Page images
PDF
EPUB

And taught th' unblemis'd to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those days,
And judg d offenders well. Then be that sharp'd,
And pocketted a prize hy fraud obtain'd,
Was mark'd and shunn'd as odious He that sold
His country, or was slack when she requir'd
His ev'ry nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid with the blood, that he had basely spar'd,
The price of his default But now--yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,
So libʻral in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, (good-natur’d age!)
That they are safe, sinners of either sex,
Transgress what laws they may. Well dress’d, well

bred,
Well equipag d, is ticket good enough
To pass as readily through ev'ry door.
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may,
(And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet)
May claim this merit still that she admits
The worth of what she mimicks with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause ;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have lost their use.

I was a stricken deer, that left the herd Long since. With many an arrow deep infix'd My panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew To seek a tranquil death in distant shades. There was I found hy one who had himself Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore,

And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live:
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far trom those
My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few associates, and not wishing inore.
Here mueh I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners pow
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I se that all are wand'rers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still woo’d
And never won. Dream after dream ensues;
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed. Rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two thirds of the remaining half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly,
That spreads his motley wings in th’ eye of noon,
To sport sheir season, and be seen no more.
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discov’ries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats
Of heroes little known; and call the rant
A history: describe the man, of whom
His own coevals took but little note,
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.
They disentangle from the puzzled skein,

In which obscurity has wrapp'd them up, The threads of politick and shrewd design, That ran through all his purposes, and charge His mind with mean ngs that he never bad, Or, having, kept conceald. Some drill and bore The solid earth, and from the strata there Extract a register, by wh.ch we learn, That he who made it, and reveal'd its date To Moses, was mistaken in its age. Some, more acute, and more industrious still, Contrive creation; travel nature up To the sharp peak of her sublimest height, And tell us whence the stars; why some are fix'd, And planetary some; what gave them first Rotation, from what fountain flow'd their light. Great contest follows, and much learned dust Involves the combatants ; tach claiming truth, And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp In playing tricks with nature, giving laws To distant worlds, and trifling in their own. Is't not a pity now that tickling rheums Should ever tease the lungs, and blear the sight, Of oracles like these ? Great pity too, That having wielded th' elements, and built A thousand systems, each in his own way, They should go out in fume, and be forgot? Ah! what is life thus spent ? and what are they But frantick, who thus spend it? all for smoke Eternity for bubbles proves at last A senseless bargain. When I ste such games Play'd by the creatures of a Pow'r, who swears

That he will judge the earth, and call the fool
To a sharp reck’ning, that has liv'd in vain ;
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well,
And prove it in the infallible result
So hollow and so talse- feel my heart
Di-solve in pity, and account the learn'd,
If this be learning, most of all deceiv d.
Great erimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps,
While thoughtful man is plausibly amus’d.
Defend me therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empity wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!

'T'were well, says one sage erudite, profound,
Terribly arch d, and aqueline his nose,
And overbuilt with most impending brows,
'Twere well, could you permit the world to live
As the world pleases: what's the world to you?
Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk
As sweet as charity from human breasts.
I think, articulate, laugh and weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
How then should I and any man hat lives
Be strangers to each other ? Pierce my vein,
Take of the crimson stream meand'ring there,
And catechise it well; apply the glass,
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood
Congenial with thine own: and, if it be,
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind ?

True ; I am no proficient, I confess,
In arts like yours. I cannot call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath;
I cannot analyse the air, nor catch
The parallax of yonder lum’nous point,
That seems half quench'd in the immense abyss :
Such pow’rs I boast not-neither can I rest
A silent witness of the headlong rage,
Or' heedless folly, by which thousands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred souls to mine.
God never meant that man should scale the

heav'ns
By stride of human wisdom, in his works,
Though wondrous: he commands us in his word
To seek bim rather where his merey shines.
The mind, indeed, enlightend from above,
Views him in all; ascribes to the grand cause
The grand effect; acknowledges with joy
His manner, and with rapture tastes his style:
But never yet did philosophick tube,
That brings the plannets home into the eye
Of observation, and discovers, else
Not visible, bis family of worlds,
Discover him that rules them ; such a veil
Hangs over mortal eyes, blind from the birth,
And dark in things divine. Full often too
Our wayward intellect, the more we learn
Of nature, overlooks her author more;
From instrumental causes proud to draw
Conclusions retrograde, and mad mistake.
But if his Word once teach us, shoot a ray

a

« PreviousContinue »