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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 gen’ral 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 ev'ry 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 manag'd, 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 gen'rous breast Will stand advanc'd a step above the rest: Flow'rs by that name promiscuously we call, But one, the rose, the regent of them all)— Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste, But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplin'd, who, plac'd apart From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, And, though the world may think th' 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 enjoy’d, Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
O sacred art, to which alone life owes Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close, Scorn'd in a world, indebted to that scorn For evils daily felt, and hardly borne, Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands Flow'rs of rank odour upon thorny lands, And, while Experience cautions us in vain, Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain. Despondence, self-deserted in her grief, Lost by abandoning her own relief, Murmuring and ungrateful Discontent, That scorns afflictions mercifully meant, Those humours tart as wines upon the fret, Which idleness and weariness beget; These, and a thousand plagues, that haunt the breast, Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest, Divine communion chases, as the day Drives to their dens th' obedient beasts of prey. See Judah's promis'd king, bereft of all, Driv'n out an exile from the face of Saul, To distant caves the lonely wand'rer flies, To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies. Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice, Hear him, o'erwhelm’d with sorrow, yet rejoice;
RETIREMENT. . 255 No womanish or wailing grief has part, No, not a moment, in his royal heart; 'Tis manly music, such as martyrs make, Suff’ring with gladness for a Saviour's sake: His soul exults, hope animates his lays, The sense of mercy kindles into praise, And wilds, familiar with a lion's roar, Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before: "Tis love like his, that can alone defeat The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude Unnumber'd pleasures harmlessly pursued; To study culture, and with artful toil To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil; To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands The grain, or herb, or plant, that each demands; To cherish virtue in an humble state, And share the joys your bounty may create; To mark the matchless workings of the pow'r, That shuts within it's seed the future flow'r, Bids these in elegance of form excel, In colour these, and those delight the smell, Sends Nature forth the daughter of the skies, To dance on Earth, and charm all human eyes;
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Me poetry (or rather notes that aim