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Desperate, and arm'd with more than human
How soon the calm, humane, and polish'd man
Forgets compunction, and starts up a fiend !
Who pines in love, or wastes with silent cares,
Envy, or ignominy, or tender grief,
Slowly descends, and lingering to the shades :
But he whom Anger stings, drops, if he dies,
At once, and rushes apoplectic down;
Or a fierce fever hurries him to hell.
For, as the body through unnumber'd strings
Reverberates each vibration of the soul;
As is the passion, such is still the pain
The body feels; or chronic, or acute.
And oft a sudden storm at once o’erpowers
The life, or gives your reason to the winds.
Such fates attend the rash alarm of Fear,
And sudden Grief, and Rage, and sudden Joy.
There are, meantime, to whom the boisterous fit
Is health, and only fills the sails of life.
For where the mind a torpid winter leads,
Wrapt in a body corpulent and cold,
And each clogg'd function lazily moves on;
A generous sally spurns the incumbent load,
Unlocks the breast, and gives a cordial glow.
But if your wrathful blood is apt to boil,
Or are your nerves too irritably strung,
Wave all dispute; be cautious if you joke;
Keep Lent for ever, and forswear the bowl :
For one rash moment sends you to the shades,
Or shatters every hopeful scheme of life,
And gives to horror all your days to come.
Fate, arm'd with thunder, fire, and every plague,
That ruins, tortures, or distracts mankind,
And makes the happy wretched in an hour,
O'erwhelins you not with woes so horrible
As your own wrath, nor gives more sudden blows.
While Choler works, good friend, you may be
Distrust yourself, and sleep before you fight.
'Tis not too late to-morrow to be brave;
If honour bids, to-morrow kill or die.
But calm advice against a raging fit
Avails too little ; and it braves the power
Of all that ever taught in prose or song,
To tame the fiend that sleeps a gentle lamb,
And wakes a lion. Unprovoked and calm,
You reason well; see as you ought to see,
And wonder at the madness of mankind :
Seized with the common rage, you soon forget.
The speculations of your wiser hours.
Beset with furies of all deadly shapes,
Fierce and insidious, violent and slow,
With all that urge or lure us ou to fate ;
What refuge shall we seek ? what arms prepare ?
Where Reason proves too weak, or void of wiles
To cope with subtle or impetuous powers,
I would invoke new passions to your aid :
With Indignation would extinguish Fear,
With Fear or generous Pity vanquish Rage,
And Love with Pride; and force to force oppose.
There is a charm, a power, that sways the breast; Bids every passion revel or be still; Inspires with rage, or all your cares dissolves ; Can soothe distraction, and almost despair. That power is Music: far beyond the stretch Of those unmeaning warblers on our stage ;
Those clumsy heroes, those fat-headed gods,
Who move no passion justly but contempt :
Who, like our dancers, (light indeed and strong !)
Do wondrous feats, but never heard of grace.
The fault is ours; we bear those monstrous arts;
Good Heaven! we praise them : we, with loudest
Applaud the fool that highest lifts his heels;
And, with insipid show of rapture,
die Of idiot notes impertinently long. But he the Muse's laurel justly shares, A poet he, and touch'd with Heaven's own fire, Who, with bold rage or solemn pomp of sound, Inflames, exalts, and ravishes the soul; Now tender, plaintive, sweet almost to pain, In love dissolves you; now, in sprightly strains, Breathes a gay rapture through your thrilling breasts; Or melts the heart with airs divinely sad; Or wakes to horror the tremendous strings. Such was the bard, whose heavenly strains of old Appeased the fiend of melancholy Saul. Such was, if old and heathen fame say true, The man who bade the Theban domes ascend, And tamed the savage nations with his song ; And such the Thracian, whose melodious lyre, Tuned to soft woe, made all the mountains weep; Soothed ev’n the inexorable powers of Hell, And half redeem'd his lost Eurydicè. Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, Expels diseases, softens every pain, Subdues the rage of poison and of plague; And hence the wise of ancient days adored One power of Physic, Melody, and Song.
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS'S PAINTED
AT NEW COLLEGE, OXFORD.
An stay thy treacherous hand, forbear to trace
Those faultless forms of elegance and grace !
Ah, cease to spread the bright transparent mass,
With Titian's pencil, o'er the speaking glass !
Nor steal, by strokes of art with truth combined,
The fond illusions of my wayward mind :
For long, enamour'd of a barbarous age,
A faithless truant to the classic page,
Long have I loved to catch the simple chime
Of minstrel-harps, and spell the fabling rhyme;
To view the festive rites, the knightly play,
That deck'd heroic Albion's elder day;
To mark the mouldering halls of barons bold,
And the rough castle, cast in giant mould ;
With gothic manners gothic arts explore,
And myse on the magnificence of yore.
* But chief, enraptured have I loved to roam, A lingering votary, the vaulted dome, Where the tall shafts, that mount in massy pride, Their mingling branches shoot from side to side ; Where elfin sculptors, with fantastic clew, O’er the long roof their wild embroidery drew; Where Superstition, with capricious hand, In many a maze the wreathed window plann'd, With hues romantic tinged the gorgeous pane, To fill with holy light the wondrous fane ;
'To aid the builder's model, richly rude,
By no Vitruvian symmetry subdued ;
To suit the genius of the mystic pile :
Whilst as around the far-retiring aisle,
And fretted shrines, with hoary trophies hung,
Her dark illumination wide she flung
With new solemnity, the nooks profound,
The caves of death, and the dim arches frown'd.
From bliss long felt unwillingly we part:
Ah, spare the weakness of a lover's heart!
Chase not the phantoms of my fairy dream,-
Phantoms that shrink at Reason's painful gleam!
That softer touch, insidious artist, stay,
Nor to new joys iny struggling breast betray!'
Such was a pensive bard's mistaken strain :-
But, 0, of ravish'd pleasures why complain ?
No more the matchless skill I call unkind,
That strives to disenchant my cheated mind;
For when again I view thy chaste design,
The just proportion, and the genuine line ;
Those native portraitures of Attic art,
That from the lucid surface seem to start;
Those tints, that steal no glories from the day,
Nor ask the sun to lend his streaming ray;
The doubtful radiance of contending dyes,
That faintly mingle, yet distinctly rise ;
"Twixt light and shade the transitory strife ;
The feature blooming with immortal life;
The stole in casual foldings taught to flow,
Not with ambitious ornaments to glow;
The tread majestic, and the beaming eye,
That lifted, speaks its commerce with the sky;
Heaven's golden emanation, gleaming mild
O'er the mean cradle of the Virgin's child :