Page images

Hope, like a cordial, innocent, tho' ftrong,
Man's heart, at once, infpirits and ferenes;
Nor makes him pay his wifdom for his joys;
'Tis all our prefent ftate can fafely bear,
Health to the frame! and vigour to the mind!
And to the modeft eye chaftis'd delight!
Like the fair fummer-evening, mild, and fweet
'Tis man's full cup; his paradife below!


$268. The Love of Diftinction. AMBITION! pleafure! let us talk of these :

$266. NIGHT VIII. Worldly Pursuits.
N life's gay ftage, one inch above the grave,
The proud run up and down in queft of eyes:
The fenfual, in purfuit of fomething worfe;
The grave, of gold; the politic, of pow'r;
And all, of other butterflies, as vain.
As eddies draw things frivolous, and light,
How is man's heart by vanity drawn in;
On the fwift circle of returning toys,
Whirl'd, ftraw-like, round and round, and then Unbounded profpect, and immortal kin,

Doft grafp at greatnefs? firft, know what it is;
Think't thou thy greatnefs in diftinction lies?
Not in the feather, wave it e'er fo high,
Is glory lodg'd: 'tis lodg'd in the reverfe;
In that which joins, in that which equals all,
The monarch, and his flave :-" A deathlefs foul,

A father God, and brothers in the skies!"

ingulph'd, Where delufion darkens to despair!


They ftill are men; and when is man fecure?
As fatal time as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their ftrength; their numberless

In ruin end and now their proud fuccefs
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world just made their own,
Their neft fo deeply down'd, and built fo high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.

Self-flatter'd, unexperienc'd, high in hope,
When young,
with fanguine cheer, and ftreamers
We cut our cable, launch into the world, [gay,
And fondly dream each wind and ftar our friend;
All in fome darling enterprife embark'd:
But where is he can fathom its event?
Amid a multitude of artlefs hands,
Ruin's fure perquifite her lawful prize!
Some steer aright; but the black blaft blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of

Full against wind, and tide, fome win their way;
And when ftrong effort has deferv'd the port,
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis loft!
Tirey ftrike; and, while they triumph, they


§ 267. Human Life compared to the Ocean.

Are quite cutaneous, foreign to the man: [creep,

OCEAN! thou dreadful and tumultuous home When thro'death's ftreights earth's fubtil ferpents

Of dangers, at eternal war with man!
Death's capital! where moft he domineers,
With all his chofen terrors frowning round,
Tho' lately feafted high at Albion's coft,
Wide op'ning, and loud roaring ftill for more!
Too farthful mirror! how doft thou reflect
The melancholy face of human life!
The ftrong refemblance tempts me farther still:
And, haply, Britain may be deeper struck
By moral truth, in fuch a mirror feen,
Which nature holds for ever at her eye.

Which wriggle into wealth, or climb renown,
They leave their party-colour'd robe behind,
All that now glitters, while they rear aloft
Their brazen crefts, and hifs at us below.
How mean that fnuff of glory fortune lights,
And death puts out! doft thou demand a test,
A teft at ofte infallible and fhort,
Of real greatnefs? that man greatly lives,
Whate'er his fate or fame, who greatly dies:
High-flufh'd with hope, where heroes fhall


In ftrefs of weather, moft: fome fink outright;
O'er them and o'er their names the billows clofe;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born:
Others a fhort memorial leave behind;
Like a flag floating, when the bark 's ingulph'd,
It floats a moment, and is feen no more:
One Cæfar lives, a thoufand are forgot.
How few beneath aufpicious planets born,
With fwelling fails make good the promis'd port,
With all their wishes freighted! Yet even thefe,
Freighted with all their wishes, foon complain:

We wifely ftrip the fteed we mean to buy; Judge we, in their caparifons, of men?

It nought avails thee, where, but what thou art;
All the diftinctions of this little life

$269. Pleafure.

THOUGH fomewhat difconcerted, fready ftill
To the world's caufe, with half a face of joy,
Lorenzo cries, "Be, then, ambition caft;
Ambition's dearer far ftands unimpeach'd,
Gay pleasure proud ambition is her flave:
Who can refift her charms?"-Or, fhould?
Lorenzo !

What mortal shall refift, where angels yield?
Picafure 's the miftrefs of ethereal pow'rs;
Pleafure's the mistress of the world below:
How would all stagnate, but for pleasure's ray!
What is the pulfe of this fo bufy world?
The love of pleafure: that, thro' ev'ry vein,
Throws motion, warmth; and fhuts out death

from life.

Tho' various are the tempers of mankind,
Pleasure's gay family holds all in chains.
Some most affect the black; and fome the fair:
Whate'er the motive, pleasure is the mark :
For her the black affaffin draws his fword;
For her, dark statefmen trim their midnight-lamp,
To which no fingle facrifice may fall;
The Stoic proud, for pleasure, pleafure fcorn'd;
For her, affliction's daughters grief indulge,

[blocks in formation]

270. Rife of Pleasure. FIRST, pleafure's birth, rife, strength, and grandeur fee.

Brought forth by witdom, nurs'd by discipline,
By patience taught, by perfeverance crown'd,
She rears her head majeftic; round her throne,
Erected in the bofom of the juft,
Each virtue, lifted, forms her manly guard :
For what are virtues? (formidable name!)
What, but the fountain, or defence, of joy?
Great legiflator! fcarce fo great as kind!
If men are rational, and love delight,
Thy gracious law but flatters human choice:
In the tranfgreffion lies the penalty;
And they the most indulge, who most obey.

A Deity ador'd, is joy advanc'd;
A Deity belov'd, is joy matur'd.
Each branch of piety delight infpires:
Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next,
O'er death's dark gulph, and all its horror hides;
Praife, the fweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it fweeter ftill;
Pray'r ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory, on the confecrated hour
Of man, in audience with the Deity.
Who worships the great God, that instant joins
The firft in heav'n, and fets his foot on hell.

§ 271. The End of Pleafire.
OF pleasure, next, the final cause explore;
Its mighty purpofe, its important end.
Not to turn human brutal, but to build
Divine on human, pleasure came from heav'n :
In aid to reafon was the goddess fent,
To call up all its ftrength by fuch a charm.
Pleasure firft fuccours virtue; in return,
Virtue gives pleasure an eternal reign.
What, but the pleasure of food, friendship, faith,
Supports life natural, civil, and divine?
It ferves ourfelves, our fpecies, and our God;
Glide then for ever, pleaiure's facred ftream!
Through Eden as Euphrates ran, it runs,
And fosters ev'ry growth of happy life;
Makes a new Eden where it flows.


§ 273. Refources of a Dejected Mind. RT thou dejected is thy mind o'ercaft? Thy gloom to chafe, go, fix fome weighty truth; Chain down fome paffion; do fome gen'rous good; Teach ignorance to fee; or grief to fmile; Correct thy friend; befriend thy greatest foe; Or, with warm heart, and confidence divine, Spring up, and lay strong hold on him who made thee

Thy gloom is fcatter'd, sprightly spirits flow;
Tho' wither'd is thy vine, and harp unftrung.

Doft call the bowl, the viol, and the dance,
Loud mirth, mad laughter? wretched comforters
Physicians! more than half of thy disease.
Laughter, tho' never cenfur'd yet as fin,
Is half-immoral. Is it much indulg'd'
By venting fpleen, or diffipating thought,
It fhews a fcorner, or it makes a fool;
And fins, as hurting others, or ourselves.
The houfe of laughter makes a house of woe:
What caufe for triumph, where fuch ills abound
What for dejection, where prefides a pow'r,
Who call'd us into being to be blefs'd?
So grieve, as confcious grief may rife to joy 3
So joy, as confcious joy to grief may fall:
Moft true, a wife man never will be fad ;
But neither will fonorous, bubbling mirth
A fhallow ftream of happiness betray;
Too happy to be fportive, he 's ferene.

Retire, and read thy bible, to be gay.
There truths abound of fov'reign aid to peace:
Ah! do not prize them lefs, because infpir'd;
If not infpir'd, that pregnant page had flood,
Time's treasure! and the wonder of the wife !

But thefe, thou think it, are gloomy paths to

True joy in funshine ne'er was found at first :
They, firft, themfelves offend, who greatly pleafe,
And travel only gives us found repofe.
Heaven fells all pleafure; effort is the price;
The joys of conqueft are the joys of man;
And glory the victorious laurel fpreads
O'er pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid stream.

§ 272. Virtue and Piety.

S virtue, then, and piety the fame?"
No:-piety is more ; 'tis virtue's fource;
Mother of ev'ry worth, as that of joy.
With piety begins all good on earth;
Confcience, her firft law broken, wounded lies;
Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good,
A feign'd affection bounds her utmost power:
Some we can't love, but for the Almighty's fake;
A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man.
On piety, humanity is built;
And, on humanity much happinefs;
And vet ftill more on piety itfelf,
A Deity believ'd, is joy begun;

§ 274. A Man of Pleasure is a Man of Pains.
HERE is a time, when toil must be preferr'd,
Or joy, by miftim'd fondness, is undone.
A man of pleafure is a man of pains,
Thou wilt not take the trouble to be blefs'd.


Falfe joys, indeed, are born from want of thought;
From thought's full bent, and energy, the true;
And that demands a mind in equal poife,
Remote froin gloomy grief, and glaring joy.
Much joy not only fpeaks fmall happinefs,
But happiness that fhortly muft expire:
Can joy, unbottom'd in reflection, stand?
And in a tempeft can reflection live?
Can joy like thine fecure itself an hour?
Can joy like thine meet accident unfhock'd,
Or ope the door to honeft poverty?
Or talk with threat'ning death, and not turn pale?
In fuch a world, and fuch a nature, thefe
Are necdful fundamentals of delight:
Thefe fundamentals give delight indeed;
Delight, pure, delicate, and durable;
Delight, unfhaken, mafculine, divine;
A conftant, and a found, but ferious joy.
Is joy the daughter of severity ?

It is: Yet far my doctrine from fevere:


Rejoice for ever;" it becomes a man; Exalts, and fets him nearer to the gods;


Rejoice for ever," Nature cries, "Rejoice;"
And drinks to man, in her nectareous cup,
Mix'd up of delicates for ev'ry sense;
To the great Founder of the bounteons feast
Drinks glory, gratitude, eternal praise;
And he that will not pledge her, is a churl.
Ill firmly to fupport, good fully taste,
Is the whole fcience of felicity.

Yet fparing pledge; her bowl is not the best
Mankind can boaft: A rational repast;
Exertion, vigilance, a mind in arms,
A military difcipline of thought,
To foil temptation in the doubtful field;
An ever-waking ardour for the right,
'Tis thefe first give, then guard a cheerful heart.
Nought that is right, think little; well aware,
What reafon bids, God bids: by his command,
How aggrandis'd the smallest thing we do!
Thus nothing is infipid to the wile;
To thee infipid all, but what is mad;
Joys feafon'd high, and tafting strong of guilt.

They ftand collecting ev'ry beam of thought, Till their hearts kindle with divine delight; For all their thoughts, like angels seen of old In Ifrael's dream, come from and go to heav'n: Hence are they ftudious of fequefter'd fcenes, While noife and diffipation comfort thee.

$275. Earthly Happiness. CONSISTENT wildom ever wills the fame; Thy fickle with is ever on the wing. Sick of herself is folly's character; As wifdom's is a modeft felf applaufe. A change of evils is thy good fupreme; Nor, but in motion, canft thou find thy reft. Man's greatest ftrength is fhewn in ftanding ftill: The firit fure fymptom of a mind in health, Is reft of heart, and pleafure felt at home. Falte pleafure from abroad her joys imports ; Rich from within, and felf-fuftain'd, the true: The true is fix'd, and folid, as a rock; Slipp'ry the falfe, and toffing, as the wave : 'Tis love o'erflowing makes an angel here; Such angels all, intitled to repofe On him who governs fate. Tho' tempeft frowns, Tho' nature thakes, how foft to lean on heav'n! To lean on Him on whom archangels lean! With inward eyes, and filent as the grave,

§ 276. Joy.

VAIN are all fudden fallies of delight;

Convulfions of a weak, distemper'd joy. Joy's a fix'd ftate; a tenor, not a start: Blifs there is none, but unprecarious blifs: That is the gem; fell all, and purchase that. Reafon perpetuates joy that reafon gives, And makes it as immortal, as herself: To mortals, nought immortal, but their worth. $277. Follies of Imagination. IN this is feen imagination's guilt;

[the But who can count her follies? She betrays To think in grandeur there is fomething great. For works of curious art, and ancient fame, Thy genius hungers, elegantly pain'd; And foreign climes must cater for thy taste. Hence what difafter!-Tho' the price was paid That perfecuting prieft, the Turk of Rome Detain'd thy dinner on the Latian shore; And poor magnificence is ftarv'd to death. Hence, just refentment, indignation, ire!—

$278. Pleajure confifts in Goodness. PLEASURE, we both agree, is man's chief good;

Our only conteft, what deserves the name ? [pafs'd
Give pleafurc's name to nought, but what has
Th' authentic feal of reason, which defies
The tooth of time; when paft a pleasure still;
Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age,
And doubly to be priz'd, as it promotes
Our future, while it forms our prefent joy.
Some joys the future overcaft; and fome
Throw all their beams that way, and gild the
Some joys endear eternity: fome give [tomb:
Abhorr'd annihilation dreadful charms.
Are rival joys contending for thy choice?
Confult thy whole existence, and be safe;
That oracle will put all doubt to flight:
Be good, and let heav'n answer for the rest.

Yet, with a figh o'er all mankind, I grant,
In this our day of proof, our land of hope,
The good man has his clouds that intervene
Clouds that obfcure his fublunary day,
But never conquer. Ev'n the best must own,
Patience, and refignation, are the pillars
Of human peace on earth: remote from thee,
Till this heroic leffon thou haft learn'd;
To frown at pleasure, and to fimile in pain,
Fir'd at the profpect of unclouded blifs.
Heav'n in reverfion, like the fun as yet
Beneath th' horizon, cheers us in this world;
It sheds, on fouls fufceptible of light,
The glorious dawn of our eternal day.

Now fee the man immortal: him, I mean, Who lives as fuch; whofe heart, full bent on Leans


Leans all that way his bias to the stars.

The world's dark fhades, in contraft fet, fha! raife

His luftre more; tho' bright, without a foil.
Obferve his awful portrait, and admire:
Nor ftop at wonder; imitate and live.

$279. Pilure of a Good Man. WITH afpect mild, and elevated eye,

Behold him feated on a mount ferene,
Above the fogs of fenfe, and paflion's ftorm;
All the black cares and tumults of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet;
Earth's genuine fons, the fceptred and the flave,
A mingled mob! a wand'ring herd! he fees
Bewilder'd in the vale; in all unlike!
His full reverfe in all! what higher praife?
What ftronger demonftration of the right?

The prefent all their care; the future, his :
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to fame; his bounty he conceals :
Their virtues varnish nature; his exalt :
Theirs, the wild chace of falle felicities;
His, the compos'd poffeffion of the true :
Alike throughout is his confiftent peace,
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While party-colour'd fhreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; cach puff of fortune blows
The tatters by, and fhews their nakedness.

He fees with other eyes than theirs; where they
Behold a fun, he fpies a Deity;
What makes them only fmile, makes him adore;
Where they fee mountains, he but atoms fees;
An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain:
They things terreftrial worship, as divine;
His hopes immortal blow them by, as duft,
That dims his fight, and fhortens his furvey,
Which longs, in infinite, to lofe all bound:
Titles and honours (if they prove his fate)
He lays afide, to find his dignity:
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory) proud of an eclipse;
He nothing thinks fo great in man, as man;
Too dear he holds his int'reft, to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade;
Their int'reft, like a lion's, lives on prey:
They kindle at the fhadow of a wrong;
Wrong he furtains with temper, looks on heav'n,
Nor froops to think his injurer his foe;
Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his


A cover'd heart their character defends;
A cover'd heart denies him half his praife:
With nakednefs his innocence agrees;
While their broad foliage teftifies their fall:
Their no joys end, where his full feat begirs;
His joys create, theirs murder, future blis:
To triumph in existence, his alone;
And his alone, triumphantly to think
His true exiftence is not yet begun :
His glorious courfe was, yesterday, complete;
Death, then, was welcome, yet life fill is tweet.

$280. The Fall of the Good Man.


UT nothing charms Lorenzo, like the firm, Undaunted breast:-And whole is that high praife ?

They yield to pleafure, tho' they danger brave,
And fhew no fortitude, but in the field;
if there they fhew it, 'tis for glory fhown;
Nor will that cordial always man their hearts:
A cordial his fuftains, that cannot fail:
By pleafure unfubdu'd, unbroke by pain,
He hares in that omnipotence he truits:
All-bearing, all-attempting, till he falls,
And, when he falls, writes VICI on his fhield;
From magnanimity, all fear above;
From nobler recompenfe, above applaufe.

§ 281. Wit and Wisdom.

WIT, how delicious to man's dainty rafte!
'Tis precious, as the vehicle of fente;
But, as its fubftitute, a dire disease:
Pernicious talent! flatter'd by mankind,
Yet hated too; they think the talent rare.
Wifdom is rare, Lorenzo! wit abounds;
Paffion can give it; fometimes wine infpires
The lucky flash; and madnefs rarely fails.
Whatever caufe the fpirit strongly stirs,
Confers the bays, and rivals thy renown;
Chance often hits it; and, to pique thee more,
See dulnefs blund'ring on vivacities.
But wildom, awful wifdom! which infpects,
Difcerns, compares, weighs, feparates, infers,
Seizes the right, and holds it to the laft;
How rare! In fenates, fynods, fought in vain;
Or, if there found, 'tis facred to the few.
While a loud proftitute to multitudes,
Frequent as fatal, wit. In civil life,
Wit makes an enterprifer; fenfe, a man:
Senfe is our helmet, wit is but the plume;
The plume expofes, 'tis our helmet faves:
Senfe is the diamond, weighty, folid, found;
When cut by wit, it cafts a brighter beam;
Yet, wit apart, it is a diamond itil:
Wit, widow'd of good fenfe, is worse than
It hoifts more fail to run against a rock. [nought;
How ruinous the rock I warn thee fhun,
Where fyrens fit, to fing thee to thy fate!
Let not the cooings of the world allure thee;
Which of her lovers ever found her true?
Happy! of this bad world who little know ;-
She gives but little; nor that little, long.
There is, I grant, a triumph of the pulfe;
A dance of fpirits, a mere froth of joy,
That mantles high, that fparkles and expires,
Leaving the foul more vapid than before;
An animal ovation! fuch as holds

No commerce with our reafon, but fubfifts
On juices thro' the well-ton'd tubes, well-ftrain'd
A nice machine! fcarce ever tun'd_aright;
But when it jars, thy fyrens fing no more,
The demi-god is thrown beneath the man;
In coward gloom immers'd, or fell despair..

§ 28a.

$282. Falfe Gaiety ends in Defpair.

And is the ceiling of her fleeping sons :,

THEY grin; but wherefore and how longer devaftation we blind revels keep;
they laugh?
Whole buried towns fupport the dancer's heel;
The moift of human fraine the fun exhales;
Winds fcatter, thro' the mighty void, the dry;
Earth re-poffeffes part of what she gave,
And the freed fpirit mounts on wings of fire;
Each element partakes our fcatter'd ipoils;
As nature wide, our ruins fpread: man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of man.

Half ignorance, their mirth; and half, a lie :
To cheat the world, and cheat themfelves, they


Hard either talk! The most abandon'd own,
That others, if abandon'd, are undone :
Then, for themfelves, the moment reafon wakes,
O how laborious is their gaiety!

They fcarce can mufter patience for the farce;
And pump fad laughter, till the curtain falls:
Scarce, did I fay? Some cannot fit it out;
Oft their own daring hands the curtain draw,
And fhew us what their joy, by their despair.
The clotted hair! gor'd breaft! blafpheming eye!
Its impious fury ftill alive in death!
Shut, ihut the fhocking fcene.-But heav'n denies
A cover to fuch guilt; and fo fhould man.
Look round, Lorenzo! fee the reeking blade;
Th' envenom'd phial, and the fatal ball;
The ftrangling cord, and futfocating stream;
The loathiome rettennefs and foul decays
From raging riot (flower fuicides!),
And pride in thefe, more execrable still!-
How horrid all to thought!-But horrors, thefe,
That vouch the truth, and aid my feeble fong,

$283. NIGHT IX. Reflections on Death.

WHERE the prime actors of the last year's


Their port fo proud, their bufkin, and their
How many fleep, who kept the world awake
With luftre, and with noife? Has Death proclaim'd
A truce, and hung his fated lance on high?
'Tis brandifh'd ftill; nor fhall the prefent year
Be more tenacious of her human leaf,
Or fpread of feeble life a thinner fall.

But needless monuments to wake the thought;
Life's gayeft fcenes fpeak man's mortality,
Tho' in a ftyle more florid, full as plain,
As maufoleums, pyramids, and tombs.
What are our nobleft ornaments, but deaths
Turn'd flatterers of life, in paint, or marble,
The well-ftain'd canvas, or the featur'd ftone?
Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the fcene;
Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.

Profeft diverfions! cannot thefe escape?"
Far from it; thefe prefent us with a shroud,
And talk of death, like garlands o'er the grave.
As fome bold plunderers, for buried wealth,
We ranfack tombs for paftime; from the duft
Call up the fleeping hero; bid him tread
The fcene for our amufement: how like gods
We fit; and, wrapt in immortality,
Shed gen'rous tears on wretches born to die ;
Their fate deploring, to forget our own!

$285. The Triumphs of Death.

OR man alone; his breathing bust expires;
His tomb is mortal; empires die: Where now
The Roman? Greek? They ftalk, an empty name!
Yet few regard them in this ufeful light;
Tho' half our learning is their epitaph. [thought,
When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight
That loves to wander in thy funless realms,
O Death! I ftretch my view; what vifions rifel
What triumphs toils imperial! arts divine!
In wither'd laurels, glide before my fight!
What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high
With human agitation, roll along
In unfubftantial images of air!
The melancholy ghofts of dead renown,
Whip'ring faint echos of the world's applaufe
With penitential afpect, as they pass,
All point at earth, and hifs at human pride.

[blocks in formation]

286. Deluge and Conflagration.
BUT, O Lorenzo! far the rest above,

Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,
One form affaults my fight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame: of one departed world
I fee the mighty fhadow; oozy wreath
And difmal fea-weed crown her; o'er her ura
Reclin'd, the weeps her defolated realms,
And bloated fons; and, weeping, prophefies
Another's diffolution, foon, in flames.

Deluge and Conflagration, dreadful pow'rs!
Prime minifters of vengeance! chain'd in caves
Diftinct, apart the giant-furies roar;
Apart; or, fuch their horrid rage for ruin,
In mutual conflict would they rife, and wage
Eternal war, till one was quite devour'd':
But not for this ordain'd their boundless rage;
When heav'n's inferior inftruments of wrath,
War, famine, peftilence, are found too weak
To fcourge a world for her enormous crimes;
Thefe are let loofe, alternate: down they rush,
Swift and tempeftuous, from th' eternal throne,
With irrefiftible commiffion arm'd,
The world, in vain corrected, to destroy,
And ease creation of the fhocking scene.

$287. The Laft Day.

thou, Lorenzo! what depends on man? The fate of nature; as, for man, her birth:

Earth's actors change earth's tranfitory fcenes,
And make creation groan with human guilt:
How muft it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd;
But not of waters? at the deftin'd hour,
By the loud trumpet fummon'd to the charge,
See, all the formidable fons of fire,


« PreviousContinue »