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Was mute; and, startled at the new disease,
605 In fearful whispers hopeless omens gave. To Heaven with suppliant rites they sent their pray’rs ; Heav'n heard them not. Of every hope depriv'd; Fatigu'd with vain resources; and subdued With woes resistless and enfeebling fear;
610 Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow. Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard, Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death. Infectious horror ran from face to face, And pale despair. 'Twas all the business then 615 To tend the sick, and in their turns to die. In heaps they fell : and oft one bed, they say, The sick’ning, dying, and the dead contain'd.
Thou guardian God, on whom the fates depend Of tottering Albion! ye eternal Fires
620 That lead thro’ heav'n the wandering year! ye Powers That o'er th’incircling elements preside! May nothing worse than what this age has seen Arrive ! Enough abroad, enough at home Has Albion bled. Here a distemper'd heav'n
625. Has thin'd her cities; from those lofty cliffs That awe proud Gaul, to Thule's wintry reign; While in the West, beyond th’ Atlantic foam, Her bravest sons, keen for the fight, have dy'd The death of cowards, and of common men:
630 Sunk void of wounds, and fall’n without renown.
But from these views the weeping Muses turn, And other themes invite my wandering song.
* This was written not long after the memorable mortality happened amongst the British sailors, under admiral Hosier, in the West-Indies,
HE choice of Aliment, the choice of Air,
The use of Toil and all external things,
Already sung; it now remains to trace
What good, what evil from ourselves proceeds:
And how the subtle Principle within
Inspires with health, or mines with strange decay
The passive body. Ye poetic Shades,
That know the secrets of the world unseen,
Assist my song! For, in a doubtful theme
Engag'd, I wander thro’ mysterious ways.
There is, they say, (and I believe there is)
A spark within us of th’immortal fire,
That animates and moulds the grosser frame ;
And, when the body sinks, escapes to heaven,
Its native seat, and mixes with the Gods.
Mean while this heavenly particle pervades
The mortal elements : in every nerve
It thrills with pleasure, or grows mad with pain.
And, in its secret conclave, as it feels
The body's woes and joys, this ruling power
Wields at its will the clull material world,
And is the body's health or malady.
By its own toil the gross corporeal frame
Fatigues, extenuates, or destroys itself.
Nor less the labours of the mind corrode
The solid fabric: for by subtle parts,
And viewless atoms, secret Nature moves
The mighty wheels of this stupendous world.
By subtle fluids pour'd thro' subtle tubes
The natural, vital, functions are perform’d.
By these the stubborn aliments are tam'd;
The toiling heart distributes life and strength.;
These the still-crumbling frame rebuild; and these
Are lost in thinking, and dissolve in air.
But 'tis not Thought (for still the soul's employ'd)
'Tis painful thinking that corrodes our clay.
All day the vacant eye without fatigue
Strays o'er the heaven and earth; but, long intent
On microscopic arts, its vigour fails.
Just so the mind, with various thought amus'd,
Nor akes itself, nor gives the body pain.
But anxious Study, Discontent, and Care,
Love without hope, and Hate without revenge,
And Fear, and Jealousy, fatigue the soul,
Engross the subtle ministers of life,
And spoil the lab'ring functions of their share.
Hence the lean gloom that Melancholy wears;
The Lover's paleness; and the sallow hue
Of Envy, Jealousy; the meagre stare
Of sore revenge: the canker'd body hence
Betrays each fretful motion of the mind.
The strong-built pedant, who, both night and day,
Feeds on the coarsest fare the schools bestow,
And crudely fattens at gross Burman's stall;
O’erwhelm'd with phlegm, lies in a dropsy drown'd,
Or sinks in lethargy before his time.
With useful studies you, and arts that please,
Employ your mind, amuse but not fatigue.
Peace to each drowsy metaphysic sage!
And ever may all heavy systems rest!
Yet some there are, even of elastic parts,
Whom strong and obstinate ambition leads
Through all the rigged roads of barren lore,
And gives to relish what their generous taste
Would else refuse. But may nor thirst of fame,
Nor love of knowledge, urge you to fatigue
With constant drudgery the liberal soul.
Toy with your books: and as the various fits
Of humour seize you, from Philosophy
To Fable shift; from serious Antonine
To Rabelais' ravings, and from prose to song.
While reading pleases, but no longer, read;
And read aloud resounding Homer's strain,
And wield the thunder of Demosthenes.
The chest so exercis'd improves its strength:
And quick vibrations through the bowels drive
The restless blood, which, in unactive days,
Would loiter else through unelastic tubes.
Deem it not trifling while I recommend
What posture suits: to stand and sit by turns,
As nature prompts, is best. But o'er your leaves
To lean for ever, cramps the vital parts,
And robs the nine machinery of its play.
'Tis the great art of life to manage well
The restless mind. For ever on pursuit
Of knowledge bent, it starves the gosser powers ;
Quite unemploy'd, against its own repose
It turns its fatal edge, and sharper pangs
Than what the body knows embitter life.
Chiedy where solitude, sad nurse of Care,
To sickly musing gives the pensive mind.
There madness enters; and the dim-ey'd Fiend
Sour Melancholy, night and day provokes
Her own eternal wound. The sun grows pale;
A mournful visionary light o'erspreads
The cheerful face of nature : earth becomes
A dreary desert, and heaven frowns above.
Then various shapes of curs'd illusion rise:
Whate'er the wretched fears, creating Fear
Forms out of nothing; and with monsters teems
Unknown in hell. The prostrate soul beneath
A load of huge imagination heaves ;
And all the horrors that the murderer feels
With anxious flutterings wake the guiltless breast.
Such phantoms Pride in solitary scenes,
Or fear, on delicate Self-love creates.
From other cares absolv'd, the busy mind
Finds in yourself a theme to pore upon;
It finds you miserable, or makes you so.
For while yourself you anxiously explore,
Timorous Self-love, with sicking Fancy's aid,
Presents the danger that you dread the most,
And ever galls you in your tender part.
Hence some for love, and some for jealousy,
For grima religion some, and some for pride,
Have lost their reason: some for fear of want
Want all their lives : and others every day
For fear of dying suffer worse than death.
Ah! from your bosoms banish, if you can,
Those fatal guests: and first the Demon Fear;
That trembles at impossible events,
Lest aged Atlas should resign his load,
And heaven's eternal battlements rush down.
Is there an evil worse than Fear itself?
And what avails it, that indulgent heaven
From mortal eyes has wrapt the woes to come,
If we, ingenious to torment ourselves,
Grow pale at hideous fi&tions of our own?
Enjoy the present; nor with needless cares,
Of what may spring from blind misfortune's womb,
Appal the surest hour that life bestows.
Serene, and master of yourself, prepare
For what may come; and leave the rest to Heaven.
Oft from the Body, by long ails mistun'd,
These evils sprung, the most important health,
That of the mind, destroy: and when the mind
They first invade, the conscious body soon
In sympathetic languishment declines.
These chronic passions, while from real woes
They rise, and yet without the body's fault
Infest the soul, admit one only cure ;
Diversion, hurry, and a restless life.
Vain are the consolations of the wise ;
In vain your friends would reason down your pain.
O ye, whose souls relentless love has tam'd
To soft distress, or friends untimely slain!
Court not the luxury of tender thought!
Nor deem it impious to forget those pains
That hurt the living, nought avail the dead.
Go, soft enthusiast! quit the cypress groves,
Nor to the rivulet's lonely nioanings tune
Your sad complaint. Go, seek the cheerful haunts
Of men, and mingle with the bustling croud ;
Lay schemes for wealth, or power, or fame, the wishi
Of nobler minds, and push them night and day.
Or join the caravan in quest of scenes
New to your eyes, and shifting every hour,
Beyond the Alps, beyond the Apennines.
Or more advent'rous, rush into the field
Where war grows hot; and raging through the sky,