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The fierce Croatian, and the wild Hussar,
With all the sons of ravage crowd the war;
The baffled prince, in honour's flatt'ring bloom
Of hasty greatness, finds the fatal doom,
His foes derision, and his subjects blame,
And steals to death from anguish and from shame.
Enlarge my life with multitude of days,
In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays :
Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know
That life protracted, is protracted woe.
Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,
And shuts up all the passages of joy ;
In vain their gifts the bounteous seasons pour,
The fruit autumnal, and the vernal flow'r ;
With listless eyes the dotard views the store,
He views, and wonders that they please no more ;
Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines,
And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.
Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,
Diffuse the tuneful lenitives of pain.
No sounds, alas! would touch th' impervious ear,
Though dancing mountains witnessed Orpheus
Nor lute nor lyre his feeble pow'rs attend,
Nor sweeter music of a virtuous friend;
But everlasting dictates crowd his tongue,
Perversely grave, or positively wrong.
The still returning tale, and ling'ring jest,
Perplex the fawning niece and pampered guest,
While growing hopes scarce awe the gath'ring sneer,
And scarce a legacy can bribe to hear :
The watchful guests still hint the last offence;
The daughter's petulance, the son's expense,
Improve his heady rage with treach'rous skill,
And mould his passions till they make his will.
Unnumbered maladies his joints invade,
Lay siege to life, and press the dire blockade;
But unextinguished av'rice still remains,
And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;
He turns, with anxious heart and crippled hands,
His bonds of debt, and mortgages of lands;
Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,
Unlocks his gold, and counts it till he dies.
But grant, the virtues of a temp’rate prime
Bless with an age exempt from score or crime;
An age that melts with unperceived decay,
And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day benevolence endears,
Whose night congratulating conscience cheers :
The general fav’rite as the general friend :
Such age there is, and who shall wish its end?
Yet ev'n on this her load Misfortune flings,
To press the weary minutes' flagging wings;
New sorrow rises as the day returns,
A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns.
Now kindred merit fills the sable bier,
Now lacerated friendship claims a tear;
Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
Still drops some joy from with’ring life away;
New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage,
Till pitying nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
But few there are whom hours like these await,
Who set unclouded in the gulphs of Fate.
From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,
By Solon cautioned to regard his end,
In life's last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise !
From Marlb'rough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driv'ler and a show.
The teeming mother, anxious for her race,
Begs for each birth the fortune of a face:
Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring;
And Sedley curs'd the form that pleased a king.
Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes,
Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise ;
Whom joys with soft varieties invite,
By day the frolic, and the dance by night;
Who frown with vanity, who smile with art,
And ask the latest fashion of the heart;
What care, what rules your heedless charms shall
Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave,
Against your fame with fondness hate combines,
The rival batters, and the lover mines.
With distant voice neglected Virtue calls,
Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls;
Tired with contempt, she quits the slipp'ry reign,
And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain.
In crowd at once, where none the pass defend,
The harmless freedom, and the private friend.
The guardians yield, by force superior plied,
To Int'rest, Prudence; and to Flatt'ry, Pride.
Here Beauty falls betrayed, despised, distressed,
And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.
Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects find ?
Must dull Suspense corrupt the stagnant mind ?
Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?
Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,
No cries invoke the mercies of the skies?
Enquirer, cease; petitions yet remain,
Which Heaven may hear, nor deem religion vain.
Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.
Safe in His pow'r, whose eyes discern afar
The secret ambush of a specious pray'r,
Implore His aid, in His decisions rest,
Secure, whate'er He gives, He gives the best.
Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,
And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions and a will resign'd;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill ;
For patience, sov'reign o'er transmuted ill;
For faith, that, panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind nature's signal of retreat:
These goods for man the laws of Heav'n ordain,
These goods He grants, who grants the pow'r to
With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind,
And makes the happiness she does not find.
Come then, the scene Of frantic mirth is o'er: the social bowl, The midnight frolic, and the scornful jest, Are gone: thy youth is past, thy strength decay'd, And all the partners of thy wanton hours Are sunk in shame and sorrow to the grave. Come, tell me, did a self-convicted soul Ne'er check thy guilty joys! Did that blest Spirit, Who o'er the sinner's penitent mind distils His precious balm, ne'er interrupt thy peace, 'Mid the rude sallies of unholy mirth And impure passion; while the still small voice Of Conscience, made the hour of solitude To thee more hideous than the silent watch Of midnight to the sleepless eye of Pain Or pining Care? O Conscience, heavenly guide, Thou, imid the storms, and tempests of the world, 'Mid the rude blasts of chilling penury, In tears of woe, in death's alarming hour, Spread'st round the good man's couch thy shelt'ring
wing, And all is peace. But oh! how sharp the pang, When in the sinner's agonizing heart
Thou piercest deep, and driv'st the guilty wretch
Far from the confines of tumultuous joy
To scenes of melancholy and black despair!
But whence these boding doubts? Why shrinks
From future ill? If no superior power
Claims homage, why do fancied evils scare
The heart of wisdom, that to crafty tales
Ne'er yielded tame submission ? Gracious Lord!
'Tis Thou, that in the sinner's breast dost move,
With kindliest influence ; 'tis Thy tender rod
That heals his soul with medicinal wounds :
The voice of conscience is the voice of God.
The justice, HEAV'N LY King! and that great Day,
When Virtue, long abandoned and forlorn,
Shall raise her pensive head; and Vice, that erst,
Ranged unreproved and free, shall sink appalld;
I sing advent'rous.-But what eye can pierce
The vast immeasurable realms of space,
O'er which Messiah drives His flaming car
To that bright region, where enthroned He sits,
First-born of Heaven, to judge assembled worlds,
Cloth'd in celestial radiance! Can the Muse,
Her feeble wing all damp with earthly dew,
Soar to that bright empyreal, where around
Myriads of angels, God's perpetual choir,
Hymn hallelujahs; and in concert loud
Chaunt songs of triumph to their Maker's praise ?
Yet will I strive to sing, albeit unus'd
To tread poetic soil. What, though the wiles
Of Fancy me enchanted ne'er could lure
To rove o'er fairy lands; to swim the streams
That through her vallies weave their mazy way;
Or climb her mountain tops; yet will I raise
My feeble voice, to tell what harmony
(Sweet as the music of the rolling spheres)