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Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm,
Who, when she form’d, design'd them an abode. 680
The sum is this: If man's convenience, health,
Or safety; interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.
Else they are all--the meanest things that are
As free to live, and to enjoy that life,
As God was free to form them at the first,
Who in his sov’reign wisdom made them all.
Ye, therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons
To love it too. The spring time of our years
Is soon dishonour'd and defil'd in most
590 By budding ills, that ask a prudent hand To check them. But, alas! none sooner shoots, If unrestrain’d, into luxuriant growth, Than cruelty, most dev’lish of them all, Mercy to him that shows it, is the rule
And righteous limitation of its act,
By which Heav'n moves in pard’ning guilty man;
And he that shows none, being ripe in years,
And conscious of the outrage he commits,
Shall seek it, and not find it, in his turn.
Distinguish'd much by reason, and still more
By our capacity of grace divine,
From creatures, that exist but for our sake,
Which having serv'd us, perish, we are held
Accountable; and God some future day
Will reckon with us roundly for th' abuse
Of what he deems no mean nor trivial trust,
Superiour as we are, they yet depend
Not more on human help than we on theirs.
Their strength, or speed, or vigilance, were giv'n 610
In aid of our defects. In some are found
Such teachable and apprehensive parts,
That man's attainments in his own concerns,
Match'd with the expertness of the brutes in theirs,
Are ofttimes vanquish'd and thrown far behind. 615
Some show that nice sagacity of smell,
And read with such discernment, in the port
That oft we owe our safety to a skill
We could not teach, and must despair to learn.
But learn we might, if not too proud to stoop
To quadruped instructers many a good
And useful quality, and virtue too,
Rarely exemplified among ourselves.
Attachment never to be wean’d, or chang'd
By any change of fortune: proof alike
Against unkindness, absence, and neglect;
Fidelity, that neither bribe nor threat
Can move or warp; and gratitude for small
And trivial favours, lasting as the life,
And glist’ning even in the dying eye.
Man praises man. Desert in arts or arms
Wins publick honour; and ten thousand sit
Patiently present at a sacred song,
Commemoration mad; content to hear
(0 wonderful effect of musick’s power!)
Messiah's eulogy for Handel's sake!
But less, methinks, 'than sacrilege might serve--
(For, was it less, what heathen would have dar'da
To strip Jove's statue of his oaken wreath,
And hang it up in honour of a man?)
Much less might serve, when all that we design
Is but to gratify an itching ear,
And give the day to a musician's praise.
Remember Handel? Who, that was not born
Deaf as the dead to harmony, forgets,
Or can, the more than Homer of his age?
Yes—we remember him; and while we praise
That His most holy book from whom it came,
Was never meant, was never us'd before,
To buckram out the mem'ry of a n
But hush!- the Muse perhaps is too severe
And with a gravity beyond the size .
And measure of the offence, rebukes a deed 655
Less impious than absurd, and owing more
To want of judgment than to wrong designs.
So in the chapel of old Ely House,
When wand'ring Charles, who meant to be the third,
Had fled from William, and the news was fresh, 660
The simple clerk, but loyal, did announce,
And eke did roar right merrily, two staves,
Sung to the praise and glory of King George!
-Man praises man: and Garrick's mem'ry next,
When time hath somewhat mellow'á it, and made 665
The idol of our worship while he liv'd
The God of our idolatry once more,
Shall have its altar; and the world shall go
In pilgrimage to bow before his shrine.
The theatre too small, shall suffocate
Its squeez'd contents, and more than it admits
Shall sigh at their exclusion, and return
Ungratified for there some noble lord
Shall stuff his shoulders with King Richard's bunch,
Or wrap himself in Hamlet's inky cloak, 675
And strut and storm, and straddle, stamp, and stare,
To show the world how Garrick did not act,
For Garrick was a worshipper himself;
He drew the liturgy, and fram’d the rites
And solemn ceremonial of the day,
680 And call’d the world to worship on the banks Of Avon, fam'd in song. Ah, pleasant proof That piety has still in human hearts Some place, a spark or two not yet extinct, The mulb'rry tree was hung with blooming wreaths; The mulb’rry tree stood centre of the dance; 686 The mulb’rry tree was hymn’d with dulcet airs; And from his touchwood trunk the mulb'rry tree Supplied such relicks as devotion holds Still sacred, and preserves with pious care.
690 So 'twas a hallow'd time: decorum reign’d, And mirth without offence. No few return'd,
Doubtless, múch edified, and all refresh'd.
- Man praises man. The rabble all alive
From tippling benches, cellars, stalls, and styes, 695
Swarm in the streets. The statesman of the day,
A pompous and slow-moving pageant, comes.
Some shout him, and some hang upon his car,
To gaze in 's eyes, and bless him. Maidens wave
Their kerchiefs, and old women weep for joy; 700
While others, not so satisfied, unhorse
The gilded equipage, and turning loose
His steeds, usurp a place they well deserve.
Why? what has charm'd them? Hath he saved the
No. Doth he purpose its salvation? No. 705
Enchanting novelty, that moon at full,
That finds out ev'ry crevice of the head
That is not sound, and perfect, hath in theirs
Wrought this disturbance. But the wane is near,
And his own cattle must suffice him soon.
Thus idly do we waste the breath of praise,
And dedicate a tribute, in its use
And just direction sacred, to a thing
Doom'd to the dust, or lodg'd already there.
Encomium in old time was poet's work;
715 But poets, having lavishly long since Exhausted all materials of the art, The task now falls into the publick hand; And I contented with an humbler theme, Have pour'd my stream of panegyrick down. 720 The vale of Nature, where it creeps and winds Among her lovely works with a secure And unambitious course, reflecting clear, If not the virtues, yet the worth of brutes. And I am recompensed, and deem the toils Of poetry not lost, if verse of mine May stand between an animal and wo, And teach one tyrant pity for his drudge.
The groans of nature in this Nether world,
Which heav'n has heard for ages, have an end. 730
Foretold by prophets, and by poets sung,
Whose fire was kindled at the prophets’ lamp;
The time of rest, the promis'd sabbath comes.
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh
Fulfill'd their tardy and disastrous course
Over a sinful world; and what remains
Of this tempestuous state of human things
Is merely as the working of a sea,
Before a calm that rocks itself to rest;
For He, whose car the winds are, and the clouds 740
The dust that waits upon his sultry march,
When sin hath mov'd him, and his wrath is hot, -
Shall visit earth in mercy; shall descend,
Propitious in his chariot pav'd with love;
And what his storms have blasted and defac'd 745
For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair. . .
Sweet is the harp of prophecy; too sweet
Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch;
Nor can the wonders it records be sung
To meaner musick, and not to suffer loss.
But when a poet, or when one like me,
Happy to rove among poetick flow’rs,
Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair,
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels,
755 To give it praise proportion'd to its worth, That not t' attempt it, arduous as he deems The labour, were a task more arduous still.
O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, Scenes of accomplish'd bliss! which who can see, 760 Though but in distant prospect and not feel His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy? Rivers of gladness water all the earth, And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field
765 Laughs with abundance; and the land, once lean,