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Remember, if He guard thee and secure,
700 Whoe'er assails thee; thy success is sure ; But if He leave thee, though the skill and pow'r Of nations sworn to spoil thee and devour, Were all collected in thy single arm, And thou could’st laugh away the fear of harın, 705 That strength would fail, oppos'd against the push And feeble onset of a pigmy rush. Say not, (and if the thought of such defence Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence,) What nation amongst all my foes is free
710 From crimes as base as any charg'd on me? Their measure fill’d, they too shall pay the debt, Which God, though long forborne, will not forget. But know that wrath divine, when most severe, Makes justice still the guide of his career,
715 And will not punish, in one mingled crowd, Them without light, and thee without a cloud.
Muse, hang this larp upon yon aged beech, Still murm’ring with the solemn truths I teach; And while at intervals a cold blast sings
720 Through the dry leaves and pants upon the strings, My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament A nation scourg'd, yet tardy to repent. I know the warning song is sung in vain ; That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain; 725 But if a sweeter voice, and one design'd A blessing to my country and mankind, Reclaim the wand'ring thousands, and bring home A flock so scatter'd and so wont to roam, Then place it once again between my knees ; 730 The sound of truth will then be sure to please : And truth alone, where'er my life be cast, In scenes of plenty, or the pining wasic, Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
doceas iter, et sacra ostea pandas.
Virg. En. 6.
ASK what is human life—the sage replies,
With disappointment low'ring in his eyes,
A painful passage o'er a restless flood;
A vain pursuit of fugitive false good;
A scene of fancied bliss and heart-felt care,
Closing at last in darkness and despair.
The poor, inur'd to drudg’ry and distress,
Act without aim, think little, and feel less,
And no where, but in feign'd Arcadian scenes,
Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means. 10
Riches are pass’d away from hand to hand,
As fortune, vice, or folly may command ;
As in a dance, the pair that take the lead
Turn downward, and the lowest pair succeed,
So shifting and so various is the plan,
15 By which Heav'n rules the mix'd affairs of man; Vicissitude wheels round the motley crowd, Tho rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud ; Business is labour, and man's weakness such, Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much.
20 The very sense of it foregoes its use, By repetition pall’d, by age obtuse. Youth lost in dissipation, we deplore, Through life's sad remnant, what no sighs restore : VOL. I.
Our years a fruitless ráce without a prize,
25 Too many, yet too few to make us wise.
Dangling his cane about, and taking snuff, Lothario cries, What philosophick stuff
O querulous and weak !—whose useless brain • Once thought of nothing, and now thinks in vain; 30
Whose eye reverted weeps o'er all the past,
Whose prospect shows thee a disheart'ning waste :
Would age in thee resign his wintry reign,
And youth invigorate that frame again,
Renew'd desire would grace with other speech 35
Joys always priz’d, when plac'd within our reacis.
For, lift thy palsied head, shake off the gloom
That overhangs the borders of thy tomb,
See Nature gay as when she first began,
With smiles alluring her admirer man;
40 She spreads the morning over eastern hills, Earth glitters with the drops the night distils ; The sun, obedient at her call, appears, To fling his glories o'er the robe she wears ; Banks cloth'd with flow’rs, groves fill’d with sprightly sounds,
45 The yellow tilth, green meads, rocks, rising grounds, Streams edg'd with osiers, fattning ev'ry field, Where'er they flow, now seen, and now conceal’d; From the blue rim, where skies and mountains meet, Down to the very turf beneath thy fect,
50 Ten thousand charms, that only fools despise, Or Pride can look at with indiff'rent eyes, All speak one language, with one sweet voice Cry to her universal realm, Rejoice! Man feels the spur of passions and desires ; 55 And she gives largely more than he requires ; Not that his hours devoted all to Care, Hollow-ey'd Abstinence, and lean Despair, The wretch may pine, while to his smell, taste, sight, She holds a paradise of rich delight;
But gently to rebuke his awkward fear,
To prove that what she gives, she gives sincere.
To banish hesitation, and proclaim
His happiness, her dear, her only aim.
'Tis grave philosophy's absurdest dream,
That Heav'n's intentions are not what they seem,
That only shadows are dispens'd below,
And earth has no reality but wo.
Thus things terrestrial wear a different hue,
As youth or age persuades ; and neither true.
So Flora's wreath through colour'd crystal seen,
The rose or lily appears blue or green,
But still th’ imputed tints are those alone
The medium represents, and not their own.
To rise at noon, sit slipshod and undress’d,
To read the news or fiddle as seems best,
Till half the world comes rattling at his door,
To fill the dull vacuity till four ;
And, just when ev'ning turns the blue vault gray,
To spend two hours in dressing for the day :
To make the Sun a bauble without use,
Save for the fruits his heav'nly beams produce:
Quite to forget, or deem it worth no thought,
Who bids him shine, or if he shine or not;
Through mere necessity to close his eyes
Just when the larks and when the shepherds rise :
Is such a life, so tediously the same,
So void of all utility or aim,
That poor Jonquil, with almost ev'ry breath,
Sighs for his exit, vulgarly callid death:
For he, with all his follies, has a mind
Not yei so blank, or fashionably blind,
But now and then perhaps a feeble ray
Of distant wisdom shoots across his way ;
By which he reads, that life without a plan,
As useless as the moment it began,
Serves merely as a soil for discontent
To thrive in ; an incumbrance ere half spent.
O weariness beyond what asses feel,
That tread the circuit of the cistern wheel;
A dull rotation, never at a stay,
Yesterday's face twin image of to-day;
While conversation, an exhausted stock,
Grows drowsy as the clicking of a clock.
No need he cries, of gravity stuff'd out
With academick dignity devout,
To read wise lectures, vanity the text ;
Proclaim the remedy, ye learned, next ;
For truth self-evident, with pomp impress’d,
Is vanity surpassing all the rest.
That remedy, not hid in deeps profound,
Yet seldom sought where only to be found,
While passion turns aside from its due scope
Th’ inquirer's aim, that remedy is hope.
Life is his gift, from whom whate'er life needs,
With ev'ry good and perfect gift proceeds ;
Bestow'd on man, like all that we partake,
Royally, freely, for his bounty's sake;
Transient indeed, as is the fleeting hour,
And yet the seed of an immortal flow'r ;
Design'd in honour of his endless love,
To fill with fragance his abode above;
No trifle, howsoever short it seem,
And howsoever shadowy, no dream;
Its value what no thought can ascertain,
Nor all an angel's eloquence explain.
Men deal with life as children with their play,
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away;
Live to no sober purpose, and contend
That their Creator had no serious end.
When God and man stand opposite in view,
Man's disappointment must of course ensue.
The just Creator condescends to write,
In beams of inextinguishable light,
His names of wisdom, goodness, pow'r, and love,
On all that blooms below, or shines above ;