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Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence.
2. ON VIRTUE.
Know then this truth (enough for man to know),
“ Virtue alone is happiness below :"
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives :
The joy unequall’d, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain :
Without satiety, though e'er so bless'd,
And but more relish'd, as the more distress'd :
The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears,
Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears :
Good from each object, from each place acquir'd,
For ever exercis’d yet never tir'd :
Never elated while one man's oppress’d !
Never dejected while another's bless'd ;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more Virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thaks can krow:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss : the good, untaught will find :
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through Nature up to Nature's god;
Pursues that chain which links th' immense design,
Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine ·
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above and some below;
Learns, from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul ;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end in love of God, and love of man.
For him alone Hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul ;
Till lengthen'd on to faith, and unconfin'd,
the bliss that fills up all the mind,
He sees why Nature plants in man alone
IIope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown :
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Àre given in vain, but what they seek they find)
Wise is her present: she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss ;
At once his own bright prospect to be blest,
And strongest motive to assist the rest.
Self-love thus pushed to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part:
Grasp the whole world of Reason, Life, and Sense,
In one close system of benevolence:
Happier as kinder, in whate'er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity.
God loves from whole to parts : but human soul
Must rice from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebbles stir the peaceful lake;
The centre mov’d, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next; and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, the o’erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in of every kind :
Earth smiles around, with boundless beauty blest,
And heaven beholds its image in his breast.
3. ON VERSIFICATION. Many by numbers judge a poet's song; And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong; In the bright muse though thousand charms conspire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire, Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds ; as some to church repair Not for the doctrine, but the music there. These equal syllables alone require, Though oft the ear the open vowels tire; While expletives their feeble aid do join, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line;
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes ;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, “it whispers through the trees.”
If crystal streams “with pleasing murmurs creep,”
The reader's threatened (not in vain) with “sleep”;
Then, at the last and only couplet, fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow;
And praise the easy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness join.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense ;
Soft is the strain when Zyphr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar ;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so, when soft Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise !
While, at each change, the son of Lybian Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow;
Now sighs steal out and tears begin to flow,
Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found,
And the world's victor stood subdued by sound.
4. TIE MAN OF ROSS.
All our praises why should lords engross?
Rise, honest muse, and sing the man of Ross :
Pleas'd Vaga echoes through her winding bounds,
And rapid Severn hoarse applause resounds.
Who hung with woods yon mountain's sultry brow?
From the dry rock who bade the waters flow ?
Not to the skies in useless columns tost,
Or in proud falls magnificently lost,
But clear and artless, pouring through the plain
Health to the sick and solace to the swain.
Whose causeway parts the vale with shady rows ?
Whose seats the weary traveller
Who taught that heaven-directed spire to rise ?
'The man of Ross,' each lisping babe replies.
Behold the market-place with poor o'erspread,
The Man of Ross divides the weekly bread :
He feeds yon almshouse, neat, but void of state,
Where age and want sit smiling at the gate:
Him portion'd maids, apprenticed orphans blest,
The young who labour, and the old who rest.
Is any sick ? the Man of Ross relieves,
Prescribes, attends, the med'eine makes and gives.
Is there a variance ? Enter but his door,
Balk'd are the courts, and contest is no more.
Despairing quacks with curses fled the place,
And vile attorneys, now an useless race.
Thrice happy man! enabled to pursue
What all so wish but want the power to do!
Oh, say, what sums that generous hand supply ?
What mines to swell that boundless charity ?
Of debts and taxes, wife, and children, clear,
This man possess’d-five hundred pounds a year.
Blush, Grandeur, blush! proud Courts, withdraw your
Ye little stars! hide your diminish'd rays. .
[blaze! And what! no monument, inscription, ston?! His race, his form, his name almost unknown's Who builds a church to God, and not to fame, Will never mark the marble with his name; Go, search it there, where to be born and die, Of rich and poor, makes all the history; Enough that virtue filled the space between, Proved by the ends of being to have been.
5. ELEGY ON AN UNFORTUNATE LADY. What beck’ning ghost along the moonlight shade Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?
'Tis she! but why that bleeding bosom gor'd,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword ?
Oh, ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it in heaven a crime to love too well ?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part ?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die ?
Why bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of angels and of gods :
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage :
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres ;
Like eastern kings, a lazy state they keep,
And, close confin’d to their own palace, sleep.
From these, perhaps, (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou mean deserter of thy brother's blood !
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death :
Cold is that breath which warmed the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if Eternal Justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(While the long funerals blacken all the way)
Lo! these were they, whose souls the Furies steeled,
And cursed with hearts unknowing how to vield.