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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William Davenant
Upon His Sacred
Majesties Most Happy Return
25 June

   Titlepage: POEM, / UPON HIS / SACRED MAJESTIES / MOST HAPPY / RETURN / TO HIS / DOMINIONS. / [rule] / Written by / Sr William Davenant. / [rule] / LONDON, / Printed for Henry Herringman, and are to be sold at / his Shop at the signe of the Anchor on the Lower walk / in the New Exchange. 1660.

    Sir William Davenant (1606-68) managed the King's Company of players from 1660 until his death, having organized musical performances in private houses during the commonwealth; most notably The Siege of Rhodes.

    Davenant's editor Gibbs reports: "A note in Bishop Kennett's A Register And Chronicle Ecclesiastical and Civil, 1728, p. 246, dates the publication of this poem to August 1660. ... The 1673 text shows some authorial revision" (p. 392). Thomason however dated his copy on Monday, 25 June. Some of Gibbs's glosses are given to lines as notes.

POEM, Upon his Sacred Majestie's most happy RETURN To His DOMINIONS.

WHen from your Towns all hastened to the shore,
What shame could urge your Peoples blushes more
Than to behold their Royall Martyr's Son
Appeas'd, even with their grief for what was done?
5: So great your Mercy is, that you will grieve,
If your wise Senate cannot all forgive.
Nor can the Spies of Malice e're discern,
That you from Int'rest did this Virtue learn.
Great Julius, in disguise, might act that part;
10: But Nature has in you out-done his Art. 1
Your perfect Father to such height did come
Of God-like pitty, near his Martyrdom,
That he his Subject-Judges did forgive,
And left it as their punishment to live.
15: Pitty not onely flowes from him to you,
But, doubly, from your Mother's Mercy too:
The limits of it none could ever know,
Nor to the bounds of her compassion go;
Whose Father in forgivnesse did transcend
20: The insolence of all that durst offend;
When his Remorse seem'd led by their Despair,
Beyond the sight of Hope, or voice of Prayer.
No more shall your bold Subjects strive to Reign;
And fatall Honor on each other gain.
25: Their courage, which mistook the way to Fame,
(And may find pitty where it meets with shame)
Shall, by your valour guided, far out-shine
Our glory got in France and Palestine. 2
No more shall sacred Priests fall from their own
30: Supported Pow'r, by shrinking from the Throne:
Nor in divided shapes that Garment tear, 3
Which their Great Chief did whole and seamless wear.
No more shall any Antient of our Law,
From old Records such modern Meaning draw,
35: As made even Lawyers lawlesse, and enquire,
How justly Kings to armed Pow'r aspire?
The Civill Robe did Armed Pow'r suspect,
Though onely Armed Pow'r can Law protect;
And rescue Wealth from Crowds, when Poverty
40: Treads down those Laws on which the Rich rely.
Yet Law, where Kings are arm'd, rescues the Crowd
Even from themselves, when Plenty makes them proud.
No more shall any of the Noble Blood
Too faintly stemm the People's rising Flood;
45: But when the Wind, Opinion, does grow loud,
Moving, like waves, the Many-headed Crowd;
Then those great-ships shall fast at Anchor ride,
And not be hurri'd backward with the Tyde.
The Throne's the Port to which their Course shall bear,
50: As well at distance too as sailing near:
Or, Anch'ring, shall for change of weather stay,
And never lose when they can gain no way.
No more shall publick wealth on Spies be spent,
To hunt the Loyall and the Innocent:
55: Nor Jaylors in contracted Prisons be
The Keepers of the People's Libertie:
Nor Chiefs in Civill Causes toyl, and doe 4
The task of Judges and of Juries too;
In whose High-Courts their Wills for Laws were known,
60: And all the Civill Pow'r was Martiall grown.
How usefull must the Regall Office be,
Where both those Pow'rs for publick good agree?
Where Justice in a Ballance weighs the Cause,
And wears a Sword but to defend the Laws.
65: When (Mighty Monarch) your Three Nations count
To what their gain, by gaining you, will mount;
They justly reckon, that the least you bring
Of Greatnesse, is, that Blood which makes you King:
And casting up what Satisfaction they,
70: In full return of all your Vertues, pay;
The Product shews, you bring in value more,
Than those Three Realms, which they do but restore.
You bring such Clemency, as shews you have
More Pardons, than your Angel-Father gave.
75: Which shews a Greatnesse that does most incline
To what is greatest in the Pow'r Divine.
'Tis that to which all Human kind does bow,
And tend'rest sense of obligation owe.
For wretched Man (by ev'ry passion led,
80: Born sinfull, and to many errors bred)
Has use of Mercy still, and does esteem
Creation a lesse work than to Redeem.
You bring a Judgment deeper than the Sea:
And as in deepest Seas wee safest be,
85: So in your Judgment's depths we may endure
All Empire's suddain storms, and sleep secure.
And as in deeper Seas we never sound,
Or seek that Depth which never can be found,
(Unlesse as Pilots, who, for triall, near
90: The Ocean's Borders, cast a Plummet there;
But cease to sound when they no bottom find)
So, whilst I try to measure your deep Mind,
I stop even at the Verges of your Court,
Knowing my Plummet light, and Line too short.
95: You bring, with depth of Judgment, all the height
And fire of Thought, that can give wings to Weight.
A Mind so swift, that in a moment's space
Not onely flies o're the Diurnall Race,
But does collect all objects of the Sun,
100: And marks, what through the Globe the Great have done. 5
You no endowment can like this possesse,
Which will preserve what Valour can increase.
For Pow'r requires an universall Eye:
It should, like yours, see all and suddainly.
105: If thus it watch not ever for the State,
It either sees too little, or too late.
You bring such Valour as dares farther tread,
Then Love dares follow; or Ambition lead.
Valour, so watchfull as may safely keep
110: A Camp untrencht, and suffer scouts to sleep:
Fit to surprize Surprizers early spys,
It danger loves, as good for exercise.
The honor you near Severn's Banks obtain'd,6
Did make the Victors lose by what they gain'd;
115: When you reclaim'd their malice, who with shame
Blush't that they kept your Realms, yet gave you fame.
You bring such charming vertues as move more
Then all the secret gifts of bounteous Pou'r:
Your kind approaches to invite accesse;
120: Your patient Eare to troublesome Distresse.
Your nat'rall greatnesse, never artfull made;
Nor so retir'd as if you sought a shade.
And by reserv'dnesse would misterious seem:
As formall men retire to get esteem.
125: But you would so be visible and free,
As Truth and Valor still would publick be.
Those hate obscurenesse and would still be shown,
They grow more lov'd as they become more known.
You bring Religion, which before, like Fame,
130: Was nothing but a Trumpet and a Name.
Here most seem'd holy but in Masquerade;
Most vizards wore, and in disguise were clad.
Abroad, your firme Religion gain'd renoun
Through all the trialls of Comparison.
135: It will, at home, unmask dissembling Art;
And what was wholy Face, shall grow all Heart.
Thus, shewing what you are, how quickly we
Infer what all your Subjects soon will be!
For from the Monarchs vertue Subjects take,
140: Th'ingredient which does publick-vertue make.
At his bright beam they all their Tapers light,
And by his Diall set their motion right; 7
Your Clemency has taught us to believe 8
It wise, as well as vertuous, to forgive.
145: And now the most offended shall proceed
In great forgiving till no laws we need:
For laws slow progresses would quickly end,
Could we forgive as fast as men offend.
Revenge of past offences is the cause
150: Why peacefull minds consented to have Laws.
Yet Plaintifs and Defendants much mistake
Their cure, and their diseases lasting make;
For to be reconcil'd, and to comply,
Would prove their cheap and shortest remedy.
155: The length and charge of Laws vex all that sue;
Laws punish many, reconcile but few.
Intire forgivenesse, thus deriv'd from you,
Does Clients reconcile and Factions too.
No Faction shall hereafter own a name;
160: But their distinctions vanish with their shame.
Your carefull judgment teaches us to prize
Affliction, and to grow, by troubles, wise.
To clear the sullen count'nance of Distresse;
And not with haste precipitate redresse.
165: Your judgments patience has even vertue taught
That her reward should be with patience sought.
Tis else requir'd too boldly and too soon;
As if she boasted that her work was done.
We shall not boast of shining Loyalty,
170: Whose light goes out, when held by us too high.
It is a vertue, but 'tis duty too;
And our reward is had in having you.
Your minds swift motion (which hath often brought 9
Actions, even farthest past, to instant thought;
175: Which in a moment does all compasse run;
And then contract all objects into one:
And judge all Empires, as the Sun might doe,
If he had life and reason too like you.)
Has taught our feeble Thoughts to mend their pace;
180: And follow though they lose you in the Race.
And now your Nations shall with early Eyes,
Watch the first Clouds e're storms of Rebells rise.
Though Orators (the Peoples Witches) may
Raise higher Tempests then their skill can lay;
185: Making a civill and staid Senate rude,
And stoplesse as a running multitude:
Yet can they not to full rebellion grow;
Not knowing how much now the People know;
Who from your influence have attain'd the wit
190: Not to proceed from grudgings to a Fit.
Your Valour has our rasher courage taught
To do, not what we dare, but what we ought;
Not to pretend renoune from high offence;
Nor brave boldnesse turn to impudence?
195: Nor claim a right where we by force enjoy;
Nor boast our strength from what we can destroy.
Your other vertues bear instructive sway:
Their fair examples we like Laws obey;
Which through your Realms such harmony disperse,
200: As if Love rul'd, and Laws were writ in verse.
Whilst our Civilities grow so refin'd
That now they more then former statutes bind. 10
The high in pow'r make their approaches low,
To meet and lift the humble when they bow.
205: Such English-hyphen;stiffnesse freely they forsake, 11
As made wise Strangers wonder and go back.
Your firm Religion shall our firmnesse breed,
And turn into a Rock our shaken Reed.
A Rock, which like a roling wave before
210: Flow'd with the Flood, and ebb'd with ebb's of Pow'r.
And that respect which your indulgent Eye,
Pays, as your blessed Fathers Legacy.
To sacred Priests, with chearfull bounty's too,
Does teach what we with rev'rence ought to do.
215: And well may Priests, (who are Heav'ns Liegers) be
Nobly defray'd in ev'ry Embasie:
They treat not for the profit of that King,
From whose bright Palace they Credentialls bring.
But for the Peoples benifit to whom
220: They are in pitty sent and charg'd to come.
To these we shall with rev'rence Off'rings make;
Which they may justly and with honour take.
'Tis done with some respect when Princes give
Gifts to Ambassadours, and they receive
225: Those gifts with confidence, as if they knew,
Though they are gifts, yet Custom makes them due.
Too boldly, (awfull Monarch!) am I gone,
Through all your Guards, to gaze about your Throne.
Yet 'tis the use of Greatnesse to excuse,
230: The daring progresse of the sacred Muse:
She taught the Lover, love, and Warrior, warr;
And is the Guide, when Honour would go farr.
The Studious follow till they lose their sight,
When to the upper Heav'n she makes her flight.
235: She mounts above what they pretend to know,
And leaves their soaring Thoughts in depths below.
Why nam'd I heav'n, where all meet all reliefs,
Where best of joys succeed the worst of Griefs;
Yet, naming it, must Clouds of sorrow wear,
240: For that dire cause which brought your Father there?
Kings must to Heav'n through shades of sorrow passe,
And, taking leave of Nature, Death imbrace.
But he, with more then a devout intent,
To people soon that Heav'n to which he went.
245: Did, dying, leave three Nations (when they count
To what his vallew, and their losse will mount.
What he did suffer, and what they did do)
Sorrow enough to bring them thither too.
Much was he favour'd by the Pow'r divine,
250: Which to encourage vertue with some signe,
Or likely taste, of future happinesse,
Did let him many blessings here possesse.
Your Royall Mother, in his life, fulfill'd
All griefs that Turtle-hyphen;Widowhood could yield;
255: And has continu'd, since he reign'd above,
His care o're all the Pledges of their love.
You, in your Manhoods bloome, exprest an awe
Not of his Regall but of Natures law:
Obeying him in all, by no designe,
260: Or force, but so as Nature did incline
And with your growth your kind obedience grew;
Which love, not precept, shew'd you was his due.
You rev'renc'd him in deep afflictions more,
Then on those heights where he did shine before.
265: This vertuous softnesse made your People melt;
Who in your triumph all that kindnesse felt
Which to their Saint your duty had exprest,
And drew from ev'ry Eye, and ev'ry Breast,
Such tears and sighs as, in a happy time,
270: Pay'd back your sorrows, and excus'd their crime.
And your heroique Brothers (early grown 12
Fames Favorites, and Rivalls in renoune)
Did in their Dawne such beams of comfort give
As they had almost made him wish to live.
275: That he might see the Glory of their Noon:
But ah! Lifes glasse he shook to make it run.
The mighty Martyr gaz'd on Heav'ns reward:
Then struggling Nature found him strait too hard
For all her force: Religion watcht the strife;
280: And Honour cal'd him back from proffer'd Life.
T'will not suffice (best King!) that we have shown
Your Picture, with Two worthy's next your Throne:
But we would now of all the Copy's boast
From such a great Orig'nall as is lost.
285: Two, of the gentler Sex, remain to grace 13
The matchlesse number of his Royall Race.
The First, (with practis'd patience, even when young
Whilst various winds made storms of Empire long)
Has liv'd the great example, and the good,
290: Of gracefull and of prudent Widow-hyphen;hood.
The other has fit vertue to dispence,
Even to a Cloyster'd Virgin, innocense;
And such discretion as might Factions guide;
And so much beauty as She much might hide,
295: Yet lend that Court, where Lilly's wildly grow,
More then their glorious Nuptialls now can show.
Tell me, (O Fame!) what triumph thou would'st sound?
In all thy boasted Flights thou scarce hast found
One Theam like mine. Ascend! and strait dispers 14
300: (As farr as ever Thou wert led by Verse,
Or Light ere flew) my Sov'raign's full renoun:
Then rest they wings, and lay thy Trumpet down.


[1]Gibbs paraphrases: "i.e. `Caesar may have shown clemency in order to gain political ends, but you are naturally merciful'."

[2]Gibbs glosses: "Davenant is presumably referring to the Crusades of Richard I, and the victories in France of Edward III and Henry V" (p. 393).

[3]Gibbs glosses: "The seamless garment of Christ, which is described in John 19:23, is commonly employed as a symbol for the ideal of an undivided Church." (p. 393) and suggests we think of Swift's Tale of a Tub.

[4]Gibbs glosses: "This is in fact precisely what the administration, in Charles's paternalistic government, tended to do (see David Ogg, England in the Reign of Charles II, 2nd edn., Oxford, 1962, pp. 189-hyphen;91).

[5]lines 97-hyphen;100: Gibbs glosses: "Davenant appears here to be adapting his own definition of Wit in th ePreface to Gondibert: `Witte is not only the luck and labou, but also the dexterity of thought; rounding the world, like the Sun, with unimaginable motion; and bringing swiftly ome to the memory universall survays' (Gondibert, ed. Gladish, p. 18).

[6]Gibbs glosses: "A reference to Charles's courageous conduct at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651. For an account of the battle see A History of the County o Worcester (V. C. H), ed. J. W. Willis-hyphen;Bund and H. A. Doubleday, 5 vols., London, 1901-hyphen;26, ii, pp. 224-hyphen;6." (p. 393).

[7]Gibbs glosses: "cf ` To The Queene, upon a New-hyphen;yeares day' (`This day, old Time'), p. 67, l. 9.

[8]Gibbs glosses: "The Declaration of Breda offered a general pardon to all, with certain exceptions. This promise was incorporated in the Bill of Indemnity which receive royal assent in August 1660. In this Bill pardon was granted for all treasons and felonies, and various other offences committed since 1 January 1637. Those excluded from th epardon included thirty-hyphen;two persons who actions were deemed to be pubishable by death. A Royal Declaration in December 1662, annoucing the necessity for further punishments, echoes Davenant's lines here, when it describes the King as `desiring much rather to cure the ill Intentions of the Disaffected by our Clemency, than to punish the Effects of them by Rigour of LAw' (Kennett, op cit, p. 848)." (p. 393.)

[9]Gibbs glosses: "173-hyphen;8. Your minds . . . you, Davenant is repeating himself here. Cf. ll. 97-hyphen;100 above, and see note.

[10]bind] ed; bnd ä

[11]Gibbs glosses: "Cf. Dryden: `The desire of imitating to great a pattern [as the King] firs awakened the dull and heavy spririts of the English from their natural rserveness; loosened them from the stiff forms of convesation, and made them easy and pliant to each other in discourse' (Defence of the Epilogue)" citing Essays ed Ker, 1.176 (p. 393).

[12]Gibbs glosses: "The two other surviving sons of Charles I at the Restoration were James, Duke of York (afterwards James II), and Henry, Duke of Gloucester. Both had seen military service in Europe before their return to England in 1660. The younge brother, Henry, who was popular in England because of his strong Protestant loyalties, died of smallpox in Septemeber 1660, shortly after this poem was published" (p. 394).

[13]Gibbs glosses: "Davenant refers to Charles II's mother, Henrietta Maria, and his favorite sister, Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans. The two Henriettas followed Charles to England in October 1660" (p. 394).

[14]disperse] final e not printing in L; weak in O, OWZ