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Though clasp'd and cradled in his nurse's arms, He shines with all a cherub's artless charms. Man is the genuine offspring of revolt, Stubborn and sturdy, a wild ass's colt; His passions, like the wat'ry stores that sleep Beneath the smiling surface of the deep, Wait but the lashes of a wintry storm, To frown and roar, and shake his feeble form. From infancy through childhood's giddy maze, Froward at school, and fretful in his plays, The puny tyrant burns to subjugate The free republic of the whip-gig state. If one, his equal in athletic frame, Or, more provoking still, of nobler name, Dare step across his arbitrary views, An Iliad, only not in verse, ensues: The little Greeks look trembling at the scales, Till the best tongue, or heaviest hand prevails.
Now see him launch'd into the world at large; If priest, supinely droning o'er his charge, Their fleece his pillow, and his weekly drawl, Though short, too long, the price he pays for all. If lawyer, loud whatever cause he plead, But proudest of the worst, if that succeed,
Vol. 1. K
Perhaps a grave physician, gath'ring fees,
Punctually paid for length'ning out disease;
No Cotton, whose humanity sheds rays,
That make superior skill his second praise.
If arms engage him, he devotes to sport
His date of life, so likely to be short;
A soldier may be any thing, if brave,
So may a tradesman, if not quite a knave.
Such stuff the world is made of; and mankind
To passion, int'rest, pleasure, whim, resign'd,
Insist on, as if each were his own pope,
Forgiveness, and the privilege of hope,
But Conscience, in some awful silent hour,
When captivating lusts have lost their pow'r,
Perhaps when sickness, or some fearful dream.
Reminds him of religion, hated theme!
Starts from the down, on which she lately slept,
And tells of laws despis'd, at least not kept:
Shows with a pointing finger, but no noise,
A pale procession of past sinful joys,
All witnesses of blessings foully scorn'd,
And life abus'd, and not to be suborn'd.
Mark these, she says; these summon'd from afar,
Begin their march to meet thee at the bar;
There find a Judge inexorably just,
And perish there, as all presumption must.
Peace be to those (such peace as Earth can give) Who live in pleasure, dead ev'n while they live; Born capable indeed of heav'nly truth; But down to latest age, from earliest youth. Their mind a wilderness through want of care, The plough of wisdom never ent'ring there. Peace (if insensibility may claim A right to the meek honours of her name) To men of pedigree, their noble race, Emulous always of the nearest place To any throne, except the throne of Grace, Let cottagers and unenlighten'd swains Revere the laws they dream that Heav'n ordains; Resort on Sundays to the house of pray'r, And ask, and fancy they find, blessings there. Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat V enjoy cool nature in a country seat, T exchange the centre of a thousand trades. For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades, May now and then their velvet cushions take, And seem to pray for good example sake;
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town
Pious enough, and having need of none.
Kind souls! to teach their tenantry to prize
What they themselves, without remorse, despise:
Nor hope have they, nor fear of aught to come,
As well for them had prophecy been dumb;
They could have held the conduct they pursue,
Had Paul of Tarsus liv'd and died a Jew;
And truth, propos'd to reas'ners wise as they,
Is a pearl cast—completely cast away.
They die.—Death lends them, pleas'd, and as in
All the grim honours of his ghastly court.
Far other paintings grace the chamber now,
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow:
The busy heralds hang the sable scene
With mournful scutcheons, and dim lamps between;
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around,
But they that wore them move not at the sound;
The coronet, plac'd idly at their head,
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead;
And ev'n the star, that glitters on the bier,
Can only say—Nobility lies here.
Peace to all such—'twere pity to offend,
By useless censure, whom we cannot mend;
Life -without hope can close but in despair,
Twas there we found them, and must leave them
As, when two pilgrims in a forest stray,
Both may be lost, yet each in his own way;
So fares it with the multitudes beguil'd
In vain Opinion's waste and dang'rous wild;
Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among,
Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong.
But here, alas! the fatal diff'rence lies,
Each man's belief is right in his own eyes;
And he that blames, what they have blindly chose,
Incurs resentment for the love he shows.
Say botanist, within whose province fall
The cedar and the hyssop on the wall,
Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bow'rs,
What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flow'rs?
Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combin'd,
Distinguish ev'ry cultivated kind;
The want of both denotes a meaner breed
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed.