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No present health can health ensure
Sad waste! for which no after-thrift atones, For yet an hour to come;
The grave admits no cure for guilt or sin; No medicine, though it oft can cure,
Dew-drops may deck the turf, that hides the bones, Can always balk the tomb.
But tears of godly grief, ne'er flow within. And O! that humble as my lot,
Learn then, ye living! by the mouths be taught And scorned as in my strain,
Of all these sepulchres, instructers true, These truths, though known, too much forgot, That, soon or late, death also is your lot. I may not teach in vain.
And the next opening grave may yawn for you. So prays your clerk with all his heart,
And ere he quits the pen,
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.
FOR THE YEAR 1789.
There calm at length he breathed his soul away.
“O most delightful hour by man
Experienced here below,
The hour that terminates his span,
His folly, and his wo!
" Worlds should not bribe me back to tread is a mere feather on a torrent's tide.
Again life's dreary waste, Could I, from heaven inspired, as sure presage
To see again my days o'erspread To whom the rising year shall prove his last,
With all the gloomy past. As I can number in my punctual page,
“My home henceforth is in the skies, And item down the victims of the past;
Earth, seas, and sun adieu!
All heaven unfolded to mine eyes, How each would trembling wait the mournful
I have no sight for you.” sheet, On which the press might stamp him next to die;
So spake Aspasio, firm possessed And, reading here his sentence, how replete
Of faith's supporting rod, With anxious meaning, heavenward turn his
Then breathed his soul into its rest,
The bosom of his God. Time then would seem more precious than the
He was a man among the few joys
Sincere on virtue's side;
And all his strength from Scripture drew
To hourly use applied. Then doubtless many a trider on the brink
That rule he prized, by that he feared, Of this world's hazardous and headlong shore,
He hated, hoped, and loved; Forced to a pause, would feel it good to think,
Nor ever frowned, or sad appeared,
Bur when his heart had roved.
For he was frail as thou or I,
And evil felt within: The rest might then seem privileged to play;
But, when he felt it, heaved a sigh, But, naming none, the Voice now speaks to all.
And loathed the thought of sin. Observe the dappled foresters, how light
Such lived Aspasio; and at last
Called up from earth to heaven,
By gales of blessing driven.
Had we their wisdom, should we, often warned,
His joys be mine, each reader cries,
When my last hour arrives:
Such only be your lives.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.
FOR THE YEAR 1790.
Despise not my good counsel.
Where the prisoned lark is hung, Heedless of his loudest lay,
Hardly knows that he has sung. Where the watchman in his round
Nightly lifts his voice on high, None, accustomed to the sound,
Wakes the sooner for his cry.
Yearly in my song proclaim
And the foe's unerring aim.
Publishing to all aloud-
And your only suit, a shroud.
Oft repeated in your ears, Seems to sound too much in vain,
Wins no notice, wakes no fears. Can a truth, by all confessed
Of such magnitude and weight Grow, by being oft impressed,
Trivial as a parrot's prate? Pleasure's call attention wins,
Hear it often as we may; New as ever seem our sins,
Though committed every day. Death and Judgment, Heaven and Hell
These alone, so often heard, No more move us than the bell,
When some stranger is interred. O then, ere the turf or tomb
Cover us from every eye, Spirit of instruction come,
Make us learn, that we must die.
Though 'tis his privilege to die,
Would he improve the boon.
His blest concerns aright,
To ages, if he might.
To ages, where he goes
And hopeless of repose.
Enamoured of its harm!
And still has power to charm.
Why deem we death a foe?
And covet longer wo?
Her tale of guilt renews:
And dread of death ensues.
Man mourns his fleeting breath: All evils then seem light, compared
With the approach of Death. 'Tis judgment shakes hím; there's the fear,
That prompts the wish to stay;
And must despair to pay.
His death your peace ensures;
And calm descend to yours.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.
FOR THE YEAR 1793. De sacris autem hæc sit una sententia, ut conserventur,
Cic. de Leg. But let us all concur in this one sentiment, that things sa. cred be inviolate.
He lives, who lives to God alone,
And all are dead beside;
Whence life can be supplied.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.
FOR THE YEAR 1792. Felir, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, Alque melus omnes el inerorabile fatum Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis arari !
Virg. Happy the mortal, who has traced effects To their first cause, cast fear beneath his feet, And Death and roaring Hell's voracious fires! THANKLESS for favours from on high,
Man thinks he fades too soon;
To live to God is to requite
His love as best we may; To make his precepts our delight,
His promises our stay.
But life, within a narrow ring
Of giddy joys comprised,
Is falsely named, and no such thing,
But rather death disguised.
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who nursed with tender care, And to domestic bounds confined,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.
Can life in them deserve the name,
Who only live to prove For what poor toys they can disclaim
An endless life above?
Who, much diseased, yet nothing feel,
Much menaced, nothing dread; Have wounds, which only God can heal,
Yet never ask his aid ?
Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance every night, He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite. His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk and oats, and straw; Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.
Who deem his house a useless place,
Faith, want of common sense ;
A hypocrite's pretence ?
Which God asserts his own,
And worship chance alone?
On word and deed, imply
With life that can not die:
On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
Or pippin's russet peel,
Sliced carrot pleased him well.
Whereon he loved to bound, To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.
For then he lost his fear,
Or when a storm drew near.
He thus saw steal away,
And every night at play.
For he would oft beguile
And force me to a smile.
Such want it, and that want, uncured
Till man resigns his breath, Speaks him a criminal, assured
Of everlasting death.
Sad period to a pleasant course!
Yet so will God repay Sabbaths profaned without remorse,
And mercy cast away.
FOR THE TOMB OF MR. HAMILTON.
Pause here, and think; a monitory rhyme
Consult life's silent clock, thy bounding vein;
But now beneath his walnut shade
He finds his long last home, And waits, in snug concealment laid,
Till gentler Puss shall come. He, still more aged, feels the shocks,
From which no care can save, And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.
Hic etiam jacet, Qui totum novennium vixit,
Puss. Siste paulisper, Qui præteriturus es, Et tecum sic reputaHunc neque canis venaticus, Nec plumbum missile,
Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow, Whose feet ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo'.
Let no low thought suggest the prayer,
Oh! grant, kind heaven, to me,
With lustre-beaming eye,
(Her rosy chorus) fly.
With torches ever bright,
With Pity's watery sight.
In youth immortal warm,
Give life her every charm.
And lend celestial fire,
The muses sweep the lyre.
To sufferings not my own,
Where'er is heard a groan.
Her natural ally,
Prepare it for the sky."
And you, fond maid, approve;
Whate'er you wish or love:
Lead on the various year,
Extend a larger sphere;
Your golden moments bless, With all a tender heart can feel,
Or lively fancy guess.
As if the noblest of the feathered kind
As if the consecrated hours were meant
Swift, as the lightning-glance, the arrow flew.
Now farewell oaths, and blasphemies, and lies! He quits the sinner's for the martyr's prize. That holy day which washed with many a tear, Gilded with hope, yet shaded too by fear. The next, his swarthy brethren of the mine Learned, by his altered speech—the change divine Laughed when they should have wept, and swore
the day Was nigh, when he would swear as fast as they.
No, (said the penitent,) such words shall share This breath no more ; devoted now to prayer. O! if thou see'st (thine eye the future sees) That I shall yet again blaspheme, like these; Now strike me to the ground, on which I kneel, Ere yet this heart relapses into steel; Now take me to that Heaven I once defied, Thy presence, thy embrace!"—He spoke and died.
TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON,
ON HIS RETURN FROM RAMSGATE.
FOUNDED ON A FACT WHICH HAPPENED IN JANUARY,
1779. WHERE Humber pours his rich commercial stream, There dwelt a wretch, who breathed but to blas
pheme. In subterraneous caves his life he led, Black as the mine in which he wrought for bread. When on a day, emerging from the deep, A sabbath-day, (such sabbaths thousands keep!) The wages of his weekly toil he bore To buy a cock-whose blood might win him more;'
That ocean you have late surveyed,
Those rocks I too have seen,
You tranquil and serene.
Saw stretched before your view,
No longer such to you.
Upon the dangerous coast,
Of all my treasure lost.
And found the peaceful shore;
Come home to port no more.