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Elegy to a young Nobleman leaving the University.
ERE yet, ingenuous Youth, thy steps retire
From Cam's smooth margin, and the peaceful vale,
Where Science call'd thee to her studious quire,
And met thee musing in her cloisters pale :
O let thy friend (and may he boast the name)
Breathe from his artless reed one parting lay!
A lay like this thy early Virtues claim,
And this let voluntary friendship pay.
Yet know the time arrives, the dangerous time
When all those Virtues, opening now so fair,
Transplanted to the world's tempestuous clime,
Must learn each Passion's boist'rous breath to
There if Ambition, pestilent and pale,
Or luxury should taint their vernal glow; If cold Self-interest, with her chilling gale, Should blast th' unfolding blossoms ere they blow; If mimic hues, by Art, or Fashion spread,
Their genuine, simple colouring should supply; O! with them may these laureate honours fade; And with them (if it can) my friendship die. -And do not blame, if, tho' thyself inspire, Cautious I strike the panegyric string; The Muse full oft pursues a meteor fire,
And vainly vent'rous, soars on waxen wing. Too actively awake at Friendship's voice, The poet's bosom pours the fervent strain, 'Till sad reflection blames the hasty choice, And oft invokes Oblivion's aid in vain. Go then, my friend, nor let thy candid breast Condemn me, if I check the plausive string; Go to the wayward world; compleat the rest; Be, what the purest Muse would wish to sing, Be styll Thyself: that open path of Truth,
Which led thee here, let Manhood firm pursue Retain the sweet simplicity of Youth, And all thy virtue dictates, dare to do. Still scorn,
with conscious pride, the mask of Art; On Vice's front let fearful Caution lour, And teach the diffident, discreeter part
Of knaves that plot, and fools that fawn for power. So, round thy brow when age's honours spread, When death's cold hand unstrings thy Mason's lyre,
green turf lies lightly on his head, Thy worth shall some superior bard inspire: He to the amplest bounds of Time's domain, On Rapture's plume shall give thy Name to fly For trust, with rev'rence trust this Sabine strain : The Muse forbids the virtuous Man to die. >>
On the Miseries of human Life.
A little think the gay licentious proud,
Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround
They, who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth,
And wanton, often cruel, riot waste;
Ah little think they, while they dance along,
How many feel, this very moment, death
And all the sad variety of pain:
How many sink in the devouring flood,
Or more devouring flame: how many bleed,
shameful variance betwixt Man and Man:
How many pine in want, and dungeon glooms
Shut from the common air, and common use
Of their own limbs: how
drink the cup
Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread
Of misery sore pierc'd by wintry winds,
How many shrink into the sordid hut
Of cheerless poverty: how many shake
With all the fiercer tortures of the mind,
Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse
Whence, tumbling headlong from the height of life,
They furnish matter for the tragic muse:
Even in the vale, where wisdom loves to dwell,
With friendship, peace, and contemplation join'd,
How many, rack' with honest passions, droop
In deep retir distress: how many stand
Around the death-bed of their dearest friends,
And point the parting anguish!-Thought fondman
Of these, and all the thousand nameless ills,
That one incessant struggle render life
One scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate "
Vice in his high career would stand appall'd,
And heedless rambling Impulse learn to think :
The conscious heart of Charity would
And her wide wish Benevolence dilate;
The social tear would rise, the social sigh;
And into clear perfection, gradual bliss,
Refining still, the social passions work. THOMSON.
CHA P. X X I I.
Reflections on a future State.
'Tis done!-dread Winter spreads his latest
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictur'd life ; pass some few
Thy flow'ring Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled
Those dreams of greatness? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? Those busy bustling days?
Those gay spent festive nights? those veering
Lost between good and ill, that shar'd thy life?
All now are vanish'd! Virtue sole survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of Man,
His guide to happiness on high.-And see!
the glorious morn! the second birth
Of heaven, and earth! awakening Nature hears
The new-creating word, and starts to life,
In every heighten'd form, from pain and death
For ever free. The great eternal scheme
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting as the prospect wider spreads,
To reason's eye refin'd clears up apace.
Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that Power,
And Wisdom oft arraign'd: see now the cause,
Why unassuming worth in secret liv'd,
And dy'd, neglected: why the good Man's share
In life was gall and bitterness of soul:
Why the lone widow, and her orphans, pin'd
In starving solitude; while luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants: why heaven-born truth,
And moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of superstition's scourge: why licens'd pain,
That cruel spoiler, that embosom'd foe,
Imbitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distrest!
Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up awhile,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deem'd Evil, is no more.
The storms of Wintry Time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded Spring encircle all.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead :
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, « That all men are about to live
For ever on the brink of being born.
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They, one day, shall not drivel; and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least, their own; their future selves applauds;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodg'd in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodg'd in Fate's, to Wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in Folly, not to scorn a fool;
And scarce in human Wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that thro' every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content, we sometimes nobly rest,
Un-anxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan ;
At fify, chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to Resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought,
Resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same.
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal, but themselves;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate
Strikes thro'their wounded hearts the sudden dread;
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where past the shaft, no trace is found.
As from the wing no scar the sky retains;
The parted wave no furrow from the keel;
So dies in human hearts the thought of death.
Ev'n with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their