The State-Progress Of Ill Poem by Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury

The State-Progress Of Ill



I SAY, 'tis hard to write Satires. Though Ill
Great'ned in his long course, and swelling still.
Be now like to a Deluge, yet, as Nile,
'Tis doubtful in his original. This while
We may thus much on either part prefume,
That what so universal are, must come
From causes great and far. Now in this State
Of things, which is least like good. Men hate,
Since 'twill be the less sin. I do see
Some ill required, that one poison might free
The other ; so states, to their Greatness, find
No faults required but their own, and bind
The rest. And though this be mysterious, still.
Why should we not imagine how this Ill
Did come at first, how't keeps his greatness here.
When 'tis disguis'd, and when it doth appear.
This Ill, having fome attributes of God
As to have made it self and bear the rod
Of all our punishiments, as it seems, came
Into the World to rule it, and to tame
The pride of Goodness ; and though his Reign
Great in the hearts of men he doth maintain
By love, not right, he yet the tyrant here
(Though it be him we love and God we fear),
Pretence yet wants not, that it was before
Some part of Godhead, as Mercy, that store
For Souls grown Bankrupt, their first stock of Grace,
And that which the sinner of the last place
Shall number out, unless th' Highest will show
Some power not yet reveal'd to Man below.

But that I may proceed, and so go on
To trace Ill in his first progression.
And through his Secret'st ways, and where that he
Had left his nakedness as well as we,
And did appear himself,
I note that in Peccamus nobis.
The yet infant world how
Mifchief and fin, Nocemus aliis.
His Agents here on earth, and easy known,
Are now concealed Intelligencers grown :
For fince that as a Guard th' Highest at once
Put Fear t' attend their private actions,
And Shame their publick, other means being fail'd,
Mischief under doing of Good was veil'd,
And Sin, of Pleasure ; though in this disguise
They only hide themfelves from mortal eyes.
Sins, those that both com- and o-mitted be,
Once hot and cold, but in a third degree
Are now such poisons, that though they may lurk
In secret parts awhile, yet they will work
Though after death ; nor ever come alone,
But sudden-fruitful multiply ere done.
While in this monstrous birth they only die
Whom we confess, those live which we deny.
Mischiefs, like fatal Constellations,
Appear unto the ignorant at once
In glory and in hurt, while th'unseen part
Of the great cause may be perchance the Art
Of th' Ill and hiding it, which that I may
Ev'n in his first original display.
And best example, sure amongst Kings, he.
Who first wanted successions to be,
A Tyrant was, wise enough to have chose
An honest man for King, which should dispose
Those beasts, which being so tame, yet otherwise
As it feems, could not herd ; And with advise
Somewhat indifferent for both, he might
Yet have provided for their Children's right,
If they grew wiser, not his own, that so
They might repent, yet under treason, who
Ne'er promis'd faith : though now we cannot spare
(And not be worse) Kings, on those terms, they are
No worse than we could spare (and have been fav'd)
Original sin. So then those Priests that rav'd
And prophesy'd, they did a kind of good
They knew not of, by whom the choice first stood.
Since, then, we may confider now as fit
State government, and all the Acts of it,
That we may know them yet, let us see how
They were derived, done, and are maintained now.
That Princes may by this yet understand
Why we obey as well as they command.
State a proportion'd colour'd table is,
Nobility the mafter-piece in this.
Serves to shew distances ; while being put
'Twixt fight and vastness they seem higher, but
As they're further off; yet as those blue hills
Which th'utmoft border of a Region fills,
They are great and worse parts, while in the steep
Of this great Prospective they seem to keep
Further absent from those below, though this
Exalted Spirit, that's sure a free Soul, is
A greater Privilege than to be born
At Venice, although he seek not rule, doth scorn
Subjection, but as he is flesh, and so
He is to dulness, shame, and many moe
Such properties, knows, but the Painter's Art,
All in the frame is equal. That desert
Is a more living thing, and doth obey-
As he gives poor, for God's fake (though they
And Kings ask it not so), thinks Honours are
Figures compos'd of lines irregular,
And happy-high knows no election
Raiseth man to true Greatness but his own.
Meanwhile sugar'd Divines, next place to this.
Tell us Humility and Patience is
The way to Heaven, and that we must there
Look for our Kingdom; that the great'st rule here
Is for to rule ourselves. And that they might
Say this the better, they to no place have right
B'inheritance, while whom Ambition sways.
Their office is to turn it other ways.
Those yet, whose harder minds Religion
Cannot invade, nor turn from thinking on
A present greatness, that combin'd curse of Law
Of officers' and Neighbours' spite doth draw
Within such whirlpools, that till they be drown'd
They ne'er get out, but only swim them round.
Thus brief, since that the infinite of ill
Is neither easie told nor safe, I will
But only note how freeborn Man, subdu'd
By his own choice, that was at first endu'd
With equal power over all, doth now fubmit
That infinite of Number, Spirit, Wit,
To some eight Monarchs. Then why wonder Men
Their rule of horses ?
The world, as in the Ark of Noah, rests
Compos'd as then, few Men and many Beasts.


Aug. 1608.
At Merlou in France.

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