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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. Verf. 11.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that in
crtaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. Chap. i. vers. 18.
And further by these, my Son, be admonished : of
making many books there is no end : and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Chap. xii, verf. 12
A R Ġ U M E N T. Solomon seeking happiness from Knowledge, con
venes 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 fome questions concerning the origin, and situation of the habitable earth; proceeds to examine the system of the vifible heaven ; doubts if there may not be be a plurality of worlds; enquires 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,
Ye fons 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,
Over rocks of perils, and through vales of tears,
Destin'd to march, our doubtfal 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 :
And at approach of death shall only know
The truths, 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
Of my pursuing verse, ideal fhade,
Notional good, by Fancy only made,
And by tradition nurs’d, fallacious fire,
Whose dancing beams mif-lead our fond defire,
Cause of our care, and error of our mind :
Oh! hadit thou ever been by Heaven design'd
To Adam, and his mortal race, the boon
Entire had been resery'd for Solomon :
On me the partial lot had been bestow'd;
And in my cup the golden draught had flow'd.
But 0! 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 fought, should never be attain'd,
This fad 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 bleft,
My.name extended to the farthest east,
My body cloath'd with
Strength in my limbs, and beauty in my face,
My shining thought with fruitful notions crown'd,
Quick my invention, and my judgment found.
Arife (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 ftand,
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 Seed, 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
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:
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,
Wanting the sun why does the Caltha fade?
Why does the Cyprus flourish 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-shade is crown'd?
Why does one climate, and one foil endue
The blushing Poppy with a crimson hue;
Yet leave the Lilly pale, and tinge the Violet blue?
Why does the fond Carnation love to shoot
A various colour from one parent root ?
While the fantastic Tulip strives to break
In two-fold beauty, and a parted streak ?
The twining Jasmine, and the blushing Rose,
With lavith grace their morning scents disclose :
The smelling Tub'rose and Junquil declare,
The stronger impulse of an evening air,
Whence has the tree (resolve me) or the flower
A various instinct, or a dif'rent power ?
Why should one earth, one clime, one stream, one
Raise this to strength, and ficken that to death?
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 ?