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ODE TO DR WILLIAM SANCROFT.
LATE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
WRITTEN IN MAY 1689, AT THE DESIRE OF THE LATE
LORD BISHOP OF ELY,
[Sancroft, Primate of England, at the Revolution, joined with
his brethren in resisting the encroachments of James upon li. berty and religion. But as his conscience did not permit him to take the oaths to William and Mary, he was deprived o. his see, and died in retirement. That Swift should have addressed an Ode to him, under such circumstances, is a proof that, whatever were his principles in civil politics, he was uniformly a staunch high-churchman. This, with the verses to Con." greve, and those on Temple's illness, were first published by Mr Nicol in 1789, from an authentic manuscript.]
I. Truth is eternal, and the Son of Heav'n, Bright effluence of th' immortal ray, Chief cherub, and chief lamp, of that high sacred
Which guard the throne by night, and are its light
by day :
Thou daily seest him face to face,
Of time or place,
How shall we find Thee then in dark disputes ?
Or a weak argument by force maintain'd? In dagger contests, and th' artillery of words, (For swords are madmen's tongues, and tongues are
madmen's swords), Contriv'd to tire all patience out, And not to satisfy the doubt ?
For of the person much I fear,
birth, And God himself has said, He shall not find it here. For this inferior world is but Heaven's dusky shade, By dark reverted rays from its reflection made; Whence the weak shapes wild and imperfect
pass, Like sunbeams shot at too far distance from a
Which all the mimick forms express, Though in strange uncouth postures, and uncomely
To solve appearances of sight
And catch the living landscape through a scanty
The figures all inverted shew,
And colours of a faded hue;
And men seem walking on their heads;
There whole herds suspended lie,
Or images that sink in streams;
Say, Muse, for thou, if any, know'st,
III. If all that our weak knowledge titles virtue, be (High Truth) the best resemblance of exalted
Thee, If a mind fix'd to combat fate With those two pow'rful swords, submission and
humility, Sounds truly good, or truly great : Ill may I live, if the good Sancroft in his holy rest,
In the divin'ty of retreat,
Of heav'n-born Truth below :
In his own balance, false and light,
* The experiment of the dark chamber, to demonstrate light to be by reception of the object, and not by emission.-S.