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Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal,
And quit their office for their error's sake.
Blind and in love with darkness ! yet even these 885
Worthy, compared 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 wandering sheep, resolved 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 degenerate times,
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 fulfillid, the conquest of a world ! 905
He is the happy man, whose life even now Shows somewhat of that happier life to come; Who doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state Is pleased with it, and were he free to choose, * 909 Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, (fruit 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 proved them vain. 920
*“He has a heart, as Marvel expresses it, to make his destiny his choice.”-Elia, vol. ii. p. 206.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded flies, and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal’d.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemploy'd,
And censured oft as useless. Stillest * streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird 930
That flutters least is longest on the wing.t
Ask him indeed what trophies he has raised,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer—None.
His warfare is within. There unfatigued 935
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which
The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds. I
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 noiseless hours,
* “How seldom do we look through the form and circumstances of affairs into their real importance ; and how much are we led to rate them by the stir and noise with which they are attended ! .... But we might reflect that the most perfect and beneficial agency is exerted without precipitation or tumult; that all the planetary revolutions are performed in majestic order and silence, and with less impression upon the senses than the motions of a water-mill."--Rural Philosophy, by Ely Bates. † “Like virtue, thriving most where little seen." Book iii, 664.
Are often those of whom the noisy world
Excursion, p. 7. I“ He deserves the name of a great and good man, who serves God, and is a friend to mankind, and receives the most ungrateful returns from the world, and endures them with a calm and composed mind; who dares look scorn and death and infamy in the face, who can stand forth unmoved and patiently bear to be derided as a fool and an idiot, to be pointed out as a madman and an enthusiast, to be reviled, &c. He who can pass through these trials is a conqueror indeed, and what the world calls courage scarcely deserves that name when compared to this behaviour.”—Jortin's Discourses, ii. p. 125.
Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes 945
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the prayer he makes,
When, Isaac like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at eventide,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself. 950
Forgive him, then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, and idler in the best,
If author of no mischief and some good,
He seek 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 rendering 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 965
Some taste of comfort in a world of woe,
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 public 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
* “ Though wrong the mode, comply; more sense is shown
lu wearing others' follies than your own.” Young. Satire iv.
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
Can wear it even as gracefully as she.*
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceived, aware that what is base
No polish can make sterling, and that vice
990 Though well perfumed and elegantly dress’d, Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flowers, 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 vex'd with care Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approved Of God and man, and peaceful in its end. So glide my life away! † and so at last 1000 My share of duties decently fulfillid, May some disease, not tardy to perform Its destined 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 callid To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse, I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light task; but soon to please her more Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, 1010 Let fall the unfinish'd wreath, and roved for fruit;
* " Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”
Pope. Essay on Crit. ii. 338.
“And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage.” Pensoroso.
“ Thus shelter'd, free from care and strife
May I enjoy a calm through life,
Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage,
And slowly mellowing in age,
When fate extends its gathering gripe,
Quit a worn being without pain,
Perhaps to blossom soon again." Spleen.
“ Beg to lay it down,
Glad to be so dismiss'd in peace." Par. Lost, ii. 506.
Roved far and gather'd much : some harsh, 't is true,
Pick'd from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well-digested; grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth, 1015
Insipid else, and sure to be despised.
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—’t is even so !-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 fluctuation of all human things ! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart : And were I call’d to prove the assertion true, One proof should serve, a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced 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,