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He seek his proper happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder thine.
Nor though he tread the secret path of life
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,
Account him an encumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits, and rendering none.
His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and though small
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence, in works
From which at least a grateful few derive
Some taste of comfort in a world of woe,
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his coun try; recompenses well
The state beneath the shadow of whose vine
He sits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted place.
The man whose virtues are more felt than seen,
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise;
But he may boast what few that win it can,
That if his country stand not by his skill,
At least his follies have not wrought her fall.
Polite refinement offers him in vain
Her golden tube, through which a sensual world
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well,
The neat conveyance hiding all the offence.
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode
Because that world adopts it: if it bear
The stamp and clear impression of good sense,
And be not costly more than of true worth,
He puts it on, and for decorum sake
Can wear it even as gracefully as she.
She judges of refinement by the eye,
He by the test of conscience, and a heart
Not soon deceived; aware that what is base
No polish can make sterling, and that vice
Though well perfumed and elegantly dressed,
Like an unburied carcase tricked with flowers,
Is but a garnished nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renowned in ancient song; not vexed with care
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last
My share of duties decently fulfilled
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me, then, that once when called
To dress a sofa with the flowers of verse,
I played awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon to please her more
Whom flowers alone I knew would little please,
Let fall the unfinished wreath, and roved for fruit.
Roved tar and gathered much. Some harsh, 'tis true,
Picked from the thorns and briers of reproof,
But wholesome, well-digested. Grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth,
Insipid else, and sure to be despised.
But all is in His hand whose praise I seek.
In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,
If he regard not, though divine the theme.
'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
And idle tinklmg of a minstrel's lyre
To charm his ear, whose eye is on the heart,
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation—prosper even mine.
REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN,
RECTOR OF STOCK IN ESSEX, THE TUTOR OF HIS TWO SONS,
THE FOLLOWING POEM,
RECOMMENDING PRIVATE TUITION IN PREFERENCE TO
AN EDUCATION AT SCHOOL,
IS INSCRIBED, BY HIS AFFECTIONATE FRIEND,
WILLIAM COWPER. Olney, Nov. 6, 1784.
It is not from his form in which we trace
Though laden, not encumbered with her spoil,
Why did the fiat of a God give birth
Then he, of all that nature has brought forth,
Truths that the learned pursue with eager thought,
In early days the conscience has in most A quickness, which in later life is lost. Preserved from guilt by salutary fears, Or, guilty, soon relenting into tears. Too careless often as our years proceed, What friends we sort with, or what books we read, Our parents yet exert a prudent care To feed our infant minds with proper fare, And wisely store the nursery by degrees With wholesome learning, yet acquired with ease. Neatly secured from being soiled or torn Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn.