Page images
PDF
EPUB

Some never seem so wide of their intent,
As when returning to the theme they meant ;
As mendicants, whose business is to roam,
Make every parish but their own their home. 860
Though such continual zigzags in a book,
Such drunken reelings have an awkward look,
And I had rather creep to what is true,
Than rove and stagger with no mark in view;
Yet to consult a little seem'd no crime,

865
The freakish humour of the present time :
But now to gather up what seems dispers’d,
And touch the subject I design d at first,
May prove, though much beside the rules of art
Best for the publick, and my wisest part.

870 And first, let no man charge me, that I mean To clothe in sable ev'ry social scene, And give good company a face severe, As if they met around a father's bier ; For tell some men, that pleasure all their bent, 875 And laughter all their work, is life mispent ; Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply, Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry. To find the medium asks some share of wit, And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit.

880 But though life's valley be a vale of tears, A brighter scene beyond that vale appears, Whose glory with a light that never fades, Shoots between scatter'd rocks and op'ning shades, And while it shows the land the soul desires, 885 The language of the land she seeks inspires. Thus touch'd, the tongue receives a sacred cure Of all that was absurd, profane, impure; Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech Pursues the course that truth and nature teach ; 890 No longer labours merely to produce The pomp of sound or tinkle without use; Where'er it winds, the salutary stream, Sprightly and fresh, enriches every theme,

While all the happy man possess'd before, 806
The gift of nature or the classick store,
Is made subservient to the grand design
For which Heav'n form'd the faculty divine.
So, should an idiot, while at large he strays,
Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays, 900
With rash and awkward force the chords he shakes,
And grins with wonder at the jar he makes ;
But let the wise and well-instructed hand
Once take the shell beneath his just command,
In gentle sounds it seem'd as it complain'd 305
Of the rude injuries it late sustain'd,
Till tun'd at length to some immortal song,
It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours kis praise along.

[ocr errors]

RETIREMENT.

-studiis florens ignobilis oti.

VIRG. Georg. Lib. 4."

HACKNEY'D in business, wearied at that oar Which thousands, once fast chain'd to, quit no moro But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low, All wish, or seem to wish, they could forego; The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade, 5 Pants for the refuge of some rural shade, Where, all his long anxieties forgot Amid the charms of a sequester'd spot, Or recollected only to gild o'er, And add a smile to what was sweet before,

10 He may possess the joys he thinks he sees, Lay his old age upon the lap of ease, Improve the remnant of his wasted span, And, having liv'd a trifler, die a man. Thus Conscience pleads her cause within the breast, Though long rebell’d against, not yet suppress’d, 16 And calls a creature form'd for God alone, For Heav'n's high purposes, and not his own, Calls him away from selfish ends and aims, From what debilitates and what inflames, From cities humming with a restless crowd, Sordid as active, ignorant as loud,

20

-40

Whose highest praise is that they live in vain,
The dupes of pleasure, or the slaves of gain.
Where works of man are cluster'd close around, 25
And works of God are hardly to be found,
To regions where in spite of sin and wo,
Traces of Eden are still seen below,
Where mountain, river, forest, field, and grove,
Remind him of his Maker's power and love. 30
'Tis well if, look'd for at so late a day,
In the last scene of such a senseless play,
True wisdom will attend his feeble call,
And grace his action ere the curtain fall.
Souls that have long despis’d their heavenly birth, 35
Their wishes all impregnated with carth,
For threescore years employ'd with ceaseless care
In catching smoke and feeding upon air,
Conversant only with the ways of men,
Rarely redeem the short remaining ten.
Invet'rate habits, choke th’unfruitful heart,
Their fibres penetrate its tend'rest part,
And draining its nutritious pow'rs to feed
Their noxious growth, starve ev'ry better seed.
Happy, if full of days—but happier far,

45 If, ere we yet discern life's evening star, Sick of the service of a world that feeds Its patient drudges with dry chaff and weeds, We can escape from custom's idiot sway, To serve the Sov'reign we were born t'obey. Then sweet to muse upon his skill display'd, (Infinite skill,) in all that he has made ! To trace in nature's most minute design The signature and stamp of pow'r divine, Contrivance intricate, express'd with ease,

55 Where unassisted sight no beauty sees, The shapely limb and lubricated joint, Within the small dimensions of a point, Muscle and nerve miraculously spun, His mighty work, who speaks and it is done, 60

[ocr errors]

Th’invisible in things scarce seen reveal'd,
To whom an atom is an ample field;
To wonder at a thousand insect forms,
These hatch'd and those resuscitated worms,
New life ordain'd and brighter scenes to share, 65
Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air,
Whose shape would make them, had they bulk and

size,
More hideous foes than fancy can devise ;
With helmet heads, and dragon scales adorn’d,
The mighty myriads, now securely scorn'd,

70
Would mock the majesty of man's high birth,
Despise his bulwarks, and unpeople earth
Then with a glance of fancy to survey,
Far as the faculty can stretch away,
Ten thousand rivers pour'd at his command 75
From urns that never fail, through ev'ry land;
This like a deluge with impetnous force,
Those winding modestly a silent course;
The cloud-surmounting Alps, the fruitful vales ;
Seas, on which ev'ry nation spreads her. sails ; 80
The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light,
The crescent moon, the diadem of night;
Stars countless, each in his appointed place
Fast anchor'd in the deep abyss of space
At such a sight to catch the poet's flame,

85 And with a rapture like his own exclaim, These are thy glorious works, thou source of good, How dimly seen, low faintly understood ! Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care, This universal frame, thus wondrous fair:

90 Thy pow'r divine, and bounty beyond thought, Ador'd and prais'd in all that thou hast wrought Absorb’d in that immensity I see, I shrink abas’d, and yet aspire to thee; Instruct me, guide me to that heavenly day, 95 Thy words mo clearly than thy works display

« PreviousContinue »