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As temperance wills, and prudence may persuade:
Be thy affections undisturb’d and clear,
Guided to what may great or good appear;
And try if life be worth the liver's care.
Amass'd in man, there justly is beheld
What through the whole creation has excell’d:
The life and growth of plants, of beasts the sense,
The angel's forecast and intelligence:
Say from these glorious seeds what harvest flows:
Recount our blessings, and compare our woes.
In its true light let clearest reason see
The man dragg'd out to act, and forc’d to be :
Helpless and naked on a woman's knees
To be expos'd or rear'd as she may please ;
Feel her neglect, and pine from her disease.
His tender eye by too direct a ray
Wounded, and flying from unpractis'd day;
His heart assaulted by invading air,
And beating fervent to the vital war;
To his young sense how various forms appear,
That strike his wonder and excite his fear.
By his distortions he reveals his pains;
He by his tears, and by his sighs complains;
Till time and use assist the infant wretch,
By broken words, and rudiments of speech,
His wants in plainer characters to show,
And paint more perfect figures of his woe:
Condemn'd to sacrifice his childish years
To babbling ignorance, and to empty fears;
To pass the riper period of his age,
Acting his part upon a crowded stage;
To lasting toils expos'd, and endless cares,
To open dangers and to secret snares;
To malice which the vengeful foe intends,
And the more dangerous love of seeming friends.
His deeds examin'd by the people's will,
Prone to forget the good, and blame the ill;
Or sadly censur'd in their curs'd debate,
Who, in the scorner's, or the judge's seat
Dare to condemn the virtue which they hate.
Or would he rather leave this frantic scene;
And trees and beasts prefer to courts and men;
In the remotest wood and lonely grot
Certain to meet that worst of evils, thought;
Different ideas to his memory brought:
Some intricate, as are the pathless woods;
Impetuous some, as the descending floods:
With anxious doubts, with raging passions torn,
No sweet companion near, with whom to mourn ;
He hears the echoing rock return his sighs;
And from himself the frighted hermit flies.
Thus, through what path soe'er of life we rove,
Rage companies our hate, and grief our love :
Vex'd with the present moment's heavy gloom,
Why seek we brightness from the years to come
Disturb’d and broken like a sick man's sleep,
Our troubled thoughts to distant prospects leap:
Desirous still what flies us to o’ertake ;
For hope is but the dream of those that wake:
But, looking back, we see the dreadful train
Of woes anew, which were we to sustain,
We should refuse to tread the path again.
Still adding grief, still counting from the first;
Judging the latest evils still the worst;
And, sadly finding each progressive hour
Heighten their number, and augment their power:
Till, by one countless sum of woes oppress'd,
Hoary with cares, and ignorant of rest,
We find the vital springs relax’d and worn:
Compell'd our common impotence to mourn,
Thus, thro’ the round of age, to childhood wereturn;
Reflecting find, that naked from the womb
We yesterday came forth ; that in the tomb
Naked again we must to-morrow lie,
Born to lament, to labour, and to die.
Pass we the ills, which each man feels or dreads,
The weight or fallen, or hanging o'er our heads;
The bear, the lion, terrors of the plain,
The sheepfold scatter'd, and the shepherd slain ;
The frequent errors of the pathless wood,
The giddy precipice, and the dangerous flood:
The noisome pestilence, that in open war
Terrible, marches through the mid-day air,
And scatters death; the arrow that by night
Cuts the dank mist, and fatal wings its flight;
The billowing snow, and violence of the shower,
That from the hills disperse their dreadful store,
And o'er the vales collected ruin pour;
The worm that gnaws the ripening fruit, sad guest,
Canker or locust hurtful to infest
The blade; while husks elude the tiller's care,
And eminence of want distinguishes the year.
Pass we the slow disease, and subtil pain,
Which our weak frame is destin'd to sustain;
The cruel stone, with congregated war
Tearing his bloody way the cold catarrh,
With frequent impulse, and continued strife,
Weakening the wasted seats of irksome life;
The gout's fierce rack, the burning fever's rage,
The sad experience of decay; and age,
Herself the sorest ill; while death, and ease,
Oft and in vain invok'd, or to appease,
Or end the grief, with hasty wings recede
From the vex'd patient, and the sickly bed.
Nought shall it profit, that the charming fair,
Angelic, softest work of Heaven, draws near
To the cold shaking paralytic hand,
Senseless of beauty's touch, or love's command,
Nor longer apt, or able to fulfil
The dictates of its feeble master's will.
Nought shall the psaltry and the harp avail,
The pleasing song, or well-repeated tale;
When the quick spirits their warm march forbear,
And numbing coldness has unbrac'd the ear.
The verdant rising of the flowery hill,
The vale enamell’d, and the crystal rill,
The ocean rolling, and the shelly shore,
Beautiful objects, shall delight no more;
When the lax’d sinews of the weaken'd eye
In watery damps, or dim suffusion lie.
WOL. II. 11
Day follows night; the clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain:
But to the aged blind shall ne'er return
Grateful vicissitude: he still must mourn
The sun, and moon, and every starry light
Eclips’d to him, and lost in everlasting night.
Behold where age's wretched victim lies:
See his head trembling, and his half-clos'd eyes:
Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves:
To broken sleep his remnant sense he gives;
And only by his pains, awaking, finds he lives.
Loos'd by devouring time the silver cord
T)issever'd lies: unhonour'd from the board
The crystal urn, when broken, is thrown by ;
And apter utensils their place supply.
These things and thou must share one equal lot;
Die, and be lost, corrupt, and be forgot;
While still another, and another race
Shall now supply, and now give up the place:
From earth all came, to earth must all return ;
Frail as the cord, and brittle as the urn.
But be the terror of these ills suppress'd :
And view we man with health and vigour blest,
Home he returns with the declining sun,
His destin’d task of labour hardly done;
Goes forth again with the ascending ray,
Again his travel for his bread to pay,
And find the ill sufficient to the day.
Haply at night he does with horror shun
A widow’d daughter, or a dying son: