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TO THE TRAGEDY OF BRUTUSr.
YE shades, where sacred truth is sought ;
Groves, where immortal sages taught;
Where heavenly visions Plato fired,
And Epicurus lay inspired !
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
Unspotted long with human blood.
War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades,
And steel now glitters in the Muses' shades.
Oh heaven-born sisters ! source of art!
Who charm the sense, or mend the heart;
Who lead fair virtue's train along,
Moral truth, and mystic song!
To what new clime, what distant sky,
Forsaken, friendless, shall ye fly?
Say, will ye bless the bleak Atlantic shore ?
Or bid the furious Gaul be rude no more ?
When Athens sinks by fates unjust,
When wild barbarians spurn her dust;
Perhaps even Britain's utmost shore
Shall cease to blush with strangers' gore,
See arts her savage sons control,
And Athens rising near the pole !
Till some new tyrant lifts his purple hand,
And civil madness tears them from the land.
Ye gods ! what justice rules the ball ?
Freedom and arts together fall;
Fools grant whate'er ambition craves,
And men, once ignorant, are slaves.
Oh cursed effects of civil hate,
In every age, in every state !
Still, when the last of tyrant power succeeds,
Some Athens perishes, some Tully bleeds.
CHORUS OF YOUTHS AND VIRGINS.
Ou tyrant Love ! hast thou possest
The prudent, learn'd, and virtuous breast?
Wisdom and wit in vain reclaim,
And arts but soften us to feel thy flame.
Love, soft intruder, enters here,
But entering learns to be sincere.
Marcus with blushes owns he loves,
And Brutus tenderly reproves.
Why, virtue, dost thou blame desire,
Which nature has imprest,
Why, nature, dost thou soonest fire
The mild and generous breast ?
Love's purer flames the gods approve ;
The gods and Brutus bend to love :
Brutus for absent Portia sighs,
And sterner Cassius melts at Junia's eyes.
What is loose love? a transient gust,
Spent in a sudden storm of lust,
A vapour fed from wild desire,
A wandering, self-consuming fire.
But Hymen's kinder flames unite,
And burn for ever one;
Chaste as cold Cynthia's virgin light,
Productive as the sun.
O source of every social tie,
United wish, and mutual joy !
What various joys on one attend,
As son, as father, brother, husband, friend !
Whether his hoary sire he spies,
While thousand grateful thoughts arise ;
Or meets his spouse's fonder eye ;
Or views his smiling progeny :
What tender passions take their turns,
What home-felt raptures move !
His heart now melts, now leaps, now burns,
With reverence, hope, and love.
Hence guilty joys, distastes, surmises,
Hence false tears, deceits, disguises,
Dangers, doubts, delays, surprises;
Fires that scorch, yet dare not shine :
Purest love's unwasting treasure,
Constant faith, fair hope, long leisure,
Days of ease, and nights of pleasure ;
Sacred Hymen ! these are thine.
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound, Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground. Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire, Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire. Blest, who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away, In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation : And innocence, which most does please
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.
VITAL spark of heavenly flame !
Quit, oh quit this mortal frame !
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
Oh the pain, the bliss of dying !
Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life!
Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite ?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath ?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death ?
The world recedes ; it disappears !
Heaven opens on my eyes ! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring :
Lend, lend your wings ! I mount ! I fly!
O Grave ! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting ?
• This Ode was written, at the desire of Sir Richard Steele, in imitation of the famous sonnet of Hadrian to his departing soul.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1709, WHEN THE AUTHOR WAS ONLY TWENTY
'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But, of the two, less dangerous is the offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose,
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the critics' share ;
Both must alike from Heaven derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not critics to their judgment too?
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find
Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind u :
Nature affords at least a glimmering light;
The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly traced,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgraced,
So by false learning is good sense defaced":
+ “Qui scribit artificiose, ab aliis commode scripta facile intelligere poterit.”—Cic. ad Herenn. lib. iv. “De pictore, sculptore, fictore, nisi artifex, judicare non potest.”—PLINY
“Omnes tacito quodam sensu, sine ullâ arte, aut ratione, quæ sint in artibus, ac rationibus recta et prava dijudicant.”-Cic. de Orat. lib. iii.
“Plus sine doctrinâ prudentia, quam sine prudentiâ valet doctrina." QUINT.