An Essay on the Memory
My Venerable MASTER: Ezekiel Cheever
Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather

Augusto perstringere Carmine Laudes,
Quas nulla Eloquii vis Celebrare queat.

YOU that are Men, & Thoughts of Manhood know,
Be Just now to the Man that made you so.
Martyr'd by Scholars the stabb'd Cassian dies,
And falls to cursed Lads a Sacrifice.
Not so my CHEEVER; Not by Scholars slain,
But Prais'd, and Lov'd, and wished to Life again.
A mighty Tribe of Well-instructed Youth
Tell what they owe to him, and Tell with Truth.
All the Eight parts of Speech he taught to them
They now Employ to Trumpet his Esteem.
They fill Fames Trumpet, and they spread a Fame
To last till the Last Trumpet drown the same.
Magister pleas'd them well, because 'twas he;
They saw that Bonus did with it agree,
While they said, Amo, they the Hint improve
Him for to make the object of their Love.
No Concord so Inviolate they-knew
As to pay honours to their Master due
With Interjections they break off at last,
But, Ah, is all they use, Wo, and, Alas!
We Learnt Prosodia, but with that Design
Our Masters Name should in our Verses shine.
Our weeping Ovid but instructed us
To write upon his Death, De Tristibus.
Tully we read, but still with this Intent,
That in his praise we might be Eloquent.
Our Stately Virgil made us but Contrive
As our Anchises to keep him Alive.
When Phoenix to Achilles was assign'd
A Master, then we thought not Homer blind:
A Phoenix, which Oh! might his Ashes shew!
So rare a Thing we thought our Master too.
And if we made a Theme, 'twas with Regret
We might not on his Worth show all our Wit,
Go on, ye Grateful Scholars, to proclame
To late Posterity your Master's Name.
Let it as many Languages declare
As on Loretto-Table do appear.
   Too much to be by any one exprest:
I'll tell my share, and you shall tell the rest.
Ink is too vile a Liquor; Liquid Gold
Should fill the Pen, by which such things are told.
The Book should Amyanthus-Paper be
All writ with Gold, from all corruption free.
   A Learned Master of the Languages
Which to Rich Stores of Learning are the Keyes;
He taught us first Good Sense to understand
And put the Golden Keyes into our Hand,
We but for him had been for Learning Dumb,
And had a sort of Turkish Mutes become.
Were Grammar quite Extinct, yet at his Brain
The Candle might have well been lit again.
If Rhet'rick had been stript of all her Pride
She from his Wardrobe might have been Supply'd.
Do but Name CHEEVER, and the Echo straight
Upon that Name, Good Latin, will Repeat.
A Christian Terence, Master of the File
That arms the Curious to Reform their Style.
Now Rome and Athens from their Ashes rise;
See their Platonick Year with vast surprise:
And in our School a Miracle is wrought;
For the Dead Languages to Life are brought.
His Work he Lov'd: Oh! had we done the same!
Our Play-dayes still to him ungrateful came.
And yet so well our Work adjusted Lay,
We came to Work, as if we came to Play.
   Our Lads had been, but for his wondrous Cares,
   Boyes of my Lady Mores unquiet Pray'rs.
   Sure were it not for such informing Schools,
   Our Lat'ran too would soon be fill'd with Owles.
   Tis CORLET'S pains, & CHEEVER'S, we must own,
   That thou, New-England, art not Scythia grown.
   The Isles of Silly had o're-run this Day
   The Continent of our America,
Grammar he taught, which 'twas his work to do:
But he would Hagar have her place to know.
   The Bible is the Sacred Grammar, where
   The Rules of speaking well, contained are.
He taught us Lilly, and he Gospel taught;
And us poor Children to our Saviour brought.
Master of Sentences, he gave us more
The [n) we in our Sententiae had before.
We Learn't Good Things in Tullies Offices;
But we from him Learn't Better things than these.
With Cato's he to us the Higher gave
Lessons of JESUS, that our Souls do save.
We Constru'd Ovid's Metamorphosis,
But on our selves charg'd, not a Change to miss.
Young Austin wept, when he saw Dido dead,
Tho' not a Tear from a Lost Soul he had:
Our Master would not let us be so vain,
But us from Virgil did to David train,
Textors Epistle's would not Cloathe our Souls;
Pauls too we heard; we went to School at Pauls.
   Syrs, Do you not Remember well the Times,
When us he warn'd against our Youthful Crimes:
What Honey dropt from our old Nestors mouth
When with his Counsels he Reform'd our Youth:
How much he did to make us Wise and Good;
And with what Prayers, his work he did conclude.
Concern'd, that when from him we Learning had,
It might not Armed Wickedness be made!
The Sun shall first the Zodiac forsake,
And Stones unto the Stars their Flight shall make:
First shall the Summer bring large drifts of Snow,
And beauteous Cherries in December grow;
E're of those Charges we Forgetful are
Which we, 0 man of God, from thee did hear.
   Such Tutors to the Little Ones would be
Such that in Flesh we should their Angels see;
Ezekiel should not be the Name of such;
   We'd Agathangelus not think too much,
Who Serv'd the School, the Church did not forget;
But Thought, and Pray'd, and often wept for it.
Mighty in Prayer: How did he wield thee, Pray'r!
Thou Reverst Thunder: CHRIST's-Sides-piercing Spear?
Soaring we saw the Bird of Paradise;
So Wing'd by Thee, for Flights beyond the Skies.
How oft we saw him tread the Milky Way,
Which to the Glorious Throne of Mercy layl
   Come from the Mount, he shone with ancient Grace.
Awful the Splendor of his Aged Face
Cloath'd in the Good Old Way, his Garb did wage
A War with the Vain Fashions of the Age.
Fearful of nothing more than hateful Sin;
'Twas that from which he laboured all to win,
Zealous; And in Truth's Cause ne'r know to trim;
No Neuter Gender there allow'd by him.
Stars but a Thousand did the Ancients know;
On later Globes they Nineteen hundred grow;
Now such a CHEEVER added to the Sphere;
Makes an Addition to the Lustre there.
   Mean time America a Wonder saw;
A Youth in Age, forbid by Nature's Law.
   You that in t'other Hemisphere do dwell,
Do of Old Age your dismal Stories tell.
You tell of Snowy Heads and Rheumy Eyes
And things that make a man himself despise.
You say, a frozen Liquor chills the Veins,
And scarce the Shadow of a man remains.
Winter of Life, that Sapless Age you call,
And of all Maladies the Hospital:
The Second Nonage of the Soul; the Brain
Cover'd with Cloud; the Body all in pain,
To weak Old Age, you say, there must belong
A Trembling Palsey both of limb and Tongue;
Dayes all Decrepit; and a Bending Back,
Propt by a Staff, in Hands that ever shake.
   Nay, Syrs, our CHEEVER shall confute you all,
On whom there did none of these Mischefs fall.
He Liv'd, and to vast Age no Illness knew;
Till Times Scythe waiting for him Rusty grew.
He Liv'd and Wrought; His Labours were Immense;
But ne'r Declin'd to Praeter-perfect Tense.
A Blooming Youth in him at Ninety Four
We saw; But, Oh! when such a sight before!
At Wondrous Age he did his Youth resume,
As when the Eagle mew's his Aged plume
With Faculties of Reason still so bright,
And at Good Services so Exquisite;
Sure our sound Chiliast, we wondring thought,
To the First Resurrection is not brought!
No, He for That was waiting at the Gate
In the Pure Things that fit a Candidate.
He in Good Actions did his Life Employ,
And to make others Good, he made his Joy.
Thus well-appris'd now of the Life to come,
To Live here was to him a Martyrdom.
Our brave Macroebius Long'd to see the Day
Which others dread, of being Call'd away.
So, Ripe with Age, he does invite the Hook,
Which watchful does for its large Harvest look:
Death gently cut the Stalk, and kindly laid
Him, where our God His Granary has made.
   Who at New-Haven first began to Teach,
Dying Unshipwreck'd, does White-Haven reach.
At that Fair Haven they all Storms forget;
He there his DAVENPORT with Love does meet.
   The Lumnious Robe, the Loss whereof with Shame
Our Parents wept, when naked they became;
Those Lovely Spirits wear it, and therein
Serve God with Priestly Glory, free from Sin.
   But in his Paradisian Rest above,
To Us does the Blest Shade retain his Love.
With Rip'ned Thoughts Above concern'd for Us,
We can't but hear him dart his Wishes, thus.
   'TUTORS, Be Strict; But yet be Gentle too:
   'Don't be fierce Cruelties fair Hopes undo.
   'Dream not, that they who are to Learning slow,
   'Will mend by Arguments in Ferio
   'Who keeps the Golden Fleece, Oh, let him not
   'A Dragon be, tho' he Three Tongues have got.
   'Why can you not to Learning find the way,
   'But thro' the Province of Severia?
   'Twas Moderatus, who taught Origen;
   'A Youth which prov'd one of the Best of men.
   'The Lads with Honour first, and Reason Rule;
   'Blowes are but for the Refractory Fool.
   'But, Oh! First Teach them their Great God to fear;
   'That you like me, with Joy may meet them here . . .