John Milton - Wikipedia
Samuel Hartlib - Wikipedia
I am long since perswaded, that to say, or do ought worth memory and imitation,
no purpose or respect should sooner move us, then simply the love of God,
and of mankind. Nevertheless to write now the reforming of Education,
though it be one of the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought on,
and for the want whereof this Nation perishes,
I had not yet at this time been induc’t, but by your earnest entreaties,
and serious conjurements; as having my mind for the present half diverted
in the pursuance of some other assertions, the knowledge and the use of which,
cannot but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of truth,
and honest living, with much more peace.
Nor should the laws of any private friendship
have prevail’d with me to divide thus,
or transpose my former thoughts, but that I see those aims,
those actions which have won you with me the esteem of a person sent hither
by some good providence from a far country to be the occasion
and the incitement of great good to this Island.
And, as I hear, you have obtain’d the same repute with men
of most approved wisdom, and som of the highest authority among us.
Not to mention the learned correspondence
which you hold in forreign parts,
and the extraordinary pains and diligence
which you have us’d in this matter both here,
and beyond the Seas; either by the definite will of God so ruling,
or the peculiar sway of nature, which also is Gods working.
Neither can I think that so reputed, and so valu’d as you are,
you would to the forfeit of your own discerning ability,
impose upon me an unfit and over-ponderous argument,
but that the satisfaction which you profess to have receiv’d
from those incidental Discourses which we have wander’d into,
hath prest and almost constrain’d you into a perswasion,
that what you require from me in this point,
I neither ought nor can in conscience deferre beyond this time
both of so much need at once,
and so much opportunity to try what God hath determin’d.
I will not resist therefore, whatever it is either of divine,
or humane obligement that you lay upon me;
but will forthwith set down in writing,
as you request me, that voluntary Idea,
which hath long in silence presented it self to me,
of a better Education, in extent and comprehension far more large,
and yet of time far shorter, and of attainment far more certain,
then hath been yet in practice. Brief I shall endeavour to be;
for that which I have to say,
assuredly this Nation hath extream need should be done sooner then spoken.
To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old renowned Authors,
I shall spare; and to search what many modern Janua’s and Didactics
more then ever I shall read, have projected, my inclination leads me not.
But if you can accept of these few observations which have flowr’d off, and are,
as it were, the burnishing of many studious
and contemplative years altogether spent in the
search of religious and civil knowledge,
and such as pleas’d you so well in the relating,
I here give you them to dispose of.
The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents
by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him,
to imitate him, to be like him,
as we may the neerest by possessing our souls of true vertue,
which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.
But because our understanding cannot in this body found it self but on sensible things,
nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible,
as by orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature,
the same method is necessarily to be follow’d in all discreet teaching.
And seeing every Nation affords not experience
and tradition enough for all kind of Learning,
therefore we are chiefly taught the Languages of those people
who have at any time been most industrious after Wisdom;
so that Language is but the Instrument conveying to us things usefull to be known.
And though a Linguist should pride himself to have all the Tongues
that Babel cleft the world into, yet,
if he have not studied the solid things in them as well as the Words & Lexicons,
he were nothing so much to be esteem’d a learned man,
as any Yeoman or Tradesman competently wise in his Mother Dialect only.
Hence appear the many mistakes which have made Learning generally so unpleasing
and so unsuccessful;
first, we do amiss to spend seven or eight years meerly in scraping together
so much miserable Latine and Greek,
as might be learnt otherwise easily and delightfully in one year.
And that which casts our proficiency therein so much behind,
is our time lost partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to Schools and Universities,
partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of Children to compose Theams,
Verses and Orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment
and the final work of a head fill’d by long reading and observing,
with elegant maxims, and copious invention.
These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the Nose,
or the plucking of untimely fruit:
besides the ill habit
which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom,
with their untutor’d Anglicisms, odious to be read,
yet not to be avoided without a well continu’d
and judicious conversing among pure Authors digested,
which they scarce taste, whereas,
if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory,
they were led to the praxis thereof
in some chosen short book lesson’d throughly to them,
they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things,
and Arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power.
This I take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning Languages,
and whereby we may best hope to give account to God of our youth spent herein:
And for the usual method of teaching Arts,
I deem it to be an old errour of Universities not yet well recover’d
from the Scholastick grossness of barbarous ages,
that in stead of beginning with Arts most easie,
and those be such as are most obvious to the sence,
they present their young unmatriculated Novices at first comming
with the most intellective abstractions of Logick and Metapysicks:
So that they having but newly left those Grammatick flats and shallows
where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with lamentable construction,
and now on the sudden transported under another climate to be tost
and turmoil’d with their unballasted wits in fadomless
and unquiet deeps of controversie,
do for the most part grow into hatred and contempt of Learning,
mockt and deluded all this while with ragged Notions and Babblements,
while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge;
till poverty or youthful years call them importunately their several wayes
and hasten them with the sway of friends either to an ambitious and mercenary,
or ignorantly zealous Divinity; Some allur’d to the trade of Law,
grounding their purposes not on the prudent
and heavenly contemplation of justice
and equity which was never taught them,
but on the promising and pleasing thoughts of litigious terms,
fat contentions, and flowing fees; others betake them to State affairs,
with souls so unprincipl’d in vertue, and true generous breeding,
that flattery, and Court shifts
and tyrannous Aphorisms appear to them the highest points of wisdom;
instilling their barren hearts with a conscientious slavery,
if, as I rather think, it be not fain’d.
Others lastly of a more delicious and airie spirit,
retire themselves knowing no better, to the enjoyments of ease and luxury,
living out their daies in feast and jollity;
which indeed is the wisest and the safest course of all these,
unless they were with more integrity undertaken.
And these are the fruits of mispending our prime youth at the Schools
and Universities as we do, either in learning meer words or such things chiefly,
as were better unlearnt.
I shall detain you no longer in the demonstration of what we should not do,
but strait conduct ye to a hill side,
where I will point ye out the right path of a vertuous and noble Education;
laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green,
so full of goodly prospect, and melodious sounds on every side,
that the Harp of Orpheus was not more charming.
I doubt not but ye shall have more adoe to drive our dullest and laziest youth,
our stocks and stubbs from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture,
then we have now to hale and drag our choisest
and hopefullest Wits to that asinine feast of sowthistles and brambles
which is commonly set before them,
as all the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most docible age.
I call therefore a compleat and generous Education
that which fits a man to perform justly,
skilfully and magnanimously all the offices both private
and publick of Peace and War. And how all this may be done between twelve,
and one and twenty, less time then is now bestow’d in pure trifling
at Grammar and Sophistry, is to be thus order’d.
First, to find out a spatious house and ground about it fit for an Academy,
and big enough to lodge a hundred and fifty persons,
whereof twenty or thereabout may be attendants,
all under the government of one, who shall be thought of desert sufficient,
and ability either to do all, or wisely to direct, and oversee it done.
This place should be at once both School and University,
not needing a remove to any other house of Schollership,
except it be some peculiar Colledge of Law, or Physick,
where they mean to be practitioners; but as for those general studies
which take up all our time from Lilly to the commencing, as they term it,
Master of Art, it should be absolute. After this pattern,
as many Edifices may be converted to this use,
as shall be needful in every City throughout this Land,
which would tend much to the encrease of Learning and Civility every where.
This number, less or more thus collected, to the convenience of a foot Company,
or interchangeably two Troops of Cavalry,
should divide their daies work into three parts, as it lies orderly.
Their Studies, their Exercise, and their Diet.
For their Studies, First they should begin with the chief
and necessary rules of some good Grammar, either that now us’d, or any better:
and while this is doing, their speech is to be fashion’d to a distinct
and clear pronuntiation, as near as may be to the Italian,
especially in the Vowels. For we Englishmen being far Northerly,
do not open our mouths in the cold air, wide enough to grace a Southern Tongue;
but are observ’d by all other Nations to speak exceeding close and inward:
So that to smatter Latine with an English mouth,
is as ill a hearing as Law-French.
Next to make them expert in the usefullest points of Grammar,
and withall to season them, and win them early to the love of vertue and true labour,
ere any flattering seducement, or vain principle seise them wandering,
some easie and delightful Book of Education would be read to them;
whereof the Greeks have store, as Cebes, Plutarch, and other Socratic discourses.
But in Latin we have none of classic authority extant,
except the two or three first Books of Quintilian, and some select pieces elsewhere.
But here the main skill and groundwork will be,
to temper them such Lectures and Explanations upon every opportunity,
as may lead and draw them in willing obedience, enflam’d with the study of Learning,
and the admiration of Vertue; stirr’d up with high hopes of living to be brave men,
and worthy Patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.
That they may despise and scorn all their childish, and ill-taught qualities,
to delight in manly, and liberall Exercises: which he who hath the Art,
and proper Eloquence to catch them with, what with mild and effectual perswasions,
and what with the intimation of some fear, if need be, but chiefly by his own example,
might in a short space gain them to an incredible diligence and courage:
infusing into their young brests such an ingenuous and noble ardor,
as would not fail to make many of them renowned and matchless men.
At the same time, some other hour of the day,
might be taught them the rules of Arithmetick,
and soon after the Elements of Geometry even playing, as the old manner was.
After evening repast, till bed-time their thoughts will be best taken up
in the easie grounds of Religion, and the story of Scripture.
The next step would be to the Authors of Agriculture, Cato, Varro, and Columella,
for the matter is most easie, and if the language be difficult, so much the better,
it is not a difficulty above their years.
And here will be an occasion of inciting and inabling them hereafter
to improve the tillage of their Country, to recover the bad Soil,
and to remedy the waste that is made of good: for this was one of Hercules praises.
Ere half these Authors be read (which will soon be with plying hard, and daily)
they cannot chuse but be masters of any ordinary prose.
So that it will be then seasonable for them to learn in any modern Author,
the use of the Globes, and all the Maps; first with the old names,
and then with the new:
or they might be then capable to read any compendious method of natural Philosophy.
And at the same time might be entring into the Greek tongue,
after the same manner as was before prescrib’d in the Latin;
whereby the difficulties of Grammar being soon overcome,
all the Historical Physiology of Aristotle and Theophrastus are open before them,
and as I may say, under contribution. The like access will be to Vitruvius,
to Senecas naturall questions, to Mela, Celsus, Pliny, or Solinus.
And having thus past the principles of Arithmetick, Geometry, Astronomy,
and Geography with a general compact of Physicks,
they may descend in Mathematicks to the instrumental science of Trigonometry,
and from thence to Fortification, Architecture, Enginry, or Navigation.
And in natural Philosophy they may proceed leisurely from the History of Meteors,
Minerals, plants and living Creatures as far as Anatomy.
Then also in course might be read to them out of some not tedious
Writer the Institution of Physick; that they may know the tempers,
the humours, the seasons, and how to manage a crudity:
which he who can wisely and timely do, is not only a great Physitian to himself,
and to his friends, but also may at some time or other,
save an Army by this frugal and expenseless means only;
and not let the healthy and stout bodies of young men rot away under him
for want of this discipline; which is a great pity,
and no less a shame to the Commander.
To set forward all these proceedings in Nature and Mathematicks, what hinders,
but that they may procure, as oft as shal be needful,
the helpful experiences of Hunters, Fowlers, Fishermen, Shepherds, Gardeners,
Apothecaries; and in the other sciences, Architects, Engineers, Mariners, Anatomists;
who doubtless would be ready some for reward,
and some to favour such a hopeful Seminary.
And this will give them such a real tincture of natural knowledge,
as they shall never forget, but daily augment with delight.
Then also those Poets which are now counted most hard,
will be both facil and pleasant, Orpheus, Hesiod, Theocritus,
Aratus, Nicander, Oppian, Dionysius, and in Latin Lucretius, Manilius,
and the rural part of Virgil.
By this time, years and good general precepts will have furnisht them
more distinctly with that act of reason which in Ethics is call’d Proairesis:
that they may with some judgement contemplate upon moral good and evil.
Then will be requir’d a special reinforcement of constant
and sound endoctrinating to set them right and firm,
instructing them more amply in the knowledge of Vertue and the hatred of Vice:
while their young and pliant affections are led through all the moral works of Plato,
Xenophon, Cicero, Plutarch, Laertius, and those Locrian remnants;
but still to be reduc’t in their nightward studies
wherewith they close the dayes work,
under the determinate sentence of David or Salomon,
or the Evanges and Apostolic Scriptures.
Being perfect in the knowledge of personal duty,
they may then begin the study of Economics. And either now, or before this,
they may have easily learnt at any odd hour the Italian Tongue.
And soon after, but with wariness and good antidote,
it would be wholsome enough to let them taste some choice Comedies,
Greek, Latin, or Italian: Those Tragedies also that treat of Houshold matters,
as Trachiniæ, Alcestis, and the like.
The next remove must be to the study of Politicks;
to know the beginning, end, and reasons of Political Societies;
that they may not in a dangerous fit of the Common-wealth be such poor,
shaken, uncertain Reeds, of such a tottering Conscience,
as many of our great Counsellers have lately shewn themselves,
but stedfast pillars of the State.
After this they are to dive into the grounds of Law,
and legal Justice; deliver’d first, and with best warrant by Moses;
and as far as humane prudence can be trusted,
in those extoll’d remains of Grecian Law-givers, Licurgus, Solon, Zaleucus,
Charondas, and thence to all the Roman Edicts and Tables with their Justinian;
and so down to the Saxon and common Laws of England, and the Statutes.
Sundayes also and every evening may be now understandingly spent
in the highest matters of Theology, and Church History ancient and modern:
and ere this time the Hebrew Tongue at a set hour might have been gain’d,
that the Scriptures may be now read in their own original;
whereto it would be no impossibility to add the Chaldey, and the Syrian Dialect.
When all these employments are well conquer’d, then will the choise Histories,
Heroic Poems, and Attic Tragedies of stateliest and most regal argument,
with all the famous Political Orations offer themselves;
which if they were not only read; but some of them got by memory,
and solemnly pronounc’t with right accent, and grace, as might be taught,
would endue them even with the spirit and vigor of Demosthenes or Cicero,
Euripides, or Sophocles.
And now lastly will be the time to read with them those organic arts
which inable men to discourse and write perspicuously, elegantly,
and according to the fitted stile of lofty, mean, or lowly.
Logic therefore so much as is useful,
is to be referr’d to this due place withall her well coucht Heads and Topics,
untill it be time to open her contracted palm into a gracefull
and ornate Rhetorick taught out of the rule of Plato, Aristotle, Phalereus,
Cicero, Hermogenes, Longinus. To which Poetry would be made subsequent,
or indeed rather precedent, as being less suttle and fine, but more simple,
sensuous and passionate. I mean not here the prosody of a verse,
which they could not but have hit on before among the rudiments of Grammar;
but that sublime Art which in Aristotles Poetics, in Horace,
and the Italian Commentaries of Castelvetro, Tasso, Mazzoni, and others,
teaches what the laws are of a true Epic Poem, what of a Dramatic,
what of a Lyric, what Decorum is, which is the grand master-piece to observe.
This would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our comm Rimers
and Play-writers be, and shew them, what religious,
what glorious and magnificent use might be made of Poetry both
in divine and humane things.
From hence and not till now will be the right season of forming them
to be able Writers and Composers in every excellent matter,
when they shall be thus fraught with an universal insight into things.
Or whether they be to speak in Parliament or Counsel,
honour and attention would be waiting on their lips.
There would then also appear in Pulpits other Visages, other gestures,
and stuff otherwise wrought then what we now sit under,
oft times to as great a trial of our patience as any other that they preach to us.
These are the Studies wherein our noble
and our gentle Youth ought to bestow their time in a disciplinary way
from twelve to one and twenty; unless they rely more upon their ancestors dead,
then upon themselves living. In which methodical course it is so suppos’d
they must proceed by the steddy pace of learning onward,
as at convenient times for memories sake to retire back into the middle ward,
and sometimes into the rear of what they have been taught,
untill they have confirm’d, and solidly united the whole body
of their perfeted knowledge, like the last embattelling of a Roman Legion.
Now will be worth the seeing what Exercises and Recreations may best agree,
and become these Studies.
The course of Study hitherto briefly describ’d, is, what I can guess by reading,
likest to those ancient and famous Schools of Pythagoras, Plato, Isocrates,
Aristotle and such others,
out of which were bred up such a number of renowned Philosophers, Orators,
Historians, Poets and Princes all over Greece, Italy, and Asia,
besides the flourishing Studies of Cyrene and Alexandria.
But herein it shall exceed them, and supply a defect as great as that
which Plato noted in the Common-wealth of Sparta;
whereas that City train’d up their Youth most for War,
and these in their Academies and Lycæum, all for the Gown,
this institution of breeding which I here delineate,
shall be equally good both for Peace and War.
Therefore about an hour and a half ere they eat
at Noon should be allow’d them for exercise and due rest afterwards:
But the time for this may be enlarg’d at pleasure,
according as their rising in the morning shall be early.
The Exercise which I commend first, is the exact use of their Weapon,
to guard and to strike safely with edge, or point; this will keep them healthy,
nimble, strong, and well in breath,
is also the likeliest means to make them grow large and tall,
and to inspire them with a gallant and fearless courage,
which being temper’d with seasonable Lectures
and Precepts to them of true Fortitude and Patience,
will turn into a native and heroick valour,
and make them hate the cowardise of doing wrong.
They must be also practiz’d in all the Locks and Gripes of Wrastling,
wherein English men were wont to excell,
as need may often be in fight to tugg or grapple, and to close.
And this perhaps will be enough,
wherein to prove and heat their single strength.
The interim of unsweating themselves regularly,
and convenient rest before meat may both with profit
and delight be taken up in recreating
and composing their travail’d spirits with the solemn
and divine harmonies of Musick heard or learnt;
either while the skilful Organist plies his grave and fancied descant,
in lofty fugues, or the whole Symphony with artful
and unimaginable touches adorn
and grace the well studied chords of some choice Composer;
sometimes the Lute, or soft Organ stop waiting on elegant Voices either to Religious,
martial, or civil Ditties; which if wise men and Prophets be not extreamly out,
have a great power over dispositions and manners,
to smooth and make them gentle from rustick harshness and distemper’d passions.
The like also would not be unexpedient
after Meat to assist and cherish Nature in her first concoction,
and send their minds back to study in good tune and satisfaction.
Where having follow’d it close under vigilant eyes till about two hours before supper,
they are by a sudden alarum or watch word, to be call’d out to their military motions,
under skie or covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont;
first on foot, then as their age permits, on Horseback,
to all the Art of Cavalry; That having in sport, but with much exactness,
and daily muster, serv’d out the rudiments of their Souldiership
in all the skill of Embattelling, Marching, Encamping, Fortifying,
Besieging and Battering, with all the helps of ancient and modern stratagems,
Tacticks and warlike maxims,
they may as it were out of a long War come forth renowned
and perfect Commanders in the service of their Country.
They would not then, if they were trusted with fair and hopeful armies,
suffer them for want of just and wise discipline to shed away
from about them like sick feathers, though they be never so oft suppli’d:
they would not suffer their empty
and unrecrutible Colonels of twenty men in a Company to quaff out,
or convey into secret hoards, the wages of a delusive list,
and a miserable remnant: yet in the mean while to be over-master’d
with a score or two of drunkards, the only souldery left about them,
or else to comply with all rapines and violences. No certainly,
if they knew ought of that knowledge that belongs to good men or good Governours,
they would not suffer these things. But to return to our own institute,
besides these constant exercises at home,
there is another opportunity of gaining experience
to be won from pleasure it self abroad;
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant,
it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out,
and see her riches, and partake in her rejoycing with Heaven and Earth.
I should not therefore be a perswader to them of studying much then,
after two or three year that they have well laid their grounds,
but to ride out in Companies with prudent and staid Guides,
to all the quarters of the Land: learning and observing all places of strength,
all commodities of building and of soil, for Towns and Tillage,
Harbours and Ports for Trade. Sometimes taking Sea as far as to our Navy,
to learn there also what they can in the practical knowledge of sailing
and of Sea-fight. These ways would try all their peculiar gifts of Nature,
and if there were any secret excellence among them, would fetch it out,
and give it fair opportunities to advance it self by,
which could not but mightily redound to the good of this Nation,
and bring into fashion again those old admired Vertues and Excellencies,
with far more advantage now in this purity of Christian knowledge.
Nor shall we then need the Monsieurs of Paris to take our hopefull Youth
into their slight and prodigal custodies
and send them over back again transform’d into Mimicks, Apes, and Kicshoes.
But if they desire to see other Countries at three or four and twenty years of age,
not to learn Principles but to enlarge Experience, and make wise observation,
they will by that time be such as shall deserve the regard
and honour of all men where they pass, and the society
and friendship of those in all places who are best and most eminent.
And perhaps then other Nations will be glad to visit us for their Breeding,
or else to imitate us in their own Country.
Now lastly for their Diet there cannot be much to say,
save only that it would be best in the same House;
for much time else would be lost abroad, and many ill habits got;
and that it should be plain, healthful,
and moderate I suppose is out of controversie. Thus Mr. Hartlib,
you have a general view in writing, as your desire was,
of that which at several times I had discourst with you concerning the best
and Noblest way of Education; not beginning, as some have done from the Cradle,
which yet might be worth many considerations, if brevity had not been my scope,
many other circumstances also I could have mention’d,
but this to such as have the worth in them to make trial,
for light and direction may be enough.
Only I believe that this is not a Bow for every man to shoot
in that counts himself a Teacher;
but will require sinews almost equal to those which Homer gave Ulysses,
yet I am withall perswaded that it may prove much more easie in the assay,
then it now seems at distance, and much more illustrious:
howbeit not more difficult then I imagine,
and that imagination presents me with nothing but very happy
and very possible according to best wishes; if God have so decreed,
and this age have spirit and capacity enough to apprehend.
COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND
WITH THE DOMINIONS THEROF.
I have prepar’d, supream Councel, against the much expected time of your sitting,
this treatise; which, though to all Christian magistrates equally belonging,
and therfore to have bin written in the common language of Christendom,
natural dutie and affection hath confin’d and dedicated first to my own nation:
and in a season wherin the timely reading therof,
to the easier accomplishment of your great work,
may save you much labor and interruption: of two parts usually propos’d,
civil and ecclesiastical, recommending civil only to your proper care,
ecclesiastical to them only from whom it takes both that name and nature.
Yet not for this cause only do I require or trust to finde acceptance,
but in a two-fold respect besides:
first, as bringing cleer evidence of scripture and protestant maxims
to the Parlament of England, who in all thir late acts, upon occasion,
have professd to assert only the true protestant Christian religion,
as it is containd in the holy scriptures:
next, in regard that your power being but for a time,
and having in yourselves a Christian libertie of your own,
which at one time or other may be oppressd, therof truly sensible,
it will concern you while you are in power,
so to regard other mens consciences,
as you would your own should be regarded in the power of others;
and to consider that any law against conscience is alike in force against any conscience,
and so may one way or other justly redound upon your selves.
One advantage I make no doubt of,
that I shall write to many eminent persons of your number,
alreadie perfet and resolvd in this important article of Christianitie.
Some of whom I remember to have heard often for several years,
at a councel next in autoritie to your own, so well joining religion with civil prudence,
and yet so well distinguishing the different power of either,
and this not only voting, but frequently reasoning why it should be so,
that if any there present had bin before of an opinion contrary,
he might doubtless have departed thence a convert in that point,
and have confessd that then both commonwealth and religion will at length,
if ever, flourish in Christendom,
when either they who govern discern between civil and religious,
or they only who so discern shall be admitted to govern.
Till then, nothing but troubles, persecutions, commotions can be expected;
the inward decay of true religion among our selves,
and the utter overthrow at last by a common enemy.
Of civil libertie I have written heretofore by the appointment,
and not without the approbation of civil power:
of Christian liberty I write now;
which others long since having don with all freedom under heathen emperors,
I should do wrong to suspect that I now shall with less under Christian governors,
and such especially as profess openly thir defence of Christian libertie;
although I write this not otherwise appointed or induc’d
then by an inward perswasion of the Christian dutie
which I may usefully discharge herin to the common Lord and Master of us all,
and the certain hope of his approbation, first and chiefest to be sought:
in the hand of whose providence I remain,
praying all success and good event on your publick councels,
to the defence of true religion and our civil rights.
Done into Verse, 1653.
BLESS’D is the man who hath not walk’d astray
In counsel of the wicked, and ith’way
Of sinners hath not stood, and in the seat
Of scorners hath not sate. But in the great
Jehovahs Law is ever his delight,
And in his law he studies day and night.
He shall be as a tree which planted grows
By watry streams, and in his season knows
To yield his fruit, and his leaf shall not fall.
And what he takes in hand shall prosper all.
Not so the wicked, but as chaff which fann’d
The wind drives, so the wicked shall not stand
In judgment, or abide their tryal then
Nor sinners in th’assembly of just men.
For the Lord knows th’upright way of the just
And the way of bad men to ruine must.
ON SHAKESPEARE. 1630
WHat needs my Shakespear for his honour’d Bones,
The labour of an age in piled Stones,
Or that his hallow’d reliques should be hid
Under a Star-ypointing Pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of Fame,
What need’st thou such weak witnes of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thy self a live-long Monument.
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalu’d Book,
Those Delphick lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of it self bereaving,
Dost make us Marble with too much conceaving;
And so Sepulcher’d in such pomp dost lie,
That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.
Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum’d,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Of him, t’ whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this Earthy grosnes quit,
Attir’d with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee O Time.
It was the Winter wilde,
While the Heav’n-born-childe,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in aw to him
Had doff’t her gawdy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the Sun her lusty Paramour.
Onely with speeches fair
She woo’s the gentle Air
To hide her guilty front with innocent Snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinfull blame,
The Saintly Vail of Maiden white to throw,
Confounded, that her Makers eyes
Should look so neer upon her foul deformities.
But he her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyd Peace,
She crown’d with Olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphear,
His ready Harbinger,
With Turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
And waving wide her mirtle wand,
She strikes a universall Peace through Sea and Land.
No War, or Battails sound
Was heard the World around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hooked Chariot stood
Unstain’d with hostile blood,
The Trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
And Kings sate still with awfull eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peacefull was the night
Wherin the Prince of light
His raign of peace upon the earth began:
The Windes, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joyes to the milde Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The Stars with deep amaze
Stand fixt in stedfast gaze,
Bending one way their pretious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn’d them thence;
But in their glimmering Orbs did glow,
Untill their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The Sun himself with-held his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferiour flame,
The new-enlightn’d world no more should need;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Then his bright Throne, or burning Axletree could bear.
The Shepherds on the Lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sate simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they than,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly com to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or els their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busie keep.
When such musick sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortall finger strook,
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blisfull rapture took:
The Air such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echo’s still prolongs each heav’nly close.
Nature that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia’s seat, the Airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was don,
And that her raign had here its last fulfilling;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all Heav’n and Earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight
A Globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shame-fac’t night array’d,
The helmed Cherubim
And sworded Seraphim
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displaid,
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive notes to Heav’ns new-born Heir.
Such Musick (as ‘tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator Great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanc’t world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out ye Crystall sphears,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the Base of Heav’ns deep Organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th’ Angelike symphony.
For if such holy Song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckl’d vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould,
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea Truth, and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Th’ enameld Arras of the Rainbow wearing,
And Mercy set between,
Thron’d in Celestiall sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down stearing,
And Heav’n as at som festivall,
Will open wide the Gates of her high Palace Hall.
But wisest Fate sayes no,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe lies yet in smiling Infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorifie:
Yet first to those ychain’d in sleep,
The wakefull trump of doom must thunder through the deep,
With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang
While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
The aged Earth agast 160
With terrour of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the center shake,
When at the worlds last session,
The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne.
And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
Th’ old Dragon under ground,
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
And wrath to see his Kingdom fail,
Swindges the scaly Horrour of his foulded tail.
The Oracles are dumm,
No voice or hideous humm
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shreik the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspire’s the pale-ey’d Priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o’re,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale
Edg’d with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent,
With flowre-inwov’n tresses torn
The Nimphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
In consecrated Earth,
And on the holy Hearth,
The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint,
In Urns, and Altars round,
A drear, and dying sound
Affrights the Flamins at their service quaint;
And the chill Marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat.
Peor, and Baalim,
Forsake their Temples dim,
With that twise-batter’d god of Palestine,
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heav’ns Queen and Mother both,
Now sits not girt with Tapers holy shine,
The Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian Maids their wounded Thamuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch fled,
Hath left in shadows dred.
His burning Idol all of blackest hue,
In vain with Cymbals ring,
They call the grisly king,
In dismall dance about the furnace blue;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis and Orus, and the Dog Anubis hast.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian Grove, or Green,
Trampling the unshowr’d Grasse with lowings loud:
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest,
Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud:
In vain with Timbrel’d Anthems dark
The sable-stoled Sorcerers bear his worshipt Ark.
He feels from Juda’s land
The dredded Infants hand,
The rayes of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside,
Longer dare abide,
Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe, to shew his Godhead true,
Can in his swadling bands controul the damned crew.
So when the Sun in bed,
Curtain’d with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an Orient wave.
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to th’ infernall jail,
Each fetter’d Ghost slips to his severall grave,
And the yellow-skirted Fayes
Fly after the Night-steeds, leaving their Moon-lov’d maze.
But see the Virgin blest,
Hath laid her Babe to rest.
Time is our tedious Song should here have ending,
Heav’ns youngest-teemed Star
Hath fixt her polisht Car,
Her sleeping Lord with Handmaid Lamp attending.
And all about the Courtly Stable,
Bright-harnest Angels sit in order serviceable.
Ere-while of Musick, and Ethereal mirth,
Wherwith the stage of Ayr and Earth did ring,
And joyous news of heav’nly Infants birth,
My muse with Angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In Wintry solstice like the shortn’d light
Soon swallow’d up in dark and long out-living night.
For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my Harpe to notes of saddest wo,
Which on our dearest Lord did sease er’e long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse then so,
Which he for us did freely undergo
Most perfect Heroe, try’d in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight.
He sov’ran Priest stooping his regall head
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly Tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies;
O what a Mask was there, what a disguise!
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide,
Then lies him meekly down fast by his Brethrens side.
These latter scenes confine my roving vers,
To this Horizon is my Phœbus bound,
His Godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings other where are found;
Loud o’re the rest Cremona’s Trump doth sound;
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of Lute, or Viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me night best Patroness of grief,
Over the Pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter’d fancy to belief,
That Heav’n and Earth are colour’d with my wo;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:
The leaves should all be black wheron I write,
And letters where my tears have washt a wannish white.
See see the Chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl’d the Prophet up at Chebar flood,
My spirit som transporting Cherub feels,
To bear me where the Towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious Towers, now sunk in guiltles blood;
There doth my soul in holy vision sit
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatick fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad Sepulchral rock
That was the Casket of Heav’ns richest store,
And here though grief my feeble hands up-lock,
Yet on the softned Quarry would I score
My plaining vers as lively as before;
For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order’d Characters.
Or should I thence hurried on viewles wing,
Take up a weeping on the Mountains wilde,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unboosom all thir Echoes milde,
And I (for grief is easily beguild)
Might think th’ infection of my sorrows loud,
Had got a race of mourners on som pregnant cloud.
WHEN I CONSIDER HOW MY LIGHT IS SPENT
When I consider how my light is spent,
E’re half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day labour, light deny’d,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’re Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.