with honour bred him harme:
Sauls troubled brest such Iealous fancies fill'd,
That man whose musick did his Dæmon charme,
His blood (oft ventred) greedie to have spill'd,
As for some conquest did great numbers arme:
And thought his state could in no safety prove
Whil'st such a gallant kept his peoples love.
By madnesse fain'd forc'd to delude his foes,
He whom his merits onely did betray,
In wildernesses farre from all repose,
Was like a Partridge hunted for a prey:
6Yet twice to him God did his King expose,
And he discharg'd that any him should slay;
Thus of his raigne bent to abide the time,
He for a Crowne would not commit a crime.
Yea, when the Tyrant (tumbled from his seat)
By his owne hand (defrauding foes) was slaine,
He caus'd him dye who did the news relate,
His death to haste though vaunting but in vaine;
And having heard the ruine of his state,
He (straight made tender) could not teares restraine:
But us'd such griefe that it no pen can paint,
As witnesse may his passionate complaint.
A King, a Prophet, valorous, devout,
That man to Gods owne heart, choice of a land,
(None perfect here) him faults, even foule, did blot,
And where he fell, let no man bragge to stand,
By tempting beauty fondly made to dote,
He act'd adultery, murther did command:
And all his subjects caus'd to count (though dust)
As proud of numbers in his strength to trust.
Though these his faults repentance had defrai'd,
The plague for them troupes did from breath seclude,
His concubines deflowr'd, his force decay'd,
Chas'd by his sonne, he in great danger stood;
And was from building of the Temple stai'd,
As one whose hands polluted were with bloud:
Last (fail'd, ere old) he left a bloudy will,
That who himselfe had spar'd, his Sonne should kill.
There walks with him one link'd in love below,
From which not Syre, nor state, his thoughts could bring,
A friendship such what fabulous penne can show?
In him save God it weigh'd downe every thing:
He with one man an Army did ore-throw,
Both borne, and worthy, to have beene a King:
But farre more great, he (never faulty tri'd)
Whil'st bravely fighting, for his Countrey dy'd.
He, when his wish was offred from above,
Who not (like Midas) basely gap'd for gold,
Nor yet (like Paris) urg'd a Ladies love,
But wish'd for wisedome, judgements height to hold,
Which first two Dames about one childe did prove,
Whil'st who was mother kindnesse did unfold;
Of plants each vertue whether good or naught,
He from the Cedar to the Thistle taught.
But whil'st by riches riotously led,
And lull'd asleep with pleasures of this life,
He Pharoah's faults did with his daughter wed,
And entertain'd the Idoll of each wife;
But last he was (when fulnesse loathing bred)
With all the world (as vanity) at strife,
And of all states he did the height attaine,
A foole, a wise man, holy, and prophane.
There one who Idols highly still abhorr'd,
And their confusion in such manner wrought,
That he his mother when she one ador'd,
Of state depriv'd, and to live private brought;
And yet (afraid) he Arams help implor'd,
And (when diseas'd) not God, but physick sought;
Yet bravely broke the Ethiopian bands,
And here by God rank'd with good Princes stands.
His sonne succeeds, a King by goodnesse great,
As just, religious, generally belov'd,
Yet joyn'd with Achab, one whom God did hate,
And by the Prophet had his fault reprov'd;
But when huge armies came to raze his state,
His ardent zeale the Lord of hosts so mov'd:
That (as spectatour) he in safety stood,
Till all his enemies were o're-flow'd with bloud.
Now happie he who did all ill detest,
And godly, vertuous, singular, excell'd,
Not like his Father striving to be Priest,
Who from the Temple leprous was expell'd,
But building Towns, and stately works, at rest,
To pay him tribute strangers were compell'd,
“Thus prosper they who do what God directs;
“No danger dare approach where he protects.
When Ashur's Captaine swolne with pride blasphem'd,
And durst our God with Gentiles gods compare,
He who (that scorne then ruine worse esteem'd)
(When thus distress'd) did to his strength repaire;
Who oft from anguish hath his owne redeem'd,
And then himselfe a party did declare:
The Iews miraculously were freed from toils,
An Angell fought, they came to take the spoiles.
By sicknesse charg'd to leave this lodge of clay,
(This life so sweet, death is so bitter thought)
With teares and sighs he humbly begg'd to stay,
And had a lease of yeares too dearly bought:
Sinne took advantage of this long delay,
And where not tax'd before, he folly wrought:
By vaunted treasures foolishly spread forth,
To make a Prince enamour'd of their worth.
The last of those who fortunately raign'd,
Is he for first whom many would preferre,
The Law restor'd, all read what it contain'd,
Who by his teares Gods judgement did deferre,
By dead mens bones the heathenish Altar stain'd,
He still liv'd well, did onely (dying) erre:
Whil'st without cause he needs would go to fight,
And by his losse did cloud all Iuda's light.
By God anointed comes another sort,
His great familiars, trusted with his will,
When sent to promise, threaten, or exhort,
Whom heavenly thoughts with sacred rage did fill;
One Davids doome did from himselfe extort,
Who, even when doing, yet was damning ill:
Whil'st to a King, from God, he (wisely bold)
His stormy message figuratively told.
That Shilonite who (as from heaven advis'd)
To Ieroboam prophesy'd a Crowne,
And told his wife (soone knowne though com'd disguis'd)
Since falne from God (all dignity put downe)
That (all their off-spring plagued, and despis'd)
Her sonne should die, straight when she touch'd the towne:
By death made happie to prevent disgrace,
None else should have a grave of all their race.
That man of God whom God did earst imploy,
To bragge the Altar, for a signe all torne,
Who nam'd the man who should it quite destroy,
Though after that for many yeares not borne;
And that old Prophet would him still convoy,
Whose cosening kindnesse did his calling scorne:
He freely ly'd, truth did of force preferre,
His doome denouncing whom he made to erre.
When lying sprits had Achabs trust deceiv'd,
To tempt him forth for ruine and disgrace,
One truly told (as if at hand perceiv'd)
As Shepheardlesse how Israel left their place,
The King enrag'd (as sure he should be sav'd)
Cri'd, Keep him fast, till I returne in peace;
If thou return'st in peace from mischiefe free,
The Prophet said, then God speaks not by me.
Who clos'd the clouds, (of drought an ominous threat)
And (fed by Ravens) wonderfully liv'd,
Who did (by spending) multiply her meat,
Whose breathlesse sonne he straight, when dead, reviv'd;
Flames swallow'd floods to shew what God was great,
Which Baals Priests to follow fondly striv'd;
But all by him were as abusers slaine,
Who for their Idoll strugled had in vaine.
By Angels fed, for forty dayes to fast,
He reach'd mount Horeb, held for sacred ground,
Where first windes roar'd, next gaping earthquakes past,
Then flames of fire his daz'led sight did bound,
A murmur soft, and quiet calme came last,
From which God spoke, as who his friend had found:
And straight he told in spite of Tyrants bosts,
How jealously he lov'd the Lord of hosts.
By bands of fiftie for his ruine sought,
Fire at his call from heaven them twice did kill,
Till that to him unarm'd, who never fought,
A Captaine with his troupes did yeeld, at will;
His cloake (as did the Arke) a wonder wrought,
When parted Iordan, till he past, stood still;
He in his Chariot did in state retire,
(As crown'd with glory) flashing flames of fire.
He who this great mans gift redoubled got,
A childe procur'd, and even when dead did cure,
Made leprous Naman free from any spot,
And, in his place, his greedy man impure;
Made weighty iron above the water flot,
And when Samaria famine did endure,
Did shew that plenty should it soone releeve,
But he first dye, who would it not beleeve.
The Syrians counsell told to Israels King,
That host in armes which bent to take him stood,
He (quite made blinde) amid'st their foes did bring,
Yet would not harme them, no, but gave them food;
Thus whil'st alive, well did he every thing,
And (even whil'st dying) alwayes doing good:
By homely signes he did to Ioash show,
How Arams Army he should thrice o're-throw.
That sonne of Amos here much grac'd I spie,
Whose Princely birth all parts conforme approve,
His threatnings thunder, comforts flowing flie;
This may sinke downe, that ravish up above,
No Greeke, nor Romane penne, could soare so high;
His speech (all power) may admiration move:
Whil'st lifting up all them in God who trust,
And levelling proud Nations with the dust.
When God in wrath abandon'd had his owne,
Who not prevented, no, did ruine haste,
This man hath oft by sacred vision showne,
That straying Gentiles should be call'd at last;
Of Christ to come as cleare a witnesse knowne,
As were Apostles proving what was past:
Twixt him and them this sympathie is found,
That martyrdome (the Christian badge) both crown'd.
He who long mourn'd (as but to anguish borne,
Still passionate) with elegiack straines,
For Iuda's bondage, haughty Babels scorne,
The which (whil'st free) he oft as captive plains;
For this by him upbraiding yokes were borne,
Still persecuted, yet despising paines:
He long was kept his prophesy to stay,
In dungeons darke, a stranger to the day.
When Abrahams off-spring were transported all,
And what they would not trust, did feeling see,
Their daunted courage labouring to recall,
He who them told what God did then decree,
And that they should but for a time be thrall,
As confident as if they had beene free,
Did build their Temple, painting every part,
As it at first was drawn within his heart.
He who declar'd (interpreting his dreame)
To Ashur's Monarch, Monarchs aim'd for great;
Whom straight for this he did a Prince proclaime,
Yet in short space, what height of partiall hate!
A burning fornace (roaring forth a flame)
Of him and his two friends became the seat,
Till them an Angel freed from fires vast pow'r,
And who attended them did soone devoure.
Thus highly grac'd, and by this wonder knowne
(Base envy onely mischiefe can asswage)
To Lyons fierce he for a prey was throwne,
Which touch'd not him, yet rent his foes in rage;
By strange descriptions mystically showne,
He figur'd forth the state of every age,
Yet did not know what he himselfe did teach,
No wonder then though it no other reach.
A number more fill up this happy band,
Who did their message faithfully performe,
And scorning danger, resolutely stand,
When raging Tyrants at the truth would storme;
They as if Signets in their masters hand,
Gave true impressions, keeping still one forme:
Not fearing paine, nor prizing pleasure ought,
Since onely God, and not themselves they sought.
When captiv'd Iews confus'dly forth did presse,
Though once for state distinguish'd all in ranks,
By bondage equall'd, fellows in distresse,
A rigorous Marshall meriting no thanks,
Whil'st swelling breasts did strugling words represse,
Teares turn'd to flouds, they melted on the banks:
All melodie by misery o're-come,
On trembling willows harps were hanging dumbe.
Even then whil'st thus all did for Sion mourne,
Their scattred remnant recollect'd with paine,
Three at three times to Iuda did returne,
The sacred vessels bearing back againe,
And for Gods glory with such zeale did burne,
That though oft hindred, and neare to be slaine:
(Their ruin'd Temple with great toile restor'd)
They kept the Law, what was prophane abhorr'd.
Long after borne I see with them before,
That valorous widow who did free her Towne,
By beauty arm'd, which purpos'd to decore,
(Though rich in robes) her modestie did crowne,
No wretch, nor lavish, must'ring Natures store,
To brave an Army vent'ring in a Gowne:
She kill'd a Captaine even amid'st his host,
And triumph'd had ere foes could know they lost.
To robeing eyes in ambush for delight,
(Her dainty treasures by strange fate betray'd)
The cheeks turn'd red, to see the rest so white,
Which (even when naked) shamefastnesse arrai'd,
Now pale for feare, and straight enflam'd for spite,
Both beauties colours interchanging strai'd:
Lo, one who lov'd true honour more then fame,
A reall goodnesse, not a studied name.
She who for fairenesse choice of all her kinde,
Was made an Empresse, yet how rare a thing!
Though faire of face, was farre more faire in minde;
This did please God, that did but please a King,
She when her race for ruine was design'd,
Them free from harme in greater grace did bring:
And with her Uncle was for good reserv'd,
He Persia's Prince, she all the Iews preserv'd.
When heathnish Tyrants insolently ill,
(What sacred was, made to confusion thrall)
Even on Gods Altar beasts uncleane would kill,
Abhomination desolating all;
Then, for their law some troupes were constant still,
And (suffring freely) did with courage fall:
A reverent Ancient by strange tortures try'd,
And with seven sonnes a woman Martyr dy'd.
At Modin first a worthie man did rise,
And straight kill'd one who striv'd to be prophane,
His sonnes all arm'd, the Pagans did despise,
And three of them did endlesse glory gaine,
Who oft took Townes, foil'd hosts, did troups surprise,
Yet were at last unfortunately slaine:
One bravely fighting, did last wounds imbrace,
And two by friends betrai'd in time of peace.
With those else nam'd here stands a number more,
Well knowne to God, though not to fame, nor mee,
Who lov'd his Prophets, and did him adore,
Though still devout, from superstition free,
Of their redemption confident before,
By faith (as com'd) who did their Saviour see:
Dark figures then just reckonings did contrive,
The law did damne, grace onely doth forgive.
Ah, will no soule giue eare vnto my mone? —
Who answers thus so kindly when I crie? —
What fostred thee that pities my despaire? —
Thou blabbing guest, what know'st thou of my fall? —
What did I when I first my Faire disclos'd? —
Where was my reason, that it would not doubt? —
What canst thou tell me of my Ladies will? —
Wherewith can she acquit my loyall part? —
What hath she then with me to disaguise? —
What haue I done, since she gainst loue repin'd? —
What did I when I her to life prefer'd? —
What did mine eyes, whil'st she my heart restrain'd? —
What did she whil'st my muse her praise proclaim'd? —
And what? and how? this doth me most affright. —
What if I neuer sue to her againe? —
And what when all my passions are represt? —
But what thing will best serue t'asswage desire? —
And what will serue to mitigate my rage? —
I see the Sunne begins for to descend. —
Mvst wretched man, when com'd where woes abound,
Ere to the Sunne, vnclose his eyes to teares?
Whom when scarse borne, one straight to prison beares,
Loos'd from the bellie, in the Cradle bound.
Then rysing by the rod, he doth attend
The misteries of miserie at length,
And still his burthens growing with his strength,
Huge toyles and cares his youths perfection spends.
Last, helping Natures wants, O deare bought breath!
He must haue eyes of glasse, and feete of tree,
Till lyke a bow his bodie turnes to be,
Which age hath bended to be shot by death.
O, ô I see that from the mothers wombe,
There's but a litle steppe vnto the tombe.
Loe here (brave youth) as zeale and duty move,
I labour (though in vaine) to finde some gift,
Both worthy of thy place, and of my loue,
But whil'st my selfe above my selfe I lift,
And would the best of my inventions prove,
I stand to study what should be my drift;
Yet this the greatest approbation brings,
Still to a Prince to speake of Princely things.
When those of the first age that earst did live
In shadowie woods, or in a humid Cave,
And taking that which th'earth not forc'd did give,
Would onely pay what Natures need did crave;
Then beasts of breath such numbers did deprive,
That (following Amphion) they did desarts leave:
Who with sweet sounds did leade them by the eares,
Where mutuall force might banish common feares.
Then building walles, they barbarous rites disdain'd,
The sweetnesse of society to finde;
And to attayne what unity maintain'd,
As peace, religion, and a vertuous minde;
That so they might have restlesse humours rayn'd,
They straight with lawes their liberty confin'd:
And of the better sort the best preferr'd,
To chastise them against the lawes that err'd.
I wot not if proud mindes who first aspir'd
O're many Realmes to make themselves a right;
Or if the worlds disorders so requir'd,
That then had put Astræa to the flight;
Or else if some whose vertues were admir'd,
And eminent in all the peoples sight,
Did move Peace-lovers first to reare a Throne,
And give the keyes of life and death to one.
That dignity when first it did begin,
Did grace each Province and each little Towne;
Forth when she first doth from Benlowmond rinne,
Is poore of waters, naked of renowne,
But Carron, Allon, Teath, and Doven in,
Doth grow the greater still, the further downe:
Till that abounding both in power and fame,
She long doth strive to give the Sea her name.
Even so those Soveraignties which once were small,
Still swallowing up the nearest neighbouring State,
With a deluge of men did Realmes appall,
And thus th'Egyptian Pharoes first grew great;
Thus did th'Assyrians make so many thrall,
Thus rear'd the Romans their imperiall seat:
And thus all those great states to worke have gone,
Whose limits and the worlds were all but one.
But I'le not plunge in such a stormy deepe,
Which hath no bottome, nor can have no shore,
But in the dust will let those ashes sleepe,
Which (cloath'd with purple) once th'earth did adore;
Of them scarce now a monument wee keepe,
Who (thund'ring terrour) curb'd the world before;
Their States which by a numbers ruine stood,
Were founded, and confounded, both with bloud.
If I would call antiquity to minde,
I, for an endlesse taske might then prepare,
But what? ambition that was ever blinde,
Did get with toyle that which was kept with care,
And those great States 'gainst which the world repin'd,
Had falls, as famous, as their risings rare:
And in all ages it was ever seene,
What vertue rais'd, by vice hath ruin'd been.
Yet registers of memorable things
Would helpe (great Prince) to make thy judgement sound,
Which to the eye a perfect mirrour brings,
Where all should glasse themselves who would be crown'd,
Reade these rare parts that acted were by Kings,
The straines heroicke, and the end renown'd:
Which (whilst thou in thy Cabinet do'st sit)
Are worthy to bewitch thy growing wit.
And doe not, doe not (thou) the meanes omit,
Times match'd with times, what they beget to spy,
Since history may leade thee unto it,
A pillar whereupon good sprites rely,
Of time the table, and the Nurse of wit,
The square of reason, and the mindes cleare eye:
Which leads the curious reader through huge harms,
Who stands secure whil'st looking on alarmes.
Nor is it good o'er brave mens lives to wander,
As one who at each corner stands amaz'd,
No, study like some one thy selfe to render,
Who to the height of glory hath been rais'd;
So Scipio, Cyrus, Cæsar, Alexander,
And that great Prince chos'd him whom Homer prais'd,
Or make (as which is recent, and best knowne)
Thy fathers life a patterne for thine owne.
Yet marking great mens lives, this much impaires
The profit which that benefit imparts,
While as transported with preposterous cares,
To imitate but superficiall parts,
Some for themselves frame of their fancies snares,
And shew what folly doth o're-sway their hearts:
“For counterfeited things doe staines embrace,
“And all that is affected, hath no grace.
Of outward things who (shallow wits) take hold,
Doe shew by that they can no higher winne,
So, to resemble Hercules of old,
Mark Antony would beare the Lyons skinne;
A brave Athenians sonne (as some have told)
Would such a course (though to his scorne) begin:
And bent to seem look like his father dead,
Would make himselfe to lispe, and bow his head.
They who would rightly follow such as those,
Must of the better parts apply the pow'rs,
As the industrious Bee advis'dly goes,
To seize upon the best, shunne baser flowres;
So, where thou do'st the greatest worth disclose,
To compasse that, be prodigall of houres:
Seeke not to seeme, but be; who be, seeme too,
Doe carelesly, and yet have care to doe.
Thou to resemble thy renowned Syre,
Must not (though some there were) mark triviall things,
But matchlesse vertues which all mindes admire,
Whose treasure to his Realmes great comfort brings;
That to attaine (thou race of Kings) aspire,
Which for thy fame may furnish ayery wings:
And like to Eaglets thus thou prov'st thy kinde,
When both like him, in body, and in minde.
Ah, be not those most miserable soules,
Their judgements to refine who never strive!
Nor will not looke upon the learned scroules,
Which without practice doe experience give;
But (whil'st base sloth each better care controules)
Are dead in ignorance, entomb'd alive?
'Twixt beasts and such the difference is but small,
They use not reason, beasts have none at all.
O! heavenly treasure which the best sort loves,
Life of the soule, reformer of the will,
Cleare light, which from the mind each cloud removes,
Pure spring of vertue, Physicke for each ill,
Which in prosperity a bridle proves,
And in adversity a Pillar still;
Of thee the more men get, the more they crave,
And thinke, the more they get, the lesse they have.
But if that knowledge be requir'd of all,
What should they doe this treasure to obtaine,
Whom in a Throne, Time travels to enstall,
Where they by it of all things must ordaine?
If it make them who by their birth were thrall,
As little Kings, whil'st o're themselves they raigne,
Then it must make, when it hath throughly grac'd them,
Kings more then Kings, and like to him who plac'd them.
This is a griefe which all the world bemones,
When those lack judgement who are borne to judge,
And like to painted Tombes, or guilded stones,
To troubled soules cannot afford refuge;
Kings are their Kingdomes hearts, which tainted once,
The bodies straight corrupt in which they lodge:
And those, by whose example many fall,
Are guilty of the murther of them all.
The meanes which best make Majestie to stand,
Are laws observ'd, whil'st practise doth direct:
The Crowne, the head, the Scepter decks the hand,
But onely knowledge doth the thoughts erect;
Kings should excell all them whom they command,
In all the parts which do procure respect:
And this, a way to what they would, prepares,
Not onely as thought good, but as known theirs.
Seek not due reverence onely to procure,
With shows of Soveraignty, and guards oft lewd,
So Nero did, yet could not so assure
The hated Diademe with bloud imbru'd;
Nor as the Persian Kings, who liv'd obscure,
And of their Subjects rarely would be view'd;
So one of them was secretly o're-thrown,
And in his place the Murtherer raign'd unknown.
No, onely goodnesse doth beget regard,
And equity doth greatest glory winne,
To plague for vice, and Vertue to reward,
What they intend, that, bravely to begin;
This is to Soveraigntie a powerfull guard,
And makes a Princes praise o're all come in:
Whose life (his Subjects law) clear'd by his deeds,
More then Iustinians toyls, good order breeds.
All those who o're unbaptiz'd Nations raign'd,
By barbarous customes sought to foster feare,
And with a Thousand tyrannies constrain'd
All them whom they subdu'd their yoke to beare,
But those whom great Iehovah hath ordain'd,
Above the Christians, lawfull Thrones to reare:
Must seek by worth, to be obey'd for love,
So having raign'd below, to raigne above.
O happy Henrie, who art highly borne,
Yet beautifi'st thy birth with signes of worth,
And (though a Childe) all childish toyes do'st scorne,
To shew the world thy vertues budding forth,
Which may by Time this glorious Isle adorne,
And bring eternall Trophees to the North,
While as thou do'st thy Fathers forces leade,
And art the hand, whileas he is the head.
Thou, like that gallant Thunder-bolt of warre,
Third Edwards Sonne, who was so much renown'd,
Shalt shine in valour as the morning starre,
And plenish with thy praise the peopled round;
But like to his, let nought thy fortune marre,
Who, in his Fathers time, did dye uncrown'd:
Long live thy Syre, so all the world desires,
But longer thou, so Natures course requires.
And, though Time once thee, by thy birth-right owes,
Those sacred honours which men most esteeme,
Yet flatter not thy selfe with those faire showes,
Which often-times are not such as they seeme,
Whose burd'nous weight, the bearer but o're-throws,
That could before of no such danger deeme:
Then if not, arm'd in time, thou make thee strong,
Thou dost thy selfe, and many a thousand wrong.
Since thou must manage such a mighty State,
Which hath no borders, but the Seas, and Skies,
Then even as he who justly was call'd great,
Did (prodigall of paines where fame might rise)
With both the parts of worth in worth grow great,
As learn'd, as valiant, and as stout as wise:
So now let Aristotle lay the ground,
Whereon thou after may thy greatnesse found.
For if transported with a base repose,
Thou did'st (as thou dost not) mispend thy prime,
O! what a faire occasion would'st thou lose,
Which after would thee grieve, though out of Time!
To vertuous courses now thy thoughts dispose,
While fancies are not glu'd with pleasures lyme:
Those who their youth to such like paines engage,
Do gain great ease unto their perfect age.
Magnanimous, now, with heroicke parts,
Shew to the world what thou dost ayme to be,
The more to print in all the peoples hearts,
That which thou would'st they should expect of Thee,
That so (preoccupi'd with such desarts)
They after may applaud the heavens decree
When that day comes; which if it come too soone,
Then thou and all this Isle would be undone.
And otherwise what trouble should'st thou finde,
If first not seiz'd of all thy Subjects love;
To ply all humours till thy worth have shin'd,
That even most mal-contents must it approve?
For else a number would suspend their minde,
As doubting what thou afterwards might'st prove,
And when a States affections thus are cold,
Of that advantage Forreiners take hold.
I grant in this thy Fortune to be good,
That art t'inherit such a glorious Crowne,
As one descended from that sacred bloud,
Which oft hath fill'd the world with true renowne:
The which still on the top of glory stood,
And not so much as once seem'd to look downe:
For who thy branches to remembrance brings,
Count what he list, he cannot count but Kings.
And pardon me, for I must pause a while,
And at a thing of right to be admir'd,
Since those, from whom thou cam'st, reign'd in this Isle,
Loe, now of yeares even thousands are expir'd;
Yet none could there them thrall, nor thence exile,
Nor ever fail'd the lyne so much desir'd:
The hundred and seventh parent living free,
A never conquer'd Crowne may leave to thee.
Nor hath this onely happened as by chance,
Of alterations, then there had beene some,
But that brave race which still did worth enhaunce,
Would so presage the thing that was to come;
That this united Isle should once advance,
And, by the Lyon led, all Realmes o're-come:
For if it kep't a little, free before,
Now having much (no doubt) it must do more.
And though our Nations, long I must confesse,
Did roughly woo before that they could wed;
That but endeers the Union we possesse,
Whom Neptune both combines within one bed:
All ancient injuries this doth redresse,
And buries that which many a battell bred:
“Brave discords reconcil'd (if wrath expire)
“Do breed the greatest love, and most intire.
Of Englands Mary, had it beene the chance
To make King Philip Father of a Sonne,
The Spaniards high designes so to advance,
All Albions beauties had beene quite o're-runne:
Or yet if Scotlands Mary had heir'd France,
Our bondage then had by degrees begun:
Of which, if that a stranger hold a part,
To take the other that would meanes impart.
Thus from two dangers we were twise preserv'd,
When as we seem'd without recovery lost,
As from their freedome those who freely swerv'd,
And suffer'd strangers of our bounds to boast;
Yet were we for this happy time reserv'd,
And, but to hold it deare, a little crost:
That of the Stewarts the Illustrious race,
Might, like their mindes, a Monarchie embrace.
Of that blest Progeny, the well known worth
Hath, of the people, a conceit procur'd,
That from the race it never can go forth,
But long hereditary, is well assur'd,
Thus (Sonne of that great Monarch of the North)
They to obey, are happily inur'd:
O're whom thou art expected once to raigne,
To have good Ancestours one much doth gaine.
He who by tyranny his Throne doth reare,
And dispossesse another of his right,
Whose panting heart dare never trust his eare,
Since still made odious in the peoples sight,
Whil'st he both hath, and gives, great cause of feare,
Is (spoyling all) at last spoil'd of the light:
And those who are descended of his bloud,
Ere that they be beleev'd, must long be good.
Yet though we see it is an easie thing,
For such a one his State still to maintaine,
Who by his birth-right borne to be a King,
Doth with the Countreys love, the Crowne obtaine,
The same doth many to confusion bring,
Whil'st, for that cause, they care not how they raigne.
“O never Throne establish'd was so sure,
“Whose fall a vitious Prince might not procure!
Thus do a number to destruction runne,
And so did Tarquin once abuse his place,
Who for the filthy life he had begun,
Was barr'd from Rome, and ruin'd all his race;
So he whose Father of no King was Sonne,
Was Father to no King; but, in disgrace
From Sicile banish'd, by the peoples hate,
Did dye at Corinth in an abject state.
And as that Monarch merits endlesse praise,
Who by his vertue doth a state acquire,
So all the world with scornfull eyes may gaze
On their degener'd stemmes which might aspire,
As having greater pow'r, their power to raise,
Yet of their race the ruine do conspire:
And for their wrong-spent life with shame do end,
“Kings chastis'd once, are not allow'd t'amend.
Those who reposing on their Princely name,
Can never give themselves to care for ought,
But for their pleasures every thing would frame,
As all were made for them, and they for nought,
Once th'earth their bodies, men will spoyle their fame,
Though whil'st they live, all for their ease be wrought:
And those conceits on which they do depend,
Do but betray their fortunes in the end.
This selfe-conceit doth so the Iudgement choake,
That when with some ought well succeeds through it,
They on the same with great affection look,
And scorne th'advice of others to admit;
Thus did brave Charles the last Burgundian Duke
Deare buy a battell purchas'd by his wit:
By which in him such confidence was bred,
That blinde presumption to confusion led.
O! sacred Counsell, quint-essence of souls,
Strength of the Common-wealth, which chaines the fates,
And every danger (ere it come) controuls,
The anker of great Realmes, staffe of all States;
O! sure foundation which no Tempest fouls,
On which are builded the most glorious seats!
If ought with those succeed who scorne thy care,
It comes by chance, and draws them in a snare.
Thrice happy is that King, who hath the grace
To chuse a Councell whereon to relye,
Which loves his person, and respects his place,
And (like to Aristides) can cast by
All private grudge, and publike cares imbrace,
Whom no Ambition nor base thoughts do tye:
And that they be not, to betray their seats,
The partiall Pensioners of forreine States.
None should but those of that grave number boast,
Whose lives have long with many vertues shin'd;
As Rome respected the Patricians most,
Use Nobles first, if to true worth inclin'd:
Yet so, that unto others seeme not lost
All hope to rise, for else (high hopes resign'd)
Industrious Vertue in her course would tyre,
If not expecting Honour for her hyre.
But such as those a Prince should most eschue,
Who dignities do curiously affect;
A publike charge, those who too much pursue,
Seeme to have some particular respect,
All should be godly, prudent, secret, true,
Of whom a King his Councell should elect:
And he, whil'st they advise of zeale and love,
Should not the number, but the best approve.
A great discretion is requir'd to know
What way to weigh opinions in his minde;
But ah! this doth the judgement oft o're-throw,
When whil'st he comes within himselfe confin'd,
And of the Senate would but make a show,
So to confirme that which he hath design'd,
As one who onely hath whereon to rest,
For Councellours, his thoughts, their seat his brest.
But what avails a Senate in this sort,
Whose pow'r within the Capitoll is pent?
A blast of breath which doth for nought import,
But mocks the world with a not act'd intent;
Those are the counsels which great States support,
Which, never are made knowne but by th'event:
Not those where wise-men matters do propose,
And fooles thereafter as they please dispose.
Nor is this all which ought to be desir'd,
In this Assembly (since the kingdomes soule)
That with a knowledge more then rare inspir'd,
A Common-wealth, like Plato's, in a scroule
They can paint forth, but meanes are too acquir'd,
Disorders torrent freely to controule;
And arming with authority their lines,
To act with justice that which wit designes.
Great Empresse of this universall frame,
The Atlas on whose shoulders States are stay'd,
Who sway'st the raynes which all the world do tame,
And mak'st men good by force, with red array'd:
Disorders enemy, Virgin without blame,
Within whose ballance, good and bad are weigh'd.
O! Soveraigne of all vertues, without Thee
Nor peace, nor warre, can entertained be.
Thou from confusion all things hast redeem'd:
The meeting of Amphictyons had beene vaine,
And all those Senates which were most esteem'd,
Wer't not by thee, their Counsels crown'd remaine,
And all those laws had but dead letters seem'd,
Which Solon, or Lycurgus, did ordaine:
Wer't not thy sword made all alike to dye,
And not the weake, while as the strong scap'd by.
O! not without great cause all th'ancients did
Paint Magistrates plac'd to explane the laws,
Not having hands, so bribery to forbid,
Which them from doing right, too oft with-draws;
And with a veile the Iudges eyes were hid,
Who should not see the partie, but the cause:
Gods Deputies, which his Tribunall reare,
Should have a patent, not a partiall eare.
The lack of justice hath huge evils begun,
Which by no meanes could be repair'd againe;
The famous Syre of that more famous Sonne,
From whom (while as he sleeping did remaine)
One did appeale, till that his sleep was done,
And whom a widow did discharge to raigne
Because he had not time plaints to attend,
Did lose his life for such a fault in th'end.
This justice is the vertue most divine,
Which like the King of Kings shews Kings inclin'd,
Whose sure foundations nought can under-mine,
If once within a constant breast confin'd:
For otherwise she cannot clearly shine,
While as the Magistrate, oft changing minde,
Is oft too swift, and sometimes slow to strike,
As led by private ends, not still alike.
Use mercie freely, justice, as constrain'd,
This must be done, although that be more deare,
And oft the forme may make the deed disdain'd,
Whil'st justice tasts of tyranny too neare;
One may be justly, yet in rage arraign'd,
Whil'st Reason rul'd by passions doth appeare:
Once Socrates because o're-com'd with ire,
Did from correcting one (till calm'd) retyre.
Those who want meanes their anger to asswage,
Do oft themselves, or others rob of breath;
Fierce Valentinian, surfetting in rage,
By bursting of a Veyne did bleed to death;
And Theodosius, still but then, thought sage,
Caus'd murther Thousands, whil'st quite drunk with wrath
Who to prevent the like opprobrious crime,
Made still suspend his Edicts for a time.
Of vertuous Kings all th'actions do proceed
Forth from the spring of a paternall love;
To cherish, or correct (as Realmes have need)
For which he more than for himselfe doth move,
Who many a Millions ease that way to breed,
Makes sometime some his indignation prove,
And like to Codrus, would even death imbrace,
If for the Countreys good, and peoples peace.
This Lady that so long unarm'd hath stray'd,
Now holds the ballance, and doth draw the sword,
And never was more gloriously array'd,
Nor in short time did greater good afford;
The State which to confusion seem'd betray'd,
And could of nought but bloud, and wrongs, record,
Loe, freed from trouble, and intestine rage,
Doth boast yet to restore the golden age.
Thus doth thy Father (generous Prince) prepare,
A way for Thee to gaine Immortall fame,
And layes the grounds of greatnesse with such care,
That thou may'st build great works upon the same;
Then since thou art to have a Field so faire,
Whereas thou once may'st eternize thy name,
Begin (whileas a greater light thine smothers)
And learne to rule thy selfe, ere thou rul'st others.
For still true magnanimity we finde,
Doth harbour early in a generous brest;
To match Miltiades, whose glory shin'd,
Themistocles (a childe) was rob'd of rest;
Yet strive to be a Monarch of thy minde,
For as to dare great things, all else detest,
A generous emulation spurres the sprite,
Ambition doth abuse the courage quite.
Whil'st of illustrious lives thou look'st the story,
Abhorre those Tyrants which still swimm'd in bloud,
And follow those who (to their endlesse glory)
High in their Subjects love by vertue stood;
O! be like him who on a Time was sorie,
Because that whil'st he chanc'd to do no good,
There but one day had happened to expire:
He was the worlds delight, the heavens desire.
But as by mildnesse, some great States do gaine,
By lenity, some lose that which they have,
Englands sixth Henry could not live, and raigne,
But (being simple) did huge foils receive:
Brave Scipio's Army mutini'd in Spayne,
And (by his meeknesse bold) their charge did leave:
O! to the State it brings great profit oft,
To be sometimes severe, and never soft.
To guide his Coursers warely through the skie,
Earst Phœbus did his Phaeton require,
Since from the midle way if swarving by,
The heavens would burne, or th'earth would be on fire;
So doth 'twixt two extreames each vertue lye,
To which the purest sprits ought to aspire,
He lives most sure who no extreame doth touch,
Nought would too little be, nor yet too much.
Some Kings, whom all men did in hatred hold,
With avaritious thoughts whose breasts were torne,
Too basely given to feast their eyes with gold,
Us'd ill, and abject meanes, which brave minds scorne,
Such whil'st they onely seek (no vice controul'd)
How they may best their Treasuries adorne:
Are (though like Crœsus rich) whil'st wealth them blinds,
Yet still as poore as Irus in their mindes.
And some againe as foolish fancies move,
Who praise prepost'rous fondly do pursue,
Not liberall, no, but prodigall do prove;
Then whil'st their Treasures they exhausted view,
With Subsidies do lose their Subjects love;
And spoyle whole Realmes, though but t'enrich a few:
Whil'st with authority their pride they cloake,
Who ought to die by smoke for selling smoke.
But O! the Prince most loath'd in every Land,
Is one (all given to lust) who hardly can
Free from some great mishap a long time stand;
For all the world his deeds with hatred scan;
Should he who hath the honour to command
The noblest Creature (great Gods Image) man,
Be, to the vilest vice, the basest slave,
The bodies plague, souls death, and honours grave?
That beastly Monster who retyr'd a part,
Amongst his Concubines began to spinne,
Took with the habite too a womans heart,
And ended that which Ninus did begin;
Faint hearted Xerxes who did gifts impart,
To them who could devise new wayes to sinne;
Though back'd with worlds of men, straight took the flight,
And had not courage but to see them fight.
Thus doth soft pleasure but abase the minde,
And making one to servile thoughts descend,
Doth make the body weake, the judgement blinde,
An hatefull life, an ignominious end,
Where those who did this raging Tyrant binde,
With vertues Chains, their triumphs to attend:
Have by that meanes a greater glory gain'd,
Then all the Victories which they attain'd.
The valorous Persian who not once but gaz'd
On faire Pantheas face to ease his toyls,
His glory, by that continency, rais'd
More than by Babylons, and Lydia's spoyls;
The Macedonian Monarch was more prais'd,
Than for triumphing o're so many soils,
That of his greatest foe (though beauteous seene)
He chastly entertain'd the captiv'd Queene.
Thus have still-gaz'd-at Monarchs much adoe,
Who (all the worlds disorders to redresse)
Should shine like to the Sunne, the which still, loe,
The more it mounts aloft, doth seeme the lesse,
They should with confidence go freely to,
And (trusting to their worth) their will expresse:
Not like French Lewis th'eleventh who did maintaine,
That who could not dissemble, could not raigne.
But still to guard their State the strongest barre,
And surest refuge in each dangerous storme,
Is to be found a gallant man of warre,
With heart that dare attempt, hands to performe,
Not that they venter should their state too farre,
And to each Souldiers course their course conforme.
The skilfull Pylots at the Rudder sit:
Let others use their strength, and them their wit.
In Mars his mysteries to gaine renowne,
It gives Kings glory, and assures their place,
It breeds them a respect amongst their owne,
And makes their neighbours feare to lose their grace;
Still all those should, who love to keep their Crowne,
In peace prepare for warre, in warre for peace:
For as all feare a Prince who dare attempt,
The want of courage brings one in contempt.
And, royall off-spring, who may'st high aspire,
As one to whom thy birth high hopes assign'd,
This well becomes the courage of thy Syre,
Who traines Thee up according to thy kinde;
He, though the world his prosp'rous raigne admire,
In which his Subjects such a comfort finde:
Hath (if the bloudy Art mov'd to imbrace)
That wit then to make warre, which now keeps peace.
And O! how this (deare Prince) the people charmes,
Who flock about Thee oft in ravish'd bands,
To see thee yong, yet manage so thine Armes,
Have a Mercuriall minde, and Martiall hands,
This exercise thy tender courage warmes;
And still true Greatnesse but by Vertue stands:
Agesilaus said, no King could be
More great, unlesse more vertuous, than he.
And though that all of Thee great things expect,
Thou, as too little, mak'st their hopes asham'd;
As he who on Olympus did detect,
The famous Thebans foot, his body fram'd,
By thy beginnings so we may collect,
How great thy worth by Time may be proclaim'd:
For who thy actions doth remarke, may see
That there be many Cæsars within thee.
Though every State by long experience findes,
That greatest blessings prosp'ring Peace imparts,
As which all Subjects to good order bindes,
Yet breeds this Isle still populous in all parts,
Such vigorous bodies, and such restlesse mindes,
That they disdaine to use Mechanick Arts:
And, being haughty, cannot live in rest,
Yea, such, when idle, are a dangerous pest.
A prudent Roman told, in some few houres,
To Romes Estate what danger did redound,
Then, when they raz'd the Carthaginian Towres,
By which while as they stood, still meanes were found,
With others harmes to exercise their pow'rs,
The want whereof their greatnesse did confound;
For when no more with forraine foes imbroil'd,
Straight, by intestine warres, the State was spoyl'd.
No, since this soile, which with great sprits abounds,
Can hardly nurce her Nurcelings all in peace,
Then let us keep her bosome free from wounds,
And spend our fury in some forraine place:
There is no wall can limit now our bounds,
But all the world will need walls in short space;
To keep our troups from seizing on new Thrones;
The Marble Chayre must passe the Ocean once.
What fury o're my judgement doth prevaile?
Me thinkes I see all th'earth glance with our Armes,
And groning Neptune charg'd with many a sayle;
I heare the thundring Trumpet sound th'alarmes,
Whil'st all the neighbouring Nations doe looke pale,
Such sudden feare each panting heart disarmes,
To see those martiall mindes together gone,
The Lyon and the Leopard in one.
I (Henry) hope with this mine eyes to feed,
Whil'st ere thou wear'st a Crown, thou wear'st a shield;
And when thou (making thousands once to bleed,
That dare behold thy count'nance, and not yeeld)
Stirr'st through the bloudy dust a foaming steed,
An interested witnesse in the field
I may amongst those bands thy grace attend,
And be thy Homer when the warres do end.
But stay, where fly'st thou (Muse) so farre astray?
And whil'st affection doth thy course command,
Dar'st thus above thy reach attempt a way
To court the heire of Albions war-like land,
Who gotten hath his generous thoughts to sway,
A royall gift out of a royall hand;
And hath before his eyes that Type of worth,
That Starre of state, that Pole which guides the North.
Yet o're thy father, loe, (such is thy fate)
Thou hast this vantage which may profit thee,
An orphan'd infant, setled in his seat,
He greater then himselfe could never see,
Where thou may'st learne by him the Art of state,
And by another what thy selfe should'st be,
Whil'st that which he had onely but heard told,
In all his course thou practis'd may'st behold.
And this advantage long may'st thou retain,
By which to make thee blest, the heavens conspire;
And labour of his worth to make thy gaine,
To whose perfections thou may'st once aspire,
When as thou shew'st thy selfe, whil'st thou do'st raigne,
A Sonne held worthy of so great a Syre;
And with his Scepters, and the peoples hearts,
Do'st still inherit his heroicke parts.
ALEXANDER, Sir WILLIAM, Earl of Stirling (1567?–1640), was a poet and statesman. If, in connection with this name, the reader be covetous of an example of those ‘endless genealogies’ against which even an apostle warned, let him secure ‘Memorials of the Earl of Stirling and of the House of Alexander, by the Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D.’ 2 vols. 8vo 1877). Solid (documentary) fact seems first to be reached in the three sons of Somerled, Lord of the Isles, to wit, Donald, Ronald, and Angus. We have to do only with the last. His grandson John (also called Lord of the Isles) married, as a second wife, Margaret, daughter of King Robert II (of Scotland), and his third son by this marriage, Alexander, lord of Lochaber, had two sons, Angus and Alister (or Alexander). The latter founded the house of MacAlexander (sometimes written M'Alexander and MacAlister), and on removing from the West assumed the more euphonious name of Alexander. In a legal instrument (among the ‘Argyle Family Papers’), dated 6 March 1505, Thomas Alexander de Menstray is associated with certain others in an arbitration connected with the division of lands in Clackmannanshire, about which a dispute had arisen between the abbot of Cambuskenneth and Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan (Chartulary of Cambuskenneth Abbey, p, 86). The lands of Menstray or Menstry had been assigned to the before-named Alexander by relatives of the Argyle family. Well-nigh innumerable manuscripts verify and confirm the original grant.
Passing over all others, it is now to be stated that William was son of Alexander Alexander—son of William Alexander—of Menstrie, and of Marion, daughter of an Allan Couttie. The marriage of his parents was ‘about 1566 or 1567,’ and as he was the first child (and only son: two daughters later, Janet and Christian), the probabilities are that he was born in 1567, or not later than 1568. The birth-year has been (traditionally) accepted as 1580 because of the inscription around Marshall's engraved portrait of him, ‘ætatis suæ 57,’ which occurs occasionally in copies of his ‘Recreations with the Muses’ of 1637. But the portrait was not prepared for the ‘Recreations,’ and is undated. Besides, Alexander must have been some few years at least older than the Earl of Argyle, to whom we shall see he was tutor, and who was born before 1571. (See Dr. Rogers's Memorials, as before.) Unfortunately the parish registers of Logie have long since disappeared, i.e. of the period. The manor house of Menstrie still survives. It is pleasantly nestled on the confines of the two parishes of Logie and Alloa; later it was the birthplace also of Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734).
His father died on 10 Feb. 1580–1, and he was left in charge of a paternal grand-uncle, James Alexander, ‘burgess of Stirling,’ who was by the father nominated in his will as ‘tutor to his bairnes.’ As this tutor was resident at Stirling, it may safely be assumed that William received his early education at the grammar school of that town. The rector of this school was then Thomas Buchanan, nephew of the more celebrated George Buchanan. From the Hawthornden MSS. it appears that he attended the universities of Glasgow and of Leyden. But the earliest authentically definite information concerning him is that, having gained repute as a scholar, he was selected as travelling companion to Archibald, seventh earl of Argyle, with whom he proceeded to France, Spain, and Italy (Fraser's Argyle Papers, 1834), i.e. the usual tour as set forth later by James Howell in his ‘Instructions for Foreine Travell’ (1642). This pleasant relationship of the humbler scion with the nobler head of the house in all likelihood led to those increased grants by the Argyles which considerably widened ‘the lands of Menstry’ ultimately. The Argyles had a family residence in neighbouring Castle Campbell.
On returning from abroad, the tutor was introduced by the Earl of Argyle to court, and he was appointed tutor to young Prince Henry, son of James VI, at Holyrood. ‘The most learned fool in Europe’ had shrewd if narrow insight into character and capacity and scholarship. He must have been specially pleased by Alexander, who to the latest had no common influence with him.
When James VI of Scotland, in 1603, succeeded Elizabeth, Alexander, though he did not accompany him at the outset, formed one of the invading host of Scots. He was speedily enrolled as one of thirty-two gentlemen-extraordinary of Prince Henry's private chamber (Birch's Life of Henry Prince of Wales, p. 347).
The after-title of his volume, ‘Recreations with the Muses,’ doubtless was meant to intimate that the poet had filled up the intervals of ‘tutoring’ on the continent and of courtly attendance and duty with his poetical studies. His love-sonnets of ‘Avrora’ have been assigned to his ‘travel’ years with Argyle (Works, Introductory Memoir, i. x). He was known as a poet before, and just before, he crossed the border, by his first published poem, ‘The Tragedie of Darius. By William Alexander, of Menstrie. Edinburgh: Printed by Robert Waldegrave, Printer to the Kings Maiestie, 1603,’ 4to. In the address to the reader he thus describes this poem-tragedy: ‘I present to thy favourable viewe and censure the first essay of my rude and unskilfull Muse in a tragicall poem.’ It is dedicated ‘To the most excellent, high and mightie Prince James the 6, King of Scots, my dreade Soveraigne.’
In 1604 there followed another slender quarto, containing a poem of eighty-four stanzas, entitled ‘A Parænesis to the Prince, by William Alexander of Menstrie. London, printed by Richard Field for Edward Blount.’ In the same year he reprinted ‘Darius,’ with another tragedy, ‘Crœsus,’ under the common title of the ‘Monarchicke Tragedies.’ Two things are noticeable in ‘Parænesis’ and these ‘Tragedies.’ First, that, spite of the dedication to the king (enlarged in 1604), ‘Parænesis’ is anything but a panegyric. There is astonishing audacity in it of counsel, and a most articulate assertion that ‘wicked princes’ may be dethroned. Recounting musically the ‘ancient monarchies,’ very early he thus drastically characterises them:—
And in all ages it was ever seene,
What vertue rais'd, by vice hath ruin'd been.
The poem is thick-packed with weighty and pungent warnings and counsels, nor is there lacking the poet's grace.
Secondly, the original editions abound in Scottish words and phrases, and a comparison of the London with the Edinburgh texts, earlier and later, is philologically of interest and value. It is to be regretted that the editor of his works (3 vols. 1870) has only perfunctorily recorded ‘Various Readings.’
In 1604—same year with the preceding—appeared ‘Avrora, containing the first fancies of the author's youth.’ Prefixed is an epistle to the Countess of Argyle. ‘Avrora’ inevitably suggests comparisons with Sidney and Spenser, Daniel, and Drayton, and Drummond. These sonnets were not mere fancies, but born of an actual and unsuccessful love; a real passion lies beneath the quaint conceits and occasionally wire-drawn similes. ‘Sonet C’ leaves no doubt that his youthful ‘Avrora’ preferred an aged man to him. The fact that ‘Avrora’ was not included by Alexander in his collected works in 1637 the more suggests autobiographical experiences to have been worked into the ‘fancies.’
At the time of the publication of ‘Aurora’ Alexander had married Janet, only daughter of Sir William Erskine, younger brother of the family of Erskine of Balgonie, and commonly styled ‘parson of Campsie,’ from his holding office as ‘commendator of the bishopric of Glasgow.’ On 8 May 1607 Sir William Erskine received a royal warrant for an exchequer pension of 200l. a year, to be shared with his son-in-law, William Alexander, an annuity of half the amount being made payable to Alexander for life after Erskine's decease (Docquet Book of Exchequer).
There must have been other pecuniary transactions between father-in-law and son-in-law—e.g. Sir William Erskine purchased from the Earl of Argyle the annual duties payable by his son-in-law for ‘the lands of Menstry.’ On 6 June 1609 a royal charter passed under the great seal, confirming a charter of alienation and vendition from Argyle to Erskine, whereby the latter obtained the lands and barony of Menstry in life-rent, and Sir William Alexander and his spouse, Lady Janet Erskine, the lands in conjunct fee (Reg. Mag. Sig. xlviii. 131). But the conditions of the charter remained unfulfilled; and nineteen years later Sir William Alexander is found consenting to a royal charter whereby he received the lands and barony of Menstry from the Earl of Argyle on an annual payment of 80l. (Rogers's Memorials, i. 38–39).
Alexander published in 1605 ‘The Alexandræan, a Tragedy,’ which afterwards elicited Dr. Andrew Johnston's well-known epigram:—
Confer Alexandros: Macedo victricibus armis
Magnus erat, Scotus carmina major uter?
Having in the interval written still another tragedy, ‘Iulius Cæsar,’ he once more collected the whole extant into a quarto volume. This was in 1607, and again the volume bore the title of the ‘Monarchicke Tragedies,’ being ‘Crœsus,’ ‘Darius,’ ‘The Alexandrian,’ and ‘Iulius Cæsar,’ ‘newly enlarged by William Alexander, Gentleman of the Prince's Privie Chamber.’ To this new edition his friend, Sir Robert Aytoun, preflxed a well-turned sonnet.
In 1608 a somewhat noticeable authority was given to our William Alexander and a relative (presumably), Walter Alexander, ‘to receive and uplift all arrears of taxes due to the crown, from the first year of the reign of Edward VI to the 30th of Elizabeth,’ these arrears amounting to 12,000l., equal to four or five times the amount to-day, and of which they were to receive a ‘commission’ of one-half. The patent has been printed in extenso by Dr. Charles Rogers; but what came out of it has not been transmitted.
Alexander must have been ‘knighted’ in 1609; for whilst in 1608 he is simply ‘gent.,’ on 25 May 1609 he is described as ‘Sir William Alexander’ (Reg. Mag. Sig. lib. i. 185, fol. 134).
The death of Prince Henry, at the age of eighteen, on 6 Nov. 1612, must have been a crushing blow to him as to all the scholars and literary men of the period. He published an ‘Elegie’ on the occasion, and promised more; but, like Spenser's of Sidney, it lacks emotion. It has nothing of the desolation and pathos of the Laments of George Chapman and John Davies of Hereford.
The ‘Elegie,’ however, appears to have pleased the bereaved father, for Sir William was at once appointed to the same position in the household of Prince Charles.
In 1613 he was ‘conjoined’ with a Thomas Foulis and a Paulo Pinto (a Portuguese) in royal grants or rescripts to work alleged gold and silver mines in Scotland, at Crawford Muir (Lanarkshire) and Hilderston (Linlithgowshire) (Acta Sec. Con. 17 March 1613). Neither undertaking proved remunerative (Proceedings of Scot. Soc. of Antiq. x. 236).
In the same year (1613) he published a meagre ‘completion’ of the ‘third part’ of Sidney's ‘Arcadia,’ to be found in the fourth and after editions.
At this time also he formed a fast friendship with his fellow-countryman and fellow-poet, William Drummond, of Hawthornden. In 1614 a sunny letter from Drummond gives account of a visit to Menstry. It thus closes:
‘Tables removed, after Homer's fassion well satiat, he honord me so much as to schow me his bookes and papers. . . . I estimed of him befor I was acquent with him, because of his workes; but I protest hencefoorth I will estime of his workes because of his awne good, courte[ou]s, meeke disposition. He entreatit me to have made me longer stay, and beleave me I was as sorrie to depart as a new enamoured lover would be for his mistress’ (Memorials, i. 47, and all editions of Drummond's works). Afterwards—1616–20—there was gracious interchange of correspondence, and in Drummond's letters to Michael Drayton there are very genial references to his bosom friend Alexander (Masson's Story of Life and Writings of Drummond, p. 84)—the poet of ‘Nymphidia’ and ‘Agincourt’ calling him ‘a man of men.’
Among the papers shown on this visit was our poet's most ambitious production, viz. his ‘Doomesday.’ In 1614 he published a first part, entitled ‘Doomes-day; or the Great Day of the Lord's Ivdgment, by Sr William Alexander, Knight’ (4to).
In its original form this stupendous poem embraced four books or ‘houres.’ These were in 1637 extended to twelve, containing some eleven thousand lines! In the vast morass of this dead-level sacred epic a few flowers gleam, showing touches of colour or whiteness, and Milton disdained not to read the whole that he might gather them; but substantively it is ‘stale, flat, and unprofitable.’ The king perpetrated one of his worst sonnets about ‘Doomes-day,’ albeit its heading bewrayed slyly his majesty's perception of its pervading defect: ‘The Complainte of the Muses to Alexander vpon himselfe, for his ingratitude towardes them, by hurting them with his hard hammered wordes, fitter to be vsed vpon his Mineralles’ (Sir James Balfour MSS. in Advocates' Library, Edinburgh).
In 1614 he was nominated master of requests. This appointment was a fortunate one for the king and state, in that it brought an iron will and hand down upon the rapacious beggarly Scots who day and night besieged the sovereign. At his recommendation an edict was issued in 1619, in which the king ‘discharges all manner of persons from resorting out of Scotland to this our kingdome, unlesse it be gentlemen of good qualitie, marchands for traffiques, or such as shall have a generall license from our counselle of that kingdome, with expresse prohibitioun to all masters of shippes that they transport no such persones.’ It is added that ‘Sir William Alexander, master of requests, has received a commission to apprehend and send home, or to punish all vagrant persones who come to England to cause trouble or bring discredit on their country’ (Register of Letters).
King James had long meditated a metrical version of the Psalms, which might supersede that of Sternhold and Hopkins used in England. In his ‘Poetical Exercises at Vacant Houres,’ published in 1591, he informs the reader that should his verses be well accepted, he would proceed to publish ‘such number of the Psalmes’ as he ‘had perfited,’ and would be encouraged ‘to the ending of the rest.’ In a general assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, held at Burntisland in 1601, his majesty set forth the importance of improving the version then in use (Spottiswoode's History, p. 446).
In this well-intentioned but unfortunate project the king early invited Alexander's assistance, though throughout he was disposed to hold his ground against all supersession of his own inharmonious attempts by alternative versions. The thing went on sluggishly, and the new ‘Psalmes’ did not appear until after the king's death in 1631, when they were published as ‘The Psalmes of King David. Translated by King James.’ The following license faced the title-page:—
‘Charles R. haveing caused this translation of the Psalmes (whereof oure late deare father was author) to be perused, and it being found to be exactly and truely done, we doe hereby authorize the same to be imprinted according to the patent granted thereupon, and doe allow them to be song in all the churches of oure dominiones, recommending them to all oure goode subjects for that effect.’ By a royal letter dated 14 June (1631), the English bishops were further commanded to introduce the new version into all the schools (Reg. of Letters).
Sir William had received a patent granting him the sole right for thirty-one years of ‘printing or causing to be printed these Psalmes.’ Had the new version been acceptable to the churches and people, the profits must have been considerable; but it did not succeed, and speedily fell into deserved oblivion. A later element added to its unpopularity over and above the patentee's pressing of his books: it was even bound up with Archbishop Laud's detested ‘Service Book’ (Memorials, pp. 167–170 seqq.). How far Sir William Alexander availed himself of the permission granted him by Charles I ‘to consider and reveu the meeter and poesie thereof,’ cannot positively be determined now. There are great variations between the first edition of 1631 and that of 1636 (cf. Laing's Baillie's Letters and Journals, iii. 529}. It seems clear that Charles must have winked hard in permitting the licence, as he must have known that the proportion of Jamas to Alexander was as Falstaff's bread to his sack.
In 1621 occurred the central fact in Alexander's political and public career—the grant of Nova Scotia, then known as ‘New Scotland,’ and (practically) of Canada. In 1611 James had established the order of baronets of Ulster, towards furthering the ‘plantation’ of the north of Ireland. This ‘plantation’ and related ‘order’ so prospered, that Sir William suggested similar procedure for North America; and on 21 Sept. 1621 he obtained from the king a charter, granting him, ‘his heirs and assigns, whomsoever, hereditarily, all and singular, the continent, lands, and islands, situate and lying in America, within the cape or promontory commonly called the Cape de Sable, lying near the latitude of 43 degrees or thereabout from the equinoctial line northward, from which promontory, toward the sea coast, verging to the west, to the harbour of Sancta Maria, commonly called Sanct Mareis Bay, and thence northward, traversing by a right line the entrance or mouth of that great naval station which runs out into the eastern tract of the land between the countries of the Suriqui and Stechemini, commonly called the Suriquois and Stechemines, to the river commonly called by the name of Santa Cruz, and to the remotest source or fountain on the western side of the same . . . and thence by an imaginary line, which might be conceived to proceed through the land, or run northward to the nearest naval station, river, or source discharging itself into the great river of Canada; and proceeding from it by the sea-shores of the same river of Canada eastward to the river, naval station, port, or shore, commonly known and called by the name of Gathepe or Gaspie, and thence south-eastwards to the island called Baccaloer or Cape Breton, leaving the same islands on the right, and the gulf of the said great river of Canada, or great naval station, and the lands of Newfoundland, with the islands pertaining to the same lands, on the left; and thence to the cape or promontory of Cape Breton aforesaid, lying near the latitude of 45 degrees or thereabout; and from the said promontory of Cape Breton, toward the south and west, to the aforesaid Cape Sable, where the circuit began, including and comprehending within the said sea coasts and their circumferences from sea to sea, all continent lands, with rivers, bays, torrents.’
Prodigious as was this grant, it was later so much increased that the best portions of the entire northern section of the now United States and Canada were placed under Alexander's jurisdiction. The charter of Charles, confirming James's, gave full powers to use the ‘mines and forests, erect cities, appoint fairs, hold courts, grant lands, and coin money’—in short, almost absolute authority in a country larger than all the king's dominions elsewhere.
The unique gift seems to have lain dormant for some time; but on the accession of Charles in 1625 the charter with all its rights and privileges was renewed and the first batch of baronets created—this honour being conferred on payment of 150l. sterling, a sum which entitled the payer to a grant of land three miles long by two broad (Memorials, ii. 179–205).
To promote the colonisation, Sir William, in 1625, published a weighty and vigorous and statesmanlike ‘Encouragement to Colonies.’ The new order of baronet, however, involved Alexander in troublesome disputes. Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, in his ‘Jewel’ (ed. Edin. 1774, p. 129), is bitterly sarcastic on his fellow-countryman's ambition in relation to these charters. ‘He was born a poet and aimed to be a king,’ is only one of many passionate phrases. Spite of all, Sir William showed high-hearted courage, prescient statesmanship, and marvellous resource and insistence in his efforts to colonise. The difficulties were enormous, and the opponents (including France) formidable; but the good knight never knew when he was beaten. He and his son made effort after effort. The facts in their lights and shadows, adventures and misadventures, oppositions and aids, are well worthy of study as part of the mighty story of our colonial empire.
In 1626 he was appointed secretary of state for Scotland—an office which he held till his death. With what consummate ability, and single-eyed patriotism, and long patience he ruled Scotland for the king, let the three great folio volumes entitled ‘Register of Royal Letters’ (preserved in Scotland) attest. The demands upon his thought, sagacity, swift decision, resistance to rebellion and rapacity, are scarcely to be estimated. They were troublous times, and required and found in Sir William Alexander a cool head, a sound judgment, a generous heart, and a firm hand. Contemporary allusions show that ‘the secretar’ was not popular. But the secret of his unpopularity is to be found in his width of view and fine impartiality. His episcopalianism—he had early left presbyterianism—explains the harsh gossip of Principal Baillie and others like him (Letters and Journals, i. 77). He necessarily went against the ‘Covenanters.’
In 1630 the knighthood was changed into a higher title, to wit, ‘Lord Alexander of Tullibody and Viscount Stirling.’ In 1631 he was appointed an extraordinary judge of the Court of Session, the supreme law court of Scotland. Nor were titles and honours all the tokens of continued royal favour. Subordinate to the Nova Scotia undertaking and grant, yet meant to bring him supplementary or complementary emoluments, and contemporaneous with the ‘Psalmes’ patent, he obtained the ‘privilege’ of issuing a small copper coin for the convenience of the ‘common people.’ This proved a disappointment. It was held to be debased, got the nicknames of ‘black money’ and ‘turners,’ and brought no end of anoyance alike to Alexander and the king (Memorials, i. 144–6).
In 1632 Alexander erected his elegant mansion in Stirling, now known as Argyle Lodge. It is still one of the sights of this famous little northern town. Woodcuts of Menstry and of Argyle House, and of the ‘Turners,’ are given in Rogers's ‘Memorials.’
Charles I was crowned at Holyrood Palace on 14 June 1633, and on this auspicious occasion Lord Stirling was advanced to the dignity of an earl—Earl of Stirling—with the additional title of Viscount Canada; and in 1639 he was created ‘Earl of Dovan’ (Devon). On the former occasion he received the verse congratulations of William Habington (Castara, 1633, p. 233).
In 1637 he collected his ‘Workes’ in a handsome folio, under the already cited title of ‘Recreations with the Muses.’ The whole were carefully, perhaps over-finically, revised. ‘Jonathan’—a considerable fragment of another sacred epic—was the only important addition to his prior publications in the ‘Workes.’
This was a sorrowful year for him; Sir Anthony Alexander, his second son, died in London on 17 Sept. 1637; and Lord Alexander, his eldest son, died, also at London, on 18 May 1638 (Reg. of Letters). Lord Alexander gave extraordinary promise of capacity and worth.
In 1636, and onward, the Earl of Stirling was in chronic pecuniary embarrassments, and his creditors merciless and urgent. In the evening-time of his life he must have been cruelly robbed and wronged, for on 12 Sept. 1640 he died at London ‘insolvent.’ His remains were borne to Scotland and interred in ‘Bowie's yle,’ in the High Church, Stirling. He was succeeded by his grandson, ‘ane infant,’ son of Lord Alexander and the Lady Mary Douglas; but he only survived to inherit the proud family honours for a few months, whereupon his uncle Henry became earl. The title lapsed in 1739 on the death of the fifth earl, who died without issue.
Alexander filled a large and conspicuous space in his generation, as scholar, courtier, statesman, coloniser, and poet; he touched national events at many points, and won the not easily won friendship and lofty praise of such men as Drayton and Aytoun, Habington and Drummond, and Edward Alleyn; and his entire ‘Workes’ were long afterwards read by Milton (if indeed Shakespeare himself did not read his ‘Monarchicke Tragedies’); and he won the golden and unstinted praise of Addison. Broadly, his poems are weighty with thought after the type of Fulk Greville, Lord Brooke, though scarcely so obscure as his. His tragedies have ‘brave translunary things,’ if laboured and dull as a whole. His ‘Avrora’ and minor pieces are elegant and musical. There is less of conceit in the merely conceitful sense than was common with contemporaries, and if you only persevere, opalescent hues edge long passages otherwise comparable with mist and fog. As a man he grows in our regard the nearer one gets at the facts. Manlier speech never was addressed to kings than by him in his ‘Parænesis’ and ‘Tragedies’ and elsewhere. His ‘noble poverty’ is the best vindication of his integrity. He stands above any contemporary Scot, alike in many-sidedness and strenuousness of character.