Page images
PDF
EPUB

Whence has the world her magic pow'r?

Why deem we death a foe?
Recoil from weary life's best hour.

And covet longer woe? .
The cause is Conscience-Conscience oft

Her tale of guilt renews :
Her voice is terrible though soft,

And dread of death ensues.
Then anxious to be longer spar'd

Man mourns his fleeting breath : All evils then seem light, compar'd With the approach

of Death. 'Tis judgment shakes him; there's the fear,

That prompts the wish to stay;
He has incurr'd a long arrear,

And must despair to pay.
Pay!-follow Christ, and all is paid;

His death your peace ensures ;
Think on the grave where he was laid,

And calm deseend to yours.

ON A SIMILAR OCCASION,

For the year 1793.

De sacris autem hæc sit una sententia, ut conserventur.

Cic. de Leg. But let us all concur in this one sentiment, that all things sacred be inviolate.

He lives, who lives to God alone,

And all are dead beside;
For other source than God'is none

Whence life can be supplied.

To live to God is to requite

His love as best we may;
To make his precepts our delight,

His promises our stay.
But life, within a narrow ring

Of giddy joys compris'd,
Is falsely nam'd, and no such thing,

But rather death disguis'd.
Can life in them deserve the name,

Who only live to prove
For what poor toys they can disclaim

An endless life above?
Who, much diseas'd, yet nothing feel;

Much menac'd, nothing dread;
Have wounds, which only God can heal,

Yet never ask his aid?
Who deem his house a useless place,

Faith, want of common sense;
And ardour in the Christian race,

A hypocrite's pretence?
Who trample order; and the day,

Which God asserts his own,
Dishonour with unhallow'd play

And worship chance alone ?
If scorn of God's commands, impress'd

On word and deed, imply
The better part of man unbless'd

With life that cannot die:
Such want it, and that want, uncur'd

Till man resigns his breath,
Speaks him a criminal, assur'd

Of everlasting death.
Sad period to a pleasant course !

Yet so will God repay
Sabbaths profan’d without remorse,

And mercy cast away.

INSCRIPTION

FOR THE TOMB OF MR. HAMILTON.

Pause here, and think; a monitory rhyme
Demands one moment of thy fleeting time.

Consult life's silent clock, thy bounding vein;
Seems it to say—“Health here has long to reign ?"
Hast thou the vigour of thy youth ? an eye.
That beams delight ? a heart untaught to sigh ?
Yet fear. Youth, oft-times healthful and at ease,
Anticipates a day it never sees;
And many a tomb, like Hamilton's, aloud
Exclaims, “ Prepare thee for an early shroud.”

EPITAPH ON A HARE.

HERE lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,

Nor swifter grey hound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,

Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo'.
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,

Who, nurs'd with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin’d,

Was still a wild Jack-hare.
Though duly from my hand he took

His pittance ev'ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,

And when he could, would bite.
His diet was of wheaten bread,

And milk, and oats, and straw ;
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regal'd,

On pippins' russet peel,
And, when his juicy salads faild,

Slic'd carrot pleas'd him well.
A Turkey carpet was his lawn,

Whereon he lov'd to bound, To skip and gambol like a fawn, And

swing his rump around. His frisking was at ev'ning hours,

For then he lost his fear,
But most before approaching show'rs,

Or when a storm drew near.
Eight years and five round-rolling moons

He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle poons,

And ev'ry night at play.
I kept him for his humour's sake,

För he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts, that made it ache,

And force me to a smile.
But now beneath his walnut shade

He finds his long last home,
And waits, in snug concealment laid,

Till gentler puss shall come.
He, still more aged, feels the shocks,

From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,

Must soon partake his grave.

APPENDIX.

TABLE TALK, p. 1. OF this Poem, Mr. Cowper, in a letter to his friend, the Rev. John Newton, dated February 18th, 1781, says, “ I send you Table Talk. It is a medley of many things, some that may be useful, and some that, for aught I know, may be very diverting. I am merry that I may decoy people into my company, and grave that they may be the better for it. Now and then I put on the garb of a philosopher, and take the opportunity that disguise procures me, to drop a word in favour of religion. In short, there is some, and here and there a bit of sweetmeat, which seems to entitle it justly to the name of a certain dish the ladies call a trifle. I did not choose to be more facetious, lest I should consult the taste of my readers at the expense of my own approbation ; nor more serious than I have been, lest I should forfeit theirs. A poet in my circumstances has a difficult part to act: one minute obliged to bridle his humour, if he has any, and the next, to clap a spur to it: now ready to weep from a sense of the importance of his subject, and on a sudden constrained to laugh, lest his gravity should be mistaken for dulness. If this be not violent exercise for the mind, I know not what is, and if any man doubt it, let him try. Whether all this management and contrivance be necessary, I do not know, but am inclined to suspect that if my Muse was to go forth clad in Quaker colour, without one bit of riband to enliven her appearance, she might walk from one end of London to the other, as little noticed as if she were one of the sisterhood indeed.".--Cowper's Correspondence, vol. i. p. 77.

RETIREMENT, p. 139. " I HAVE already begun and proceeded a little way in a poem called Retirement. My view in choosing that subject is to direct to the proper use of the opportunities it affords for the cultivation of a man's best interests ; to censure the vices and the follies which people carry with them into their retreats, where they make no other use of their leisure than to gratify themselves with the indulgence of their favourite appetites, and to pay themselves, by a life of pleasure, for a life of business. In conclusion, I would enlarge upon the happiness of that state, when discreetly enjoyed and religiously improved. But all this is, at present, in embryo. I generally despair of my progress when I begin; but if, like my travelling 'squire, I should kindle as I go, this likewise may make a part of the volume, for I have time enough before me."-Ibid, p. 134.

JOHN GILPIN, p. 375. In another letter to Mr. Newton, he says, “ I should blame nobody, not even my intimate friends, and those who have the most favourable opinion of me, were they to charge the publication of John Gilpin, at the end of so much solemn and serious truth, to the score of the

« PreviousContinue »