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Invades the sacred hour of silent rest,
* And leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.
"Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die,
With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply.
Propose your schemes, ye senatorian band, ,
Whose ways and meanst support the sinking land:
Lest ropes be wanting in the tempting spring,
To rig another convoy for the kingt.
* A single gaol, in Alfred's golden reign,
Could half the nation's criminals contain;
Fair justice, then, without constraint adord,
Held high the steady scale, but sheath'd the swords;
No spies were paid, no special juries known,
Blest age! but ah! how diff'rent from our own!
Much could I add,--but see the boat at hand,
The tide, retiring, calls me from the land:
Farewell! —When youth, and health, and fortune
THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES
Thou fly’st for refuge to the wilds of Kent;
And, tir'd, like me, with follies and with crimes,
In angry numbers warn’st succeeding times;
Then shall thy friend, nor thou refuse his aid,
Still foe to vice, forsake his Cambrian shade;
In virtue's cause, once more, exert his rage,
Thy satire point, and animate thy page.
THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES
IN IMITATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL
LET & observation, with extensive view,
Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
Then say, how hope and fear, desire and hate
O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate;
Where wav'ring man, betray'd by vent'rous pride
To tread the dreary paths, without a guide,
As treach'rous phantoms in the mist delude,
Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good;
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice;
How nations sink, by darling schemes oppress'd,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request.
Fate wings with ev'ry wish th' afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art;
With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the speaker's pow'rful breath, And restless fire precipitates on death.
"But, scarce observd, the knowing and the bold Fall in the gen’ral massacre of gold; Wide wasting pest! that rages unconfin’d, And crowds with crimes the records of mankind; For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws, For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws; Wealth heap'd on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys, The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
Let hist’ry tell where rival kings command, And dubious title shakes the madded land, When statutes glean the refuse of the sword, How much more safe the vassal than the lord; Low sculks the hind beneath the rage of power, And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Towere, Untouch'd his cottage, and his slumbers sound, Though confiscation's vultures hover roundd.
The needy traveller, serene and gay, Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away. Does envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding joy; Increase his riches, and his peace destroy; °Now fears, in dire vicissitude, invade, The rustling brake alarms, and quiv’ring shade; Nor light nor darkness bring his pain relief, One shows the plunder, and one hides the thief.
'Yet still one gen’ral crys the skies assails,
And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales:
Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care,
Th' insidious rival, and the gaping heir.
"Once more, Democritus, arise on earth,
With cheerful wisdom and instructive mirth,
See motley life in modern trappings dress’d,
And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest:
Thou, who could'st laugh where want enchain'd
Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece;
Where wealth, unlov’d, without a mourner died;
And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride;
Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
Or seen a new-made mayor's unwieldy state;
Where change of fav’rites made no change of laws,
And senates heard, before they judg'd a cause;
How would'st thou shake at Britain's modish tribe,
Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe?
Attentive truth and nature to descry,
And pierce each scene with philosophick eye;
To thee were solemn toys, or empty show,
The robes of pleasure, and the veils of woe:
All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain,
Whose joys are causeless, or whose griefs are vain.
Such was the scorn that fill'd the sage's mind, Renew'd at ev'ry glance on human kind; How just that scorn, ere yet thy voice declare, Search ev'ry state, and canvass ev'ry pray’r.
'Unnumber'd suppliants crowd preferment's gate, Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great;
Delusive fortune hears th' incessant call,
They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.
On ev'ry stage the foes of peace attend,
Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.
Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door
Pours in the morning worshipper no more;
For growing names the weekly scribbler lies,
To growing wealth the dedicator flies;
From ev'ry room descends the painted face,
That hung the bright palladium of the place;
And, smok'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,
To better features yields the frame of gold;
For now no more we trace in ev'ry line
Heroick worth, benevolence divine:
The form, distorted, justifies the fall,
And detestation rids th' indignant wall.
But will not Britain hear the last appeal,
Sign her foes' doom, or guard her fav’rites' zeal ?
Through freedom's sons no more remonstrance
Degrading nobles and controling kings;
Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats,
And ask no questions but the price of votes;
With weekly libels and septennial ale,
Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand,
Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand;
To him the church, the realm their pow'rs consign,
Through him the rays of regal bounty shine;
Turn’d by his nod the stream of honour flows,
His smile alone security bestows.