« PreviousContinue »
If, led from earthly things to things divine,
His creature thwart not his august design,
Then praise is heard instead of reasoning pride,
And captious cavil and complaint subside.
Nature, employ'd in her allotted place,
Is hand-maid to the purposes of Grace;
By good vouchsaf'd makes known superior good,
And bliss not seen by blessings understood :
That bliss, reveal'd in Scripture, with a glow
Bright as the covenant-ensuring bow
Fires all his feelings with a noble scorn
Of sensual evil, and thus Hope is born.
Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all
That men have deem'd substantial since the fall,
Yet has the wondrous virtue to educe
From emptiness itself a real use;
And while she takes, as at a father's hand,
What health and sober appetite demand,
From fading good derives, with chymic art,
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart.
Hope, with uplifted foot, set free from earth,
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth,
On steady wings sails through th' immense abyss,
Plucks amaranthine joys from bow'rs of bliss,
And crowns the soul, while yet a mourner here,
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear.
Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast
The Christian vesscl, and defies the blast.
Hope! nothing else can nourish and secure
His new-born virtues, and preserve him pure.
hope! let the wretch, once conscious of the joy,
Whom now despairing agonies destroy,
Speak, for he
and none so well as he What treasures centre, what delights in thee. Had he the gems, the spices, and the land That boasts the treasure, all at his command; The fragrant grove, th'inestimable mine, Were light, when weigh'd against one smile of thine.
Though clasp'd and cradled in his nurse's arms, He shines with all a cherub's artless charms, Man is the genuine offspring of revolt, Stubborn and sturdy, a wild ass's colt; His passions, like the wat’ry stores that sleep Beneath the smiling surface of the deep, Wait but the lashes of a wintry storm, To frown and roar, and shake his feeble form. From infancy through childhood's giddy maze, Forward at school, and fretful in his plays, The puny tyrant burns to subjugate The free republic of the whip-gig state. If one, his equal in athletic frame, Or, more provoking still, of nobler name, Dare step across his arbitrary views, An Iliad, only not in verse, ensues: The little Greeks look trembling at the scales, Till the best tongue, or heaviest hand prevails.
Now see him launch'd into the world at large; If priest, supinely droning o'er his charge, Their fleece his pillow and his weekly drawl, Though short, too long, the price he pays for all. If lawyer, loud, whatever cause he plead, But proudest of the worst, if that succeed. Perhaps a grave physician, gath’ring fees, Punctually paid for length’ning out disease ; No COTTON, whose humanity sheds rays, That make superior skill his second praise. If arms engage him, he devotes to sport His date of life, so likely to be short; A soldier may be any thing, if brave, So may a tradesman, if not quite a knave. Such stuff the world is made of; and mankind To passion, int'rest, pleasure, whim resign'd, Insist on, as if each were his own pope, Forgiveness, and the privilege of hope. But Conscience, in some awful, silent hour, When captivating lusts have lost their pow'r,
Perhaps when sickness, or some fearful dream,
Reminds him of religion, hated theme !
Starts from the down, on which she lately slept,'
And tells of laws despis’d, at least not kept;
Shows with a pointing finger, but no noise,
A pale procession of past sinful joys,
All witnesses of blessings foully scorn'd,
And life abus'd, and not to be suborn'd.
Mark these, she says; these summon'd from afar,
Begin their march to meet thee at the bar;
There find a Judge inexorably just,
And perish there as all presumption
Peace be to those (such peace as Earth can give)
Who live in pleasure, dead e'en while they live;
Born capable indeed of heav'nly truth;
But down to latest age, from earliest youth,
Their mind a wilderness through want of care,
The plough of wisdom never entring there.
Peace (if insensibility may claim
A right to the meek honours of her name)
To men of pedigree, their noble race,
Emulous always of the nearest place
To any throne, except the throne of Grace.
Let cottagers and unenlighten'd swains
Revere the laws they hear that Heav'n ordains;
Resort on Sundays to the house of pray'r,
And ask, and fancy they find, blessings there.
Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat
T enjoy cool nature in a country seat,
Texchange the centre of a thousand trades,
For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades,
May now and then their velvet cushions take,
And seem to
pray for good example’s sake ; Judging, in charity no doubt, the town Pious enough, and having need of none. Kind souls ! to teach their tenantry to prize What they themselves, without remorse, despise :
Nor hope have they, nor fear, of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus liv'd and died a Jew;
And truth, propos'd to reas'ners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast-completely cast away.
They die-Death lends them, pleas'd, andasin sport,
All the grim honours of his ghastly court.
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow:
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful’scutcheons, and dim lamps between ;
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they that wore them move not at the sound;
The coronet, plac'd idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead;
And e’en the star that glitters on the bier,
Can only say-Nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend,
By useless censure, whom we cannot mend;
Life without hope can close but in despair, [there.
"I was there we found them, and must leave them
As, when two pilgrims in a forest stray, Both may be lost, yet each in his own way; So fares it with the multitudes beguil'd In vain Opinion's waste and dang'rous wild; Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among, Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong. But here, alas ! the fatal diff'rence lies, Each man's belief is right in his own eyes ; And he that blames what they have blindly chose Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say, botanist, within whose province fall The cedar and the hyssop on the wall, Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bow'rs, What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flow'rs? Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combin'd, Distinguish ev'ry cultivated kind;
The want of both denotes a meaner breed,
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed.
Thus hopes of ev'ry sort, whatever sect
Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect,
If wild in nature, and not duly found,
Gethsemane! in thy dear hallow'd ground,
That cannot bear the blaze of Scripture light,
Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight,
Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds,
(Oh, cast them from thee !) are weeds, arrant weeds.
Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways,
Diverging each from each, like equal rays,
Himself as bountiful as April rains,
Lord paramount of the surrounding plains,
Would give relief of bed and board to none
But guests that sought it in th' appointed One;
they might enter at his
E’en till his spacious hall would hold no more.
He sent a servant forth by ev'ry road,
To sound his horn, and publish it abroad,
That all might mark—knight, menial, high, and low,
An ordnance it concern'd them much to know.
If, after all, some headstrong hardy lout
Would disobey, though sure to be shut out,
Could he with reason murmur at his case,
Himself sole author of his own disgrace?
No! the decree was just and without flaw;
And he, that made, had right to make, the law;
His sov’reign pow'r and pleasure unrestrain'd,
The wrong was his who wrongfully complain'd.
Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife
With him, the Donor of eternal life,
Because the deed, by which his love confirms
The largess he bestows, prescribes the terms.
Compliance with his will your lot ensures,
Accept it only, and the boon is yours.
And sure it is as kind to smile and give,
As with a frown to say, Do this and live.