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Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise
Of God, beneficent in all his ways;
Graced with such wisdom, how would beauty shine !
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine.
Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid,
Force many a shining youth into the shade,
Not to redeem his time, but his estate,
And play the fool but at a cheaper rate.
There, hid in loathed obscurity, removed
From pleasures left, but never more beloved,
He just endures, and, with a sickly spleen,
Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene.
Nature indeed looks prettily in rhyme;
Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime:
The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong,
Are musical enough in Thomson's song,
And Cobham's groves, and Windsor's green retreats,
When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets;
He likes the country, but in truth must own,
Most likes it when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack -no matter who — for when I blame,
I pity, and must therefore sink the name,
Lived in the saddle, loved the chase, the course,
And always, ere he mounted, kissed his horse.
The estate his sires had owned in ancient years
Was quickly distanced, matched against a peer's.
Jack vanished, was regretted and forgot ;
'Tis wild good-nature's never-failing lot.
At length, when all had long supposed him dead,
By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead,
My lord, alighting at his usual place,
The Crown, took notice of an ostler's face.
Jack knew his friend, but hoped in that disguise
He might escape the most observing eyes,
And whistling, as if unconcerned and gay,
Curried his nag, and looked another way.
Convinced at last, upon a nearer view,
'Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew,
O’erwhelmed at once with wonder, grief, and joy,
He pressed him much to quit this base employ;
His countenance, his purse, his hand,
Influence, and power were all at his command:
Peers are not always generous as well-bred,
But Granby was :—meant truly what he said.
Jack bowed, and was obliged — confessed 'twas strange,
That so retired he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint - three thousand pounds a-year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe ;
Some seeking happiness not found below ;
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclined ;
Some swayed by fashion, some by deep disgust;
Some self-impoverished, and because they must ;
But few, that court Retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of powers proportioned to the post ;
Give e'en a dunce the employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires ;
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in his arduous enterprize to close
615 His active years with indolent repose, He finds the labours of that state exceed His utmost faculties, severe indeed. 'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place, But not to manage leisure with a grace ;
620 Absence of occupation is not rest, A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed. The veteran steed, excused his task at length, In kind compassion of his failing strength, And turned into the park or mead to graze,
625 Exempt from future service all his days, There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind, Ranges at liberty, and snuffs the wind : But when his lord would quit the busy road, To taste a joy like that he had bestowed, He proves, less happy than his favoured brute, A life of ease a difficult pursuit. Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seem As natural as when asleep to dream; But reveries (for human minds will act) Specious in show, impossible in fact,
Those flimsy webs, that break as soon as wrought,
Attain not to the dignity of thought:
Nor yet the swarms that occupy the brain,
Where dreams of dress, intrigue and pleasure reign; 640
Nor such as useless conversation breeds,
Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds.
Whence, and what are we? to what end ordained ?
What means the drama by the world sustained?
Business, or vain amusement, care or mirth,
Divide the frail inhabitants of earth.
Is duty a mere sport, or an employ?
Life an entrusted talent, or a toy ?
Is there, as reason, conscience, Scripture say,
Cause to provide for a great future day,
650 When earth's assigned duration at an end, Man shall be summoned, and the dead attend ? The trumpet — will it sound, the curtain rise, And show the august tribunal of the skies! Where no prevarication shall avail,
655 Where eloquence and artifice shall fail, The pride of arrogant distinctions fall, And conscience and our conduct judge us all ? Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil To learned cares or philosophic toil,
660 Though I revere your honourable names, Your useful labours, and important aims, And hold the world indebted to your aid, Enriched with the discoveries ye have made ; Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem
665 A mind employed on so sublime a theme, Pushing her bold inquiry to the date And outline of the present transient state, And, after poising her adventurous wings, Settling at last upon eternal things,
670 Far more intelligent and better taught, The strenuous use of profitable thought, Than ye, when happiest and enlightened most, And highest in renown, can justly boast. A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear
675 The weight of subjects worthiest of her care, Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires, Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands.
Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves,
Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success let modern manners show ;
Nor his, who for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church, and laughed his word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side thrust;
Nor those of learn'd philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of Truth, the associate of sound Sense,
And such as, in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment labouring in the Scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use :
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
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 general 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 every 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 managed, 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 generous breast
Will stand advanced a step above the rest
Flowers by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all) —
Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplined, who placed apart
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And though the world may think the 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,
735 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,"
740 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 enjoyed,
745 Or sought with energy, must fill the void. O sacred art to which alone life owes Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close, Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn For evils daily felt, and hardly borne,
750 Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands Flowers 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,
755 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; 1 The French philosopher, La Bru- ters” of Theophrastus : he was born yère; the translator of the “ Charac- 1644, died 1696.