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The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands,
894 With Conscience and with Thee. Lust in their hearts, And mischief in their hands, they roam the earth To prey upon each other ; stubborn, fierce, High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace. Thy prophets speak of such ; and noting down The features of the last degen’rate times,
900 Exhibit every lineament of these. Come, then, and, added to thy many crowns, Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest, Due to thy last and most effectual work, Thy word fulfill'd, the conquest of a world ! 905
He is the happy man, whose life e'en now Shows somewhat of that happier life. to come ; Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state, Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose, Would make his fate his choice ; whom peace, the fruit Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, 911 Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
930 That flutters least is longest on the wing. Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has rais'd, Or what achievements of immortal fame He purposes, and he shall answer—None. His warfare is within. There, unfatigu’d, 935 His fervent spirit labours. There he fights And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself, And never-with’ring wreaths, compar'd with which, The laurels that a Cæsar reaps are weeds. Perhaps the self-approving, haughty world, 940 That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks Scarce deigns to notice him, or if she see, Deems him a cipher in the works of God, Receives advantage from his noiseless hours, Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes 945 Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring And plenteous harvest, to the pray’r he makes, When, Isaac like, the solitary saint Walks forth to meditate at eventide, And think on her who thinks not for herself. 950 Forgive him, then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idler in the best,
975 At least his follies have not wrought her fall. Polite Refinement offers him in vain Her golden tube, through which a sensual World Draws gross impurity, and likes it well, The neat conveyance hiding all the offence. 980 Not that he peevishly rejects a mode, Because that World adopts it. If it bear The stamp and clear impression of good ser se, And be not costly more than of true worth He puts it on, and for decorum sake
985 Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she. She judges of refinement by the eye ; He, by the test of conscience, and a heart Not soon deceivid; avare, that what is base
No polish can make sterling; and that vice,
990 Though well perfum’d and elegantly dress’d, Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flow'rs, Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far For cleanly riddance than for fair attire. So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
995 More golden than that age of fabled gold Renown'd in ancient song ; not vex'd with care Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approv'd Of God and man, and peaceful in its end. So glide my life away! and so at last,
1000 My share of duties decently fulfill’d, May some disease, not tardy to perform Its destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke, Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat, Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
1005 It shall not grieve me then, that once, when call'd To dress a Sofa with the flow'rs of verse, I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair, With that light Task ; but soon, to please her more, Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, 1010 Let fall th' unfinish'd wreath, and rov'd for fruit; Rovd far, and gather'd much; some harsh, 'tis true, Pick'd from the thorns and briars of reproof, But wholesome, well digested; grateful some To palates that can taste immortal truth; 1015 Insipid else, and sure to be despis’d. But all is in His hand whose praise I seek. In vain the poet sings, and the World hears, If he regard not, though divine the theme. 'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime 1020 And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre, To charm His ear whose eye is on the heart, Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain, Whose approbation-prosper even mine.
EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
DEAR JOSEPH-five and twenty years ago Alas, how timo escapes ! 'tis even som With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour and now we never meet! As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-inorrow bringsStrange fluctuation of all human things ! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part But distance only cannot change the heart; And, where I call’d to prove th' assertion true, One proof should serve-a reference to you.
Whence comes it, then, that in the vane of life,
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,