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Would make his fate his choice'; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one
Content indeed to fojourn while he must ,
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o’erlooks him in her busy fearch
Of objects, more illustrious in her view;
And, occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more fublimely, he o'erlooks the world..
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not her’s, for he has prov'd them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded fies; and fuch he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose pow'r is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heav'n unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveald.
Not Nothful he, though seeming unemploy'd,
And censur'd oft as useless. Stillest streains
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird That Autters least is longest on the wing. Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has rais’d, Or what achievements of immortal fame He purposes, and he shall answer—None. His warfare is within. There unfatigu’d His fervent spirit labours. There he fights, And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself, And never with’ring wreaths, compar’d with which The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds. Perhaps the self-approving haughty world, That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks Scarce deigns to notice him, or, if she see, Deems him a cypher in the works of God, Receives advantage from his noiseless hours, Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring And plenteous harvest, to the pray’r he makes, When, Isaac like, the folitary faint Walks forth to meditate at even-tide,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him, then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idier in the best,
If, author of no mischief and some good,
He seek his proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine,
Nor, though he tread the secret path of life,
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease, .
Account him an incumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits, and rend’ring none.
His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and though fmall
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing forrow and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence, in works
From which at least a grateful few derive
Some taste of comfort in a world of wo,
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his country, recompenses well
The state, beneath the shadow of whose vine
He fits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a sighted, place.
The man, whose virtues are more felt than seen,
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise;
But he may boast what few that win it can
That, if his country stand not by his skill,
At least his follies have not wrought her fall.
Polite refinement offers him in vain
Her golden tube, through which a sensual world
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well,
The neat conveyance hiding all th’offence.
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode
Because that world adopts it. 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 e’en as gracefully as she. ..
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not foon deceiv'd; aware that what is base
BOOK VI. No polish can make sterling; and that vice, Though well perfum’d and elegantly dress’d, Like an unburied carcase trick'd with flow'rs, 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 stain’d with guilt, beneficent, approv'd Of God and man, and peaceful in its end. So glide my life away! and so at last, My share of duties decently fulfilld, May some disease, not tardy to perform Its destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke, Dismiss me, weary, to a safe retreat Beneath the turf that I have often trod. It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when call'd To dress a Sofa with the flow'rs of verse, .. I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light talk; but foon, to please her more,