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Scarce now possess'd, so suddenly 'tis gone;
And each swift moment fled, is death advanc'd
By strides as swift: Eternity is all;
And whose eternity? Who triumphs there?
Bathing for ever in the font of bliss!
For ever basking in the Deity!
LORENZO! Who?-Thy conscience shall reply.
O give it leave to speak; 'twill speak ere long,
Thy leave unask'd: LORENZO! hear is now,
While useful its advice, its accent mild.
By the great ediet, the Divine decree,
Truth is deposited with man's last hour;
An honest hour, and faithful to her trust;
Truth, eldest daughter of the Deity;
Truth of his council, when he made the world;
Nor less, when he shall judge the worlds he made;
Though silent long, and sleeping ne'er so sound,
Smother'd with errors, and opprest with toys,
That Heav'n-commission'd hour no sooner calls,
But from her cavern in the soul's abyss,
Like him they fable under Ætna whelm'd,
The goddess bursts in thunder, and in flame;
Loudly convinces, and severely pains.
Dark Demons I discharge, and Hydra-stings;
The keen vibration of bright truth-is Hell:
Just definition! though by schools untaught.
Ye deaf to truth! peruse this parson'd page,
And trust, for once, a prophet and a priest;
"Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.”
To the Right Honourable the Earl of Litchfield.
LORENZO ! to recriminate is just.
Fondness of fame is avarice of air.
I grant the man is vain who writes for praise.
Praise no man e'er deserv'd, who sought no more.
As just thy second charge. I grant the muse
Has often blush'd at her degenʼrate sons,
Retain❜d by sense to plead her filthy cause;
To raise the low, to magnify the mean,
And subtilize the gross into refin❜d:
As if to magic numbers' pow'rful charm
'Twas giv'n, to make a civit of their song
Obscene, and sweeten ordure to perfume.
Wit, a true Pagan, deifies the brute,
And lifts our swine-enjoyments from the mire.
The fact notorious, nor obscure the cause.
We wear the chains of pleasure, and of pride:
These share the man, and these distract him too;
Draw diff'rent ways, and clash in their commands.
Pride, like an Eagle, builds among the stars;
But pleasure, Lark-like, nests upon the ground.
Joys shar'd by brute-creation, pride resents;
Pleasure embraces: Man would both enjoy,
And both at once: A point how hard to gain!
But what can't wit, when stung by strong desire?
Wit dares attempt this arduous enterprize.
Since joys of sense can't rise to Reason's taste;
In subtle sophistry's laborious forge.
Wit hammers out a reason new, that stoops
To sordid scenes, and meets them with applause.
Wit calls the graces the chaste zone to loose;
Nor less than a plump god to fill the bowl:
A thousand phantoms, and a thousand spells,
A thousand opiates scatters, to delude,
To fascinate, inebriate, lay asleep,
And the fool'd mind delightfully confound.
Thus that which shock'd the judgment, shocks no
That which gave pride offence, no more offends.
Pleasure and pride, by nature, mortal foes,
At war eternal, which in man shall reign,
By wit's address, patch up a fatal peace,
And, hand in hand, lead on the rank debauch,
From rank, refin'd to delicate and gay.
Art, cursed art! wipes off th' indebted blush
From Nature's cheek, and bronzes ev'ry shame.
Man smiles in ruin, glories in his guilt,
And infamy stands candidate for praise.
All writ by man in favour of the soul,
These sensual Ethics far, in bulk, transcend.
The flow'rs of eloquence, profusely pour'd
O'er spotted vice, fill half the letter'd world.
Can pow'rs of genius exorcise their page,
And consecrate enormities with song?
But let not these inexpiable strains
Condemn the muse that knows her dignity;
Nor meanly stops at time, but holds the world
As 'tis, in nature's ample field, a point,
A point in her esteem; from whence to start,
And run the round of universal space,
To visit being universal there,
And being's source, that utmost flight of mind!
Yet, spite of this so vast circumference,
Well knows, but what is moral, nought is great.
Sing Syrens only? Do not angels sing?-
There is in Poesy a decent pride,"
Which well becomes her when she speaks to Prose,
Her younger sister; haply, not more wise.
Think'st thou, LORENZO! to find pastimes here? No guilty passion blown into a flame, No foible flatter'd, dignity disgrac❜d, No fairy field of fiction, all on flow'r, No rainbow colours, here, or silken tale: But solemn counsels, images of awe, Truths, which eternity lets fall on man With double weight, through these revolving spheres, This death-deep silence, and incumbent shade; Thoughts, such as shall re-visit your last hour; Visit uncall'd, and live when life expires; And thy dark pencil, midnight! darker still In melancholy dipt, embrowns the whole.
Yet this, ev'n this, my laughter-loving friends! LORENZO! and thy brothers of the smile!