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Pushing her bold enquiry to the date
And outline of the present transient state,
And after poiling her advent’rous wings,
Settling at last upon eternal things,
Far more intelligent, and better taught
The strenuous use of profitable thought,
Than ye when happiest, and enlighten’d most,
And highest in renown, can justly, boast.
A mind unnerv’d, or indispos’d to bear
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care,
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires,
Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as when it stands.
Books therefore, not the fcandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves,
Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success, let modern manners show,
Nor his who for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church and laugh'd his word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And ftab religion with a Ny side-thrust;
Nor those of learn’d philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space;
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of truth, th' associate of sound sense,
And such as in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment lab'ring in the scripture mine,
All such as manly and great fouls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use;
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 talte,
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
'Till authors hear at length, one gen’ral cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die...
The loud demand from year to year the same,
Beggars invention and makes fancy lame,
'Till farce itself most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune;
And novels (witness ev'ry month’s review)
Belie their name and offer nothing new.
The mind relaxing into needful sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler fort,
Whose wit well manag'd, and whole 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,
Though one, I grant it, in the gen’rous breast
Will stand advanc'd a step above the rest,
Flow’rs by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all)
Friends, not adopted with a school-boy's haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well-born, well-disciplin’d, who, plac'd a-part
Fiom vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And, tho' the world may think th' ingredients odd,
The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
Such friends prevent what else wou'd foon fucceed,
A temper rustic as the life we lead,
And keep the polish of the manners clean,
As their's who bustle in the busiest scene.
For folitude, however some may rave,
Seeming a sanctuary proves a gráve,
A fepulchre in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow fick and die.
I praise the Frenchman, * his remark was fhrew'd--
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 enjoy'd,
Or fought with energy, muft fill the void.
Oh sacred art, to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,
Scorn'd in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands,
Flow’rs of rank odor upon thorny lands,
And while experience cautions us in vain,
Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Loft 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 wearinefs beget,
These and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast,
Fond of the phantoin of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens th' obedient beasts of prey.
See Judah’s promis’d king, bereft of all,
Driv'n out an exile from the face of Saul,