From the First Book of ESDRAS Chap. III. and IV.

1 In gentle Numbers fain my Muse would sing
2 Of great Darius, Persia's royal King;
3 That potent Monarch, whose imperial Sway
4 So many mighty Kingdoms did obey;
5 From India's Coast, to Ethiopia's Land,
6 All people did submit to his Command.
7 The King with Feasting, in most noble Sort
8 Did entertain the Princes of his Court,
9 Till Night came on, and all retired were,
10 Then to his Chamber did to Rest repair;
11 Where several
* Custom among the Eastern Monarchs.
noble Youths strict Watch did keep,
12 To guard his sacred Person in his Sleep:
13 Among them three young Men of virtuous Mind,
14 Whose Hearts to study Wisdom were inclin'd,
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15 Had privately, between themselves, agreed
16 To leave in Writing, for the King to read,
17 What, in their Judgments, did in Strength excel
18 All other Things, for they discerned well
19 Their Sovereign's bounteous Disposition so,
20 What they could wish, he would on them bestow.
21 The first of them, in Writing did declare,
22 That nothing could for Strength with Wine compare;
23 The second then his Sentence in did bring,
24 Nothing for might, is equal with the King;
25 With like Assurance did the third decree
26 Women do bear away the Victory
27 From all on Earth; but yet he knew full well
28 Great was the Truth that did in Heaven dwell.
29 These Papers seal'd, where secretly convey'd
30 Beneath the Pillow where Darius laid,
31 Until Aurora did her Light display,
32 And Phoebus rising, usher'd in the Day;
33 Then they withdrew, and when the King did rise,
34 His Servants on the Writings cast their Eyes,
35 And to his sacred Majesty made known
36 What in the Night had by his Guards been done.
37 The King was pleas'd on hearing the Report
38 How the brave Youths had acted in his Court;
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39 And straightway did his royal Mandate send,
40 Commanding all his Princes to attend;
41 All his wise Men, and Captains, he did call
42 Strait to assemble in the Council-Hall:
43 The King himself in Judgment takes his Place,
44 And with his Presence will the Senate grace;
45 His Resolution doth to them declare,
46 Impartially to end this nice Affair.
47 And now the several Writings being read,
48 That with the greater Force they may proceed,
49 The King commands the young Men in with Speed,
50 And bids them freely speak their whole Intent,
51 What either of them by his Sentence meant:
52 Then having Leave, the first did Silence break,
53 And to this Purpose he before them spake.
54 Most mighty Powers! doth not Wine exceed
55 In Strength? It overcometh all indeed:
56 By freely drinking many are misled;
57 By Wine the strongest have been conquered:
58 The needy Orphan it will quickly bring
59 To be as gay and pleasant as the King;
60 Enslaveth him that heretofore was free;
61 Makes Servants think they have their Liberty:
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62 The poor Man and the rich alike are found,
63 While Mirth and Jollity go freely round;
64 Remembrance of all Evils, past and gone,
65 Sorrows and Debts, no more are thought upon
66 When sparkling Wine their Heart begins to cheer,
67 Nor King, nor Governor they seem to fear;
68 They speak at large, each would be Chief of all,
69 Till Friends and Brethren at Variance fall:
70 Drawn Swords sometimes the Pow'r of Wine attend,
71 But when 'tis gone, the Quarrel's at an End;
72 Their Wrath forgot, their Mirth thought on no more,
73 Each Man is in the State he was before.
74 The Force and Pow'r of Wine, consider'd well,
75 Must needs in Strength all other Things excel,
76 He having spoke, the second did begin
77 Thus to declare the Power of the King.
78 Most noble Lords! Of all Things that were made,
79 Or ever on the Earth a Being had,
80 Men do excel in Strength: To their Command
81 All Things are subject, both by Sea and Land:
82 How strong then is the King, whose regal Sway
83 All Men on Earth submissively obey!
84 They yeild Obedience to his princely Will,
85 And ready are his Pleasure to fulfill;
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86 To his Dominion, High and Low submit,
87 He over them bears Rule as he thinks fit.
88 If he in hostile Manner draws his Sword,
89 Whole armed Legions strait attend his Word;
90 Whate'er he bids, they do with Heart and Hand,
91 Walls, Tow'rs, nor Bulwarks can before them stand:
92 When into foreign Lands he doth them send,
93 They, in his Quarrel, even their Blood do spend,
94 And fight till Vict'ry doth on them attend;
95 Then with glad Hearts submissively they bring
96 The choicest Spoils with Homage to the King:
97 While those whose Bus'ness is to till the Ground,
98 With whom a Sword or Spear is seldom found,
99 Manure their Land, their fruitful Vineyards dress;
100 They reap their Corn, and luscious Clusters press:
101 And when the Harvest doth their Toil reward,
102 They bring their Tribute to their Sovereign Lord.
103 If any hapless Wretch the King displease,
104 His Neighbours ne'er dispute, but on him seize;
105 If he bid spare, they spare; if he bid kill,
106 They ready are his Pleasure to fulfil;
107 If Cities to destroy, or Buildings burn,
108 They into Heaps of Ruin Kingdoms turn:
109 If Clemency within his Breast take Place,
110 His People all adore his princely Grace,
111 And build, and plant, what late they did deface.
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112 Whene'er he please he lays him down to sleep,
113 While armed Bands strict Watch do round him keep;
114 Nor dare depart, nor their own Bus'ness mind,
115 But serve the King, as Duty doth them bind.
116 Then what can equal him for Strength, I pray,
117 Whom in such Sort all Men on Earth obey?
118 Wise Zorabable then appears in place,
119 A royal Youth of David's kingly Race,
120 (Much nobler he than those that spoke before,
121 Because he did the living GOD adore)
122 And thus his Mind and Writing did declare
123 Before them all, that fate in Judgement there,
124 Most worthy Princes! I do freely own
125 The Strength of Kings throughout the World is known;
126 The Force of Wine all Mortals know full well;
127 Yet neither of them doth in Might excel:
128 Women alone must bear the Prize away,
129 Whom all Mankind do honour and obey.
130 And well they may, because from them do spring
131 The Poor and Rich, the Peasant and the King;
132 The greatest Heroes that the World can know,
133 To Women their Original must owe;
134 They nourish those that plant the fruitful Vine,
135 From whence you vainly boast the Pow'r of Wine:
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136 The Glory and the Praise of Men they are,
137 And make the Garment which they daily wear:
138 Nay, without Women, Men can't be at all,
139 But soon the Species would to Ruin fall.
140 When Men have gather'd Gold, and Treasures great
141 Of precious Things, and live in Pomp and State,
142 No true Content their captive Hearts attain,
143 Unless they can a Woman's Favour gain;
144 Her Beauty to adore they are inclin'd,
145 Her noble Virtue does attract the Mind,
146 With Gold and Silver they will freely part,
147 To gain admission to a Female's Heart;
148 Her rare Perfections are so much admir'd,
149 Nought in the World can be like her desir'd;
150 For if his native Country lay at Stake,
151 The Husband quits it for his Spouse's Sake;
152 His Parents, Friends, and Kindred he doth leave;
153 Unto his Wife alone his Heart doth cleave:
154 Nought comes amiss, he's happy if he find
155 A Consort virtuous, loving, fair, and kind;
156 A willing Homage he to her doth pay;
157 In Toil and Labour hard he spends the Day,
158 To gather Wealth, that so he may provide
159 Treasure to bring unto his dearest Bride:
160 Another boldly, with a Sword in Hand,
161 Will cross the Seas, and wander on the Land;
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162 No horrid Dangers can procure his Stay,
163 He bravely dares a Lyon in the Way;
164 Laden with Booty to his Mistress flies,
165 And at her Feet presents the golden Prize.
166 Some Men, for love of Women, oft we see
167 Have been reduc'd to utmost Misery,
168 And lost their Senses, if they chanc'd to find
169 A beauteous Female cruel and unkind.
170 How oft have wretched Mortals been misled,
171 With murd'rous Hands their Rival's Blood to shed?
172 While some as desp'rately have sought for Death,
173 And by Self-Murder stopt their vital Breath!
174 The King is strong, no People can deny
175 The Honours due to sovereign Majesty:
176 All stand in fear of him; his Pow'r is such,
177 'Tis Death to strike, no less than Death to touch.
178 This mighty Monarch I did lately spy
179 In's Chair of State, fair Apame sitting by;
180 At his Right Hand this youthful Beauty bright,
181 Appear'd like Cynthia's glitt'ring Rays of Light;
182 Altho he did the Persian Scepter sway,
183 This blooming Lady took his Crown away;
184 The Diadem that on his Head was worn,
185 Her lovely Brows and Temples did adorn;
186 Nay furthermore, when she had done this Thing,
187 With her Left Hand she struck this puissant King;
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188 Yet no Displeasure did in him arise,
189 Who was Captive to her conqu'ring Eyes:
190 Her radiant Beauty did such Beams display,
191 From her he could not turn his Eyes away:
192 If this illustrious Lady deign'd to smile,
193 Oe'rcome with Joy, the King would laugh the while;
194 If ought displeas'd her, then the King would try
195 With gentle Words the Dame to pacify.
196 What mortal Strength with Women can compare,
197 Since crowned Heads to them obedient are?
198 The King and Princes then began to gaze,
199 And look upon each other with Amaze;
200 For now they very plainly did descry
201 This noble Prince would have the Victory
202 Who, having paus'd, began to speak again,
203 Not doubting but he should Acceptance gain.
204 Most noble Counsellers, assembled here!
205 Women are strong, as I have made appear;
206 The Earth is large, wherein all Creatures dwell;
207 The Heavens stupendious doth in Height excel;
208 The glorious Sun does Heat and Light display,
209 And with his Beams gives ev'ry Region Day:
210 How great then He, by whose divine Command,
211 All Things at first were made, Earth, Sea, and Land!
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212 Strong is the Truth, who did create all Things;
213 From that blest Fountain all Perfection springs:
214 The heav'nly Host with Rev'rence all adore,
215 While Men on Earth with trembling Fear implore
216 Almighty Truth, which ever shall endure,
217 When worldly Pomp and Splendour are no more.
218 That Kings are wicked, all wise Men agree;
219 Women are so we know assuredly;
220 When to excessive Drinking Men incline,
221 The worst of Evils has been caus'd by Wine:
222 All Men on Earth of high and low Degree,
223 Are subject unto Sin and Vanity;
224 Destruction does on Wickedness attend,
225 But mighty Truth shall never know an End;
226 Not only strong, but good beyond compare;
227 No wicked Men with Him accepted are:
228 No rich Reward, no golden Bribe can buy
229 License from Truth to act unfaithfully:
230 Fraud or Deceit in Truth we never find;
231 Good Men embrace it with a ready Mind:
232 Whatever Thing is virtuous, good, and great,
233 In Truth we find it perfect and complete:
234 Then prais'd be Truth to all Eternity,
235 In whom alone is Strength and Majesty!
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236 He having finish'd, the attentive Crowd,
237 With joyful Acclamations shout aloud;
238 The Truth applauding, they, as one, agree
239 This brave young Prince should have the Victory:
240 The King and Council did his Wisdom praise,
241 Affirming he had doubly won the Bays.
242 Straitway the King Darius did declare
243 That Purple and fine Linnen he should wear;
244 That all his royal Bounty might behold,
245 Commanded he should eat and drink in Gold;
246 A regal Chariot too he did decree,
247 Adorn'd with Gold, at his Command should be;
248 A massy Chain of Gold his Neck does grace,
249 And next unto himself assigns his Place:
250 And to increase his Honour, after all,
251 Commands that they his Cousin should him call;
252 And of his royal Grace he doth decree,
253 What he would ask, performed it should be:
254 Speak what thou wilt, it shall be done for thee.
255 He was not long to seek what Choice to make,
256 But to the King with low Submission spake.
257 Most mighty Prince! I beg thou wouldst pursue
258 The Thing that thou proposedst long ago.
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259 Behold Jerusalem in Ruins laid!
260 Perform the Vow which thou thyself hast made,
261 When first thou didst the Persian Sceptre weild,
262 That thou the peerless City wouldst rebuild;
263 That glor'ous Temple, which was once the praise
264 Of all the Earth, thou vowdst again to raise;
265 That goodly Pile by Edomites destroy'd,
266 Each goodly Building now in Ashes laid,
267 And all the holy Vessels to restore,
268 As Cyrus did design long time before;
269 That then Judea's Sons may bless thy Name,
270 And Babes unborn thy matchless Grace proclaim.
271 No other Thing great Prince! do I require;
272 No earthly Pomp or Grandeur I desire:
273 But if this one Request thou grant to me,
274 Immortal Honour thy Reward will be.
275 The King observing how he stood inclin'd,
276 To serve his Country with a willing Mind,
277 Rose from his Seat, and in that very Place,
278 Before the Council, doth the Prince embrace;
279 Grants his Request, and doth his Letters send,
280 Commanding all his Captains to attend,
281 Both him and his, that so they might convey
282 Them to their ancient Land without Delay:
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283 Not only from all Tribute set them free,
284 But gave much Treasure to them lib'rally;
285 The City built, the Temple up did raise,
286 For solemn Worship, as in former Days.
287 This brave young Man having his End obtain'd,
288 And Liberty, beyond his Wishes gain'd;
289 With thankful Heart, and joyful Lips, did raise
290 His Voice to sing his great Creator's Praise.
291 To Thee, great God! I render Praises due,
292 From whom comes Victory, and Wisdom too:
293 Thy worthless Servant I myself do own,
294 Yet thou to me thy Strength and Might hast shown
295 Thine be the Glory, now and evermore!
296 I thankfully thy gracious Name adore;
297 Prostrate before Thee would I gladly lie,
298 And praise thy Name to all Eternity.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE THREE WISE SENTENCES, From the First Book of ESDRAS Chap. III. and IV.
Author: Mary Collier
Genres: heroic couplet; imitation

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Source edition

Collier, Mary, c.1690-c.1762. Poems, on Several Occasions, by Mary Collier, Author of the Washerwoman's Labour, with some remarks on Her Life. Winchester: Printed by Mary Ayres; for the Author. MDCCLXII., 1762, pp. []-29. 68p. (ESTC T125590)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.