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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham.

THE PROGRESS OF LEARNING.

PREFACE.

My early mistress, now my ancient Muse,
That strong Circaean liquor cease t’infuse,
Wherewith thou didst intoxicate my youth,
Now stoop with disenchanted wings to truth;
As the dove’s flight did guide Aeneas, now
May thine conduct me to the golden bough: 
Tell (like a tall old oak) how learning shoots
To heaven her branches, and to hell her roots.

When God from earth form’d Adam in the East,
He his own image on the clay impress’d;
As subjects then the whole creation came,
And from their natures Adam them did name,
Not from experience (for the world was new),
He only from their cause their natures knew. 
Had memory been lost with innocence,
We had not known the sentence nor th’offence;
’Twas his chief punishment to keep in store
The sad remembrance what he was before; 10
And though th’offending part felt mortal pain,
Th’ immortal part its knowledge did retain. 
After the flood, arts to Chaldea fell;
The father of the faithful there did dwell,
Who both their parent and instructor was;
From thence did learning into Egypt pass: 
Moses in all the Egyptian arts was skill’d,
When heavenly power that chosen vessel fill’d;
And we to his high inspiration owe,
That what was done before the flood we know. 20
Prom Egypt, arts their progress made to Greece,
Wrapp’d in the fable of the golden fleece. 
Musaeus first, then Orpheus, civilise
Mankind, and gave the world their deities;
To many gods they taught devotion,
Which were the distinct faculties of one;
Th’ Eternal Cause, in their immortal lines
Was taught, and poets were the first divines: 
God Moses first, then David, did inspire,
To compose anthems, for his heavenly choir; 30
To th’one the style of friend he did impart,
On th’other stamp the likeness of his heart: 
And Moses, in the old original,
Even God the poet of the world doth call. 
Next those old Greeks Pythagoras did rise,
Then Socrates, whom th’oracle call’d Wise;
The divine Plato moral virtue shows,
Then his disciple Aristotle rose,
Who Nature’s secrets to the world did teach,
Yet that great soul our novelists impeach; 40
Too much manuring fill’d that field with weeds,
While sects, like locusts, did destroy the seeds;
The tree of knowledge, blasted by disputes,
Produces sapless leaves instead of fruits;
Proud Greece all nations else barbarians held,
Boasting her learning all the world excell’d. 
Flying from thence[1] to Italy it came, 47
And to the realm of Naples gave the name,
Till both their nation and their arts did come
A welcome trophy to triumphant Rome;
Then whereso’er her conqu’ring eagles

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