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(Awful alternative! believ'd, belov'd,
Thy glory, and thy shame if unimprov’d)
Are never long vouchsaf'd, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophic pride!
And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Error, and darkness occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot
Not quickly found, if negligently sought,
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small,
Endur'st the brunt, and dar'st defy them all :
And wilt thou join to this bold enterprise
A bolder still, a contest with the skies?
Remember, if He guard thee and secure,
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 couldst laugh away the fear of harm,
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 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, And will not punish, in one mingled crowd, Them without light, and thee without a cloud.
Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged beech, Still murm’ring with the solemn truths I teach; And while at intervals a cold blast sings 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 ;
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 fuck so scatter'd and so wont to roam,
Then place it once again between my knees;
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 waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
doceas iter, et sacra ostia 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 food,
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 drudgory 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.
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,
By which Heav'n rules the mix'd affairs of man;
Vicissitude wheels round the motley crowd,
The rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud;
Bus'ness is labour, and man's weakness such,
Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much,
Is such a life, so tediously the same,
So void of all utility or aim,
That poor JONQUIL, with almost ev'ry breatii,
Sighs for his exit, vulgarly call'd death:
For he, with all his follies, has a mind
Not yet 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.
Oh 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 academic 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
The' 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 fragrance 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 cloquence 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 im 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 lave;
On all that blooms below, or sbines above ;
To catch the wand'ring notice of mankind,
And teach the world, if not perversely blind,
His gracious attributes, and prove the share
His offspring hold in his paternal care.
If, led from earthly things to things divine,
His creature thwart not his august design,
Then praise is heard instead of reas’ning pride,
And captious cavil and complaint subside.
Nature, employ'd in her allotted place,
Is hand-maid to the purposes of Grace ;
By good vouchsaf'd makes known superior goor,
And bliss not seen by blessings understood ;
That bliss, reveal'd in Scripture, with a glow
Bright as the covenant-insuring bow,
Fires all his feelings with a noble scorn
Of sensual evil, and thus Hope is born.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all,
That men have deem'd substantial since the fall,