Page images

And hold the world indebted to your aid,

665 Enrich'd with the discov'ries ye have made ; Yet let me stand excus d, if I esteem A mind employ'd on so sublime a theme, Pushing her bold inquiry to the date And outline of the present transient state, 670 And after poising her advent'rous wings, Settling at last upon eternal things, Far more intelligent, and better taught The strenuous use of profitable thought, Than ye, when happiest, and enlighten'd most, 675 And highest in renown, can justly boast.

A mind unnerv’d, or indispos'd 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. S80 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; Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow, 685 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;

690 Nor those of learned philologists, who chase A panting 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, 695 The friend of truth, th' associate of good sense. And such as, in the zeal of good design, Strong judgment lab'ring in the Scripture mine, All such as manly and great souls produce, Worthy to live, and of eternal use ;

700 Behold in these what leisure hours demand, Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.

Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And, while she polishes, perverts the taste ;
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,

Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one gen'ral cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
The loud demand, from year to year the same,
Beggars Invention, and makes Fancy lame; 710
Till farce itself most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune;
And novels, (witness ev'ry month's review,)
Belie their name, and offer nothing new.
The mind, relaxing into needful sport,

715 Should turn to writers of an abler sort, Whose wit well manag'd, and whose classick style, Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile. Friends, (for I cannot stint, as some have done, Too rigid in my view, that name to one ;

720 Though one, I grant it, in the gen'rous breast Will stand advanc'd a step above the rest ; Flow'rs by that name promiscuously we call, But one, tho rose, the regent of them all,) Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste, 725 But chosen with a nice discerning taste, Well born, well disciplin'd, who, plac'd apart From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, And though the world may think the ingredients add, The love of virtue, and the fear of God!

730 Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, A temper rustick as the life we lead, And keep the polish of the manners clean, As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene; For solitude, however some may rave, -

735 Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave, A sepulchre, in which the living lie, Where all good qualities grow sick and die.

I praise the Frenchman,* his remark was shrewd-
How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude ! 740
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper-solitude is sweet.
Yet neithe: these delights, nor aught beside,
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,

Or shine the dulness of still life away ;
Divine communion, carefully enjoy’d,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
O sacred art, to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close ; 750
Scorn'd in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne.
Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding nands
Flow'rs of rank odour upon thorny lands,
And while Experience cautions us in vain, 755
Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Lost by abandoning her own relief,
Murmuring and ungrateful discontent,
That scorns afflictions mercifully nieant,

76C Those humours tart as wine upon the fret, Which idleness and weariness beget : These, and a thousand plagues, that haunt the breast, Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest, Divine communion chases, as the day

765 Drives to their dons th' obedient beasts of prey. See Judah's promis'd king, bereft of all, Driv'n out an exile from the face of Saul; To distant caves the lonely wand'rer flies, To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies. Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice, Hear him, o'erwhelm'd with sorrow, yet rejoice ; No womanish or wailing grief has part, No, not a moment, in his royal heart ;

[blocks in formation]





'Tis manly musick, such as martyrs make,
Suff'ring with gladness for a Saviour's sake ;
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds, familiar with a lion's roar,
Ring with ecstatick sounds unheard before ;
'Tis love like his, that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.

Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumber'd pleasures harmlessly pursu'd ;
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil ;
To give dissimilar, yet fruitful lands,
The grain, or herb, or plant, that each demands ;
To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create ;
To mark the matchless workings of the pow'r,
That shuts within its seed the future flow'r,
Bid these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes,
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy shect-
These, these are arts pursu'd without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of Time.

Me poetry, (or rather notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetick fame,)
Emplovs. shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouso ;
Content if thus sequester'd I may raise
A monitor's though not a poet's praise,
And while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own







Verses addressed to a country clergyman, complaining

of the disagreeableness of the day annually appointed for receiving the dues at the parsonage.

COME, ponder well, for 'tis no jest,

To laugh it would be wrong,
The troubles of a worthy priest,

The burden of my song.
The priest he merry is and blitho,

Three quarters of the year,
But, oh! it cuts him like a sithe,

When tithing time draws neai.
He then is full of frights and fears,

As one at point to die,
And long before the day appears,

He heares up many a sigh.
For then the farmers come, jog, jog,

Along the miry road,
Each heart as heavy as a log,

To make their payments good.

« PreviousContinue »