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The rest of mankind fall,
And went not downwards to the sky.
As conquering kings in triumph go,
Did he to heav'n approach,
And wondrous was his way, and wondrous was his coach.
'Twas gaudy all, and rich in every part,
Of essences of gems, and spirit of gold
Drawn forth by chymic angels' art.
Figures that did transcend a vulgar angel's wit.
The horses were of temper'd lightning made,
And flaming manes their necks array'd.
Not such as here are found,
But such light solid ones as shine
On the transparent rocks o' the heavenly crystalline.
Thus mounted the great prophet to the skies:
Wonder'd from hence to see one rise.
The soft clouds melted him away,
The snow and frosts which in it lay
Awhile the sacred footsteps bore,
The wheels and horses' hoofs hiss'd as they past them o'er.
He past by the moon and planets, and did fright
With the unexampled sight.
But where he stopp'd will ne'er be known,
To a better being do aspire,
And mount herself, like him, to eternity on fire.
George Wither was born in 1588. After two years at Oxford, he came to Lincoln's Inn to study law; but, making the acquaintance of William Brown, the poet, his thoughts were turned to literature, and he commenced the career of authorship. His publications are very numerous, and they are distinguished by a force and depth of thought, and a sweetness of versification, which entitle them to more attention than they have received during the last hundred and fifty years. His life was one of many virtues and great vicissitudes. During a great plague which ravaged London in 1625, he devoted himself to the care of the sick and dying, and his habits were of "almost patriarchal simplicity." But for the freedom with which he satirised the vices of the times, in one of his earlier volumes, he was thrown into Newgate; and, owing to his puritanism, on the restoration of Charles II., he was committed to the Tower, where he had well-nigh ended his days. He died May 2, 1667.
The Suffering Saviour.
You that like heedless strangers pass along,
The greatest king that ever wore a crown,
The truest lover that ever was known,
By them He loved was most unkindly uɛel:
* Introduction to Wither's "Hymns and Songs of the Church." Edited by E. Farr. London: 1856.
And He that lived from all transgressions clear,
Oh! could we but the thousandth part relate,
Of those afflictions which they made Him bear, Our hearts with passion would dissolve thereat, And we should sit and weep for ever here; Nor should we glad again hereafter be, But that we hope in glory Him to see.
For while upon the cross He pained hung,
Or in the hearts of mortals be conceived);
One offer'd to Him vinegar and gall;
A second did His pious works deride; To dicing for His robes did others fall;
And many mock'd Him, when to God He cried; Yet He, as they His pain still more procured, Still loved, and for their good the more endured.
But, though his matchless love immortal were,
That could no more than mortal bodies bear;
Their malice, therefore, did prevail thereon:
Whose death, though cruel, unrelenting man
Oh, therefore, let us all that present be,
E'en He, the cursed Jews and Pilate slew,
Our sins of spite were part of those that day,
Whose cruel whips and thorns did make Him smart,
Our want of love was that which pierced His heart;
We crucify and torture Him again.
The Lord's Prayer.
Our Father, which in heaven art,
Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done,
In heaven and earth the same:
Give us this day our daily bread :
And us forgive Thou so,
As we on them that us offend
Forgiveness do bestow:
Into temptation lead us not,
But us from evil free:
For Thine the kingdom, power, and praise,
Is, and shall ever be.*
Edward Benlowes was born of an old and opulent family, at Brent Hall, Essex, in 1602. After passing through the curriculum at St John's College, Cambridge, he took a lengthened tour on the continent, and came home with a mind expanded
*The above is remarkable for its compactness. It contains only two words more than the prose of the authorised version. The same is the case with a metrical version composed by the late Dr Judson, in prison at Ava, and published in the tenth chapter of his Life.
and enriched beyond most of his contemporaries. His tastes were literary, and his dispositions generous; and he became the patron, not only of men of merit, like Quarles, but of indigent parasites and adventurers, who at last exhausted his resources, and involved him in responsibilities which even his ample heritage could not meet. The consequence was that, in his old age, he found himself the inmate of a debtor's prison; and the remaining eight years of his life he spent in Oxford, in the extreme of poverty. There he died, Dec. 18, 1676.
Shortly after the appearance of Beaumont's "Psyche," Benlowe published (1652) a poem on a similar subject-" Theophila, or Love's Sacrifice." Like a late author, who combined the agreeable vocations of bard and banker, Mr Benlowe spared no expense in introducing his work to the public; but it came forth embellished with engravings, some of them by Hollar, remarkably elaborate and beautiful, in a style of sumptuous typography, and prefaced by a long array of encomiums on the author. Perfect copies are now excessively rare, and it is partly as a matter of curiosity, that we quote a specimen from an author who, although so much extolled in his time, has been over-looked in almost every subsequent survey of our Christian literature. At the same time, if we do not greatly mistake, such stanzas as the following, indicate a considerable share of poetic taste and feeling :
From public roads to private joy's our flight;
That sea-dividing Prince, whose sceptred rod