HENRY MORE AND RICHARD BAXTER.
Dr. Henry More was born in the year 1614. Chiefly known for his mystical philosophy, which he cultivated in retirement at Cambridge, and taught not only in prose, but in an elaborate, occasionally poetic poem, of somewhere about a thousand Spenserian stanzas, called A Platonic Song of the Soul, he has left some smaller poems, from which I shall gather good store for my readers. Whatever may be thought of his theories, they belong at least to the highest order of philosophy; and it will be seen from the poems I give that they must have borne their part in lifting the soul of the man towards a lofty spiritual condition of faith and fearlessness. The mystical philosophy seems to me safe enough in the hands of a poet: with others it may degenerate into dank and dusty materialism.
Where’s now the objects of thy fears,
Needless sighs, and fruitless tears?
They be all gone like idle dream
Suggested from the body’s steam.
* * * * *
What’s plague and prison? Loss
War, dearth, and death that all things ends?
Mere bugbears for the childish mind;
Pure panic terrors of the blind.
Collect thy soul unto one sphere
Of light, and ’bove the earth it rear;
Those wild scattered thoughts that erst
Lay loosely in the world dispersed,
Call in:—thy spirit thus knit in one
Fair lucid orb, those fears be gone
Like vain impostures of the night,
That fly before the morning bright.
Then with pure eyes thou shalt behold
How the first goodness doth infold
All things in loving tender arms;
That deemed mischiefs are no harms,
But sovereign salves and skilful cures
Of greater woes the world endures;
That man’s stout soul may win a state
Far raised above the reach of fate.
Then wilt thou say, God rules the world,
Though mountain over mountain hurled
Be pitched amid the foaming main
Which busy winds to wrath constrain;
* * * * *
Though pitchy blasts from hell up-born
Stop the outgoings of the morn,
And Nature play her fiery games
In this forced night, with fulgurant flames:
* * * * *
All this confusion cannot move
The purged mind, freed from the love
Of commerce with her body dear,
Cell of sad thoughts, sole spring of fear.
Whate’er I feel or hear or see
Threats but these parts that mortal be.
Nought can the honest heart dismay
Unless the love of living clay,
And long acquaintance with the light
Of this outworld, and what to sight
Those two officious beams discover
Of forms that round about us hover.