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They could not purchase Earth with such a prize,
Or spare a life too short to reach the skies.
From them to thee convey'd along the tide,
Their streaming hearts pour'd freely, when they
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair,
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share.
What dotage will not vanity maintain ?
What web too weak to catch a modern brain ?
The moles and bats in full assembly find,
On special search, the keen-ey'd eagle blind.
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now!
Prove it-if better,'I submit and bow.
Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart.
So then—as darkness overspread the deep,
Erc Nature rose from her eternal sleep,
And this delightful Earth, and that fair sky,
Leap'd out of nothing, call'd by the Most High ;
By such a change thy darkness is made light,
Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might;
And He, whose pow'r mere nullity obeys,
Who found thee nothing, form’d thee for his praise.
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil,
Doing and suff’ring, his unquestion’d will ;
'Tis to believe what men inspir’d of old,
Faithful, and faithfully inform’d, unfold;
Candid and just, with no false aim in view,
To take for truth hat cannot but be true;
To learn in God's own school the Christian part,
And bind the task assign'd thee to thine heart :
Happy the man there seeking and there found,
Happy the nation where such men abound.
How shall a verse impress thee? by what name Shall I adjure thee not to court thy shame? By theirs, whose bright example unimpeach'd Directs thee to that eminence they reach'd, Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sires ? Or bis, who touch'd their hearts with hallow'd fires ? Their names, alas ! in vain reproach an age, Whom all the vanities they scorn'd engage ! And His, that seraphs tremble at, is hung Disgracefully on ev'ry trifler's tongue, Or serves the champion in forensic war To flourish and parade with at the bar. Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea, If intrest move thee, to persuade ev'n thee; By ev'ry charm, that smiles upon her face, By joys possess'd, and joys still held in chase, If dear society be worth a thought, And if the feast of freedom cloy thee not, Reflect that these, and all that seems thine own, Held by the tenure of his will alone, Like angels in the service of their Lord, Remain with thee, or leave thee at his word; That gratitude and temp'rance in our use Of what he gives, unsparing and profuse, Secure the favour, and enhance the joy, That thankless waste and wild abuse destroy. But above all reflect, how cheap soe'er Those rights, that millions envy thee, appear, And, though resolv'd to risk them, and swim down The tide of pleasure, heedless of His frown, That blessings truly sacred, and when giv'n Mark'd with the signature and stamp of Heav'n, The word of prophecy, those truths divine, Which make that Heav'n, if thou desire it, thine,
(Awful alternative! believ'd, belov'd,
Thy glory, and thy shame if unimprov'd)
Are never long vouchsaf'd, if push'd aside
With cold disgust or philosophic pride!
And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace,
Error, and darkness occupy their place.
A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot
Not quickly found, if negligently sought,
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small,
Endur'st the brunt, and dar’st defy them all :
And wilt thou join to this bold enterprise
A bolder still, a contest with the skies?
Remember, if He guard thee and secure,
Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure ;
But if He leave thee, though the skill and pow'r
Of nations, sworn to spoil thee and devour,
Were all collected in thy single arm,
And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harm,
That strength would fail, oppos'd against the push
And feeble onset of a pigmy rush.
Say not (and if the thought of such defence Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence) What nation amongst all my foes is free From crimes as base as any charg'd on me? Their measure fill'd, they too shall pay the debt, Which God, though long forborne, will not forget. But know that Wrath divine, when most severe, Makes justice still the guide of his career, And will not punish, in one mingled crowd, Them without light, and thee without a cloud.
Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged beech, Still murm’ring with the solemn truths I teach ; And while at intervals a cold blast sings Through the dry leaves, and pants upon the strings,
My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament
A nation scourg'd, yet tardy to repent.
I know the warning song is sung in vain ;
That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain ;
But if a sweeter voice, and one design'd
A blessing to my country and mankind,
Reclaim the wand'ring thousands, and bring home
A Aock so scatter'd and so wont to roam,
Then place it once again between my knees;
The sound of truth will then be sure to please :
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast,
In scenes of plenty, or the pining waste,
doceas iter, et sacra ostia pandas.
VIRG. En. 6.
Ask what is human life-the sage replies,
With disappointment low'ring in his eyes,
A painful passage o'er a restless flood,
A vain pursuit of fugitive false good,
A scene of fancied bliss and heart-felt care,
Closing at last in darkness and despair.
The poor, inur'd to drudgory and distress,
Act without aim, think little, and feel less,
And no where, but in feign’d Arcadian scenes,
Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means.
Riches are pass’d away from hand to hand,
As fortune, vice, or folly may' command;
As in a dance the pair that take the lead
Turn downward, and the lowest pair succeed,
So shifting and so various is the plan,
By which Heav'n rules the mix'd affairs of man;
Vicissitude wheels round the motley crowd,
The rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud;
Bus'ness is labour, and man's weakness such,
Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much,