MacLean, Gerald, editor. The Return of the King : An Anthology of English Poems Commemorating the Restoration of Charles II / edited by Gerald MacLean
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Thomas Higgons
A Panegyrick to the King.
10 June

   Titlepage: A / PANEGYRICK / TO THE / KING. / By His Majesties most humble, / most Loyal, and most Obedient / Subject and Servant, / THOMAS HIGGONS. / Virg. 'n. Lib. 2. / Qu' Tant' tenuere mor'? queis CAROLE ab oris / Expectate venis? ut te, post multa tuorum / Funera, post varios hominumque urbisque labores / Defessi aspicimus! / [text pp. 1-11] / LONDON, / Printed for Henry Herringman, at the signe of / the Anchor in the Lower Walk of the / New-Exchange. 1660.

   DNB: Thomas Higgons (1624-1691) was a career diplomat who early on showed a keen interest in the politics of the Mediteranean. Born in Shropshire, he entered St Alban Hall, Oxford in 1638, but left without a degree in order to travel in Italy. After his return, c.1647-48, married Elizabeth, widow and second wife of Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex and daughter to Sir William Paulet of Wiltshire. Delivered oration at her funeral 16 Sept 1656, which he printed the same year.

   In January 1658, while residing at Odiham near Southampton, Higgons was elected MP for Malmesbury, Wilts. That year he published, anonymously, his verse translation, from the Italian, of G. F. Busenello's A Prospective of the Naval Triumph of the Venetians over the Turk, which Waller so admired that he wrote a poem to Higgons's wife. Higgons knowledgeable interest in relations between Christian nations and the Ottoman empire infiltrates his poem to Charles and resulted in his later publication, The History of Isuf Bassa, Captain General of the Ottoman Army At the Invasion of Candia (London: Printed for Robert Kettlewel, at the Hand and Scepter over against St Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet. 1684).

   After the Restoration, Higgons was returned MP for New Windsor, Berks, on 9 April 1661. Knighted on 17 June 1663; services to crown rewarded with a pension of oe500 a year and gifts worth oe4,000. From 1665 on, Higgons was sent on various diplomatic missions: to Paris in 1665 (CSPD); to Savoy in 1669; to Vienna in 1673 wherre he was three years envoy. In 1685 he was elected MP for St Germans in Cornwall; died suddenly in court on 24 Nov 1691. Remarried by licence c. 1691;
Refs: Woods; Chalmers, Bio Dict; Evelyn's Diary;

   Higgons emphasizes the secular causes and political consequences of the king's return. He opens with a warning to foreign nations and insists that it was the English people who brought Charles back, unassisted by foreign aid. Charles is placed in a line of Greek and Roman heroes and rulers, including Augustus and Aeneas, rather than biblical figures; his return assures a new age, one of Roman/republican virtue and civic liberty that promises an era of unprecendented global empire. In many respects, Higgons's poem resembles Astraea Redux in it's Virgilian emphasis on arts and empire but without the attempt to link this with scared kingship.

   NB Secular agency here; not the French or Dutch, or providence but the English people have brought Charles back.


THE frozen Samogite, 1 who half the year
Lives under ground, and never sees the sky,
Feels not that comfort when the Sun is near,
At whose approach Darknesse and Winter flie;
5: As all Great Britain at your Royall Sight,
After so dismall, and so long a Night.

Since first this Island was possest by Men,
No Age did e're so great a day behold;
A day, which makes the aged young agen,
10: Or else for joy forget that they are old:
Which makes the Dead, that they are absent, grieve;
And those, who long'd for death, content to live.

From furthest Thule to the Cornish shore
The Earth, and Aire, and Sea your name resound;
15: And neighbour Nations by the Canonn's roar
Know that you are arriv'd on English ground:
They know you are arriv'd, and are afraid,
When they consider 'tis without their aid.

France, which to give You refuge once refus'd,
20: And made you seek it in remoter Parts,
Blushes that you were so unnobly us'd;
And now asham'd of her Italian Arts
She fain would succours and assistance lend,
And, when you do not need her, be your friend.

25: The Dutch have Navies now at your command,
Who in distresse your quarrell would not own;
But Heav'n in mercy to your native Land
Would not that strangers should restore your Throne,
Or that you any other way should prove,
Than your own Vertue, and your People's Love.

'Tis your own Subjects, SIR, have done the thing,
To One of which immortall fame is due,
To whose Addresse the English owe their King,
And all the blessings they receive with You.
This Deed of his shall triumph over Death,
And live while Men have ears, and Fame has breath.

The Cappadocian Knight, 2 so far renown'd,
Who sav'd the Lady, and the Monster slew,
And over-ran like Lightning Pagan ground,
40: And whatsoe're resisted did subdue;
Now finds the glory darkned which he wonne,
Since by a greater GEORGE he is out-done.

Amongst the Demy-gods of antient Rome,
Who for the glory of their Country dyed,
45: And as Examples to the Times to come,
Were by those wiser Ages deifi'd,
His Name shall flourish, and the North henceforth
Shall with the warmer Climates vie for worth.

But in a Joy so vast and unconfin'd
50: As fills all hearts, and will not room allow
For any other passion in our mind,
We must not treat a Subject's merits now.
To speak of others were to do You wrong,
Who are the onely subject of our Song.

55: O Hope of England! O Great Britain's Light!
The Soul and Genius of this spatious Isle!
What Region has detain'd you from our sight?
What Land bin happy in you all this while?
'Tis time you come your People help to give,
When they without you could no longer live,

But are you come? may we our eyes believe?
We, whose hopes Fate, till now, did still destroy,
And have so many years bin us'd to grieve
May be excus'd if we suspect our Joy:
If it be reall, may a question make,
And justly doubt, whether we dream or wake.

The miseries these Nations have sustain'd,
E're since your Martyr'd Father left the Throne,
And with the Bless'd above in Glory raign'd,
70: Like Billows roaring, though the Wind be down,
Will hardly let our minds be yet secure,
Though you are come, who are a perfect Cure.

Although your presence save this sinking State,
Which to the brink of ruine was arriv'd,
75: And closes up the wounds of Civil hate,
We still remember whence our Ill's deriv'd.
That horrid Deed, but thought on, spoils our mirth;
A Deed, at once the shame of Heav'n and Earth.

Let not that Day make any part o'th year,
80: Which to so black an Action lent its light,
But be expung'd out of the Calender,
And the Contrivers hid in endlesse night.
And let their Fate first expiate their Offence,
And so absolve suspected Providence.

85: The Jews themselves, when our Redeemer dyed,
Discern'd not who it was they Crucified;
Their ignorance excus'd their Parricide:
But these strange Monsters with unheard-of Pride,
Arraign their Lord and Master whom they know,
And impudently boast of what they do.

But since as Darknesse to the Light gives place,
And as Night treads upon the heels of Day,
Sorrow does joy, and Joy does sorrow chace,
And good and ill make one another way,
We by past Mischiefs this advantage gain,
To tast the long'd for Pleasures of Your Raign.

The most Renowned Kings this fate have had,
To mount the Throne after tempestuous times,
And their own Vertues more conspicuous made,
100: By the reflection of preceding Crimes.
When Rome was ruin'd with intestine hate,
Augustus took the rudder of the State.

And when Domitian's hated Government
The distrest World had thrown into despair,
105: Trajan by Heaven was in Mercy sent,
The Ruines of the Empire to repair.
What Trajan and Augustus did at Rome,
England expects to see, now You are come.

Force shall insult no longer over right,
110: Nor wicked men have power to torment,
Or make the Good a prey to lawlesse might,
But every man be safe, that's Innocent:
The Mace shall now the Pike and Musket awe,
And make the Sword a servant to the Law.

115: Those Names of Rapine, which to other sense
Have bin distorted than their meaning bears,
And those strange canting Terms of Eloquence,
With which new Teachers doze 3 the Peoples ears;
The English Language shall no longer mar,
Prophane the Pulpit, nor disgrace the Bar.

Now Merchants fear no danger but the Wind,
Which once was the least hazard they did run,
When here in Port they did their ruine find,
And lost at home what they abroad had won.
The Farmer singing to his labour goes,
Now he is sure, 'tis for himself he sowes.

Servants their Masters shall no more betray;
Nor sons, infected with rebellious strife,
Make their advantage now to take away
130: The lively-hoods of those, who gave them life.
All Ranks of men shall be to order brought,
Awed by Your presence, and example taught.

Wealth shall not now be made the price of blood,
Nor to be rich be reck'ned an Offence;
135: Though it be valew'd lesse than to be good,
And merit be prefer'd to Innocence:
Men shall not most be priz'd, who most appear,
Nor knowne for what they have, but what they are.

Riches and Poverty shall be no more
140: T'wixt Man and Man the onely difference deem'd,
Since worth shall not be scorn'd for being poor,
Nor he that's rich, without it be esteem'd;
Whilst honor is of Vertue the Reward,
And those who most deserve, you most regard.

145: Had conquering Rome but such a Monarch seen,
One with your vertue, and your right beside,
With freedom's name she nere had couzen'd bin,
But Brutus had not so untimely dyed.
Under a Prince, who does so well deserve,
Cato himselfe had bin content to serve.

Some of our Kings have bin for Arms renown'd,
Others as glorious for the Arts of Peace,
How much are we to Heaven's great goodnesse bound,
Who have a Prince so learn'd in both of these?
And can (to every thing by Fortune bred)
In Councel govern, and in Battail lead?

When Fate at Wor'ster did oppose your Right,
And to so just a Cause deny'd Successe,
You shew'd the World how bravely you could fight,
160: Nor did your Fortune make your Glory lesse:
You were unconquer'd, when your Troops did yield;
And won Renown, although you lost the field.

The frighted Severn shrunk away to see
The dangers which your Person did attend,
165: And Heaven did seem in anger to decree,
That there your life, and all our hopes should end;
While you retire, secure of Fate's intent,
With the same mind, you first to Battail went.

Thus Vercingectorix, that brave King of Gaul,
170: Though Fortune still were on the Roman side,
Unalter'd was what ever did befall,
And the insulting Conqueror defi'd;
That C'sar does confesse, though Fate were crosse,
His Foe was more illustrious for his losse.

175: Heav'n sure had a designe in your retreat,
For though it partially adjudg'd the day,
And rais'd the Rebels pride by your defeat,
It seems it then decreed a Nobler way
For your return, than could be wrought by blood,
And order'd your misfortune for your good.

Heav'n wisely knew if you had had successe,
And your Victorious sword had more imbrew'd
In English blood, your Triumph had bin lesse,
And bodies had, rather than minds, subdu'd;
Nor had we then those Princely vertues known,
Which in your adverse Fortune you have shown.

But if the Fates no other means could find
To raise your glory to the pitch we see,
And if your sufferings have bin design'd
190: But as the way to your felicity;
We blesse those Mischiefs, which we have sustain'd,
And now repent that ever we complain'd.

No human happinesse is still compleat,
Since Fortune changeth every thing below,
195: One while depressing Princes that were great,
And then advancing those, who once were low.
Your glorious Father was successefull long,
And Priam happy was, when he was yong.

But you born under more propitious stars.
200: And thorough many dangers lead by Fate,
Have past your youth in Tempests and in Wars,
And as the Sun, though he breaks out but late,
Darknesse dispells, and drives all Clouds away,
A gloomy Morn turn to a glorious day.

205: Thus great 'neas when his Troy was lost,
And nought but ruine left of all that State,
Wander'd at Land, and on the Floods was tost,
And hurried up and down the World by Fate,
Before he could to promis'd Alba come,
Alba the Mother of Victorious Rome.

So great a work it was to found that State,
Which to the conquer'd World was lawes to give,
So must you suffer e're you could be Great,
For Fortune alwayes does with Vertue strive.
But Vertue does at last her power subdue,
And makes her stoop, as now she does to You.

Now overcome she to your Vertue bends,
And, not so cruell once as kind at last,
Strives with her favours to make large amends
220: For your unworthy usage which is past,
And, to repair her fault, would over-doe,
If any thing could be too much for You.

But all that we can say, or Fortune do
To celebrate your Goodnesse will not serve,
225: Since while that's doing, there will more be due,
Nor can we pay so fast, as you'l deserve,
Language has bounds, and Fortune is confin'd,
But there's no limits to your mighty Mind.

If there be any truth in ancient Song,
230: If Poets see, or Bards do understand,
This is the time has been foretold so long,
That England all her Neighbours shall command;
And on the Continent obedience find,
Nor must her Empire be by Seas confin'd.

235: Our Asian Conquests we no more will boast,
When upon Acon's walls our Lions stood,
And the proud Soldan saw his Empire lost,
And all the fields of Palestine in Blood.
Croissy shall be forgot, and Poictiers too,
Darkned by greater things, which you must do.


Printed for Henry Herringman, at the signe of
the Anchor in the Lower Walk of the
New-Exchange. 1660.

[1]not OED

[2]In some accounts of the St George legend, he was understood to have been born in Cappadocia, an area taken to include southern Anatolia, Syria and the Lebanon. On the controversy surrounding the historicity and origins of St George, see Peter Heylyn, The History of That most famous Saynt and Souldier of Christ Jesus St. George of Cappadocia Asserted from the Fictions of the middle ages of the Church and opposition of the present (London: for Henry Seyle, 1631), L 1125.e.27.

[3]stupify, muddle, make drowsy or dull; OED