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Or might I say contrarious,
Temper’st thy providence through his short course,
Not evenly, as thou rulest
The angelic orders, and inferior creatures mute,
Irrational and brute?
Nor do I name of men the common rout,
That wandering loose about,
Grow up and perish, as the summer fly,
Heads without name, no more remember'd;
But such as thou hast solemnly elected,
With gifts and graces eminently adorn'd,
To some great works, thy glory
And people's safety, which in part they effect :
Yet toward these thus dignified, thou oft
Amidst their height of noon,
Changest thy countenance, and thy hand, with no regard
Of highest favours past
From thee on them, or them together of service.
MILTON. Samson Agonistes.
MARK, how the birds do sing,
And woods do ring.
All creatures have their joy, and man hath his.
Yet if we rightly measure,
Man's joy and pleasure,
Rather hereafter, than in present, is.
Not, that he may not here
Taste of the cheer;
But as birds drink and straight lift up their head,
So must be sip, and think
Of better drink
may attain to, after he is dead.
But as his joys are double,
So is his trouble.
He hath two winters, other things but one:
proportions capabilities and failings, virtues and vices, enlightenment and error, grandeur and weakness, and after having filled the age in which they lived with the splendour of their actions, and the magnitude of their destiny, they remain personally obscure in the midst of their glory, alternately cursed and worshipped by the world which does not know them.
Both frosts and thoughts do nip,
And bite his lip;
And he of all things fears two deaths alone.
Yet even the greatest griefs
May be reliefs,
Could he but take them right and in their ways.
Happy is he, whose heart
Hath found the art
To turn his double pains to double praise.
GEORGE HERBERT. WHAT a piece of work is man! How noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties ! in form, and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel ! in apprehension, how like a god ! the beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals !
Hamlet, Act II. EVERY man, however good he may be, has a yet better man dwelling in him, which is properly himself, but to whom nevertheless he is often unfaithful. It is to this interior and less inutable being, that we should attach ourselves, not to the changeable every day man.
O WOMAN! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made.
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou !
SIR W. Scott. Marmion, Canto VI.
The very first
Of human life must spring from woman's breast;
Your first small words are taught you from her lips,
Your first tears quench'd by her, and your last sighs
Too often breathed out in a woman's hearing,
When men have shrunk from the ignoble care
Of watching the last hour of him who led them.
SAE was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleam'd upon my sight,
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn ;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty ;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food,
For transient sorrrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel-light.
WELL I understand in the prime end
Of nature her th' inferior, in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel ;
In outward also her resembling less
His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O’er other creatures; yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best;
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discount'nanced, and like folly shows;
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed.
Paradisc Lost. Book VIII.
Is it for that such outward ornament
Was lavish'd on their sex, that inward gifts
Were left for haste unfinish’d, judgment scant,
Capacity not raised to apprehend
Or value what is best
In choice, but oftest to affect the wrong?
Or was too much of self-love mix’d,
Of constancy no root infix'd,
That either they love nothing, or not long?
Whate'er it be, to wisest men and best
Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil,
Soft, modest, meek, demure,
Once join'd, the contrary she proves, * a thorn
Intestine, far within defensive arms
A cleaving mischief, in his way to virtue
Adverse and turbulent; or by her charms
Draws him awry enslaved
With dotage, and his sense depraved
To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends.
What pilot so expert but needs must wreck
Embark'd with such a steers-mate at the helm ?
Favour'd of Heaven who finds
One virtuous, rarely found,
That in domestic good combines :
Happy that house ! his way to peace is smooth:
* First when Maggy was my care,
Heaven, I thought, was in her air ;
Now we're married-spier nae mair--
Whistle o'er the lave o't.
Meg was meek, and Meg was mild,
Bonnie Meg was Nature's child ;
Wiser men than me's beguild-
Whistle o'er the lave o't.
BURNS. An idol may be undeified by many accidental causes. Marriage in particular is a kind of counter-apotheosis, or a deification inverted. When a man becomes familiar with his goddess, she quickly sinks into a woman.
But virtue, which breaks through all opposition,
And all temptation can remove,
Most shines, and most is acceptable above.*
Therefore God's universal law
Gave to the man despotic power
Over his female in due awe,
Not from that right to part an hour,
Smile she or lour :
So shall he least confusion draw
On his whole life, not sway'd
By female usurpation, or dismay'd.
Milton. Samson Agonistes.
THOUGH women first were made for men,
Yet men were made for them agen;
For when (outwitted by his wife)
Man first turn'd tenant but for life,
If women had not intervened,
How soon had mankind had an end !
And that it is in being yet,
To us alone you are in debt.
And where's your liberty of choice,
And our unnatural No Voice ?
Since all the privilege you boast,
And falsely usurp'd, or vainly lost,
Is now our right; to whose creation
You owe your happy restoration;
And if we had not weighty cause
To not appear, in making laws,
We could, in spite of all your tricks,
And shallow, formal politicks,
Force you our managements t obey,
As we to yours (in show) give way,
Hence 'tis that, while you vainly strive
Tadvance your high prerogative,
You basely, after all your braves,
* Tho' fools spurn Hymen's powers,
We, who improve his golden hours,
By sweet experience know
That marriage rightly understood,
Gives to the tender and the good,
A paradise below.