Poems and Extracts/To the Lady Margaret Countess of Cumberland

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

To the Lady Margaret Countess of Cumberland.

By William Daniel


He that to such a height hath built his mind,
And reared the dwelling of his thoughts so strong,
As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame
Of his resolved powers; nor all the wind
Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong
His settled peace, or to disturb the same:
What a fair seat hath he, from whence he may
The boundless wastes and wields of man survey.—
And with how free an eye doth he look down
Upon these lower regions of turmoil?10
Where all the storms of passion mainly beat,

On flesh and blood: where honor, power, renown,
Are only gay afflictions, golden toil;
Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet
As frailty doth; and only great doth seem
To little minds who do it so esteem.
He looks upon the mightiest monarchs wars
But only as an stately robberies;
Where evermore the fortune that prevails
Must be the right: the ill-succeeding mars20
The fairest and the best-faced enterprize.
Great Pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails:
Justice, he sees (as if seduced) still
Conspires with power whose cause must not be ill.
He sees the face of Right to appear as manifold
As are the passions of uncertain man;
Who puts it in all colours all attires.
To serve his ends, and make his courses hold.

He sees that let deceit do what it can,
Plot and contrive base ways to high desires;30
That the all-guiding Providence doth yet
All disappoint, and mocks this smoke of wit.
Nor is he moved with all the thunder-cracks
Of tyrants threats, or with the surly brow
Of power, that proudly sits on others crimes;
Charged with more crying sins than those he checks.
The storms of sad confusion that may grow
Up in the present for the coming times,
Appal not him, that hath no side at all,
But of himself and knows the worst can fall.40
Although his heart (so near ally'd to earth)
Cannot but pity the perplexed state
Of troublous and distressed mortality.
That thus make way unto the ugly birth
Of their own sorrows, and do still beget
Affliction upon imbecillity:

Yet seeing thus the course of things must run
He looks thereon not strange, but as foredone.
And whilst distraught ambition compasses,
And is encompassed; whilst as craft deceives,50
And is deceived: Whilst man doth ransack man,
And builds on blood, and rises by distress;
And th' inheritance of Desolation leaves
To great-expecting hopes : He looks thereon,
As from the shore of peace, with unwet eye,
And bears no venture in impiety.
Thus, Madam, fares that man, who hath prepared
A rest for his desires; and sees all things
Beneath him; and hath learned this book of man,
Full of the notes of frailty; and compared60
The best of glory with her sufferings:
By whom, I see, you labour all you can
To plant your heart; and set your thoughts as near
His glorious mansion as your powers can bear.

"Which, Madam, are so soundly fashioned
By that clear judgment, that hath carried you
Beyond the feeble limits of your kind,
As they can stand against the strongest head
Passion can make; inured to any hue
The world can cast; that cannot cast that mind
Out of her form of goodness, that doth see71
Both what the best and worst of earth can be.
Which makes, that whatsoever here befals,
You in the region of yourself remain:
Where no vain breath of th' impudent molests,
That hath secured within the brazen walls
Of a clear conscience, that (without all stain)
Rises in peace, in innocency rests;
Whilst all what malice from without procures,
Shews her own ugly heart and hurts not your's.
And whereas none rejoice more in revenge,81
Than women use to do; yet you well know,

That wrong is better checked by being contemned,
Than being pursued; leaving to him to avenge,
To whom it appertains; Wherein you shew.
How worthily your clearness hath condemned
Base malediction, living in the dark.
That at the rays of goodness still doth bark.
Knowing the heart of man is set to be
The centre of this world, about the which90
These revolutions of disturbances
Still roll; where all the aspects of misery
Predominate; whose strong effects are such.
As he must bear, being powerless to redress:
And that unless above himself he can
Erect himself, how poor a Thing is man!
And how turmoiled they are that level lie
With earth, and cannot lift themselves from thence;
That never are at peace with their desires
But work beyond their years; and even deny100

Dotage her rest, and hardly will dispence
With death. That when ability expires,
Desire still lives—So much delight they have,
To carry toil and travel to the grave.
Whose ends you see; and what can be the best
They reach unto, when they have cast the sum
And reckonings of their glory. And you know,
This floating life hath but this port of rest,
A heart prepared, that fears no ill to come.
And that mans greatness rests but in his show.
The best of all whose days consumed are 111
Either in war or peace-conceiving war.
This concord, Madam, of a well-tuned mind
Hath been so set by that all-working Hand
Of Heaven, that though the world hath done his worst
To put it out by discords most unkind;
Yet doth it still in perfect union stand
With God and man; nor ever will be forced

From that most sweet accord; but still agree,
Equal in fortunes inequality.120
And this note, Madam, of your worthiness,
Remains recorded in so many hearts,
As time nor malice cannot wrong your right.
To the inheritance of fame you must possess:
You that have built you by your great deserts
(Out of small means) a far more exquisite
And glorious dwelling for your honored name.
Than all the gold that leaden minds can frame.