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Can the deep statesman, skill'd in great design,
Protract but for a day precarious breath? Or the tun'd follower of the sacred Nine
Sooth, with his melody, insatiate Death ?
No:-though the palace bar her golden gate,
Or monarchs plant ten thousand guards around : Unerring, and unseen, the shaft of fate
Strikes the devoted victim to the ground! What then avails Ambition's wide-stretch'd wing,
The schoolman's page, or pride of Beauty's bloom! The crape-clad hermit, and the rich-rob'd king,
Levell’d, lie mix'd promiscuous in the tomb. The Macedonian monarch, wise and good,
Bade, when the morning's rosy reign began, Courtiers should call, as round his couch they stood.
Philip! remember, thou’rt no more than man: * Though glory spread thy name from pole to pole ;
Though thou art merciful, and brave, and just;: Philip, reflect, thou’rt posting to the goal Where mortals mix in undistinguish'd dust!
So, Saladin, for arts and arms renown'd,
(Egypt and Syria's wide domains subdued,) Returning with imperial triumphs crown'd,
Sigh'd when the perishable pomp he view'd.
Placid, pendant on a spear, his burial vest:
While thus the herald cried— This son of power,
This Saladin, to whom the nations bow'd, May, in the space of one revolving hour,
Boast of no other spoil but yonder shroud! Search where Ambition rag'd, with rigour steeld ;
Where Slaughter like the rapid lightning ran; And say, while Memory weeps the blood-stain'd
field, Where lies the chief, and where the common man? Vain then are pyramids, and motto'd stones,
And monumental trophies rais'd on high! For time confounds them with the crumbling bones,
That, mix'd in hasty graves, unnotic'd lie. Rests not beneath the turf the peasant's head,
Soft as the lord's beneath the labour'd tomb ? Or sleeps one colder in his close clay bed,
Than t'other in the wide vault's dreary womb ? Hither let Luxury lead her loose-rob'd train;
Here flutter Pride, on purple painted wings; And from the moral prospect learn,--how vain The wish that sighs for sublunary things !
ELEGY ON WILLIAM BECKFORD. WEEP on, ye Britons-give your gen’ral tear ;
But hence, ye venal-hence each titled slave; An honest pang should wait on Beckford's bier,
And patriot anguish mark the patriot's grave.
Wheu like the Roman to his field retir'd,
'Twas you (surrounded by unnumber'd foes)
And took from age the blessing of repose.
To sten the torrent of corruption's tide,
And nobly in his country's service died.
When life's poor lamp more faint and fainter
He only felt for liberty and you.
With firmness only to a Christian known;
With which he never gratified his own.
And give his laurel everlasting bloom;
And teach succeeding ages from his tomb.
His hand for ever held the balance right;
But murder found no mercy in his sight.
Truth seldom reaches to a monarch's ear;
Hence, honest to his prince, his manly tongue,
The public wrong and loyalty convey'd, While titled tremblers, ev'ry nerve unstrung,
Look'd all around, confounded and dismay'd. Look'd all around, astonish'd to behold,
(Train'd up to flatt'ry from their early youth) An artless, fearless, citizen, unfold
To royal ears, a mortifying truth. Titles to him no pleasure could impart,
No bribes his rigid virtue could control; . The star could never gain upon his heart, Nor turn the tide of honour in his soul.
For this his name our hist'ry shall adorn,
Shall soar on Fame's wide pinions all sublime ; Till heaven's own bright, and never dying morn Absorbs our little particle of time.
ELEGY TO PITY. Hail, lovely power! whose bosom heaves a sigb,
When fancy paints the scene of deep distress ; Whose tears spontaneous crystallize the eye,
When rigid Fate denies the power to bless.
Not all the sweets Arabia's gales convey
Seem near so beauteous as that falling tear.
Devoid of fear the fawns around thee play;
Emblem of peace, the dove before thee flies; No blood-stain'd traces mark thy blameless way,
Beneath thy feet no hapless insect dies.
Come lovely nymph! and range the mead with me,
To spring the partridge from the guileful foe, From secret snares the struggling bird to free,
And stop the hand uprais'd to give the blow. And when the air with heat meridian glows, And Nature droops beneath the conquering
gleam, Let us, slow wandering where the current flows,
Save sinking flies that float along the stream.
Or turn to nobler, greater tasks thy care,
To me thy sympathetic gifts impart; Teach me in Friendship’s griefs to bear a share,
And justly boast the generous feeling heart.
Teach me to sooth the helpless orphan's grief,
With timely aid the widow's woes assuage, To Misery's moving cries to yield relief,
And be the sure resource of drooping age.
So when the genial spring of life shall fade,
And sinking nature owns the dread decay, Some soul congenial then may lend its aid, And gild the close of life's eventful day.