Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
To my Lord Chancellor, presented on New-Years-Day, 1662
    MY LORD, 1
WHILE flattering Crowds officiously appear
To give themselves, not you, an happy Year,
And by the Greatness of their Presents prove
How much they hope, but not how well they love,
The Muses, who your early Courtship boast,        5
Though now your Flames are with their Beauty lost,
Yet watch their Time, that, if you have forgot
They were your Mistresses, the world may not:
Decay’d by Time and Wars, they only prove
Their former Beauty by your former Love,        10
And now present, as Ancient Ladies do
That courted long at length are forc’d to woo.
For still they look on you with such kind Eyes
As those that see the Church’s Sovereign rise,
From their own Order chose, in whose high State        15
They think themselves the second Choise of Fate.
When our great Monarch into Exile went,
Wit and Religion suffer’d Banishment.
Thus once, when Troy was wrapt in Fire and Smoke,
The helpless Gods their burning Shrines forsook;        20
They with the vanquished Prince and Party go
And leave their Temples empty to the Foe.
At length the Muses stand restor’d again
To that great Charge which Nature did ordain,
And their lov’d Druids seem reviv’d by Fate,        25
While you dispense the Laws and guide the State.
The Nation’s Soul, our Monarch, does dispense
Through you to us his vital Influence;
You are the Channel where those Spirits flow
And work them higher as to us they go.        30
  In open Prospect nothing bounds our Eye
Until the Earth seems join’d unto the Sky:
So in this Hemisphere our utmost View
Is only bounded by our King and you.
Our Sight is limited where you are join’d        35
And beyond that no farther Heav’n can find.
So well your Virtues do with his agree
That, though your Orbs of different Greatness be,
Yet both are for each other’s use dispos’d,
His to enclose, and yours to be enclos’d:        40
Nor could another in your Room have been,
Except an Emptiness had come between.
Well may he then to you his Cares impart
And share his Burden where he shares his Heart.
In you his Sleep still wakes; his pleasures find        45
Their Share of Business in your labouring Mind.
So, when the weary Sun his Place resigns,
He leaves his Light and by Reflection shines.
  Justice, that sits and frowns where publick Laws
Exclude soft Mercy from a private Cause,        50
In your Tribunal most herself does please;
There only smiles because she lives at Ease,
And, like young David, finds her Strength the more
When disencumber’d from those Arms she wore.
Heaven would your Royal Master should exceed        55
Most in that Virtue, which we most did need;
And his mild Father, who too late did find
All Mercy vain but what with Pow’r was join’d,
His fatal Goodness left to fitter Times,
Not to increase but to absolve our Crimes:        60
But when the Heir of this vast Treasure knew
How large a Legacy was left to you,
Too great for any Subject to retain,
He wisely tied it to the Crown again:
Yet, passing through your Hands, it gathers more,        65
As Streams through Mines bear Tincture of their Ore.
While Emp’rick Politicians use Deceit,
Hide what they give and cure but by a Cheat,
You boldly show that Skill which they pretend
And work by Means as noble as your End:        70
Which should you veil, we might unwind the Clue
As Men do Nature, till we came to you.
And as the Indies were not found before
Those rich Perfumes which from the happy Shore
The Winds upon their balmy Wings convey’d,        75
Whose guilty Sweetness first their world betray’d,
So by your Counsels we are brought to view
A rich and undiscover’d World in you.
By you our Monarch does that Fame assure
Which Kings must have, or cannot live secure:        80
For prosperous Princes gain the Subjects Heart,
Who love that Praise in which themselves have part.
By you he fits those Subjects to obey,
As Heaven’s Eternal Monarch does convey
His Pow’r unseen, and Man to his Designs        85
By his bright Ministers, the Stars, inclines.
  Our setting Sun from his declining Seat
Shot Beams of Kindness on you, not of Heat:
And, when his Love was bounded in a few
That were unhappy that they might be true,        90
Made you the Favourite of his last sad Times,
That is, a Sufferer in his Subjects’ Crimes:
Thus those first Favours you receiv’d were sent,
Like Heaven’s Rewards, in earthly Punishment.
Yet Fortune, conscious of your Destiny,        95
Even then took Care to lay you softly by,
And wrapt your Fate among her precious Things,
Kept fresh to be unfolded with your Kings.
Shown all at once, you dazzled so our Eyes
As new-born Pallas did the Gods surprise;        100
When, springing forth from Jove’s new-closing Wound,
She struck the warlike Spear into the Ground;
Which sprouting Leaves did suddenly enclose,
And peaceful Olives shaded as they rose.
  How strangely active are the Arts of Peace,        105
Whose restless Motions less than War’s do cease!
Peace is not freed from Labour, but from Noise,
And War more Force, but not more Pains employs.
Such is the mighty Swiftness of your Mind
That, like the Earth’s, it leaves our Sense behind,        110
While you so smoothly turn and roll our Sphere
That rapid Motion does but Rest appear.
For as in Nature’s Swiftness, with the Throng
Of flying Orbs while ours is borne along,
All seems at rest to the deluded Eye,        115
Mov’d by the Soul of the same Harmony,
So, carried on by your unwearied Care,
We rest in Peace and yet in Motion share.
Let Envy then those Crimes within you see
From which the happy never must be free;        120
Envy that does with Misery reside,
The Joy and the Revenge of ruin’d Pride.
Think it not hard, if at so cheap a Rate
You can secure the Constancy of Fate,
Whose kindness sent what does their Malice seem        125
By lesser ills the greater to redeem;
Nor can we this weak Shower a Tempest call,
But Drops of Heat that in the Sunshine fall.
You have already wearied Fortune so,
She cannot farther be your Friend or Foe;        130
But sits all breathless, and admires to feel
A Fate so weighty that it stops her Wheel.
In all things else above our humble Fate,
Your equal Mind yet swells not into State,
But like some Mountain in those happy Isles,        135
Where in perpetual Spring young Nature smiles,
Your Greatness shows; no horror to affright,
But Trees for Shade and Flowers to court the Sight;
Sometimes the Hill submits itself a while
In small Descents, which do its Height beguile;        140
And sometimes mounts, but so as Billows play,
Whose rise not hinders but makes short our way.
Your Brow, which does no fear of Thunder know,
Sees rolling Tempests vainly beat below;
And, like Olympus’ Top, the Impression wears        145
Of Love and Friendship writ in former Years.
Yet, unimpair’d with Labours or with Time.
Your Age but seems to a new Youth to climb,
(Thus heavenly Bodies do our Time beget
And measure Change, but share no part of it.)        150
And still it shall without a Weight increase,
Like this New-year, whose Motions never cease;
For since the glorious Course you have begun
Is led by Charles, as that is by the Sun,
It must both weightless and immortal prove,        155
Because the Centre of it is above.
Note 1. Text from the original edition, 1662, which seems to lack a title-page. [back]

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