Page images

I joy not in no earthly bliss ;

I weigh not Croesus' wealth a straw ;
For care, I care not what it is ;

I fear not fortune's fatal law :
My mind is such as may not move
For beauty bright or force of love.

I wish but what I have at will ;

I wander not to seek for more ;
I like the plain, I climb no hill ;

In greatest storms I sit on shore,
And laugh at them that toil in vain
To get what must be lost again.

I kiss not where I wish to kill ;

I feign not love where most I hate ;
I break no sleep to win my will ;

I wait not at the mighty's gate ;
I scorn no poor,

I fear no rich;
I feel no want, nor have too much.

The court, ne cart, I like ne loath ;

Extremes are counted worst of all :
The golden mean betwixt them both,

Doth surest sit, and fears no fall;
This is my choice, for why? I find
No wealth is like a quiet mind.*


[ocr errors]

[In an early manuscript copy of this celebrated song, among Rawlinson's MSS. in the Bodleian library, Oxford, it is, ascribed to Sir Edward Dyer, a poetical friend of Sir Philip Sidney. That manuscript contains the following stanza, neither printed here by Rit. son, nor by Dr. Percy in his Reliques. (See vol. i. p. 309.)



Would we attain the happiest state,

That is design'd us here;
No joy a rapture must create,

No grief beget despair.

No injury fierce anger raise,

No honour tempt to pride;
No vain desires of empty praise

Must in the soul abide.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,

Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is tbeir only trust,

A cloaked craft their store of skill:
But all the pleasure that I find,

Is to maintain a quiet mind.

In Byrd's ' Psalmes, Sonets, and Songs of Sadness and Pietie,' 1589, the second stanza was thus printed :

I press to bear no haughty sway,

I wish no more than may suffice;
I do no more than well I

Look what I want, my mind supplies,
Lo! thus I triumph like a king,
My mind content with any thing.

The old copies contain inany other variations from the reprints.]

No charms of youth or beauty move

The constant settled breast: Who leaves a passage free to love,

Shall let in all the rest.

In such a heart soft peace will live,

Where none of these abound; "The greatest blessing Heaven does give,

Or can on earth be found.



To hug yourself in perfect ease,
What would you wish for more than these?
A healthy, clean, paternal seat,
Well shaded from the suinmer's heat.

A little parlour stove, to hold
A constant fire from winter's cold,
Where you may sit, and think, and sing,
Far off from court, God bless the king !

Safe from the harpies of the law,
From party-rage, and great man's paw;
Have choice few friends of your own taste ;
A wife agreeable and chaste.

An open, but yet cautious mind,
Where guilty cares no entrance find;
Nor miser's fears, nor envy's spite,
To break the sabbath of the night.

Plain equipage, and temp'rate meals, Few taylors', and no doctors' bills; Content to take, as Heaven shall please, A longer or a shorter lease.



I envy not the proud their wealth,

Their equipage and state ;
Give me but innocence and health,

I ask not to be great.

I in this sweet retirement find

A joy unknown to kings; For sceptres to a virtuous mind

Seem vain and empty things.

Great Cincinnatus at his plough,

With brighter lustre shone
Than guilty Cæsar e’er could show,

Though seated on a throne.

Tumultuous days, and restless nights,

Ambition ever knows,
A stranger to the calm delights

Of study and repose.

Then free from envy, care, and strife,

Keep me, ye powers divine ! And pleas’d, when ye demand my life,

May I that life resign.




How happy is he born and taught,

That serveth not another's will ; Whose armour is his honest thought,

And simple truth his utmost skill :

Whose passions not his masters are,

Whose soul is still prepar’d for death; Untied unto the world by care

Of public fame, or private breath :

Who envies none that chance doth raise,

Nor vice hath ever understood ; How deepest wounds are given by praise,

Nor rules of state, but rules of good:

Who hath his life from rumours freed,

Whose conscience is his strong retreat ; Whose state can neither flatterers feed,

Nor ruin make oppressors great:

Who God doth late and early pray,

More of his grace than gifts to lend : And entertains the harmless day

With a religious book or friend.

« PreviousContinue »