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“—doceas iter, et sacra ostia pandas." —VIRGIL, En. vi.
A* what is human life—the sage replies,
With disappointment low'ring in his eyes,
A painful passage o'er a restless flood,
A vain pursuit of fugitive false good,
A scene of fancied bliss and heartfelt care,
Closing at last in darkness and despair.—
The poor, inured to drudgery and distress,
Act without aim, think little, and feel less,
And nowhere, 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 downwards, and the lowest pair succeed,
So shifting and so various is the plan,
By which Heav'n rules the mix'd affairs of man;
Wicissitude 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,
The very sense of it foregoes its use,
By repetition pall'd, by age obtuse.
Youth lost in dissipation, we deplore
Through life's sad remnant, what no sighs restore ;
Our years, a fruitless race without a prize,
Too many, yet too few to make us wise.
Thus things terrestrial wear a diff'rent hue,
As youth, or age persuades, and neither true;
So Flora's wreath through colour'd crystal seen,
The rose, the lily, appears blue or green,
But still th’ imputed tints are those alone
The medium represents, and not their own.
To rise at noon, sit slipshod and undress'd,
To read the news, or fiddle, as seems best,
'Till half the world comes rattling at his door,
To fill the dull vacuity till four,
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
Th' inquirer's aim, that remedy, is Hope,
Life is His gift, from whom whate'er life needs,
And ev'ry good and perfect gift proceeds,
Bestow'd on man, like all that we partake,
Royally, freely, for His bounty 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 eloquence explain.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all
That men have deem'd substantial since the fall,
Yet has the wondrous virtue to educe
From emptiness itself a real use,
And while she takes, as at a father's hand,
What health and sober appetite demand,
From fading good derives with chymic art
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart.
Hope, with uplifted foot set free from earth,
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth,
On steady wings sails through th' immense abyss,
Plucks amaranthine joys from bow'rs of bliss,
And crowns the soul, while yet a mourner here,
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear.
Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast
The Christian vessel, and defies the blast ;
Hope I nothing else can nourish and secure
His new-born virtues, and preserve him pure ;
Hope 1 let the wretch once conscious of the joy,
Whom now despairing agonies destroy,
Speak, for he can, and none so well as he,
What treasures centre, what delights in thee.
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land
That boasts the treasure, all at his command,
The fragrant grove, th' inestimable mine,
Were light when weigh’d against one smile of thine.
Peace be to those (such peace as earth can give)
Who live in pleasure, dead ev'n while they live,
Born capable indeed of heav'nly truth,
But down to latest age from earliest youth,
Their mind a wilderness, through want of care,
The plough of wisdom never ent'ring there.
Peace (if insensibility may claim
A right to the meek honours of her name)
To men of pedigree, their noble race
Emulous always of the nearest place
To any throne, except the throne of grace.
Let cottagers and unenlighten’d swains
Revere the laws they dream that Heav'n ordains,
Resort on Sundays to the house of pray'r,
And ask, and fancy they find blessings there;
Themselves perhaps, when weary they retreat
T'enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
T'exchange the centre of a thousand trades,
For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades,
May now and then their velvet cushions take,
And seem to pray for good example sake;
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town
Pious enough, and having need of none.
Kind souls l to teach their tenantry to prize
What they themselves without remorse despise;
Nor hope have they nor fear of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb ;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus lived and died a Jew;
And truth proposed to reas'ners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast—completely cast away. [sport,
They die—Death lends them, pleased and as in
All the grim honours of his ghastly court;
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful 'scutcheons and dim lamps between,
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they, that wore them, moved not at the sound ;
The coronet placed idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead,
And ev'n the star that glitters on the bier,
Can only say, Nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend
By useless censure whom we cannot mend;
Life without hope can close but in despair,
'Twas there we found them and must leave them there,
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
With Him, the donor of eternal life,
Because the deed, by which His love confirms
The largesa He bestows, prescribes the terms.
Compliance with His will your lot insures,
Accept it only, and the boon is yours;
And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, Do this and live.
Love is not pedler's trumpery, bought and sold,
He will give freely, or He will withhold,
His 20tul abhors a mercenary thought,
And him as deeply who abhors it not;
He stipulates indeed, but merely this,
That man will freely take an unbought bliss,
Will trust Him for a faithful genrous part,
Nor set a price upon a willing heart.
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair,
To place you where His saints His presence share,
This only can—for this plain cause, express'd
In terms as plain ; Himself has shut the rest.
But oh, the strife, the bick'ring, and debate,
The tidings of unpurchased heav'n create
The flirted fan, the bridle, and the toss,
All speakers, yet all language at a loss.
From stucco'd walls smart arguments rebound,
And beaus, adepts in ev'rything profound,
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound.
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites,
Th' explosion of the levell'd tube excites,
Where mould'ring abbey walls o'erhang the glade,
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade:
The screaming nations hov'ring in mid air,
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there,
And seem to warn him never to repeat
His bold intrusion on their dark retreat.
And yet our lot is giv'n us in a land
Where busy arts are never at a stand,