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And all thy well-cramm’d magazines of health ?
Nor hill nor vale, as far as ship could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook,
Escap'd thy rifling hand; from stubborn shrubs
Thou wrung'st their shy-retiring virtues out,
And vex'd them in the fire: nor fly, nor insect,
Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research.
But why this apparatus ? why this cost ?
Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave,
Where are thy recipes and cordials now,
With the long list of vouchers for thy cures ?
Alas! thou speakest not—The bold impostor
Looks not more silly, when the cheat's found out.
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons,
Who meanly stole (discreditable shift)
From back, and belly too, their proper cheer,
Eas'd of a tax it irk'd the wretch to pay
To his own carcass, now lies cheaply lodg’d,
By clamorous appetites no longer teas'd,
Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs.
But, ah! where are his rents, his comings in ?
Ah! now you've made the rich man poor indeed :
Robb’d of his gods, what has he left behind ?
Oh, cursed lust of gold! when, for thy sake,
The fool throws up his interest in both worlds :
First starv'd in this, then damn’d in that to come.
How shocking must thy summons be, O Death! To him that is at ease in his possessions ; Who, counting on long years of pleasure here, Is quite unfurnish'd for the world to come ? In that dread moment, how the frantic soul Raves round the alls of her clay tenement, Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help ; But shrieks in vain !-How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer hers!
A little longer, yet a little longer,
Oh! might she stay, to wash away her stains,
And fit her for her passage.--Mournful sight!
Her very eyes weep blood ;-and every groan
She heaves is big with horror.-But the foe,
Like a staunch murderer, steady to his purpose,
Pursues her close through every lane of life,
Nor misses once the track, but presses on;
Till, forc'd at last to the tremendous verge,
At once she sinks to everlasting ruin.
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die! My soul,
What a strange moment must it be, when near
Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulf in view!
That awful gulf no mortal e'er repass'd
To tell what's doing on the other side.
Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight,
And every life-string bleeds at thought of parting;
For part they must: body and soul must part;
Fond couple! link'd more close than wedded pair,
This wings its way to its Almighty Source,
The witness of its actions, now its judge;
That drops into the dark and noisome grave,
Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
If death were nothing, and nought after death'; If when men died, at once they ceas'd to be, Returning to the barren womb of nothing, Whence first they sprung; then might the debauchee Untrembling mouth the heavens : then might the
drunkard Reel over his full bowl, and, when 'tis drain'd, Fill up another to the brim, and laugh At the poor bugbear Death:—then might the wretch That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life,
At once give each inquietude the slip,
By stealing out of being, when he pleased,
And by what way, whether by hemp or steel;
Death's thousand doors stand open.—Who could
The ill-pleas'd guest to sit out his full time,
Or blame him if he goes ?-Sure he does well,
That helps himself as timely as he can,
When able-But if there's an hereafter ;
(And that there is, conscience, uninfluenc'd
And suffer'd to speak out, tells every man ;)
Then must it be an awful thing to die :
More horrid yet to die by one's own hand.
Self-murder name it not: our island's shame,
That makes her the reproach of neighbouring
states. Shall nature, swerving from her earliest dictate, Self-preservation, fall by her own act ? Forbid it, Heaven !-Let not, upon disgust, The shameless hand be foully crimson'd o'er With blood of its own lord.—Dreadful attempt! Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage, To rush into the presence of our Judge; As if we challeng'd him to do his worst, stures And matter'd not his wrath Unheard of torMust be reserv'd for such: these herd together ; The common damn'd shun their society, And look upon themselves as fiends less foul. Our time is fix'd, and all our days are number'd! How long, how short, we know not:-this we
know, Duty requires we calmly wait the summons, Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give permission : Like sentries that must keep their destin'd stand,
And wait th' appointed hour, till they're reliev’d.
These only are the brave that keep their ground,
And keep it to the last. To run away
Is but a coward's trick: to run away
From this world's ill, that at the very worst
Will soon blow o'er, thinking to mend ourselves,
By boldly venturing on a world unknown,
And plunging headlong in the dark ;~'tis mad;
No frenzy half so desperate as this.
Tell us, ye dead, will none of you, in pity
To those you left behind, disclose the secret ?
Oh ! that some courteous ghost would blab it out;
What 'tis you are, and we must shortly be. .
I've heard, that souls departed have sometimes
Forewarn’d men of their death :-'twas kindly
done To knock and give th' alarm.-But what means This stinted charity ? _'Tis but lame kindness That does its work by halves.-Why might you not Tell us what 'tis to die? Do the strict laws Of your society forbid your speaking Upon a point so nice ?--I'll ask no more: Sullen, like lamps in sepulchres, your shine Enlightens but yourselves. Well, 'tis no matter ; A very little time will clear up all, And make us learn'd as you are, and as close. Death's shafts fly thick :-here falls the village
swain, And there his pamper'd lord.—Thecup goesround: And who so artful as to put it by ? Tis long since death had the majority ; Yet strange! the living lay it not to heart. See yonder maker of the dead man's bed, The sexton, hoary-headed chronicle,
Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole
A gentle tear; with mattock in his hand
Digs through whole rows of kindred and acquaint-
By far his juniors.-Scarce a skull's cast up,
But well he knew its owner, and can tell
Some passage of his life.-Thus hand in hand
The sot has walk'd with Death twice twenty years;
And yet ne'er younker on the green laughs louder,
Or clubs a smuttier tale :—when drunkards meet,
None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand
More willing to his cup.-Poor wretch ! he minds,
not, That soon some trusty brother of the trade Shall do for him what he has done for thousands.
On this side, and on that, men see their friends Drop off, like leaves in autumn; yet launch out Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers In the world's hale and undegenerate days Could scarce have leisure for.-Fools that we are, Never to think of death and of ourselves At the same time : as if to learn to die Were no concern of ours.
3.-Oh! more than sottish,
For creatures of a day, in gamesome mood
To frolic on eternity's dread brink
Unapprehensive ; when, for aught we know,
The very first swol'n surge shall sweep us in.
Think we, or think we not, time hurries on,
With a resistless unremitting stream;
Yet treads more soft than e'er did midnight-thief,
That slides his hand under the miser's pillow,
And carries off his prize. What is this world ?
What? but a spacious burial-field unwall’d,
Strew'd with death's spoils, the spoils of animals