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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,
Duc to thy last and most effectual work,
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world.
He is the happy man, whose life ev'n now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come;
Who, doomed to an obscure bat tranquil state,
Is pleased with it, and, were he free to choose,
Would make his fate bis choice ; whom peace, the fruit
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 her's, for he has proved them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Parsuing gilded flies; and such be 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 revealed.
Not slotbful be, though seeming unemployed,
And censured 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 raised,
Or what acbievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer-None.
His warfare is within. There unfatigued
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.
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 God,
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours,
Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous barvest, to the prayer 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 bastler 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 binder, 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 rendering 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,
Mast drop indeed the hope of public praise ;
But he may boast what few that win it can,
That if his country stand not by bis 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 impunity, 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 deceived ; aware that what is base
No polish can make sterling ; and that vice,
Though well perfumed and elegantly dressed,
Like an unburied carcass tricked with flowers,
Is but a garnished 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
Renowned in ancient song : not vexed with care,
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfilled,
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.
It shall not grieve me then, that once, when called
EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. 151 To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse, I played awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light task; but soon, to please her more, Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, Let fall the unfinished wreath, and roved for fruit; Roved far, and gathered much: some harsh, 'tis true, Picked from the thorns and briars of reproof, But wholesome, well-digested; grateful some To palates, that can taste immortal truth ; 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 And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre, To charm bis 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 bow time escapes ! 'tis even som
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 :
132 EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. And, were I called 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 occurred to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we bad won,
Though numerous once, reduced to few or none ?
Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch?
No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge,
Dreading a negative, and overawed
Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.
Go, fellow !-whither?-turning short about-
Nay. Stay at home-you are always going out.
'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end-
For what?-An please you, sir, to see a friend. -
A friend ! Horatio cried, and seemed to start-
Yea marry shalt thou, and with all heart.
And fetch my cloak;
for though the night be raw I'll see him too—the first I ever saw.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child ;
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made ;
Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun),
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done,
Once on a time an emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,