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No longer labours merely to produce
pomp of sound, or tinkle without use;
Where'er it winds, the salutary stream,
Sprightly and fresh, enriches every theme,
While all the happy man possess'd before,
The gift of nature, or the classic store,
Is made subservient to the grand design,
For which Heaven form'd the faculty divine.
So should an idiot, while at large he strays,
Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays,
With rash and awkward force the chords he shakes
And grins with wonder at the jar he makes ;
But let the wise and well-instructed hand
Once take the shell beneath his just command,
In gentle sounds it seems as it complain'd
Of the rude injuries it late sustain'd,
Till tuned at length to some immortal song,
It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours
his praise along.
studiis florens ignobilis oti.
VIRG. GEOR. LIB. 1.
HACKNEY'D in business, wearied at the oar,
Which thousands, once fast chain'd to, quit no
But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low,
All wish, or seem to wish, they could forego ;
The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade,
Pants for the refuge of some rural shade,
Where, all his long anxieties forgot
Amid the charms of a sequester'd spot,
Or recollected only to gild o'er,
And add a smile to what was sweet before,
He may possess the joys he thinks he sees,
Lay his old age upon the lap of ease,
Improve the remnant of his wasted span,
And, having lived a trifler, die a man.
Thus conscience pleads her cause within the breast
Though long rebell'd against, not yet suppress'd,
And calls a creature form’d for God alone,
For Heaven's high purposes, and not his own,
Calls him away from selfish ends and aims,
From what debilitates and what inflames,
From cities humming with a restless crowd,
Sordid as active, ignorant as loud,
Whose highest praise is that they live in vain,
The dupes of pleasure, or the slaves of gain,
Where works of man are cluster'd close around,
And works of God are hardly to be found,
To regions where, in spite of sin and woe,
Traces of Eden are still seen below,
Where mountain, river, forest, field, and grove,
Remind him of his Maker's power and love.
"Tis well if, look'd for at so late a day,
In the last scene of such a senseless play,
True wisdom will attend his feeble call,
And grace his action ere the curtain fall.
Souls, that have long despised their heavenly birth,
Their wishes all impregnated with earth,
For threescore years employ'd with ceaseless car
In catching smoke and feeding upon air,
Conversant only with the ways
Rarely redeem the short remaining ten.
Inveterate habits choke the unfruitful heart,
Their fibres penetrate its tenderest part,
And, draining its nutritious powers to feed
Their noxious growth, starve every better seed.
Happy, if full of days—but happier far,
If, ere we yet discern life's evening star,
Sick of the service of a world, that feeds
Its patient drudges with dry chaff and weeds,
We can escape from custom's idiot sway,
To serve the sovereign we were born to obey.
Then sweet to muse upon his skill display'd fInfinite skill) in all that he has made! To trace in Nature's most minute design The signature and stamp of power divine, Contrivance intricate, express'd with ease, Where unassisted sight no beauty sees, The shapely limb and lubricated joint, Within the small dimensions of a point; Muscle and nerve miraculously spun, His mighty work, who speaks and it is done, The invisible in things scarce seen reveald, To whom an atom is an ample field ; To wonder at a thousand insect forms, These hatch'd, and those resuscitated worms, New life ordain’d and brighter scenes to share, Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air, Whose shape would make them, had they bulk and More hideous foes than fancy can devise; [size, With helmet-heads, and dragon-scales adorn'd, The mighty myriads, now securely scorn'd, Would mock the majesty of man's high birth, Despise his bulwarks, and unpeople earth : Then with a glance of fancy to survey, Far as the faculty can stretch away, Ten thousand rivers pour'd at his command, From urns that never fail, through every land ; These like a deluge with impetuous force, Those winding modestly a silent course ; The cloud-surmounting Alps, the fruitful vales : Seas, on which every nation spreads her sails ;
The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light,
The crescent moon, the diadem of night:
Stars countless, each in his appointed place,
Fast anchor'd in the deep abyss of space-
At such a sight to catch the poet's flame,
And with a rapture like his own exclaim,
These are thy glorious works, thou Source of good,
How dimly seen, how faintly understood !
Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care,
This universal frame, thus wondrous fair;
Thy power divine, and bounty beyond thought,
Adored and praised in all that thou hast wrought.
Absorb'd in that immensity I see,
I shrink abased, and yet aspire to thee;
Instruct me, guide me to that heavenly day,
Thy words, more clearly than thy works, display,
That, while thy truths my grosser thoughts refine,
may resemble thee, and call thee mine.
O blest proficiency ! surpassing all
That men erroneously their glory call,
The recompense that arts or arms can yield,
The bar, the senate, or the tented field.
Compared with this sublimest life below,
Ye kings and rulers, what have courts to show ?
Thus studied, used and consecrated thus,
Whatever is, seems form'd indeed for us;
Not as the plaything of a froward child,
Fretful unless diverted and beguiled,
Much less to feed and fan the fatal fires
Of pride, ambition, or impure desires,