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TO THE REVEREND

DOCTOR WILKINS,

WARDEN OF WADHAM COLLEGE IN OXFORD.

SIR,

Seeing you are pleased to think fit that these papers should come into the public, which were at first designed to live only in a desk, or some private friend's hands; I humbly take the boldness to commit them to the security which your name and protection will give them with the most knowing part of the world. There are two things especially in which they stand in need of your defence: one is, that they fall so infinitely below the full and lofty genius of that excellent poet, who made this way of writing free of our nation: the other, that they are so little proportioned and equal to the renown of that prince on whom they were written. Such great actions and lives deserving rather to be the subjects of the noblest pens and divine fancies, than of such small beginners and weak essayers in poetry as myself. Against these dangerous prejudices, there remains no other shield, than the universal esteem and authority which your judgment and approbation carries with it. The right you have to them, sir, is not only on the account of the relation you had to this great person, nor of the general favour which all arts receive from

you; but more particularly by reason of that obligation and zeal with which I am bound to dedicate myself to your service: for, having been a long time the object of your care and indulgence towards the advantage of my studies and fortune, having been moulded as it were by your own hands, and formed under your government, not to entitle you to any thing which my meanness produces, would not only be injustice, but sacrilege: so that if there be any thing here tolerably said, which deserves pardon, it is yours, sir, as well as he, who is,

your most devoted,

and obliged servant,

THO. SPRAT.

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PO E M S

OF

BISHOP SPRAT.

TO THE HAPPY MEMORY OF

Though thou want not our praises, we

Are not excus'd for what we owe to thee; THE LATE LORD PROTECTOR.

For so men from religion are not freed,

But from the altars clouds must rise,
T'S true, great name, thou art secure
From the forget, ulness and rage

Though Heaven itself doth nothing need,
Of Death, or Envy, or devouring Age;

And though the gods don't want an earthly sacrifice, Thou canst the force and teeth of Time endure :

Great life of wouders, whose each year Thy fame, like men, the elder it doth grow,

Full of new miracles did appear! Will of itself turn whiter too,

Whose every month might be Without what needless art can do;

Alone a chronicle, or history! Will live beyond thy breath, beyond thy hearse,

Others great actions are Though it were never heard or sung in verse.

But thinly scatter'd here and there ; Without our help thy memory is safe;

At best, but all one single star; They only want an epitaph,

But thine the milky-way, That do remain alone

All one continued light, of undistingaish'd day; Alive in an inscription,

They throny'd so close, that nought else could be Remember'd only on the brass, or marble-stone.

seen, Tis all in vain what we can do:

Scarce any common sky did come between: All our roses and perfumes

What shall I say, or where begin? Will but officious folly show,

Thou may'st in double shapes be shown And pious nothings to such mighty tombs.

Or in thy arms, or in thy gown; All our incense, gums and balm,

Like Jove, sometimes with warlike thunder, and Are but unnecessary duties here:

Sometimes with peaceful sceptre in his hand; The poets may their spices spare,

Or in the field, or on the throne. Their costly numbers, and their tuneful feet: In what thy head, or what thy arm hath done, That need not be embalm’d, which of itself is sweet.

All that thou didst was so refin'd, We know to praise thee is a dangerous proof

So full of substance, and so strongly join'd, Of our obedience and our love:

So pure, so weighty gold,

That the least grain of it,
For when the Sun and fire meet,
The one's extinguish'd quite :

If fully spread and beat,
And yet the other never is more bright.

Would many leaves and mighty volumes hold, So they that write of thee and join

Before thy name was publish'd, and whilst yet Their feeble names with thine ;

Thou only to thyself wert great,
Their weaker sparks with thy illustrious light, Whilst yet the happy bud

Will lose themselves in that ambitious thought; Was not quite seen or understood,
And yet no fame to thee from hence be brought. It then sure signs of future greatness show'd:
We know, bless'd spirit, thy mighty name Then thy domestic worth
Wants no addition of another's beam;

Did tell the world what it would be,
It's for our pens too high, and full of theme: When it should fit occasion see,
The Muses are made great by thee, not thou by When a full spring should call it forth:
Thy fame's etcrnal lamp will live, [them, As bodies in the dark and night
And in thy sacred urn survive,

Have the same colours, the same red and white, Without the food of oil, which we can give.

As in the open day and light; 'Tis true; but yet our duty calis our songs;

The Sun doth only show Duty commands our tongues :

That they are bright, not make them so.

So whilst but private walls did know

When Ajax dy'd, the purple blood, What we to such a mighty mind should owe,

That from his gaping wound had dow'd, Then the same virtues did appear,

Turn'd into letter, every leaf Though in a less and more contracted sphere,

Had on it wrote his epitaph: As full, though not as large as since they were:

So from that crimson flood, And like great rivers' fountains, though

Which thou by fate of times wert led At first so deep thou didst not go:

Unwillingly to shed, Though then thine was ot so enlarg'd a ood; Letters and learning rose, and arts renew'd: Yet when 'twas little, 'twas as clear, as good.

Thou fought'st, not out of envy, hope, or hate,

But to refine the church and state; 'Tis true thou was not born unto a crown,

And like the Romans, whate'er thou
Thy sceptre's not thy father's, but thy own: In the field of Mars didst mow,
Thy purple was not made at once in haste, Was, that a boly island hence might grow.
But after many other colours past,

Thy wars, as rivers raised by a shower,
It took the deepest princely dye at last. Which welcome clouds do pour,
Thou didst begin with lesser cares,

Though they at first may seem
And private thoughts took up thy private years: To carry all away with an enraged stream;
Those hands which were ordain'd by Fates Yet did not happen that they might destroy,
To change the world and alter states,

Or the better parts annoy, Practis'd at first that vast design

But all the filth and mud to scour,
On meaner things with equal mien.

And leave behind another slime,
That soul, which should so many sceptres sway, To give a birth to a more bappy power.
To whom so many kingdoms should obey,
Learn'd first to rule in a domestic way:

In fields unconquer'd, and so well
So government itself began

Thou didst in battles and in arms excel; From family, and single man,

That steely arms themselves might be Was by the small relation first

Worn out in war as soon as thee; Of husband and of father nurs'd,

Success so close upon thy troops did wait, And from those less beginnings past,

As if thou first hadst conquer'd Fate; To spread itself o'er all the world at last.

As if uncertain Victory

Had been fi:st o'ercome by thee; But when thy country (then almost enthrall’d) As if her wings were clipt, and could not flee: Thy virtue and thy courage call'd;

Whilst thou didst only serve, When England did thy arms entreat,

Before thou hadst what first thou didst deserve, And't had been sin in thee not to be great:

Others by thee did great things do, When every stream, and every flood,

Triumph’dst thyself, and mad'st them triumph too; Was a true vein of earth, and run with blood: Though they above thee did appear, When unus'd arms, and unknown war,

As yet in a more large and higher sphere: Fill'd every place, and every ear;

Thou, the great Sun, gav'st light to every When the great storms and dismal night

Thyself an army wert alone, Did all the land affright;

And mighty troops contain'd in one, Twas time for thee to bring forth all our light. Thy only sword did guard the land,

Thou left'st thy more delightful peace, Like that which, faming in the Angel's hand, Thy private life and better ease;

From men God's garden did defend; Then down thy steel and armour took,

But yet thy sword did more than his, Wishing that it still hung upon the hook:

Not only guarded, but did make this landa Paradise. When Death had got a large commission out, Throwing the arrows and her sting about; Thou fought'st not to be high or great, Then thou (as once the healing serpent rose) Nor for a sceptre or a crown, Wast lifted up, not for thyself but us.

Or ermin, purple, or the throne;

But, as the vestal heat, Thy country wounded was, and sick, before

Thy fire was kindled from above alone: Thy wars and arms did her restore:

Religion, putting on thy shield, Thou know'st where the disease did lie,

Brought thee victorious to the field. And, like the cure of sympathy,

Thy arms, like those which ancient heroes wore, The strong and certain remedy

Were given by the God thou didst adore: Unto the weapon didst apply;

And all the swords thy armies had, Thou didst not draw the sword, and so

Were on an heavenly anvil made; Away the scabbard throw,

Not interest, or any weak desire As if thy country shou'd

Of rule or empire, did thy mind inspire: Be the inheritance of Mars and blood :

Thy valour, like the holy fire, But that, when the great work was spun,

Which did before the Persian armies go, War in itself should be undone :

Liv'd in the camp, and yet was sacred too: That peace might land again upon the shore,

Thy mighty sword anticipates Richer and better than before:

What was design'd by Heaven and those blest feats, The husbandmen no steel shall know,

And makes the church triumphant here below. None but the useful iron of the plough; That bays might creep on every spear:

Though Fortune did hang on thy sword, And though our sky was overspread

And did obey thy mighty word; With a destructive red,

Though Fortune, for thy side and thee, 'Twas but till thou our Sun didst in full light appear. Forgot her lov'd inconstancy:

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