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Because that world adopts it 29: if it bear
The stamp and clear impression of good sense,
And be not costly more than of true worth,
He puts it on, and for decorum sake
Can wear it even as gracefully as she3.
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceived; aware that what is base
No polish can make sterling, and that vice
Though well perfumed and elegantly dress'd,
Like an unburied carcase trick'd with flowers,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away 31 and so at last
S And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage.
Thus sheltered, free from care and strife
May I enjoy a calm through life,
Unhurt by sickness blasting rage,
And slowy mellowing in age
When fate extends its gathering gripe.
29 Though wrong the mode, comply; more sense is shown In wearing others' follies than your own. Young. Satire iv. 30 Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
Pope. Essay on Crit. ii. 338.
My share of duties decently fulfilled,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat
Beneath the turf that I have often trod,
Quit a worn being without pain,
Perhaps to blossom soon again.
It shall not grieve me, then, that once when called To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse,
I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon to please her more
Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, 1010
Let fall the unfinish'd wreath, and roved for fruit.
Roved far and gather'd much. Some harsh, 'tis true,
Pick'd from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well-digested. Grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth,
Insipid else, and sure to be despised.
But all is in His hand whose praise I seek.
In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,
If he regard not, though divine the theme.
'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre
To charm His ear, whose eye is on the heart,
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation-prosper even mine.
Beg to lay it down
Glad to be so dismissed in peace.
AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. DEAR Joseph,-five and twenty years agoAlas! how time escapes-'tis even so!— With frequent intercourse and always sweet And always friendly we were wont to cheat A tedious hour,—and now we never meet. As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days,) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings,— Strange fluctuation of all human things! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart: And were I call'd to prove the assertion true, One proof should serve, a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No. Gold they seemed, but they were never such. Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawed Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. Go, fellow!-whither?-turning short aboutNay. Stay at home;-you're always going out. 'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.For what?-An please you, sir, to see a friend. A friend? Horatio cried, and seem'd to start,Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart
And fetch my cloak, for though the night be raw
I'll see him too-the first I ever saw.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose:
Perhaps his confidence just then betray'd,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;
Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language in my mind
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments, verbosely spun,)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time, an Emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare;
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
Oh happy Britain! we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else could a law like that which I relate,
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few that I have known in days of old
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold.
In a letter to Mr. Newton, (July 9, 1785,) Cowper tells him that Thurlow and Colman are the former friends to whom
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man, close-button'd to the chin,
Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.
he particularly alludes in these lines," and it is possible," he adds, " that they may take to themselves a censure that they so well deserve. If not, it matters not; for I shall never have any communication with them hereafter." After the success of his second volume, however, their acquaintance was renewed, and Cowper forgave the unkindness of their neglect.