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That all was vanity, and life a dream.
Let Nature rest: be busy for yourself,
And for your friend; be busy ev'n in vain,
Rather than tease her sated appetites:
Who never fasts, no banquet e'er enjoys;
Who never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let Nature rest: and when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge: but shun satiety.
"Tis not for mortals always to be blest.
But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober Sense conducts,
And Virtue, through this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and Sense I mean not to disjoin;
Virtue and Sense are one; and, trust me, he
Who has not virtue is not truly wise.
Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a fool)
Is sense and spirit, with humanity:
'Tis sometimes angry, and it's frown confounds;
"Tis evʼn vindictive, but in vengeance just.
Knaves fain would laugh at it; some great ones dare;
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of Fortune dreads it's name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth;
This is the solid pomp of prosp'rous days,
The peace and shelter of adversity;
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of Envy and all-sapping Time.
The gaudy gloss of Fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye the suffrage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attain'd
By sense alone, and dignity of mind.
Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul,
Is the best gift of Heav'n: a happiness
That ev'n above the smiles and frowns of Fate
Exalts great Nature's favourites: a wealth
That ne'er encumbers, nor to baser hands
Can be transferr'd; it is the only good
Man justly boasts of, or can call his own.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance to shield a lucky knave,
Or throw a cruel sunshine on a fool.
But for one end, one much-neglected use,
Are riches worth your care (for Nature's wants
Are few, and without opulence supplied).
This noble end is, to produce the Soul;
To show the virtues in their fairest light;
To make Humanity the minister.
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the breast
That gen'rous Luxury the Gods enjoy
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly Sage
Sometimes declaim'd. Of Right and Wrong he taught
Truths as refin'd as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to tell!) he practis'd what he preach'd.
AN EPISTLE TO DR. CORNWALLIS.
IN Frolic's hour, ere serious Thought had birth,
There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when
The Muse would take me on her airy wing,
And waft to views romantic; there present
Some motley vision, shade and sun; the cliff
O'erhanging, sparkling brooks, and ruins gray:
Bade me meanders trace, and catch the form
Of various clouds, and rainbows learn to paint.
Sometimes Ambition, brushing by, would twitch
My mantle, and with winning look sublime
Allure to follow. What though steep the track,
Her mountain's top would overpay, when climb'd,
The scaler's toil; her temple there was fine,
And lovely thence the prospects. She could tell
Where laurels grew, whence many a wreath antique ;
But more advis'd to shun the barren twig,
(What is immortal verdure without fruit?)
And woo some thriving art; her num'rous mines
Were open to the searcher's skill and pains.
Caught by th' harangue, heart beat, and flutt'ring pulse
Sounded irreg'lar marches to be gone-
What, pause a moment when Ambition calls?
No, the blood gallops to the distant goal,
And throbs to reach it. Let the lame sit still.
When Fortune gentle, at th' hill's verge extreme,
Array'd in decent garb, but somewhat thin,
Smiling approach'd; and what occasion, ask'd,
Of climbing: She, already provident,
Had cater'd well, if stomach could digest
Her viands, and a palate not too nice :
Unfit, she said, for perilous attempt;
That manly limb requir'd, and sinew tough:
She took, and laid me in a vale remote,
Amid the gloomy scene of fir and yew,
On poppy beds, where Morpheus strew'd the ground :
Obscurity her curtain round me drew,
And siren Sloth a dull quietus sung.
Sithence no fairy lights, no quick'ning ray,
No stir of pulse, nor objects to entice
Abroad the spirits: but the cloister'd heart
Sits squat at home, like pagod in a niche
Obscure, or grandees with nod-watching eye,
And folded arms, in presence of the throne,
Turk, or Indostan-Cities, forums, courts,
And prating sanhedrims, and drumming wars,
Affect no more than stories told to bed
Lethargic, which at intervals the sick
Hears and forgets, and wakes to doze again.
Instead of converse and variety,
The same trite round, the same stale silent scene:
Such are thy comforts, blessed Solitude!-
But Innocence is there, but Peace all kind,
And simple Quiet with her downy couch,
Meads lowing, tune of birds, and lapse of streams,
And saunter with a book, and warbling Muse
In praise of hawthorns-Life's whole business this!
Is it to bask i' th' sun? if so, a snail
Were happy crawling on a southern wall.
Why sits Content upon a cottage sill
At eventide, and blesses the coarse meal
In sooty corner? Why sweet Slumber wait
Th' hard pallet? Not because from haunt remote
Sequester'd in a dingle's bushy lap:
"Tis Labour sav'ry makes the peasant's fare,
And works out his repose: for Ease must ask
The leave of Diligence to be enjoy'd.
O! listen not to that enchantress Ease
With seeming smile; her palatable cup
By standing grows insipid; and beware
The bottom, for there's poison in the lees.
What health impair'd, and crowds inactive maim'd!
What daily martyrs to her sluggish cause!
Less strict devoir the Russ and Persian claim
Despotic; and as subjects long inur'd
To servile burden grow supine and tame,
So fares it with our sov'reign and her train.
What though with lure fallacious she pretend
From worldly bondage to set free, what gain
Her vot'ries? What avails from iron chains
Exempt, if rosy fetters bind as fast?
Bestir, and answer your creation's end.
Think we that man, with vig'rous pow'r endow'd
And room to stretch, was destin'd to sit still?
Sluggards are Nature's rebels, slight her laws,
Nor live up to the terms on which they hold
Their vital lease. Laborious terms and hard;
But such the tenure of our earthly state!
Riches and fame are Industry's reward;
The nimble runner courses Fortune down,
And then he banquets, for she feeds the bold.
Think what you owe your country, what yourself.
If Splendour charm not, yet avoid the Scorn,
That treads on lowly stations. Think of some
Assiduous booby mounting o'er your head,
And thence with saucy grandeur looking down:
Think of (Reflection's stab!) the pitying friend
With shoulder shrugg'd and sorry. Think that Time
Has golden minutes, if discreetly seiz'd.
And if some sad example, indolent,
To warn and scare be wanting-think of me.
ELEGY TO A YOUNG NOBLEMAN LEAVING THE
ERE yet, ingenious Youth, thy steps retire
From Cam's smooth margin, and the peaceful vale, Where Science call'd thee to her studious quire,
And met thee musing in her cloisters pale;
O! let thy friend (and may he boast the name)
Breathe from his artles reed one parting lay!
A lay like this thy early virtues claim,
And this let voluntary Friendship pay.
Yet know, the time arrives, the dang'rous time,
When all those virtues op'ning now so fair,
Transplanted to the world's tempestuous clime,
Must learn each Passion's boist'rous breath to bear. There if Ambition, pestilent and pale,
Or Luxury should taint their vernal glow; If cold Self-int'rest, with her chilling gale,
Should blast th' unfolding blossoms ere they blow; If mimic hues, by Art or Fashion spread,
Their genuine, simple colouring should supply; O! with them may these laureate honours fade; And with them, if it can, my friendship die.
-And do not blame, if, though thyself inspire,
Cautious I strike the panegyric string;
The muse full oft pursues a meteor fire,
And, vainly vent'rous, soars on waxen wing.
Too actively awake at Friendship's voice,
The poet's bosom pours the fervent strain,
Till sad Reflection blames the hasty choice,
And oft invokes Oblivion's aid in vain.
Go then, my friend, nor let thy candid breast
Condemn me, if I check the plausive string;
Go to the wayward world; complete the rest;
Be, what the purest Muse would wish to sing, Be still Thyself: that open path of Truth,
Which led thee here, let Manhood firm pursue ; Retain the sweet simplicity of Youth,
And all thy virtue dictates dare to do.