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And as those nightly tapers disappear
When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere;
So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight;
So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.
Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led
From cause to cause, to Nature's secret head;
And found, that one first principle must be :
But what, or who, that universal He;
Whether some soul encompassing this ball
Unmade, unmov'd; yet making, moving all;
Or various atoms, interfering dance,
Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance;
Or this great all was from eternity;
Not ev'n the Stagirite himself could see;
And Epicurus guess'd as well as he;
As blindly grop'd they for a future state;
As rashly judg'd of providence and fate:
But least of all could their endeavors find
What most concern'd the good of human-kind:
For happiness was never to be found;
But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground.
One thought content the good to be enjoy'd;
This every little accident destroy'd:
The wiser madmen did for virtue toil;
A thorny, or at best a barren soil:
In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep;
But found their line too short, the well too deep;
And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep.
Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll,
Without a centre where to fix the soul:
In this wild maze their vain endeavors end:
How can the less the greater comprehend?
Or finite reason reach Infinity?
Canst thou by reason more of godhead know
Than Plutarch, Seneca, or Cicero ?
Those giant wits in happier ages born,
When arms and arts did Greece and Rome adorn,
Knew no such system: no such piles could raise
Of natural worship, built on prayer and praise
To one sole God.
Nor did remorse to expiate sin prescribe:
But slew their fellow-creatures for a bribe:
The guiltless victim groan'd for their offence;
And cruelty and blood was penitence.
If sheep and oxen could atone for men,
Ah! at how cheap a rate the rich might sin!
And great oppressors might Heaven's wrath beguile,
By offering his own creatures for a spoil!
Dar'st thou, poor worm, offend Infinity?
And must the terms of peace be given by thee?
Then thou art Justice in the last appeal;
Thy easy God instructs thee to rebel :
And, like a king remote and weak, must take
What satisfaction thou art pleas'd to make.
But if there be a power too just and strong,
To wink at crimes, and bear unpunish'd wrong;
Look humbly upward, see his will disclose
The forfeit first, and then the fine impose:
A mulet thy poverty could never pay,
Had not Eternal Wisdom found the way;
And with celestial wealth supplied thy store:
His justice makes the fine, his mercy quits the score
See God descending in thy human frame;
Th' offended suffering in th' offender's name:
All thy misdeeds to him imputed see,
And all his righteousness devolv'd on thee.
For what could fathom God were more than He.
The deist thinks he stands on firmer ground;
Cries Eupeka, the mighty secret's found:
God is that spring of good; supreme, and best;
We made to serve, and in that service blest.
If so, some rules of worship must be given,
Distributed alike to all by Heaven:
Else God were partial, and to some denied
The means his justice should for all provide.
This general worship is to praise and pray:
One part to borrow blessings, one to pay :
And when frail Nature slides into offence,
The sacrifice for crimes is penitence.
Yet, since the effects of providence, we find,
Are variously dispens'd to human-kind;
That Vice triumphs, and Virtue suffers here,
A brand that sovereign justice cannot bear;
Our reason prompts us to a future state;
The last appeal from fortune and from fate:
Where God's all-righteous ways will be declar'd;
The bad meet punishment, the good reward.
Thus man by his own strength to Heaven would soar, But this one rule of life, that shows us best
For, granting we have sinn'd, and that th' offence
Of man is made against Omnipotence,
Some price that bears proportion must be paid;
And infinite with infinite be weigh'd.
See then the deist lost: remorse for vice,
Not paid; or, paid, inadequate in price:
What farther means can reason now direct,
Or what relief from human wit expect?
That shows us sick; and sadly are we sure
Still to be sick, till Heaven reveal the cure:
If then Heaven's will must needs be understood,
Which must, if we want cure, and Heaven be good.
Let all records of will reveal'd be shown;
With Scripture all in equal balance thrown,
And our one sacred book will be that one.
Proof needs not here; for whether we compare
That impious, idle, superstitious ware
Of rites, lustrations, offerings, which before,
In various ages, various countries bore,
With Christian faith and virtues, we shall find
None answering the great ends of human-kind
And would not be oblig'd to God for more.
Vain wretched creature, how art thou misled
To think thy wit these godlike notions bred!
These truths are not the product of thy mind,
But dropt from Heaven, and of a nobler kind.
Reveal'd religion first inform'd thy sight,
And reason saw not till faith sprung to light.
Hence all thy natural worship takes the source:
"Tis revelation what thou think'st discourse.
Else how com'st thou to see these truths so clear,
Which so obscure to heathens did appear?
Not Plato these, nor Aristotle found:
Nor he whose wisdom oracles renown'd.
Hast thou a wit so deep, or so sublime,
Or canst thou lower dive, or higher climb?
How God may be appeas'd, and mortals blest.
Whether from length of time its worth we draw,
The word is scarce more ancient than the law:
Heaven's early care prescrib'd for every age;
First, in the soul, and after, in the page.
Or, whether more abstractedly we look,
Or on the writers, or the written book,
Whence, but from Heaven, could men unskill'd in arts,
In several ages born, in several parts,
Weave such agreeing truths? or how, or why,
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unask'd their pains, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gain, and martyrdom their price.
If on the book itself we cast our view,
Concurrent heathens prove the story true:
The doctrine, miracles; which must convince,
For Heaven in them appeals to human sense:
And though they prove not, they confirm the cause,
When what is taught agrees with Nature's laws.
Then for the style, majestic and divine,
It speaks no less than God in every line:
Commanding words; whose force is still the same
As the first fiat that produc'd our frame.
All faiths beside, or did by arms ascend;
Or sense indulg'd has made mankind their friend :
This only doctrine does our lusts oppose:
Infed by Nature's soil, in which it grows;
Cross to our interests, curbing sense and sin;
Oppress'd without, and undermin'd within,
It thrives through pain; its own tormentors tires;
And with a stubborn patience still aspires.
To what can reason such effects assign
Transcending nature, but to laws divine;
Which in that sacred volume are contain'd;
Sufficient, clear, and for that use ordain'd?
But stay: the deist here will urge anew,
No supernatural worship can be true;
Because a general law is that alone
Which must to all, and everywhere, be known:
A style so large as not this book can claim,
Nor aught that bears reveal'd religion's name.
Tis said the sound of a Messiah's birth
Is gone through all the habitable Earth:
But still that text must be confin'd alone
To what was then inhabited and known:
And what provision could from thence accrue
To Indian souls, and worlds discover'd new?
In other parts it helps, that, ages past,
The Scriptures there were known, and were embrac'd,
Till sin spread once again the shades of night:
What's that to these, who never saw the light?
Of all objections, this indeed is chief
To startle reason, stagger frail belief:
We grant, 'tis true, that Heaven from human sense
Has hid the secret paths of providence :
But boundless wisdom, boundless mercy, may
Find ev'n for those bewilder'd souls, a way:
If from his nature foes may pity claim,
Much more may strangers who ne'er heard his name.
And though no name be for salvation known,
But that of his eternal Son's alone;
Who knows how far transcending goodness can
Extend the merits of that Son to man?
Who knows what reasons may his mercy lead;
Or ignorance invincible may plead?
Not only charity bids hope the best,
But more the great apostle has exprest:
That if the Gentiles, whom no law inspir'd,
By nature did what was by law requir'd;
They, who the written rule had never known,
Were to themselves both rule and law alone:
To nature's plain indictment they shall plead ;
And by their conscience be condemn'd or freed."
Most righteous doom! because a rule reveal'd
Is none to those from whom it was conceal'd.
Then those who follow'd reason's dictates right;
Liv'd up, and lifted high their natural light;
With Socrates may see their Maker's face,
While thousand rubric-martyrs want a place.
Nor does it balk my charity, to find
Th' Egyptian bishop of another mind :
For though his creed eternal truth contains,
"Tis hard for man to doom to endless pains
All who believ'd not all his zeal requir'd;
Unless he first could prove he was inspir'd.
Then let us either think he meant to say
This faith, where publish'd, was the only way;
Or else conclude, that, Arius to confute,
The good old man, too eager in dispute,
Flew high; and as his Christian fury rose,
Damn'd all for heretics who durst oppose.
Thus far my charity this path has tried; A much unskilful, but well-meaning guide: Yet what they are, ev'n these crude thoughts were bred By reading that which better thou hast read. Thy matchless author's work: which thou, my friend, By well translating better dost commend: Those youthful hours which, of thy equals most In toys have squander'd, or in vice have lost, Those hours hast thou to nobler use employ'd; And the severe delights of truth enjoy'd. Witness this weighty book, in which appears The crabbed toil of many thoughtful years, Spent by the author, in the sifting care Of rabbins' old sophisticated ware From gold divine; which he who well can sort May afterwards make algebra a sport. A treasure, which if country-curates buy, They Junius and Tremellius may defy: Save pains in various readings, and translations; And without Hebrew make most learn'd quotations. A work so full with various learning fraught, So nicely ponder'd, yet so strongly wrought, As Nature's height and Art's last hand requir'd: As much as man could compass, uninspir'd. Where we may see what errors have been made Both in the copier's and translator's trade: How Jewish, popish, interests have prevail'd, And where infallibility has fail'd.
For some, who have his secret meaning guess'd, Have found our author not too much a priest: For fashion-sake he seems to have recourse To pope, and councils, and tradition's force: But he that old traditions could subdue, Could not but find the weakness of the new: If Scripture, though deriv'd from heavenly birth, Has been but carelessly preserv'd on Earth; If God's own people, who of God before Knew what we know, and had been promis'd more, In fuller terms, of Heaven's assisting care, And who did neither time nor study spare To keep this book untainted, unperplext, Let in gross errors to corrupt the text, Omitted paragraphs, embroil'd the sense, With vain traditions stopt the gaping fence, Which every common hand pull'd up with ease: What safety from such brushwood-helps as these? If written words from time are not secur'd, How can we think have oral sounds endur'd ? Which thus transmitted, if one mouth has fail'd, Immortal lies on ages are entail'd:
And that some such have been, is prov'd too plain,
If we consider interest, church, and gain.
O but, says one, tradition set aside,
Where can we hope for an unerring guide?
For since th' original Scripture has been lost,
All copies disagreeing, maim'd the most,
Or Christian faith can have no certain ground,
Or truth in church-tradition must be found.
Such an omniscient church we wish indeed; Twere worth both Testaments; cast in the creed: But if this mother be a guide so sure,
As can all doubts resolve, all truth secure,
Then her infallibility, as well
Where copies are corrupt or lame, can tell;
Restore lost canon with as little pains,
As truly explicate what still remains :
Which yet no council dare pretend to do;
Unless like Esdras they could write it new:
Strange confidence still to interpret true,
Yet not be sure that all they have explain'd
Is in the blest original contain'd.
More safe, and much more modest 'tis, to say
God would not leave mankind without a way:
And that the Scriptures, though not everywhere
Free from corruption, or entire, or clear,
Are uncorrupt, sufficient, clear, entire,
In all things which our needful faith require.
If others in the same glass better see,
"Tis for themselves they look, but not for me:
For my salvation must its doom receive,
Not from what others, but what I believe.
Must all tradition then be set aside?
This to affirm, were ignorance or pride.
Are there not many points, some needful sure
To saving faith, that Scripture leaves obscure?
Which every sect will wrest a several way,
For what one sect interprets, all sects may :
We hold, and say we prove from Scripture plain,
That Christ is God; the bold Socinian
From the same Scripture urges he's but man.
Now what appeal can end th' important suit?
Both parts talk loudly, but the rule is mute.
Shall I speak plain, and in a nation free
Assume an honest layman's liberty?
I think, according to my little skill,
To my own mother-church submitting still,
That many have been sav'd, and many may,
Who never heard this question brought in play
Th' unletter'd Christian, who believes in gross,
Plods on to Heaven; and ne'er is at a loss:
For the strait-gate would be made straiter yet,
Were none admitted there but men of wit.
The few by Nature form'd, with learning fraught,
Born to instruct, as others to be taught,
Must study well the sacred page; and see
Which doctrine, this, or that does best agree
With the whole tenor of the work divine:
And plainliest points to Heaven's reveal'd design;
Which exposition flows from genuine sense,
And which is forc'd by wit and eloquence.
Not that tradition's parts are useless here:
When general, old, disinterested, clear:
That ancient fathers thus expound the page,
Gives truth the reverend majesty of age:
Confirms its force by biding every test;
For best authorities, next rules, are best.
And still the nearer to the spring we go
More limpid, more unsoil'd, the waters flow,
Thus first traditions were a proof alone;
Could we be certain such they were, so known:
But since some flaws in long descent may be,
They make not truth, but probability.
Ev'n Arius and Pelagius durst provoke
To what the centuries preceding spoke.
Such difference is there in an oft-told tale:
But truth by its own sinews will prevail.
Tradition written therefore more commends
Authority, than what from voice descends:
And this, as perfect as its kind can be,
Rolls down to us the sacred history:
Which, from the universal church receiv'd,
Is tried, and after, for itself believ'd.
The partial papists would infer from hence Their church, in last resort, should judge the sense.
But first they would assume, with wondrous art,
Themselves to be the whole, who are but part
Of that vast frame the church; yet grant they were
The handers-down, can they from thence infer
A right t' interpret? or would they alone,
Who brought the present, claim it for their own?
The book's a common largess to mankind;
Not more for them than every man design'd:
The welcome news is in the letter found;
The carrier's not commission'd to expound.
It speaks itself, and what it does contain,
In all things needful to be known is plain.
In times o'ergrown with rust and ignorance,
A gainful trade their clergy did advance:
When want of learning kept the laymen low,
And none but priests were authoriz'd to know:
When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell;
And he a god who could but read and spell;
Then mother-church did mightily prevail :
She parcel'd out the Bible by retail:
But still expounded what she sold or gave;
To keep it in her power to damn and save:
Scripture was scarce, and, as the market went,
Poor laymen took salvation on content;
As needy men take money good or bad:
God's word they had not, but the priest's they had.
Yet whate'er false conveyances they made,
The lawyer still was certain to be paid.
In those dark times they learn'd their knack so well,
That by long use they grew infallible:
At last a knowing age began t' inquire
If they the book, or that did them inspire:
And, making narrower search, they found, though
That what they thought the priest's, was their estate.
Taught by the will produc'd, the written word,
How long they had been cheated on record.
Then every man who saw the title fair,
Claim'd a child's part, and put in for a share:
Consulted soberly his private good;
And sav'd himself as cheap as e'er he could.
"Tis true, my friend, and far be flattery hence,
This good had full as bad a consequence:
The book thus put in every vulgar hand,
Which each presum'd he best could understand.
The common rule was made the common prey;
And at the mercy of the rabble lay.
The tender page with horny fists was gall'd;
And he was gifted most that loudest bawl'd:
The spirit gave the doctoral degree:
And every member of a company
Was of his trade, and of the Bible free.
Plain truths enough for needful use they found;
But men would still be itching to expound :
Each was ambitious of th' obscurest place,
No measure ta'en from knowledge, all from grace.
Study and pains were now no more their care;
Texts were explain'd by fasting and by prayer:
This was the fruit the private spirit brought;
Occasion'd by great zeal and little thought.
While crowds unlearn'd, with rude devotion warm,
About the sacred viands buzz and swarm.
The fly-blown text creates a crawling brood;
And turns to maggots what was meant for food.
A thousand daily sects rise up and die;
A thousand more the perish'd race supply:
So all we make of Heaven's discover'd will,
Is, not to have it, or to use it ill.
The danger's much the same; on several shelves If others wreck us, or we wreck ourselves.
What then remains, but, waving each extreme,
The tides of ignorance and pride to stem?
Neither so rich a treasure to forego;
Nor proudly seek beyond our power to know:
Faith is not built on disquisitions vain;
The things we must believe are few and plain:
But, since men will believe more than they need,
And every man will make himself a creed,
In doubtful questions 'tis the safest way
To learn what unsuspected ancients say:
For 'tis not likely we should higher soar
In search of Heaven, than all the church before:
Nor can we be deceiv'd, unless we see
The Scripture and the fathers disagree.
If after all they stand suspected still,
For no man's faith depends upon his will;
'Tis some relief, that points not clearly known
Without much hazard may be let alone :
And, after hearing what our church can say,
If still our reason runs another way,
That private reason 'tis more just to curb,
Than by disputes the public peace disturb.
For points obscure are of small use to learn:
But common quiet is mankind's concern.
Thus have I made my own opinions clear:
Yet neither praise expect, nor censure fear:
And this unpolish'd rugged verse I chose;
As fittest for discourse, and nearest prose:
For while from sacred truth I do not swerve,
Tom Sternhold's or Tom Shadwell's rhymes will serve.
PRINCIPAL PAINTER TO HIS MAJESTY.
ONCE I beheld the fairest of her kind,
And still the sweet idea charms my mind:
True, she was dumb; for nature gaz'd so long,
Pleas'd with her work, that she forgot her tongue;
But, smiling, said, "She still shall gain the prize;
I only have transferr'd it to her eyes."
Such are thy pictures, Kneller: such thy skill,
That Nature seems obedient to thy will;
Comes out, and meets thy pencil in the draught;
Lives there, and wants but words to speak her
At least thy pictures look a voice; and we
Imagine sounds, deceiv'd to that degree,
We think 'tis somewhat more than just to see.
Shadows are but privations of the light;
Yet, when we walk, they shoot before the sight;
With us approach, retire, arise, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expressing all.
Such are thy pieces, imitating life
So near, they almost conquer in the strife;
And from their animated canvas came,
Demanding souls, and loosen'd from the frame.
Prometheus, were he here, would cast away
His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay;
And either would thy noble work inspire,
Or think it warm enough without his fire.
But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise;
This is the least attendant on thy praise:
From hence the rudiments of art began;
A coal, or chalk, first imitated man:
Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall,
Gave outlines to the rude original;
Ere canvas yet was strain'd, before the grace Of blended colors found their use and place, Or cypress tablets first receiv'd a face.
By slow degrees the godlike art advanc'd; As man grew polish'd, picture was enhanc'd: Greece added posture, shade, and perspective; And then the mimic piece began to live. Yet perspective was lame, no distance true, But all came forward in one common view; No point of light was known, no bounds of art; When light was there, it knew not to depart, But glaring on remoter objects play'd; Not languish'd, and insensibly decay'd.
Rome rais'd not art, but barely kept alive, And with old Greece unequally did strive : Till Goths and Vandals, a rude northern race, Did all the matchless monuments deface. Then all the Muses in one ruin lie, And rhyme began t' enervate poetry. Thus, in a stupid military state, The pen and pencil find an equal fate. Flat faces, such as would disgrace a screen, Such as in Bantam's embassy were seen. Unrais'd, unrounded, were the rude delight Of brutal nations, only born to fight. Long time the sister arts, in iron sleep, A heavy sabbath did supinely keep: At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise, Stretch all their limbs, and open all their eyes. Thence rose the Roman, and the Lombard line: One color'd best, and one did best design. Raphael's, like Homer's, was the nobler part, But Titian's painting look'd like Virgil's art.
Thy genius gives thee both; where true design,
Postures unforc'd, and lively colors, join.
Likeness is ever there; but still the best,
Like proper thoughts in lofty language drest;
Where light, to shades descending, plays, not strives,
Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives.
Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought:
Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought.
Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight:
With awe, I ask his blessing ere I write ;
With reverence look on his majestic face;
Proud to be less, but of his godlike race,
His soul inspires me, while thy praise I write,
And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight,
Bids thee, through me, behold; with dauntless breast
Contemn the bad, and emulate the best.
Like his, thy critics, in th' attempt are lost:
When most they rail, know then, they envy most.
In vain they snarl aloof; a noisy crowd,
Like women's anger, impotent and loud.
While they their barren industry deplore,
Pass on secure, and mind the goal before.
Old as she is, my Muse shall march behind,
Bear off the blast, and intercept the wind.
Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth:
For hymns were sung in Eden's happy earth:
But oh, the painter Muse, though last in place,
Has seiz'd the blessing first, like Jacob's race.
Apelles' art an Alexander found;
And Raphael did with Leo's gold abound;
But Homer was with barren laurel crown'd.
Thou hadst thy Charles awhile, and so had I;
But pass we that unpleasing image by.
Rich in thyself, and of thyself divine;
All pilgrims come and offer at thy shrine.
A graceful truth thy pencil can command;
The fair themselves go mended from thy hand.
Likeness appears in every lineament;
But likeness in thy work is eloquent.
Though Nature there her true resemblance bears,
A nobler beauty in thy piece appears.
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame,
Flesh looks less living in the lovely dame.
Thou paint'st as we describe, improving still,
When on wild Nature we ingraft our skill;
But not creating beauties at our will.
But poets are confin'd in narrower space,
To speak the language of their native place:
The painter widely stretches his command;
Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land.
From hence, my friend, all climates are your own,
Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none.
All nations all immunities will give
To make you theirs, where'er you please to live;
And not seven cities, but the world would strive.
Sure some propitious planet then did smile,
When first you were conducted to this isle:
Our genius brought you here, t' enlarge our fame :
For your good stars are everywhere the same.
Thy matchless hand, of every region free,
Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.
Great Rome and Venice early did impart
To thee the examples of their wondrous art.
Those masters then, but seen, not understood,
With generous emulation fir'd thy blood:
For what in Nature's dawn the child admir'd,
The youth endeavor'd, and the man acquir'd.
If yet thou hast not reach'd their high degree,
"Tis only wanting to this age, not thee.
Thy genius, bounded by the times, like mine,
Drudges on petty draughts, nor dare design
A more exalted work, and more divine.
For what a song, or senseless opera,
Is to the living labor of a play;
Or what a play to Virgil's work would be,
Such is a single piece to history.
But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live:
Kings cannot reign, unless their subjects give:
And they, who pay the taxes, bear the rule:
Thus, thou, sometimes, art forc'd to draw a fool:
But so his follies in thy posture sink,
The senseless idiot seems at last to think.
THE COCK AND THE FOX:
OR, THE TALE OF THE NUN'S PRIEST.
THERE liv'd, as authors tell, in days of yore,
A widow, somewhat old, and very poor :
Deep in her cell her cottage lonely stood,
Well thatch'd and under covert of a wood.
This dowager, on whom my tale I found,
Since last she laid her husband in the ground,
A simple sober life, in patience, led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread:
But huswifing the little Heaven had lent,
She duly paid a groat for quarter rent;
And pinch'd her belly, with her daughters two,
To bring the year about with much ado.
The cattle in her homestead were three sows,
An ewe call'd Mallie, and three brinded cows.
Her parlor-window stuck with herbs around,
Of savory smell; and rushes strew'd the ground.
A maple-dresser in her hall she had,
On which full many a slender meal she made;
For no delicious morsel pass'd her throat;
According to her cloth she cut her coat:
No poignant sauce she knew, nor costly treat,
Her hunger gave a relish to her meat":
A sparing diet did her health assure;
Or, sick, a pepper posset was her cure.
Before the day was done, her work she sped,
And never went by candle-light to bed:
With exercise she sweat ill humors out,
Her dancing was not hinder'd by the gout.
Her poverty was glad; her heart content;
Nor knew she what the spleen or vapors meant.
Of wine she never tasted through the year,
But white and black was all her homely cheer:
Brown bread, and milk, (but first she skimm'd her
And rashers of sing'd bacon on the coals.
On holy-days an egg, or two at most;
But her ambition never reach'd to roast.
A yard she had with pales inclos'd about,
Some high, some low, and a dry ditch without.
Within this homestead, liv'd, without a peer,
For crowing loud, the noble Chanticleer;
So hight her cock, whose singing did surpass
Good Heaven! that sots and knaves should be so The merry notes of organs at the mass.
To wish their vile resemblance may remain!
And stand recorded, at their own request,
To future days, a libel or a jest!
Else should we see your noble pencil trace
Our unities of action, time, and place:
A whole compos'd of parts, and those the best,
With every various character exprest;
Heroes at large, and at a nearer view:
Less, and at distance, an ignobler crew.
While all the figures in one action join,
As tending to complete the main design.
More cannot be by mortal art exprest;
But venerable age shall add the rest,
For Time shall with his ready pencil stand;
Retouch your figures with his ripening hand;
Mellow your colors, and embrown the teint;
Add every grace, which Time alone can grant;
To future ages shall your fame convey,
And give more beauties than he takes away.
More certain was the crowing of the cock
To number hours, than is an abbey-clock;
And sooner than the matin-bell was rung,
He clapp'd his wings upon his roost, and sung:
For when degrees fifteen ascended right,
By sure instinct he knew 'twas one at night.
High was his comb, and coral red withal,
In dents embattled like a castle wall;
His bill was raven-black, and shone like jet;
Blue were his legs, and orient were his feet:
White were his nails, like silver to behold,
His body glittering like the burnish'd gold.
This gentle cock, for solace of his life,
Six misses had, besides his lawful wife;
Scandal, that spares no king, though ne'er so good.
Says, they were all of his own flesh and blood,
His sisters both by sire and mother's side;
And sure their likeness show'd them near allied.
But make the worst, the monarch did no more
Than all the Ptolemys had done before:
When incest is for interest of a nation,
"Tis made no sin by holy dispensation.
Some lines have been maintain'd by this alone,
Which by their common ugliness are known.