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A Funeral Pindaric Poem,


Fortunati ambo! si quid mea carmina possunt,
Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet ævo.


THUS long my grief has kept me dumb:
Sure there's a lethargy in mighty woe,
Tears stand congeal'd, and cannot flow;
And the sad soul retires into her inmost room.
Tears, for a stroke foreseen, afford relief;
But, unprovided for a sudden blow,

Like Niobé we marble grow,

And petrify with grief.

Our British heaven was all serene;

No threatening cloud was nigh,

Not the least wrinkle to deform the sky;
We lived as unconcern'd and happily
As the first age in Nature's golden scenę.
Supine amidst our flowing store,

We slept securely, and we dream'd of more;
When suddenly the thunder-clap was heard
It took us unprepared, and out of guard,
Already lost, before we fear'd.

The' amazing news of Charles at once were spread; At once the general voice declared

'Our gracious Prince was dead.'

No sickness known before, no slow disease,

To soften grief by just degrees;

But, like an hurricane on Indian seas,

The tempest rose;

An unexpected burst of woes;

With scarce a breathing space betwixt,
This now becalm'd, and perishing the next.
As if great Atlas from his height

Should sink beneath his heavenly weight,
And with a mighty flaw, the flaming wall,
(As once it shall,)

Should gape immense, and, rushing down, o'erwhelm this nether ball;

So swift and so surprising was our fear;
Our Atlas fell indeed; but Hercules was near.

His pious brother, sure the best

Who ever bore that name,

Was newly risen from his rest,

And, with a fervent flame,

His usual morning vows had just address'd
For his dear Sovereign's health;

And hoped to have them heard

In long increase of years,

In honour, fame, and wealth.

Guiltless of greatness thus he always pray'd,
Nor knew nor wish'd those vows he made,
On his own head should be repaid.

Soon as the' ill-omen'd rumour reach'd his ear,
(Ill news is wing'd with fate, and flies apace)
Who can describe the' amazement of his face!

Horror in all his pomp was there,
Mute and magnificent, without a tear;

And then the hero first was seen to fear.
Half unarray'd he ran to his relief,

So hasty and so artless was his grief: Approaching Greatness met him with her charms

Of power and future state;

But look'd so ghastly in a brother's fate,
He shook her from his arms.-

Arrived within the mournful room, he saw
A wild distraction, void of awe,
And arbitrary grief unbounded by a law;
God's image, God's anointed, lay
Without motion, pulse, or breath,
A senseless lump of sacred clay,
An image, now, of Death.

Amidst his sad attendants' groans and cries,
The lines of that adored, forgiving face,

Distorted from their native grace;

An iron slumber sat on his majestic eyes.

The pious Duke-forbear, audacious Muse,

No terms thy feeble art can use

Are able to adorn so vast a woe:

The grief of all the rest like subject-grief did show;
His like a sovereign did transcend;

No wife, no brother, such a grief could know,
Nor any name, but friend.

O wondrous changes of a fatal scene,
Still varying to the last!

Heaven, though its hard decree was past,
Seem'd pointing to a gracious turn again;
And Death's uplifted arm arrested in its haste.

Heaven half repented of the doom,
And almost grieved it had foreseen
What, by foresight, it will'd eternally to come.
Mercy above did hourly plead

For her resemblance here below,
And mild Forgiveness intercede
To stop the coming blow.

New miracles approach'd the' ethereal throne,
Such as his wondrous life had oft and lately known
And urged that still they might be shown.
On earth his pious brother pray'd and vow'd,
Renouncing greatness at so dear a rate,
Himself defending what he could
From all the glories of his future fate.
With him the' innumerable crowd

Of armed prayers

Knock'd at the gates of Heaven, and knock'd aloud; The first well-meaning rude petitioners.

All for his life assail'd the throne,

All would have bribed the Skies by offering up their own.

So great a throng not Heaven itself could bar;
'Twas almost borne by force, as in the Giants' war.
The prayers, at least, for his reprieve were heard;
His death, like Hezekiah's, was deferr'd:
Against the sun the shadow went;

Five days those five degrees were lent

To form our patience, and prepare the' event.
The second causes took the swift command,
The medicinal head, the ready hand,

All eager to perform their part;

All but eternal Doom was conquer'd by their art; Once more the fleeting soul came back

To' inspire the mortal frame,

And in the body took a doubtful stand,

Doubtful and hovering, like expiring flame

That mounts and falls by turns, and trembles o'er the brand.

The joyful short-lived news soon spread around,
Took the same train, the same impetuous bound:
The drooping Town in smiles again was dress'd;
Gladness in every face express'd,

Their eyes before their tongues confess'd.
Men met each other with erected look,
The steps were higher that they took ;
Friends to congratulate their friends made haste,
And long inveterate foes saluted as they pass'd.
Above the rest heroic James appear'd,
Exalted more because he more had fear'd;
His manly heart, whose noble pride
Was still above

Dissembled hate or varnish'd love,

Its more than common transport could not hide; But, like an eagre', rode in triumph o'er the tide. Thus, in alternate course,

The tyrant passions, hope and fear,

Did in extremes appear,

And flash'd upon the soul with equal force.

Thus, at half-ebb, a rolling sea

Returns, and wins upon the shore;

The watry herd, affrighted at the roar,

Rest on their fins awhile, and stay,

Then backward take their wondering way:

1 An eagre is a tide swelling above another tide, and observable in the Trent and Severn.

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