An Elegie on the Death of John Littleton Esquire
And must these waters smile againe? and play
About the shore, as they did yesterday ?
Will the Sun court them still? and shall they show
No conscious wrinckle furrowed on their brow,
That to the thirsty Travellor may say,
I am accurst, goe turne some other way ?
It is unjust ; black floud, thy guilt is more,
Sprung from his losse, then all thy watry store
Can give thee teares to mourne for : Birds shall bee
And Beasts henceforth afraid to drinke of thee.
What have I said? my pious rage hath beene
Too hot, and acts whilst it accuseth sinne.
Thou'rt innocent I know, still cleare, and bright,
Fit whence so pure a soule should take it's flight.
How is my angry zeale confin'd? for hee
Must quarrell with his love and pietie,
That would revenge his death. Oh I shall sinne,
And wish anon he had lesse vertuous beene.
For when his Brother (teares for him I'de spill,
But they're all challeng'd by the greater ill)
Strugled for life with the rude waves, he too
Leapt in, and when hope no faint beame could show,
His charitie shone most ; thou shalt, said hee,
Live with me, Brother, or Ile dye with thee ;
And so he did : Had he beene thine, ô Rome,
Thou wouldst have call'd this death a Martyrdome,
And Saynted him ; my conscience give me leave,
Ile doe so too: if fate will us bereave
Of him we honour'd living, there must be
A kinde of reverence to his memorie,
After his death : and where more just then here,
Where life and end were both so singuler ?
Of which th'one griefe, the other imitation
Of all men vindicates, both admiration.
He that had onely talkt with him, might finde
A little Academie in his minde ;
Where Wisedome, Master was, and Fellowes all
Which we can good, which we can vertuous call.
Reason and Holy Feare the Proctors were,
To apprehend those words, those thoughts that erre.
His learning had out-run the rest of heyres,
Stolne Beard from time, and leapt to twentie yeares.
And as the Sunne, though in full glorie bright,
Shines upon all men with impartiall light,
And a good morrow to the begger brings
With as full rayes as to the mightiest Kings :
So he, although his worth just state might claime,
And give to pride an honourable name,
With curtesie to all, cloath'd vertue so,
That 'twas not higher then his thoughts were low.
In's body too, no Critique eye could finde
The smallest blemish, to belye his minde ;
He was all purenesse, and his outward part
The looking-glasse and picture of his heart.
When waters swallow'd mankinde, and did cheat
The hungry Worme of its expected meat ;
When gemmes, pluckt from the shore by ruder hands,
Return'd againe unto their native sands;
Mongst all those spoyles, there was not any prey
Could equall what this Brooke hath stolne away.
Weepe then, sad Floud; and though thou'rt innocent,
Weepe because fate made thee her instrument :
And when long griefe hath drunke up all thy store,
Come to our eyes, and we will lend thee more.