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sacred style, the style of oracles and laws.
into the principles both of natural and supernatural motives: hereby the soul is made intelligible, which comprehends all things besides; the boundless tracks of sea and land, and the vaster spaces of Heaven; that vital principle of action, which has always been busied in inquiries abroad, is now made known to itself; insomuch that we may find out what we ourselves are, from whence we came, and whither we must go; we may perceive what noble guests those are, which we lodge in our bosoms, which are nearer to us than all other things, and yet nothing further from our acquaintance.
But here all the labyrinths and windings of the human frame are laid open: it is seen by what pullies and wheels the work is carried on, as plainly as if a window were opened into our breast: for it is the work of God alone to create a mind.-The next to this is to show how its operations are performed.
Wherefore, as sir Philip Sidney said of Chaucer, that he knew not which he should most wonder at, either that he in his dark time should see so distinctly, or that we in this clear age should go so stumblingly after him; so may we marvel at and bewail the low condition of poetry now, when in our plays scarce any one rule of decorum is observed, but in the space of two hours and an half we pass through all the fits of Bedlam; in one scene we are all in mirth, in the next we are sunk into sadness; whilst even the most laboured parts are commonly starved for want of thought; a confused heap of words, and empty sound of rhyme.
This very consideration should advance the esteem of the following poem, wherein are represented the various movements of the mind; at which we are as much transported as with the most excellent scenes of passion in Shakspeare, or Fletcher: for in this, as in a mirrour (that will not flatter) we see how the soul arbitrates in the understanding upon the various reports of sense, and all the changes of imagination: how compliant the will is to her dictates, and obeys her as a queen does her king. At the same time acknowledging a subjection, and yet retaining a majesty. How the passions move at her command, like a well disciplined army; from which regular composure of To that great spring, which doth great kingdoms the faculties, all operating in their proper time and move; [streams, place, there arises a complacency upon the whole The sacred spring, whence right and honour soul, that infinitely transcends all other pleasures. Distilling virtue, shedding peace and love,
In every place, as Cynthia sheds her beams:
What deep philosophy is this! to discover the process of God's art in fashioning the soul of man after his own image; by remarking how one part moves another, and how those motions are varied by several positions of each part, from the first springs and plummets, to the very hand that points out the visible and last effects. What eloquence and force of wit to convey these profound speculations in the easiest language, expressed in words so vulgarly received, that they are understood by the meanest capacities!
For the poet takes care in every line to satisfy the understandings of mankind: he follows step by step the workings of the mind from the first strokes of sense, then of fancy, afterwards of judgment,
To that clear majesty which in the north
Doth, like another Sun, in glory rise,
Loadstone to hearts, and loadstar to all eyes.
Like Heav'n in all, like Earth to this alone,
That through great states by her support do [stand; Yet she herself supported is of none,
But by the finger of th' Almighty's hand.
To the divinest and the richest mind,
Both by Art's purchase, and by Nature's dow'r,
I offer up some sparkles of that fire,
Whereby we reason, live, and move and be, These sparks by nature evermore aspire,
Which makes them now to such a highness flee.
Fair soul, since to the fairest body join'd,
You give such lively life, such quick'ning pow'r ; And influence of such celestial kind,
As keeps it still in youth's immortal flower ;