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choice, and not of necessity. Therefore, Sir, I shall only call it an Humble Petition that your Majesty will please to pardon this new amour to my old mistress, and my disobedience to his com mands to whose memory I look up with great reverence and devotion: and making a serious reflection upon that wise advice, it carries much greater weight with it now than when it was given; for when age and experience has so ripened man's discretion as to make it fit for use, either in private or public affairs, nothing blasts and corrupts the fruit of it so much as the empty airy reputation of being nimis poëta; and therefore I shall take my leave of the Muses, as two of my predecessors did, saying,
"Splendidis longum valedico nugis,
"Hic versus et cætera ludicra pono."
Your Majesty's most faithful
and loyal subject, and most
dutiful and devoted servant,
SURE there are poets which did never dream
Upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream
Of Helicon; we therefore may suppose
Those made not poets, but the pocts those.
And as courts make not kings, but kings the court,
So where the Muses and their train resort
Parnassus stands; if I can be to thee
A poet, thou Parnassus art to me.
Nor wonder if (advantag'd in my flight,
By taking wing from thy auspicious height)
Thro' untrac'd ways and airy paths I fly,
More boundless in my fancy than my eye;
My eye, which swift as thought contracts the space
That lies between, and first salutes the place
Crown'd with that sacred pile, so vast, so high, 15
That whether 'tis a part of earth or sky
Uncertain secins, and may be thought a proud
Aspiring mountain, or descending cloud;
Paul's, the late theme of such a Muse*, whose flight
Has bravely reach'd and soar'd above thy height; 20
Now shalt thou stand, tho' sword, or time, or fire,
Or zeal, more fierce than they, thy fall conspire,
Secure, whilst thee the best of poets sings,
Preserv'd from ruin by the best of kings.
* Mr. Waller.
Under his proud survey the City lies,
And like a mist beneath a hill doth rise,
Whose state and wealth, the bus'ness and the crowd,
Seems at this distance but a darker cloud,
And is, to him who rightly things esteems,
No other in effect than what it seems;
Where with like haste, tho' several ways, they run,
Some to undo, and some to be undone;
While luxury and wealth, like war and peace,
Are each the other's ruin and increase;
As rivers lost in seas, some secret vein
Thence reconveys, there to be lost again.
Oh! happiness of sweet retir'd content!
To be at once secure and innocent,
Windsor the next (where Mars with Venus dwells,
Beauty with strength) above the valley swells 40
Into my eye, and doth itself present
With such an easy and unforc'd ascent,
That no stupendous precipice denies
Access, no horror turns away our eyes;
But such a rise as doth at once invite
A pleasure and a rev'rence from the sight:
Thy mighty master's emblem, in whose face
Sat meekness, heighten'd with majestic grace;
Such seems thy gentle height, made only proud
To be the basis of that pompous load.
Than which a nobler weight no mountain bears,
But Atlas only, which supports the spheres.
When Nature's hand this ground did thus advance,
'Twas guided by a wiser pow'r than Chance;
Mark'd out for such an use, as if 't were meant 55
T' invite the builder, and his choice prevent.
Nor can we call it choice, when what we choose
Folly or blindness only could refuse.
A crown of such majestic towers doth grace
The gods' great mother, when her heavenly race 60
Do homage to her; yet she cannot boast,
Among that num'rous and celestial host,
More heroes than can Windsor, nor doth Fame's
Immortal book record more noble names.
Not to look back so far, to whom this isle
Owes the first glory of so brave a pile,
Whether to Cæsar, Albanact, or Brute,
The British Arthur, or the Danish C’nute;
(Tho' this of old no less contest did move
Than when for Homer's birth seven cities strove ;)
(Like him in birth, thou should'st be like in fame,
As thine his fate, if mine had been his flame :)
But whosoe'er it was, Nature design'd
First a brave place, and then as brave a mind.
Not to recount those sev'ral kings to whom
It gave a cradle, or to whom a tomb;
But thee, great Edward! and thy greater son*,
(The Lilies which his father wore he won,)
And thy Bellona †, who the consort came
Not only to thy bed but to thy fame,
*Edward III. and the Black Prince.
† Queen Philippa.