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The father, whilst he warn’d his erring son,
The sad examples which he ought to shun,
Describ'd, and only nam'd not Solomon.
Each bard, each sire did to his pupil sing,
A wise child better than a foolish king.
Into myself my reason's eye I turn'd :
And as I much reflected, much I mourn’d.
A mighty king I am, an earthly god:
Nations obey my word, and wait my nod;
I raise or sink, imprison or set free;
And life or death depends on my decree.
Fond the idea, and the thought is vain:
O'er Judah's king ten thousand tyrants reign;
Legions of lust, and various powers of ill
Insult the master's tributary will:
And he, from whom the nations should receive
Justice and freedom, lies himself a slave,
Tortur’d by cruel change of wild desires,
Lash'd by mad rage, and scorch'd by brutal fires,
O Reason once again to thee I call:
Accept my sorrow, and retrieve my fall. [birth;
Wisdom, thou say'st, from Heaven receiv'd her
Her beams transmitted to the subject earth:
Yet this great empress of the human soul
Does only with imagin'd power control;
If restless passion by rebellious sway
Compels the weak usurper to obey.
O troubled, weak, and coward, as thou art 1
Without thy poor advice the labouring heart
To worse extremes with swifter steps would run.
Not sav'd by virtue, yet by vice undone.
Oft have I said; the praise of doing well
Is to the ear, as ointment to the smell.
Now, if some flies perchance, however small,
Into the alabaster urn should fall,
The odours of the sweets inclos'd, would die;
And stench corrupt(sad change!)their place supply.
So the least faults, if mix’d with fairest deed,
Of future ill become the fatal seed :
Into the balm of purest virtue cast,
Annoy all life with one contagious blast.
Lost Solomon pursue this thought no more:
Of thy past errors recollect the store :
And silent weep, that while the deathless Muse
Shall sing the just, shall o'er their heads diffuse
Perfumes with lavish hand: she shall proclaim
Thy crimes alone; and to thy evil fame
Impartial, scatter damps and poisons on thy name.
Awaking therefore, as who long had dream’d,
Much of my women and their gods asham’d;
From this abyss of exemplary vice
Resolv’d, as time might aid my thought, to rise;
Again Ibid the mournful goddess write
The fond pursuit of fugitive delight:
Bid her exalt her melancholy wing,
And, rais'd from earth, and sav'd from passion, sing
Of human hope by cross event destroy'd,
Of useless wealth, and greatness unenjoy’d,
Of lust and love, with their fantastic train,
Their wishes, smiles, and looks deceitful all, and
Chiefly ALLUIDED TO IN BOOK III.
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Ecclesiastes, xii. 6.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. i. 5.
The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about unto the north. It whirleth about continually; and the wind returneth again, according to his circuits, ver, 6.
All the rivers run into the sea: yet the sea is not full. Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. ver, 7.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. xii. 7.
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering, and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. 2 Chron. vii. 1.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion, &c. Psalm crxxvii. 1.
I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, what doeth it? Ecclesiastes, ii. 2.
No man can find out the work that God maketh, from the beginning to the end. iii. 11.
Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. ver. 14.
Solomon considers man through the several stages and conditions of life; and concludes in general, that we are all miserable. He reflects more particularly upon the trouble and uncertainty of greatness and power; gives some instances thereof from Adam down to himself; and still concludes that all is vanity. He reasons again upon life, death, and a future being; finds human wisdom too imperfect to resolve his doubts; has recourse to religion; is informed by an angel, what shall happen to himself, his family, and his kingdom, till the redemption of Israel: and, upon the whole, resolves to submit his inquiries and anxieties to the will of his Creator.
CoME then, my soul: I call thee by that name,
Thou busy thing, from whence I know I am :
For, knowing what I am, I know thou art;
Since that must needs exist, which can impart.
But how cam'st thou to be, or whence thy spring?
For various of thee priests and poets sing.
Hear'st thou submissive : but a lowly birth,
Some separate particles of finer earth,
A plain effect which nature must beget,
As motion orders, and as atoms meet ;
Companion of the body's good or ill;
From force of instinct more than choice of will ;
Conscious of fear or valour, joy or pain,
As the wild courses of the blood ordain:
Who as degrees of heat and cold prevail,
In youth dost flourish, and with age shalt fail;
Till, mingled with thy partner's latest breath,
Thou fly'st dissolv’d in air, and lost in death.
Or if thy great existence would aspire
To causes more sublime ; of heavenly fire
Wert thou a spark struck off, a separate ray,
Ordain'd to mingle with terrestrial clay
With it condemn'd for certain years to dwell,
To grieve its frailties, and its pains to feel;
To teach it good and ill, disgrace or fame;
Pale it with rage, or redden it with shame:
To guide its actions with informing care,
In peace to judge, to conquer in the war;
Render it agile, witty, valiant, sage,
As fits the various course of human age;
Till, as the earthly part decays and falls,
The captive breaks her prison's mouldering walls;
Hovers a while upon the sad remains,
Which now the pile, or sepulchre contains:
And thence with liberty unbounded flies,
Impatient to regain her native skies.
Whate'er thou art, where'er ordain'd to go
(Points which we rather may dispute, than know),
Come on, thou little inmate of this breast,
Which for thy sake from passions I divest;
For these, thou say'st, raise all the stormy strife,
Which hinder thy repose, and trouble life.
Be the fair level of thy actions laid,