Upon an Honest Man’s Fortune, by John Fletcher


John Fletcher

YOU that can look through Heaven, and tell the stars,
Observe their kind conjunctions, and their wars;
Find out new lights, and give them where you please,
To those men honours, pleasures, to those ease;

You that are God’s surveyors, and can shew
How far, and when, and why the wind doth blow;
Know all the charges of the dreadful thunder,
And when it will shoot over, or fall under;

Tell me, by all your art I conjure ye,
Yes, and by truth, what shall become of me?
Find out my star, if each one, as you say,
Have his peculiar angel, and his way;

Observe my fate, next fall into your dreams,
Sweep clean your houses, and new-line your schemes,
Then say your worst! Or have I none at all?
Or, is it burnt out lately? or did fall?

Or, am I poor? not able, no full flame?
My star, like me, unworthy of a name?
Is it, your art can only work on those
That deal with dangers, dignities, and clothes?

With love, or new opinions? You all lie!
A fish-wife hath a fate, and so have I;
But far above your finding! He that gives,
Out of his providence, to all that lives,

And no man knows his treasure, no, not you;
He that made Egypt blind, from whence you grew
Scabby and lousy, that the world might see
Your calculations are as blind as ye;

He that made all the stars you daily read,
And from thence filch a knowledge how to feed,
Hath hid this from you; your conjectures all
Are drunken things, not how, but when they fall:

Man is his own star, and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early, or too late.

Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still;
And when the stars are labouring, we believe
It is not that they govern, but they grieve

For stubborn ignorance; all things that are
Made for our general uses, are at war,
Even we among ourselves; and from the strife.

OH, MAN! thou image of thy Maker’s good,
What canst thou fear, when breath’d into thy blood
His spirit is, that built thee? what dull sense
Makes thee suspect, in need, that Providence,

Who made the morning, and who placed the light
Guide to thy labours; who call’d up the night,
And bid her fall upon thee like sweet showers
In hollow murmurs, to lock up thy powers;

Who gave thee knowledge, who so trusted thee,
To let thee grow so near himself, the tree;
Must he then be distrusted! shall his frame
Discourse with him, why thus and thus I am?

He made the angels thine, thy fellows all,
Nay, even thy servants, when devotions call.
Oh, canst thou be so stupid then, so dim,
To seek a saving influence, and lose him?

Can stars protect thee? or can poverty,
Which is the light to Heaven, put out his eye?
He is my star, in him all truth I find,
All influence, all fate I and when my mind

Is furnish’d with his fullness, my poor story
Shall out-live all their age, and all their glory!
The hand of danger cannot fall amiss,
When I know what, and in whose power it is:

Nor want, the curse of man, shall make me groan;
A holy hermit is a mind alone.
Doth not experience teach us, all we can,
To work ourselves into a glorious man?

Love’s but an exhalation to best eyes,
The matter spent, and then the fool’s fire dies!
Were I in love, and could that bright star bring
Encrease to wealth, honour, and every thing;

Were she as perfect good as we can aim,
The first was so, and yet she lost the game.
My mistress, then, be Knowledge and fair Truth!
So I enjoy all beauty and all youth.

And though to Time her lights and laws she lends,
She knows no age that to corruption bends:
Friends’ promises may lead me to believe,
But he that is his own friend, knows to live;

Affliction, when I know it is but this,
A deep allay, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer, and, the deeper, still
We still arise more image of his will;

Sickness, an humorous cloud ‘twixt us and light,
And death, at longest, but another night!
Man is his own star, and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect man.

Mr. John Fletcher.


Courtesy of Democratic Thinker.


Copyright of “Upon an Honest Man’s Fortune” is held in the Public Domain, as is the photo added by The Moral Liberal, because its copyright has expired. Paragraph breaks have been added by The Moral Liberal for easier reading.