« PreviousContinue »
Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot.
It happen'd on a solemn even-tide,
And made so welcome at their simple feast,
Now theirs was converse such as it behoves
But conversation, choose what theme we may, And chiefly when Religion leads the way, Should flow like waters after summer show'rs, Not as if raised by mere mechanic pow'rs. The Christian, in whose soul, though now distress'd, Lives the dear thought of joys he once possess'd, When all his glowing language issued forth With God's deep stamp upon its current worth, Will speak without disguise, and must impart, Sad as it is, his undissembling heart, Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal, Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel. The Song of Sion is a tasteless thing, Unless when rising on a joyful wing The soul can mix with the celestial bands, And give the strain the compass it demands.
RETIREMENT. studiis florens ignobilis oti."— VIRG. Geor. Lib. iv.
Which thousands, once fast chain'd to, quit no
more, But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low, All wish, or seem to wish they could forego,
The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade,
Rarely redeem the short remaining ten.
Not that I mean t' approve or would enforce
monastic course : Truth is not local, God alike pervades And fills the world of traffic and the shades, And may be fear'd amid the busiest scenes, Or scorn'd where business never intervenes. But 'tis not easy with a mind like ours, Conscious of weakness in its noblest pow'rs, And in a world where (other ills apart) The roving eye misleads the careless heart, To limit thought, by nature prone to stray Wherever freakish fancy points the way, To bid the pleadings of self-love be still, Resigu our own, and seek our Maker's will ; To spread the page of Scripture, and compare Our conduct with the laws engraven there, To measure all that passes in the breast, Faithfully, fairly, by that sacred test; To dive into the secret deeps within, To spare no passion and no fav’rite sin, And search the themes important above all, Ourselves, and our recov'ry from our fall. But leisure, silence, and a mind released From anxious thoughts how wealth may be increased, How to secure in some propitious hour The point of int'rest, or the post of power, A soul serene, and equally retired, From objects too much dreaded, or desired, Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute, At least are friendly to the great pursuit.
Ye groves (the statesman at his desk exclaims, Sick of a thousand disappointed aims), My patrimonial treasure and my pride, Beneath your shades your grey possessor hide, Receive me, languishing for that repose The servant of the public never knows. Ye saw me once (ah, those regretted days, When boyish innocence was all my praise), Hour after hour delightfully allot To studies then familiar, since forgot, And cultivate a taste for ancient song, Catching its ardour as I mused along ; Nor seldom, as propitious Heav'n might send, What once I valued and could boast, a friend, Were witnesses how cordially I press'd His undissembling virtue to my breast; Receive me now, not uncorrupt as then, Nor guiltless of corrupting other men, But versed in arts that, while they seem to stay A fallen empire, hasten its decay. To the fair haven of my native home, The wreck of what I was, fatigued I come, For once I can approve the patriot's voice, And make the course he recommends, my choice ; We meet at last in one sincere desire, His wish and mine both prompt me to retire. 'Tis done-he steps into the welcome chaise, Lolls at his ease behind four handsome bays, That whirl away from bus'ness and debate The disencumber'd Atlas of the state.
A mind unnerved, and 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.