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Anne Wharton, Elegy and lines on Mrs Wharton’s Lines

Anne Wharton, Elegy and lines on Mrs Wharton’s Lines

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86



ROCHESTER



For, though his learning like his wit was great,

Yet sure all learning came below his wit;

As God’s immediate gifts are better far

Than those we borrow from our likeness here,

He was—but I want words, and ne’er can tell,

Yet this I know, he did mankind excell.

He was what no man ever was before,

Nor can indulgent nature give us more,

For, to make him, she exhausted all her store.

(Poems by Several Hands collected by Nahum Tate (1685), pp. 392–3)

b) Edmund Waller, ‘Of an Elegy made by Mrs Wharton on the Earl of Rochester’:

Thus mourn the Muses on the Hearse,

Not strowing Tears, but lasting Verse;

Which so preserves the Heroe’s Name,

They make him live again in Fame.

Chloris in lines so like his own,

Gives him so just and high Renown,

That she the afflicted World relieves,

And shows that still in her he lives.

Her Wit as graceful, great, and good,

Ally’d in Genius, as in Blood;

His loss supply’d, now all our Fears

Are, that the Nymph shou’d wast in Tears.

Then fairest Chloris comfort take,

For his, your own, and for our Sake;

Lest his fair Soul that lives in you,

Should from the World for ever go.

(Examen Miscellaneum (1702), pp. 20–1)

c) John Grubham Howe, On Mrs Wharton’s Elegy:

Thus, of his dear Euridice depriv’d,

In Numbers soft the faithful Orpheus griev’d,

Thus charm’d the World, while he his Pains reliev’d.

To hear his Lyre the Beasts and Forests strove;

But yours alone can Men, and Angels move,

Can teach those how to write, these how to love.

You only cou’d deserve so good a Friend,

And to be thus lamented by your Pen,

Was only due to th’wittyest, best of Men.

His Soul to Heav’n he willingly resign’d,



THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



But kindly left within your Matchless Mind

A double Portion of his Wit behind.

Equal to this is the Return you give,

Lofty as Clouds, which did his Soul receive;

His well-sung Name does in your Poem live.

(Examen Miscellaneum (1702), pp. 19–20)

d) Robert Wolseley, lines from ‘To Mrs Wharton’:

Cease England, thy late loss so high to rate,

Here learn thy mighty sorrow to abate,

By her instructive gentle Song half reconcil’d to fate.

Your tender moan, you tuneful Nine1 give o’er,

Lament your darling Bion’s2 death no more.

In her lov’d Lays his better part survives,

He dyes not all, while soft Urania lives

Her Heaven has warm’d, with the same pleasing fires,

In her like noble blood, like noble thoughts inspires.

His perishing goods to others let him leave,

To Her his deathless Pen he did bequeave;3

And if my humble Muse, whose luckless strain

Was us’d alone of Beauty to complain,

And sing in melancholy notes love’s unregarded pain,

Rais’d by that theme, above her usual height

Cou’d clear his fame, or do his virtue right,

How well do’s she the trifling debt acquit,

She whose resembling Genius shews her fit

To be his sole Executrix in wit.

(Lycidus: or The Lover in Fashion [by Aphra Behn] together with a Miscellany of New Poems (1688), pp. 100–1)



1



The nine muses.

‘The Earl of Rochester, her Uncle’ [marginal note].

3 These lines seem to be plagiarized from Oldham’s Elegy (see No. 12), where Rochester is also referred to as ‘Bion’.

2



87



88



15.

Anonymous, ‘An Elegie Upon the Death, and in Commemoration of

the Truly Honourable and Truly Learned, John Lord Wilmot, Earl of

Rochester’

1680



This is an anonymous broadside headed ‘Memento Mori’, London, 1680. There are copies in the British

Museum and Bodleian libraries. The former copy has ‘Aug. 5’ written in ink on it.

Alas! what dark benighting Clouds or shade

Of Gloomy Fate has this Invasion made

On the bright Confines of far shining day,

And there Eclips’d the light refulgent Ray

Of Sacred Honour, and transplendent Worth,

Which Wisdom still from thence was beaming forth?

But can it be that he’s so quickly gone,

Rapt from the Earth so soon the Muses Son,

Who from the evening World such Lawrels won,

As with Eternal Green must wreath his brow,

Till Time shall be no more, and Fate shall bow?

Fame cannot be unjust to him she bore,

And with him on her Silver wings did soare

Higher than Pegasus durst ever rise,

His Name engraving in the starry skies.

Great Rochester, Minerva’s darling wit,

Inspired by her, the famous Heroe writ

Such Mysteries as puzzle’d [sic] dull Mankind

The meaning of those deep Profounds to find:

And having long paus’d on the Mystick Theam,

Like the Magicians upon Pharoah’s dream,

They did confess that they had sought in vain,

Till the renowned Author did explain

The weighty Syllogisms. For none could bring

More loyal attestations for their King.

Truely Heroick, more than can be told;

Indu’d with vertues far exceeding gold,

Or all the precious Oriental Jems

The bounding Ocean holds, that India hems.



90



THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



Flow, brynie Orbs; weep, Britains Isles for him,

Till in salt tears thou like to Delos swim.

For can such Sapience unregarded set?

Or can ungrateful Man his worth forget,

Whose Candid soul in a sublimer sphere

Divinest Attributes deserves to share?

Should his great Requiems now be left unsung,

No doubt the golden Lyres by Angels strung,

In doleful Numbers from the high rais’d Pole,

On which the glittering Orbs of Heaven do roul,

Would nightly from Seraphick Hierarchs sound,

To wake the drousie world through Earth’s vast round,

The great Idea’s of his far-strech’d fame,

And Sapience Angelical proclaime.

With Conduct and with Courage was he fill’d,

Those great Foundations on which Empires build.

In War renown’d, at home for Peace besought:

For with his Pen as well as Sword he fought:1

Equally dreadful2 to correct the proud,

And send Chimera’s to their Mother-Cloud.

Though great by Birth, yet condescendent still

To all that sought him with compliant Will.

Meek in himself, true Honour’s brighter eye,

The only Badge of true Nobility.

For Pride in Greatness gets Contempt and Scorn;

Which dwells in Baseness rais’d, not Nobly born,

Heroick Virtues shin’d in him so bright,

That they oft daz’d the sharpest Eagles sight

Of prying Envy, which is only fed

On Honours Ruines, when ‘tis Captive led.

’Tis sure, the fates were cruel to supplant

The Man, whom now so much this Isle must want;

Yet wanting him, in loss for ever lye;

Too good for Earth, now rap’d above the Sky,

Where Hallelujahs he Triumphant sings,

Born up aloft on high Cherubean wings,

To eccho Praises to the King of Kings:

Whilst o’re the bright Empyrean fields he strays,

Crown’d with a Wreath of never-fading Bays;



1

2



There were other opinions about Rochester’s courage. This line is possibly an allusion to Carr Scroope’s Epigram, see No. 5.

i.e. awe-inspiring.



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