England's Antiphon

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The merry World did on a day

With his train-bands and mates agree

To meet together where I lay,

And all in sport to jeer at me.

First Beauty crept into a rose;

Which when I plucked not--"Sir," said she,

"Tell me, I pray, whose hands are those?"[98]

But thou shall answer, Lord, for me.

Then Money came, and, chinking still--

"What tune is this, poor man?" said he:

"I heard in music you had skill."

But thou shall answer, Lord, for me.

Then came brave Glory puffing by

In silks that whistled--who but he?

He scarce allowed me half an eye;

But thou shall answer, Lord, for me.

Then came quick Wit-and-Conversation,

And he would needs a comfort be,

And, to be short, make an oration:

But thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.

Yet when the hour of thy design

To answer these fine things, shall come,

Speak not at large--say I am thine;

And then they have their answer home.

Here is another instance of his humour. It is the first stanza of a poem to Death. He is glorying over Death as personified in a skeleton.

Death, thou wast once an uncouth, hideous thing--

Nothing but bones,
The sad effect of sadder groans:

Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing.

No writer before him has shown such a love to God, such a childlike confidence in him. The love is like the love of those whose verses came first in my volume. But the nation had learned to think more, and new difficulties had consequently arisen. These, again, had to be undermined by deeper thought, and the discovery of yet deeper truth had been the reward. Hence, the love itself, if it had not strengthened, had at least grown deeper. And George Herbert had had difficulty enough in himself; for, born of high family, by nature fitted to shine in that society where elegance of mind, person, carriage, and utterance is most appreciated, and having indeed enjoyed something of the life of a courtier, he had forsaken all in obedience to the voice of his higher nature. Hence the struggle between his tastes and his duties would come and come again, augmented probably by such austere notions as every conscientious man must entertain in proportion to his inability to find God in that in which he might find him. From this inability, inseparable in its varying degrees from the very nature of growth, springs all the asceticism of good men, whose love to God will be the greater as their growing insight reveals him in his world, and their growing faith approaches to the giving of thanks in everything.

When we have discovered the truth that whatsoever is not of faith is sin, the way to meet it is not to forsake the human law, but so to obey it as to thank God for it. To leave the world and go into the desert is not thus to give thanks: it may have been the only way for this or that man, in his blameless blindness, to take. The divine mind of George Herbert, however, was in the main bent upon discovering God everywhere.

The poem I give next, powerfully sets forth the struggle between liking and duty of which I have spoken. It is at the same time an instance of wonderful art in construction, all the force of the germinal thought kept in reserve, to burst forth at the last. He calls it--meaning by the word, God's Restraint--

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