Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ted them to medical researches, and the needy found him as ready in imparting his skill for the benefit of the wasted frame, as he had been in affording relief to the mind oppressed with grief or cast down by disappointment.

When the weakness of his lungs disqualified him for preaching, he would strive, with his pen, to render truth attractive by investing her with the garb of poesy. Let not the modern reader turn with disgust from the perusal of his moral sentiments. Repugnant as they may be to our tastes, and grotesque as they appear in an age of refinement, they contributed nevertheless, mainly to the formation of that character for unbending integrity, and firmness of resolve, for which we almost venerate the old men who laid the foundations of our republic. Neither let the lover of the sacred nine despise the muse of our author. Homely and coarse of speech as she is, her voice probably sunk into the hearts of those who listened to her rude melody, leaving there an impression, deeper than any which the numbers of a Byron, a Southey, or a Moore may ever produce.

“ The Day of Doom,” is the title of Mr Wigglesworth's largest poem. It went through six editions in this country, and was republished in London. It comprises a version, after the manner of Sternhold and Hopkins, of all the scripture texts relative to the final judgment of man, and contains two hundred and twentyfour stanzas of eight lines each. Our selections from his writings are principally from this curious specimen of the antique.

Mr Wigglesworth died in 1705, at the age of seventyfour years. Cotton Mather wrote his funeral sermon and epitaph.*

* We copy this epitaph from the sixth edition of Wigglesworth's poems, printed

in 1707.

EPITAPH
The excellent Wigglesworth remembered by some good tokens.

His

pen did once meat from the eater fetch;
And now he's gone beyond the eater's reach.
His body once so thin, was next to none;
From hence, he's to unbodied spirits flown.
Once his rare skill did all diseases heal;
And he does nothing now uneasy feel.
He to his paradise is joyful come ;
And waits with joy to see his Day of Doom.

VANITY OF VANITIES.

Vain, frail, short-liv’d, and miserable man,
Learn what thou art when thy estate is best :
A restless wave o' the troubled ocean,
A dream, a lifeless picture finely dress’d.

A wind, a flower, a vapor and a bubble,
A wheel that stands not still, a trembling reed,
A trolling stone, dry dust, light chaff and stubble,
A shadow of something but truly nought indeed.

Learn what deceitful toys, and empty things,
This world, and all its best enjoyments be:
Out of the earth no true contentment springs,
But all things here are vexing vanity.

For what is beauty, but a fading flower ?
Or what is pleasure, but the devil's bait,
Whereby he catcheth whom he would devour,
And multitudes of souls doth ruinate.

And what are friends, but mortal men, as we,
Whom death from us may quickly separate;
Or else their hearts may quite estranged be,
And all their love be turned into hate.

And what are riches to be doted on?
Uncertain, fickle, and ensnaring things ;
They draw men's souls into perdition,
And when most needed, take them to their wings.

Ah foolish man! that sets his heart upon
Such empty shadows, such wild fowl as these,
That being gotten will be quickly gone,
And whilst they stay increase but his disease.

As in a dropsy, drinking draughts begets,
The more he drinks, the more he still requires ;
So on this world, whoso affection sets,
His wealth's increase, increaseth his desires.

Oh happy man, whose portion is above,
Where floods, where flames, where foes cannot bereave him
Most wretched man that fixed hath his love
Upon this world, that surely will deceive him.

4

VOL. I.

For what is honor? What is sovereignty,
Whereto men's hearts so restlessly aspire ?
Whom have they crowned with felicity?
When did they ever satisfy desire?

The ear of man with hearing is not fill'd;
To see new lights still coveteth the eye:
The craving stomach, though it may be still'd
Yet craves again without a new supply.

All earthly things man's cravings answer not,
Whose little heart would all the world contain,
(If all the world should fall to one man's lot,)
And notwithstanding empty still remain.

The eastern conqueror was said to weep,
When he the Indian ocean did view,
To see his conquest bounded by the deep,
And no more worlds remaining to subdue.

Who would that man in his enjoyment bless,
Or envy him, or covet his estate,
Whose gettings do augment his greediness,
And make his wishes more intemperate.

Such is the wonted and the common guise
Of those on earth that bear the greatest sway;
If with a few the case be otherwise,
They seek a kingdom that abides for aye.

Moreover they, of all the sons of men,
That rule, and are in highest places set,
Are most inclin'd to scorn their bretheren;
And God himself (without great grace) forget.

For as the sun doth blind the gazer's eyes,
That for a time they nought discern aright:
So honor doth befool and blind the wise,
And their own lustre 'reaves them of their sight.

Great are their dangers, manifold their cares,
Through which, whilst others sleep, they scarcely nap,
And yet are oft surprised unawares,
And fall unwilling into envy's trap.

The mean mechanic finds his kindly rest,
All void of fear sleepeth the country clown:
When greatest princes often are distress'd
And cannot sleep upon their beds of down.

Could strength or valor men immortalize,
Could wealth or honor keep them from decay,
There were some cause the same to idolize,
And give the lie to that which I do say.

But neither can such things themselves endure,
Without the hazard of a change, one hour,
Nor such as trust in them can they secure,
From dismal days, or death's prevailing power.

If beauty could the beautiful defend
From death's dominion, then fair Absalom
Had not been brought to such a shameful end :
But fair and foul unto the grave must come.

If wealth or sceptres could immortal make
Then wealthy Crosus, wherefore art thou dead ?
If warlike force, which makes the world to quake,
Then why is Julius Cæsar perished ?

Where are the Scipios' thunder bolts of war?
Renowned Pompey, Cæsar's enemy?
Stout Hannibal, Rome's terror known so far ?
Great Alexander, what's become of thee?

If gifts and bribes death's favor might but win,
If power, if force, or threat’nings might it fray,
All these, and more had still surviving been:
But all are gone, for death will have no nay.

Such is this world with all her pomp and glory ;
Such are the men whom worldly eyes admire,
Cut down by time, and now become a story,
That we might after better things aspire.

Go boast thyself of what thy heart enjoys,
Vain man! Triumph in all thy worldly bliss :
Thy best enjoyments are but trash and toys,
Delight thyself in that which worthless is.

Omnia prætereunt præter amare Deum.

THE DAY OF DOOM.

Still was the night, serene and bright,

When all men sleeping lay;
Calm was the season, and carnal reason

Thought so 't would last for aye.
Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease,

Much good thou hast in store:
This was their song, their cups among,

The evening before.

Wallowing in all kind of sin,

Vile wretches lay secure:
The best of men had scarcely then

Their lamps kept in good ure.
Virgins unwise, who through disguise

Amongst the best were number'd, Had clos'd their eyes; yea, and the wise

Through sloth and frailty slumber'd.

Like as of gold, when men grow bold

God's threat’nings to contemn,
Who stop their ear, and would not hear

When mercy warned them:
But took their course, without remorse,

Till God began to pour
Destruction the world upon

In a tempestuous shower.

They put away the evil day,

And drown'd their care and fears,
Till drown'd were they, and swept away

By vengeance unawares:
So at the last, whilst men sleep fast

In their security,
Surpris’d they are in such a snare

As cometh suddenly.

For at midnight break forth a light,

Which turn’d the night to day,
And speedily an hideous cry

Did all the world dismay.
Sinners awake, their hearts do ache,

Trembling their loins surpriseth;
Amaz'd with fear, by what they hear,

Each one of them ariseth.

« AnteriorContinuar »