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To prove at last my main intent
Needs no expense of argument,
No cutting and contriving---
Seeking a real friend we seem
To adopt the chymist's golden dream,
With still less hope of thriving.
Sometimes the fault is all our own,
Some blemish, in due time made known,
By trespass or omission;
Sometimes occasion brings to light
Our friend's defect, long hid from sight,
And even from suspicion,
Then judge yourself, and prove your man As circumspectly as you can,
And having made election, Beware no negligence of yours, Such as a friend but ill endures, Enfeeble his affection.
That secrets are a sacred trust,
That friends should be sincere and just,
That constancy befits them;
Are observations on the case,
That savour much of common-place,
And all the world admits them.
But 'tis not timber, lead, and stone,
An architect requires alone
To finish a fine building--
The palace were but half complete
If he could possibly forget
The carving and the gilding.
The man who hails you Tom or Jack,
And proves by thumps upon your back
How he esteems your merit,
Is such a friend, that one had need
Be very much his friend indeed
To pardon or to bear it.
As similarity of mind,
Or something not to be defined,
First fixes our attention;
So manners decent and polite,
The same we practised at first sight,
Must save it from declension.
Some act upon this prudent plan,
Say little and hear all you can."
Safe policy, but hateful---
So barren lands imbibe the shower,
But render neither fruit nor flower,
Unpleasant and ungrateful.
The man I trust, if shy to me,
Shall find me as reserved as he,
No subterfuge or pleading
Shall win my confidence again,
I will by no means entertain
A spy on my proceeding.
These samples---for alas! at last
These are but samples, and a taste
Of evils yet unmentioned---
May prove the task a task indeed,
In which 'tis much if we succeed
Pursue the search and you will find
Good sense and knowledge of mankind
To be at least expedient,
And after summing all the rest,
Religion ruling in the breast
A principle ingredient.
The noblest Friendship ever shewn
The Saviour's history makes known,
Though some have turned and turned it;
And whether being crazed or blind,
Or seeking with a biassed mind,
Have not, it seems, discerned it.
Oh Friendship! if my soul forego
Thy dear delights while here below;
To mortify and grieve me,
May I myself at last appear
Unworthy, base, and insincere,
Or may my friend deceive me.
EPISTLE TO THE REV. WILLIAM BULL.
IF reading verse be your delight,
'Tis mine as much, or more, to write;
But what we would, so weak is man,
Lies oft remote from what we can.
For instance, at this very time,
I feel a wish, by cheerful rhyme,
To sooth my friend, and had I power,
To cheat him of an anxious hour.
Not meaning (for I must confess
What 'twere but folly to suppress)
His pleasure or his good alone,
But squinting partly at my own.
But though the sun is flaming high
I' the centre of yon arch, the sky,
And he had once, and who but he?
The name of setting genius free;
Yet whether poets of past days
Yielded him undeserved praise,
And he, by no uncommon lot,
Was fam'd for virtues he had not;
Or whether, which is like enough,
His highness may have taken huff;
So seldom sought by invocation,
Since it has been the reigning fashion
To disregard his inspiration,
I seem no brighter in my wits,
For all the radience he emits,
Than if I saw through midnight vapour
The glimmering of a farthing taper.
Oh, for a succedaneum then
T'accelerate a creeping pen;
Oh, for a ready succedaneum,
Quod caput, cerebrum et cranium
Pondere liberet exoso,
Et morbo jam calliginoso!
'Tis here? this oval box* well fill'd
With best tobacco finely mill'd,
Beats all Antycira's pretences
To disengage th'encumber'd senses.
Oh Nymph of Transatlantic fame,
Where'er thine haunt, whate'er thy name,
Whether reposing on the side
Of Oroonoko's spacious tide,
Or listening with delight not small
To Niagara's distant fall
'Tis thine to cherish and to feed
The pungent nose-refreshing weed;
Which, whether pulveriz'd it gain
A speedy passage to the brain,
Or whether touch'd with fire, it rise
In circling eddies to the skies,
Does thought more quicken and refine
Than all the breath of all the nine---
Forgive the bard, if bard he be,
Who once too wantonly made free
To touch with a satiric wipe
That symbol of thy power, the PIPE.
So may no blight infect thy plains,
And no unseasonable rains;
And so may smiling peace once more
Visit America's sad shore.
And then secure from all alarms
Of thundering drums and glitt❜ring arms,
Rove unconfin'd beneath the shade
Thy wide expanded leaves have made.
So may thy votaries increase
And fumigation never cease;
*On one of his viists to the poet, Mr. Bull had accidentally left his box behind him, filled with Oroonoko tobacco.
May Newton* with renewed delights
Perform thine odoriferous rites;
While clouds of incense, half divine,
Involve thy disappearing shrine;
And so may smoke-inhaling Bull
Be always filling never full.
Olney, June 22, 1782.
SUBJOINED TO THE YEARLY BILL OF MORTALITY OF THE PARISH OF ALL-SAINTS, NORTHAMPTON, ANNO DOMINI, 1787.
Pallida Mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas,
Pale death, with equal foot, strikes wide the door
Of royal halls, and hovels of the poor!
WHILE thirteen moons saw smoothly run
The Nen's barge-laden wave,
All these, life's rambling journey done,
Have found their home, the grave.
Was man (frail always) made more frail
Than in foregoing years?
Did famine or did plague prevail,
That so much death appears ?
No; these were vigorous as their sires,
Nor plague nor famine came;
This annual tribute death requires,
And never waves his claim.
Like crowded forest-trees we stand,
And some are marked to fall;
The axe shall smite at God's command,
And soon shall smite us all.
* Rev. J. Newton, late of Saint Mary Woolnoth, London, but then of Olney