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STANZAS

SUBJOINED TO THE YEARLY BILL OF MORTALITY OF THE

PARISH OF ALL-SAINTS, NORTHAMPTON,1

ANNO DOMINI 1787.

Pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperam tabernas,
Regumque turres. Horace.

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 waives his claim.

i Composed for John Cox, parish clerk of Northampton.

Like crowded forest trees we stand,

And some are mark'd to fall;
The axe will smite at God's command,

And soon shall smite us all.

Green as the bay tree, ever green,

With its new foliage on,
The gay, the thoughtless, have I seen,

I pass'd—and they were gone.

Read, ye that run, the awful truth

With which I charge my page; A worm is in the bud of youth,

And at the root of age.

No present health can health insure

For yet an hour to come;
No medicine, though it oft can cure,

Can always balk the tomb.

And 0! that humble as my lot,

And scorn'd as is my strain, These truths, though known, too much forgot,

I may not teach in vain.

So prays your clerk with all his heart,

And, ere he quits his pen,
Begs you for once to take his part,

And answer all—Amen!

ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.

FOR THE YEAR 1788.

Quod adest, memento
Componere aequus. Castera fluminis
Ritu feruntur. Horace.

Improve the present hour, for all beside
Is a mere feather on a torrent's tide.

Could I, from Heaven inspired, as sure presage
To whom the rising year shall prove his last,
As I can number in my punctual page,
And item down the victims of the past;

How each would trembling wait the mournful sheet
On which the press might stamp him next to die;
And, reading here iris sentence, how replete
With anxious meaning, Heavenward turn his eye!

Time then would seem more precious than the joys
In which he sports away the treasure now;
And prayer more seasonable than the noise
Of drunkards, or the music-drawing bow.

Then doubtless many a trifler, on the brink
Of this world's hazardous and headlong shore,
Forced to a pause, would feel it good to think,
Told that his setting sun must rise no more.

Ah self-deceived! Could I prophetic say
Who next is fated, and who next to fall,
The rest might then seem privileged to play;
But, naming none, the Voice now speaks to all.

Observe the dappled foresters, how light
They bound and airy o'er the sunny glade—
One falls—the rest, wide scatter'd with affright,
Vanish at once into the darkest shade.

Had we their wisdom, should we, often warn'd,
Still need repeated warnings, and at last,
A thousand awful admonitions scorn'd,
Die self-accused of life run all to waste?

Sad waste! for which no after-thrift atones.
The grave admits no cure for guilt or sin;
Dewdrops may deck the turf that hides the bones,
But tears of godly grief ne'er flow within.

Learn then, ye living! by the mouths be taught
Of all these sepulchres, instructors true,
That, soon or late, death also is your lot,
And the next opening grave may yawn for you.

VOL. II. 19

ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.

FOR THE YEAR 1739.

•—Placidaque ibi demum morte quievit.

There calm at length he breathed his soul away.

"0 Most delightful hour by man

Experienced here below,
The hour that terminates his span,

His folly and his woe!

"Worlds should not bribe me back to tread

Again life's dreary waste,
To see again my day o'erspread

With all the gloomy past.

"My home henceforth is in the skies,

Earth, seas, and sun, adieu! All Heaven unfolded to my eyes,

I have no sight for you."

So spake Aspasio, firm possess'd

Of faith's supporting rod,
Then breathed his soul into its rest,

The bosom of his God.

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