To my Honor'd Friend, Dr. Charleton

On His Learned And Useful Works; And More Particularly This Of Stonehenge, By Him Restor'd To The True Founders

Original Text: 
Dr. Walter Charleton, Chorea Gigantum (London: Henry Herringman, 1663). Wing 3665
2Was that wherein our ancestors betray'd
4And made his torch their universal light.
5So truth, while only one supplied the state,
8Hard words seal'd up with Aristotle's arms.
9Columbus was the first that shook his throne,
10And found a temp'rate in a torrid zone:
11The fev'rish air fann'd by a cooling breeze,
12The fruitful vales set round with shady trees;
13And guiltless men, who danc'd away their time,
14Fresh as their groves, and happy as their clime.
15Had we still paid that homage to a name,
16Which only God and Nature justly claim,
17The western seas had been our utmost bound,
18Where poets still might dream the sun was drown'd:
19And all the stars that shine in southern skies
20Had been admir'd by none but savage eyes.
21      Among th' asserters of free reason's claim,
22Th' English are not the least in worth, or fame.
23The world to Bacon does not only owe
24Its present knowledge, but its future too.
26Or British fleets the boundless ocean awe.
29The circling streams, once thought but pools, of blood
30(Whether life's fuel or the body's food),


1] First published in 1663 as a prefatory poem in Dr. Walter Charleton's Chorea Gigantum, a book on Stonehenge; an early expression of Dryden's enthusiasm for natural science. Back to Line
3] Stagirite. Aristotle, so named from his birthplace Stagira. The reaction against scholasticism resulted in the depreciation of Aristotle, whose authority scholasticism constantly invoked. Back to Line
6] sophisticate. Not pure or genuine; specious. Back to Line
7] emp'ric. An empiric is one who relies solely on observation and experiment; in the 17th century this connoted charlatanism and quackery, especially in medicine. Back to Line
25] Gilbert. William Gilbert (1540-1603), whose treatise on the magnet (1600) was of great importance in 17th-century science. Back to Line
27] Boyle. The Hon. Robert Boyle (1627-91), distinguished for his experimental researches in physics and chemistry and one of the founders of the Royal Society. Back to Line
28] his great brother. Roger Boyle, afterwards Earl of Orrery, statesman and dramatist. Back to Line
31] Harvey's. William Harvey (1578-1657), discoverer of the circulation of the blood. Back to Line
32] Ent. Dr. George Ent, at whose request Harvey's last treatise was published in 1651. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP 1.479.