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And all the solemn farce of graves,
To undertakers and their slaves.
You know that moral writers say,
The world's a stage, and life a play;
That in this drama to succeed,
Requires much thought and toil indeed!
There still remains one labor more,
Perhaps a greater than before.
Indulge the search, and you shall find
The harder task is still behind:
That harder task, to quit the stage
In early youth or riper age;
To leave the company and place
With firmness, dignity, and
grace. Come, then, the closing scenes survey; "Tis the last act which crowns the play. Do well this grand decisive part, And gain the plaudit of your heart. Few greatly live in Wisdom's eyeBut, oh! how few who greatly die! Who, when their days approach an end, Can meet the foe as friend meets friend. Instructive heroes! tell us whence Your noble scorn of flesh and sense! You part from all we prize so dear ; Nor drop one soft reluctant tear; Part from those tender joys of life, The friend, the parent, child, and wife. Death's black and stormy gulph you brave, And ride exulting on the wave; Deem thrones but trifles all!
Nor send one wishful look to shore.
For foreign ports, and lands unknown, Thus the firin sailor leaves his own; Obedient to the rising gale, Unmoors his bark, and spreads his sail; Defies the ocean and the wind, Nor mourns the joys he left behind.
Is Death a pow'rful monarch? True; Perhaps you dread the tyrant too! Fear, like a fog, precludes the light, Or swells the object to the sight. Attend my visionary page, And I'll disarm the tyrant's rage. Come, let this ghastly form appear; He's not so terrible when near. Distance deludes th' unwary eye; So clouds seem monsters in the sky: Hold frequent converse with him now, He'll daily wear a milder brow, Why is my theme with terror fraught? Because you shun the frequent thought. Say, when the captive pard is nigh, Whence thy pale cheek and frighted eye? Say, why dismay'd thy manly breast, When the grim lion shakes his crest; Because these savage sights are new; No keeper shudders at the view: Keepers accustom'd to the scene, Approach the dens with looks serene? Fearless their grisly charge explore, And smile to hear the tyrants roar.
Ay-but to die! to bid adieu ! An everlasting farewell too!
Farewell to ev'ry joy around!
Oh, the heart sickens at the sound!' Stay, strippling thou art poorly taught. Joy, didst thou say? discard the thought. Joys are a rich celestial fruit, And scorn a sublunary root: What wears the face of joy below, Is often found but splendid woe. Joys here, like unsubstantial fame, Are nothings but a pompous name; Or else, like comets in the sphere, Shine with destruction in their rear.
Passions, like clouds, obscure the sight,
Hence mortals seldom judge aright.
The world's a harsh unfruitful soil,
Yet still we hope, and still we toil;
Deceive ourselves with wond'rous art,
And disappointment wrings the heart.
Thus, when a mist collects around,
And hovers o'er a barron ground,
The poor deluded trav'ller spies
Imagin'd trees and structures rise;
But, when the shrouded sun is clear,
The desert and the rocks appear.
Ah-but when youthful blood runs high, Sure 'tis a dreadful thing to die!
To die! and what exalts the gloom,
I'm told that men survives the tomb!
O! can the learned prelate find
What future scenes await the mind!
Where wings the soul, dislodg'd from clay?
Some courteous angel point the way!
That unknown somewhere in the skies,
Say, where that unknown somewhere lies;
And kindly prove, when life is o'er,
That pains and sorrows are no more;
For doubtless, dying is a curse,
If present ills be chang'd for worse.'
Hush, my young friend, forego the theme,
And listen to your poet's dream.
Ere while I took an ev'ning walk,
Honorio join'd in social talk.
Along the lawns the zephyrs sweep;
Each ruder wind was lull'd asleep.
The sky, all beauteous to behold,
Was streak'd with azure, green, and gold;
But tho' serenely soft and fair,
Fever hung brooding in the air;
Then settled on Honorio's breast,
Which shudder'd at the fatal guest.
No drugs the kindly wish fulfil;
Disease eludes the doctor's skill:
The poison spread thro' all the frame,
Ferments, and kindles into flame.
From side to side Honorio turns,
And now with thirst insatiate burns:
His eyes resign their wonted grace,
Those friendly lamps expire apace!
The brain's an useless organ grown ;
And Reason tumbled from his throne.
But, while the purple surges glow,
The currents thicken as they flow :
The blood in ev'ry distant part
Stagnates and disappoints the heart;
Defrauded of its crimson store,
The vital engine plays no more.
Honorio dead, the fun'ral bell
Call'd ev'ry friend to bid farewell.
I join'd the melancholy bier,
And dropp'd the unavailing tear.
The clock struck twelve-whennature sought
Repose from all the pangs of thought;
And, while my limbs were sunk to rest,
A Vision sooth'd my troubled breast.
I dream'd the spectre Death appear'd!
I dream'd his hollow voice I heard!
Methought th' imperial tyrant wore
A state no prince assum'd before;
All nature fetch'd a general groan,
And lay expiring round his throne.
I gaz'd when straight arose to sight
The most detested fiend of night.
He shuffled with unequal pace,
And conscious shame deform'd his face.
With jealous leer he squinted round,
Or fix'd his eyes upon the ground.
From hell this frightful monster came;
Sin was his sire, and Guilt his name.
This fury, with officious care,
Waited around the sov'reign's chair;
In robes of terror dress'd the king,
And arm'd him with a baneful sting;
Gave fierceness to the tyrant's eye,
And hung the sword upon his thigh.
Diseases next, a hideous crowd!
Proclaim'd their master's empire loud,
And all, obedient to his will,
Flew in commission'd troops to kill
A rising whirlwind shakes the poles,
And lightning glares, and thunder rolls.
The monarch and his train prepare
To range the foul tempestuous air.
Straight to his shoulders he applies
Two pinions of enormous size!
Methought I saw the ghastly form
Stretch his black wings and mount the storm
When Fancy's airy horse I strode,
And join'd the army on the road.
As the grin conqu'ror urg'd his way,
He scatter'd terror and dismay.
Thousands a pensive aspect wore,
Thousands who sneer'd at death before.
Life's records rise on ev'ry side,
And conscience spreads those volumes wijle ;
Which faithful registers were brought
By pale-eyed Feet and busy Thought.
Those faults which artful inen conceal,
Stand here, engrav'd with pen
By Conscience, that impartial scribe!
Whose honest palm disdains a bribe;
Their actions all like critics view,
And all like faithful critics too.
As Guilt had stain'd life's various stage,
What tears of blood bedew'd the page!
All shudder'd at the black account,
And scarce believ'd the vast amount!
All vow'd a sudden change of heart,
Would death relent, and sheath his dart
But, when the awful foe withdrew,
All to their follies fled anew.
So when a wolf, who scours at large,
Springs on the shepherd's fleecy charge,
The flock in wild disorder fly,
And cast behind a frequent eye;
But when the victim's borne away,
They rush to pasture and to play.
Indulge my dream, and let my pen
Paint those unmeaning creatures, men.
Carus, with pain and sickness worn,
Chides the slow night, and sighs for morn,
Soon as he views the eastern ray
He mourns the quick return of day.
Hourly laments protracted breath,
And courts the healing hand of death.
Verres, oppress'd with guilt and shame, Shipwreck'd in fortune, health, and fame : Pines for his dark, sepulchral bed, To mingle with th' unheeded dead.
With fourscore years grey Natho bends, A burden to himself and friends! And with impatience seems to wait The friendly hand of ling'ring Fate. So hirelings wish their labor done, And often eye the western sun.
The monarch hears their various grief; Descends, and brings the wish'd relief. On Death with wild surprise they star'd;' All seem'd averse! all unprepar'd!
As torrents sweep with rapid force, The grave's pale chief pursued his course. No human pow'r can or withstand, Or shun, the conquests of his hand. Oh! could the prince of upright mind, And as a guardian angel kind, With ev'ry heart-felt worth beside, Turn the keen shaft of death aside, When would the brave Augustus join The ashes of his sacred line! But Death maintains no partial war; He mocks a sultan or a czar : He lays his iron hand on all — Yes, kings, and sons of kings, must fall ! A truth Britannia lately felt, And trembled to her centre
Could ablest statesmen ward the blow, Would Grenville own this common foe? For greater talents ne'er were known To grace the fav'rite of a throne.
Could genins save-wit, learning, fire-
Tell me would Chesterfield expire?
Say, would his glorious sun decline,
And set like your pale star or mine?
Could ev'ry virtue of the sky-
Would Herring †, Butler ‡, Secker §, die?
Referring to the death of his late Royal Highness Frederic Prince of Wales.
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Why this address to peerage all?
Untitled Allen's virtue's call!
If Allen's worth demands a place,
Lords with your leave, 'tis no disgrace.
Though high your ranks in heralds rolls,
Know, Virtue too ennobles souls.
By her that private man's renown'd
Who pours a thousand blessings round.
While Allen takes Affliction's part,
And draws out all his gen'rous heart,
Anxious so seise the fleeting day,
Lest unimprov'd it steal away;
While thus he walks with jealous strife,
Through goodness, as he walks through life;
Shall not I mark his radiant path?-
Rise, Muse, and sing the Man of Bath!
Publish abroad, could goodness save,
Allen would disappoint the grave;
Translated to the heavenly shore,
Like Enoch, when his walk was o'er
Nor Beauty's pow'rful pleas restrain:
Her pleas are trifling, weak, and vain;
For women pierce with shrieks the air,
Smite the bare breasts, and rend their hair;
All have a doleful tale to tell,
How friends, sons, daughters, husbands fell!
Alas! is life our fav'rite theme-
'Tis all a vain or painful dream;
A dream which fools or cowards prize,
But slighted by the brave or wise.
Who lives, for others ills must groan,
Or bleed for sorrows of his own;
Must journey on with weeping eye,
Then pant, sink, agonize, and die.
And shall a man arraign the skies,
Because man lives, and mourns, and dies?'
Impatient Reptile! Reason cried;
Arraign thy passion and thy pride;
Retire, and commune with thy heart,
O prize this intellectual fame!
This nobler self with rapture scan;
"Tis mind alone which makes the man.
Trust me, there's not a joy on earth,
But from the soul derives its birth,
Ask the young rake, (he'll answer right),
Who treats by day and drinks by night,
What makes his entertainment shine?
What gives the relish to his wine?
He'll tell thee (it he scorns the beast)
That social pleasures form the feast.
The charms of beauty too shall cloy,
Unless the soul exalts the joy.
The mind must animate the face,
Or cold and tasteless ev'ry grace.
What! must the soul her pow'rs dispense,
To raise and swell the joys of sense?
Know, too, the joys of sense control
And clog the motions of the soul;
Forbid her pinions to aspire,
Damp and impair her native fire;
And sure as sense, that tyrant! reigns,
She holds the empress Soul in chains :
Inglorious bondage to the mind,
Heaven born, sublime, and unconfin'd!
She's independent, fair, and great,
And justly claims a large estate;
She asks no borrow'd aids to shine;
She boasts within a golden mine;
But, like the treasures of Peru,
Her wealth lies deep, and far from view.
Say, shall the man who knows her worth,
Ask whence thou cam'st, and what thou art; | Debase her dignity and birth?
Explore thy body and thy mind,
Thy station too, why here assign'd.
The search shall teach thee life to prize,
And make thee grateful, good, and wise.
Why do you roam to foreign climes,
To study nations, modes, and times;
A science often dearly bought,
And often what avails
Go, man, and act a wiser part,
Study the science of your heart :
This home philosophy, you know,
Was priz'd some thousand years ago *.
Then why abroad a frequent guest?
Why such a stranger to your breast?
Why turn so many volumes o'er,
Till Dodsley can supply no more?
Not all the volumes on thy shelf
Are worth that single volume, Self:
For who, this sacred book declines,
Howe'er in other arts he shines,
Tho' smit with Pindar's noble rage,
Or vers'd in Tully's manly page;
Or e'er repine at Heaven's decree,
Who kindly gave her leave to be;
Call'd her from nothing into day,
And built her tenement of clay?
Hear and accept me for your guide
(Reason shall ne'er desert your side) ·
Who listens to my wiser voice,
Can't but applaud his Maker's choice;
Pleas'd with that first and sov'reign cause,
Pleas'd with unerring Wisdom's laws?
Secure, since sov'reign goodness reigns;
Secure, since sov 'reign pow'r obtains.
With curious eyes review thy frame;
This science shall direct thy claim.
Dost thou indulge a double view,
A long, long life, and happy too?
Perhaps a farther boon you crave —
To lie down easy in the grave.
Know, then, my dictates must prevail,
Or surely each fond wish shall fail.
Come, then, is happiness thy aim?
Let mental joys be all thy game.
* Know thyself;' a celebrated saying of Chilo, one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece.
Repeat the search, and mend your pace, The capture shall reward the chace. Let ev'ry minute, as it springs, 'Convey fresh knowledge on its wings; Let ev'ry minute, as it flies, Record thee good, as well as wise. While such pursuits your thoughts engage, In a few years you'll live an age. Who measures life by rolling years? Fools measure by revolving spheres.
Go thou, and fetch th' unerring rule
From Virtue's and from Wisdom's school. Who well improves life's shortest day
Will scarce regret its setting ray; 'Contented with his share of light,
'Nor fear nor wish th' approach of night:
And when disease assaults the heart,
When sickness triumphs over art,
Reflection on a life well
Shall prove a cordial to the last:
This medicine shall the soul sustain,
And soften or suspend the pain;
'Shall break Death's fell tyrannic pow'r,
And calm the troubled dying hour.'
Blest rules of cool prudential age!
I listen'd and rever'd the sage,
When, lo a form divinely bright
Descends, and bursts upon my sight;
A seraph of illustrious birth
(RELIGION was her name on earth),
Supremely sweet her radiant face,
And blooming with celestial grace!
Three shining seraphs form'd her train,
Wav'd their light wings, and reach'd the plain,
Faith, with sublime and piercing eye,
And pinions flutt'ring for the sky;
Here Hope, that smiling angel, stands,
And golden anchors grace her hands
There Charity in robes of white
Fairest and fav'rite maid of light!
The seraph spake 'Tis reason's part
To govern and to guard the heart;
To full the wayward soul to rest,
• When hopes and fears distract the breast;
'Reason may claim this doubtful strife,
And steer thy bark thro' various life.
But when the storms of Death are nigh,
And midnight darkness veils the sky,
'Shall reason then direct thy sail,
Disperse the clouds, or sink the gale?
Stranger, this skill alone is mine,
Skill that transcends his scanty line.
That hoary sage has counsell'd right
Be wise, nor scorn his friendly light.
• Revere thyself—thou 'rt near allied
To angels on thy better side.
How various e'er their ranks or kinds,
Angels are but unbodied minds:
When the partition walls decay,
Men emerge angels from their clay;
Yes, when the frailer body dies,
The soul asserts her kindred skies:
But minds, tho' sprung from heavenly race,
• Must first be tutor'd for the place:
(The joys above are understood And relish'd only by the good). Who shall assume this guardian care? Who shall secure their birthright there! Souls are my charge-to me 'tis given To train them for their native heaven • Know, then—Who bow the early knee, And give the willing heart to me; Who wisely, when temptation waits, Elude her frauds, and spurn her baits; Who dare to own my injur'd cause, Tho' fools deride my sacred laws; Or scorn to deviate to the wrong, • Tho' Persecution lifts her thong; Tho' all the sons of hell conspire To raise the stake, and light the fireKnow, that for such superior souls There lies a bliss beyond the poles; Where spirits shine with purer ray, And brighten to meridian day; Where love, where boundless Friendship rules, (No friends that change, no love that cools!) Where rising floods of knowledge roll,
• And pour, and pour upon the soul!
But where's the passage to the skies? The road thro' Death's black valley lies.
Nay, do not shudder at my tale;、
Tho' dark the shades, yet safe the vale. This path the best of men have trod, And who 'd decline the road to God? "Oh! 't is a glorious boon to die!
This favor can't be priz'd too high.' While thus she spake, my looks express'd The raptures kindling in my breast: My soul a fix'd attention gave; When the stern monarch of the grave With haughty strides approach'd—amaz'd I stood, and trembled as I gaz'd The seraph calm'd each anxious fear, And kindly wip'd the falling tear; Then hasten'd with expanded wing To meet the pale, terrific king. But now what milder scenes arise! The tyrant droops his hostile guise He seems a youth divinely fair; In graceful ringlets waves his hair; His wings their whit'ning plumes display, His burnish'd plumes reflect the day; Light flows his shining azure vest, And all the angel stands confest.
I view'd the change with sweet surprise, And, oh! I panted for the skies; Thank'd Heaven that e'er I drew my breath, And triumph'd in the thoughts of Death.
FABLES by the late. Mr. GAY. Introduction to the FABLES. Part the First § 90. The Shepherd and the Philosopher. REMOTE from cities liv'd a swain, Unvex'd with all the cares of gain; His head was silver'd o'er with age, And long experience made him sage;
In summer's heat, and winter's cold,
He fed his flock, and penn'd the fold;
His hours in cheerful labor flew,
Nor envy nor ambition knew;
His wisdom and his honest fanie
Through all the country rais'd his name.
A deep Philosopher (whose rules
Of moral life were drawn from schools)
The shepherd's homely cottage sought,
And thus explor'd his reach of thought:
Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil
O'er books consum'd the midnight oil?
Hast thou old Greece and Rome survey'd,
And the vast sense of Plato weigh'd?
Hath Socrates thy soul refin'd?
And hast thou fathom'd Tully's mind?
Or, like the wise Ulysses, thrown
By various fates on realms unknown,
Hast thou through many cities stray'd,
Their customs, laws, and manners weigh'd?
The Shepherd modestly replied:
I ne'er the paths of learning tried:
Nor have I roam'd in foreign parts
To read mankind, their laws, and arts;
For man is practis'd in disguise,
He cheats the most discerning eyes:
Who by that search shall wiser grow,
When we ourselves can never know?
The little knowledge I have gain'd,
Was all from simple nature drain'd;
Hence my life's maxims took their rise,
Hence grew my settled hate to vice.
The daily labors of the bee
Awake my soul to industry.
Who can observe the careful ant,
And not provide for future want?
My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind:
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.
In constancy and nuptial love,
I learn my duty from the dove.
The hen, who from the chilly air
With pious wing protects her care,
And ev'ry fowl that flies at large,
Instructs me in a parent's charge.
From nature too I take my rule,
To shun contempt and ridicule:
I never, with important air,
In conversation overbear.
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When men the solemn hour despise?
My tongue within my lips I rein,
For who talks much must talk in vain :
We from the wordy torrent fly;
Who listens to the chatt'ring pye?
Nor would I, with felonious flight,
By stealth invade my neighbour's right;
Rapacious animals we hate :
Kites, hawks, and wolves, deserve their fate
Do not we just abhorrence find
Again the toad and serpent kind?
But envy, calumny, and spite
Bear stronger venom in their bite.
ACCEPT, young Prince, the moral lay,
And in these tales mankind survey;
With early virtues plant your breast,
The specious arts of vice detest,
Princes, like beauties, from their youth
Are strangers to the voice of truth :'
Learn to contemn all praise betimes;
For flattery's the nurse of crimes.
Friendship by sweet reproof is shown
(A virtue never near a throne);
In courts such freedom must offend,
There none presumes to be a friend.
To those of your exalted station
Each courtier is a dedication.
Must I too flatter like the rest,
And turn my morals to a jest?
The Muse disdains to steal from those
Who thrive in courts by fulsome prose.
But shall I hide your real praise,
Or tell you what a nation says?
They in your infant bosom trace
The virtues of your royal race,
In the fair dawning of your mind
Discern you gen'rous, mild, and kind.
They see you grieve to hear distress,
And pant already to redress.
Go on, the height of good attain,
Nor let a nation hope in vain. :
For hence we justly may presage
The virtues of a riper age.
True courage shall your bosom fire,
And future actions own your sire.
Cowards are cruel, but the brave
Love mercy, and delight to save.
A Tiger, roaming for his prey, Sprung on a Trav'ller in the way; The prostrate game a Lion spies, And on the greedy tyrant flies: With mingled roar resounds the wood, Their teeth, their claws, distil with blood; Till, vanquish'd by the Lion's strength, The spotted foe extends his length. The man besought the shaggy lord, And on his knees for life implor'd; His life the gen'rous hero gave: Together walking to his cave,