Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
To my Honour’d Friend Dr. Charleton, on his learned and useful Works
and more particularly this of Stone-heng, by him Restored to the true Founders.

THE LONGEST 1 Tyranny that ever sway’d
Was that wherein our Ancestors betray’d
Their free-born Reason to the Stagirite,
And made his Torch their universal Light.
So Truth, while onely one suppli’d the State,        5
Grew scarce, and dear, and yet sophisticate; 2
Until ’twas 3 bought, like Emp’rique Wares, or Charms,
Hard words seal’d up with Aristotle’s Armes.
Columbus was the first that shook his Throne;
And found a Temp’rate in a Torrid Zone,        10
The fevrish aire fann’d by a cooling breez,
The fruitful Vales set round with shady Trees;
And guiltless Men, who danc’d away their time,
Fresh as their Groves and Happy as their Clime.
Had we still paid that homage to a Name,        15
Which only God and Nature justly claim,
The Western Seas had been our utmost bound,
Where Poets still might dream the Sun was drown’d:
And all the Starrs, that shine in Southern Skies,
Had been admir’d by none but Salvage Eyes.        20
  Among th’ Assertors of free Reason’s claim,
Th’ English are 4 not the least in Worth, or Fame.
The World to Bacon does not onely owe
Its present Knowledge, but its future too.
Gilbert shall live, till Lode-stones cease to draw        25
Or British Fleets the boundless Ocean awe.
And noble Boyle, not less in Nature seen,
Than his great Brother 5 read in States and Men.
The Circling streams, once thought but pools, of blood
(Whether Life’s fewel or the Bodie’s food)        30
From dark Oblivion Harvey’s name shall save;
While Ent keeps all the honour that he gave.
Nor are You, Learned Friend, the least renown’d;
Whose Fame, not circumscrib’d with English ground,
Flies like the nimble journeys of the Light;        35
And is, like that, unspent too in its flight.
Whatever Truths have been, by Art, or Chance,
Redeem’d from Error, or from Ignorance,
Thin in their Authors, (like rich veins of 6 Ore)
Your Works unite, and still discover more.        40
Such is the healing virtue of Your Pen,
To perfect Cures on Books, as well as Men.
Nor is This Work the least: You well may give
To Men new vigour, who make Stones to live.
Through You the DANES (their short Dominion lost)        45
A longer Conquest than the Saxons boast.
STONE-HENG, once thought a Temple, You have found
A Throne where Kings, our Earthly Gods, were Crown’d.
Where by their wondring Subjects They were seen,
Joy’d with 7 their Stature and their Princely meen.        50
Our Soveraign here above the rest might stand;
And here be chose again to rule the Land.
  These Ruines sheltered once His Sacred Head,
Then when 8 from Wor’ster’s fatal Field He fled;
Watch’d by the Genius of this Royal place,        55
And mighty Visions of the Danish Race,
His Refuge then was for a Temple shown:
But, He Restor’d, ’tis now become a Throne.

Note 1. Text from the original prefixt to Charleton’s Chorea Gigantum, 1663. [back]
Note 2. sophisticate;] sophisticate. 1663. [back]
Note 3. Until ’twas] Derrick and others nonsensically give Still it was. [back]
Note 4. Th’ English are] Tonson in 1704 printed Our Nation’s. [back]
Note 5. Brother] Christie, Saintsbury, and others print a comma after this word and so give another and wholly false sense. [back]
Note 6. of] Christie wrongly gives in. [back]
Note 7. Joy’d with] Scott reports the reading of the first edition to be Chose by; The British Museum copy has Joy’d with. [back]
Note 8. Then when] Tonson in 1704 printed When he from Wor’ster’s fatal battle fled. [back]

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