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Make keen thy faith, and with thy force let flee,
If thou not conquer him, he'll conquer thee:
Advance thy shield of Patience to thy head,
And when Grief strikes, 'twill strike the striker dead.
* In adverse fortunes, be thou strong and stout,
And bravely win thyself, heaven holds not out
His bow for ever bent; the disposition
Of noblest spirit doth, by opposition,
Exasperate the more: a gloomy night
Whets on the morning to return more bright;
| Brave minds, oppress’d, should in despite of Fate,
Look greatest, like the sun, in lowest state f.
But, ah! shall God thus strive with flesh and blood?
Receives he glory from, or reaps he good
In mortals' ruin, that he leaves man so
To be o'erwhelm’d by this unequal foe?
May not a potter, that, from out the ground,
Hath fram'd a vessel, search if it be sound?
Or if, by furbishing, he take more pain
To make it fairer, shall the pot complain?
Mortal, thou art but clay; then shall not he,
That fram'd thee for his service, season thee?
Man, close thy lips; be thou no undertaker
Of God's designs; dispute not with thy Maker.
Job Militant, by F. Quarles, Med. iii.
* Two lines are here omitted.
+ Two lines are here omitted.
| Brave minds, opprest, should in despite of fate
Look greatest, like the sun, in lowest state.] Blair has the same thought in his fine poem, The Grave, speaking of the death of the just man:
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away,
Yet, like the sun, seems larger at his setting.
He who is good is happy ; let the loud
Artillery of heaven break through a cloud,
And dart its thunder at him; he'll remain
Unmov'd, and nobler comfort entertain
In welcoming the approach of death, than vice
Ere found in her fictitious paradise.
Time mocks our youth, and (while we number past
Delights, and raise our appetite to taste
Ensuing) brings us to unflatter'd age*,
Where we are left to satisfy the rage
Of threat'ning Death: pomp, beauty, wealth, and all
Our friendships, shrinking from the funeral.
The thought of this begets that brave disdain
With which thou view'st the world, and makes those vain
Treasures of fancy, serious fools so court,
And sweat to purchase, thy contempt or sport.
What should we covet here? why interpose
A cloud 'twixt us and heaven? kind nature chose
Man's soul th’ Exchequer where she'd hoard her wealth,
And lodge all her rich secrets ; but by the stealth
Of our own vanity, w' are left so poor,
The creature merely sensual knowes more.
The learned Halcyon by her wisdom finds
A gentle season, when the seas and winds
. unflatter'd age.] A very original epithet.
Are silenc'd by a calm, and then brings forth
The happy miracle of her rare birth,
Leaving with wonder all our arts possest,
That view the architecture of her nest.
Pride raiseth us 'bove justice. We bestow
Increase of knowledge on old minds, which grow
By age to dotage; while the sensitive
Part of the world in its first strength doth live.
Folly! what dost thou in thy power contain
Deserves our study? merchants plough the main,
And bring home th’ Indies, yet aspire to more,
By avarice in the possession poor.
And yet that idol Wealth we all admit
Into the soul's great temple; busy Wit
Invents new orgies, Fancy frames new rites
To show its superstition; anxious nights
Are watch'd to win its favour; while the beast
Content with nature's courtesy doth rest.
Let man then boast no more a soul, since he
Hath lost that great prerogative; but thee
(Whom fortune hath exempted from the herd
Of vulgar men, whom virtue hath preferr'd
Far higher than thy birth) I must commend,
Rich in the purchase of so sweet a friend.
And though my fate conducts me to the shade
Of humble Quiet, my ambition paid
With safe content, while a pure virgin fame
Doth raise me trophies in Castara's name;
No thought of glory swelling me above
The hope of being famed for virtuous love;
Yet wish I thee, guided by better stars,
To purchase unsafe honour in the wars,
Or envied smiles at court ; for thy great race
And merits well may challenge th' highest place.
Yet know, what busy path soe'er you tread
To greatness, you must sleep among the dead *,
Cæstara, by W. Habington,
LIKE to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are ;
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue;
Or silver drops of morning dew;
Or like a wind that chafes the flood;
Or bubbles which on water stood :
Even such is man, whose borrow'd light
Is strait call'd in, and paid to-night,
The wind blows out ; the bubble dies ;
The spring entomb'd in autumn lies ;
The dew dries up; the star is shot:
The flight is past, and man forgot.
Dr. King's Poems, p. 139.
* Yet know, what busy path soe'er you tread
To greatness, you must sleep among the dead.] How compréhensively, how plainly, yet how sublimely, hath Gray expressed this trite sentiment:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Elegy.
I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet
I love the silence; I embrace the wit
And courtship, flowing here in a full tide,
But loath the expense, the vanity, and pride.
No place each way is happy; here I hold
Commerce with some, who to my ear unfold
(After a due oath minister'd) the height
And greatness of each star shines in the state,
The brightness, the eclipse, the influence.
With others I commune *, who tell me whence
The torrent doth of foreign discord flow :
Relate each skirmish, battle, overthrow,
Soon as they happen; and by rote can tell
Those German towns even puzzle me to spell;
The cross or prosperous fate of princes, they
Ascribe to rashness, cunning, or delay;
And on each action comment with more skill
Than upon Livy did old Machiavell.
O, busy folly! why do I my brain
Perplex with the dull policies of Spain,
Or quick designs of France? why not repair
To the pure innocence of the country air,
And neighbour thee, dear friend ? who so dost give
Thy thoughts to worth and virtue, that to live