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Nor through carved shapes did the forced waters
Shapes gazing on themselves i' the liquid glass;
Yet the chastestream, that'mongloose pebbles fell,
For cleanness, thirst, religion, served as well.
The scholars, doctors, and companions, here,
Lodged all apart in neat small chambers were,
Well-furnish’d chambers; for in each there stood
A narrow couch, table, and chair of wood;
More is but clog, where use does bound delight;
And those are rich whose wealth's proportion'd
To their life's form: more goods would but become
A burthen to them, and contract their room.
A second court, more sacred, stood behind,
Built fairer, and to nobler use design'd:
The hall and schools one side of it possess'd;
The library and synagogue the rest.
Tables of plain-cut fir adorn'd the hall;
And with beasts' skins the beds were covered all.
The reverend doctors take their seats on high,
The elect companions in their bosoms lie;
The scholars far below, upon the ground,
On fresh-strew'd rushes, place themselves around.
With more respect the wise and ancient lay;
But eat not choicer herbs or bread than they,
Nor purer waters drank, their constant feast;
But by great days, and sacrifice increased.
The schools, built round and higher, at the end
With their fair circle did this side extend;
To which their synagogue, on the other side,
And to the hall their library reply'd.
The midst towards their large gardens open lay,
To admit the joys of spring and early day.
I’ the library a few choice authors stood;
Yet’twas well-stored,for that small store was good;
Writing, man's spiritual physic, was not then
Itself, as now, grown a disease of men.
Learning, young Virgin but few suitors knew ;
The Common Prostitute she lately grew,
And with her spurious brood loads now the press;
Laborious effects of idleness!
Here all the various forms one might behold
How letters saved themselves from death of old;
Some painfully engraved in thin-wrought plates;
Some cut in wood, some lightlier traced on slates;
Some drawn on fair palm-leaves, with short-lived
Had not their friend the cedar lent his oil: [toil,
Some wrought in silks, some writ in tender barks;
Some the sharp style in waxen tables marks;
Some in beasts' skins, and some in Biblos' reed;
Both new rude arts, which age and growth did need.
The schools were painted well with useful skill;
Stars, maps, and stories, the learn'd wall did fill.
Wise wholesome proverbs mix'd around the room,
Some writ, and in Egyptian figures some.
Here all the noblest Wits of men inspired, [tired
From earth's slight joys, and worthless toils, re-
(Whom Samuel's fame and bounty thither lead),
Each day by turns their solid knowledge read.
The course and power of stars great Nathan taught,
And home to man those distant wonders brought;
How towered both Poles the sun's fix’d journey
And how the year his crooked walk attends;
By what just steps the wandering lights advance,
And what eternal measures guide their dance:
Himself a prophet; but his lectures show'd
How little of that art to them he owed.
Mahol, the inferior world's fantastic face,
Through all the turns of Matter's maze, did trace;
Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took;
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look
Of life and motion; and with equal art
Made up again the whole of every part.
The prophet Gad in learned dust designs
The immortal solid rules of fancy'd Lines:
Of Numbers too the unnumber'd wealth he shows,
And with them far their endless journey goes;
Numbers, which still increase more high and wide
From one, the root of their turn'd pyramid.
Of Men and Ages past Seraiah read;
Embalm'd in long-lived history the dead;
Show'd the steep falls and slow ascent of states;
What wisdom and what follies make their fates.
Samuel himself did God's rich Law display;
Taught doubting men with judgment to obey;
And oft his ravish’d soul, with sudden flight,
Soar'd above present times and human sight.
Those Arts but welcome strangers might appear,
Music and Verse seem'd born and bred-up here;
Scarce the bless'd heaven, that rings with Angel's
Does with more constant Harmony rejoice:
The sacred Muse does here each breast inspire;
Heman, and sweet-mouth’d Asaph, rule their
Both charming poets; and all strains they play'd,
By artful breath or nimble fingers made.
The synagogue was dress'd with care and cost
(The only place where that they’esteem'd not lost);
The glittering roof with gold did daze the view,
The sides refresh'd with silks of sacred blue.
Here thrice each day they read their perfect law,
Thrice prayers from willing Heaven a blessing
Thrice in glad hymns, swell'd with the Great One's
The pliant voice on her seven steps they raise,
Whilst all the enliven'd instruments around
To the just feet with various concord sound; .
Such things were Muses then, contemn'd low earth;
Decently proud, and mindful of their birth.
'Twas God himself that here tuned every tongue;
And gratefully of him alone they sung:
They sung how Godspoke out the world's vastball;
From nothing, and from no where, call'd forth all.
.No Nature yet, or place for 't to possess,
But an unbottom'd gulf of emptiness:
Full of Himself, the Almighty sate, his own
T’alace, and without solitude alone.
But he was goodness whole, and all things will'd;
Which, ere they were, his active word fulfill'd;
And their astonish’d heads o' the sudden rear'd;
An unshaped kind of something first appear'd,
Confessing its new being, and undress'd,
As if it stepp'd in haste before the rest.
Yet, buried in this Matter's darksome womb,
Lay the rich seeds of every thing to come:
From hence the cheerful Flame leap'd up so high;
Close at its heels the nimble Air did fly;
Dull Earth with his own weight did downwards
To the fix’d naval of the universe,
And was quite lost in waters; till God said
To the proud Sea, “Shrink in your insolent head,
See how the gaping Earth has made you place!”
That durst not murmur, but shrunk in apace:
Since when, his bounds are set; at which in vain
He foams, and rages, and turns back again.
With richer stuff he bade Heaven's fabric shine,
And from him a quick spring of light divine
Swell'd up the Sun, from whence his cherishing
Fills the whole world, like Him from whomit came.
He smooth'd the rough-cast Moon's imperfect
And comb'd her beamy locks with sacred gold;
“Be thou,” said he, “queen of the mournful night,”
And as he spoke, she arose clad o'er in light,
With thousand stars attending on her train;
With her they rise, with her they set again.
Then Herbs peep'd forth, new Trees admiring
And smelling Flowers painted the infant wood.
Then flocks of Birds through the glad air did flee,
Joyful, and safe before man's luxury,
Singing their Maker in their untaught lays:
Nay, the mute Fish witness no less his praise;
For those he made, and clothed with silver scales,
From minnows, to those living islands, whales.
Beasts two were his command: what could he
Yes, Man he could, the bond of all before;
In him he all things with strange order hurl’d;
In him, that full abridgment of the world. [told;
This, and much more of God's great works they
His mercies, and some judgments too, of old:
How, when all earth was deeply stain’d in sin,
With an impetuous noise the waves camerushingin:
Where birds erewhile dwelt and securely sung,
There fish (an unknown net) entangled hung: