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Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.

Verses Written by Mrs. Hutchinson

In the small Book containing her own Life, and most probably composed by her during her Husband’s retirement from public business to his seat at Owthorpe.

ALL sorts of men through various labours press

To the same end, contented quietness;

Great princes vex their labouring thoughts to be

Possessed of an unbounded sovereignty;

The hardy soldier doth all toils sustain

That he may conquer first, and after reign:

Th’ industrious merchant ploughs the angry seas

That he may bring home wealth, and live at ease.

These none of them attain: for sweet repose

But seldom to the splendid palace goes;

A troop of restless passions wander there,

And private lives are only free from care.

Sleep to the cottage bringeth happy nights,

But to the court hung round with flaring lights,

Which th’ office of the vanished day supply,

His image only comes to close the eye,

But gives the troubled mind no ease of care,

While country slumbers undisturbed are;

Where, if the active fancy dreams present

They bring no horrors to the innocent.

Ambition doth incessantly aspire,

And each advance leads on to new desire;

Nor yet can riches av’rice satisfy,

For want and wealth together multiply:

Nor can voluptuous men more fulness find,

For enjoyed pleasures leave their stings behind.

He’s only rich who knows no want; he reigns

Whose will no severe tyranny constrains;

And he alone possesseth true delight

Whose spotless soul no guilty fears affright.

This freedom in the country life is found,

Where innocence and safe delights abound.

Here man’s a prince; his subjects ne’er repine

When on his back their wealthy fleeces shine:

If for his appetite the fattest die,

Those who survive will raise no mutiny:

His table is with home-got dainties crowned,

With friends, not flatterers, encompassed round

No spies nor traitors on his trencher wait,

Nor is his mirth confined to rules of state;

An armed guard he neither hath nor needs,

Nor fears a poisoned morsel when he feeds;

Bright constellations hang above his head,

Beneath his feet are flow’ry carpets spread

The merry birds delight him with their songs,

And healthful air his happy life prolongs;

At harvest merrily his flocks he shears,

And in cold weather their warm fleeces wears;

Unto his ease he fashions all his clothes;

His cup with uninfected liquor flows:

The vulgar breath doth not his thoughts elate,

Nor can he be o’erwhelmed by their hate.

Yet, if ambitiously he seeks for fame,

One village feast shall gain a greater name

Than his who wears the imperial diadem,

Whom the rude multitude do still condemn.

Sweet peace and joy his blest companions are;

Fear, sorrow, envy, lust, revenge, and care,

And all that troop which breeds the world’s offence,

With pomp and majesty, are banish’d thence.

What court then can such liberty afford?

Or where is man so uncontroll’d a lord?