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And all our ecstasies are wounds to peace;
Peace, the full portion of mankind below.
And since thy peace is dear, ambitious youth!
Of fortune fond ! as thoughtless of thy fate !
As late I drew Death's picture, to stir up
Thy wholesome fears ; now, drawn in contrast, see
Gay Fortune's, thy vain hopes to reprimand.
See, high in air, the sportive goddess hangs,
Unlocks her casket, spreads her glittering ware,
And calls the giddy winds to puff abroad
Her random bounties o'er the gaping throng.
All rush rapacious; friends o'er trodden friends;
Sons o'er their fathers; subjects o'er their kings;
Priests o'er their gods; and lovers o'er the fair,
(Still more ador’d,) to snatch the golden shower.
Gold glitters most, where virtue shines no more ; As stars from absent suns have leave to shine. O what a precious pack of votaries Unkennel'd from the prisons, and the stews, Pour in, all opening in their idol's praise ; All, ardent, eye each wafture of her hand, And, wide expanding their voracious jaws, Morsel on morsel swallow down unchew'd, Untasted, through mad appetite for more ; Gorg'd to the throat, yet lean and ravenous still. Sagacious all, to trace the smallest game, And bold to seize the greatest. If (blest chance!) Court-zephyrs sweetly breathe, they lanch, they fly, O’er just, o'er sacred, all-forbidden ground, Drunk with the burning scent of place or power, Stanch to the foot of lucre, till they die.
Or, if for men you take them, as I mark
Their manners, thou their various fates survey.
With aim mis-measur'd, and impetuous speed,
Some darting, strike their ardent wish far off,
Through fury to possess it: some succeed,
But stumble, and let fall the taken prize.
From some, by sudden blasts, 't is whirl'd away,
And lodg'd in bosoms that ne'er dreamt of gain.
To some it sticks so close, that, when torn off,
Torn is the man, and mortal is the wound.
Some, o’er-enamour'd of their bags, run mad,
Groan under gold, yet weep for want of bread.
Together some (unhappy rivals !) seize,
And rend abundance into poverty;
Loud croaks the raven of the law, and smiles :
Smiles too the goddess; but smiles most at those,
(Just victims of exorbitant desire !)
Who perish at their own request, and, whelm'd
Beneath her load of lavish grants, expire.
Fortune is famous for her numbers slain ;
The number small, which happiness can bear.
Though various for awhile their fates; at last
One curse involves them all : at Death's approach,
All read their riches backward into loss,
And mourn, in just proportion to their store.
And Death's approach (if orthodox my song)
Is hasten'd by the lure of Fortune's smiles.
And art thou still a glutton of bright gold?
And art thou still rapacious of thy ruin?
Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow;
A blow which, while it executes, alarms;
And startles thousands with a single fall.
As when some stately growth of oak, or pine,
Which nods aloft, and proudly spreads her shade,
The Sun's defiance, and the flock's defence;
By the strong strokes of labouring hinds subdued,
Loud groans her last, and, rushing from her height
In cumbrous ruin, thunders to the ground:
The conscious forest trembles at the shock,
And hill, and stream, and distant dale, resound.
These high-aim'd darts of Death, and these alone,
Should I collect, my quiver would be full.
A quiver, which, suspended in mid air,
Or near Heaven's Archer, in the zodiac, hung,
(So could it be,) should draw the public eye,
The gaze and contemplation of mankind !
A constellation aweful, yet benign,.
To guide the gay through life's tempestuous wave;
Nor suffer them to strike the common rock,
“ From greater danger, to grow more secure,
And, wrapt in happiness, forget their fate.”
Lysander, happy past the common lot, Was warn'd of danger, but too gay to fear. He woo'd the fair Aspasia : she was kind : In youth, form, fortune, fame, they both were blest : All who knew, envied; yet in envy lov'd : Can fancy form more finisht happiness ? Fixt was the nuptial hour. Her stately dome Rose on the sounding beach. The glittering spires Float in the wave, and break against the shore: So break those glittering shadows, human joys. The faithless morning smild: he takes his leave, To re-embrace, in ecstasies, at eve. The rising storm forbids. The news arrives : Untold, she saw it in her servant's eye.
She felt it seen (her heart was apt to feel);
And, drown'd, without the furious ocean's aid,
In suffocating sorrows, shares his tomb.
Now, round the sumptuous, bridal monument,
The guilty billows innocently roar ;
And the rough sailor, passing, drops a tear;
A tear? Can tears suffice? - But not for me.
How vain our efforts ! and our arts how vain !
The distant train of thought I took to shun,
Has thrown me on my fate — These died together ;
Happy in ruin! undivorc'd by death!
Or ne'er to meet, or ne'er to part, is peace.
Narcissa! Pity bleeds at thought of thee.
Yet thou wast only near me; not myself.
Survive myself? — That cures all other woe.
Narcissa lives; Philander is forgot.
O the soft commerce! O the tender ties,
Close-twisted with the fibres of the heart!
Which, broken, break them; and drain off the soul
Of human joy; and make it pain to live -
And is it then to live ? When such friends part,
'T is the survivor dies - My heart, no more.
Containing the Nature, Proof, and Importance, of
Where, among other Things, Glory and Riches are
TO THE RIGHT HON. HENRY PELHAM, FIRST LORD
COMMISSIONER OF THE TREASURY, AND CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.
Preface. Few ages have been deeper in dispute about religion than this.
The dispute about religion, and the practice of it, seldom go together. The shorter, therefore, the dispute, the better. I think it may be reduced to this single question, Is man immortal, or is he not? If he is not, all our disputes are mere amusements, or trials of skill. In this case, truth, reason, religion, which give our discourses such pomp and solemnity, are (as will be shown) mere empty sound, without any meaning in them. But if man is immortal, it will behove him to be very serious about eternal consequences ; or, in other words, to be truly religious. And this great fundamental truth, unestablished, or unawakened in the minds of men, is, I conceive, the real source and support of all our infidelity; how remote soever the particular objections advanced may seem to be from it.