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POEMS

OF

JOHN DRYDEN.

ELEGIES AND EPITAPHS.

UPON THE

DEATH OF LORD HASTINGS.

1649.

MUST noble Hastings immaturely die,
The honour of his ancient family;
Beauty and learning thus together meet,
To bring a winding for a wedding-sheet?
Must Virtue prove Death's harbinger? must she,
With him expiring, feel mortality?

Is death, sin's wages, grace's now ? shall art
Make us more learned, only to depart?

If merit be disease, if virtue death;

To be good, not to be; who'd then bequeath
Himself to discipline? who'd not esteem
Labour a crime? study self-murder deem?

Our noble youth now have pretence to be
Dunces securely, ignorant healthfully. [praise,
Rare linguist! whose worth speaks itself, whose
Though not his own, all tongues besides do raise,
Than whom great Alexander may seem less,
Who conquer'd men, but not their languages.
In his mouth nations spake; his tongue might be
Interpreter to Greece, France, Italy.

His native soil was the four parts o' the' earth;
All Europe was too narrow for his birth.
A young apostle, and, with reverence may
I speak 't, inspired with gift of tongues as they.
Nature gave him a child, what men in vain
Oft strive, by art though further'd, to obtain,
His body was an orb, his sublime soul
Did move on virtue's and on learning's pole;
Whose regular motions better to our view
Than Archimedes' sphere, the heavens did shew.
Graces and virtues, languages and arts,
Beauty and learning, fill'd up all the parts.
Heaven's gifts, which do like falling stars appear
Scatter'd in others, all, as in their sphere,
Were fix'd, conglobate in his soul; and thence
Shone through his body with sweet influence;
Letting their glories so on each limb fall,
The whole frame render'd was celestial.
Come, learned Ptolemy, and trial make
If thou this hero's altitude canst take:
But that transcends thy skill; thrice happy all,
Could we but prove thus astronomical.
Lived Tycho now, struck with this ray which shone
More bright i' the' morn than others beam at noon,
He'd take his astrolabe, and seek out here
What new star 'twas did gild our hemisphere.

Replenish'd then with such rare gifts as these,
Where was room left for such a foul disease?
The nation's sin hath drawn that veil, which shrouds
Our day-spring in so sad benighting clouds;
Heaven would no longer trust its pledge, but thus
Recall'd it, rapp'd its Ganymede from us.
Was there no milder way but the small-pox,
very filthiness of Pandora's box?

The

So many spots, like næves on Venus' soil,
One jewel set off with so many a foil;

Blisters with pride swell'd, which through's flesh did
Like rose-buds, stuck i' the' lily-skin about. [sprout
Each little pimple had a tear in it,

To wail the fault its rising did commit;
Which, rebel-like, with its own lord at strife,
Thus made an insurrection 'gainst his life.
Or were these gems sent to adorn his skin,
The cabinet of a richer soul within?

No comet need foretel his change drew on,
Whose corpse might seem a constellation.
O! had he died of old, how great a strife
Had been, who from his death should draw their life?
Who should, by one rich draught, become whate'er
Seneca, Cato, Numa, Cæsar, were!

Learn'd, virtuous, pious, great; and have by this
An universal metempsychosis.

Must all these aged sires in one funeral
Expire? all die in one so young, so small?
Who, had he lived his life out, his great fame
Had swoln 'bove any Greek or Roman name.
But hasty Winter, with one blast, hath brought
The hopes of Autumn, Summer, Spring, to nought.
Thus fades the oak i'the' sprig, i' the' blade the corn;
Thus, without young, this phoenix dies, new-born.

Must then old three-legged grey-beards, with their
Catarrhs, rheums, aches, live three ages out? [gout,
Time's offals, only fit for the' hospital!

Or to hang antiquaries' rooms withal!

Must drunkards, lechers, spent with sinning, live
With such helps as broths, possets, physic give?
None live but such as should die? shall we meet
With none but ghostly Fathers in the street?
Grief makes me rail; sorrow will force its way,
And showers of tears tempestuous sighs best lay.
The tongue may fail: but overflowing eyes
Will weep out lasting streams of elegies.
But thou, O Virgin-widow, left alone,

Now thy beloved, heaven-ravish'd, spouse is gone,
Whose skilful sire in vain strove to apply
Medicines, when thy balm was no remedy,
With greater than Platonic love, O wed
His soul, though not his body, to thy bed:
Let that make thee a mother; bring thou forth
The' ideas of his virtue, knowledge, worth;
Transcribe the original in new copies; give
Hastings o' the better part: so shall he live
In's nobler half; and the great-grandsire be
Of an heroic, divine progeny;

An issue which to' eternity shall last,
Yet but the' irradiations which he cast.
Erect no mausoleums; for his best

Monument is his spouse's marble breast,

TO THE

MEMORY OF MR. OLDHAM.

OB. 1683.

FAREWELL, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mould with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorr'd alike,
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
Whilst his young friend perform'd and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store

What could advancing age have added more?
It might, what Nature never gives the young,
Have taught the smoothness of thy native tongue:
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made,

When poets are by too much force betray'd.
Thy generous fruits, though gather'd ere their prime,
Still show'd a quickness; and maturing Time
But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of
rhyme.

Once more, hail, and farewell; farewell, thou young,
But ah, too short Marcellus of our tongue!
Thy brows with ivy and with laurels bound;
But Fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.

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