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All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use:
700 Behold in these what leisure hours demand, Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast, And while she polishes, perverts the taste; Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
705 Become more rare as dissipation spreads, Till authors hear at length one general cry, Tickle and entertain us, or we die. The loud demand, from year to year the same, Beggars Invention, and makes Fancy lame,
710 Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune, Calls for the kind assistance of a tune; And novels (witness every month's Review) Belie their name, and offer nothing new. The mind, relaxing into needful sport,
715 Should turn to writers of an abler sort, Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style, Give Truth a lustre, and make Wisdom smile.
Friends (for I cannot stint as some have done, Too rigid, in my view, that name to one,
720 Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast Will stand advanced a step above the rest; Flowers by that name promiscuously we call, But one, the rose, the regent of them all) Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste,
725 But chosen with a nice discerning taste, Well born, well disciplined, who, placed apart From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, And, though the world may think the ingredients odd, The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
730 Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, A temper rustic as the life we lead, And keep the polish of the manners clean, As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene; For solitude, however some may rave,
735 Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave,
A sepulchre in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow sick and die.
I praise the Frenchman, his remark was shrewd,
“How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude !
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper-solitude is sweet.'
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside,
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,
Or shine the dullness of still life away;
Divine Communion, carefully enjoyed,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
O sacred art! to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close.
Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
Not knowing thee, we reap, with bleeding hands,
Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands,
And while Experience cautions us in vain,
Grasp seeming Happiness, and find it Pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Lost by abandoning her own relief,
Murmuring and ungrateful Discontent,
That scorns afflictions mercifully meant,
Those humours, tart as wines upon the fret,
Which Idleness and Weariness beget,
These and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast,
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine Communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens the obedient beasts of prey.
See Judah's promised king, bereft of all,
Driven out an exile from the face of Saul,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer fies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him, o'erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice ;
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart;
'Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake;
His soul exults, Hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds familiar with a lion's roar,
Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before;
'Tis Love like his that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued;
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain, or herb, or plant that each demands;
To cherish Virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your Bounty may create;
To mark the matchless workings of the Power
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends Nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes;
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet-
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of Time.
Me poetry (or rather notes that aim,
Feebly and vainly, at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse ;
Content if thus sequestered I may raise
A monitor's, though not a poet's, praise,
And while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.
Candid, and generous, and just,
Boys care but little whom they trust,
An error soon corrected;
For who but learns in riper years
That man, when smoothest he appears,
Is most to be suspected?
Who seeks a friend should come disposed
To exhibit, in full bloom disclosed,
The graces and the beauties
That form the character he seeks,
For 'tis a union that bespeaks
Mutual attention is implied,
And equal truth on either side,
And constantly supported;
'Tis senseless arrogance to accuse
Another of sinister views,
Our own as much distorted.
But will Sincerity suffice ?
It is indeed above all price,
And must be made the basis;