Abraham Cowley

from Poems, 1656




Great is thy Charge, O North! be wise and just,
England commits her Falkland to thy trust;
Return him safe; Learning would rather choose
Her Bodley or her Vatican to lose:
All things that are but writ or printed there,
In his unbounded breast engraven are.
There all the sciences together meet,
And every art does all her kindred greet,
Yet justle not, nor quarrel; but as well
Agree as in some common principle.
So in an Army govern'd right, we see
(Though out of several countries rais'd it be)
That all their order and their place maintain,
The English, Dutch, the Frenchman, and the Dane:
So thousand divers species fill the air,
Yet neither crowd nor mix confus'dly there;
Beasts, houses, trees, and men together lie,
Yet enter undisturb'd into the eye.
     And this great prince of knowledge is by Fate
Thrust into th' noise and business of a state.
All virtues, and some customs of the court,
Other men's labour, are at least his sport;
Whilst we, who can no action undertake,
Whom idleness itself might learned make;
Who hear of nothing, and as yet scarce know,
Whether the Scots in England be or no;
Pace dully on, oft tire, and often stay,
Yet see his nimble Pegasus fly away.
'Tis Nature's fault, who did thus partial grow,
And her estate of wit on one bestow;
Whilst we, like younger brothers, get at best
But a small stock, and must work out the rest.
How could he answer't, should the state think fit
To question a monopoly of wit?
     Such is the man whom we require the same
We lent the North; untouch'd, as is his fame.
He is too good for war, and ought to be
As far from danger, as from fear he's free.
Those men alone (and those are useful too)
Whose valour is the only art they know,
Were for sad war and bloody battles born;
Let them the state defend, and he adorn.

Cowley, Abraham. The Works of Abraham Cowley. Vol 1.
J. Aikin, ed. London: G. Kearsley, 1806.  32-33.

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