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worlds above worlds; subservient to his voice, who, veil'd in clouded majesty, alone gives light to all; bids the great system move; and changeful seasons in their turns advance, unmov'd, unchang'd, himself ; yet this at least, grant me propitious, an inglorious life, calm and serene, nor lost in false pursuits , of wealth or honours; but enough to raise my drooping friends, preventing modest want that dares not ask. And if, to crown my joys, ye grant me health, that, ruddy in my cheeks, blooms in my life's decline; fields, woods, and streams, each towering hill, each humble vale below, shall hear my cheering voice.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE ESSAY ON MAN, Was ever work to such perfection wrought! how elegant the diction! pure the thought! not sparingly adorn'd with scatter'd rays, but one bright beauty, one collected blaze: so breaks the day upon the shades of night, enlivening all with one unbounded light.
To humble man's proud heart, thy great design; but who can read this wondrous work divine, so justly plann'd, and so politely writ, and not be proud, and boast of human wit?
Yet just to thee, and to thy precepts true, let us know man, and give to God his due; his image we, but mix'd with coarse allay, our happiness to love, adore, obey! to praise him for each gracious boon bestow'd, for this thy work, for every lesser good,
with prostrate hearts before his throne to fall, and own the great Creator all in all.
The muse, which should instruct, now entertains, on trifling subjects, in enervate strains! be it thy task to set the wanderer right, point out her way in her ærial flight! her noble mien, her honours lost restore, and bid her deeply think, and proudly soar. Thy theme sublime, and easy verse, will prove her high descent, and mission from above.
Let others now translate! thy abler pen shall vindicate the ways of God to men! in virtue's cause shall gloriously prevail, when the bench frowns in vain, and pulpits fail. Made wise by thee, whose happy style conveys the purest morals in the softest lays, as angels once, so now we mortals bold shall climb the ladder Jacob view'd of old ! thy kind reforming muse shall lead the way to the bright regions of eternal day.
TO MR. THOMSON,
ON THE FIRST EDITION OF HIS SEASONS. So bright, so dark, upon an April day, the sun darts forth, or hides his various ray! so high, so low, the lark aspiring sings, or drops to earth again with folded wings! so smooth, so rough the sea that laves our shores, smiles in a calm, or in a tempest roars. Believe me, Thomson, 't is not thus I write, severely kind, by envy sour'd or spite! nor would I rob thy brows to grace my own!
such arts are to my honest soul unknown. I read thee over as a friend should read, griev'd when you fail, o'erjoy'd when you succeed. Why should thy muse, born so divinely fair, want the reforming toilet's daily care? Dress the gay maid, improve each native grace, and call forth all the glories of her face: studiously plain, and elegantly clean, with unaffected speech, and easy mien, th' accomplish'd nymph, in all her best attire, courts shall applaud, and prostrate crowds admire. Discretely daring, with a stiffen'd rein, firm in thy seat the flying steed restrain. Though few thy faults, who can perfection boast? spots in the sun are in his lustre lost: yet ev'n those spots expunge with patient care, nor fondly the minutest error spare: for kind and wise the parent, who reproves the slightest blemish in the child he loves. Read Philips much, consider Milton more; but from their dross extract the purer ore. To coin new words, or to restore the old, in southern bards is dangerous and bold ; but rarely, very rarely, will succeed, when minted on the other side of Tweed. Let perspicuity o'er all preside; soon shalt thou be the nation's joy and pride. The rhiming, jingling tribe, with bells and song, who drive their liniping Pegasus along, shall learn from thee in bolder flights to rise, to scorn the beaten road, and range the skies, A genius so refiu'd, so just, so great, in Britain's isle shall fix the muse's seat, and new Parvassus shall at home create:
rules from thy works each future bard shall draw, thy works, above the critic's nicer law, and rich in brilliant gems without a flaw.
ADDRESS TO HIS ELBOW-CHAIR
NEW-CLOTHED. My dear companion, and my faithful friend ! if Orpheus taught the listening oaks to bend; if stones and rubbish, at Amphion's call, danc'd into form, and built the Theban wall: why shouldst not thou attend my humble lays, and hear my grateful harp resound thy praise?
True, thou art spruce and fine, a very beau; but what are trappings and external show? to real worth alone I make my court, knaves are my scorn, and coxcombs are my sport. Once I beheld thee far less trim and gay; ragged, disjointed, and to worms a prey; the safe retreat of every lurking mouse; derided, shunn'd; the lumber of my house! thy robe how chang'd from what it was before ! thy velvet robe, which pleas'd my sires of yore! 't is thus capricious fortune wheels us round; aloft we mount, then tumble to the ground. Yet grateful then, my constancy I prov'd; I knew thy worth; my friend in rags I lov'd; I lov'd thee more; nor, like a courtier, spurn'd my benefactor, when the tide was turn'd. With conscious shame, yet frankly, I confess, that in my youthful days, I lov'd thee less. Where vanity, where pleasure calld, I stray'd; and every wayward appetite obey'd. But sage experience taught me how to prize
myself; and, how this world : she bade me rise to nobler flights regardless of a race of factious emmets; pointed where to place my bliss, and lodg'd me in thy soft embrace.
Here on thy yielding down I sit secure; and, patiently, what heaven has sent, endure; from all the futile cares of business free; not fond of life, but yet content to be: here mark the fleeting hours; regret the past! and seriously prepare to meet the last.
So safe on shore the pension'd sailor lies! and all the malice of the storm defies : with ease of body blest, and peace of mind, pities the restless crew he left behind! whilst, in his cell, he meditates alone on his great voyage, to the world unknown.
TO PHYLLIS. Though close immur'd, poor captive maid ! young Danaë play'd a wanton's part; the gold that in her lap was laid, soon found a passage to her heart. Ambitious Semele, beguild by Juno's unrelenting hate, amid the bright destruction smil'd, enjoy'd her god, and dy'd in state. The swan on Leda's whiter breast artful deceiver! nestling lay, with joy she clasp'd her downy guest, fond of a bird so soft and gay. What boon can faithful merit share, where interest reigns, or pride, or show? .