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Of all the creatures bred below,
We must call man most miserable;
Who all his time is never able
To purchase any true repose;
His very birth may well disclose
What miseries his blisse ore-throw:
For, first (when born) he cannot know
Who to his state is friend or foe,
Nor how at first he may stand stable,
But even with cryes, and teares, doth show
What dangers do his life enclose;
Whose griefes are sure, whose joyes a fable;
Thus still his dayes in dolour so
He to huge perils must expose;
And with vexation lives, and dyes with woe, Not knowing whence he came, nor where to go.
Then whilst he holds this lowest place,
O! how uncertaine is his state?
The subject of a constant fate,
To figure forth inconstancy,
Which ever changing as we see,
Is still a stranger unto peace:
For if man prosper but a space,
With each good successe fondly bold,
And puft up in his owne conceit.
He but abuses fortune's grace;
And when that with adversity
His pleasure's treasures end their date,
And with disasters are controll'd,
Straight he begins for griefe to dye:
And still the top of some extreame doth hold,
Not suffring summer's heat, nor winter's cold.
His state doth in most danger stand,
Who most abounds in worldly things,
And soares too high with fortune's wings,
Which carry up aspiring mindes,
To be the object of all windes;
The course of such when rightly scan'd,
(Whilst they cannot themselves command)
Transported with an empty name,
Oft unexpected ruine brings;
There were examples in this land,
How worldly blisse the senses blindes,
From which at last oft trouble springs;
He who presumes upon the same,
Hidde poyson in his pleasure findes;
And sayling rashly with the windes of fame,
Doth oft times sinke downe in a sea of shame.
When such a monarch's minde is bent To follow most the most unwise, Who can their folly well disguise With sugred speeches, poisnous baits, The secret canker of great states, From which at first few disassent, The which at last all do repent, Then whil'st they must to ruine go; When kings begin thus to despise Of honest men the good intent, Who to assure their soveraignes' seats Would faine in time some help devise, And would cut off all cause of woe, Yet cannot second their conceits: These dreadfull comets commonly fore-go A king's destruction, when miscarried so.
THOSE who command above, High presidents of Heaven, By whom all things doe move, As they have order given, What worldling can arise, Against them to repine? Whilst castell'd in the skies, With providence divine; They force this peopled round, Their judgements to confesse, And in their wrath confound Proud mortalls who transgresse The bounds to them assign'd By Nature in their mind.
Base brood of th' Earth, vaine man,
Why brag'st thou of thy might?
The Heavens thy courses scan,
Thou walk'st still in their sight;
Ere thou wast born, thy deedes
Their registers dilate,
And thinke that none exceedes
The bounds ordain'd by fate;
What Heavens would have thee to,
Though they thy wayes abhorre,
That thou of force must doe,
And thou canst doe no more:
This reason would fulfill,
Their worke should serve their will.
Are we not heires of death, In whom there is no trust? Who, toss'd with restlesse breath, Are but a dramme of dust; Yet fooles when as we erre, And Heavens doe wrath contract, If they a space deferre Just vengeance to exact, Pride in our bosome creepes, And misinformes us thus, That love in pleasure sleepes, Or takes no care of us : "The eye of Heaven beholds, What every heart enfoldes."
The gods digest no crime,
Though they (delaying long)
In the offender's time,
Secme to neglect a wrong,
O how the soule with all her might
Doth her celestiall forces straine,
That so she may attaine the light
Of Nature's wonders, which remaine
Hid from our eyes! we strive in vaine
To seeke out things that are unsure:
In sciences to seeme profound,
We dive so deepe, we finde uo ground;
And the more knowledge we procure,
The more it doth our mindes allure,
Of mysteries the depth to sound;
Thus our desires we never bound;
Which by degrees thus drawn on still,
The memory may not endure;
But like the tubs which Danaus' daughters fill,
Doth drinke no oftner then constrain'd to spill.
Yet how comes this? and O how can
Cleare'knowledge thus (the soule's chiefe treasure)
Be cause of such a crosse to man,
Which should afford him greatest pleasure?
This is, because we cannot measure
The limits that to it belong,
But (bent to tempt forbidden things)
Doe soare too high with nature's wings,
Still weakest whil'st we thinke us strong;
The Heavens, which hold we do them wrong
To try their grounds, and what thence springs,
This crosse upon us justly brings:
With knowledge, knowledge is confus'd,
And growes a griefe ere it be long;
"That which a blessing is when rightly us'd,
Doth grow the greatest crosse when once abus'd.
Ah! what avaiels this unto us,
Who in this vaile of woes abide,
With endlesse toyles to study thus
To learn the thing that Heaven would hide!
And trusting to too blinde a guide,
To spy the planets how they move,
And too (transgressing common barres)
The constellation of the starres,
And all that is decreed above,
Whereof (as oft the end doth prove)
A secret sight our wel-fare marres,
And in our brests breeds endlesse warres,
Whil'st what our horoscopes foretell,
Our expectations doe disprove :
Those apprehended plagues prove such a Hell.
That then we would unknow them till they fell.
This is the pest of great estates,
They by a thousand meanes devise
How to fore-know their doubtful fates;
And like new gyants, scale the skies,
Heavens secret store-house to surprise;
Which sacrilegious skill we see
With what great paine they apprehend it,
And then how foolishly they spend it.
To learne the thing that once must be;
Why should we seeke our destiny?
If it be good, we long attend it;
If it be ill none may amend it:
Such knowledge but torments the minde;
Let us attend the Heavens' decree:
For those whom this ambiguous art doth blinde,
May what they seeke to flye, the rather finde.
And loe of late, what hath our king
By his preposterous travels gain'd,
In searching out each threatned thing,
Which Atis' horoscope contain❜d?
For what the Heavens had once ordain'd,
That by no meanes he could prevent;
And yet he labours to finde out
Through all the oracles about,
Of future things the hid event.
This doth his raging minde torment :
(Now in his age unwisely stout)
To fight with Cyrus, but no doubt
The Heavens are griev'd thus to heare told
Long ere the time their darke intent.
Let such of Tantalus the state behold,
Who dare the secrets of great love unfold.
Is'r not a wonder thus to see
How by experience each man reeds
In practis'd volumes penn'd by deeds,
How things below inconstant be;
Yet whil'st our selves continue free,
We ponder oft, but not apply
That pretious oyle, which we might buy,
Best with the price of others' paines,
Which (as what not to us pertaines)
To use we will not condescend,
As if we might the fates defie,
Still whilst untouch'd our state remaines ; But soon the Heavens a change may send: No perfect blisse before the end.
When first we fill with fruitfull seed
The apt conceiving wombe of th' Earth,
And seeme to banish feare of dearth;
With that which it by time may breed,
Still dangers do our hopes exceed :
The frosts may first with cold confound
The tender greenes which decke the ground,
Whose wrath though April's smiles asswage,
It must abide th' Eolian rage,
Which too ore-com'd, whilst we attend
All Ceres' wandring tresses bound,
The reines let from their cloudy cage
May spoile what we expect to spend :
No perfect blisse before the end.
Loe, whil'st the vine-tree great with grapes,
With nectar'd liquor strives to kisse
Embracing elmes not lov'd amisse,
Those clusters lose their comely shapes,
Whilst by the thunder burn'd, in heapes
All Bacchus hopes fall downe and perish:
Thus many thing doe fairly flourish,
Which no perfection can attaine,
And yet we worldlings are so vaine,
That our conceits too high we bend,
If fortune but our spring-time cherish,
Though divers stormes we must sustaine,
To harvest ere our yeares ascend :
No perfect blisse before the end.
By all who in this world have place, There is a course which must be runne, And let none thinke that he hath wonne, Till first he finish'd hath his race;
The forrests through the which we trace,
Breed ravenous beasts, which doe abhorre us,
And lye in wait still to devoure us,
Whil'st brambles doe our steppes beguile,
The feare of which though we exile,
And to our marke with gladnesse tend,
Then balles of gold are laid before us,
To entertaine our thoughts a while,
And our good meaning to suspend :
No perfect blisse before the end.
Behold how Croesus long hath liv'd,
Throughout this spatious world admir'd,
And having all that he desir'd,
A thousand meanes of joy contriv'd;
Yet suddenly is now depriv'd
Of all that wealth; and strangely falles:
For every thing his sprite appalles,
His sonne's decease, his countrye's losse,
And his owne state, which stormes doe tosse:
Thus he who could not apprehend,
Then whil'st he slept in marble walles,
No, nor imagine any crosse,
To beare all those his brest must lend:
No perfect blisse before the end.
And we the Lydians who design'd To raigne over all who were about us, Behold how fortune too doth flout us, And utterly hath us resign'd; For, to our selves we that assign'd A monarchie, but knew not how, Yet thought to make the world to bow, Which at our forces stood afraid, We, we by whom these plots were laid, To thinke of bondage must descend, And beare the y ke of others now, O, it is true that Solon said! While as he yet doth breath extend, No man is blest; behold the end.
A mighty man who is respected,
And by his subjects thought a god,
Thinkes as his name on high erected,
Hath what he list at home effected,
It may like wonders worke abroad,
O how this folly is detected!
For, though he sit in royall seate,
And as he fist his vassals lode,
Yet others who are great,
Live not by his couceit,
Nor weigh what he doth threat,
But plague his pride oft ere he feare the rod; There are rare qualities requir'd in kings, "A naked name can never worke great things,"
Loe, though the success? bath approv'd
What Charidemus had fore-showne,'
Yet with his words no man was mov'd,
"For good men first must be remov'd,
Before their worth can well be known;"
The king would heare but what he lov'd,
And what him pleas'd not did despise,
So were the better sort orethrowne;
And sycophants unwise,
Who could the truth disguise,
Were suffered high to rise,
That him who rais'd them up, they might cast downe: "Thus princes will not heare, though some deceive them,
Things as they are, but as themselves conceive them."
Of all the passions which possesse the soule,
None so disturbes vaine mortals' mindes,
As vaine ambition which so blindes
The light of them, that nothing can controll,
Nor curb their thoughts who will aspire;
This ragmg vehement desire
Of soveraignty no satisfaction findes,
But in the breasts of men doth ever roule
The restlesse stone of Sisyph to torment them,
And as his heart who stole the heavenly fire,
The vulture gnaws, so doth that monster rent them,
Had they the world, the world would not content
This race of Ixion to embrace the clouds,
Contemne the state wherein they stand,
And, save themselves, would all command;
"As one desire is quench'd, another buds;"
When they have travell'd all their time,
Heapt bloud on bloud, and crime on crime,
There is an higher power that guides their hand:
More happie he whom a poore cottage shrouds
Against the tempest of the threatning Heaven;
He stands in feare of none, none envies him;
His heart is upright, and his wayes are even,
Where others states are still twixt six and seven
Such spend their prosp'rous dayes, as in a dreame
And as it were in Fortune's bosome sleeping,
Then in a dull security abide,
That damned wretch up with ambition blowne,'
Then whilst he turnes the wheele about,
Throwne high, and low, within, without,
In striving for the top is tumbling downe.
"Those who delight in climbing high,
Oft by a precipice do dye,"
So do the starres skie-climbing worldlings flout;
But this disease is fatall to a crowne: [bounds,
Kings, who have most, would most augment their
And if they be not all, they cannot be,
Which to their damage commonly redounds,
"The weight of too great states themselves con-
The mighty toyling to enlarge their state,
Themselves exceedingly deceive,
In hazarding the thing they have
For a felicity which they conceive;
Though their dominions they increase,
Yet their desires grow never lesse,
For though they conquer much, yet more they crave,
Which fatall fortune doth attend the great,
And all the outward pompe that they assume
Doth but with shows disguise the minds distresse;
And who to conquer all the Earth presume,
A little earth shall them at last consume.
And if it fortune that they dye in peace,
(A wonder wondrous rarely seene)
Who conquer first, Heavens finde a meane
To raze their empire, and oft-times their race,
Who comming to the crowne with rest,
And having all in peace possest,
Do straight forget what bloudy broyles have beene,
Ere first their fathers could attaine that place;
"As seas'do flow and ebbe, states rise and fall,
And princes when their actions prosper best,
For feare their greatnesse should oppresse the small,
As of some hated, envied are of all."
We know what end the mighty Cyrus made,
Whom whilst he striv'd to conquer still,
A woman (justly griev'd) did kill,
And in a bloudy vesseil roll'd his head,
Then said, (whil'st many wondring stood)
"Since thou didst famish for such food,
Now quench thy thirst of bloud with bloud at will;"
Some who succeeded him, since he was dead,
Have raign'da space with pompe, and yet with paine,
Whose glory now can do to us no good;
And what so long they labour'd to obtaine,
All in an instant must be lost againe.
Loe, Darius once so magnified by fame,
By one whom he contemn'd ore-come,
For all his bravery now made dombe,
With down-cast eyes must signifie his shame;,
Who puft up with ostentive pride, ·
Thinke Fortune bound to serve their side,
Can never scape, to be the prey of some;
And of their doubtfull state neglect the keeping, Whil'st fearfull ruine comes upon them creeping.
Thus the vicissitude of worldly things
Doth oft to us it selfe detect,
When heavenly pow'rs exalt, deject,
Confirme, confound, erect, and ruine kings.
So Alexander, mighty now,
To whom the vanquish'd world doth bow,
With all submission, homage, and respect,
Doth flie a borrow'd flight with Fortune's wings;
Nor enters he his dangerous course to ponder;
Yet if once Fortune bend her cloudy brow,
All those who at his sudden successe wonder,
May gaze as much to see himselfe brought under.
What is from ruine free?
The elements which be
At variance (as we see)
Each th' other doth confound:
The earth and ayre make warre,
The fire and water are
Through drought and moisture jarre.
What wonder though men change and fade, Who of those changing elements are made?
Still wrestling at debate,
All those through cold and heat,
How dare vaine worldlings vaunt
Of Fortune's goods not lasting,
Evils which our wits enchant?
Expos'd to losse and wasting!
Loe, we to death are hasting,
Whilst we those things discusse:
All things from their beginning,
Still to an end are running,
Heaven hath ordain'd it thus;
We heare how it doth thunder,
We see th' earth burst asunder,
And yet we never ponder
What this imports to us:
Those fearefull signes doe prove,
That th' angry pow'rs above
Are mov'd to indignation
Against this wretched nation,
Which they no longer love:
What are we but a puffe of breath
Who live assur'd of nothing but of death
Who was so happy yet
As never had some crosse ? Though on a throne he sit, And is not us'd with losse, Yet Fortune once will tosse