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An Epitaph On Mr. Fishborne The Great London Benefactor And His Executor

 What are thy gaines, O death, if one man ly
Stretch'd in a bed of clay, whose charity
Doth hereby get occasion to redeeme
Thousands out of the grave: though cold hee seeme
He keepes those warme that else would sue to thee,
Even thee, to ease them of theyr penury.
Sorrow I would, but cannot thinke him dead, Whose parts are rather all distributed To those that live; His pitty lendeth eyes Unto the blind, and to the cripple thighes, Bones to the shatter'd corps, his hand doth make Long armes for those that begg and cannot take: All are supply'd with limbs, and to his freind Hee leaves his heart, the selfe-same heart behind; Scarce man and wife so much one flesh are found As these one soule; the mutuall ty that bound The first prefer'd in heav'n to pay on earth Those happy fees which made them strive for death, Made them both doners of each others store, And each of them his own executor: Those hearty summes are twice confer'd by either, And yet so given as if confer'd by neither.
Lest some incroching governour might pare Those almes and damne himselfe with pooremens share, Lameing once more the lame, and killing quite Those halfe-dead carcases, by due foresight His partner is become the hand to act Theyr joynt decree, who else would fain have lackt This longer date that so hee might avoyd The praise wherewith good eares would not be cloy'd, For praises taint our charity, and steale From Heav'ns reward; this caus'd them to conceale Theyr great intendment till the grave must needs Both hide the Author and reveale the deeds.
His widdow-freind still lives to take the care Of children left behind; Why is it rare That they who never tied the marriage knott, And but good deeds no issue ever gott, Should have a troupe of children? All mankind Beget them heyres, heyres by theyr freinds resign'd Back into nature's keepeinge.
Th' aged head Turn'd creeping child of them is borne and bredd; The prisons are theyr cradles where they hush Those piercing cryes.
When other parents blush To see a crooked birth, by these the maim'd Deform'd weake offcasts are sought out and claim'd To rayse a Progeny: before on death Thus they renew mens lives with double breath, And whereas others gett but halfe a man Theyr nobler art of generation can Repayr the soule itselfe, and see that none Bee cripled more in that then in a bone, For which the Cleargy being hartned on Weake soules are cur'd in theyr Physition, Whose superannuat hatt or threadbare cloake Now doth not make his words so vainly spoke To people's laughter: this munificence At once hath giv'n them ears, him eloquence.
Now Henryes sacriledge is found to bee The ground that sets off Fishborne's charity, Who from lay owners rescueing church lands, Buys out the injury of wrongfull hands, And shewes the blackness of the other's night By lustre of his day that shines so bright.
Sweet bee thy rest until in heav'n thou see Those thankefull soules on earth preserv'd by thee, Whose russet liv'ryes shall a Robe repay That by reflex makes white the milky way.
Then shall those feeble limbs which as thine owne Thou here didst cherish, then indeed bee known To bee thy fellow limbs, all joyn'd in one; For temples here renew'd the corner stone Shall yeild thee thanks, when thou shall wonder at The churches glory, but so poore of late, Glad of thy almes! Because thy tender eare Was never stop'd at cryes, it there shall heare The Angells quire.
In all things thou shalt see Thy gifts were but religious Usury

Poem by William Strode
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