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Of little worth, an idler in the best, If, author of no mischief and some good, He seeks his proper happiness by means That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine. 955 Nor, though he tread the secret path of life, Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease, Account him an encumbrance on the state, . Receiving benefits, and rend'ring none. His sphere, though humble, if that humble sphere Shine with his fair example; and though small 961 His influence, if that influence all be spent In soothing sorrow, and in quenching strife, In aiding helpless indigence in works From which at least a grateful few derive
965 Some taste of comfort in a world of wo; Then let the supercilious great confess He serves his country, recompenses well The state beneath the shadow of whose vine He sits secure, and in the scale of life
970 Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place. The man, whose virtues are more felt than seen, Must drop indeed the hope of public praise; But he may boast, what few that win it can, That if his country stand not by his skill,
975 At least his follies have not wrought her fall. Polite refinement offers him in vain Her golden tube, through which a sensual World Draws gross impurity, and likes it well, The neat conveyance hiding all the offence.
980 Not that he peevishly rejects a mode, Because that World adopts it. If it bear The stamp and clear impression of good sense, And be not costly more than of true worth, He puts it on, and for decorum sake
985 Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she. She judges of refinement by the eye; He, by the test of conscience, and a heart Not soon deceiy'd; aware, that what is base
No polish can make sterling; and that vice, 990
1005 It shall not grieve me then, that once, when call'd To dress a Sofa with the flow’rs of verse, I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light Task; but soon, to please her more, Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, 1010 Let fall th' unfinish'd wreath, and rov'd for fruit; Rov'd far, and gather'd much; some harsh, 'tis true, Pick'd from the thorns and briars of reproof, But wholesome, well digested; grateful some To palates that can taste immortal truth;
1015 Insipid else, and sure to be despis'd. But all is in His hand whose praise I seek. In yain the poet sings, and the World hears, If he regard not, though divine the theme. 'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime : 1020 And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre, To charm His ear whose eye is on the heart, Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain, Whose approbation-prosper even mine.
EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ:
DEAR JOSEPH-five and twenty years ago Alas, how time escapes! 'tis even som With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour--and now we never meet! As some grave gentleman iu Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days,) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings~Strange fluctuation of all human things! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part But distance only cannot change the heart; And, where I call'd to prove th' assertion true, One proof should serve-a reference to you.
Whence comes it, then, that in the ane of life, Though nothing have occurrd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though num'rous once, reduc'd to few or none? Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch? No; gold they seem'd, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
And fetch my cloak; for though the night be raw,
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
But not to moralize too much, and strain,
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
O happy Britain! we have not to fear
While you, my friend; whatever wind should blow