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Or higher yet their essence may we draw
From destin'd order, and eternal law?
Again, my Muse, the cruel doubt repeat:
Spring they, I say, from accident, or fate?
Yet such, we find, they are, as can controul
The servile actions of our wavering foul;
Can fright, can alter, or can chain the will;
Their ills all built on life, that fundamental ill.
O fatal search! in which the labouring mind, Still press’d with weight of woe, ftill hopes to find A shadow of delight, a dream of
years of pain, one moment of release; Hoping at least she may herself deceive, Against experience willing to believe, Desirous to rejoice, condemn’d to grieve,
Happy the mortal man, who now at last Has thro’ this doleful vale of misery past; Who to his deftin'd stage has carry'd on The tedious load, and laid his burden down; Whom the cut brass, or wounded marble shows Victor o'er Life, and all her train of woes. He happier yet, who, privileg'd by fate To shorter labour, and a lighter weight, Receiv'd but yesterday the gift of breath, Order'd to-morrow to return to death. But O! beyond description happieft he, Who ne'er muft roll on Life's tumultuous sea; Who with bless'd freedom from the general doom Exempt, must never force the teeming womb, Nor see the sun, nor sink into the tomb.
Who breathes, must suffer; and who thinks, most
And he alone is bless'd, who ne'er was born.
“ Yet in thy turn, thou frowning preacher, hear:
“ Are not these general maxims too severe?
“ Say: cannot Power secure its owner's bliss ?
“ And is not Wealth the potent fire of peace?
** Are victors bless’d with fame, or kings with ease?
I tell thee, Life is but one common care;
And Man was born to suffer, and to fear,
“ But is no rank, no station, no degree
“ From this contagious taint of sorrow free?
None, mortal, none: yet in a bolder strain
Let me this melancholy truth maintain:
But hence, ye worldly, and prophane, retire:
For I adapt my voice, and raise my lyre
To notions not by vulgar ear receiv'd:
Yet still must covet life, and be deceiv'd:
fear of death shall make ye try
To catch the fhade of immortality;
Wishing on earth to linger, and to save
Part of its prey from the devouring grave;
To those who may survive ye, to bequeath
Something entire, in spite of Time and Death;
A fancy'd kind of being to retrieve,
And in a book, or from a building live.
False hope! vain labour! let some ages fly:
The dome shall moulder and the volume die:
Wretches, fill taught, still will ye think it strange,
That all the parts of this great fabric change;
Quit their old station, and primæval frame;
And lose their shape, their essence, and their name?
Reduce the song: our hopes, our joys are vain;
Our lot is forrow; and our portion pain.
What pause from woe, whathopes of comfort bring
The name of wise or great, of judge or king?
What is a king?--a man condemn’d to bear
The publick burden of the nation's care;
Now crown'd some angry faction to appease;
Now falls a victim to the people's ease:
From the first blooming of his ill-taught youth,
Nourish'd in flattery, and estrang'd from truth :
At home surrounded by a servile croud,
Prompts to abuse, and in detraction loud:
Abroad begirt with men, and swords, and spears;
His very ftate acknowledging his fears:
Marching amidst a thousand guards, he shows
His secret terror of a thousand foes;
In war, however prudent, great, or brave,
To blind events, and fickle chance a slave:
Seeking to settle what for ever flies;
Sure of the toil, uncertain of the prize.
But he returns with conquest on his brow;
Brings up the triumph and abfolves the vow :
The captive Generals to his carr are tyd :
The joyful citizens tumultuous tide
Echoing his glory, gratify his pride.
What is this triumph? madness, houts, and noise,
One great collection of the people's voice.
The wretches he brings back, in chains relate,
What may to-morrow be the victor's fate.
The spoils and trophies borne before him, show
National loss, and epidemick woe,
Various distress, which he and his may know.
Does he not mourn the valiant thousands slain ;
The heroes, once the glory of the plain,
Left in the conflict of the fatal day,
Or the wolfe’s portion, or the vulture's prey?
Does he not weep the lawrel, which he wears,
Wet with the foldier's blood, and widows tears?
See, where he comes, the darling of the war!
See millions crouding round the gilded car!
In the vast joys of this ecstatic hour,
And full fruition of successful power,
One moment and one thought might let him scan
The various turns of life, and fickle state of man.
Are the dire images of fad diftruft,
And popular change obscur'd amid the dust,
That rises from the victor's rapid wheel ?
Can the loud clarion, or shrill fife repel
The inward cries of care ? can Nature's voice
Plaintive be drown'd, or lessen'd in the noise ;
Tho' fhouts as thunder loud afflict the air
Stun the birds now releas’d, and shake the ivory chair?
Yon'croud (he might reflect) yon' joyful croud,
Pleas’d with my honours, in my praises loud
(Should fleeting victory to the vanquish'd go;
Should she depress my arms, and raise the foe)
Would for that foe with equal ardour wait
At the high palace, or the crouded gate;
With restless rage would pull my statues down;
And cast the brass anew to his renown.
O impotent defire of worldly sway!
That I, who make the triumph of to-day,
May of to-morrow's pomp one part appear,
Ghaftly with wounds, and lifeless on the bier!
Then [vileness of mankind!] then all of these,
with labour fees,
Would one, alas! repeat me good, or great,
my pale body, or bewail
Or, march'd I chain'd behind the hostile carr,
The victor's pastime, and the sport of war?
Would one, would one his pitying forrow lend,
Or be so poor, to own he was my friend?
Avails it then, O Reason, to be wise ?
To see this cruel scene with quicker eyes?
To know with more distinction to complain,
And have fuperior sense in feeling pain?
Let us revolve that roll with stricteft eye,
Where safe from time distinguish'd actions lic;
And judge if greatness be exempt from pain,
Or pleasure ever may with power remain.
Adam, great type, for whom the world was made,
The faireft blessing to his arms convey’d,
A charming wife; and air, and sea, and land,
And all that move therein to his command