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Such as the Jews from servile toil released,
Where works of mercy were a part of rest;
Such as blest angels exercise above,
Varied with sacred hymns and acts of love;
Such sabbaths as that one she now enjoys,
E'en that perpetual one, which she employs,
(For such vicissitudes in heaven there are)
In praise alternate, and alternate prayer.
All this she practised here, that when she sprung
Amidst the choirs, at the first sight she sung;
Sung, and was sung herself in angels' lays;
For, praising her, they did her Maker praise.
All offices of heaven so well she knew,
Before she came, that nothing there was new;
And she was so familiarly received,
As one returning, not as one arrived.
Muse, down again precipitate thy flight;
For how can mortal eyes sustain immortal light?
But as the sun in water we can bear,
Yet not the sun, but his reflection there,
So let us view her here in what she was,
And take her image in this watery glass:
Yet look not every lineament to see;
Some will be cast in shades, and some will be
So lamely drawn, you'll scarcely know 'tis she.
For where such various virtues we recite,
'Tis like the milky-way, all over bright,
But sown so thick with stars, 'tis undistinguished
Her virtue, not her virtues, let us call;
For one heroic comprehends them all:
One, as a constellation is but one,
Though 'tis a train of stars, that, rolling on,
Rise in their turn, and in the zodiac run,
Ever in motion; now 'tis faith ascends,
Now hope, now charity, that upward tends,
And downwards with diffusive good descends.
As in perfumes composed with art and cost,
'Tis hard to say what scent is uppermost;
Nor this part musk or civet can we call,
Or amber, but a rich result of all;
So she was all a sweet, whose every part,
In due proportion mixed, proclaimed the Maker's art.
No single virtue we could most commend,
Whether the wife, the mother, or the friend;
For she was all, in that supreme degree,
That as no one prevailed, so all was she.
The several parts lay hidden in the piece;
The occasion but exerted that, or this.
A wife as tender, and as true withal,
As the first woman was before her fall:
Made for the man, of whom she was a part;
Made to attract his eyes, and keep his heart.
A second Eve, but by no crime accurst;
As beauteous, not as brittle as the first.
Had she been first, still Paradise had been,
And death had found no entrance by her sin.
So she not only had preserved from ill
Her sex and ours, but lived their pattern still.
Love and obedience to her lord she bore;
She much obeyed him, but she loved him more:
Not awed to duty by superior sway,
But taught by his indulgence to obey.
Thus we love God, as author of our good;
So subjects love just kings, or so they should.
Nor was it with ingratitude returned;
In equal fires the blissful couple burned;
One joy possessed them both, and in one grief
His passion still improved; he loved so fast,
As if he feared each day would be her last.
Too true a prophet to foresee the fate
That should so soon divide their happy state;
When he to heaven entirely must restore
That love, that heart, where he went halves before.
Yet as the soul is all in every part,
So God and he might each have all her heart.
So had her children too; for charity
Was not more fruitful, or more kind, than she:
Each under other by degrees they grew;
A goodly perspective of distant view.
Anchises looked not with so pleased a face,
In numbering o'er his future Roman race, †
And marshalling the heroes of his name,
As, in their order, next to light they came;
Nor Cybele, with half so kind an eye,
Surveyed her sons and daughters of the sky;
Proud, shall I say, of her immortal fruit?
As far as pride with heavenly minds may suit.
Her pious love excelled to all she bore;
New objects only multiplied it more.
And as the chosen found the pearly grain
As much as every vessel could contain;
As in the blissful vision each shall share
As much of glory as his soul can bear;
So did she love, and so dispense her care.
Her eldest thus, by consequence, was best,
As longer cultivated than the rest.
The babe had all that infant care beguiles,
And early knew his mother in her smiles:
But when dilated organs let in day
To the young soul, and gave it room to play,
At his first aptness, the maternal love
Those rudiments of reason did improve:
The tender age was pliant to command;
Like wax it yielded to the forming hand:
* Lady Abingdon had six sons and three daughters.
Eneas descending to the shades, finds his father Anchises engaged in the review of his posterity.-See Eneid, lib. vi.
True to the artificer, the laboured mind
With ease was pious, generous, just, and kind;
Soft for impression, from the first prepared,
Till virtue with long exercise grew hard:
With every act confirmed, and made at last
So durable as not to be effaced,
It turned to habit; and, from vices free,
Goodness resolved into necessity.
Thus fixed she virtue's image, (that's her own,)
Till the whole mother in the children shone;
For that was their perfection: she was such,
They never could express her mind too much.
So unexhausted her perfections were,
That, for more children, she had more to spare ;
For souls unborn, whom her untimely death
Deprived of bodies, and of mortal breath;
And, could they take the impressions of her mind,
Enough still left to sanctify her kind.
Then wonder not to see this soul extend The bounds, and seek some other self, a friend: As swelling seas to gentle rivers glide, To seek repose, and empty out the tide¿ So this full soul, in narrow limits pent, Unable to contain her, sought a vent To issue out, and in some friendly breast Discharge her treasures, and securely rest; To unbosom all the secrets of her heart, Take good advice, but better to impart. For 'tis the bliss of friendship's holy state, To mix their minds, and to communicate; Though bodies cannot, souls can penetrate: Fixed to her choice, inviolably true, And wisely choosing, for she chose but few. Some she must have; but in no one could find A tally fitted for so large a mind.
The souls of friends like kings in progress are, Still in their own, though from the palace far;
Thus her friend's heart her country dwelling was,
A sweet retirement to a coarser place;
Where pomp and ceremonies entered not,
Where greatness was shut out, and business well
This is the imperfect draught; but short as far As the true height and bigness of a star Exceeds the measures of the astronomer. She shines above, we know; but in what place, How near the throne, and heaven's imperial face, By our weak optics is but vainly guessed; Distance and altitude conceal the rest.
Though all these rare endowments of the mind Were in a narrow space of life confined, The figure was with full perfection crowned; Though not so large an orb, as truly round.
As when in glory, through the public place, The spoils of conquered nations were to pass, And but one day for triumph was allowed, The consul was constrained his pomp to crowd; And so the swift procession hurried on, That all, though not distinctly, might be shewn : So in the straitened bounds of life confined, She gave but glimpses of her glorious mind; And multitudes of virtues passed along, Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng, Ambitious to be seen, and then make room For greater multitudes that were to come.
Yet unemployed no minute slipped away; Moments were precious in so short a stay. The haste of heaven to have her was so great, That some were single acts, though each complete; But every act stood ready to repeat. Her fellow-saints with busy care will look For her blest name in fate's eternal book; And, pleased to be outdone, with joy will see Numberless virtues, endless charity: