SAMUEL HOLLAND, Elegy on Rochester 1680
Printed for the Author [Broadside] (1680).
No more, wild Atheists! No more Deny That blessed Hope which makes us glad to Dye; Dispute no more the Truth of that Great Day Shall free dead Mankind from their gloomy Clay. See here an Argument stops all your Lies The Mighty Rochester a Convert Dies, He fell a Poet, but a Saint shall Rise. Then help us all ye Pow’rs of Verse, and flow Into his Praise all that Himself could do: For who can write without him? or dares try To speak his Worth? Unless his Ghost were nigh; Where, when our Flames do languish we retire To his Great Genius, and thence take new Fire. Whose lofty Numbers gently slid away Like Chrystal waters, smooth and deep as They; Though some low Men by others Verse are Rais’d (Fools living that would, dead, be Prais’d:) To Celebrate his Marble he needs none, His Name out-lives both Epitaph and Stone. Excess of Wit alone his Fame did spoil, So Lamps extinguish’t are by too much Oil; And since he’s gone, we grov’ling Trifles Crawl About the World, which but confirms his Fall; As when retiring Sol blinds us with Night, Each petty Star peeps forth to brag stoln Light. Yet not his Muse do we so much admire,
As those rare sparks of true Celestial Fire That warm’d his Breast when Nature’s Heats decay’d, And Death-cold Horrors did each Limb Invade: Then did a sudden Beam of Light Divine Inspire his Soul, his Faculties Refine, And from Pernassus [sic] drew his fixed Eye To Pigsah-Mount [sic], and saving Calvary; The Bubbling Froth that wanton Fancy rais’d (Which for Extravagance was only Prais’d) Is soon beat down by this more Glorious Flame, Whence straight a Noble true Elixir came; This Solomon for Wit and Pleasures too Bids Vanity of Vanities adieu. And having tasted all the sweets are Hurl’d O’re Youthful minds by a deluding World; Begins to Descant on Eternal Themes, And then saw Visions, that before dream’d Dreams: He finds Religion is no forged Law For cunning Knaves to keep dull Fools in Awe;1
That Future State, and the Dread Judgment Day, And Heav’n and Hell (what e’re our Drols may say) Are serious things. Nor did this Knowledge scare Or fright him to wild Desarts of Despair; But gently wrought, to shew ’twas from above Th’ instructive Breathings of the Holy Dove; Taught him with humble Faith and Hope to fly For Balm to Gilead, and on Christ relye. Now with redoubled Sighs and Floods of Tears, He chides the Follies of his mispent years: Himself his looser Lines to Flames bequeaths,2
And Hobs’s Creed with Detestation leaves; Warns all our Youthful Nobles, lets them know True Honour can from Vertue only flow: That Piety will give a lasting Crown When their Gay Titles All must tumble down, And dark Oblivion worldly Grandeur Drown. To hear him thus on Solemn Death-Bed Preach, Did more than Forty Languid Sermons Teach. The Angels clapt their Wings on that blest Day
Envy’d unworthy Earth his longer stay, And so in Triumph bore his Soul away.