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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 the 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,
Pushing 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 of 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. Lis
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,
With what success let modern manners show:
Nor his, who for the bane of thousands born
Built God a church, and laughed his word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side-thrust;
Nor those of learn’d 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,
The friend of truth, the 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.
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 general cry, Tickle and entertain us, or we die. The loud demand, from year to year the same, Beggars invention and makes fancy lame, Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune, Calls for the kind assistance of a tune; And novels (witness every month's review) Belie their name, and offer nothing new. The mind, relaxing into needful sport, Should turn to writers of an abler sort, Whose wit well managed, and whose classic 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; Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast Will stand advanced a step above the rest: Flowers by that name promiscuously we call, But one, the rose, the regent of them all) — Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste, But chosen with a nice discerning taste, Well-born, well-disciplined, who placed apart From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And, tho’the world may think the ingredients odd, The love of virtue, and the fear of God! Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, A temper rustic 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, 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 shrewdHow sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude!.. But grant me still a friend in my retreat, Whom I may whisper-solitude is sweet. Yet neither 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 enjoyed, Or sought with energy, must fill the void. Oh sacred art, to which alone life owes . Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,