This excellent old song is preserved in David Lloyd's "Memoires of those that suffered in the cause of Charles I." London, 1668, fol. p. 96. He speaks of it as the composition of a worthy personage, who suffered deeply in those times, and was still living with no other reward than the conscience of having suffered. The author's name he has not mentioned, but if tradition may be credited, this song was written by Sir Roger L'Estrange. Some mistakes in Lloyd's copy are corrected by two others, one in manuscript, the other in the "Westminster Drollery, or a choice Collection of Songs and Poems," 1671, 12mo.
BEAT on, proud billows! Boreas blow!
Swell, curled waves, high as Jove's roof!
Your incivility doth show,
That innocence is tempest proof;
Though surly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm;
Then strike, Affliction, for thy wounds are balm.
That which the world miscalls a jail,
A private closet is to me:
Whilst a good conscience is my bail,
And innocence my liberty:
Locks, bars, and solitude, together met,
Make me no prisoner, but an anchoret.
I, whilst I wisht to be retir'd,
Into this private room was turn'd;
As if their wisdoms had conspir'd
The salamander should be burn'd;
Or like those sophists, that would drown a fish,
I am constrain'd to suffer what I wish.
The cynick loves his poverty,
The pelican her wilderness;
And 'tis the Indian's pride to be
Naked on frozen Caucasus:
Contentment cannot smart, stoicks we see
Make torments easie to their apathy.
These manacles upon my arm
I, as my mistress' favours, wear;
And for to keep my ancles warm,
I have some iron shackles there:
These wars are but my garrison; this cell,
Which men call jail, doth prove my citadel.
I'm in the cabinet lockt up,
Like some high-prized margarite,
Or, like the great mogul or pope,
Am cloyster'd up from publick sight:
Retiredness is a piece of majesty,
And thus, proud sultan, I'm as great as thee.
Here sin for want of food must starve,
Where tempting objects are not seen;
And these strong walls do only serve
To keep vice out, and keep me in:
Malice of late's grown charitable sure,
I'm not committed, but am kept secure.
So he that struck at Jason's life,[ 1]
Thinking t' have made his purpose sure,
By a malicious friendly knife
Did only wound him to a cure:
Malice, I see, wants wit; for what is meant
Mischief, oft-times proves favour by th' event.
When once my prince affliction hath,
Prosperity doth treason seem;
And to make smooth so rough a path,
I can learn patience from him:
Now not to suffer shews no loyal heart,
When kings want ease subjects must bear a part.
What though I cannot see my king
Neither in person or in coin;
Yet contemplation is a thing
That renders what I have not, mine:
My king from me what adamant can part,
Whom I do wear engraven on my heart?
Have you not seen the nightingale,
A prisoner like, coopt in a cage,
How doth she chaunt her wonted tale
In that her narrow hermitage?
Even then her charming melody doth prove,
That all her bars are trees, her cage a grove.
I am that bird, whom they combine
Thus to deprive of liberty;
But though they do my corps confine,
Yet maugre hate, my soul is free
And though immur'd, yet can I chirp, and sing
Disgrace to rebels, glory to my king.
My soul is free, as ambient air,
Although my baser part's imnnew'd,
Whilst loyal thoughts do still repair
T' accompany my solitude ,
Although rebellion do my body binde,
My king alone can captivate my minde.
1. See this remarkable story in Cicero de Nat. Deorum. lib. iii. c. xxviii.; Cic. de ofic. lib. i. c. xxx. See also Val. Max. l. viii.