1625
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. IIII. Of Bountie.

The Brides Ornaments, viz. Five Meditiations, Morall and Divine. [Books III and IV.]

Robert Aylett


Contrary to the common opinion of James I, Robert Aylett declares that "No King so fills his subjects chests with gold" — the kind of counter-factual praise Stuart monarchs liked to hear (compare Drummond's Forth Feasting). The first stanza alludes to the Faerie Queene.



Now will I raise fair Alma's stately tower,
On Temperance her strong and soundest frame;
And goodly deck Dame Bounty's dainty bower,
Whereby all Princes gain immortall fame:
Some call her Alma, some her Bounty name,
The trusty Almner of Loves Royall Court;
Who bears the bag to give to blinde and lame,
And Suitors all that thither do resort
Rewards most bounteously, and feeds in seemly sort.

For on this heav'nly Dame the eyes of all
Looke up, that of her liberalitie
They may receive, and shee againe lets fall,
Upon them needfull things most plenteously,
Her bounteous hand shee opens willingly,
With blessings every creature full to fill,
To those that Knowledge seeke, abundantly,
Shee giveth Wisedome, Understanding, Skill,
To know their Makers Bountie, Majestie, and Will.

Most glorious Alma! whenas Temperance
Controlls the noble Plentie of her Hall,
And with her Staffe keepes out Intemperance,
Which doth abuse her Grace and Bountie all;
For where most Plentie is, there most doth fall
By want of Temperance to Lust and Sin,
Till they be brought low as the Prodigall,
For he that will true Praise by Bountie win,
Must first of all at home with Temperance begin.

For Temperance with watchfull diligence,
Are like two springs which waters doe supply,
To open-handed free Beneficence,
And her discernes from Prodigalitie,
By Diligence we get sufficiencie,
By Temperance, what we have gotten, spare
To minister to Liberalitie,
For these two, Lady-Bounty's handmaids are,
And for her, just, and truly, store of wealth prepare.

But they that live in sloth and foule excesse,
Though they they may seeme to be most liberall,
Oppression, and Extortion mercilesse,
Are Lakes, from whence their Bounty's streamed doe fall,
And thus they rob the poore, that therewithall
They may themselves, rich friends, and children feast,
Blaspheming their great Maker, Lord of all,
And imitating basest savage beast,
Which fawnes upon the great, But doth devoure the least.

God of all Bountie, King most Liberall,
Who to thy vassall Man at his Creation,
Didst subject make, Fish, Fowl, Beasts, creatures all,
And of thine handy works gav'st domination;
Who by thy providence and ordination
Him needfull things not onely dost provide,
But for his health, delight and contentation,
That he may plentie to the poore divide,
My Muse to sing, heart, hands, to practise Bountie guide.

Bountie, Beneficence, Benignitie,
In name though divers, one in substance be,
Benevolence and Liberalitie,
Make actions, and affections agree,
If as they are, in God you wish to see,
They like his Goodnesse are unlimited,
And as his Mercy, Love, and Grace are free,
Which on his Creatures are abundant shed,
But by my shallow Muse their depth cannot be read.

They are too high to reach, too deepe to sound,
For all the earth is filled therewithall:
In heav'n above Gods Goodnesse doth abound,
The Bountie of his Grace is over all;
Of all the Meditations which call
My mind, to holy Joy and admiration,
None lets more comfort then Gods Bountie fall,
Both for my being and my preservation,
But most in that he shed his bloud for my Salvation.

Here could I wish my Muse might ever dwell,
In viewing Gods great Goodnesse, Bountie, Love,
Which three to th' holy Trinity I well
May here ascribe; For Goodness first doth move
The Father, to beget Eternall Love,
From Love and Goodnesse, Bountie doth proceed;
Yet all these three, as one in God doe prove,
In substance one, although distinguished
In working! But this height my reach doth far exceed.

And therefore ravish't now with contemplation,
Beyond the compasse of my feeble eye,
My soule amaz'd falls downe to adoration
Of this misterious holy Trinitie,
And from divine come to benignitie,
And Bountie which should be in men below,
A habit wee of liberalitie,
Her call, and good affection we should show
In thought, heart, word, and deed, to ev'ry one we know.

And must from goodnesse and true love proceed,
The onely cause of true benignitie;
Wherefore, except these be in us indeed,
Our bounty is but prodigalitie:
Or some like froth of superfluitie.
The crums and leavings of Intemperance,
Which oft are dealt out with an evill eye,
More for vain credit or base circumstance,
Then for goodwill, or care Gods glory to advance.

For ev'ry act hath then her true effect,
Which from true ground right aymeth at her end,
As when both love and goodnesse doth direct
What bounty truly gets, aright to spend:
Loe thus doth heav'nly grace and bounty send
Her blessings temporall alike to all;
But doth far greater benefits intend,
To those that on Gods name aright doe call,
And in this heav'nly sort, ought we be liberall.

Oh! then th' effects of bounty glorious are,
When Providence with true Frugality,
Doe seek by Justice to provide and spare
Fit sustenance for liberality;
Behold that heav'nly bounteous Majesty,
Sends raine and fruitfull seasons, whereby store
Of Blessings, th' earth may to his hand supply,
And many hidden Treasures up doth store
For to exalt the rich, and to refresh the pore.

Then humane bounty like her Makers is,
Whenas she labours to doe good to all;
But most of all to bring poore souls to blisse,
And fill their hearts with food spirituall;
Oh Grace Divine? Bounty Angelicall;
With spirituall loaves in Wildernesse to feed
Gods Saints, when spirituall hunger them doth gal,
The ignorant which pine with inward need,
Divine sweet comforts to their fainting soules to reade.

True Bounty's knowne, best by her company,
For shee in Truth and Mercy takes delight;
Faith Justice, Temperance, Humility,
And is withall Loves graces richly dight,
Herein appeares her glorious heav'nly Sp'rite:
Shewing that shee of seed divine is borne,
Of Love and Goodnesse, not of Vaine delight,
Of Fame and Praise of men, when she doth scorne
To seeke feign'd bounteous shews, her goodnes to adorn.

For thus th' ambitious man is bountifull,
Thus belly-gods in plenty take delight,
Deceit with gifts his neighbour seeks to gull,
The covetous bribe large to conquer right;
From such false Bounty, Truth is banisht quite,
Humility, Fath, Knowledge, Temperance,
Nor any of Loves Graces in her sight,
May suffered be their ensignes to advance,
There dwells Contention, Pride, Oppression, Ignorance.

As daughters of the horse-leech, still doe cry,
Give, give: as Grave and Hell be never full,
So nought the covetous eye can satisfie,
But he that's liberall and bountifull
Is like full clouds, which doe most plentifull
Water the earth, and pour down store of rain,
Yet are not empty; for the mercifull
And liberall shall greater plentie gaine,
And he that scattereth shall finde encrease againe.

That hand is never emptie of reward,
Whereas goodwill the hearts chest filleth full,
And bountie never is so much afeard,
Causless to give, As not be bountifull
Where need requires; His face is beautifull
Where sweet Goodwill both heart and looks have Joyn'd;
But th' envious and malicious doe pull,
On wrinkles: And a man shall ever find,
The beautie of the face to alter with the mind.

Bountie is like unto the glorious Sun,
Which as a Bridegroome doth from chamber glide,
And as a Gyant joy's his course to run
From East to West, most swiftly he doth ride,
Nothing from's fertile heat it selfe can hide;
He doth not looke that one him up should call:
So Bountie deals her Graces far and wide,
And Blessings without asking sends to all;
Expecting not vaine praise where shee lets graces fall.

As some faire glorious garment, which we weare
Upon our shoulders, reaching to the ground,
Covers all spots, and Naeves that on us are:
So where this noble bounty doth abound,
It covereth all faults that can be found,
For as Love covers, so doth Bounty hide
A multitude of sins, and doth confound,
By her bright Beames, Detraction, Envy, Pride;
Alas these are too weake where Bounty's on our side.

Shee's like unto the Lamp of glorious day,
Which doth divide the darknesse from the light,
For whereas Bountie doth her beames display,
Behold bright day: without them there is night;
The King that by his bountie doth invite,
His Subjects hearts to Love and Honour due,
Sleepes more secure, than he that doth by might
And feare, strong forts and walled townes subdue,
And for his guard's encompassed with armed crue.

Bountie and Benefits are ev'n the Bands,
Of Concord, and as fire doth quickly dye,
That is not fostered with coles or brands;
So dies true Love with men: Except supply
Be made by gifts and liberalitie:
Who doth the wandring soule direct aright,
Though with him he doth deale most bounteously;
Yet doth he but his fellowes candle light;
And to another gives, yet loseth self no light.

True Bounty seekes high God to imitate,
Who to the most unthankfull is most free,
Sol doth his light to Theeves participate
And without tempests, Pirates saile on Sea,
The Heav'ns of all good things the Authours bee,
Faire fortunes to ungratefull fooles doe send,
As onely seeking to do good: so we
(Though oft in vain our bounty we do spend)
To the unthankfull must, as to the thankfull lend.

Gods bounty's like to incense and perfume,
Cast on an heart inflam'd with holy zeale,
Which praises up, like clouds of smoake doth fume,
And sweetest odours round about doth deale:
Mans bounty is like widowes cruse or meale,
Which spent upon the Prophet growes to more,
Like Surgeons skill, which as more doth heale,
Doth grow more cunning then he was before,
The diligent and bounteous hand want never store.

As many fruits do faire encrease and grow,
Not so much by the nature of the ground,
As by the bounty, which from Heav'n doth flow,
And temperate aire that is above them found,
So all good Arts in noblest wits abound,
More by some Princes liberalitie,
And high regard they have of Muses sound,
That their owne nature, strength, and industry,
Best friends to Arts are Bounty and Humanity.

Should I but here recount the names of all,
Whom bountfull in holy Writ I find,
I of your patience should be prodigall,
And my short time for this discourse assign'd,
Let me their names up in a bundle binde;
Which if you please to ope as sweetly smell,
As Camphires Bush: my Muse is now inclin'd,
Of some prophane examples here to tell,
Which seeme in noble Bounty others to excell.

Then treasure Cyrus more his friends esteem'd,
Whereof he multitudes by bounty won:
And Alexander greatest glory deem'd,
By bounty never to be overcome;
A King of Egypt thought it better done,
His subjects coffers, then his owne to fill:
Whenas Alphonsus heard Titus Vespasians sonne,
Accounted that day lost, when for good will
He had giv'n nought; said, I ne're spent a day so ill.

Behold! these five examples live in one,
The bounteous Monarch, that our Scepter sways,
Esteems his friends 'bove gold, or precious stone,
And overcomes ev'n all that him obay's,
By soveraigne Bounty, to's immortall praise,
No King so fills his Subjects chests with gold,
His bounteous deeds in number passe his day's:
Ah! how then dare my niggard rimes be bold,
The sacred bounty of my Soveraigne to unfold.

Who hoards not up his wealth in Cave or Tower,
Nor into prisons darke condemnes his gold:
But as on him from Heav'n all Blessings shower,
So are his to us Subjects manifold:
As from thicke clouds we numberlesse behold,
Large streames of fruitfull raine on earth to fall;
So is his largenesse to his servants told,
Who entring poore, rich returne from his hall,
Like Tagus golden sands, his hands are liberall.

Vouchsafe, O bounteous Soveraigne! heare thy thrall,
After thy cloud, a subjects drop'd to sing;
Whom thou didst to deserved honour call,
And was in name and bountie as a King:
Who in thy bounteous steps thee following,
Did from obscurity my Fortunes raise,
Without desert of my least offering,
He now in Heav'n his bounteous King doth praise,
As he with bounty honour'd him here all his day's.

And let us all his bounteous praises sing,
Whose bounty us from Hell and Death doth raise,
Our blessed Saviour, Prophet, Priest, and King,
Who here in bounteous deeds spent all his day's;
Casting out devills, saving soules alway's,
Healing the sicke, giving the blind their sight,
Mournes for our sins, for enemies he prays,
Comforts the rich, and feeds the hungry wight,
And still in doing good, doth set his whole delight.

How could malicious heart of envious man,
Consent to murther such a bounteous King?
Scourge, scorne, deride, despight him what they can,
Still in his bounteous deeds persevering;
Yea when unto the Crosse they him doe bring,
Father they know not what they doe, he cry's;
And when his body hangs their torturing,
He to the Thiefe not Paradise denyes;
Thus doing good he lives: Thus doing good he dyes.

What, doth the Lord of Life eternall dye?
Which unto us eternall life doth give;
See his large bounty and benignity?
Hee gave his life for us that we might live.
What heart of stone doth not here melt, or rive
But with his Life, his Bounty doth not end,
He by his Will, and Testament doth give
Us Heav'n, yea, more the Comforter doth send,
With millions of Angells on us to attend.

Who can of this his Saviours Bountie tast?
And to his members not be bountifull,
If thou want wealth, and coine give what thou hast,
And let our hearts be alwaies mercifull,
And like the fertile ground yeeld plentifull
Encrease, of all the seeds which thereon grow,
'Tis Bountie that doth fill our garner's full,
He sparing reapes that sparingly doth sowe,
True Bounty's noble hand no want did ever know.

But ah too many covetous of Praise
And Glory doe by fraud and rapine spoile;
Others, that they thereby their names may raise,
And some goods gotten by much care and toil,
Spend on their pleasures, and thereby beguile,
Their poore and needy Neighbour of his right,
Drinking and surfetting in ease the while,
And spending frankly on some base delight,
Like Brutes are bountifull to their owne appetite.

Some onely by their Bountie seeke for fame,
And these are onely to Ambition free,
Some Patrons now aday's such Shepheards name,
To feed the Flocke, as loose and Idle Bee,
Wealth unto wealth to adde they all agree:
No man respects the needy and the poore.
The emptie vessels, emptie still we see;
They that are full, to them is added more,
Dry hills want water, when the valley's swim with store.

As Knights which of the noble Order are
Of Garter, that they better may be knowne,
A golden George about their necke do wear,
Nor doe the same at any time lay downe,
Whereby their noblenesse should be unknowne:
So Nobles alwaies wear Benignitie,
Whereby whose Sonnes you are yee may be showne,
For nothing proves you Sonnes of the most High,
More then your Bountie and true Liberalitie.

But of false Bountie you do vainely boast,
Delighting in vaine pastime, oyle and Wine,
And gluttons feed for glory to your cost;
Whilst at your doores the poore may sterve and pine.
You welcone such as you invite to dine;
But scarce afford the poore scraps at your gate;
Which shew that all your bountie is to Joyn
Credit and Glory to your great estate,
And but for Crowes and Kites, or Daw's do lay a Baite.

You for a million at a cast will play,
And hazard all your fortunes at a game,
And grudge not for one dainty bit to pay
A thousand, and then glory in the same,
With gold you tricke and trim up some loose Dame,
The sinke that sucks up all your Liberalitie,
Thus lavish you to your eternall shame,
All that your Fathers got by their Frugalitie,
And left to you to spend in bounteous hospitalitie.

Brave Alexanders deeds for ay commends
His wondrous confidence and bountie rare,
Who dealing out amongst his faithfull friends,
Lands, houses, townes, he gold and all did share,
When one befought him wisely to forbeare,
For what, said he, alas! is left the King?
New hopes of gaining more, said he, there are,
Thus on his fate and fortunes venturing
The Heav'ns propitious seem'd, to him, in ev'ry thing.

But ah! poor Prince! thy hopes are all but vaine,
As were the Benefits thou didst expose;
But we are certaine of eternall gaine,
If bounteously Gods blessings we dispose:
Ah! what is it if worldly things we loose!
And thereby gain us an Eternall Crowne,
Which heav'nly Bountie laieth up for those,
That their owne glory willingly lay downe,
And what they reape by Bountie bounteously have sown.

Such all within most gloriously shall shine,
Their vestiments shall be of twined Gold;
They shall of Hony tast, and spiced Wine;
And all the Bridegroomes fruits both new and old,
He gently will such in his armes infold;
And satifie their sense with pleasing smell,
No eare hath heard, no tongue hath ever told,
The Joy and Bounty that with him do dwell,
But more of these, where next of heav'nly Joy I tell.

[pp. 31-42]