« PreviousContinue »
Nought but what wounds his virtue wounds his peace.
A covered heart their character defends;
A covered heart denies him half his praise.
With nakedness his innocence agrees,
While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Their no-joys end where his full feast begins ;
His joys create, theirs murder future bliss.
To triumph in existence his alone;
And his alone triumphantly to think
His true existence is not yet begun.
His glorious course was yesterday complete;
Death then was welcome, yet life still is sweet.
Be wise to-day; 't is madness to deter,
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 't is so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise ;
At least their own; their future selves applaud ;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodged in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread:
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found.
As from the wing no scar the sky retains,
The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death :
E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
O treacherous conscience ! while she seems to sleep On rosc and myrtle, lulled with syren song; While she seems nodding o'er her charge, to drop On headlong appetite the slackened rein,
And give us up to license, unrecalled,
Unmarked ;-see, from behind her secret stand,
The sly informer minutes every fault,
And her dread diary with horror fills.
Not the gross act alone employs her pen;
She reconnoitres Fancy's airy band,
A watchful foe! the formidable spy,
Listening, o'erhears the whispers of our camp
Our dawning purposes of heart explores,
And steals our embryos of iniquity.
As all-rapacious usurers conceal
Their Doomsday-book from all-consuming heirs;
Thus, with indulgence most severe, she treats
Us spendthrifts of inestimable time;
Unnoted, notes each moment misapplied ;
In leaves more durable than leaves of brass
Writes our whole history, which Death shall read
In every pale delinquent's private ear,
And judgment publish ; publish to more worlds
Than this; and endless age in groans resound.
Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach? Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up, want air, And spoil, like bales unopened to the sun. Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied: Speech, thought’s canal! speech, thought's criterion tool Thought in the mine may come forth gold or dross ; When coined in word, we know its real worth : If sterling, store it for thy future use; ’T will buy thee benefit, perhaps renown. Thought, too, delivered, is the more possessed ;
Teaching we learn, and giving we retain
The births of intellect; when dumb, forgot
Speech ventilates our intellectual fire;
Speech burnishes our mental magazine;
Brightens for ornament, and whets for use.
What if (since daring on so nice a theme) I show thee friendship delicate as dear, Of tender violations apt to die? Reserve will wound it, and distrust destroy ; Deliberate on all things with thy friend : But since friends grow not thick on every bough, Nor every
friend unrotten at the core; First on thy friend deliberate with thyself; Pause, ponder, sift; not eager in the choice, Nor jealous of the chosen: fixing, fix: Judge before friendship, then confide till death.
ON DISASTERS COMING TOGETHER.
Woes cluster ; rare are solitary woes ; They love a train; they tread each other's heel; Her death invades his mournful right, and claims The grief that started from my lids for him; Seizes the faithless alienated tear, Or shares it ere it falls. So frequent death, Sorrow he more than causes ; he confounds; For human sighs his rival strokes contend, And make distress distraction. O Philander ! What was thy fate ? a double fate to me; Portent and pain ? a menace and a blow ! Like the black raven hovering o'er my peace, Not less a bird of omen than of prey.
The principal poems of JAMES THOMSON (1700-1748), are The Seasons, and the Castle of Indolence. The latter poem is written in the style of Spenser, and is a highly polished performance. It is to the former, however, the author owes his chief celebrity.
“ The publication of the Seasons,” says a recent critic, " was an important era in the history of English poetry. So true and beautiful are the descriptions in the poem, and so entirely do they harmonize with those fresh feelings and glowing impulses which all would wish to cherish, that a love of nature seems to be synonymous with a love of Thomson. It is difficult to conceive a person of education in this country, imbued with an admiration of rural or woodland scenery, not entertaining a strong affection and regard for that delightful poet, who has painted their charms with so much fidelity and enthusiasm.”
Low walks the sun, and broadens by degrees,
Just o'er the verge of day. The shifting clouds
Assembled gay, a richly gorgeous train,
In all their pomp attend his setting brone.
Air, earth, and ocean smile immense. And now,
As if his weary char'ot sought the bowers
Of Amphitrite, and her tending nymphs