Ballad of Gresham College
In Praise of that choice Company of Witts and Philosophers who meet on Wednesdays weekly att Gresham Colledg.
If to be rich and to be learn' d
Be every Nation's cheifest glory,
How much are English men concern'd,
Gresham to celebrate thy story
Who built th'Exchange t'enrich the Citty
And a Colledge founded for the witty.
Our Merchants on th'Exchange doe plott
T'increase the Kingdom's wealth by trade.
Att Gresham Colledge a learned Knott
Unparallel'd designes have laid
To make themselves a Corporation
And knowe all things by Demonstration.
Seaven was the number of the Sages;
The eight[h] wiseman wee call a Foole.
Our Fame must then exceed all Ages
Who have Seaventie wise men in one Schoole.
Wee adore the[e], Gresham, for thy Colledge
From whence must issue soe much Knowledg.
This learned Septuagint consists
Of men of Honor and of parts.
There's L[or]ds, Kn[igh]ts, Physicians, Priests,
All skill'd in Sciences and Arts,
Solomons in nature and can read there
Even from the Hysop to the Cedar.
Thy Colledg, Gresham, shall hereafter
Be the whole world's Universitie,
Oxford and Cambridge are our laughter;
Their learning is but Pedantry.
These new Collegiates doe assure us
Aristotle's an Asse to Epicurus.
By demonstrative Philosophy
They playnly prove all things are bodyes,
And those that talke of Qualitie
They count them all to be meer Noddyes.
Nature in all her works they trace
And make her as playne as nose in face.
'T was broach't att first but to make myrth
There was another world i' th'Moone :
The Colledg proves that Globe and Earth
And Made 't as playne as day att Noone,
Nay, in a glasse of Fiftie Foot
They shew us Rivers and Trees to boot.
To the Danish Agent late was showne
That where noe Ayre is, there's noe breath.
A glasse this secret did make knowne
Where [in] a Catt was put to death.
Out of the glasse the Ayre being screwed,
Pusse dyed and ne're so much as mewed.
The selfe same glasse did likewise clear
Another secret more profound :
That nought but Ayre unto the Eare.
Can be the Medium of Sound,
For in the glasse emptied of Ayre
A striking watch you cannot heare.
And that which makes their Fame ring louder,
With much adoe they shew'd the King
To make glasse Buttons turn to powder,
If off the[m] their tayles you doe but wring.
How this was donne by soe small Force
Did cost the Colledg a Month's discourse.
These men take nothing uppon trust
Therefor in Counsell sate many howres
About fileing Iron into Dust
T'experiment the Loadstone's powers;
If in a Circle of a Board they strew it,
By what lines to see the Loadstone drew it.
The noble learned Corporation
Not for itselfe is thus combyn'd
But for the publique good oth'Nation
And generall benefitt of Mankynd.
These are not men of common mould :
They covet Fame but contemne gold.
But yett they'd have the Colledge endow'd
With about a thousand pounds a year.
Such a Revenue being allow'd,
What things they'll doe shall then appeare.
Each single Member hath undertooke
To shew a Trick or write a Booke.
The Prime Virtuoso hath undertaken
Through all the Experiments to run
Of that learned Man, Sir Francis Bacon,
Shewing which can, which can't, be donne.
If he doe not, be sure that none
Will ever fynd the Philosopher's stone.
A second hath describ'd att full
The Philosophie of making Cloath,
Tells you what grasse doth make coarse wooll
And whatt it is that breeds the Moth.
Great learning is i'th' Art of Cloathing
Though vulgar people thinke it nothing.
A wondrous Engine is contriveing
In forme, t'is said, much like a Bell,
Most usefull for the Art of Diveing.
If 't hitt, 't will prove a Miracle;
For, gentlemen, 't is no small matter
To make a man breath under water.
A newe designe how to make Leather
A third Collegiate is now scaning.
The Question most disputed : wheather,
Since without Barke there may be taning,
Some cheaper way may not be tryed
Of making Leather without Hyde.
Another person of great noate
Hath writt a Learned tract of Strawe,
The tallest Beane stalke and smallest moate
From their first principles to drawe.
A fifth writes that in no tyne [sic] shorter
Then twen[t]y yeers can be made good Morter.
A sixth is perfecting a treatise
Of Draweing, Paynting, Lymning, graveing,
A most Ingenious peece, some say 'tis,
And wilbe richly worth men's haveing
For it declares the very Prime Age
Either of Painter or of Image.
It proves that Aaron, the Jewes' high Priest,—
A controversie worth the cleering,—
Must fall within the sculpture's List;
When he mad Golden Calfe of Eare Ring,
He needs must use a toole of Mould,
For fire could never shape the gold.
A Doctor counted very able
Designes that all Mankynd converse shall,
Spite o' th' confusion made att Babell,
By Character call'd Universall.
How long this Character will be learning,
That truly passeth my discerning.
To guesse by one everyone's meritt,
A Booke call'd Fumifugiam read.
Its Author hath a publique spirit
And doubtlesse too a subtile head
He must be more than John an Oake
Who writes soe learnedly of smoake.
He shewes that 't is the seacoale smoake
That allways London doth Inviron,
Which doth our Lungs and Spiritts choake,
Our hanging spoyle, and rust our Iron.
Lett none att Fumifuge be scoffing
Who heard att Church our Sundaye's Coughing.
For melioration of the Ayre
Both for our Lungs and eke our noses,
To plant the Fields he doth take care
With Cedar, Juniper and Roses,
Which, turn'd to trees, 't is understood,
Wee shall instead of coale burne wood.
O blessed witt that thus contrives
By new found out but facile Arte
In pleasure to lengthen out our lives.
To teach us next to perfume —
And without fuell or smoake make fire
Some other Member will aspire.
The Colledge will the whole world measure,
Which most impossible conclude,
And Navigation make a pleasure
By fynding out the Longitude.
Every Tarpaulin shall then with ease
Sayle any ship to the Antipodes.
Of all the Arts Mechanicall
Printed shalbe a perfe[ct] Scheme,
And every Science Liberall
Shall be likewise a Colledge Theame.
When the King hath made them a Societie,
They'll demonstrate all things but a Dietie.
These be the things with many more
Which miraculous appere to men
The Colledge intended : The like before
W'ere never donne, nor wilbe agen.
And to conclude in Ballad Fashion,
God blesse the King and this new Corporation.