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To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
But what is heaven, great God, compared to thee?
The highest honors that the world can boast
The loudest flames that earth can kindle be
Without thee, Lord, things be not what they be;
In having all things, and not thee, what have I?
I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
George Herbert was of noble descent, though "chiefly known as a pious country clergyman-holy George Herbert, who
'The lowliest duties on himself did lay.'"
It is said Lord Bacon held his learning in so high estimation, that he submitted his works to him before publication. In early life, he enjoyed, says Izaak Walton, "his genteel humor for clothes and courtlike company; " but he afterwards entered into sacred orders, "changed his sword and silk clothes into a canonical habit," and discharged his new duties with "saint-like zeal and purity. His principal poem is The Temple; or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. He also wrote The Country Parson, a prose work, to which he owes no small part of his reputation.
(From "The Pulley."]
WHEN God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
So strength first made away;
Then beauty flowed; then wisdom, honor, pleasure;
Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
And rest in nature, not the God of nature -
"Yet let him keep the rest
But keep them, with repining restlessness —
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast."
SWEET day! So cool, so calm, so bright,
The dews shall weep thy fall to-night;
Sweet rose! whose hue, angry and brave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring! full of sweet days and roses,
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But, though the whole world turn to coal,
"One of the most interesting and popular of our early writers was Izaak Walton, an English worthy of the simple antique cast, who retained, in the heart of London, and in the midst of close and successful application to business, an unworldly simplicity of character, and an inextinguishable fondness for country scenes, pastimes, and recreations. His Complete Angler is a rich store-house of rural pictures and pastoral poetry, of quaint but wise thoughts, of agreeable and humorous fancies, and of truly apostolic purity and benevolence."
[From "The Complete Angler."]
THANKFULNESS FOR WORLDLY BLESSINGS.
LET me tell you, scholar, that Diogenes walked on a day, with his friend, to see a country fair, where he saw ribbons and looking-glasses, and nut-crackers, and fiddles, and hobby-horses, and many other gimcracks; and having observed them all, and all the other finnimbruns that make a complete country fair, he said to his friend, "Lord, how many things are there in this world of which Diogenes hath no need!" And truly it is so, or might be So, with very many who vex and toil themselves to get what they have no need of. Can any man charge God that he hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No, doubtless; for nature is content with a little. And yet, you shall hardly meet with a man that complains not of some want, though he indeed wants nothing but his will; it may be nothing but his
will of his poor neighbor, for not worshipping or not flattering him; and thus, when we might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller; and of a woman that broke her looking-glass, because it would not show her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbor's was. And I knew another, to whom God had given health and plenty, but a wife that nature had made peevish, and her husband's riches had made purse-proud; and must, because she was rich, and for no other virtue, sit in the highest pew in the church; which being denied her, she engaged her husband into a contention for it, and at last into a lawsuit with a dogged neighbor, who was as rich as he, and had a wife as peevish and purse-proud as the other; and this lawsuit begat higher oppositions and actionable words, and more vexations and lawsuits; for you must remember that both were rich, and both must, therefore, have their wills. Well, this wilful, purse-proud lawsuit lasted during the life of the first husband; after which, his wife vexed and chid, and chid and vexed, till she also chid and vexed herself into her grave; and so the wealth of these poor rich people was cursed into a punishment, because they wanted meek and thankful hearts; for those only can make us happy. I knew a man that had health and riches, and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend why he removed so often from one house to another, replied, "It was to find content in some one of them." But his friend, knowing his temper, told him, "If he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave himself behind him; for content will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul." And this may appear, if we read and consider what our Saviour says, in St. Matthew's gospel; for he there says, "Blessed be the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed be the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed be the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. they shall possess the earth."
And blessed be the meek: for Not that the meek shall not also
obtain mercy, and see God, and be comforted, and at last come to the kingdom of heaven; but, in the mean time, he, and he
only, possesses the earth, as he goes towards the kingdom of heaven, by being humble, and cheerful, and content with what his good God has allotted him. He has no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts that he deserves better; nor is vexed when he sees others possessed of more honor, or more riches, than his wise God has allotted for his share; but he possesses what he has with a meek and contented quietness-such a quietness as makes his very dreams pleasing, both to God and himself.
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY. TIME OF JAMES I.
Sir Thomas was "a witty and ingenious describer of characters, and at one time an intimate associate of Robert Car, the minion of James I; but having opposed the favorite's marriage with the infamous Countess of Essex, he incurred the hatred of the abandoned pair, and through their influence was confined and poisoned in the tower."
THE FAIR AND HAPPY MILK-MAID
Is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of hers is able to put face-physic out of countenance. She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue; therefore minds it not. All her excellences stand in her so silently, as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel, which is herself, is far better than outsides of tissue; for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silkworm, she is decked in innocence - a far better wearing. She doth not, with long lying in bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions; nature hath taught her, too immoderate sleep is rust to the soul; she rises, therefore, with Chanticleer, her dame's cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfew. In milking a cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk-press makes the milk whiter or sweeter; for never came almond-glore or aromatic ointment on her palm, to taint it. The golden ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made hay-cock. She makes her hand