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My lord, alighting at his usual place,
The Crown, took notice of an ostler's face.
Jack knew his friend, but hoped in that disguise
He might escape the most observing eyes,
And whistling, as if unconcerned and gay,
Carried his nag, and looked another way.
Convinced at last, upon a nearer view,
Jack he knew ;
O’erwhelmed at once with wonder, grief, and joy.
He pressed him much to quit his base employ ;
His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand,
Influence and power, were all at his command :
Peers are not always generous as well-bred,
But Granby was, meant truly what he said.
Jack bowed, and was obliged-confessed 'twas strange,
That so retired he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint-three thousand pounds a year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe;
Some seeking happiness not found below;
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclined;
Some swayed by fashion, some by deep disgust;
Some self-impoverished, and because they must;
But few, that court retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of powers proportioned to the post :
Give e'en a dunce the employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires ;
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in its arduous enterprise to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His atmost faculties, severe indeed.
'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place, But not to manage leisure with a grace ; Absence of occupation is not rest, A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed. The veteran steed, excused his task at length, In kind compassion of his failing strength, And turned into the park or mead to graze, Exempt from future service all his days, There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind, Ranges at liberty, and snaft's the wind : But when his lord would quit the busy road, To taste a joy like that he had bestowed, He proves less happy than his favoured brute, A life of ease a difficult pursuit. Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seein As natural as when asleep to dream; But reveries (for human minds will act) Specious in show, impossible in fact, Those flimsy webs, that break as soon as wrought, Attain not to the dignity of thought : Nor yet the swarms, that occupy the brain, Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign; Nor such as useless conversation breeds, Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds. Whence, and what are we? to what end ordained ? What means the drama by the world sustained? Business or vain amusement, care or mirth, Divide the frail inhabitants of earth. Is daty a mere sport, or an employ? Life an intrusted talent, or a toy? Is there, as reason, conscience, scripture, say, Cause to provide for a great future day, When, earth's assigned duration at an end, Man shall be summoned and the dead attend ? The trumpet-will it sound ? the curtain rise ? And show th' august tribunal of the skies,
Where no prevarication shall avail,
Where eloquence and artifice shall fail,
The pride of arrogant distinctions fall,
And conscience and our conduct judge us all?
Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil
To learned cares or philosophic toil,
Though I revere your honourable names,
Your useful labours and important aims,
And hold the world indebted to your aid,
Enriched with the discoveries ye have made;
Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem
A mind employed on so sublime a theme,
Pushing her bold inquiry to the date
And outline of the present transient state,
And after poising her adventurous wings,
Settling at last upon eternal things,
Far more intelligent, and better taught
The strenuous use of profitable thought,
Than ye, when happiest, and enlightened most,
And highest in renown, can justly boast.
A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care,
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires,
Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch, that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands,
Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves;
Not those, in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success let modern manners show;
Nor his, who for the bane of thousands born
Built God a church, and laugh'd bis word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side thrust ;
Nor those of learned philologists, who chase
A painting syllable throngh time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of truth, th' associate of sound sense,
And such as in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment labouring in the scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use :
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Laxary gives the mind a childish cast,
And while she polishes, perverts the taste ;
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
The loud demand, from year to year the same,
Beggars invention and makes fancy lame,
Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune;
And novels (witness every month's review)
Belie their name, and offer nothing new.
The mind, relaxing into needful sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler sort,
Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style,
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile.
Friends (for I cannot stint, as some have done,
Too rigid in my view, that name to one ;
Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast
Will stand advanced a step above the rest :
Flowers by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all)-
Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplined, who, placed apart
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And, though the world may think th' ingredients odd, The love of virtue, and the fear of God! Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, A temper rustic as the life we lead, And keep the polish of the manners clean, As theirs, who bustle in the busiest scene; For solitude, however some may rave, Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave, A sepulchre, in which the living lie, Where all good qualities grow sick and die. I praise the Frenchman *, his remark was shrewdHow sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, Whom I may whisper-solitude is sweet, Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside, That appetite can ask, or wealth provide, Can save us always from a tedious day, Or shine the dulness of still life away; Divine communion, carefully enjoyed, Or sought with energy, must fill the void. Oh sacred art, to which alone life owes Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close, Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn For evils daily felt and hardly borne, Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands, And, while experience cautions us in vain, Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain. Despondence, self-deserted in her grief, Lost by abandoning her own relief, Murmuring and ungrateful discontent, That scorns afflictions mercifully meant, Those humours tart as wine upon the fret, Which idleness and weariness beget;