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There, prisoned in a parlour snug and small,
Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall,
The man of business and his friends compressed,
Forget their labours, and yet find no rest;
But still 'tis rural---trees are to be seen
From every window, and the fields are green ;
Ducks paddle in the pond before the door,
And what could a remoter scene show more?
A sense of elegance we rarely find
The portion of a mean or vulgar mind,
And ignorance of better things makes man,
Who cannot much, rejoice in what he can:
And he that deems his leisure well bestowed
In contemplation of a turnpike road,
Is occupied as well, employs his hours
As wisely and as much improves his powers,
As he, that slumbers in pavilions graced
With all the charms of an accomplished taste.
Yet hence, alas ! insolvencies; and hence
Th' unpitied victim of ill-judged expense,
From all his wearisome engagements freed,
Shakes hands with business, and retires indeed.
Your prudent grand-mammas, ye modern belles,
Content with Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge-wells,
When health required it would consent to roam,
Else more attached to pleasures found at home.
But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife,
Ingenious to diversify dull life,
In coaches, chaises, caravans, and hoys,
Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys,
And all, impatient of dry land, agree
With one consent to rush into the sea.---
Ocean exhibits, fathomless and broad,
Much of the power and majesty of God.
He swathes about the swelling of the deep,
That shines and rests as infants smile and sleep ;
Vast as it is, it answers as it flows
The breathings of the lightest air that blows :
Curling and whitening over all the waste,
The rising waves obey th' increasing blast,
Abrupt and horrid as the tempest roai's,
Thunder and fash upon the stedfast shores,
Till he, that rides the whirlwind, checks the rein,
Then all the world of waters sleeps again.---
Nereids or Dryads, as the fashion leads,
Now in the floods, now panting in the meads,
Votaries of pleasure still, where'er she dwells,
Near barren rocks, in palaces, or cells,
Oh grant a poet leave to recommend
(A poet fond of nature, and your friend)
Her slighted works to your admiring view;
Her works must needs excel, who fashioned you.
Would ye, when rambling in your morning ride,
With some unmeaning coxcomb at your side,
Condemn the prattler for his idle pains,
To waste unheard the music of his strains,
And deaf to all th' impertinence of tongue,
That, while it courts, affronts and does you wrong.
Mark well the finished plan without a fault,
The seas globose and huge, th’ o'er-arching vault,
Earth's millions daily fed, a world employed
In gathering plenty yet to be enjoyed,
Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise
Of God, beneficent in all his ways;
Grac'd with such wisdom, how would beauty shine!
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine.
Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid,
Force many a shining youth into the shade,
Not to redeem his time, but his estate,
And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate.
There, hid in loathed obscurity, removed
From pleasures left, but never more beloved,
He just endures, and with a sickly spleen
Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene.
Nature indeed looks prettily in rhime;
Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime:
The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong,
Are musical enough in Thomson's song ;
And Cobham's groves, and Windsor's green retreats,
When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets;
He likes the country, but in truth must own,
Most like it, when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack---no matter who---for when I blame
I pity, and must therefore sink the name,
Lived in his saddle, loved the chase, the course,
And always, ere he mounted, kissed his horse.
Th' estate, his sires had owned in ancient years,
Was quickly distanced, matched against a peer's.
Jack vanished, was regretted and forgot ;
'Tis wild good-nature's never-failing lot.
At length, when all had long supposed him dead,
By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead,
My lord, alighting at his usual place,
The crown, took notice of an ostler's face.
Jack knew his friend, but hoped in that disguise
He migbt escape the most observing eyes,
And whistling, as if unconcerned and gay,
Curried his nag, and looked another way.
Convinced at last, upon a nearer view,
'Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew;'
O’erwhelmed at once with wonder, grief, and joy,
He pressed him much to quit his base employ;.
His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand,
Influence and power, were all at his command :
Peers are not always generous as well-bred,
But Granby was, meant truly what he said.
Jack bowed, and was obliged---confessed 'twas strange,
That so retired he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint---three thousand pounds a year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe;
Some seeking happiness not found below;
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclined;
Some swayed by fashion, some by deep disgust;
Some self-impoverished, and because they must;
But few, that court retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.'
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of powers proportioned to the post :
Give e'en a dunce the employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires;
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in its arduous enterprise to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His utmost faculties, severe indeed!
'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place,
But not to manage leisure with a grace;
Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quiet vacant is a mind distressed.
The veteran steed, excused his task at length,
In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turned into the park or mead to graze,
Exempt from future service all his days,
There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind,
Ranges at liberty, and snuft's the wind :
But when his lord would quit the busy road,
To taste a joy like that he had bestowed,
He proves less happy than his favoured brute,
A life of ease a difficult pursuit.
Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seem
As natural as when asleep to dream;
But reveries (for human minds will act)
Specious in show, impossible in fact,
Those Alimsy webs, that break as soon as wrought,
Attain not to the dignity of thought :
Nor yet the swarms, that occupy the brain,
Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign;
Nor such as useless conversation breeds,
Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds.
Whence, and what are we to what end ordained ?
What means the drama by the world sustained ?
Business or vain amusement, care or mirth,
Divide the frail inhabitants of earth.
Is duty a mere sport, or an employ?
Life an intrusted talent, or a toy?
Is there, as reason, conscience, scripture, say,
Cause to provide for a great future day,
When, earth's assigned duration at an end,
Man shall be summoned and the dead attend?
The trumpet---will it sound ? the curtain rise ?
And show th' august tribunal of the skies,
Where no prevarication shall avail,
Where eloquence and artifice shall fail,
The pride of arrogant distinctions fall,
And conscience and our conduct judge us all ?
Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil
To learned cares or philosophic toil,
Though I revere your honourable names,
Your useful labours and important aims,
And hold the world indebted to your aid,
Enriched with the discoveries ye have made ;
Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem
A mind employed on so sublime a theme,
ushing her bold inquiry to the date
And outline of the present transient state,
And after poising her adventurous wings,
Settling at last upon eternal things,
Far more intelligent, and better taught
The strenuous use bf profitable thought,
Than ye, when happiest, and enlightened most,
And highest in renown, can justly boast.
A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care,
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires,
Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch, that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands,
Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves;
Not those, in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success let modern manners show;
Nor his, who for the bane of thousands born
Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side thrust;
Nor those of learned philologists, who chase
A painting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of truth, th' associate of sound sense,
And such as in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment labouring in the scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use :
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.