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Blind, and in love with darkness! yet ev'n these
Worthy, compar'd 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
And what they will. All pastors are alike
To wand'ring sheep, resolv'd 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
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 degen’rate times,
Exhibit ev'ry 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 fulfill'd, the conquest of a world!
He is the happy man, whose life e'en now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come;
Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state,
Is pleas'd' with it, and, were he free to choose,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
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
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 prov'd them vain;
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded fies; and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss, (Earth
Whose pow'r is such, that whom she lifts from
She makes familiar with a Heav'n unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal’d.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemploy'd,
And censur'd oft as useless Stillest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That flutters least, is longest on the wing.
Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has rais'd,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer - None.
His warfare is within. There, unfatigu'd,
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-with’ring wreaths, compar'd with which
The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds.
Perhaps the self-approving haughty World,
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,
Of what she little dreams. Perhaps she owes
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the pray'r he makes,
When, Isaac-like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at even-tide,
And think on her, who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an 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.
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 rend'ring none.
His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and though small
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
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,
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.
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode,
Because that World adopts it. If it bear
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 e’en as gracefully as she.
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He, by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceiv'd; aware, that what is base
No polish can make sterling; and that vice,
Though well perfum'd and elegantly dress’d,
Like an unburied carcase trick'd with flow'rs,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance, than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song ; not vex'd with care
Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approv'd
Of God and man, and peaceful in it's end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfill’d,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
It's destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf, that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me then, that once when callid
To dress a Sofa with the flow'rs of verse,
I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon, to please her more,
Whom flow’rs alone I knew would little please,
Let fall th’ unfinish'd wreath, and rov'd for fruit;
Rov'd far, and gather'd much: some harsh, 't is true,
Pick'd from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well-disgested; grateful some
To palates, that can taste immortal truth;
Insipid else, and sure to be despis’d.
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
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,
- prosper ev'n mine.
Κεφαλαιον δη παιδειας ορθη τροφη.-Plato.
Αρχη πολιτειας απασης νέων τροφα.-Diog. Laert.
It is not from his form, in which we trace
Strength join’d with beauty, dignity with grace,
That man, the master of this globe, derives
His right of empire over all that lives.
That form, indeed, th' associate of a mind
Vast in it's powers, ethereal in it's kind,
That form, the labour of Almighty skill,
Fram'd for the service of a free-born will,