Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fort. Oh, how am I transported ! is this earth, Or blest Elysium ?

For. Fortunatus, rise

Fort. Dread goddess! how should such a wretch as I
Be known to such a glorious deity ?
Oh, pardon me! for to this place I came
Led by my fate, not folly; in this wood
With weary sorrow have I wandered,
And three times seen the sweating sun take rest,
And three times frantic Cynthia naked ride,
About the rusty highways of the skies,
Stuck full of burning stars, which lent their light
To court her negro paramour, grim Night.

For. This travel now expires : yet from this circle,
Where I and these with fairy troops abide,
Thou canst not stir, unless I be thy guide.
I the world's empress am, Fortune my name;
This hand hath written in thick leaves of steel
An everlasting book of changeless fate,
Shewing who's happy, who unfortunate.

Fort. If every name (dread queen !) be there writ down,
I am sure mine stands in characters of black;
Though happiness herself lie in my name,
I am sorrow's heir, and eldest son to shame.

Kings. No, we are sons to shame, and sorrow's heirs. For. Thou shalt be one of Fortune's minions ;

Six gifts I spend upon mortality,
Wisdom, strength, health, beauty, long life, and riches;
Out of my bounty, one of these is thine,
Choose then which likes thee best.

Fort. Oh, most divine!
Give me but leave to borrow wonder's eye,
To look (amazed) at thy bright majesty.
Wisdom, strength, health, beauty, long life, and riches ?

For. Before thy soul (at this deep lottery) Draw forth her prize, ordained by destiny, Know that here's no recanting a first choice:

Choose then discreetly (for the laws of Fate
Being graven in steel, must stand inviolate). .

Fort. Daughters of Jove and the unblemish'd Night,
Most righteous Parcæ, guide my genius right!
Wisdom, strength, health, beauty, long life, and riches ?

For. Stay, Fortunatus, once more hear me speak; If thou kiss wisdom's cheek and make her thine, She 'll breathe into thy lips divinity, And thou (like Phæbus) shalt speak oracle; Thy heaven-inspired soul, on wisdom's wings, Shall fly up to the parliament of Jove, And read the statutes of eternity, And see what 's past, and learn what is to come: If thou lay claim to strength, armies shall quake To see thee frown; as kings at mine do lie, So shall thy feet trample on empery: Make health thine object, thou shalt be strong proof, 'Gainst the deep searching darts of surfeiting; Be ever merry, ever revelling: Wish but for beauty, and within thine eyes Two naked Cupids amorously shall swim, And on thy cheeks I 'll mix such white and red, That Jove shall turn away young Ganymede And with immortal hands shall circle thee: Are thy desires long life ? thy vital thread Shall be stretched out; thou shalt behold the change Of monarchies; and see those children die Whose great-great grandsires now in cradles lie: If through gold's sacred * hunger thou dost pine ; Those gilded wantons, which in swarms do run To warm their slender bodies in the sun, Shall stand for number of those golden piles, Which in rich piles shall swell before thy feet; As those are, so shall these be infinite. Awaken then thy soul's best faculties, And gladly kiss this bounteous hand of Fate, Which strives to bless thy name of Fortunate. * Sacra is used in the sense of the “ Auri sacra fames" of Virgil.

Kings. Old man, take heed! her smiles will murder thee.
The others. Old man, she 'll crown thee with felicity.

Fort. Oh, whither am I wrapt beyond myself ?
More violent conflicts fight in every thought,
Than his, whose fatal choice Troy's downfall wrought.
Shall I contract myself to wisdom's love?
Then I lose riches; and a wise man, poor,
Is like a sacred book that 's never read,
To himself he lives, and to all else seems dead :
This age thinks better of a gilded fool,
Than of a threadbare saint in wisdom's school.
I will be strong : then I refuse long life ;
And though mine arm should conquer twenty worlds,
There's a lean fellow beats all conquerors :
The greatest strength expires with loss of breath,
The mightiest (in one minute) stoop to death.
Then take long life, or health ; should I do so,
I might grow ugly; and that tedious scroll
Of months and years much misery may inrol;
Therefore I 'll beg for beauty; yet I will not:
The fairest cheek hath oftentimes a soul
Leprous as sin itself, than hell more foul.
The wisdom of this world is idiotism;
Strength a weak reed; health sickness' enemy,
(And it at length will have the victory ;)
Beauty is but a painting; and long life
Is a long journey in December gone,
Tedious, and full of tribulation,
Therefore, dread sacred empress, make me rich;

[Kneels down.
My choice is store of gold; the rich are wise :
He that upon his back rich garments wears
Is wise, though on his head grow Midas' ears :
Gold is the strength, the sinews of the world ;
The health, the soul, the beauty most divine ;
A mask of gold hides all deformities;
Gold is heaven's physic, life's restorative;
Oh, therefore make me rich! not as the wretch

That only serves lean banquets to his eye,
Has gold, yet starves ; is famished in his store ;
No, let me ever spend, be never poor.

For. Thy latest words confine thy destiny;
Thou shalt spend ever, and be never poor :
For proof receive this purse; with it this virtue ;
Still when thou thrust'st thy hand into the same,
Thou shalt draw forth ten pieces of bright gold,
Current in any realm where then thou breathest;
If thou canst dribble out the sea by drops,
Then shalt thou want; but that can ne'er be done,
Nor this grow empty.

Fort. Thanks, great deity!

For. The virtue ends when thou and thy sons end.
This path leads thee to Cyprus, get thee hence :
Farewell, vain covetous fool, thou wilt repent
That for the love of dross thou hast despised
Wisdom's divine embrace; she would have borne thee
On the rich wings of immortality;
But now go dwell with cares, and quickly die.

85.-To all Readers.

BISHOP Hall. I GRANT brevity, where it is neither obscure nor defective, is very pleasing, even to the daintiest judgments. No marvel, therefore, if most men desire much good counsel in a narrow room ; as some affect to have great personages drawn in little tablets, or as we see worlds of countries described in the compass of small maps. Neither do I unwillingly yield to follow them; for both the powers of good advice are the stronger when they are thus united, and brevity makes counsel more portable for memory and readier for use. Take these therefore for more ; which as I would fain practise, so am I willing to commend. Let us begin with him who is the first and last; inform yourself aright concerning God; without whom, in vain do we know all things : be acquainted with that Saviour of yours, which paid so much for you on earth, and now sues for you in heaven ; without whom we have nothing

to do with God, nor he with us. Adore him in your thoughts, trust him with yourself: renew your sight of him every day, and his of you. Overlook these earthly things; and, when you do at any time cast your eyes upon heaven, think there dwells my Saviour, there I shall be. Call yourself to often reckonings; cast up your debts, payments, graces, wants, expenses, employments; yield not to think your set devotions troublesome; take not easy denials from yourself; yea, give peremptory denials to yourself: he can never be good that flatters himself: hold nature to her allowance; and let your will stand at courtesy : happy is that man which hath obtained to be the master of his own heart. Think all God's outward favours and provisions the best for you: your own ability and actions the meanest. Suffer not your mind to be either a drudge or a wanton ; exercise it ever, but overlay it not: in all your businesses, look, through the world, at God; whatsoever is your level, let him be your scope : every day take a view of your last; and think either it is this or may be: offer not yourself either to honour or labour, let them both seek you : care you only to be worthy, and you cannot hide you from God. So frame yourself to the time and company, that you may neither serve it nor sullenly neg. lect it; and yield so far as you may neither betray goodness nor countenance evil. Let your words be few and digested; it is a shame for the tongue to cry the heart mercy, much more to cast itself upon the uncertain pardon of others' ears. There are but two things which a Christian is charged to buy, and not to sell, Time and Truth; both so precious, that we must purchase them at any rate. So use your friends, as those which should be perpetual, may be changeable. While you are within yourself, there is no danger : but thoughts once uttered must stand to hazard. Do not hear from yourself what you would be loth to hear from others. In all good things, give the eye and ear the full of scope, for they let into the mind : restrain the tongue, for it is a spender. Few men have repented them of silence. In all serious matters take counsel of days, and nights, and friends; and let leisure ripen your purposes : neither hope to gain aught by suddenness. The first thoughts may be confident, the second are wiser. Serve honesty ever, though without apparent wages : she will pay sure, if slow. As in apparel, so in actions, know not what is good, but what becomes you. How many warrantable acts have misshapen the authors ? Excuse not your own ill, aggravate not others :

« PreviousContinue »