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What then remains, but, waving each extreme,
The tide of ignorance and pride to stem?
Neither so rich a treasure to forego ;
Nor proudly seek beyond our power to know :
Faith is not built on disquisitions vain;
The things we must believe are few and plain.
But, since men will believe more than they need,
And every man will make himself a creed,
In doubtful questions 'tis the safest way
To learn what unsuspected ancients say:
For 'tis not likely we should higher soar
In search of Heaven, than all the church before :
Nor can we be deceiv'd unless we see
The Scripture and the Fathers disagree.
If after all they stand suspected still-
For no man's faith depends upon his will
'Tis some relief, that points not clearly known,
Without much hazard may be let alone :
And, after hearing what our church can say,
If still our reason runs another way,
That private reason 'tis more just to curb,
Than by disputes the public peace disturb:
For points obscure are of small use to learn,
But common quiet is mankind's concern.
154. FROM THE HIND AND THE PANTHER.'
THE SECTS. The bloody Bear, an independent beast, Unlick'd to form, in groans her hate express’d. Among the timorous kind the quaking Hare Profess'd neutrality, but would not swear. Next her the buffoon Ape, as atheists use, Mimick'd all sects, and had his own to choose : Still when the Lion look’d, his knees he bent, And paid at church a courtier's compliment. The bristled baptist Boar, impure as he, But whitend with the foam of sanctity, With fat pollutions fill’d the sacred place, And mountains levell’d in his furious race:
So first rebellion founded was in grace.
But since the mighty ravage, which he made
In German forest, had his guilt betray’d,
With broken tusks, and with a borrow'd name,
He shunn'd the vengeance, and conceal'd the shame;
So lurk'd in sects unseen. With greater guile
False Reynard fed on consecrated spoil.
The graceless beast by Athanasius first
Was chas'd from Nice, then by Socinus nursid :
His impious race their blasphemy renew'd,
And Nature's king through Nature's optic view'd.
Reverse they view'd him lessen’d to their eye,
Nor in an infant could a god descry.
Now swarming sects to this obliquely tend,
Hence they began, and here they all will end.
What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
If private reason hold the public scale ?
But, gracious God, how well thou dost provide
For erring judgments an unerring guide!
Thy throne is darkness in th' abyss of light,
A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
O teach me to believe thee thus conceal’d,
And search no farther than thyself reveald ;
But her alone for my director take,
Whom thou hast promis'd never to forsake!
My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires,
My manhood long misled, with wandering fires,
Follow'd false lights, and, when their glimpse was gone,
My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
Such was I, such by nature still I am ;
Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
Good life be now my task, my doubts are done.
155. EPISTLE TO CONGREVE.
O that your brows my laurel had sustain'd!
Well had I been depos’d, if you had reign'd :
The father had descended for the son;
For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus, when the state one Edward did depose,
A greater Edward in his room arose :
But now, not I, but poetry is curs'd ;
For Tom the second reigns like Tom the first.
But let them not mistake my patron's part,
Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophesy; thou shalt be seen,
(Though with some short parenthesis between)
High on the throne of wit, and, seated there,
Not mine, that's little, but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made,
That early promise this has more than paid.
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare,
That your least praise is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought,
But genius must be born, and never can be taught.
This is your portion ; this your native store;
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakspeare gave as much; she could not give him more.
Maintain your post : that all the fame you need ;
For 'tis impossible you should proceed.
Already I am worn with cares and age,
And just abandoning th' ungrateful stage :
Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expense,
I live a rent-charge on his providence;
But you, whom every Muse and Grace adorn,
Whom I foresee to better fortune born,
Be kind to my remains ; and 0 defend,
Against your judgment, your departed friend !
Let not th' insulting foe my fame pursue,-
But shade those laurels which descend to you:
And take for tribute what these lines express :
You merit more ; nor could my love do less.
156. FROM THE COCK AND THE Fox.'
Dreams are but interludes which Fancy makes ;
When monarch Reason sleeps, this mimic wakes :
Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
A mob of cobblers, and a court of kings :
Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad :
Both are the reasonable soul run mad;
And many monstrous forms in sleep we see,
That neither were, nor are, nor e'er can be.
Sometimes forgotten things long cast behind
Rush forward in the brain, and come to mind.
The nurse's legends are for truths receivid,
And the man dreams but what the boy believ'd.
Sometimes we but rehearse a former play,
The night restores our actions done by day ;
As hounds in sleep will open for their prey.
In short, the farce of dreams is of a piece,
Chimeras all; and more absurd, or less.
AN ODE IN HONOUR OF ST. CECILIA's Day. 'Twas at the royal feast for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son ;
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sate
On his imperial throne :
His valiant peers were plac'd around ;
Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound,
(So should desert in arms be crown'd):
The lovely Thais, by his side,
Sate, like a blooming eastern bride,
In flower of youth and beauty's pride.
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserves the fair.
Timotheus, plac'd on high
Amid the tuneful quire,
With flying fingers touch'd the lyre :
The trembling notes ascend the sky,
And heavenly joys inspire.
The song began—from Jove,
Who left his blissful seats above,
(Such is the power of mighty love).
A dragon's fiery form belied the god,
Sublime on radiant spires he rode,
When he to fair Olympia press’d,
And stamp'd an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
The listening crowd admire the lofty sound,
A present deity! they shout around :
A present deity! the vaulted roofs rebound :
With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.
The praise of Bacchus then, the sweet musician sung :
Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young :
The jolly god in triumph comes ;
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums;
Flush'd with a purple grace,
He shows his honest face ;
Now give the hautboys breath: he comes ! he comes !
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain ;
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure :
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure;
Sweet is pleasure after pain.
Sooth'd with the sound, the king grew vain ;
Fought all his battles o'er again ;
And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain.
The master saw the madness rise ;
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes ;
And, while he Heaven and Earth defied,
Chang'd his hand, and check'd his pride.
He chose a mournful Muse,
Soft pity to infuse :
He sung Darius great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate,
And weltring in his blood ;
Deserted, at his utmost need,
By those his former bounty fed :
On the bare earth expos’d he lies,
With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of Chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole ;
And tears began to flow.
The mighty master smild, to see
That love was in the next degree :
'Twas but a kindred sound to move,
For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble ;
Honour, but an empty bubble ;