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TO MY OLD AND MOST WORTHY FRIENDS
LIFE OF DOCTOR. DONNE, &c.
TTTHEN, to a Nation's loss, the virtuous die,
W There's justly due from ev'ry hand and eye That can, or write, or weep, an elegy.
Wherein, my friend, you have a hand so sure,
Your truths so candid are, your style so pure,
That what you write may Envy's search endure.
Your pen, disdaining to be brib'd or prest,
Flows without vanity, or interest;
A virtue with which few good pens are blest.
How happy was my father thens! to see
Those men he lov'd, by him he lov'd, to be
Rescu'd from frailties and mortality.
Wotton and Donne, to whom his soul was knit,
Those twins of virtue, eloquence, and wit,
He saw in Fame's eternal annals writ.
Where one has fortunately found a place,
More faithful to him than his marble was",
Which eating age, nor fire shall e'er deface.
A monument that, as it has, shall last
And prove a monument to that defac'd;
Itself, but with the world, not to be raz'd.
And even in their flow?ry characters,
My father's grave, part of your friendship shares ;
For you have honour'd his in strewing theirs.
I The character of Mr. Charles Cotton, the father of Charles Cotton the poet, is moft beautifully delineated by the noble historian.
(Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon, fol. 1759. p. 16.)
h His monument in St. Paul's church before the late dreadful fire, 1665.
Thus by an office, though particular,
Virtue's whole common-weal obliged are;
For in a virtuous act all good men share.
And by this act, the world is taught to know,
That the true friendship we to merit owe,
Is not discharg'd by compliment and show.
But yours is friendship of fo pure a kind,
From all mean ends and interest so refin'd,
It ought to be a pattern to mankind:
For, whereas most men's friendships here beneath,,
Do perish with their friends' expiring breath,
Yours proves a friendship living after death;
By which the generous Wotton, reverend Donne,
Soft Herbert, and the church's champion
Hooker, are rescu'd from oblivion.
For though they each of them his time so spent,
As rais'd unto himself a monument,
With which Ambition might rest well content;
Yet their great works, though they can never die,
And are in truth superlatively high,
Are no just scale to take their virtues by ::
Because they shew not how th' Almighty's grace,,
By various and more admirable ways,
Brought them to be the organs of his praise.
But what their humble modesty would hide,
And was by any other means deny'd,
Is by your love and diligence supply’d.
Wotton,-a nobler soul was never bred !-
You, by your narrative's most even thread,
Through all his labyrinths of life have led;
Through his degrees of honour and of arts,
Brought him secure from Envy's venom'd darts,
Which are still levell’d at the greatest parts;
Through all th' employments of his wit and spirit,
Whose great effects these kingdoms still inherit,
The trials then, new trophies of his merit;
"Nay, through disgrace, which oft the worthiest have,
Thro' all state-tempests, thro' each wind and wave,
And laid him in an honourable grave.
And yours, and the whole world's beloved Donne,
When he a long and wild career had run,
To the meridian of his glorious sun;
And being then an object of much ruth,
Led on by vanities, error, and youth,
Was long ere he did find the way to truth :
By the same clew, after his youthful swing,
To serve at his God's altar here you bring,
Where an once wanton muse doth anthems sing.
And though by God's most powerful grace alone
His heart was settled in Religion,
Yet ’tis by you we know how it was done ;
And know, that having crucify'd vanities
And fixt his hope, he clos'd up his own eyes,
And then your friend a faint and preacher dies.
The meek and learned Hooker too, almost
I'the Church's ruins over-whelm'd' and lost,
Is by your pen recover'd from his dust.
And Herbert ;-he, whose education,
Manners, and parts, by high applauses blown,
Was deeply tainted with Ambition,
And fitted for a court, made that his aim;
At last, without regard to birth or name,
For a poor country-cure does all disclaim ;
Where, with a soul composid of harmonies,
Like a sweet swan, he warbles as he dies
His Maker's praise, and his own obsequies.
All this you tell us, with so good success,
That our oblig'd posterity shall profess,
T’have been your friend, was a great happiness.
And now! when many worthier would be proud
T'appear before you, if they were allow'd,
I take up room enough to serve a crowd:
Where to commend what you have choicely writ,
Both my poor testimony and my wit
Are equally invalid and unfit :
Yet this, and much more, is most justly due,
Were what I write as elegant as true,
To the best friend I now or ever knew.
But, my dear friend, 'tis so, that you and I,
By a condition of mortality,
With all this great, and more proud world, muft die :