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Sleep. Sleep, gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness ? Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, Than in the perfumed chambers of the great, Under the canopies of costly state, And lulld with sounds of sweetest melody? O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile In loathsome beds, and leav’st the kingly couch A watch-case, or a common 'larum bell? Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains In cradle of the rude imperious surge, And in the visitation of the winds, Who take the ruffian billows by the top, Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them With deafening clamours in the slippery clouds, That, with the hurly, death itself awakes ? Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude, And, in the calmest and most stillest night, With all appliances and means to boot, Deny it to a king?
The Commonwealth of Bees.
So work the honey-bees ;
Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of sorts :2
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad ;
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds ;
MISERIES OF ROYALTY-A SHEPHERD'S BLESSINGS. 17
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor ;
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold;
The civil citizens kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate;
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone.
The Miseries of Royalty. O hard condition ! twin-born with greatness, Subjected to the breath of every fool, Whose sense no more can feel but his own wringing ! What infinite heart's ease must kings neglect, That private men enjoy ? And what have kings, that privates have not too, Save ceremony, save general ceremony? And what art thou, thou idol ceremony? What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers ? What are thy rents? what are thy comings-in ? O ceremony, show me but thy worth ! What is the soul of adoration ?3 Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form, Creating awe and fear in other men ? Wherein thou art less happy being fear'd Than they in fearing.
The Blessings of a Shepherd's Life.
O God! methinks it were a happy life
To be no better than a homely swain ;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
1 sober, grave.
? executioners. 36 What is the real worth of adoration ?"
Thereby to see the minutes how they run :
How many make the hour full complete,
How many hours bring about the day,
How many days will finish up the year,
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is known, then to divide the times :
hours must I tend
hours must I take my rest; So many hours must I contemplate ; So many hours must I sport myself ; So many days my ewes have been with young; So many weeks ere the poor
fools will yean;
So many years ere I shall sheer the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years,
Pass'd over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Ah, what a life were this ! how sweet! how lovely!
Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
To shepherds, looking on their silly sheep,
Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy
To kings that fear their subjects' treachery!
yes it doth; a thousandfold it doth.
And to conclude,-the shepherd's homely curds,
His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle,
His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
His body couched in a curious bed,
When care, mistrust, and treason wait on him.
The Hicissitudes of Life. So farewell to the little good you bear me ; Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness ! This is the state of man : to-day he puts forth The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms, And bears his blushing honours thick upon him ; The third day comes a frost, a killing frost, And—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening-nips his root;
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory;
But far beyond my depth : my high-blown pride
At length broke under me; and now has left me,
Weary, and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye ;
I feel my heart new open’d: oh, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
Adversity the Trial of Man.
Why then, you princes,
with cheeks abash'd behold our works ;
And call them shames, which are indeed naught else
But the protractive trials of great Jove,
To find persistive constancy in men ?
The fineness of which metal is not found
In fortune's love; for then the bold and coward,
The wise and fool, the artist and unread,
The hard and soft, seem all affined and kin :
But in the wind and tempest of her frown,
Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,
Puffing at all, winnows the light away ;
And what hath mass, or matter, by itself
Lies, rich in virtue and unmingled.
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy :) the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe ;
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead ;
Force should be right, or rather, right and wrong
(Between whose endless jar justice resides)
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite ;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And, last, eat up himself.
Immoderate Grief discommended.
'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature To give these mourning duties to your
But, you must know, your father lost a father ;
That father lost, lost his ; and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term
To do obsequious sorrow : but to persevere
In obstinate condolement,2 is a course
Of impious stubbornness ; 'tis unmanly grief;
It shews a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschool'd;
For what, we know, must be, and is as common
any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we, in our peevish opposition,
Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd ; whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse, till he that died to-day,
This must be so.