Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Horror in all his pomp was there,
Mute and magnificent, without a tear;
And then the hero first was seen to fear,
Half unarray'd he ran to his relief,
So hasty and so artless was his grief :
Approaching Greatness met him with her charms
Of power and future state ;
But look'd so ghastly in a brother's fate,
He shook her from his arms.
Arriv'd within the mournful room, he saw
A wild distraction, void of awe,
And arbitrary grief unbounded by a law;
God's image, God's anointed, lay
Without motion, pulse, or breath,
A senseless lump of sacred clay,
An image, now,

of death!
Amidst his sad attendants groans and cries;
The lines of that ador'd, forgiving face,
Distorted from their native grace;
An iron slumber sat on his majestic eyes.
The pious Duke -forbear, audacious Muse,
No terms thy feeble art can use
Are able to adorn so vast a woe :
The grief of all the rest like subject-grief did show;
His like a sovereign did transcend;
No wife, no brother, such a grief could know,
Nor any name, but friend.

O wondrous changes of a fatal scene,
Still varying to the last!
Heaven, though its hard decree was past,
Seem'd pointing to a gracious turn again ;
And Death's uplifted arm arrested in its haste.

Heaven half repentant of the doom,
And almost griev'd it had foreseen
What, by foresight, it willd eternally to come.
Mercy above did hourly plead
For her resemblance here below,
And mild Forgiveness intercede
To stop the coming blow.
New miracles approach'd the ethereal throne,
Such as his wondrous life had oft and lately known,
And urg'd that still they might be shown.
On earth his pious brother pray'd and vow'd,
Renouncing greatness at so dear a rate,
Himself defending what he could
From all the glories of his future fate.
With him the’ innumerable crowd
Of armed prayers
Knock'd at the gates of Heaven, and knock'd aloud;
The first well-meaning rude petitioners
All for his life assail'd the throne,
All would have brib'd the Skies by offering up their

own.

So great a throng not Heaven itself could bar;
'Twas almost borne by force, as in the Giants' war.
The prayers, at least, for his reprieve were heard ;
His death, like Hezekiah's, was deferr'd:
Against the sun the shadow went;
Five days those five degrees were lent
To form our patience, and prepare the event.
The second causes took the swift command,
The medicinal head, the ready hand,
All eager to perform their part;
All but eternal Doom was conquer'd by their art :
Once more the fleeting soul came back

To'inspire the mortal frame,
And in the body took a doubtful stand,
Doubtful and hovering, like expiring flame
That mounts and falls by turns, and trembles o'er

the brand.

The joyful short-liv'd news soon spread around,
Took the same train, the same impetuous bound:
The drooping Town in smiles again was drest;
Gladness in every face exprest,
Their eyes before their tongues confest.
Men met each other with erected look,
The steps were higher that they took;
Friends to congratulate their friends made haste,
And long inveterate foes saluted as they past.
Above the rest heroic James appear'd,
Exalted more, because he more had fear'd;
His manly heart, whose noble pride
Was still above
Dissembled hate or varnish'd love,
Its more than common transport could not hide;
But, like an eager,* rode in triumph o’er the tide.
Thus, in an alternate course,
The tyrant passions, hope and fear,
Did in extremes appear,
And flash'd upon the soul with equal force.
Thus, at half-ebb, a rolling sea
Returns, and wins upon the shore;
The watery herd, affrighted at the roar,
Rest on their fins awhile, and stay,
Then backward take their wondering way:

* An eager is a tide swelling above another tide, and observable in the Trent and Severn.

The prophet wonders more than they
At prodigies but rarely seen before,
And cries, • A king must fall, or kingdoms change

their sway.'
Such were our counter-tides at land, and so
Presaging of the fatal blow
In their prodigious ebb and flow.
The royal soul, that, like the labouring moon,
By charms of art was hurried down,
Forc'd with regret to leave her native sphere,
Came but awhile on liking here;
Soon weary of the painful strife,
And made but faint essays of life.
An evening light,
Soon shut in night;
A strong distemper, and a weak relief;
Short intervals of joy, and long returns of grief.

The sons of Art all med'cines tried,
And every noble remedy applied:
With emulation each essay'd
His utmost skill; nay more, they pray'd:
Never was losing game with better conduct play'd:
Death never won a stake with greater toil,
Nor e'er was Fate so near a foil :
But, like a fortress on a rock,
The' impregnable disease their vain attempts did

mock.
They min'd it near; they batter'd from afar
With all the cannon of the medicinal war:
No gentle means could be essay'd ;
'Twas beyond parley when the siege was laid:
The' extremest ways they first ordain,
Prescribing such intolerable pain,
As none but Cæsar could sustain:

Undaunted Cæsar underwent
The malice of their art, nor bent
Beneath whate'er their pious rigour could invent.
In five such days he suffer'd more
Than any suffer'd in his reign before :
More, infinitely more, than he
Against the worst of rebels could decree,
A traitor, or twice-pardon'd enemy.
Now Art was tir'd without success;
No racks could make the stubborn malady confess
The vain insurances of life,
And he who most perform’d, and promis’d less,
Ev'n Short* himself, forsook the’ unequal strife.
Death and despair was in their looks;
No longer they consult their memories or books:
Like helpless friends, who view from shore
The labouring ship, and hear the tempest roar,
So stood they with their arms across,
Not to assist, but to deplore
The inevitable loss.

Death was denounc'd, that frightful sound,
Which e'en the best can hardly bear:
He took the summons void of fear,
And, unconcern'dly, cast his eyes around,
As if to find and dare the grisly challenger.
What Death could do he lately tried,
When in four days he more than died.
The same assurance all his words did grace;
The same majestic mildness held its place,
Nor lost the monarch in his dying face:
Intrepid, pious, merciful, and brave,
He look'd as when he conquer'd and forgave.

* The King's physician.

« VorigeDoorgaan »