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THE PROGRESS OF LEARNING.
My early mistress, now my ancient Muse,
That strong Circzan liquor cease to infuse,
Wherewith thou didst intoxicate my youth;
Now stoop, with disenchanted wings, to truth.
As the dove's flight did guide Æneas, now
May thine conduct me to the golden bough:
Tell (like a tall old oak) how Learning shoots
To heav'n her branches, and to hell her roots.
WHEN God from earth form’d Adam in the east,
He his own image on the clay imprest.
As subjects then the whole creation came,
And from their natures Adam them did name;
Not from experience, (for the world was new.) 5
He only from their cause their natures knew.
memory been lost with innocence, We had not known the sentence nor th' offence. 'Twas his chief punishment to keep in store The sad remembrance what he was before; 10 And tho' th' offending part felt mortal pain, Th’immortal part its knowledge did retain. After the flood arts to Chaldea fell; The father of the faithful there did dwell, Who both their parent and instructor was: 15 From thence did learning into Egypt pass. Moses in all th’Egyptian arts was skill'd, When beav'nly pow'r that chosen vessel fill’d; And we to his high inspiration owe That what was done before the flood we know. 20
From Egypt arts their progress made to Greece,
Wrapp'd in the fable of the Golden Fleece.
Musæus first, then Orpheus, civilize
Mankind, and gave the world their deities :
To many gods they taught devotion,
Which were the distinct faculties of one:
Th' Eternal Cause in their immortal lines
Was taught, and poets were the first divines.
God Moses first, then David, did inspire,
To compose anthems for his heav'nly quire: 30
To th' one the style of Friend he did impart,
On th' other stamp the likeness of his heart:
And Moses, in the old original,
Ev'n God the poet of the world doth call.
Next those old Greeks Pythagoras did rise,
Then Socrates, whom th' oracle call'd wise.
The divine Plato moral virtue shows,
Then his disciple Aristotle rose,
Who Nature's secrets to the world did teach,
Yet that great soul our novelists impeach; 40
Too much manuring fill'd that field with weeds,
While sects, like locusts, did destroy the seeds,
The tree of knowledge, blasted by disputes,
Produces sapless leaves instead of fruits.
Proud Greece all nations else barbarians held, 45
Boasting her learning all the world excell'd.
Flying from thence*, to Italy it came,
And to the realm of Naples gave the
Till both their nation and their arts did come
A welcome trophy to triumphant Rome. 50
Then wheresoe'er her conq’ring Eagles fled,
Arts, learning, and civility were spread;
And as in this our microcosm the heart,
Heat, spirit, motion, gives to ev'ry part,
So Rome's victorious influence did disperse
All her own virtues thro' the universe.
Here some digression I inust make, t'accuse
Thee, my forgetful and ungrateful Muse!
Couldst thou from Greece to Latium takethy flight,
And not to thy great ancestors do right? 60
I can no more believe old Homer blind,
Than those who say the sun hath never shind:
age wherein he liv'd was dark, but he ;
Could not want sight who taught the world to see
They who Minerva from Jove's head derive, 65
Might make old Homer's scull the Muses' hive,
And from his brain that Helicon distill
Whose racy liquor did his offspring fill.
Nor old Anacreon, Hesiod, Theocrite,
Must we forget, nor Pindar's lofty flight.
Old Homer's soul, at last frorn Greece retir'd,
In Italy the Mantuan swain inspir’d.
When great Augustus made, war's tempests coase,
His halcyon days brought forth the arts of peace,
He still in his triumphant chariot shines, 75
By Horace drawn and Virgil's mighty lines.
'Twas certainly mysterious that the name
Of prophets and of poets is the same *.
What the Tragedian* wrote, the late success Declares was inspiration and not guess: * 80 As dark a truth that author did unfold As oracles or prophets e'er foretold: • At last the ocean shall unlock the boundt • Of things, and a new world by Typhis found; • Then ages far remote shall understand 85 « The Isle of Thule is not the farthest land.' Sure God, by these discov'ries, did design That his clear light thro’all the world should shine; But the obstruction from that discord springs The princeofdarkness made'twixt Christian kings: That peaceful age with happiness to crown, 91 From heav'n the Prince of Peace himself came
down; Then the true Sun of knowledge first appear’d, And the old dark mysterious clouds were clear'd; The heavy cause of th' old accursed flood 95 Sunk in the sacred deluge of his blood. His passion man from his first fall redeem'd;. Once more to Paradise restor'd we seem'd; Satan himself was bound, till th' iron chain Our pride did break, and let him loose again. 100 Still the old sting remain'd, and man began To tempt the serpent as he tempted man. Then hell sends forth her furies, A'vrice, Pride, Fraud, Discord, Force, Hypocrisy their guide: Tho' the foundation on a rock were laid, 105 The church was undermin’d, and then betray'd.
+ The prophecy.
Tho' the Apostles these events foretold, ,
Yet ev'n the shepherd did devour the fold:
The fisher to convert the world began,
The pride convincing of vain-glorious man : 110
But soon his followers grew a sov’reign lord,
And Peter's keys exchang'd .for Peter's sword,
Which still maintains for his adopted son
Vast patrimonies, tho' himself had none;
Wresting the text to the old giant's sense, 115
That heav'n once more must suffer violence,
Then subtle doctors scriptures made their prize;
Casuists, like cocks, struck out each others
eyes: Then dark distinctions reason's light disguis'd, And into atoms truth apatomiz'd:
120 Then Mah'met's Crescent, by our feuds increast, Blasted the learn'd remainders of the East : That project when from Greece to Rome it came, Made Mother Ignorance Devotion's dame; Then he whom Lucifer's own pride did swell, 125 Ilis faithful emissary rose from hell, To possess Peter's chair, that Hildebrand Whose foot on mitres, then on clowns, did stand; And before that exalted idol all (Whom we call gods on earth) did prostrate fall. Then darkness Europe's face did overspread, 131 From lazy cells, where superstition bred, Which, link'd with blind obedience, so increas'd, That the whole world some ages they oppress'd; Till thro' those clouds the Sun of knowledge brake, And Europe from her lethargy did yake; 130