UPON AN HONEST MAN'S FORTUNE.
You that can look through heaven, and tell the stars;
Observe their kind conjunctions, and their wars;
Find out new lights, and give them where you please--
To those men honours, pleasures, to those ease;
You that are God's surveyors, and can show
How far, and when, and why the wind doth blow;
Know all the charges of the dreadful thunder,
And when it will shoot over, or fall under;
Tell me--by all your art I conjure ye--
Yes, and by truth--what shall become of me.
Find out my star, if each one, as you say,
Have his peculiar angel, and his way;
Observe my fate; next fall into your dreams;
Sweep clean your houses, and new-line your schemes;
Then say your worst. Or have I none at all?
Or is it burnt out lately? or did fall?
Or am I poor? not able? no full flame?
My star, like me, unworthy of a name?
Is it your art can only work on those
That deal with dangers, dignities, and clothes,
With love, or new opinions? You all lie:
A fishwife hath a fate, and so have I--
But far above your finding. He that gives,
Out of his providence, to all that lives--
And no man knows his treasure, no, not you;--
* * * * *
He that made all the stars you daily read,
And from them filch a knowledge how to feed,
Hath hid this from you. Your conjectures all
Are drunken things, not how, but when they fall:
Man is his own star, and the soul that can
Render an honest, and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early, or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still;
And when the stars are labouring, we believe
It is not that they govern, but they grieve
For stubborn ignorance. All things that are
Made for our general uses, are at war--
Even we among ourselves; and from the strife
Your first unlike opinions got a life.
Oh man! thou image of thy Maker's good,
What canst thou fear, when breathed into thy blood
His spirit is that built thee? What dull sense
Makes thee suspect, in need, that Providence?
Who made the morning, and who placed the light
Guide to thy labours? Who called up the night,
And bid her fall upon thee like sweet showers
In hollow murmurs, to lock up thy powers?
Who gave thee knowledge? Who so trusted thee,
To let thee grow so near himself, the Tree?
Must he then be distrusted? Shall his frame
Discourse with him why thus and thus I am?
He made the angels thine, thy fellows all;
Nay, even thy servants, when devotions call.
Oh! canst thou be so stupid then, so dim,
To seek a saving influence, and lose him?
Can stars protect thee? Or can poverty,
Which is the light to heaven, put out his eye?
He is my star; in him all truth I find,
All influence, all fate; and when my mind
Is furnished with his fulness, my poor story
Shall outlive all their age, and all their glory.
The hand of danger cannot fall amiss
When I know what, and in whose power it is;
Nor want, the cause of man, shall make me groan:
A holy hermit is a mind alone.
Doth not experience teach us, all we can,
To work ourselves into a glorious man?
* * * * *
My mistress then be knowledge and fair truth;
So I enjoy all beauty and all youth!
* * * * *
Affliction, when I know it, is but this--
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer; and the deeper still,
We still arise more image of his will;
Sickness, an humorous cloud 'twixt us and light;
And death, at longest, but another night,
Man is his own star, and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect man.
There is a tone of contempt in the verses which is not religious; but
they express a true philosophy and a triumph of faith in God. The word
honest is here equivalent to true.
I am not certain whether I may not now be calling up a singer whose song
will appear hardly to justify his presence in the choir. But its teaching
is of high import, namely, of content and cheerfulness and courage, and
being both worthy and melodious, it gravitates heavenward. The singer is
yet another dramatist: I presume him to be Thomas Dekker. I cannot be
certain, because others were concerned with him in the writing of the
drama from which I take it. He it is who, in an often-quoted passage,
styles our Lord "The first true gentleman that ever breathed;" just as
Chaucer, in a poem I have given, calls him "The first stock-father of
We may call the little lyric