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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.
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,
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 deceiv'd; aware, that what is base
No polish can make sterling; and that vice, 990
Though well perfum'd and elegantly dress’d,
Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flow'rs,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away, 995
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care
Or stain'd' with guilt, beneficent approv'd
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfill’d,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
1005 It shall not grieve me then, that once, when call'a
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 vain 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 in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow bringsStrange 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 trane of life,
Though nothing have occurr'd 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,
Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge,
Dreading a negative, and overaw'd
Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad.
Go, fellow,-whither?-turning short about,
Nay-Stay at home-you're always going out.
"Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.
For what?-An please you, sir, to see a friend.-
A friend! Horatio cried, and seem'd to start-
Yea, marry shalt thou, and with all my heart
152 EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
And fetch my cloak; for though the night be raw,
I'll see him too-the first I ever saw.
I knew the man,
and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betray'd,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made.
Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
his language, in my mind, Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain,
To prove an evil, of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun,)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time, an emp’ror, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed, that whosoe er should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
O happy Britain! we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else, could a law like that which I relate
Once have the sanction of our tripple state,
Some few, that I have known in days of old,
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold;
While you, my friend; whatever wind should blow
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
Ah honest man, close button'd to the chin,
Broadcloth without, and warm heart within.
Κεφαλαιον δη παιδειας ορθη τροφη.........Plato. .
Αρχη πολιτειας απασης νεων τροφα....ε... Diog. Laert.