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Satire has long since done his best: and curst
For, after all, if merely to beguile,
If acrimony, slander, and abuse,
A. 'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe, To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
B. No matter we could shift when they were And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot. (not ;
PROGRESS OF ERROR.
Si quid loquar audiendum. Hor. Lib. iv. Od. 2.
SING, muse, (if such a theme, so, dark, so long,
Not all, whose eloquence the fancy fills,
Plac'd for his trial on this bustling stage, From thoughtless youth to ruminating age, Free in his will to choose or to refuse, Man may improve the crisis, or abuse ; Else, on the fatalist's unrighteous plan, Say to what bar amenable were man? With nought in charge, he could betray no trust; And, if he fell, would fall because he must ; If Love reward him, or if Vengeance strike, His recompense in both unjust alike. Divine authority within his breast Brings every thought, word, action to the test; Warns him or prompts, approves him or restrains, As Reason, or as Passion, takes the reins. Heav'n from above, and Conscience from within, Cries in his startled ear-Abstain from sin ! The world around solicits his desire, And kindles in his soul a treach'rous fire While, all his purposes and steps to guard, Peace follows virtue as its sure reward ; And Pleasure brings us surely in her train Remorse, and Sorrow, and vindictive Pain.
Man, thus endu'd with an elective voice, Must be supplied with objects of his choice, Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight, Or present, or in prospect, meet his sight; Those open on the spot their honey'd store ; These call him loudly to pursuit of more. His unexhausted mine the sordid vice Avarice shows, and virtue is the price. Her various motives his ambition raisePow'r,pomp, and splendour, and the thirst of praise : There Beauty wooes him with expanded arms; Ev'n Bacchanalian madness has its charms.
Nor these alone, whose pleasures less refin'd Might well alarm the most unguarded mind, Seek to supplant his inexperienc'd youth, Or lead him devious from the path of truth ; Hourly allurements on his passions press, Safe in themselves, but dangerous in the excess.
Hark! how it floats upon the dewy air ! O what a dying, dying close was there! 'Tis harmony from yon sequester'd bow'r, Sweet harmony, that sooths the midnight hour! Long ere the charioteer of day had run His morning course, the enchantment was begun ; And he shall gild yon mountain's height again, Ere yet the pleasing toil becomes a pain.
Is this the rugged path, the steep ascent, That Virtue points to ? Can a life thus spent Lead to the bliss she promises the wise, [skies? Detach the soul from Earth, and speed her to the Ye devotees to your ador'd employ, Enthusiasts, drunk with an unreal joy, Love makes the music of the blest above, Heav'n's harmony is universal love; And earthly sounds, though sweet and well comAnd lenient as soft opiates to the mind, [bin'd, Leave Vice and Folly unsubdu'd behind.
Grey dawn appears; the sportsman and his train Speckle the bosom of the distant plain; 'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighb'ring lairs ; Save that his scent is less acute than theirs, For persevering chase and headlong leaps, True beagle as the staunchest hound he keeps. Charg'd with the folly of his life's mad scene, He takes offence, and wonders what you mean ; The joy the danger and the toil o'erpays"Tis, exercise, and health, and length of days.