Upon His Majesty’s Repairing of Paul’s

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Scarce suffer'd more upon Melita's shore,Than did his Temple in the sea of Time(Our Nation's Glory, and our Nation's Crime)When the first Monarch of this happy Isle,Mov'd with the ruin of so brave a pile,This work of cost and piety begunTo be accomplish'd by his glorious Son:Who all that came within the ample thoughtOf his wise Sire, has to perfection brought.He like Amphion makes those quarries leapInto fair figures from a confus'd heap:For in his art of Regiments is foundA power like that of Harmony in sound. Those antique Minstrels sure were Charles-like Kings,Cities their Lutes, and Subjects' hearts their Strings;On which with so divine a hand they strook,Consent of motion from their breath they took.So all our minds with his conspire to graceThe Gentiles' great Apostle, and defaceThose State-obscuring sheds, that like a chainSeem'd to confine and fetter him again;Which the glad Saint shakes off at his command,As once the Viper from his sacred hand:So joys the aged Oak when we divideThe creeping Ivy from his injur'd side. Ambition rather would effect the fameOf some new structure, to have borne her name,Two distant Virtues in one act we findThe Modesty, and Greatness of his mind;Which not content to be above the rageAnd injury of all-impairing age,In its own worth secure, doth higher climb,And things half swallow'd from the jaws of TimeReduce, an earnest of his grand designTo frame no new Church, but the Old refine,Which Spouse-like may with comely grace commandMore than by force of argument or hand.For doubtful reason few can apprehend,And War brings ruin, where it should amend:But beauty with a bloodless conquest findsA welcome sovereignty in rudest minds. Not aught which Sheba's wond'ring Queen beheldAmongst the works of Solomon excell'dHis ships and building, emblems of a heartLarge both in Magnanimity and Art:While the propitious heavens this work attend,Long-wanted showers they forget to send;As if they meant to make it understoodOf more importance than our vital food. The Sun which riseth to salute the QuireAlready finish'd, setting shall admireHow private bounty could so far extend:The King built all; but Charles, the western end:So proud a fabric to devotion given,At once it threat'neth and obligeth heaven. Laomedon that had the gods in pay,Neptune, with him that rules the sacred day,Could no such structure raise, Troy wall'd so high,Th' Atrides might as well have forc'd the sky. Glad, though amazed, are our neighbour KingsTo see such pow'r employ'd in peaceful things.They list not urge it to the dreadful field,The task is easier to destroy than build.

-------- Sic gratia RegumPieriis tentata modis. Horat.

© Edmund Waller