תמונות בעמוד


“ The words of the Preacher the Son of David King

“ of Jerusalem.” Ecclefiaftes, chap. i. ver. 1. “ Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of

“ vanities, all is vanity.” Ver. 2. “ I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am

“ come to great estate, and have gotten more wis“ dom than all they that have been before me in “ Jerusalem : yea my heart had great experience of

“ wisdom and knowledge.” Ver. 16. “ He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in

“ Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out “ of the wall : he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, “ and of creeping things, and of fishes.” 1 Kings,

chap. iv. ver. 33. “ I know, that 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.” Ecclefiaftes, chap. iii. ver. 14. “ He hath made every thing beautiful in his time :

“ also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no “ man can find out the work that God maketh from

“ the beginning to the end.” Ver. 11. “ For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that

“ increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.” Chap. i.

ver. 18. “ And further, by these, my son, be admonished : of

6 making many books there is no end: and much “ study is a weariness of the flesh.” Chap. xii. ver. 12.


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Solomon, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes

the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals, and man; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situation of the habitable earth; proceeds to examine the system of the visible heaven; doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds ; ,inquires into the nature of Spirits and Angels ; and wishes to be more fully informed as to the attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the Rabbins and Doctors ; blames his own curiosity; and concludes, that, as to Human Science, All is Vanity.

TE Sons of men, with just regard attend,

Observe the Preacher, and believe the Friend, Whose serious Muse inspires him to explain, That all we act, and all we think, is vain ; That, in this pilgrimage of seventy years, O’er rocks of perils, and through vales of tears,


P 2

Destin'd to march, our doubtful steps we tend,
Tir'd with the toil, yet fearful of its end:
That from the womb we take our fatal shares
Of follies, passions, labours, tumults, cares; 10
And, at approach of death, shall only know
The truth, which from these pensive numbers flow,
That we pursue false joy, and suffer real woe.

Happiness, object of that waking dream,
Which we call life, mistaking : fugitive theme 15
Of my pursuing verse, ideal shade,
Notional good, by fancy only made,
And by tradition nurs’d, fallacious fire,
Whose dancing beams mislead our fond desire,
Cause of our care, and error of our mind;
Oh! hadst thou ever been by Heaven design'd
To Adam, and his mortal race; the boon
Entire had been reserv'd for Solomon :
On me the partial lot had been bestow'd,
And in my cup the golden draught had flow'd. 25

But O! ere yet original man was made,
Ere the foundations of this earth were laid,
It was, opponent to our search, ordain'd
That joy, still sought, should never be attain’d.
This sad experience cites me to reveal,
And what I dictate is from what I feel.

Born, as I was, great David's favourite son,
Dear to my people, on the Hebrew throne,
Sublime my court, with Ophir's treasures blest,
My name extended to the farthest east,



My body cloth'd with every outward grace,
Strength in my limbs, and beauty in my face,
My shining thought with fruitful notions crown'd,
Quick my invention, and my judgment found :
Arise (I commun’d with myself), arise ;
Think, to be happy; to be great, be wise:
Content of spirit must from science flow,
For 'tis a godlike attribute to know.

I said; and sent my edict through the land:
Around my throne the letter'd rabbins stand; 45
Historic leaves revolve, long volumes spread,
The old discoursing as the younger read :
Attent I heard, propos'd my doubts, and said :

The vegetable world, each plant and tree, Its feed, its name, its nature, its degree, I am allow'd, as Fame reports, to know, From the fair cedar on the craggy brow Of Lebanon nodding supremely tall, To creeping moss and hyssop on the wall : Yet, just and conscious to myself, I find 55 A thousand doubts oppose the searching mind.

I know not why the beach delights the glade With boughs extended, and a rounder shade; Whilst towering firs in conic forms arise, And with a pointed spear divide the skies : - 60 Nor why again the changing oak should shed The yearly honour of his stately head; Whilst the distinguish'd yew is ever seen, Unchang’d his branch, and permanent his green.

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Wanting the fun, why does the caltha fade ? 65
Why does the cypress Aourish in the shade ?
The fig and date, why love they to remain
In middle station, and an even plain ;
While in the lower marsh the gourd is found,
And while the hill with olive-lhade is crown’d? 70
Why does one climate and one soil endue
The blushing poppy with a crimson hue,
Yet leave the lily pale, and tinge the violet blue? J
Why does the fond carnation love to shoot
A various colour from one parent root; 75
While the fantastic tulip strives to break
In twofold beauty, and a parted streak?
The twining jasmine and the blushing rose
With lavish grace their morning scents disclose :
The finelling tuberose and jonquil declare
The stronger impulse of an evening air.
Whence has the tree (resolve me) or the flower
A various instinct, or a different power ?
Why should one earth, one clime, one stream, one breath,
Raise this to strength, and ficken that to death? 85

Whence does it happen, that the plant, which well We name the sensitive, should move and feel? Whence know her leaves to answer her command, And with quick horror fly the neighbouring hand ?

Along the sunny bank, or watery mead, 90 Ten thousand stalks the various blossoms spread : Peaceful and lowly in their native soil, They neither know to spin, nor care to toil ;


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