Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Lines to the Memory of Thompson
By Cotton Mather (1663–1728)
 
Remarks on the bright and the dark side of that American pillar, the Reverend Mr William Thompson; Pastor of the Church at Braintree. Who triumphed on Dec. 10, 1666.

BUT may a rural pen try to set forth
Such a great Father’s ancient grace and worth?
I undertake a no less arduous theme,
Than the old sages found the Chaldee dream.
’Tis more than tythes of a profound respect,        5
That must be paid such a Melchizedeck.
Oxford this light, with tongues and arts doth trim;
And then his northern town doth challenge him.
His time and strength he center’d there in this;
To do good works, and be what now he is.        10
His fulgent virtues there, and learned strains,
Tall, comely presence, life unsoil’d with stains,
Things most on worthies, in their stories writ,
Did him to moves in orbs of service fit.
Things more peculiar yet, my muse, intend,        15
Say stranger things than these; so weep and end.
  When he forsook first his Oxonian cell,
Some scores at once from popish darkness fell;
So this reformer studied! rare first fruits!
Shaking a crab-tree thus by hot disputes,        20
The acid juice by miracle turn’d wine,
And rais’d the spirits of our young divine.
Hearers, like doves, flock’d with contentious wing,
Who should be first, feed most, most homeward bring.
Laden with honey, like Hyblæan bees,        25
They kneed it into combs upon their knees.
  Why he from Europe’s pleasant garden fled,
In the next age, will be with horror said.
Braintree was of this jewel then possess’d,
Until himself, he labor’d into rest.        30
His inventory then, with John’s, was took;
A rough coat, girdle with the sacred Book.
 
  When reverend Knowles and he sail’d hand in hand,
To Christ espousing the Virginian land,
Upon a ledge of craggy rocks near stav’d,        35
His Bible in his bosom thrusting sav’d;
The Bible, the best of cordial of his heart,
“Come floods, come flames, (cried he) we ’ll never part.”
A constellation of great converts there,
Shone round him, and his heavenly glory were.        40
Gookins was one of these; by Thompson’s pains,
Christ and New England, a dear Gookins gains.
 
  With a rare skill in hearts, this doctor could
Steal into them words that should do them good.
His balsams, from the tree of life distill’d,        45
Hearts cleans’d and heal’d, and with rich comforts fill’d.
But here ’s the wo! balsams which others cur’d.
Would in his own turn hardly be endur’d.
 
  Apollyon owing him a cursed spleen
Who an Apollos in the church had been,        50
Dreading his traffic here would be undone
By num’rous proselytes he daily won,
Accus’d him of imaginary faults,
And push’d him down so into dismal vaults:
Vaults, where he kept long ember-weeks of grief,        55
Till heaven alarmed sent him a relief.
Then was a Daniel in the lion’s den,
A man, oh, how belov’d of God and men!
By his bed side an Hebrew sword there lay,
With which at last he drove the devil away.        60
Quakers too durst not bear his keen replies,
But fearing it half drawn the trembler flies,
Like Lazarus, new rais’d from death, appears
The saint that had been dead for many years.
Our Nehemiah said, “shall such as I        65
Desert my flock, and like a coward fly!”
Long had the churches begg’d the saint’s release;
Releas’d at last, he dies in glorious peace.
The night is not so long, but Phosphor’s ray
Approaching glories doth on high display.        70
Faith’s eye in him discern’d the morning star,
His heart leap’d; sure the sun cannot be far.
In extacies of joy, he ravish’d cries,
“Love, love the Lamb, the Lamb!” In whom he dies.
 
EPITAPHIUM.
        75
 
STA viator; thesaurus hic jacet,
THOMAS COBBETUS;
Cujus,
Nosti preces potentissimas, ac mores probatissimos,
Si es Nov-Anglus.
        80
Mirare, si pietatem colas;
Sequere, si felicitatem optes.
 
 
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