Tag Archives: religion

Phillis Wheatley, “To the University of Cambridge, in New-England”

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

 “To the University of CAMBRIDGE, in NEW-ENGLAND.”

 

While an intrinsic ardor prompts to write,
The muses promise to assist my pen;
’Twas not long since I left my native shore,
The land of errors, and Egyptian gloom:
Father of mercy, twas thy gracious hand                                         5
Brought me to safety from those dark abodes.

Students, to you ‘tis giv’n to scan the heights
Above, to traverse the ethereal space,
And mark the systems of revolving worlds.
Still more, ye sons of science ye receive                                           10
The blissful news by messengers from heav’n,
How Jesus blood for your redemption flows.
See him with hands out-stretcht upon the cross;
Immense compassion in his bosom glows;
He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn:                                       15
What matchless mercy in the Son of God!
When the whole human race by sin had fall’n,
He deign’d to die, that they might rise again,
And share with him in the sublimest skies,
Life without death, and glory without end.                                        20

Improve your privileges while they stay,
Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears
Or good or bad report of you to heav’n.
Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul,
By you be shunn’d, nor once remit your guard;                                 25
Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg.
Ye blooming plants of human race divine,
An Ethiop tells you ‘tis your greatest foe;
Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain,
And in immense perdition sinks the soul.                                            30

NOTES:

 Title   Harvard University, named after benefactor John Harvard (1607-1638), was established
in 1637 in Newetowne, MA, renamed “Cambridge” in 1638 (harvard.edu).

 1  ardor   “Enthusiasm or passion” (OED).

 2   muses   “The Nine Muses in Greek mythology, goddesses of the arts, literature and
science,” daughters of the Greek god Zeus and Titan goddess of memory, Mnemosyne
(OED).

18  deigned   “Beneath one’s dignity” (OED).

21  improve   “Profit from” (OED).

24  baneful   “Harmful, destructive” (OED).

26  deadly serpent  Alluding to the serpent in The Garden of Eden, from the book of
Genesis (Genesis 3:14, King James Bible).

28  Ethiop “ From Latin Aethiops, Ethiopian, negro” (OED).

30  perdition   Eternal damnation, hell (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 15-16. [archive.org]

Edited by Vivian Barbulescu

Hannah More, “The Plum-Cakes; or The Farmer and His Three Sons”

HANNAH MORE

 “The Plum-Cakes; or The Farmer and His Three Sons”

 

A farmer who some wealth possessed,
With three fine boys was also blessed;
The lads were healthy, stout, and young,
And neither wanted sense nor tongue.
Tom, Will, and Jack, like other boys,                                                       5
Lov’d tops and marbles, sport and toys.
The father scouted that false plan,
That money only makes the man;
But, to the best of his discerning,
Was bent on giving them good learning.                                               10
He was a man of observation,
No scholar, yet had penetration;
So with due care a school he sought,
Where his young sons might well be taught.
Quoth he, “I know not which rehearses                                                 15
Most properly his themes or verses,
Yet I can do a father’s part,
And school the temper, mind, and heart;
The natural bent of each I’ll know,
And trifles best that bent may show.”                                                     20

‘Twas just before the closing year,
When Christmas holidays were near,
The farmer call’d to see his boys,
And ask how each his time employs.
Quoth Will, “There’s father, boys, without;                                             25
He’s brought us something good, no doubt.”
The father sees their merry faces,
With joy beholds them and embraces:
“Come, boys, of home you’ll have your fill.”
“Yes, Christmas now is near,” says Will;                                                  30
“‘Tis just twelve days – these notches see,
My notches with the days agree.”
“Well,” said the sire, “again I’ll come,
And gladly fetch my brave boys home;
You two the dappled mare shall ride,                                                    35
Jack mount the pony by my side.
Meantime, my lads, I’ve brought you here,
No provision of good cheer.”
Then from his pocket straight he takes
A vast profusion of plum-cakes;                                                              40
He counts them out a plenteous store,
No boy shall have or less or more:
Twelve cakes he gives to each dear son,
When each expected only one;
And then, with many a kind expression,                                               45
He leaves them to their own discretion:
Resolv’d to mark the use each made
Of what he to their hands convey’d.

The twelve days past, he comes once more,
And brings the horses to the door;                                                        50
The boys with rapture see appear
The pony and the dappled mare;
Each moment now an hour they count,
And crack their whips, and long to mount.
As with the boys his ride he takes,                                                          55
He asks the history of the cakes.
Says Will, “Dear father, life is short,
So I resolv’d to make quick sport;
The cakes were all so nice and sweet,
I thought I’d have one jolly treat.                                                            60
‘Why should I balk,’ said I, ‘my taste?
I’ll make at once a hearty feast.’
So, snugly by myself I fed,
When every boy was gone to bed;
I gorg’d them all, both paste and plum,                                                65
And did not waste a single crumb:
Indeed they made me, to my sorrow,
As sick as death upon the morrow;
This made me mourn my rich repast,
And wish I had not fed so fast.”                                                              70
Quoth Jack, “I was not such a dunce,
To eat my quantum up at once;
And though the boys all long’d to clutch ‘em,
I would not let a creature touch ‘em;
Nor, though the whole were in my power,                                           75
Would I myself one cake devour.
Thanks to the use of keys and locks,
They’re all now snug within my box;
The mischief is, by hoarding long,
They’re grown so mouldy and so strong,                                             80
I find they won’t be fit to eat,
And I have lost my father’s treat.”

“Well, Tom,” the anxious parent cries
“How did you manage?” Tom replies,
“I shunned each wide extreme to take,                                               85
To glut my maw, or hoard my cake;
I thought each day its wants would have,
And appetite again might crave.
Twelve school-days still my notches counted,
To twelve my father’s cakes amounted;                                               90
So every day I took out one,
But never ate my cake alone;
With every needy boy I shared,
And more than half I always spared.
One every day, ‘twixt self and friend,                                                   95
Has brought my dozen to an end.
My last remaining cake to-day
I would not touch, but gave away;
A boy was sick, and scarce could eat,
To him it proved a welcome treat.                                                       100
Jack called me spendthrift, not to save;
Will dubbed me fool, because I gave;
But when our last day came I smiled,
For Will’s were gone, and Jack’s were spoiled.
Not hoarding much, nor eating fast,                                                   105
I served a needy friend at last.”
These tales the father’s thoughts employ:
“By these,” said he, “I know each boy.
Yet Jack, who hoarded what he had,
The world will call a frugal lad;                                                              110
And selfish, gormandizing Will,
Will meet with friends and favorers still;
While moderate Tom, so wise and cool,
The mad and vain will deem a fool;
But I his sober plan approve,                                                                 115
And Tom has gained his father’s love.”

APPLICATION.

So when our day of life is past,
And all are fairly judged at last,
The miser and the sensual find                                                             120
How each misused the gifts assigned;
While he who wisely spends and gives,
To the true ends of living lives.
‘Tis self-denying moderation
Gains the great Father’s approbation.                                                  125

NOTES:

Title First published anonymously, under the same title, in 1796; “signed at the end: Z., i.e. Hannah More” (ESTC, T42504).

31 notches A groove or incision made into a wooden stick to track the passing of days.

40 plum-cake “A cake containing raisins, currants, and often orange peel and other candied fruits” (OED).

61 balk “To waste or throw away a good chance” (OED).

69 repast “Food, nourishment; supply of food” (OED).

71 dunce “One who shows no capacity for learning” (OED).

72 quantum “The actual amount or quantity of something present, available, etc.” (OED).

86 glut “To overload or surfeit with food” (OED).

86 maw “The mouth of a greedy person” (OED).

95 ‘twixt “Betwixt; archaic form of ‘between’” (OED).

101 spendthrift “One who spends profusely” (OED).

111 gormandize “To eat like a glutton; to feed voraciously” (OED).

125 father “God considered as a father in relation to Christ, or to Christians in general” (OED).

125 approbation “The action of expression oneself pleased or satisfied with anything” (OED).

Source: Cheap Repository Tracts: Entertaining, Moral, and Religious, vol. I (New York, 1840?) pp. 99-103.

Edited by Jessica M. Fuentes

John Pomfret, “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694″

JOHN POMFRET

 “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694”

 

As gentle STREPHON to his Fold convey’d
A wand’ring Lamb, which from the Flocks had stray’d
Beneath a mournful Cypress Shade, he found
COSMELIA weeping on the dewy Ground.
Amaz’d with eager Haste, he ran to know                                               5
The fatal Cause of her intemp’rate Woe;
And clasping her to his impatient Breast,
In these soft Words his tender Care exprest

STREPHON.

Why mourns my dear COSMELIA, why appears
My Life, my Soul, dissolv’d in briny Tears?                                               10
Has some fierce Tyger thy lov’d Heifer slain,
While I was wand’ring on the neighb’ring Plain?
Or has some greedy Wolf devour’d thy Sheep?
What sad Misfortune makes COSMELIA weep?
Speak, that I may prevent thy Grief’s Increase;                                       15
Partake thy Sorrows, or restore thy Peace.

COSMELIA.

Do you not hear from far that mournful Bell?
‘Tis for —– I cannot the sad Tydings tell.
O, whither are my fainting Spirits fled!
‘Tis for CAELESTIA—STREPHON, O, —she’s dead!                                    20
The brightest Nymph, the Princess of the Plain,
By an untimely Dart, untimely slain.

STREPHON.

Dead! ‘tis impossible. She cannot die,
She’s too Divine, too much a Deity:
‘Tis a false Rumour some ill Swains have spread,                                     25
Who wish perhaps the good CAELESTIA dead.

COSMELIA.

Ah! No, the Truth in ev’ry Face appears,
For ev’ry Face you meet’s o’erflow’d with Tears.
Trembling, and pale, I ran thro’ all the Plain,
From Flock to Flock, and ask’d of ev’ry Swain;                                            30
But each, scarce lifting his dejected Head,
Cry’d O, COSMELIA! O, CAELESTIA dead!

STREPHON.

Something was meant by that ill-boading Croak
Of the prophetick Raven from the Oak,
Which strait by Lightning was in Shivers broke:                                          35
But we our Mischief feel, before we see,
Seiz’d and o’erwhelm’d at once with Misery.

COSMELIA.

Since then we have no Trophies to bestow,
No pompous Things to make a glorious Show,
(For all the Tribute a poor Swain can bring,                                                  40
In Rural Numbers, is to mourn and sing;)
Let us beneath the gloomy Shade rehearse
CAELESTIA’s sacred Praise in no less sacred Verse.

STREPHON.

CAELESTIA dead! then ‘tis in vain to live:
What’s all the Comfort that these Plains can give                                        45
Since she, by whose bright Influence alone
Our Flocks increas’d, and we rejoic’d, is gone.
Since she, who round such Beams of Goodness spread
As gave new Life to ev’ry Swain, is dead.

COSMELIA.

In vain we wish for the delightful Spring.                                                 50
What Joys can flow’ry May, or April bring,
When she, for whom spacious Plains were spread
With early Flow’rs, and cheerful Greens, is dead?
In vain did courtly DAMON warm the Earth,
To give to Summer Fruits a Winter Birth.                                                        55
In vain we Autumn wait, which crowns the Fields
With wealthy Crops, and various Plenty yields:
Since that fair Nymph, for whom the boundless Store
Of Nature was preserv’d, is now no more.

STREPHON.

Farewel for ever then to all that’s gay:                                                       60
You will forget to sing, and I to play.
No more with cheerful Songs in cooling Bow’rs
Shall we consume the pleasurable Hours.
All Joys are banish’d, all Delights are fled,
Ne’er to return, now fair CAELESTIA’s dead.                                                     65

COSMELIA.

If e’er I sing, they shall be mournful Lays
Of great CAELESTIA’s Name, CAELESTIA’s Praise:
How good she was, how generous, how wise!
How beautiful her Shape, how bright her Eyes!
How charming all, how she was ador’d,                                                             70
Alive; when dead, how much her loss deplor’d!
A noble Theme, and able to inspire
The humblest Muse with the sublimest Fire.
And since we do of such a Princess sing,
Let ours ascend upon a stronger Wing;                                                             75
And while we do the lofty Numbers join,
Her Name will make their Harmony Divine.
Raise then thy tuneful Voice, and be the Song
Sweet as her Temper, as her Virtue strong.

STREPHON.

When her great Lord to foreign Wars was gone,                                       80
And left CAELESTIA here to rule alone,
With how serene a Brow, how void of Fear
When Storms arose, did she the Vessel steer?
And, when the Raging of the Waves did cease,
How gentle was her Sway in times of Peace?                                                     85
Justice and Mercy did their Beams unite,
And round her Temples spread a glorious Light.
So quick she eas’d the Wrongs of ev’ry Swain,
She hardly gave them Leisure to complain.
Impatient to reward, but slow to draw                                                                 90
Th’ avenging Sword of necessary Law:
Like Heav’n, she took no pleasure to destroy:
With Grief she punish’d, and she sav’d with Joy.

COSMELIA.

When God-like BELLEGER from War’s Alarms
Return’d in Triumph to CAELESTIA’s Arms,                                                         95
She met her Hero with a full Desire,
But chaste as Light, and vigorous as Fire:
Such mutual Flames, so equally Divine,
Did in each Breast with such a Lustre shine,
His could not seem the greater, her’s the less:                                                  100
Both were immense, for both were in Excess.

STREPHON.

O, God-like Princess! O, thrice-happy Swains!
While she presided o’er the fruitful Plains;
While she for ever ravish’d from our Eyes,
To mingle with her Kindred of the skies,                                                             105
Did for your Peace her constant Thoughts employ;
The Nymph’s good Angel, and the Shepherd’s Joy.

COSMELIA.

All that was Noble beautify’d her Mind;
There Wisdom sat, with solid Reason join’d;
There too did Piety, and Greatness wait,                                                            110
Meekness on Grandeur, Modesty on State:
Humble amidst the Splendors of a Throne;
Plac’d above all, and yet despising none.
And when a Crown was forc’d on her by Fate,
She with some pain submitted to be Great.                                                       115

STREPHON.

Her pious Soul with Emulation strove
To gain the mighty PAN’s important Love:
To whose mysterious Rites she always came,
With such an active, so intense a Flame,
The Duties of Religion seem’d to be                                                                     120
Not more her Care, than her Felicity.

COSMELIA.

Virtue unmixt, without the least Allay,
Pure as the Light of a Celestial Ray,
Commanded all the Motions of the Soul,
With such a soft, but absolute Controul,                                                             125
That as she knew what best great PAN would please,
She still perform’d it with the greatest Ease.
Him for her high Exemplar she design’d,
Like him, benevolent to all Mankind.
Her Foes she pity’d, not desir’d their Blood,                                                       130
And to revenge their Crimes, she did them good:
Nay, all Affronts, so unconcern’d she bore,
(Maugre that violent Temptation, Pow’r,)
As if she thought it vulgar to resent,
Or wish’d Forgiveness their worst Punishment.                                                135

STREPHON.

Next mighty PAN, was her illustrious Lord,
His high Vicegerent, sacredly ador’d:
Him with such Piety and Zeal she lov’d,
The noble Passion ev’ry Hour improv’d.
Till it ascended to that glorious Height,                                                              140
‘Twas next, (if only next) to infinite.
This made her so entire a Duty pay,
She grew at last impatient to obey,
And met his Wishes with as prompt a Zeal,
As an Archangel his Creator’s Will.                                                                       145

COSMELIA.

Mature for Heav’n, the fatal Mandate came,
With it, a Chariot of Etherial Flame,
In which, Elijah like, she pass’d the Spheres;
Brought Joy to Heav’n, but left the World in Tears.

STREPHON.

Methinks I see her on the Plains of Light,                                                     150
All Glorious, all incomparably Bright!
While the immortal Minds around her gaze
On the excessive Splendour of her Rays,
And scarce believe a human Soul could be
Endow’d with such a stupendous Majesty.                                                           155

COSMELIA.

Who can lament too much? O, who can mourn
Enough o’er beautiful CAELESTIA’s Urn!
So great a Loss as this deserves Excess
Of Sorrow; all’s too little, that is less.
But to supply the Universal Woe,                                                                           160
Tears from all Eyes, without Cessation flow:
All that have pow’r to weep, or voice to groan,
With throbbing Breast CAELESTIA’s fate bemoan:
While Marble Rocks the common Griefs partake,
And eccho back those Cries they cannot make.                                                   165

STREPHON.

Weep then (once fruitful) Vales, and spring with Yew;
Ye thirsty barren Mountains, weep with Dew.
Let ev’ry Flow’r on this extended Plain
Not droop, but shrink into its Womb again,
Ne’er to receive anew its yearly Birth;                                                                     170
Let ev’ry thing that’s grateful, leave the Earth:
Let mournful Cypress, with each noxious Weed,
And baneful Venoms in their place succeed.
Ye purling quer’lous Brooks, o’ercharg’d with Grief
Haste swiftly to the Sea for more Relief;
Then tiding back, each to his sacred Head,                                                            175
Tell your astonish’d Springs, CAELESTIA’s dead:

COSMELIA.

Well have you sung, in an exalted Strain,
The fairest Nymph e’er grac’d the British Plain.
Who knows but some officious Angel may
Your grateful Numbers to her Ears convey:                                                           180
That she may smile upon us, from above,
And bless our mournful Plains with Peace and Love.

STREPHON.

But see, our Flocks do to their Folds repair,
For Night with sable Clouds obscures the Air,
Cold Damps descend from the unwholesome Sky,                                              185
And Safety bids us to our Cottage fly.
Tho’ with each Morn our Sorrows will return,
Each Ev’n, like Nightingales, we’ll sing and mourn,
Till Death conveys Us to the peaceful Urn.

NOTES:

Strephon Stock pastoral name for a shepherd; Fold “A pen or enclosure for domestic animals, esp. sheep” (OED).

3 Cypress “A well-known coniferous tree…often regarded as symbolic of mourning” (OED).

4   Cosmelia Pastoral name for a woman.

20 Caelestia Pomfret’s poetical name for Queen Mary II, from “Caelestis” which means sky or heavenly (A Latin Dictionary).

20-22 “she’s dead!…untimely slain” Queen Mary II died on 28 December 1694 from smallpox.

25 Swains “Countrymen” (OED).

41 Rural Numbers That is, rural poetry.

54 Damon Stock pastoral name.

80 to foreign Wars was gone William III, Mary’s husband, was often gone handling affairs on the continent and left Mary to rule alone (Encyclopedia Britannica).

94 Belleger Pomfret’s poetical name for William III; in modern Dutch the word translates as “investor;” from War’s Alarms William III fought and squashed a Jacobite rebellion on the continent, and participated in the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697) against Louis XIV of France (Encyclopedia Britannica).

114-15 when a Crown was forced on her…submitted to be Great The Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II, Mary’s father. As a result of her supporting her husband William invading England, Mary and her father were estranged (Encyclopedia Britannica).

117 Pan The god of nature.

121 Felicity Happiness (OED).

133 Maugre “To defy, oppose” (OED).

137 Vicegerent “A person appointed by a king or other ruler to act in his place or exercise certain of his administrative functions” (OED).

145 Archangel “An angel of the highest rank” (OED).

148 Elijah A prophet who defended the worship of the Jewish God; in 2 Kings 2:1-11, Elijah is transported to heaven by a whirlwind.

166 Yew An ancient tree common in England; often planted in churchyards and symbolic of funerary and death.

Source: Poems upon Several Occasions, 7th edition (London, 1727), p. 48. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ceneca Jackson

 

 

 

 

Phillis Wheatley, “On Virtue”

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

 “On Virtue”

 

O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’explore, or fathom thy profound.                                                        5
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.                                                       10

Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! Now her sacred retinue descends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!                                                                 15
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give me an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay                                                                          20
O thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day!

NOTES

7 Virtue “A quality of people, divine beings” (OED).

9 fain “Glad, rejoiced, well-pleased” (OED).

11 pinions “The wing of a bird in flight” (OED).

12 Chastity “Purity from unlawful sexual intercourse; continence” (OED).

18 Greatness “Innate nobility or dignity,…grandeur” (OED); Goodness “The quality of being morally good; virtue; worthiness” (OED).

21 Cherubs Angels.

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 13-14. [Archive.org]

Edited by Joseph R. Adams

William Hamilton, “The Wish”

WILLIAM HAMILTON

 “The Wish”

If join’d to make up virtue’s glorious tale,
A weak, but pious aid can aught avail,
Each sacred study, each diviner page
That once inspired my youth, shall sooth my age,
Deaf to ambition, and to interest’s call;                                                        5
Honour, my titles, and enough, my all;
No pimp of pleasure, and no slave of state,
Serene from fools, and guiltless of the great,
Some calm and undisturb’d retreat I’ll chuse
Dear to myself and friends. Perhaps the muse                                        10
May grant, while all my thoughts her charms imploy,
If not a future fame, a present joy,
Pure from each feverish hope, each weak desire;
Thoughts that improve, and slumbers that inspire,
A steadfast peace of mind, rais’d far above                                               15
The guilt of hate and weakness of Love
Studious of life, yet free from anxious care,
To others candid, to myself severe,
Filial, submissive to the sovereign will,
Glad of the good, and patient of the ill,                                                      20
I’ll work in narrow sphere, what heaven approves,
Abating hatreds, and increasing loves,
My friendship, studies, pleasures, all my own
Alike to envy, and to fame unknown:
Such in form blest asylum let me ly,                                                           25
Take off my fill of life, and wait, not wish to dy.

NOTES:

 3 Diviner “Given by or proceeding from God; having the sanction of or inspired by God” (OED).

19 Filial “Of sentiments, duty, etc.: due from a child to a parent” (OED).

25 Asylum “A benevolent institution affording shelter and support to some class of the afflicted, the unfortunate, the destitute” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (Bangor 1760) pp. 95-96. [Google Books]

Edited by Haley Walker

Anne Ross, “To the memory of a Young Lady, who died in the eleventh year of her age”

[ANNE ROSS]

“To the memory of a Young LADY, who died in the eleventh year of her age”

All ye who mourn
The loss of friends that’s dear,
The mournful scene that is exhibit here,
Bids envy cease, and pity drop a tear.

To you, whose hearts can feel when others mourn,
This is address’d, it soon may be your turn;
Their case to day, to-morrow may be your’s,
The clearest sun oft sets in clouds and showers.

A tender mother reared a darling child,                                                   5
Joy of her friends, and all the country’s pride;
Her person graceful, her complexion fair,
An antient Baronet’s apparent heir.

Her comely face display’d a lively bloom,
Which promis’d health, and many years to come;                               10
T’ inform her mind, and make her wise as fair,
Was still her honour’d mother’s constant care.

For her, to Heav’n, she still address’d her prayer,
That it might always keep her in its care;
That she, in ev’ry stage of life, might shine,                                            15
And see her race, a long and prosp’rous line.

Her aunt and mother saw, with glad surprise,
Inherent virtues near perfection rise:
Their hopes were rais’d, their expectations high;
But soon, alas! their expectations fly.                                                       20

How fleeting are our pleasures, here below?
A stream of joy, now turns a tide of woe.

From bloom of health, this darling child is seiz’d,
Laid on her bed and pain’d with sore disease;
If human aid could cure, that aid was giv’n;                                           25
But who can alter the decree of Heav’n.

How calm and patient in distress she lay;
In all her trouble never ceas’d to pray:
Th’ afflicted mother sends her sighs to Heav’n,
Restore my child, and all I wish is giv’n.                                                   30

If this request’s deny’d, O! help me still,
To be resign’d unto thy heavenly will;
Heav’n, oft in mercy, does our wish deny,
Our surest hope is fix’d above the sky.

The child was quite resign’d; to die was gain,                                           35
Her prayer was not for life, but ease from pain:
Her prayer was not unheard, her wish was given;
Her blessed Saviour takes her home to heaven.

In youth and innocence, the child she dies,
And angels waft her spirit to the skies.                                                     40

NOTES:

Epigraph Unable to trace; possibly provided by the author.

5 reared “To raise a person” (OED).

8 antient “The spelling of ‘ancient’ from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century; it refers to the titles of office or position formerly occupied” (OED).

16 race A poetical term that refers to “a set of children or descendants” (OED).

24 sore “Violent with pain” (Johnson).

40 waft “To carry through the air” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (Glasgow, 1791), pp. 36-38. [Google Books]

Edited by Ka Wing Tsang

Matthew Pilkington, “Happiness”

 [MATTHEW PILKINGTON]

  Happiness

Plagu’d with dependance on the great,
To raise me from my humble state;
With paying court to faithless friends,
Who disappointed all my ends;
With wasting all my blooming years,                                             5
In endless toils, and hopes, and fears;
How fondly longs my soul to gain
The calm, uncrowded rural scene!
To fly the man, whose treach’rous art
Deludes the undesigning heart.                                                     10
No calumny, no pale-cheek’d care,
No envy shall attend me there.
There seated near a gliding stream,
Intent on some inspiring theme,
Or wand’ring o’er the flow’ry vale,                                                  15
Imbibing joy from every gale,
I strive that blissful state to gain,
So fondly sought, so sought in vain.

Vain are our fondest hopes of bliss,
From such a faithless world as this.                                               20
Where vice in every form appears,
In wanton’d youth and palsy’d years.
Where villainy exalted shines,
And merit unregarded pines;
Angelic probity’s unpriz’d,                                                                25
And heav’n-descended truth despised:
Where friendship’s name conceals a knave,
Subtle and studious to deceive;
(A Corvus, who with great success,
At once can murder and caress;)                                                   30
Where triumps self-adoring pride,
Where virtue’s scorn’d, and God defy’d.

Too long deceiv’d, I strove to know
Felicity in things below;
But now, O pow’r supreme, I see,                                                  35
True happiness resides with thee.
With thee, whose wisdom guides on high
The worlds of light that gild the sky,
And made this earth, a place of pain,
A mix’d unsatisfying scene.                                                            40

Let wealth have wings, and friends profest
Stab the sincere unguarded breast;
Preferment’s golden show’r be shed
On Clodios undeserving head.
Or Calumny’s envenom’d dart                                                       45
Transfix me in the tend’rest part;
Since no distress in time or place,
Can make eternal goodness cease,
In God alone my raptur’d mind
Unmix’d felicity shall find.                                                               50

NOTES:

11 calumny “False charge, slander” (OED).

 15 vale “A dale or valley” (OED).

 16 gale “A song; merriment” (OED).

22 palsyd “Affected with palsy, trembling, tottering” (OED).

25 probity “Moral integrity, decency” (OED).

29 Corvus Latin for raven. May also refer to a raven in Greek mythology known as a trickster and thief.

44 Clodio Unable to trace.

Source: The Magazine of Magazines, vol. 8 (July, 1754), p. 82. [Google Books]

Edited by Keli Landowski

John Pomfret, “To his Friend under Affliction”

REVEREND JOHN POMFRET

“To his Friend under Affliction”

 None lives in this tumultuous State of things,
Where ev’ry Morning some new Trouble brings;
But bold Inquietudes will break his rest,
And gloomy Thoughts disturb his anxious Breast.
Angelick Forms, and happy Spirits are                                                      5
Above the Malice of perplexing Care:
But that’s a blessing too sublime, too high
For those who bend beneath Mortality.
If in the Body there was but one part
Subject to Pain, and sensible of Smart,                                                   10
And but one Passion could torment the Mind,
That Part, that Passion busy Fate would find.
But since Infirmities in both abound,
Since Sorrow both so many ways can wound,
‘Tis not so great a wonder that we grieve                                               15
Sometimes, as ‘tis a miracle we live.

The happiest Man that ever breath’d on Earth,
With all the Glories of Estate and Birth,
Had yet some anxious Care to make him know
No Grandeur was above the reach of Woe.                                           20
To be from all things that disquiet, free,
Is not consistent with Humanity.
Youth, Wit, and Beauty, are such charming things,
O’er which, if Affluence spreads her gaudy Wings,
We think the Person, who enjoys so much,                                          25
No Care can move, and no Affliction touch.
Yet could we but some secret method find
To view the dark Recesses of the Mind,
We there might see the hidden Seeds of Strife,
And Woes in Embryo rip’ning into Life;                                                 30
How some fierce Lust, or boist’rous Passion, fills
The lab’ring Spirit with prolific Ills
Pride, Envy, or Revenge, distract his Soul,
And all Right-reason’s God-like Pow’rs controul.
But if she must not be allow’d to sway,                                                 35
Tho’all without, appears serene and gay,
A cank’rous Venom on the Vitals preys,
And poisons all the Comforts of his Days.

External Pomp, and visible Success,
Sometimes contribute to our Happiness;                                             40
But that, which makes it genuine, refin’d,
Is a good Conscience, and a Soul resign’d:
Then, to whatever End Affliction’s sent,
To try our Virtues, or for Punishment,
We bear it calmly, tho’ a pond’rous Woe,                                              45
And still adore the Hand that gives the blow.
For in Misfortunes this advantage lies,
They make us humble, and they make us wise.
And he that can acquire such Virtues, gains
An ample Recompence for all his pains.                                               50

Too soft Caresses of a prosp’rous Fate
The pious Fervours of the Soul abate;
Tempt to luxurious Ease our careless Days,
And gloomy Vapours round the Spirits raise.
Thus lull’d into a sleep, we dosing lie,                                                    55
And find our Ruin in Security;
Unless some Sorrow comes to our Relief,
And breaks th’ Inchantment by a timely Grief.
But as we are allow’d to chear our sight,
In blackest Days, some glimmerings of Light:                                      60
So in the most dejected Hours we may
The secret Pleasure have to weep and pray.
And those Requests, the speediest passage find
To Heaven, which flow from an afflicted Mind:
And while to him we open our Distress,                                               65
Our Pains grow lighter, and our Sorrows less.
The finest Musick of the Grove, we owe
To mourning Philomel’s harmonious Woe;
And while her Grief’s in charming Notes express,
A Thorny Bramble pricks her tender Breast:                                        70
In warbling Melody she spends the Night,
And moves at once Compassion and Delight.

No Choice had e’er so happy an Event,
But he that made it, did that Choice repent.
So weak’s our Judgement, and so short’s our sight,                            75
We cannot level our own Wishes right:
And if sometimes we make a wise advance,
T’our selves we little owe, but much to chance.
So that when Providence, for secret Ends,
Corroding Cares, or sharp Affliction sends                                            80
We must conclude it best it should be so,
And not desponding, or impatient grow.
For he that will his confidence remove,
From boundless Wisdom, and eternal Love,
To place it on himself, or human Aid,                                                     85
Will meet those Woes he labours to evade.
But in the keenest Agonies of Grief,
Content’s a Cordial that still gives Relief.
Heaven is not always angry when he strikes,
But most Chastises those, whom most he likes.                                   90
And if with humble Spirits they complain,
Relieves the Anguish, or rewards the Pain.

NOTES:

3 Inquietudes Restlessness, uneasiness.

29 Seeds of Strife An allusion to Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, /And a slanderer separates intimate friends.”

31-33 Lust… Pride, Envy, or Revenge Four of the Seven Cardinal Sins; an allusion to them can be found in Proverbs 6:16-19.

38 Comforts of his Days. John 14:1-31, the belief in God as the Father and belief/faith in Christ.

39 Pomp Archaic: vain and boastful display (OED).

68 Philomel An allusion to the daughter of the ancient Athenian king, Pandion. She was raped by the husband (Tereus) of her sister (Procne). While Tereus pursued both Philomel and Procne, Philomel was turned into a swallow and Procne into a nightingale (in Latin versions, Philomel was turned into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow) (Oxford Dictionaries online). The nightingale is known for its unique song.

70 Thorny Bramble A prickly bush plant, also a biblical allusion to the “the Burning bush” in which God appeared before Moses. It is also a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.

88 Cordial Stimulating medicine.

Source: Poems Upon Several Occasions (5th edition) (London, 1720), pp. 60-63. [Google Books]

Edited by Frankie Carrillo

“Philotheorus,” “Card Playing Philosophized, Addressed to a Young Lady, with a Pack of Cards”

“PHILOTHEORUS”

“CARD PLAYING Philosophized, Addressed to a Young Lady, with a Pack of Cards”

 From this little gay playful machine,
As beheld in contention, we view,
How the various departments of men,
Life’s business and pleasures pursue.

Since, while some play the Child, and the Fool,                               5
The Knave others play—in their evil
More advanc’d in iniquities school,
The Deuce others play, and the Devil.

There are the proud King and the vain Queen,
The false Heart, and gay Di’mond who play;                                    10
While with Clubs, and with Spades, there are seen,
Some urging their desperate way.

But, to vary the dark-grounded scene,
As life and experience require:
To Women there are, and to Men,                                                     15
To Christians and Saints, who aspire.

Thus far, my dear Pupil, at large——
Now to vary our prospect and stand:
And, point we, and bring home the charge,
As our “business and bosoms demand.”                                          20

Ask we, Monica, what is the part,
You and I are found playing below?
Is it founded in nature, or art?
Or does it from principle flow?

Does it rise upon virtue and worth?                                                 25
Is honor it’s groundwork and base?
On religion proceeds it, and truth?
How happy, where this is the case!

An acquaintance thus formed, must prove
To fair Friendship a certain advance;                                                 30
Nor terminate here, but to Love,
To the Christian Agapee inhance.

Then come my dear Sister and friend,
Leaving sense and the body behind,
To a purer commixture unbend,                                                         35
To the purer commixture of Mind!

Learn we, Ma’am, the heavenly art,
From the trunk to the head to repair;
And, quitting the animal part,
Display the wing’d cherubim there.                                                   40

What have We, my fair Colleague, to do
With the softer suggestions of sense?
Since God and High heav’n are in view,
Let us banish these blandishments hence.

Away, fond seducers, begone!                                                           45
Give us up our spirit’al pow’rs;
With sense and passions we’ve done;
The sweets of Religion be ours!

Commensurate these, while we live,
Our fastest companions will prove;                                                  50
Not to say latest life they’ll survive,
And join us in the regions above.

There, lost in the visions of Grace,
And swimming in oceans of Love,
We shall see GOD and our Father’s bright face,                              55
As it shines, through our JESUS above!

NOTES:

2 view Corrected from a printer’s error “wiew.”

6 Knave “A dishonest or unprincipled man; a rogue” (OED).

8 iniquities “Unrighteous acts” or “sins” (OED).

21 Monica Name likely derived from St. Monica, known for her Christian piety, prudence and chastity; also recognized for her promotion of Christian values through motherhood (The Original Catholic Encyclopedia).

32 Agapee From the Greek “agape;” the concept of Christian love rather than sexual romantic love (Online Etymology Dictionary).  

40 cherubim Cherubs; angels (OED).

44 blandishments Flattery (OED).

49 commensurate “To define the extent of; to measure” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (September, 1767), pp. 517-518.

Edited by Lee Hammel