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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Hendrik Andrieszen. Vanitas Still Life

   WALTON'S Complete Angler,
   ed. 1653; date uncertain.


FAREWELL, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles!
Farewell, ye honored rags, ye glorious bubbles!
Fame's but a hollow echo; gold, pure clay;
Honor, the darling but of one short day;
Beauty—th' eye's idol—but a damasked skin;
State, but a golden prison to live in
And torture free-born minds;  embroidered trains,
         but pageants for proud swelling veins;
And blood allied to greatness, is alone
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own:
Fame, honor, beauty, state, train, blood, and birth
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.

I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill;
I would be high, but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke;
I would be rich, but see men, too unkind,
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind;
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected whilst the ass goes free;
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud,
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud;
I would be poor, but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass:
Rich, hated; wise, suspected; scorned, if poor,
Great, feared; fair, tempted; high, still envied more;
I have wished all, but now I wish for neither;
Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair, poor I'll be rather.

Would the World now adopt me for her heir,
Would beauty's queen entitle me the fair,
Fame speak me Fortune's minion, could I vie
Angels with India, with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bowed knees, strike Justice dumb
As wel as blind and lame, or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs, be called great master
In the loose rimes of every poetaster;
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives;
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign,
Than ever Fortune would have made them mine;
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.
Welcome, pure thoughts!  welcome, ye silent groves!
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves:
Now the winged people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring;
A pray'r-book now shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet Virtue's face.
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears,
Then here I'll sit and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn to affect an holy melancholy;
And if contentment be a stranger then
I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven, again.

Schelling, Felix E., Ed. A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics.
Boston: Ginn and Company, 1895. 188-190.

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Elizabethan Theatre
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Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
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Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR

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