Biography of Mather Byles
Mather Byles (b. 26 March 1706, Boston, Massachusetts – 5 July 1788), was a clergyman active in British North America.
He was descended, on his mother's side, from John Cotton and Richard Mather. He graduated at Harvard University in 1725, and in 1733 became pastor of the Hollis Street Church (Congregational), Boston. He held a high rank among the clergy of the province and was noted for his scholarly sermons and his ready wit.
At the outbreak of the War of Independence he was outspoken in his advocacy of the royal cause, and after the British evacuation of Boston his connection with his church was dissolved.
He remained in Boston, however, and subsequently (1777) was arrested, tried and sentenced to deportation. This sentence was later changed to imprisonment in his own house. He was soon released, but never resumed his pastorate.
He is known for saying "Which is better - to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?". A variation of the quote is spoken by Mel Gibson in the The Patriot.
He died in Boston on 5 July 1788, aged 82.
Besides many sermons he published A Poem on the Death of George I (1727) and Miscellaneous Poems (1744).
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Mather Byles Poems
On A Very Profane Compliment In
Ah! Cease, vain Muse, forbear thy hardy Lays, Nor urge the Thunder on thy guilty Bays, How durst thou thus debase the Saviour's Blood,
The God Of Tempest.
I. Thy dreadful Pow'r, Almighty GOD, Thy Works to speak conspire; This Earth declares thy Fame abroad,
To A Friend, On The Death Of A Relative.
While Death his awful Triumphs spreads around, And crowded Nations fill the vaulted Ground;
To Thee The Tuneful Anthem Soars
'To Thee the tuneful Anthem soars, To Thee, our Father's God, and ours; This Wilderness we chose our Seat: To Rights secur'd by Equal Laws
Written In Milton's Paradise Lost.
Had I, O had I all the tuneful Arts Of lofty Verse; did ev'ry Muse inspire
To The Memory Of A Young Commander Slain...
Descend, immortal Muse, inspire my Song, Let mournful Numbers gently flow along: And thou, my Lyre, in solemn Notes complain,
To An Ingenious Young Gentleman, On His ...
To you, dear Youth, whom all the Muses own, And great Apollo speaks his darling Son, To you the Muse directs her grateful Lays,
The Complaint And The Consolation.
I. Where shall I find my Lord, my Love, The Sov'reign of my Soul? Pensive from East to West I rove,
The Comparison, The Choice, And The Enjo...
I. Who on the Earth, or in the Skies, Thy Beauties can declare?
The Bloom Of Life, Fading In A Happy Dea...
I. Great GOD, how frail a Thing is Man! How swift his Minutes pass! His Age contracts within a Span;
The Altogether Lovely.
I. Oft has thy Name employ'd my Muse, Thou Lord of all above: Oft has my Song to thee arose,
The Almighty Conqueror.
I. Awake my Heart, awake my Tongue, Sound each melodious String; In num'rous Verse and lofty Song,
Ode, For Palatine Tune.
I. Heav'nly Love, our Bosoms seize! Ye soft seraphick Pow'rs, Come, join your Songs with ours:
Hymn To Christ
I. To Thee, my Lord, I lift the Song, Awake, my tuneful Pow'rs: In constant Praise my grateful Tongue
The Almighty Conqueror.
Awake my Heart, awake my Tongue,
Sound each melodious String;
In num'rous Verse and lofty Song,
To thee, my GOD, I sing.
What Wonders hast thou done!