« PreviousContinue »
The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands,
That hides divinity from mortal eyes;
And all the mysteries to faith propos'd,
Insulted and traduc'd are cast aside,
As useless, to the moles and to the bats.
They now are deem'd the faithful, and are praisd,
Who, constant only in rejecting Thee,
Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal,
And quit their office for their errour's sake.
Blind and in love with darkness ! yet e'en these 885
Worthy, compar'd with sycophants, who knee
Thy name adoring, and then preach thee man;
So fares thy church. But how thy church may fare
The world takes little thought. Who will may preach,
And what they will. All pastors are alike 890
To wand'ring sheep, resolv'd to follow none.
Two gods divide them all-Pleasure and Gain ;
For these they live, they sacrifice to these,
And in their service wage perpetual war
894 With Conscience and with Thee. Lust in their hearts, And mischief in their hands, they roam the earth To prey upon each other; stubborn, fierce, High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace. Thy prophets speak of such; and noting down The features of the last degen’rate times,
900 Exhibit every lineament of these. Come, then, and, added to thy many crowns, Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest, Due to thy last and most effectual work, Thy word fulfill'd, the conquest of a world! 905
He is the happy man, whose life e'en now Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ; Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state, Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose, Would make his fate his choice ; whom peace, the fruit Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, 911 Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o'erlooks him in her busy search 915
Of objects more illustrious in her view ;
And occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the World.
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not.hers, for he has prov'd them vain. 920
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded Alies; and such he deemg
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose pow'r is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a Heav'n unseen, 926
And shows liim glories yet to be reveal'd.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed,
And censur'd oft as useless. Stillest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That flutters least is longest on the wing.
Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has rais'd,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer-None.
His warfare is within. There, unfatigud, 935
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-with’ring wreaths, compar'd with which,
The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds.
Perhaps the self-approving, haughty world, 940
That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks
Scarce deigns to notice him, or if she see,
Deems him a cipher in the works of God,
Receives advantage from his noisėless hours,
Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes 945
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the pray'r he makes,
When, Isaac like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at eventide,
And think on hor who thinks not for herself. 950
Forgive him, then, thon bustlor in concorns
Of little worth, an idier in the best,
If, author of no mischief and some good,
He seeks his proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine. 955
Nor, though he tread the secret path of life,
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,
Account him an encumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits, and rend'ring none.
His sphere, though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example ; and though small 961
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing sorrow, and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence in works
From which at least a grateful few derive 966
Some taste of comfort in a world of wo;
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his country, recompenses well
The state beneath the shadow of whose vine
He sits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place.
The man, whose virtues are more felt than seen,
Must drop indeed the hope of publick praise ;
But he may boast, what few that win it can,
That if his country stand not by his skill, 975
At least his follies have not wrought her fall.
Polite Refinement offers him in vain
Her golden tube, through which a sensual World
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well,
The neat conveyance hiding all the offence. 980
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode,
Because that World adopts it. If it bear
The stamp and clear impression of good sense,
And be not costly more than of true worth,
He puts it on, and for decorum sake
985 Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she. She judges of refinement by the eye ; He, by the test of conscience, and a heart Not soon deceiv'd; aware, that what is base
No polish can make sterling; and that vice, 990
Though well perfum'd and elegantly dressid,
Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flow'rs,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away, 995
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song; not ver'd with care
Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approv'd
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfillid,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
1005 It shall not grieve me then, that once, when call'a To dress a Sofa with the flow'rs of verse, I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light Task; but soon, to please her more, Whoṁ flowers alone I knew would little please, 1010 Let fall th' unfinish'd wreath, and roy'd for fruit; Rov'd far, and gather'd much ; some harsh, 'tis true, Pick'd from the thorns and briars of reproof, But wholesome, well digested; grateful some To palates that can taste immortal truth; 1015 Insipid else, and sure to be despis'd. But all is in His hand whose praise I seek, In vain the poet sings, and the World hears, If he regard not, though divine the theme. 'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
1020 And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre, To charm His ear whose eye is on the heart, Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain, Whose approbation-prosper even mine.
EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
DEAR JOSEPH-five and twenty years ago Alas, how time escapes ! 'tis even som With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour--and now we never meet! As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings Strange fluetuation of all human things ! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part But distance only cannot change the heart; And, where I call'd to prove th' assertion true, One proof should serve-a reference to you.
Whence comes it, then, that in the vane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though num'rous once, reduc'd to few or none ? Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch ? No; gold they seem'd, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overaw'd Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. Go, fellow,-whither ?-turning short about Nay-Stay at home-you're always going out. "Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.For what?--An please you, sir, to see a friend.. A friend ! Horatio cricd, and seem'd to startYea, marry shalt thou, and with all my heart