1623 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Butler

George Wither, "Ad Authorem" Butler, The Feminine Monarchie: The History of Bees (1623) sig Av-A2v.



When I had view'd this Common-wealth of Bees,
Observ'd their Lives, their Art, and their Degrees,
As; how, beside their painefull Vulgar ones,
They have their Prince, their Captaines, and their Drones:
How they Agree; how temp'rately they Feed;
How curiously they Build; how chastly Breed;
How seriously their Bus'nesse they intend;
How stoutly they their Common-good defend;
How timely their Provisions have provided;
How orderly their Labors are divided;
What Vertues patterns, and what ground of Art,
What Pleasures, and what Profits they impart:
When these, with all those other things I minde
Which in this Booke, concerning Bees, I finde:
Me thinkes, there is not halfe that worth in Mee,
Which I have apprehended in a Bee.
And that the Pismire, and these Hony-flies,
Instruct us better to Philosophize,
Than all those tedious Volumes, which, as yet,
Are least unto us by meere Humane-wit.
For, whereas those but only Rules doe give;
These by Examples teach us how to live.

Great God Almighty! in thy pretty Bee,
Mine Eie (as written in small letters) sees
An Abstract of that Wisdome, Power, and Love,
Which is imprinted on the Heav'ns above
In larger Volumes, for their eies to see,
That in such little prints behold not Thee.
And in this Worksmanship (oh Lord) of thine,
I praise thy Wisdome, and thy Power divine.

And Praise deserves this Author; who hath chose
So well his Times of Leisure to dispose,
And in that Recreation to delight,
Which honour God, and us advantage might.
For, since our humane weakenesse doth require,
That in our serioust Labours we retire;
(Because unlesse the String be sometime slacke
The strongest Bow will have the feeblest backe)
What Recreation better can befit
Our grave Divines; than (when the Holy writ
Is laid aside) in Gods great booke of Creatures
To reade his Wisdome, and their usefull Natures?

Thus doth our Author. And, not only thus;
But, like his Bees, makes hony too for us.
And is contented that, to helpe us thrive,
We should partake the profit of his Hive.
For which (my share) I thanke him: and for those
The Muses-Birds; whose nature here he showes.
And mauger such as will his Paines contemne,
The Muses thus, by me, doe honour them.