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John Dryden

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Dominating the literary life of Restoration England, Dryden produced a large oeuvre of poetry, plays, essays and translations that were without their equal, inspiring later critics to refer to his era simply as the ‘Age of Dryden’. The Delphi Poets Series offers readers the works of literature’s finest poets, with superior formatting. This volume presents the complete poetical works and plays of John Dryden for the first time in digital publishing history, with beautiful illustrations and the usual Delphi bonus material.
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The Poetry Collections














The Poems



The Plays





























The Non-Fiction



The Biographies



THE AGE OF DRYDEN by Richard Garnett


© Delphi Classics 2013

Version 1


By Delphi Classics, 2013


When reading poetry on an eReader, it is advisable to use a small font size, which will allow the lines of poetry to display correctly.

The Poetry Collections

John Dryden was born in the village rectory of Aldwincle, near Thrapston, in Northamptonshire.

Another view of the house

John Dryden by James Maubert, 1695


John Dryden was born in the village of Aldwincle in Northamptonshire, where his maternal grandfather was Rector of All Saints. His family was descended from Puritan landowning gentry that supported the Puritan cause and Parliament and interestingly he was also a second cousin of Jonathan Swift. As a boy Dryden lived in ; the nearby village of Titchmarsh, before being sent to Westminster School as a King’s Scholar, under the tutelage of Dr Richard Busby. Dryden clearly respected the Headmaster and later sent two of his sons to school at Westminster. As a humanist public school, Westminster maintained a curriculum which trained pupils in the art of rhetoric and the presentation of arguments for both sides of a given issue - a skill which would remain with Dryden and influence his later writing and thinking. The Westminster curriculum also included weekly translation assignments that developed Dryden’s capacity for assimilation.

The young poet’s years at Westminster were not uneventful and his first published poem, an elegy with a strong royalist feel on the death from smallpox of his school friend Henry, Lord Hastings alludes to the execution of King Charles I, which took place on 30 January 1649, close to the school where Dr Busby had first prayed for the King and then locked in his schoolboys to prevent their attending the spectacle.

In 1650 Dryden joined Trinity College, Cambridge, where he experienced a return to the religious and political ethos of his childhood, as the Master of Trinity was a Puritan preacher, who had been a rector in Dryden’s home village. Though there is little specific information on Dryden’s undergraduate years, he would most certainly have followed the standard curriculum of classics, rhetoric and mathematics. In 1654 the poet obtained his degree, graduating with great distinction and in June of the same year Dryden’s father died, leaving him land that generated a little income, though not enough to live on.

Returning to London during the Protectorate, Dryden obtained work from Cromwell’s Secretary of State, John Thurloe. This appointment may have been the result of influence exercised on his behalf by his cousin the Lord Chamberlain, Sir Gilbert Pickering. At Cromwell’s funeral on 23 November 1658, Dryden became acquainted with the Puritan poets John Milton and Andrew Marvell. Shortly after this time he published his first important poem, Heroique Stanzas (1658), a eulogy on Cromwell’s death, serving as a cautious and prudent emotional display. In 1660 Dryden celebrated the Restoration of the monarchy and the return of Charles II with Astraea Redux, an authentic royalist panegyric. In this work the interregnum is illustrated as a time of anarchy and Charles is depicted as the restorer of peace and order.

After the Restoration, Dryden quickly established himself as the leading poet and literary critic of his day and he transferred his allegiances to the new government. Along with Astraea Redux, Dryden welcomed the new regime with two more panegyrics; To His Sacred Majesty: A Panegyric on his Coronation (1662), and To My Lord Chancellor (1662). These poems indicate that Dryden was looking to court a possible patron, though he was ultimately to make a living writing for publishers and the reading public, rather than for the aristocracy.

The charismatic Rev. Dr. Richard Busby (1606–1695), who was an Anglican priest serving as headmaster of Westminster School for more than fifty-five years.


Upon the Death of the Lord Hastings

Heroick Stanza’s: A Poem upon the Death of His Late Highness, Oliver, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland in Heroick Stanza’s

Astræa Redux.

To His Sacred Majesty.

To my Lord Chancellor, presented on New-Years-Day, 1662

Threnodia Augustalis

Charles II, whose reign commenced in 1660 and was celebrated in Dryden’s early work ‘Astraea Redux’, a royalist panegyric in which the poet welcomes the new regime. It is a vivid emotional display that overshadows the cautious ‘Heroique Stanzas’ that Dryden composed for Oliver Cromwell’s death.

Upon the Death of the Lord Hastings

MUST Noble Hastings Immaturely die,

(The Honour of his ancient Family?)

Beauty and Learning thus together meet,

To bring a Winding for a Wedding-sheet?

Must Vertue prove Death’s Harbinger? Must She, 5

With him expiring, feel Mortality?

Is Death (Sin’s wages) Grace’s now? shall Art

Make us more Learned, only to depart?

If Merit be Disease, if Vertue Death;

To be Good, Not to be, who’d then bequeath 10

Himself to Discipline? Who’d not esteem

Labour a Crime, Study self-murther deem?

Our Noble Youth now have pretence to be

Dunces securely, Ign’rant healthfully.

Rare Linguist! whose Worth speaks it self; whose Praise, 15

Though not his Own, all Tongues Besides do raise:

Then Whom Great Alexander may seem less,

Who conquer’d Men, but not their Languages.

In his Mouth Nations speak; his Tongue might be

Interpreter to Greece, France, Italy. 20

His native Soyl was the four parts o’ th’ Earth;

All Europe was too narrow for his Birth.

A young Apostle; and (with rev’rence may

I speak ‘it) inspir’d with gift of Tongues, as They.

Nature gave him, a Childe, what Men in vain 25

Oft strive, by Art though further’d, to obtain.

His body was an Orb, his sublime Soul

Did move on Vertue’s and on Learning’s pole:

Whose Reg’lar Motions better to our view,

Then Archimedes Sphere, the Heavens did shew. 30

Graces and Vertues, Languages and Arts,

Beauty and Learning, fill’d up all the parts.

Heav’ns Gifts, which do, like falling Stars, appear

Scatter’d in Others; all, as in their Sphear,

Were fix’d and conglobate in’s Soul, and thence 35

Shone th’row his Body with sweet Influence;

Letting their Glories so on each Limb fall,

The whole Frame render’d was Celestial.

Come, learned Ptolomy, and tryal make,

If thou this Hero’s Altitude canst take; 40

But that transcends thy skill; thrice happie all,

Could we but prove thus Astronomical.

Liv’d Tycho now, struck with this Ray, (which shone

More bright i’ th’ Morn then others Beam at Noon)

He’d take his Astrolabe, and seek out here 45

What new Star ‘t was did gild our Hemisphere.

Replenish’d then with such rare Gifts as these,

Where was room left for such a Foul Disease?

The Nations sin hath drawn that Veil which shrouds

Our Day-spring in so sad benighting Clouds. 50

Heaven would no longer trust its Pledge; but thus

Recall’d it; rapt its Ganymede from us.

Was there no milder way but the Small Pox,

The very filth’ness of Pandora’s Box?

So many Spots, like næves, our Venus soil? 55

One Jewel set off with so many a Foil?

Blisters with pride swell’d, which th’row’s flesh did sprout

Like Rose-buds, stuck i’ th’ Lilly-skin about.

Each little Pimple had a Tear in it,

To wail the fault its rising did commit: 60

Who, Rebel-like, with their own Lord at strife,

Thus made an Insurrection ‘gainst his Life.

Or were these Gems sent to adorn his Skin,

The Cab’net of a richer Soul within?

No Comet need foretel his Change drew on, 65

Whose Corps might seem a Constellation.

O had he di’d of old, how great a strife

Had been, who from his Death should draw their Life?

Who should by one rich draught become whate’er

Seneca, Cato, Numa, Cæsar, were: 70

Learn’d, Vertuous, Pious, Great, and have by this

An Universal Metempsuchosis.

Must all these ag’d Sires in one Funeral

Expire? All die in one so young, so small?

Who, had he liv’d his life out, his great Fame 75

Had swoln ‘bove any Greek or Romane name?

But hasty Winter, with one blast, hath brought

The hopes of Autumn, Summer, Spring, to nought.

Thus fades the Oak i’ th’ sprig, i’ th’ blade the Corn;

Thus, without Young, this Phœnix dies, new born. 80

Must then old three-legg’d gray-beards, with their Gout,

Catarrhs, Rheums, Aches, live three Ages out?

Times Offal, onely fit for th’ Hospital,

Or t’ hang an Antiquaries room withal;

Must Drunkards, Lechers, spent with Sinning, live 85

With such helps as Broths, Possits, Physick give?

None live but such as should die? Shall we meet

With none but Ghostly Fathers in the Street?

Grief makes me rail; Sorrow will force its way;

And Show’rs of Tears, Tempestuous Sighs best lay. 90

The Tongue may fail; but over-flowing Eyes

Will weep out lasting streams of Elegies.

But thou, O Virgin-widow, left alone,

Now thy Beloved, Heaven-ravisht Spouse is gone,

(Whose skilful Sire in vain strove to apply 95

Med’cines, when thy Balm was no remedy)

With greater than Platonick love, O wed

His Soul, tho’ not his Body, to thy Bed:

Let that make thee a Mother; bring thou forth

Th’ Ideas of his Vertue, Knowledge, Worth; 100

Transcribe th’ Original in new Copies: give

Hastings o’ th’ better part: so shall he live

In’s Nobler Half; and the great Grandsire be

Of an Heroick Divine Progenie:

An Issue which t’ Eternity shall last, 105

Yet but th’ Irradiations which he cast.

Erect no Mausolæums: for his best

Monument is his Spouses Marble brest.

Heroick Stanza’s: A Poem upon the Death of His Late Highness, Oliver, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland in Heroick Stanza’s

Heroick Stanza’s, Consecrated to the Memory of His Highness,

OLIVER, Late Lord Protector of This Commonwealth, &c.

Written after the Celebrating of His Funeral.


AND now ’tis time; for their officious haste,

Who would before have born him to the Sky,

Like eager Romans e’er all Rites were past,

Did let too soon the sacred Eagle fly.


Though our best Notes are Treason to his Fame, 5

Join’d with the loud Applause of publick Voice,

Since Heaven, what Praise we offer to his Name,

Hath render’d too Authentick by its Choice.


Though in his Praise no Arts can liberal be,

Since they, whose Muses have the highest flown, 10

Add not to his Immortal Memory;

But do an Act of Friendship to their own.


Yet ’tis our Duty and our Interest too,

Such Monuments as we can build, to raise;

Lest all the World prevent what we shou’d do, 15

And claim a Title in him by their Praise.


How shall I then begin, or where conclude,

To draw a Fame so truly Circular?

For in a Round, what Order can be shew’d,

Where all the Parts so equal perfect are? 20


His Grandeur he derived from Heav’n alone,

For he was great, e’er Fortune made him so;

And Wars, like Mists that rise against the Sun,

Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.


No borrow’d Bays his Temples did adorn, 25

But to our Crown he did fresh Jewels bring;

Nor was his Vertue poison’d, soon as born,

With the too early Thoughts of being King.


Fortune (that easie Mistress of the Young,

But to her ancient Servants coy and hard) 30

Him, at that Age, her Favourites ranked among,

When she her best-lov’d Pompey did discard.


He, private, marked the Faults of others Sway,

And set as Sea-marks for himself to shun;

Not like rash Monarchs, who their Youth betray 35

By Acts their Age too late wou’d wish undone.


And yet Dominion was not his Design;

We owe that Blessing not to him, but Heav’n,

Which to fair Acts unsought Rewards did join,

Rewards that less to him, than us, were giv’n. 40


Our former Chiefs, like Sticklers of the War,

First sought t’ inflame the Parties, then to poise:

The Quarrel lov’d, but did the Cause abhor,

And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.


War, our Consumption, was their gainful Trade; 45

We inward bled, whilst they prolong’d our Pain;

He fought to end our Fighting, and assay’d

To stench the Blood by breathing of the Vein.


Swift and resistless through the Land he pass’d,

Like that bold Greek, who did the East subdue; 50

And made to Battels such Heroick Haste,

As if on Wings of Victory he flew.


He fought, secure of Fortune, as of fame;

Till by new Maps, the Island might be shown,

Of Conquests, which he strew’d where-e’er he came, 55

Thick as the Galaxy with Stars is sown.


His palms, tho under Weights they did not stand,

Still thriv’d; no Winter could his Laurels fade:

Heaven in his Portraict shew’d a Work-man’s Hand

And drew it perfect, yet without a Shade. 60


Peace was the Prize of all his Toil and Care,

Which War had banish’d and did now restore:

Bolognia’s walls thus mounted in the Air,

To seat themselves more surely than before.


Her Safety, rescued Ireland, to him owes; 65

And treacherous Scotland, to no Int’rest true,

Yet bless’d that Fate which did his Arms dispose,

Her Land to civilize, as to subdue.


Nor was he like those Stars which only shine,

When to pale Mariners they Storms portend: 70

He had his calmer Influence, and his Mien

Did Love and Majesty together blend.


’Tis true, his Count’nance did imprint an Awe,

And naturally all Souls to his did bow;

As Wands of Divination downward draw, 75

And point to Beds where Sov’raign Gold doth grow.


When, past all Off’rings to Pheretrian Jove,

He Mars depos’d and Arms to Gowns made yield,

Successful Counsels did him soon approve

As fit for close Intrigues as open Field. 80


To suppliant Holland he vouchsaf’d a Peace,

Our once bold Rival in the British Main,

Now tamely glad her unjust Claim to cease,

And buy our Friendship with her Idol, Gain.


Fame of th’ asserted Sea, through Europe blown, 85

Made France and Spain ambitious of his Love;

Each knew that Side must conquer, he wou’d own;

And for him fiercely, as for Empire, strove.


No sooner was the French-Man’s Cause embrac’d,

Than the light Monsieur the grave Don out-weigh’d: 90

His Fortune turn’d the Scale where-e’er ’twas cast,

Tho’ Indian mines were in the other laid.


When absent, yet we conquer’d in his Right;

For tho’ some meaner Artist’s Skill were shown,

In mingling Colours, or in placing Light, 95

Yet still the fair Designment was his own.


For from all Tempers he cou’d Service draw

The worth of each, with its Alloy, he knew;

And, as the Confident of Nature, saw

How she Complections did divide and brew. 100


Or he their single Vertues did survey,

By Intuition, in his own large Breast,

Where all the rich Idea’s of them lay,

That were the Rule and Measure to the rest.


When such Heroick Vertue Heaven sets out, 105

The Stars, like Commons, sullenly obey;

Because it drains them, when it comes about;

And therefore is a Tax they seldom pay.


From this high Spring, our Foreign Conquests flow,

Which yet more glorious Triumphs do portend; 110

Since their Commencement to his Arms they owe,

If Springs as high as Fountains may ascend.


He made us Free-men of the Continent,

Whom Nature did like Captives treat before;

To nobler Preys the English Lion sent, 115

And taught him first in Belgian Walks to roar.


That old unquestion’d Pirate of the Land,

Proud Rome, with Dread the Fate of Dunkirk heard;

And trembling, wish’d behind more Alps to stand,

Although an Alexander were her Guard. 120


By his Command we boldly cross’d the Line

And bravely fought where Southern Stars arise;

We trac’d the far-fetched Gold unto the Mine,

And that which brib’d our Fathers, made our Prize.


Such was our Prince, yet own’d a Soul above 125

The highest Acts it could produce to show:

Thus poor Mechanick Arts in Publick move,

Whilst the deep Secrets beyond Practice go.


Nor dy’d he when his Ebbing Fame went less,

But when fresh Laurels courted him to live: 130

He seem’d but to prevent some new Success,

As if above what Triumphs Earth could give.


His latest Victories still thickest came,

As near the Centre, Motion does increase;

Till he, press’d down by his own weighty Name, 135

Did, like the Vestal, under Spoils decease.


But first, the Ocean, as a tribute, sent

That Giant-Prince of all her Watry Herd;

And th’ Isle, when her protecting Genius went,

Upon his Obsequies loud Sighs conferr’d. 140


No Civil Broils have since his Death arose,

But Faction now, by Habit, does obey;

And Wars have that Respect for his Repose,

As winds for Halcyons when they breed at Sea.


His Ashes in a Peaceful Urn shall rest, 145

His Name a great Example stands to show,

How strangely high Endeavours may be bless’d,

Where Piety and Valour jointly go.

Astræa Redux.

A Poem on the Happy Restoration and Return of His Sacred Majesty Charles the Second

NOW with a general Peace the World was blest,

While Ours, a World divided from the rest,

A dreadful Quiet felt, and worser far

Than Armes, a sullen Interval of War:

Thus, when black Clouds draw down the lab’ring Skies, 5

Ere yet abroad the winged Thunder flies,

An horrid Stillness first invades the ear,

And in that silence We the Tempest fear.

Th’ ambitious Swede like restless Billows tost

On this hand gaining what on that he lost, 10

Though in his life he Blood and Ruine breath’d,

To his now guideless Kingdom Peace bequeath’d;

And Heaven, that seem’d regardless of our Fate,

For France and Spain did Miracles create,

Such mortal Quarrels to compose in Peace 15

As Nature bred and Int’rest did encrease.

We sigh’d to hear the fair Iberian Bride

Must grow a Lilie to the Lilies side,

While Our cross Stars deny’d us Charles his bed

Whom Our first Flames and Virgin Love did wed. 20

For his long absence Church and State did groan;

Madness the Pulpit, Faction seiz’d the Throne:

Experienc’d Age in deep despair was lost

To see the Rebel thrive, the Loyal crost:

Youth that with Joys had unacquainted been 25

Envy’d gray hairs that once good Days had seen:

We thought our Sires, not with their own content,

Had ere we came to age our Portion spent.

Nor could our Nobles hope their bold Attempt

Who ruined Crowns would Coronets exempt: 30

For when by their designing Leaders taught

To strike at Pow’r which for themselves they sought,

The vulgar gull’d into Rebellion, arm’d,

Their blood to action by the Prize was warm’d;

The Sacred Purple then and Scarlet Gown, 35

Like sanguine Dye, to Elephants was shewn.

Thus when the bold Typhocus scal’d the Sky

And forc’d great Jove from his own Heaven to fly,

(What King, what Crown from Treasons reach is free,

If Jove and Heaven can violated be?), 40

The lesser Gods that shar’d his prosp’rous State

All suffer’d in the Exil’d Thunderer’s Fate.

The Rabble now such Freedom did enjoy,

As Winds at Sea, that use it to destroy:

Blind as the Cyclops, and as wild as he, 45

They own’d a lawless savage Libertie,

Like that our painted Ancestors so priz’d

Ere Empire’s Arts their Breasts had Civiliz’d.

How Great were then Our Charles his woes, who thus

Was forc’d to suffer for Himself and us! 50

He toss’d by fate, and hurried up and down,

Heir to his Fathers Sorrows, with his Crown,

Could taste no sweets of Youths desired Age,

But found his Life too true a Pilgrimage.

Unconquer’d yet in that forlorn Estate, 55

His Manly Courage overcame his Fate.

His Wounds he took like Romans on his Breast,

Which by his Vertue were with Laurels drest.

As Souls reach Heav’n, while yet in Bodies pent,

So did he live above his Banishment. 60

That Sun, which we beheld with couz’ned eyes

Within the Water, mov’d along the Skies.

How easie ’tis when Destiny proves kind,

With full spread Sails to run before the Wind,

But those that ‘gainst stiff Gales laveering go 65

Must be at once resolv’d and skilful too.

He would not like soft Otho hope prevent,

But stay’d and suffer’d Fortune to repent.

These Virtues Galba in a Stranger sought;

And Piso to Adopted Empire brought. 70

How shall I then my doubtful Thoughts express

That must his Suff’rings both regret and bless.!

For when his early Valour Heav’n had crost,

And all at Worc’ster but the honour lost,

Forc’d into exile from his rightful Throne, 75

He made all Countries where he came his own,

And viewing Monarchs secret Arts of sway

A Royal Factor for their Kingdoms lay.

Thus banish’d David spent abroad his time,

When to be Gods Anointed was his Crime, 80

And when restor’d, made his proud Neighbours rue

Those choise Remarks he from his Travels drew:

Nor is he only by Afflictions shown

To conquer others Realms, but rule his own:

Recov’ring hardly what he lost before, 85

His Right indears it much, his Purchase more.

Inur’d to suffer ere he came to raign,

No rash procedure will his Actions stain.

To bus’ness ripened by digestive thought,

His future rule is into Method brought: 90

As they who first Proportion understand,

With easie Practice reach a Master’s hand.

Well might the Ancient Poets then confer

On Night, the honour’d name of Counseller,

Since struck with rayes of prosp’rous Fortune blind, 95

We Light alone in dark Afflictions find.

In such adversities to Scepters train’d,

The name of Great his famous Grandsire gain’d:

Who yet a King alone in Name and Right,

With hunger, cold and angry Jove did fight; 100

Shock’d by a Covenanting Leagues vast Pow’rs,

As holy and as Catholick as ours:

Till Fortunes fruitless spight had made it known

Her blows not shook but riveted his Throne.

Some lazy Ages, lost in Sleep and Ease 105

No action leave to busie Chronicles;

Such, whose supine felicity but makes

In story Casmes, in Epoche’s mistakes;

O’re whom Time gently shakes his wings of Down,

Till with his silent Sickle they are mown: 110

Such is not Charles his too too active age,

Which govern’d by the wild distemper’d rage

Of some black Star infecting all the Skies,

Made him at his own cost like Adam wise.

Tremble ye Nations who secure before, 115

Laught at those Arms that’ gainst our selves we bore;

Rous’d by the lash of his own stubborn Tail,

Our Lion now will foreign Foes assail.

With Alga who the sacred Altar strows?

To all the Sea-Gods Charles an Offering owes; 120

A Bull to thee Portunus shall be slain

A Lamb to you the Tempests of the Main:

For those loud Storms that did against him rore

Have cast his shipwrack’d Vessel on the shore.

Yet, as wise Artists mix their Colours so 125

That by degrees they from each other go,

Black steals unheeded from the neighb’ring white

Without offending the well couz’ned sight,

So on us stole our blessed change; while we

Th’ effect did feel but scarce the manner see. 130

Frosts that constrain the ground, and birth deny

To Flow’rs that in its womb expecting lie,

Do seldom their usurping Pow’r withdraw,

But raging Floods persue their hasty Thaw:

Our Thaw was mild, the Cold not chas’d away, 135

But lost in kindly heat of lengthned day.

Heav’n would no bargain for its Blessings drive,

But what we could not pay for, freely give.

The Prince of Peace would, like himself, confer

A Gift unhop’d without the price of war. 140

Yet, as he knew his Blessings worth, took care

That we should know it by repeated Pray’r,

Which storm’d the skies and ravish’d Charles from thence,

As Heav’n itself is took by violence.

Booth’s forward Valour only serv’d to shew 145

He durst that duty pay we all did owe:

Th’ Attempt was fair; but Heav’n’s prefixed hour

Not come; so like the watchful Travellor,

That by the Moons mistaken light did rise,

Lay down again and clos’d his weary eyes. 150

’Twas MONK, whom Providence design’d to loose

Those real bonds false Freedom did impose.

The blessed Saints that watch’d this turning Scene

Did from their Stars with joyful wonder lean,

To see small Clues draw vastest weights along, 155

Not in their bulk but in their order strong.

Thus Pencils can by one slight touch restore

Smiles to that changed face that wept before.

With ease such fond Chymæra’s we persue

As Fancy frames for Fancy to subdue; 160

But when ourselves to action we betake,

It shuns the Mint, like Gold that Chymists make:

How hard was then his Task, at once to be,

What in the body natural we see;

Mans Architect distinctly did ordain 165

The charge of Muscles, Nerves, and of the Brain.

Through viewless Conduits Spirits to dispense,

The Springs of Motion from the Seat of Sense.

’Twas not the hasty product of a day,

But the well ripened Fruit of wise delay. 170

He like a patient Angler er’e he stroak,

Would let them play a while upon the hook.

Our healthful food the Stomach labours thus,

At first embracing what it strait doth crush.

Wise Leeches will not vain Receipts obtrude, 175

While growing Pains pronounce the Humors crude;

Deaf to complaints they wait upon the Ill,

Till some safe Crisis authorize their Skill.

Nor could his Acts too close a Vizard wear

To scape their Eyes whom Guilt had taught to fear, 180

And guard with caution that polluted nest,

Whence Legion twice before was dispossest.

Once Sacred house, which when they entr’d in,

They thought the place could sanctifie a sin;

Like those that vainly hop’d kind Heav’n would wink, 185

While to excess on Martyrs Tombs they drink.

And as devouter Turks first warn their Souls

To part, before they taste forbidden Bowls,

So these when their black Crimes they went about,

First timely charm’d their useless Conscience out. 190

Religions Name against it self was made;

The Shadow serv’d the Substance to invade:

Like Zealous Missions they did Care pretend

Of Souls in shew, but made the Gold their end.

The incensed Powr’s beheld with scorn from high 195

An Heaven so far distant from the Sky,

Which durst, with horses hoofs that beat the Ground

And Martial Brass bely the Thunders Sound.

’Twas hence at length just Vengeance thought it fit

To speed their Ruin by their impious wit. 200

Thus Sforza curs’d with a too fertile brain,

Lost by his wiles the Pow’r his Wit did gain.

Henceforth their Fogue must spend at lesser rate,

Than in its flames to wrap a Nations Fate.

Suffer’d to live, they are like Helots set 205

A virtuous Shame within us to beget.

For by example most we sinn’d before

And glass-like clearness mixt with frailty bore,

But since, reform’d by what we did amiss,

We by our suff’rings learn to prize our bliss. 210

Like early Lovers, whose unpractis’d hearts

Were long the May-game of malicious arts,

When once they find their Jealousies were vain,

With double heat renew their Fires again.

’Twas this produc’d the Joy, that hurried o’re 215

Such swarms of English to the Neighb’ring shore

To fetch that Prize, by which Batavia made

So rich amends for our impoverish’d Trade

Oh had you seen from Schevelines barren Shore,

(Crowded with troops, and barren now no more,) 220

Afflicted Holland to his Farewel bring

True sorrow, Holland to regret a King;

While waiting him his Royal Fleet did ride,

And willing Winds to their lowr’d Sails denied.

The wavering Streamers, Flags, and Standart out, 225

The merry Seamens rude but chearful Shout;

And last the Cannons voice that shook the Skies,

And, as it fares in sudden Extasies,

At once bereft us both of Ears and Eyes.

The Naseby now no longer Englands shame, 230

But better to be lost in Charles his name

(Like some unequal Bride in nobler sheets)

Receives her Lord: The joyful London meets

The Princely York, himself alone a freight;

The Swift-sure groans beneath great Glouc’sters weight. 235

Secure as when the Halcyon breeds, with these,

He that was born to drown might cross the Seas.

Heav’n could not own a Providence, and take

The wealth three Nations ventur’d at a stake.

The same indulgence Charles his Voyage bless’d, 240

Which in his right had Miracles confess’d.

The Winds that never Moderation knew,

Afraid to blow too much, too faintly blew;

Or out of breath with joy could not enlarge

Their straightned Lungs, or conscious of their Charge. 245

The British Amphitryte smooth and clear

In richer Azure never did appear;

Proud her returning Prince to entertain

With the submitted Fasces of the Main.

And welcom now (Great Monarch) to your own; 250

Behold th’ approaching Cliffes of Albion;

It is no longer Motion cheats your view,

As you meet it, the Land approacheth you.

The Land returns, and in the white it wears

The marks of Penitence and Sorrow bears. 255

But you, whose Goodness your Descent doth show,

Your Heav’nly Parentage and Earthly too;

By that same mildness which your Fathers Crown

Before did ravish, shall secure your own.

Not ty’d to rules of Policy, you find 260

Revenge less sweet than a forgiving mind.

Thus, when th’ Almighty would to Moses give

A sight of all he could behold and live;

A voice before his Entry did proclaim

Long-Suffring, Goodness, Mercy in his Name. 265

Your Pow’r to Justice doth submit your Cause,

Your Goodness only is above the Laws;

Whose rigid Letter, while pronounc’d by you,

Is softer made. So winds that tempests brew

When through Arabian Groves they take their flight 270

Made wanton with rich Odours, lose their spight.

And as those Lees, that trouble it, refine

The agitated Soul of Generous Wine,

So tears of Joy for your returning spilt,

Work out and expiate our former Guilt. 275

Methinks I see those Crowds on Dover’s Strand.

Who in their haste to welcom you to Land

Choak’d up the Beach with their still growing store,

And made a wilder Torrent on the Shore:

While, spurr’d with eager thoughts of past Delight, 280

Those who had seen you court a second sight;

Preventing still your Steps and making hast

To meet you often whereso-e’re you past.

How shall I speak of that triumphant Day

When you renew’d the expiring Pomp of May! 285

(A month that owns an Interest in your Name:

You and the Flow’rs are its peculiar Claim.)

That Star, that at your Birth shone out so bright,

It stain’d the duller Suns Meridian light,

Did once again its potent Fires renew, 290

Guiding our Eyes to find and worship you.

And now times whiter Series is begun,

Which in soft Centuries shall smoothly run;

Those Clouds that overcast your Morn shall fly,

Dispell’d to farthest corners of the Sky. 295

Our nation, with united Int’rest blest,

Not now content to poize, shall sway, the rest.

Abroad your Empire shall no Limits know,

But like the Sea in boundless Circles flow.

Your much lov’d Fleet shall with a wide Command 300

Besiege the petty Monarchs of the Land:

And as Old Time his Off-spring swallow’d down,

Our Ocean in its depths all Seas shall drown.

Their wealthy Trade from Pyrate’s Rapine free,

Our Merchants shall no more Advent’rers be: 305

Nor in the farthest East those Dangers fear

Which humble Holland must dissemble here.

Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;

For what the Pow’rful takes not he bestows.

And France that did an Exiles presence Fear 310

May justly apprehend you still too near.

At home the hateful names of Parties cease

And factious Souls are weary’d into peace.

The discontented now are only they

Whose Crimes before did your Just Cause betray: 315

Of those your Edicts some reclaim from sins,

But most your Life and Blest Example wins.

Oh happy Prince whom Heav’n hath taught the way

By paying Vows to have more Vows to pay!

Oh Happy Age! Oh times like those alone, 320

By Fate reserv’d for great Augustus throne!

When the joint growth of Arms and Arts foreshew

The World a Monarch, and that Monarch You.

To His Sacred Majesty.

A Panegyrick on His Coronation


IN that wild Deluge where the world was drownd,

When life and sin one common Tombe had found,

The first small prospect of a rising hill

With various notes of Joy the Ark did fill:

Yet when that flood in its own depths was drown’d, 5

It left behind it false and slipp’ry ground,

And the more solemn pomp was still deferr’d

Till new-born Nature in fresh looks appear’d;

Thus (Royall Sir,) to see you landed here

Was cause enough of triumph for a year: 10

Nor would your care those glorious joyes repeat

Till they at once might be secure and great:

Till your kind beams by their continu’d stay

Had warm’d the ground and call’d the Damps away.

Such vapours, while your pow’rful Influence dries, 15

Then soonest vanish when they highest rise.

Had greater hast these sacred rights prepar’d,

Some guilty Moneths had in your Triumphs shar’d:

But this untainted year is all your own,

Your glory’s may without our crimes be shown. 20

We had not yet exhausted all our store,

When you refresh’d our joyes by adding more:

As Heav’n, of old, dispenc’d Cœlestial dew,

You gave us Manna and still give us new.

Now our sad ruines are remov’d from sight, 25

The Season too comes fraught with new delight;

Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop,

Nor doe his wings with sickly feathers droop:

Soft western winds waft o’re the gaudy spring,

And open’d Scenes of flow’rs and blossoms bring 30

To grace this happy day, while you appear

Not King of us alone but of the year.

All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart,

Of your own pomp your self the greatest part:

Loud shouts the Nations happiness proclaim, 35

And Heav’n this day is feasted with your Name.

Your Cavalcade the fair Spectators view,

From their high standings, yet look up to you.

From your brave train each singles out a Prey

And longs to date a Conquest from your day. 40

Now charg’d with blessings while you seek repose,

Officious slumbers haste your eyes to close;

And glorious dreams stand ready to restore

The pleasing shapes of all you saw before.

Next to the sacred Temple you are led, 45

Where waits a Crown for your more sacred Head:

How justly from the Church that Crown is due,

Preserv’d from ruine and restor’d by you!

The gratefull quire their harmony employ

Not to make greater, but more solemn joy. 50

Wrapt soft and warm your Name is sent on high,

As flames do on the wings of Incense fly:

Musique herself is lost, in vain she brings

Her choisest notes to praise the best of Kings:

Her melting strains in you a tombe have found 55

And lye like Bees in their own sweetnesse drowned.

He that brought peace and discord could attone,

His Name is Musick of itself alone.

Now while the sacred oyl anoints your head,

And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread 60

Through the large Dome, the peoples joyful Sound

Sent back, is still preserv’d in hallow’d ground:

Which in one blessing mixt descends on you,

As heightned spirits fall in richer dew.

Not that our wishes do increase your store, 65

Full of your self, you can admit no more:

We add not to your glory, but employ

Our time like Angels in expressing Joy

Nor is it duty or our hopes alone

Create that joy, but full fruition: 70

We know those blessings which we must possesse

And judge of future by past happinesse,

No promise can oblige a Prince so much

Still to be good, as long to have been such.

A noble Emulation heats your breast, 75

And your own fame now robbs you of your rest:

Good actions still must be maintain’d with good,

As bodies nourish’d with resembling food.

You have already quench’d sedition’s brand;

And zeal (which burnt it) only warms the Land. 80

The jealous Sects, that dare not trust their cause

So farre from their own will as to the Laws,

You for their Umpire and their Synod take,

And their appeal alone to Cæsar make.

Kind Heav’n so rare a temper did provide 85

That guilt repenting might in it confide

Among our crimes oblivion may be set,

But ’tis our Kings perfection to forget.

Virtues unknown to these rough Northern climes

From milder heav’ns you bring, without their crimes. 90

Your calmnesse does no after Storms provide

Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide.

When Empire first from families did spring,

Then every Father govern’d as a King;

But you that are a Soveraign Prince, allay 95

Imperial pow’r with your paternal sway.

From those great cares when ease your soul unbends,

Your Pleasures are design’d to noble ends:

Born to command the Mistress of the Seas,

Your Thoughts themselves in that blue Empire please. 100

Hither in Summer ev’nings you repair

To take the fraischeur of the purer air:

Undaunted here you ride when Winter raves,

With Cæsars heart that rose above the waves.

More I could sing, but fear my Numbers stays; 105

No Loyal Subject dares that courage praise.

In stately Frigats most delight you find,

Where well-drawn Battels fire your martial mind.

What to your cares we owe is learnt from hence,

When ev’n your pleasures serve for our defence. 110

Beyond your Court flows in the admitted tide,

Where in new depths the wond’ring fishes glide:

Here in a Royal bed the waters sleep,

When tir’d at Sea within this bay they creep.

Here the mistrustfull foul no harm suspects, 115

So safe are all things which our King protects.

From your lov’d Thames a blessing yet is due,

Second alone to that it brought in you;

A Queen, from whose chast womb, ordain’d by Fate,

The souls of Kings unborn for bodies wait. 120

It was your Love before made discord cease;

Your love is destined to your Countries peace.

Both Indies (Rivalls in your bed) provide

With Gold or Jewels to adorn your bride.

This to a mighty King presents rich ore 125

While that with Incense does a God implore.

Two Kingdoms wait your Doom; and, as you choose,

This must receive a Crown or that must loose.

Thus from your Royal Oke, like Jove’s of old,

Are Answers sought, and Destinies fore-told: 130

Propitious Oracles are beg’d with Vows

And Crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs.

Your Subjects, while you weigh the Nations fate,

Suspend to both their doubtfull love or hate:

Choose only, (Sir,) that so they may possesse 135

With their own peace their Childrens happinesse.

To my Lord Chancellor, presented on New-Years-Day, 1662


WHILE flattering Crowds officiously appear

To give themselves, not you, an happy Year,

And by the Greatness of their Presents prove

How much they hope, but not how well they love,

The Muses, who your early Courtship boast, 5

Though now your Flames are with their Beauty lost,

Yet watch their Time, that, if you have forgot

They were your Mistresses, the world may not:

Decay’d by Time and Wars, they only prove

Their former Beauty by your former Love, 10

And now present, as Ancient Ladies do

That courted long at length are forc’d to woo.

For still they look on you with such kind Eyes

As those that see the Church’s Sovereign rise,

From their own Order chose, in whose high State 15

They think themselves the second Choise of Fate.

When our great Monarch into Exile went,

Wit and Religion suffer’d Banishment.

Thus once, when Troy was wrapt in Fire and Smoke,

The helpless Gods their burning Shrines forsook; 20

They with the vanquished Prince and Party go

And leave their Temples empty to the Foe.

At length the Muses stand restor’d again

To that great Charge which Nature did ordain,

And their lov’d Druids seem reviv’d by Fate, 25

While you dispense the Laws and guide the State.

The Nation’s Soul, our Monarch, does dispense

Through you to us his vital Influence;

You are the Channel where those Spirits flow

And work them higher as to us they go. 30

In open Prospect nothing bounds our Eye

Until the Earth seems join’d unto the Sky:

So in this Hemisphere our utmost View

Is only bounded by our King and you.

Our Sight is limited where you are join’d 35

And beyond that no farther Heav’n can find.

So well your Virtues do with his agree

That, though your Orbs of different Greatness be,

Yet both are for each other’s use dispos’d,

His to enclose, and yours to be enclos’d: 40

Nor could another in your Room have been,

Except an Emptiness had come between.

Well may he then to you his Cares impart

And share his Burden where he shares his Heart.

In you his Sleep still wakes; his pleasures find 45

Their Share of Business in your labouring Mind.

So, when the weary Sun his Place resigns,

He leaves his Light and by Reflection shines.

Justice, that sits and frowns where publick Laws

Exclude soft Mercy from a private Cause, 50

In your Tribunal most herself does please;

There only smiles because she lives at Ease,

And, like young David, finds her Strength the more

When disencumber’d from those Arms she wore.

Heaven would your Royal Master should exceed 55

Most in that Virtue, which we most did need;

And his mild Father, who too late did find

All Mercy vain but what with Pow’r was join’d,

His fatal Goodness left to fitter Times,

Not to increase but to absolve our Crimes: 60

But when the Heir of this vast Treasure knew

How large a Legacy was left to you,

Too great for any Subject to retain,

He wisely tied it to the Crown again:

Yet, passing through your Hands, it gathers more, 65

As Streams through Mines bear Tincture of their Ore.

While Emp’rick Politicians use Deceit,

Hide what they give and cure but by a Cheat,

You boldly show that Skill which they pretend

And work by Means as noble as your End: 70

Which should you veil, we might unwind the Clue

As Men do Nature, till we came to you.

And as the Indies were not found before

Those rich Perfumes which from the happy Shore

The Winds upon their balmy Wings convey’d, 75

Whose guilty Sweetness first their world betray’d,

So by your Counsels we are brought to view

A rich and undiscover’d World in you.

By you our Monarch does that Fame assure

Which Kings must have, or cannot live secure: 80

For prosperous Princes gain the Subjects Heart,

Who love that Praise in which themselves have part.

By you he fits those Subjects to obey,

As Heaven’s Eternal Monarch does convey

His Pow’r unseen, and Man to his Designs 85

By his bright Ministers, the Stars, inclines.

Our setting Sun from his declining Seat

Shot Beams of Kindness on you, not of Heat:

And, when his Love was bounded in a few

That were unhappy that they might be true, 90

Made you the Favourite of his last sad Times,

That is, a Sufferer in his Subjects’ Crimes:

Thus those first Favours you receiv’d were sent,

Like Heaven’s Rewards, in earthly Punishment.

Yet Fortune, conscious of your Destiny, 95

Even then took Care to lay you softly by,

And wrapt your Fate among her precious Things,

Kept fresh to be unfolded with your Kings.

Shown all at once, you dazzled so our Eyes

As new-born Pallas did the Gods surprise; 100

When, springing forth from Jove’s new-closing Wound,

She struck the warlike Spear into the Ground;

Which sprouting Leaves did suddenly enclose,

And peaceful Olives shaded as they rose.

How strangely active are the Arts of Peace, 105

Whose restless Motions less than War’s do cease!

Peace is not freed from Labour, but from Noise,

And War more Force, but not more Pains employs.

Such is the mighty Swiftness of your Mind

That, like the Earth’s, it leaves our Sense behind, 110

While you so smoothly turn and roll our Sphere

That rapid Motion does but Rest appear.

For as in Nature’s Swiftness, with the Throng

Of flying Orbs while ours is borne along,

All seems at rest to the deluded Eye, 115

Mov’d by the Soul of the same Harmony,

So, carried on by your unwearied Care,

We rest in Peace and yet in Motion share.

Let Envy then those Crimes within you see

From which the happy never must be free; 120

Envy that does with Misery reside,

The Joy and the Revenge of ruin’d Pride.

Think it not hard, if at so cheap a Rate

You can secure the Constancy of Fate,

Whose kindness sent what does their Malice seem 125

By lesser ills the greater to redeem;

Nor can we this weak Shower a Tempest call,

But Drops of Heat that in the Sunshine fall.

You have already wearied Fortune so,

She cannot farther be your Friend or Foe; 130

But sits all breathless, and admires to feel

A Fate so weighty that it stops her Wheel.

In all things else above our humble Fate,

Your equal Mind yet swells not into State,

But like some Mountain in those happy Isles, 135

Where in perpetual Spring young Nature smiles,

Your Greatness shows; no horror to affright,

But Trees for Shade and Flowers to court the Sight;

Sometimes the Hill submits itself a while

In small Descents, which do its Height beguile; 140

And sometimes mounts, but so as Billows play,

Whose rise not hinders but makes short our way.

Your Brow, which does no fear of Thunder know,

Sees rolling Tempests vainly beat below;

And, like Olympus’ Top, the Impression wears 145

Of Love and Friendship writ in former Years.

Yet, unimpair’d with Labours or with Time.

Your Age but seems to a new Youth to climb,

(Thus heavenly Bodies do our Time beget

And measure Change, but share no part of it.) 150

And still it shall without a Weight increase,

Like this New-year, whose Motions never cease;

For since the glorious Course you have begun

Is led by Charles, as that is by the Sun,

It must both weightless and immortal prove, 155

Because the Centre of it is above.

Threnodia Augustalis

A Funeral-Pindarique Poem Sacred to the Happy Memory of King Charles II


THUS long my Grief has kept me dumb:

Sure there’s a Lethargy in mighty Woe,

Tears stand congeal’d, and cannot flow;

And the sad Soul retires into her inmost Room:

Tears, for a Stroke foreseen, afford Relief; 5

But, unprovided for a sudden Blow,

Like Niobe we Marble grow;

And Petrifie with Grief.

Our British Heav’n was all Serene,

No threatning Cloud was nigh, 10

Not the least wrinkle to deform the Sky;

We liv’d as unconcern’d and happily

As the first Age in Natures golden Scene;

Supine amidst our flowing Store,

We slept securely, and we dreamt of more: 15

When suddenly the Thunder-clap was heard,

It took us unprepar’d and out of guard,

Already lost before we fear’d.

Th’ amazing News of Charles at once were spread,

At once the general Voice declar’d, 20

Our Gracious Prince was dead.

No Sickness known before, no slow Disease,

To soften Grief by Just Degrees;

But, like an Hurricane on Indian seas,

The Tempest rose; 25

An unexpected Burst of Woes:

With scarce a breathing space betwixt,

This Now becalm’d, and perishing the next.

As if great Atlas from his Height

Shou’d sink beneath his heavenly Weight, 30

And, with a mighty Flaw, the flaming Wall

(As once it shall)

Shou’d gape immense, and rushing down, o’erwhelm this neather Ball;

So swift and so surprizing was our fear;

Our Atlas fell indeed; But Hercules was near. 35


His Pious Brother, sure the best

Who ever bore that Name,

Was newly risen from his Rest,

And, with a fervent Flame,

His usual morning Vows had just addrest 40

For his dear Sovereign’s Health;

And hop’d to have ‘em heard,

In long increase of years,

In Honour, Fame, and Wealth:

Guiltless of Greatness, thus he always pray’d, 45

Nor knew nor wisht those Vows he made

On his own head shou’d be repay’d.

Soon as th’ ill-omen’d Rumour reacht his Ear,

(Ill news is wing’d with Fate and flies apace)

Who can describe th’ Amazement in his Face! 50

Horrour in all his Pomp was there,

Mute and magnificent, without a Tear:

And then the Hero first was seen to fear.

Half unarray’d he ran to his Relief,

So hasty and so artless was his Grief: 55

Approaching Greatness met him with her Charms

Of Power and future State;

But looked so ghastly in a Brother’s Fate,

He shook her from his Armes.

Arriv’d within the mournfull Room, he saw 60

A wild Distraction, void of Awe,

And arbitrary Grief unbounded by a Law.

God’s Image, God’s Anointed, lay

Without Motion, Pulse or Breath,

A senseless Lump of sacred Clay, 65

An Image, now, of Death.

Amidst his sad Attendants’ Grones and Cryes,

The Lines of that ador’d, forgiving Face,

Distorted from their native grace;

An Iron Slumber sat on his Majestick Eyes. 70

The Pious Duke —— forbear, audacious Muse,

No Terms thy feeble Art can use

Are able to adorn so vast a Woe:

The grief of all the rest like subject-grief did show,

His like a sovereign did transcend; 75

No Wife, no Brother such a Grief cou’d know,

Nor any name, but Friend.


O wondrous Changes of a fatal Scene,

Still varying to the last!

Heav’n, though its hard Decree was past, 80

Seem’d pointing to a gracious Turn agen:

And Death’s up-lifted Arme arrested in its hast.

Heav’n half repented of the doom,

And almost griev’d it had foreseen,

What by Foresight it will’d eternally to come. 85

Mercy above did hourly plead

For her Resemblance here below;

And mild Forgiveness intercede

To stop the coming Blow.

New Miracles approach’d th’ Etherial Throne, 90

Such as his wondrous Life had oft and lately known,

And urg’d that still they might be shown.

On Earth his Pious Brother pray’d and vow’d.

Renouncing Greatness at so dear a rate,

Himself defending what he cou’d 95

From all the Glories of his future Fate.

With him th’ innumerable Croud

Of armed Prayers

Knock’d at the Gates of Heav’n, and knock’d aloud;

The first well-meaning rude Petitioners. 100

All for his Life assayl’d the Throne,

All wou’d have brib’d the Skyes by offring up their own.

So great a Throng not Heav’n it self cou’d bar;

’Twas almost born by force, as in the Giants War.

The Pray’rs, at least, for his Reprieve were heard; 105

His Death, like Hezekiah’s, was deferr’d:

Against the Sun the Shadow went;

Five days, those five Degrees, were lent,

To form our Patience and prepare th’ Event.

The second Causes took the swift Command, 110

The med’cinal Head, the ready Hand,

All eager to perform their Part,

All but Eternal Doom was conquer’d by their Art:

Once more the fleeting Soul came back

T’ inspire the mortal Frame, 115

And in the Body took a doubtfull Stand,

Doubtfull and hov’ring, like expiring Flame,

That mounts and falls by turns, and trembles o’er the Brand.


The joyful short-liv’d news soon spread around,

Took the same Train, the same impetuous bound: 120

The drooping Town in smiles again was drest,

Gladness in every Face exprest,

Their eyes before their Tongues confest.

Men met each other with erected look,

The steps were higher that they took; 125

Friends to congratulate their friends made haste;

And long inveterate Foes saluted as they past:

Above the rest Heroick James appear’d

Exalted more, because he more had fear’d:

His manly heart, whose Noble pride 130

Was still above

Dissembled hate or varnisht love,

Its more than common transport cou’d not hide;

But like an Eagre rode in triumph o’re the tide.

Thus, in alternate Course 135

The Tyrant passions, hope and fear,

Did in extreams appear,

And flasht upon the Soul with equal force.

Thus, at half Ebb, a rowling Sea

Returns, and wins upon the shoar; 140

The wat’ry Herd, affrighted at the roar,

Rest on their Fins a while, and stay,

Then backward take their wondring way;

The Prophet wonders more than they,

At Prodigies but rarely seen before, 145

And cries a King must fall, or Kingdoms change their sway.

Such were our counter-tydes at land, and so

Presaging of the fatal blow,

In their prodigious Ebb and flow.

The Royal Soul, that, like the labouring Moon, 150

By Charms of Art was hurried down,

Forc’d with regret to leave her Native Sphear,

Came but a while on liking here:

Soon weary of the painful strife,

And made but faint Essays of Life: 155

An Evening light

Soon shut in Night;

A strong distemper, and a weak relief,

Short intervals of joy, and long returns of grief.


The Sons of Art all Med’cines try’d, 160

And every Noble remedy applied,

With emulation each essay’d

His utmost skill, nay more they pray’d:

Never was losing game with better conduct plaid.

Death never won a stake with greater toyl, 165

Nor e’re was Fate so near a foil:

But, like a fortress on a Rock,

Th’ impregnable Disease their vain attempts did mock;

They min’d it near, they batter’d from a far

With all the Cannon of the Med’cinal War; 170

No gentle means could be essay’d,

’Twas beyond parly when the siege was laid:

The extreamest ways they first ordain,

Prescribing such intolerable pain

As none but Cæsar could sustain; 175

Undaunted Cæsar underwent

The malice of their Art, nor bent

Beneath what e’re their pious rigour cou’d invent.

In five such days he suffer’d more

Than any suffer’d in his reign before; 180

More, infinitely more than he

Against the worst of Rebels cou’d decree,

A Traytor, or twice pardon’d Enemy.

Now Art was tir’d without success,

No Racks could make the stubborn malady confess. 185

The vain Insurancers of life,

And He who most perform’d and promis’d less,

Even Short himself forsook the unequal strife.

Death and despair was in their looks,

No longer they consult their memories or books; 190

Like helpless friends, who view from shoar

The labouring Ship and hear the tempest roar,

So stood they with their arms across;

Not to assist; but to deplore

Th’ inevitable loss. 195


Death was denounc’d; that frightful sound

Which even the best can hardly bear;

He took the Summons void of fear;

And, unconcern’dly, cast his eyes around;

As if to find and dare the griesly Challenger. 200

What death cou’d do he lately try’d,

When in four days he more then dy’d.

The same assurance all his words did grace;

The same Majestick mildness held its place,

Nor lost the Monarch in his dying face. 205

Intrepid, pious, merciful, and brave,

He lookt as when he conquer’d and forgave.


As if some Angel had been sent

To lengthen out his Government,

And to foretel as many years again, 210

As he had number’d in his happy reign,

So chearfully he took the doom

Of his departing breath;

Nor shrunk, nor stept aside for death

But, with unalter’d pace, kept on; 215

Providing for events to come,

When he resigned the Throne.

Still he maintained his Kingly State;

And grew familiar with his fate.

Kind, good and gracious to the last, 220

On all he lov’d before his dying beams he cast

Oh truly good and truly great,

For glorious as he rose benignly so he set!

All that on earth he held most dear

He recommended to his Care, 225

To whom both heav’n

The right had giv’n,

And his own Love bequeath’d supream command:

He took and prest that ever loyal hand,

Which cou’d in Peace secure his Reign, 230

Which cou’d in wars his Pow’r maintain,

That hand on which no plighted vows were ever vain.

Well for so great a trust, he chose

A Prince who never disobey’d:

Not when the most severe commands were laid; 235

Nor want, nor Exile with his duty weigh’d:

A Prince on whom (if Heav’n its Eyes cou’d close)

The Welfare of the World it safely might repose.


That King who liv’d to Gods own heart,

Yet less serenely died than he; 240

Charles left behind no harsh decree

For Schoolmen with laborious art

To salve from cruelty:

Those, for whom love cou’d no excuses frame,

He graciously forgot to name. 245

Thus far my Muse, though rudely, has design’d

Some faint resemblance of his Godlike mind:

But neither Pen nor Pencil can express

The parting Brothers tenderness:

Though thats a term too mean and low; 250

(The blest above a kinder word may know:)

But what they did, and what they said,

The Monarch who triumphant went,

The Militant who staid,

Like Painters, when their heigthning arts are spent, 255

I cast into a shade.

That all-forgiving King,

The type of him above,

That inexhausted spring

Of clemency and Love; 260

Himself to his next self accus’d,

And ask’d that Pardon which he ne’re refus’d:

For faults not his, for guilt and Crimes

Of Godless men, and of Rebellious times:

For an hard Exile, kindly meant, 265

When his ungrateful Country sent

Their best Camillus into banishment:

And forc’d their Sov’raign’s Act, they could not his consent.

Oh how much rather had that injur’d Chief

Repeated all his sufferings past, 270

Then hear a pardon beg’d at last,

Which given cou’d give the dying no relief:

He bent, he sunk beneath his grief:

His dauntless heart wou’d fain have held

From weeping, but his eyes rebell’d. 275

Perhaps the Godlike Heroe in his breast

Disdain’d, or was asham’d to show

So weak, so womanish a woe,

Which yet the Brother and the Friend so plenteously confest.


Amidst that silent show’r, the Royal mind 280

An Easy passage found,

And left its sacred earth behind:

Nor murm’ring groan exprest, nor labouring sound,

Nor any least tumultuous breath;

Calm was his life, and quiet was his death. 285

Soft as those gentle whispers were,

In which th’ Almighty did appear;

By the still Voice, the Prophet knew him there.

That Peace which made thy Prosperous Reign to shine,

That Peace thou leav’st to thy Imperial Line, 290

That Peace, oh happy Shade, be ever thine!


For all those Joys thy Restauration brought,

For all the Miracles it wrought,

For all the healing Balm thy Mercy pour’d

Into the Nations bleeding Wound, 295

And Care that after kept it sound,

For numerous Blessings yearly shouer’d,

And Property with Plenty crown’d;

For Freedom, still maintain’d alive,

Freedom which in no other Land will thrive, 300

Freedom an English Subject’s sole Prerogative,

Without whose Charms ev’n Peace would be

But a dull, quiet Slavery:

For these and more, accept our Pious Praise;

’Tis all the Subsidy 305

The present Age can raise,

The rest is charg’d on late Posterity.

Posterity is charg’d the more,

Because the large abounding store

To them and to their Heirs, is still entail’d by thee. 310

Succession of a long descent,

Which Chast’ly in the Chanells ran,

And from our Demi-gods began,

Equal almost to Time in its extent,

Through Hazzards numberless and great, 315

Thou hast deriv’d this mighty Blessing down,

And fixt the fairest Gemm that decks th’ Imperial Crown:

Not Faction, when it shook thy Regal Seat,

Not senates, insolently loud,

(Those Ecchoes of a thoughtless Croud,) 320

Not Foreign or Domestick Treachery,

Could Warp thy Soul to their Unjust Decree.

So much thy Foes thy manly Mind mistook,

Who judg’d it by the Mildness of thy look:

Like a well-temper’d Sword, it bent at will; 325

But kept the Native toughness of the Steel.


Be true, O Clio, to thy Hero’s name!

But draw him strictly so

That all who view, the Piece may know,

He needs no Trappings of fictitious Fame: 330

The Load’s too weighty; Thou may’st chuse

Some Parts of Praise, and some refuse;

Write, that his Annals may be thought more lavish than the Muse.

In scanty Truth thou hast confin’d

The Vertues of a Royal Mind, 335

Forgiving, bounteous, humble, just and kind:

His Conversation, Wit, and Parts,

His Knowledge in the Noblest, useful Arts,

Were such Dead Authors could not give;

But habitudes of those who live; 340

Who, lighting him, did greater lights receive:

He drain’d from all, and all they knew;

His Apprehension quick, his Judgment true:

That the most Learn’d, with shame, confess

His Knowledge more, his Reading only less. 345


Amidst the peaceful Triumphs of his Reign,

What wonder if the kindly beams he shed

Reviv’d the drooping Arts again,

If Science rais’d her Head,

And soft Humanity that from Rebellion fled; 350

Our Isle, indeed, too fruitful was before;

But all uncultivated lay

Out of the Solar walk and Heavens high way;

With rank Geneva Weeds run o’re,

And Cockle, at the best, amidst the Corn it bore: 355

The Royal Husbandman appear’d,

And Plough’d and Sow’d and Till’d,

The Thorns he rooted out, the Rubbish clear’d,

And blest th’ obedient Field.

When, straight, a double Harvest rose, 360

Such as the swarthy Indian mowes;

Or happier Climates near the Line,

Or Paradise manur’d, and drest by hands Divine.


As when the New-born Phœnix takes his way,

His rich Paternal Regions to Survey, 365

Of airy Choristers a numerous Train

Attends his wondrous Progress o’re the Plain;

So, rising from his Fathers Urn,

So Glorious did our Charles return;

Th’ officious Muses came along, 370

A gay Harmonious Quire, like Angels ever Young;

(The Muse that mourns him now his happy Triumph sung.)

Even they cou’d thrive in his Auspicious reign;

And such a plenteous Crop they bore,

Of purest and well winow’d Grain 375

As Britain never knew before.

Tho little was their Hire, and light their Gain,

Yet somewhat to their share he threw;

Fed from his hand, they sung and flew,

Like Birds of Paradise that liv’d on morning dew. 380

Oh never let their Lays his Name forget!

The Pension of a Prince’s Praise is great.

Live then, thou great Encourager of Arts,

Live ever in our Thankful Hearts;

Live blest Above, almost invok’d Below; 385

Live and receive this Pious Vow,

Our Patron once, our Guardian Angel now.

Thou Fabius of a sinking State,

Who didst by wise delays, divert our Fate,

When Faction like a Tempest rose 390

In Death’s most hideous form,

Then, Art to Rage thou didst oppose,

To weather out the Storm:

Not quitting thy Supream command,

Thou heldst the Rudder with a steady hand, 395

Till safely on the Shore the Bark did land:

The Bark that all our Blessings brought,

Charg’d with thy Self and James, a doubly Royal fraught.


Oh frail Estate of Humane things,

And slippery hopes below! 400

Now to our Cost your Emptiness we know,

(For ’tis a Lesson dearly bought)

Assurance here is never to be sought.

The Best, and best belov’d of kings,

And best deserving to be so, 405

When scarce he had escap’d the fatal blow

Of Faction and Conspiracy,

Death did his promis’d hopes destroy:

He toyl’d, He gain’d, but liv’d not to enjoy.

What mists of Providence are these 410

Through which we cannot see!

So Saints, by supernatural Pow’r set free,

Are left at last in Martyrdom to dye;

Such is the end of oft repeated Miracles.

Forgive me, Heav’n, that Impious thought, 415

’Twas Grief for Charles to Madness wrought,

That Questioned thy Supream Decree!

Thou didst his gracious Reign Prolong,

Even in thy Saints and Angels wrong,

His Fellow Citizens of Immortality: 420

For Twelve long years of Exile, born,

Twice Twelve we number’d since his blest Return:

So strictly wer’t thou Just to pay,

Even to the driblet of a day.

Yet still we murmur, and Complain 425

The Quails and Manna shou’d no longer rain:

Those Miracles ’twas needless to renew;

The Chosen Flock has now the Promis’d Land in view.


A Warlike Prince ascends the Regal State,

A Prince, long exercis’d by Fate: 430

Long may he keep, tho he obtains it late.

Heroes, in Heaven’s peculiar Mold are cast,

They and their Poets are not formed in hast;

Man was the first in God’s design, and Man was made the last.

False Heroes made by Flattery so, 435

Heav’n can strike out, like Sparkles, at a blow;

But e’re a Prince is to Perfection brought,

He costs Omnipotence a second thought.

With Toyl and Sweat,

With hardning Cold, and forming Heat, 440

The Cyclops did their strokes repeat,

Before th’ impenetrable Shield was wrought.

It looks as if the Maker wou’d not own

The Noble work for his,

Before ’twas try’d and found a Masterpiece. 445


View then a Monarch ripen’d for a Throne

Alcides thus his race began,

O’re Infancy he swiftly ran;

The future God, at first was more than Man:

Dangers and Toils, and Juno’s Hate, 450

Even o’re his Cradle lay in wait;

And there he grappled first with Fate:

In his young Hands the hissing Snakes he prest,

So early was the Deity confest;

Thus, by degrees, he rose to Jove’s Imperial Seat; 455

Thus difficulties prove a Soul legitimately great.

Like his, our Hero’s Infancy was try’d;

Betimes the Furies did their Snakes provide;

And, to his Infant Arms oppose

His Father’s Rebels, and his Brother’s Foes; 460

The more opprest the higher still he rose.

Those were the Preludes of his Fate,

That form’d his Manhood, to subdue

The Hydra of the many-headed, hissing Crew.


As after Numa’s peaceful Reign 465

The Martial Ancus did the Scepter wield,

Furbish’d the rusty Sword again,

Resum’d the long forgotten Shield,

And led the Latins to the dusty Field;

So James the drowsy Genius wakes 470

Of Britain long entranc’d in Charms,

Restiff and slumbring on its Arms:

’Tis rows’d, & with a new strung Nerve the Spear already shakes.

No neighing of the Warriour Steeds,

No Drum, or louder Trumpet, needs 475

T’ inspire the Coward, warm the Cold,

His Voice, his sole Appearance makes ‘em bold.

Gaul and Batavia dread th’ impending blow;

Too well the Vigour of that Arm they know;

They lick the dust, and Crouch beneath their fatal Foe. 480

Long may they fear this awful Prince,

And not Provoke his lingring Sword;

Peace is their only sure Defence,

Their best Security his Word:

In all the Changes of his doubtful State, 485

His Truth, like Heav’ns, was kept inviolate,

For him to Promise is to make it Fate.

His Valour can Triumph o’re Land and Main;

With broken Oaths his Fame he will not stain;

With Conquest basely bought, and with Inglorious gain. 490


For once, O Heav’n, unfold thy Adamantine Book;

And let his wondring Senate see,

If not thy firm Immutable Decree,

At least the second Page of strong contingency;

Such as consists with wills, Originally free: 495

Let them, with glad amazement, look

On what their happiness may be:

Let them not still be obstinately blind,

Still to divert the Good thou hast design’d,

Or with Malignant penury, 500

To sterve the Royal Vertues of his Mind.

Faith is a Christian’s and a Subject’s Test,

Oh give them to believe, and they are surely blest!

They do; and, with a distant view, I see

Th’ amended Vows of English Loyalty; 505

And all beyond that Object, there appears

The long Retinue of a Prosperous Reign,

A Series of Successful years,

In orderly Array, a Martial, manly Train.

Behold ev’n to remoter Shores, 510

A Conquering Navy proudly spread;

The British Cannon formidably roars,

While starting from his Oozy Bed,

Th’ asserted Ocean rears his reverend Head;

To View and Recognize his ancient Lord again: 515

And, with a willing hand, restores

The Fasces of the main.




An Historical Poem

Between 1660 to 1670 theatrical writing was Dryden’s main source of income and he led the way in Restoration comedy, his best known work being Marriage à la Mode (1672), as well as various heroic tragedies, in which his greatest success was All for Love (1678). Dryden was never satisfied with his theatrical writings and frequently suggested that his talents were wasted on unworthy audiences. He therefore persevered in his attempts as a poet in achieving poetic fame. In 1667, around the same time his dramatic career began, he published Annus Mirabilis, a lengthy historical poem which described the events of 1666, the year of the English defeat of the Dutch naval fleet and the Great Fire of London.

The title of the poem derives its meaning from Latin and describes a year of particularly notable events. The first event of the ‘miraculous’ year was the Battle of Lowestoft fought by English and Dutch ships in 1665. The second was the Four Days Battle of June 1666, and finally the victory of the St. James's Day Battle a month later. The second part of the poem deals with the Great Fire of London that ran from September 2 to September 7, 1666. The ‘miracle’ of the Fire, as portrayed by the poet, was that London was saved, that the fire was stopped and that Charles II would rebuild, having already announced his plans to improve the streets of London and begin great projects. Throughout the poem Dryden promotes the view that these disasters were all averted and that God had saved England from destruction and that God had performed miracles for England. The poem is a modern epic in pentameter quatrains that helped establish Dryden as the preeminent poet of his generation, forming a crucial part in his attaining the posts of Poet Laureate in 1668 and historiographer royal in 1670.

The Great Fire of London, which took place on September 2, 1666, is one of the major events detailed in this poem.






The most renowned and late flourishing

City of London,

in its




AS perhaps I am the first who ever presented a work of this nature to the Metropolis of any Nation, so is it likewise consonant to Justice, that he who was to give the first Example of such a Dedication should begin it with that City, which has set a pattern to all others of true Loyalty, invincible Courage, and unshaken Constancy. Other Cities have been prais’d for the same Virtues, but I am much deceiv’d if any have so dearly purchas’d their Reputation; their Fame has been won them by cheaper trials than an expensive, though necessary, War, a consuming Pestilence, and a more consuming Fire. To submit yourselves with that humility to the Judgments of Heaven, and at the same time to raise yourselves with that vigour above all human Enemies; to be combated at once from above and from below, to be struck down and to triumph; I know not whether such Trials have been ever parallel’d in any Nation, the resolution and successes of them never can be. Never had Prince or People more mutual reason to love each other, if suffering for each other can indear affection. You have come together a pair of matchless Lovers, through many difficulties; He, through a long Exile, various traverses of Fortune, and the interposition of many Rivals, who violently ravish’d and withheld You from Him: and certainly you have had your share in sufferings. But Providence has cast upon you want of Trade, that you might appear bountiful to your Country’s necessities; and the rest of your afflictions are not more the effects of God’s Displeasure (frequent examples of them having been in the Reign of the most excellent Princes) than occasions for the manifesting of your Christian and Civil virtues. To you, therefore, this Year of Wonders is justly dedicated, because you have made it so. You, who are to stand a wonder to all Years and Ages, and who have built yourselves an Immortal Monument on your own Ruins. You are now a Phœnix in her ashes, and, as far as Humanity can approach, a great Emblem of the suffering Deity. But Heaven never made so much Piety and Virtue, to leave it miserable. I have heard indeed of some virtuous Persons who have ended unfortunately, but never of any virtuous Nation: Providence is engaged too deeply, when the Cause becomes so general. And I cannot imagine it has resolved the ruin of that People at home, which it has blessed abroad with such Successes. I am, therefore, to conclude that your Sufferings are at an end, and that one part of my Poem has not been more an History of your destruction, than the other a Prophecy of your restoration. The accomplishment of which happiness, as it is the wish of all true Englishmen, so is by none more passionately desired than by

The greatest of Your Admirers,

and most humble of your Servants,











I am so many ways obliged to you and so little able to return your Favours that, like those who owe too much, I can only live by getting farther into your debt. You have not only been careful of my Fortune, which was the effect of your Nobleness, but you have been solicitous of my Reputation, which is that of your Kindness. It is not long since I gave you the trouble of perusing a Play for me, and now, instead of an Acknowledgment, I have given you a greater in the Correction of a Poem. But since you are to bear this Persecution, I will at least give you the encouragement of a Martyr, you could never suffer in a nobler cause. For I have chosen the most heroick Subject which any Poet could desire: I have taken upon me to describe the motives, the beginning, progress, and successes of a most just and necessary War; in it the care, management, and prudence of our King; the conduct and valour of a Royal Admiral and of two incomparable Generals; the invincible courage of our Captains and Seamen, and three glorious Victories, the result of all. After this, I have in the Fire the most deplorable, but withal the greatest Argument that can be imagined; the destruction being so swift, so sudden, so vast and miserable, as nothing can parallel in Story. The former part of this Poem, relating to the War, is but a due expiation for my not serving my King and Country in it. All Gentlemen are almost obligea to it: and I know no reason we should give that advantage to the Commonalty of England, to be foremost in brave actions, which the noblesse of France would never suffer in their Peasants. I should not have written this but to a Person who has been ever forward to appear in all Employments, whither his Honour and Generosity have called him. The latter part of my Poem, which describes the Fire, I owe, first, to the Piety and Fatherly Affection of our Monarch to his suffering Subjects; and, in the second place, to the Courage, Loyalty, and Magnanimity of the City; both which were so conspicuous that I have wanted words to celebrate them as they deserve. I have called my Poem Historical, not Epick, though both the Actions and Actors are as much Heroick as any Poem can contain. But since the Action is not properly one, nor that accomplish’d in the last successes, I have judg’d it too bold a title for a few Stanza’s, which are little more in number than a single Iliad or the longest of the Æneids. For this reason (I mean not of length, but broken action, li’d too severely to the laws of History) I am apt to agree with those who rank Lucan rather among Historians in Verse than Epique poets; in whose room, if I am not deceived, Silius Italicus, though a worse Writer, may more justly be admitted. I have chosen to write my poem in quatrains or stanza’s of four in alternate rhyme, because I have ever judg’d them more noble and of greater dignity both for the Sound and Number than any other Verse in use amongst us; in which I am sure I have your approbation. The learned Languages have certainly a great advantage of us in not being tied to the slavery of any Rhyme, and were less constrained in the quantity of every syllable, which they might vary with Spondæes or Dactiles, besides so many other helps of Grammatical Figures for the lengthening or abbreviation of them, than the Modern are in the close of that one Syllable, which often confines, and more often corrupts, the sense of all the rest. But in this necessity of our Rhymes, I have always found the couplet verse most easy (though not so proper for this occasion), for there the work is sooner at an end, every two lines concluding the labour of the Poet: but in Quatrains he is to carry it farther on; and not only so, but to bear along in his head the troublesome sense of four lines together. For those who write correctly in this kind must needs acknowledge that the last line of the Stanza is to be considered in the composition of the first. Neither can we give ourselves the liberty of making any part of a Verse for the sake of Rhyme, or concluding with a word which is not currant English, or using the variety of Female Rhymes; all which our Fathers practised. And for the Female Rhymes, they are still in use amongst other Nations: with the Italian in every line, with the Spaniard promiscuously, with the French alternately, as those who have read the Alarique, the Pucelle, or any of their latter Poems, will agree with me. And besides this, they write in Alexandrins or Verses of six feet, such as, amongst us, is the old Translation of Homer by Chapman; All which by lengthening of their Chain makes the sphere of their activity the larger. I have dwelt too long upon the choice of my Stanza, which you may remember is much better defended in the Preface to Gondibert; and therefore I will hasten to acquaint you with my endeavours in the writing. In general I will only say I have never yet seen the description of any Naval Fight in the proper terms which are used at Sea; and if there be any such in another Language, as that of Lucan in the third of his Pharsalia, yet I could not prevail myself of it in the English; the terms of Art in every Tongue bearing more of the Idiom of it than any other words. We hear, indeed, among our Poets, of the Thundring of Guns, the Smoke, the Disorder and the Slaughter; but all these are common notions. And certainly as those who, in a Logical dispute, keep in general terms, would hide a fallacy, so those who do it in any Poetical description would veil their Ignorance.

Descriptas servare vices, operumque colores,

Cur ego, si nequeo ignoroque, Poeta salutor?

For my own part, if I had little knowledge of the Sea, yet I have thought it no shame to learn: and if I have made some few mistakes, ’tis only, as you can bear me witness, because I have wanted opportunity to correct them; the whole Poem being first written, and now sent you from a place where I have not so much as the converse of any Sea-man. Yet though the trouble I had in writing it was great, it was more than recompens’d by the pleasure; I found myself so warm in celebrating the Praises of Military men, two such especially as the Prince and General, that it is no wonder if they inspired me with thoughts above my ordinary level. And I am well satisfied, that as they are incomparably the best subject I have ever had, excepting only the Royal Family, so also that this I have written of them is much better than what I have performed on any other. I have been forc’d to help out other Arguments; but this has been bountiful to me: they have been low and barren of praise, and I have exalted them and made them fruitful: but here — Omnia sponte suâ reddit justissima tellus. I have had a large, a fair, and a pleasant field; so fertile, that, without my cultivating, it has given me two Harvests in a Summer, and in both oppressed the reaper. All other greatness in Subjects is only counter-feit, it will not endure the test of danger; the greatness of arms is only real: other greatness burdens a Nation with its weight, this supports it with its strength. And as it is the happiness of the Age, so is it the peculiar goodness of the best of Kings, that we may praise his Subjects without offending him: Doubtless it proceeds from a just confidence of his own Virtue, which the lustre of no other can be so great as to darken in him; for the Good or the Valiant are never safely praised under a bad or a degenerate Prince. But to return from this digression to a farther account of my Poem, I must crave leave to tell you, that, as I have endeavoured to adorn it with noble thoughts, so much more to express those thoughts with elocution. The Composition of all Poems is or ought to be of wit; and wit in the Poet, or wit writing (if you will give me leave to use a School distinction), is no other than the faculty of imagination in the Writer; which, like a nimble Spaniel, beats over and ranges through the field of Memory, till it springs the Quarry it hunted after; or, without metaphor, which searches over all the Memory for the Species or Ideas of those things which it designs to represent. Wit written, is that which is well defin’d, the happy result of Thought, or product of Imagination. But to proceed from wit in the general notion of it to the proper wit of an Heroique or Historical Poem; I judge it chiefly to consist in the delightful imaging of Persons, Actions, Passions, or Things. ’Tis not the jerk or sting of an Epigram, nor the seeming contradiction of a poor Antithesis (the delight of an ill-judging Audience in a Play of Rhyme), nor the gingle of a more poor Paranomasia; neither is it so much the morality of a grave Sentence, affected by Lucan, but more sparingly used by Virgil; but it is some lively and apt description, dressed in such colours of speech, that it sets before your eyes the absent object, as perfectly and more delightfully than nature. So then, the first happiness of the Poet’s Imagination is properly Invention, or finding of the thought; the second is Fancy, or the variation, deriving or moulding of that thought as the Judgment represents it proper to the subject; the third is Elocution, or the Art of clothing and adorning that thought so found and varied, in apt, significant and sounding words: The quickness of the Imagination is seen in the Invention, the fertility in the Fancy, and the accuracy in the Expression. For the two first of these, Ovid is famous amongst the poets, for the later Virgil. Ovid images more often the movements and affections of the mind, either combating between two contrary passions, or extreamly discompos’d by one: his words therefore are the least part of his care; for he pictures Nature in disorder, with which the study and choice of words is inconsistent. This is the proper wit of Dialogue or Discourse, and, consequently, of the Drama, where all that is said is to be suppos’d the effect of sudden thought; which, though it excludes not the quickness of Wit in repartees, yet admits not a too curious election of words, too frequent allusions, or use of Tropes, or, in fine, anything that shows remoteness of thought, or labour, in the Writer. On the other side, Virgil speaks not so often to us in the person of another, like Ovid, but in his own, he relates almost all things as from himself, and thereby gains more liberty than the other, to express his thoughts with all the graces of elocution, to write more figuratively, and to confess as well the labour as the force of his Imagination. Though he describes his Dido well and naturally, in the violence of her Passions, yet he must yield in that to the Myrrha, the Biblis, the Althæa of Ovid; for as great an admirer of him as I am, I must acknowledge that, if I see not more of their souls than I see of Dido’s, at least I have a greater concernment for them: And that convinces me that Ovid has touched those tender strokes more delicately than Virgil could. But when Action or Persons are to be described, when any such Image is to be set before us, how bold, how masterly are the strokes of Virgil! We see the objects he represents us within their native figures, in their proper motions; but so we see them, as our own eyes could never have beheld them, so beautiful in themselves. We see the Soul of the Poet, like that universal one of which he speaks, informing and moving through all his Pictures, Totamque infusa per artus Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet; we behold him embellishing his Images, as he makes Venus breathing beauty upon her son Æneas.

lumenque juventæ

Purpureum, et lætos oculis afflârat honores:

Quale manus addunt Ebori decus, aut ubi flavo

Argentum, Pariusve lapis circundatur auro.

See his Tempest, his Funeral Sports, his Combat of Turnus and Æneas, and in his Georgicks, which I esteem the Divinest part of all his writings, the Plague, the Country, the Battel of Bulls, the labour of the Bees, and those many other excellent Images of Nature, most of which are neither great in themselves nor have any natural ornament to bear them up: But the words wherewith he describes them are so excellent, that it might be well appli’d to him which was said by Ovid, Materiam superabat opus: The very Sound of his Words has often somewhat that is connatural to the subject; and, while we read him, we sit, as in a Play, beholding the Scenes of what he represents. To perform this, he made frequent use of Tropes, which you know change the nature of a known word, by applying it to some other signification; and this is it which Horace means in his Epistle to the Pisos:

Dixeris egregie, notum si callida verbum

Reddiderit junctura novum.

But I am sensible I have presum’d too far to entertain you with a rude discourse of that Art which you both know so well, and put into practice with so much happiness. Yet before I leave Virgil, I must own the vanity to tell you, and by you the world, that he has been my Master in this Poem: I have followed him everywhere, I know not with what success, but I am sure with diligence enough: My Images are many of them copied from him, and the rest are imitations of him. My Expressions also are as near as the Idioms of the two Languages would admit of in translation. And this, Sir, I have done with that boldness, for which I will stand accomptable to any of our little Criticks, who, perhaps, are not better acquainted with him than I am. Upon your first perusal of this Poem, you have taken notice of some words which I have innovated (if it be too bold for me to say refin’d) upon his Latin; which, as I offer not to introduce into English prose, so I hope they are neither improper nor altogether unelegant in Verse; and, in this, Horace will again defend me.

Et nova, fictaque nuper, habebunt verba fidem, si

Græco fonte cadant, parcè detorta.

The inference is exceeding plain; for if a Roman Poet might have liberty to coin a word, supposing only that it was derived from the Greek, was put into a Latin termination, and that he used this liberty but seldom, and with modesty: How much more justly may I challenge that priviledge to do it with the same prerequisits, from the best and most judicious of Latin Writers? In some places, where either the Fancy, or the Words, were his or any others, I have noted it in the Margin, that I might not seem a Plagiary; in others I have neglected it, to avoid as well tediousness as the affectation of doing it too often. Such descriptions or images, well wrought, which I promise not for mine, are, as I have said, the adequate delight of heroick Poesie; for they beget admiration, which is its proper object; as the Images of the Burlesque, which is contrary to this, by the same reason beget laughter; for the one shows Nature beautified, as in the Picture of a fair Woman, which we all admire; the other shows her deformed, as in that of a Lazar, or of a Fool with distorted face and antique gestures, at which we cannot forbear to laugh, because it is a deviation from Nature. But though the same Images serve equally for the Epique Poesie, and for the historique and panegyrique, which are branches of it, yet a several sort of Sculpture is to be used in them: If some of them are to be like those of Juvenal, Stantes in curribus Æmiliani, Heroes drawn in their triumphal Chariots and in their full proportion; others are to be like that of Virgil, Spirantia mollius æra: there is somewhat more of softness and tenderness to be shown in them. You will soon find I write not this without concern. Some, who have seen a paper of Verses which I wrote last year to her Highness the Dutches, have accus’d them of that only thing I could defend in them; they have said, I did humi serpere, that I wanted not only height of Fancy, but dignity of Words to set it off; I might well answer with that of Horace, Nunc non erat his locus, I knew I address’d them to a Lady, and accordingly I affected the softness of expression and the smoothness of measure, rather than the height of thought; and in what I did endeavour, it is no vanity to say, I have succeeded. I detest arrogance; but there is some difference betwixt that and a just defence. But I will not farther bribe your candor, or the Readers. I leave them to speak for me; and, if they can, to make out that character, not pretending to a greater, which I have given them.

Verses to Her Highness the DUTCHES on the

Memorable Victory gained by the DUKE against

the Hollanders, June the 3d. 1665. And

on Her Journey afterwards into the North.


WHEN for our sakes your Heroe you resign’d

To swelling Seas and every faithless wind;

When you releas’d his Courage and set free

A Valour fatal to the Enemy,

You lodg’d your Countries cares within your breast,

(The mansion where soft love should only rest:)

And e’re our Foes abroad were overcome,

The noblest conquest you had gain’d at home.

Ah, what concerns did both your Souls divide!

Your Honour gave us what your Love deni’d:

And ’twas for him much easier to subdue

Those Foes he fought with, than to part from you.

That glorious day, which two such Navies saw

As each, unmatch’d, might to the world give Law,

Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,

Held to them both the Trident of the Sea:

The Winds were hush’d, the Waves in ranks were cast,

As awfully as when God’s People past:

Those, yet uncertain on whose Sails to blow,

These, where the wealth of Nations ought to flow.

Then with the Duke your Highness rul’d the day:

While all the Brave did his Command obey,

The Fair and Pious under you did pray.

How pow’rful are chast Vows! the Wind and Tyde

You brib’d to combat on the English side.

Thus to your much loved Lord you did convey

An unknown succour, sent the nearest way.

New vigour to his wearied arms you brought

(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought.)

While, from afar, we heard the Cannon play,

Like distant Thunder on a shiny day.

For absent Friends we were asham’d to fear,

When we consider’d what you ventur’d there.

Ships, Men and Arms our Country might restore,

But such a Leader could supply no more.

With generous thoughts of Conquest he did burn,

Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.

Fortune and Victory he did persue

To bring them as his Slaves, to wait on you:

Thus Beauty ravish’d the rewards of Fame

And the Fair triumph’d when the Brave o’recame.

Then, as you meant to spread another way

By Land your Conquests far as his by Sea,

Leaving our Southern Clime, you march’d along

The stubborn North, ten thousand Cupid’s strong.

Like Commons the Nobility resort,

In crowding heaps, to fill your moving Court:

To welcome your approach the Vulgar run,

Like some new Envoy from the distant Sun,

And Country Beauties by their Lovers go,

Blessing themselves, and wondring at the show.

So, when the New-born Phœnix first is seen,

Her feather’d Subjects all adore their Queen,

And, while She makes her Progress through the East,

From every Grove her numerous Train’s increast:

Each Poet of the air her Glory sings,

And round him the pleas’d Audience clap their Wings.

And now, Sir, ’tis time I should relieve you from the tedious length of this account. You have better and more profitable employment for your hours, and I wrong the Publick to detain you longer. In conclusion, I must leave my Poem to you with all its faults, which I hope to find fewer in the Printing by your emendations. I know you are not of the number of those, of whom the younger Pliny speaks; Nec sunt parum multi, qui carpere amicos suos judicium vocant; I am rather too secure of you on that side. Your candor in pardoning my Errors may make you more remiss in correcting them; if you will not withal consider that they come into the world with your approbation, and through your hands. I beg from you the greatest favour you can confer upon an absent person, since I repose upon your management what is dearest to me, my Fame and Reputation; and, therefore, I hope it will stir you up to make my Poem fairer by many of your blots. If not, you know the story of the Gamster who married the rich Man’s Daughter and, when her Father denied the Portion, Christened all the Children by his Sirname, that, if in conclusion they must beg, they should do so by one Name as well as by the other. But since the reproach of my faults will light on you, ’tis but reason I should do you that justice to the Readers to let them know, that, if there be anything tolerable in this Poem, they owe the Argument to your choice, the Writing to your encouragement, the Correction to your judgment, and the Care of it to your friendship, to which he must ever acknowledge himself to owe all things, who is,


The most Obedient and most

Faithful of your Servants,


From Charlton, in

Wiltshire, Nov.

10, 1666.

Annus Mirabilis



IN thriving Arts long time had Holland grown,

Crouching at home, and cruel when abroad:

Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;

Our King they courted, and our Merchants aw’d.


Trade, which like Blood should circularly flow, 5

Stopp’d in their Channels, found its Freedom lost:

Thither the Wealth of all the World did go,

And seem’d but Shipwrack’d on so base a Coast.


For them alone the Heav’ns had kindly heat;

In Eastern Quarries ripening precious Dew: 10

For them the Idumæan Balm did sweat,

And in hot Ceilon Spicy Forrests grew.


The Sun but seem’d the Lab’rer of their Year;

Each waxing Moon supplied her watry store,

To swell those Tides, which from the Line did bear 15

Their brim-full Vessels to the Belg’an shore.


Thus, mighty in her Ships, stood Carthage long,

And swept the Riches of the world from far,

Yet stoop’d to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:

And this may prove our second Punick War. 20


What peace can be, where both to one pretend?

(But they more diligent, and we more strong)

Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;

For they would grow too pow’rful were it long.


Behold two nations then, ingag’d so far, 25

That each seven years the Fit must shake each Land;

Where France will side to weaken us by War,

Who only can his vast Designs withstand.


See how he feeds th’ Iberian with delays,

To render us his timely Friendship vain; 30

And, while his secret soul on Flanders preys,

He rocks the Cradle of the babe of Spain.


Such deep designs of Empire does he lay

O’re them, whose Cause he seems to take in hand:

And, prudently would make them Lords at Sea, 35

To whom with ease he can give Laws by Land.


This saw our King; and long within his breast

His pensive counsels ballanc’d too and fro;

He griev’d the Land he freed should be oppress’d,

And he less for it than Usurpers do. 40


His gen’rous mind the fair Ideas drew

Of Fame and Honor, which in dangers lay;

Where wealth, like Fruit on precipices, grew,

Not to be gather’d but by Birds of prey.


The Loss and Gain each fatally were great; 45

And still his Subjects call’d aloud for War:

But peaceful Kings, o’re martial people set,

Each other’s poize and counter-ballance are.


He, first, survey’d the Charge with careful eyes,

Which none but mighty Monarchs could maintain; 50

Yet judg’d, like vapours that from Limbecks rise,

It would in richer showers descend again.


At length resolv’d t’ assert the watry Ball,

He in himself did whole Armado’s bring:

Him aged Sea-men might their Master call, 55

And choose for General were he not their King.


It seems as every Ship their Sovereign knows,

His awful Summons they so soon obey;

So hear the skaly herd when Proteus blows,

And so to Pasture follow through the Sea. 60


To see this Fleet upon the Ocean move,

Angels drew wide the Curtains of the Skies:

And Heav’n, as if there wanted Lights above,

For Tapers made two glaring Comets rise.


Whether they unctuous Exhalations are, 65

Fir’d by the Sun, or seeming so alone;

Or each some more remote and slippery Star,

Which loses footing when to Mortals shown.


Or one that bright companion of the Sun,

Whose glorious aspect seal’d our new-born King; 70

And now, a round of greater years begun,

New influence from his walks of light did bring.


Victorious York did first, with fam’d success,

To his known valour make the Dutch give place:

Thus Heav’n our Monarch’s fortune did confess, 75

Beginning conquest from his Royal Race.


But since it was decreed, Auspicious King,

In Britains right that thou shouldst wed the Main,

Heav’n, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,

And therefore doom’d that Lawson should be slain. 80


Lawson amongst the formost met his fate,

Whom Sea-green Syrens from the Rocks lament:

Thus as an off’ring for the Grecian state,

He first was kill’d who first to Battel went.


Their Chief blown up in air, not waves expir’d, 85

To which his pride presum’d to give the Law;

The Dutch confess’d Heav’n present, and retir’d,

And all was Britain the wide Ocean saw.


To nearest Ports their shatter’d Ships repair,

Where by our dreadful Canon they lay aw’d: 90

So reverently Men quit the open air,

When Thunder speaks the angry Gods abroad.


And now approach’d their Fleet from India, fraught

With all the riches of the rising Sun:

And precious Sand from Southern Climates brought, 95

(The fatal Regions where the War begun.)


Like hunted Castors, conscious of their Stor

Their way-laid wealth to Norways coast they bring:

There first the North’s cold bosome spice bore,

And Winter brooded on the Eastern Spring 100


By the rich scent we found our perfum’d Prey,

Which flanck’d with Rocks, did close in covert lie;

And round about their murdering Canon lay,

At once to threaten and invite the Eye.


Fiercer than Canon, and than Rocks more hard, 105

The English undertake th’ unequal War:

Seven Ships alone, by which the Port is barr’d,

Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.


These fight like Husbands, but like Lovers those:

These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy: 110

And to such height their frantick Passion grows,

That what both love, both hazard to destroy.


Amidst whole heaps of Spices lights a Ball,

And now their Odours arm’d against them flie:

Some preciously by shatter’d Porc’lain fall, 115

And some by Aromatick Splinters die.


And though by Tempests of the Prize bereft,

In Heavens inclemency some ease we find;

Our foes we vanquish’d by our valour left,

And only yielded to the Seas and Wind. 120


Nor wholly lost we so deserv’d a prey;

For storms, repenting, part of it restor’d:

Which, as a tribute from the Baltick Sea,

The British Ocean sent her mighty Lord.


Go, Mortals, now, and vex yourselves in vain 125

For Wealth, which so uncertainly must come:

When what was brought so far, and with such pain

Was onely kept to lose it nearer home.


The Son, who twice three months on th’ Ocean tost,

Prepar’d to tell what he had pass’d before, 130

Now sees in English Ships the Holland coast,

And parents Arms, in vain, stretcht from the shore.


This careful Husband had been long away,

Whom his chaste Wife and little Children mourn;

Who on their fingers learn’d to tell the day 135

On which their Father promis’d to return.


Such are the proud Designs of human kind,

And so we suffer Shipwrack every where!

Alas! what port can such a Pilot find,

Who in the night of Fate must blindly steer. 140


The undistinguish’d Seeds of Good and Ill,

Heaven, in his bosom, from our knowledge hides;

And draws them in contempt of human skill,

Which oft, for friends, mistaken foes provides.


Let Munsters Prelate ever be accurst, 145

In whom we seek the German Faith in vain:

Alas, that he should teach the English first,

That Fraud and Avarice in the Church could reign!


Happy who never trust a Strangers will,

Whose Friendship’s in his Interest understood! 150

Since Money giv’n but tempts him to be ill,

When pow’r is too remote to make him good.


Till now, alone the Mighty Nations strove;

The rest, at gaze, without the Lists did stand:

And threatning France, place’d like a painted Jove, 155

Kept idle Thunder in his lifted hand.


That Eunuch Guardian of rich Hollands trade,

Who envies us what he wants pow’r t’ enjoy;

Whose noiseful valour does no Foe invade,

And weak assistance will his Friends destroy. 160


Offended that we fought without his leave,

He takes this time his secret Hate to show:

Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive,

As one that neither seeks, nor shuns his Foe.


With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite, 165

France as their Tyrant, Denmark as their slave.

But when with one three Nations join to fight,

They silently confess that one more brave.


Lewis had chas’d the English from his shore;

But Charles the French as Subjects does invite: 170

Would Heav’n for each some Solomon restore,

Who, by their mercy, may decide their right:


Were Subjects so but only by their choice,

And not from Birth did forc’d Dominion take,

Our Prince alone would have the publique voice; 175

And all his Neighbours Realms would desarts make.


He without fear a dangerous War pursues,

Which without rashness he began before.

As Honour made him first the danger choose,

So still he makes it good on virtues score. 180


46The doubled charge his Subjects love supplies,

Who, in that bounty, to themselves are kind:

So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,

And in his plenty their abundance find.


With equal pow’r he does two Chiefs create, 185

Two such, as each seem’d worthiest when alone;

Each able to sustain a Nations fate,

Since both had found a greater in their own.


Both great in Courage, Conduct and in Fame,

Yet neither envious of the other’s Praise; 190

Their Duty, Faith, and Int’rest too the same,

Like mighty Partners equally they raise.


The Prince long time had courted Fortune’s love,

But once possess’d did absolutely reign;

Thus with their Amazons the Heroes strove, 195

And conquer’d first those Be