Page images



Far from those green retreats, that peaceful shade, Those fields through which my early childhood

strayed, Far from the vale beneath whose poplars glide The smooth meanders of still Wever's tide, How pants my soul 'midst Revelry's rude noise, Midst Dissipation's round, for gentler joys, For holy calms that dwell in silent dales, Nursed by soft sounds, and fed by murmuring gales!

And thou, Lorenzo, candid and sincere, Thou whom of Heaven's dear boons I hold most

dear, From whose prized friendship and sweet converse

flow The purest joys my grateful heart can know,

Dost thou not ask, through what gay pleasures bend
The wandering footsteps of thy absent friend?
If still this heart, to Nature's impulse true,
Retains the taste of those soft joys it knew
When scenes of peace and gentleness impressed
A kindred feeling on my tranquil breast ?

Ah me, my friend ! how vain the wish to find
Joy in the painful study of mankind !
Once, lured by flattering hopes, I fondly deemed
The book of man with crowded beauties teemed ;
Then too the wild enthusiast, Fancy, drew
Scenes bright and fair, too lovely to be true ;
For Fraud, and Pride, and Avarice, and Rage,
And Lust, and Jealousy, defile the page ;
Stretch their long trains, and scarce leave vacant

For one short trait of Virtue or of Grace.
Already sickening o'er the loathsome scene
Where Vice and Folly all their powers convene,
I sigh for some retreat, some secret cell,
Whence I may bid the stormy world farewell,
Bless the kind heaven that bears me to the shore,
And swear to tempt the dangerous waves no more.
How sweet, my friend, how pleasant were those

hours We shared together in our native bowers,

When, wandering with light feet the woods among,
We first essayed our imitative song,
Formed plans of future happiness and joy,
And fondly deemed life's gold had no alloy.
Then all was fair ; our inexperienced eyes
Knew not to pierce of craft the close disguise ;
Bright shone the world with beauties not its own,
And man was fair, for man was then unknown.
Oh dear Experience, thou whom man can gain
Only by bosom-sorrow, tears, and pain,
Already, Power unerring, has thy sway
Shown to my early years how idly gay,
How empty the romantic dreams of youth,
And how they fade before the touch of Truth.

Oh ye mistaken! whose too partial sight Views man encompassed but by virtue's light, Who, nursed 'mid groves, and shades, and mur

muring streams, As yet have breathed where nought but beauty

Who think, because his paths you never trod,
Man beauteous as the other works of God!
Like you I hoped, how vain that hope! to find
Goodness unmixed and virtue in mankind,
Nursed the good-natured folly in my breast,
Nor dreamed I nursed a foe to future rest.

Short was my sojourn in this busy world
Ere from these high-flown hopes my heart was

hurled ; Truth rent the vail, dispelled the circling shade, And man in all his horrors stood displayed.

Though Pride and Power, vain-glorious and elate, With vaunting tongue their fancied joys relate, Derive from wealth and show a gaudy blaze, And dazzle foolish eyes with gold's false rays, Yet deem those joys but feigned and insincere ; Where shall joy come, if virtue is not there? The humble swain that from the stubborn soil Earns his hard fare by sweat and ceaseless toil, If Virtue's sacred fire within his breast Burns clear and bright, lives then more fully blest Than he whose heart, to Virtue's charms unknown, Builds ail its hopes of bliss on Power alone. But now examine we with nearer eyes Those joys that Pride and Power so highly prize ; Then let us ask how far their taste excels The placid pleasure that with Virtue dwells.

Thee, CLODIUS, to the public bar I call, By thee the cause I plead shall stand or fail : Then come thou forth to public view displayed, Come forth in colours all thine own arrayed ;

« PreviousContinue »