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A poem by Richard Lovelace

Advice To My Best Brother, Coll: Francis Lovelace

Title:     Advice To My Best Brother, Coll: Francis Lovelace
Author: Richard Lovelace [More Titles by Lovelace]


Frank, wil't live unhandsomely? trust not too far
Thy self to waving seas: for what thy star,
Calculated by sure event, must be,
Look in the glassy-epithete,<2> and see.

Yet settle here your rest, and take your state,
And in calm halcyon's nest ev'n build your fate;
Prethee lye down securely, Frank, and keep
With as much no noyse the inconstant deep
As its inhabitants; nay, stedfast stand,
As if discover'd were a New-found-land,
Fit for plantation here. Dream, dream still,
Lull'd in Dione's cradle; dream, untill
Horrour awake your sense, and you now find
Your self a bubbled pastime for the wind;
And in loose Thetis blankets torn and tost.
Frank, to undo thy self why art at cost?

Nor be too confident, fix'd on the shore:
For even that too borrows from the store
Of her rich neighbour, since now wisest know
(And this to Galileo's judgement ow),
The palsie earth it self is every jot
As frail, inconstant, waveing, as that blot
We lay upon the deep, that sometimes lies
Chang'd, you would think, with 's botoms properties;
But this eternal, strange Ixion's wheel
Of giddy earth ne'er whirling leaves to reel,
Till all things are inverted, till they are
Turn'd to that antick confus'd state they were.

Who loves the golden mean, doth safely want
A cobwebb'd cot and wrongs entail'd upon't;
He richly needs a pallace for to breed
Vipers and moths, that on their feeder feed;
The toy that we (too true) a mistress call,
Whose looking-glass and feather weighs up all;
And cloaths which larks would play with in the sun,
That mock him in the night, when 's course is run.

To rear an edifice by art so high,
That envy should not reach it with her eye,
Nay, with a thought come neer it. Wouldst thou know,
How such a structure should be raisd, build low.
The blust'ring winds invisible rough stroak
More often shakes the stubborn'st, prop'rest oak;
And in proud turrets we behold withal,
'Tis the imperial top declines to fall:
Nor does Heav'n's lightning strike the humble vales,
But high-aspiring mounts batters and scales.

A breast of proof defies all shocks of Fate,
Fears in the best, hopes in worser state;
Heaven forbid that, as of old, time ever
Flourish'd in spring so contrary, now never.
That mighty breath, which blew foul Winter hither,
Can eas'ly puffe it to a fairer weather.
Why dost despair then, Frank? Aeolus has
A Zephyrus as well as Boreas.

'Tis a false sequel, soloecisme 'gainst those
Precepts by fortune giv'n us, to suppose
That, 'cause it is now ill, 't will ere be so;
Apollo doth not always bend his bow;
But oft, uncrowned of his beams divine,
With his soft harp awakes the sleeping Nine.

In strictest things magnanimous appear,
Greater in hope, howere thy fate, then<3> fear:
Draw all your sails in quickly, though no storm
Threaten your ruine with a sad alarm;
For tell me how they differ, tell me, pray,
A cloudy tempest and a too fair day?


<1> One of the younger brothers of the poet. In the year of the Restoration he filled the office of Recorder of Canterbury, and in that capacity delivered the address of the city to Charles II. on his passage through the place. This speech was printed in 1660, 4to, three leaves. The following extracts from the CALENDARS OF STATE PAPERS (Domestic Series, 1660-1, page 139), throw a little additional light on the history of this person:--

"1660, July 1.--Petition of Fras. Lovelace, Recorder of Canterbury, to the King, for the stewardship of the liberties of St. Augustine, near Canterbury, for himself and his son Goldwell. Has suffered sequestration, imprisonment, and loss of office, for his loyalty. WITH A NOTE OF THE REQUESTED GRANT FOR FRAS. LOVELACE.

"Grant to Fras. Lovelace, of the office of chief steward of the Liberties of the late monastery of St. Augustine, near Canterbury."

<2> Unless the poet is advising his brother, before the latter ventures on a long sea voyage, to look in the crystal, or beryl, so popular at that time, in order to read his fortune, I must confess my ignorance of the meaning of "glassy-epithete." See, for an account of the beryl, Aubrey's MISCELLANIES, edit. 1857, p. 154.

<3> Than.

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Richard Lovelace's poem: Advice To My Best Brother, Coll: Francis Lovelace