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Might ease his wings, and seeing Heaven appear
In its best work of mercy, think it there;
Where all the deeds of charity and love
Were in as constant method, as above,
All carried on; all of a piece with theirs ;
As free her alms, as diligent her cares;
As loud her praises, and as warm her prayers.
Yet was she not profuse, but fear'd to waste,
And wisely managed, that the stock might last;
That all might be supplied, and she not grieve,
When crowds appear'd, she had not to relieve:
Which to prevent, she still increased her store:
Laid up, and spared, that she might give the more.
So Pharaoh, or some greater king than he,
Provided for the seventh necessity;
Taught from above his magazines to frame,
That famine was prevented ere it came.
Thus Heaven, though all-sufficient, shows a thrift
In his economy, and bounds his gift:
Creating, for our day, one single light,
And his reflection, too, supplies the night.
Perhaps a thousand other worlds, that lie
Remote from us, and latent in the sky,
Are lighten'd by his beams, and kindly nurs❜d,
Of which our earthly dunghill is the worst.
Now, as all virtues keep the middle line,
Yet somewhat more to one extreme incline,
Such was her soul; abhorring avarice,
Bounteous, but almost bounteous to a vice:
Had she given more, it had profusion been,
And turn'd the' excess of goodness into sin.
These virtues raised her fabric to the sky;
For that, which is next Heaven, is charity.
But as high turrets, for their airy steep,
Require foundations in proportion deep;
And lofty cedars as far upwards shoot,
As to the nether heavens they drive the root;
So low did her secure foundation lie,
She was not humble, but humility.
Scarcely she knew that she was great, or fair,
Or wise, beyond what other women are,
Or, which is better, knew, but never durst compare.
For to be conscious of what all admire,
And not be vain, advances virtue higher.
But still she found, or rather thought she found,
Her own worth wanting, others' to abound;
Ascribed above their due to every one,
Unjust and scanty to herself alone.
Such her devotion was, as might give rules
Of speculation to disputing schools,
And teach us equally the scales to hold
Betwixt the two extremes of hot and cold;
That pious heat may moderately prevail,
And we be warm'd, but not be scorch'd with zeal
Business might shorten, not disturb, her prayer;
Heaven had the best, if not the greater share.
An active life long orisons forbids;
Yet still she pray'd, for still she pray'd by deeds.
Her every day was Sabbath; only free
From hours of prayer for hours of charity.
Such as the Jews from servile toil released,
Where works of mercy were a part of rest;
Such as bless'd 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 watry 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, [light.
But sown so thick with stars, 'tis undistinguish'd
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 mix'd, proclaim 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 prevail'd, 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 accurs'd;
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 obey'd 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 return'd;
In equal fires the blissful couple burn'd; [mourn'd.
One joy possess'd them both, and in one grief they
His passion still improved; he loved so fast,
As if he fear'd 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 look'd 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,
Survey'd 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 excell❜d 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;
True to the' artificer, the labour'd 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 confirm'd, and made at last
So durable as not to be effaced,
It turn'd to habit; and, from vices free,
Goodness resolved into necessity.