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Divinity, great store, above the rest,
Not of the last edition, but the best.
He must have language, travel, all the arts,
Judgment to use, or else he wants thy parts.
He must have friends the highest, able to do,
Such as Mæcenas and Augustus too.
He must have such a sickness, such a death,
Or else his vain descriptions corne beneath.
He that would write an epitaph for thee,
Should first be dead; let it alone for me.
MY EVER-DESIRED DOCTOR DONNE.
BY H. KING, LATE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER.
To have liv'd eminent in a degree
Beyond our loftiest thoughts, that is like thee;
Or t have had too much merit is not safe,
For such excesses find no epitaph.
At common graves we have poetic eyes, Can melt themselves in easy elegies; Each quill can drop his tributary verse, And pin it, like the hatchments, to the hearse; But at thine, poem or inscription (Rich soul of wit and language) we have none. Indeed a silence does that tomb befit, Where is no herald left to blazon it. Widow'd invention justly doth forbear To come abroad, knowing thou art not there: Late her great patron, whose prerogative Maintain’d and cloth'd her so, as none alive Must now presume to keep her at thy rate, Tho’he the Indies for her dower estate. Or else that awful fire which once did burn In thy clear brain, now fallen into thy urn, Lives there to fright rude empirics from thence, Which might profane thee by their ignorance. Whoever writes of thee, and in a style Unworthy such a theme, does but revile Thy precious dust, and wakes a learned spirit, Which may revenge his rapes upon thy merit: For all a low pitch'd fancy can devise Will prove at best but hallow'd injuries.
Thou like the dying swan didst lately sing,
Thy mournful dirge in audience of the King;
When pale looks and faint accents of thy breath
Presented so to life that piece of death,
That it was feard and prophesy'd by all
Thou thither cam’st to preach thy funeral.
Oh, hadst thou in an elegiac knell
Rung out unto the world thine own farewell,
And in thy high victorious numbers beat
The solemn measures of thy griev'd retreat,
Thou mightst the poet's service now have mist,
As well as then thou didst prevent the priest;
And never to the world beholden be
So much as for an epitaph for thee.
I do not like the office ; nor is 't fit
Thou, who didst lend our age such sums of wit,
Should'st now reborrow from her bankrupt mine
That ore to bury thee which first was thine;
Rather still leave us in thy debt, and know,
Exalted soul, more glory 'tis to owe
Thy memory what we can never pay,
Than with embased coin those rites defray.
Commit we then thee to thyself, nor blame
Our drooping loves, that thus to thine own fame
Leave thee executor, since but thine own
No pen could do thee justice, nor bays crown
Thy vast deserts; save that we nothing can
Depute to be thy ashes' guardian.
So jewellers no art or metal trust
To form the diamond, but the diamond's dust.
Our Donne is dead! and we may sighing say,
We had that man, where language chose to stay,
And show her utmost power. I would not praise
That, and his great wit, which in our vain days
Make others proud, but as these serv'd to unlock
That cabinet his mind, where such a stock
Of knowledge was repos’d, that I lament
Our just and general cause of discontent.
And I rejoice I am not so severe, But as I write a line to weep a tear
For his decease; such sad extremities
Can make such men as I write elegies.
And wonder not ; for when so great a loss
Falls on a nation, and they slight the cross,
God hath rais'd prophets to awaken them
From their dull lethargy; witness my pen,
Not us’d to upbraid the world, though now it must
Freely and boldly, for the cause is just.
Dull age! Oh, I would spare thee, but thou’rt worse :
Thou art not only dull, but hast a curse
Of black ingratitude; if not, couldst thou
Part with this matchless man, and make no vow
For thee and thine successively to pay
Some sad remembrance to his dying day?
Did his youth scatter poetry, wherein
Lay love's philosophy? was every sin
Pictur’d in his sharp satires, made so foul,
That some have fear'd sin's shapes, and kept their soul
Safer by reading verse? Did he give days,
Past marble monuments, to those whose praise
He would perpetuate? Did he (I fear
Envy will doubt) these at his twentieth year ?
But, more matur’d, did his rich soul conceive,
And in harmonious holy numbers weave
A crown of sacred sonnets?, fit ť adorn
A dying martyr's brow, or to be worn
On that blest head of Mary Magdalen,
After she wip'd Christ's feet, but not till then;
Did he (fit for such penitents as she
And he to use) leave us a Litanie,
Which all devout men love, and doubtless shall,
As times grow better, grow more classical ?
Did he write hymns, for piety and wit,
Equal to those great grave Prudentius writ?
Spake he all languages ? Knew he all laws ?
The grounds and use of physic; but, because
'Twas mercenary, waiv'd it? Went to see
That happy place of Christ's nativity ?
Did he return and preach him ? preach him so,
As since St. Paul none ever did ? they know-
Those happy souls that heard him know this truth.
Did he confirm thy ag'd, convert thy youth?
Did he these wonders ? and is his dear loss
Mourn’d by so few? few for so great a
But sure the silent are ambitious all
To be close mourners of his funeral.
If not; in common pity they forbear
By repetitions to renew our care :
Or, knowing grief conceiv'd and hid consumes
Man's life insensibly (as poison's fumes
Corrupt the brain), take silence for the way
T' enlarge the soul from these walls, mud and clay,
(Materials of this body) to remain
With him in heaven, where no promiscuous pain
Lessens those joys we have ; for with him all
Are satisfied with joys essential.
Dwell on these joys, my thoughts! Oh, do not call
Grief back, by thinking on his funeral.
Forget he lov'd me; waste not my swift years,
Which haste to David's seventy, filled with fears
And sorrows for his death : forget his parts,
They find a living grave in good men's hearts ;
And, for my first
is daily paid for sin,
Forget to pay my second sigh for him:
Forget his powerful preaching; and forget
I am his convert.
O my frailty ! let
My flesh be no more heard : it will obtrude
This lethargy: so should my gratitude,
My vows of gratitude should so be broke,
Which can no more be, than his virtues, spoke
By any but himself: for which cause, I
Write no encomiums, but this elegy ;
Which, as a free-will offering, I here give
Fame and the world; and, parting with it, grieve
I want abilities fit to set forth
A monument as matchless as his worth.
April 7, 1631.