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Each friend by fate snatch'd from us, is a plume
Pluck'd from the wing of human vanity,
Which makes us stoup from our aërial heights,
And, dampt with omen of our own decease,
On drooping pinions of asnbition lower'd,
Just skim Earth's surface, ere we break it up,
O’er putrid earth to scratch a little dust,
And save the world a nuisance. Smitten friends
Are angels sent on errands full of love ;
For us they languish, and for us they die:
And shall they languish, shall they die, in vain ?
Ungrateful, shall we grieve their hovering shades,
Which wait the revolution in our hearts?
Shall we disdain their silent, soft address;
Their posthumous advice, and pious prayer?
Senseless, as herds that
their hallow'd graves, Tread under foot their agonies and groans; Frustrate their anguish, and destroy their deaths ?
Lorenzo! no; the thought of death indulge ; Give it its wholesome empire ! let it reign, That kind chastiser of thy soul in joy! Its reign will spread thy glorious conquests far, And still the tumults of thy ruffled breast : Auspicious era! golden days, begin! The thought of death shall, like a god, inspire. And why not think on death ? Is life the theme Of every thought ? and wish of every hour ? And song of every joy ? Surprising truth! The beaten spaniel's fondness not so strange. To wave the numerous ills that seize on life As their own property, their lawful prey ; Ere man has measur'd half his weary stage,
His lururies have left him no reserve,
No maiden relishes, unbroach'd delights;
On cold-serv'd repetitions he subsists,
And in the tasteless present chews the past ;
Disgusted chews, and scarce can swallow down.
Like lavish ancestors, his earlier years
Have disinherited his future hours,
Which starve on arts, and glean their former field.
Live ever here, Lorenzo! — shocking thought !
So shocking, they who wish, disown it, too ;
Disown from shame, what they from folly crave.
Live ever in the womb, nor see the light ?
For what live ever here ? - With labouring step
To tread our former footsteps ? Pace the round
Eternal ? To climb life's worn, heavy wheel,
Which draws up nothing new? To beat, and beat
The beaten track ? To bid each wretched day
The former mock ? To surfeit on the same,
And yawn our joys? Or thank a misery
For change, though sad? To see what we have seen?
Hear, till unheard, the same old slabber'd tale?
To taste the tasted, and at each return
Less tasteful ? O'er our palates to decant
Another vintage? Strain a fatter year,
Through loaded vessels, and a laxer tone ?
Crazy machines to grind Earth's wasted fruits !
Ill-ground, and worse-concocted! Load, not life !
The rational foul kennels of excess !
Still-streaming thoroughfares of dull debauch!
Trembling each gulp, lest death should snatch the
bowl. Such of our fine-ones is the wish refin'd!
So would they have it: elegant desire!
Why not invite the bellowing stalls, and wilds?
But such examples might their riot awe.
Through want of virtue, that is, want of thought,
(Though on bright thought they father all their
To what are they reduc'd? To love, and hate
The same vain world; to censure, and espouse,
This painted shrew of life, who calls them fool
Each moment of each day; to flatter bad
Through dread of worse ; to cling to this rude rock,
Barren, to them, of good, and sharp with ills,
And hourly blacken'd with impending storms,
And infamous for wrecks of human hope -
Scar'd at the gloomy gulf, that yawns beneath.
Such are their triumphs! such their pangs of joy!
’T is time, high time, to shift this dismal scene.
This hugg'd, this hideous state, what art can cure ?
One only; but that one, what all may reach ;
Virtue — she, wonder-working goddess ! charms
That rock to bloom ; and tames the painted shrews
And, what will more surprise, Lorenzo! gives
To life's sick, nauseous iteration, change;
And straitens Nature's circle to a line.
Believ'st thou this, Lorenzo ? lend an ear,
A patient ear, thou 'lt blush to disbelieve.
A languid, leaden, iteration reigns,
And ever must, o'er those, whose joys are joys
of sight, smell, taste : the cuckow-seasons sing
The same dull note to such as nothing prize,
But what those seasons, from the teeming Earth,
To doating sense indulge. But nobler minds,
Which relish fruits unripen’d by the Sun, Make their days various ; various as the dyes On the dove's neck, which wanton in his rays. On minds of dove-like innocence possest, On lighten'd minds, that bask in virtue's beams, Nothing hangs tedious, nothing old revolves In that, for which they long; for which they live. Their glorious efforts, wing'd with heavenly hope, Each rising morning sees still higher rise; Each bounteous dawn its novelty presents To worth maturing, new strength, lustre, fame; While Nature's circle, like a chariot-wheel Rolling beneath their elevated aims, Makes their fair prospect fairer every hour ; Advancing virtue, in a line to bliss ; Virtue, which Christian motives best inspire ! And bliss, which Christian schemes alone ensure. And shall we then, for Virtue's sake, commence Apostates ; and turn infidels for joy? A truth it is, few doubt, but fewer trust, “ He sins against this life, who slights the next.” What is this life? How few their favourite know! Fond in the dark, and blind in our embrace, By passionately loving life, we make Lov'd life unlovely ; hugging her to death. We give to time eternity's regard ; And, dreaming, take our passage for our port. Life has, no value as an end, but means; An end deplorable! a means divine ! When 't is our all, 't is nothing! worse than nought ; A nest of pains : when held as nothing, much : Like some fair hum’rists, life is most enjoy'd,
When courted least; most worth, when disesteem'd:
Then 't is the seat of comfort, rich in peace;
In prospect richer far; important! aweful!
Not to be mention'd, but with shouts of praise !
Not to be thought on, but with tidęs of joy!
The mighty basis of eternal bliss !
Where now the barren rock ? the painted shrew ?
Where now, Lorenzo! life's eternal round?
Have I not made my triple promise good ?
Vain is the world; but only to the vain.
To what compare we then this varying scene,
Whose worth ambiguous rises, and declines ?
Waxes, and wanes? (In all propitious, night
Assists me here) compare it to the Moon;
Dark in herself, and indigent; but rich
In borrow'd lustre from a higher sphere.
When gross guilt interposes, labouring Earth,
O'ershadow'd, mourns a deep eclipse of joy ;
Her joys, at brightest, pallid, to that font
Of full effulgent glory, whence they flow.
Nor is that glory distant: Oh Lorenzo!
A good man, and an angel! these between
How thin the barrier! what divides their fate ?
Perhaps a moment, or perhaps a year;
Or, if an age, it is a moment still ;
A moment, or eternity 's forgot.
Then be, what once they were, who now are gods ;
Be what Philander was, and claim the skies.
Starts timid Nature at the gloomy pass ?
The soft transition call it; and be cheer'd:
Such it is often, and why not to thee?
To hope the best, is pious, brave, and wise ;