« AnteriorContinuar »
Containing our only Cure for the FEAR
of DEATH, and proper Sentiments of Heart on that Ineftimable Blessing.
To the Honourable Mr. YORK.
Much indebted Mufe, O York ! intrudes.
Amid the Smiles of Fortune, and of Youth,
Thine Ear is patient of a serious Song.
How deep implanted in the Breast of Man
The Dread of Death ? I sing its sov'reign Cure.
Why start at Death? Where is het Death arriv'd, paft; not come, or gone, He's never berin
Ere Hope, Sensation fails ; Black-boding Man
Receives, not suffers Death’s tremendous Blow.
The Knell, the Shroud, the Mattock, and the Grave,
The deep damp Vault, the Darkness, and the Worm,
These are the Bugbears of a Winter's Eve ;
The Terrors of the Living, not the Dead.
Imagination's Fool, and Error's Wretch,
Man makes a Death, which Nature never made:
Then on the Point of his own Fancy falls ;
And feels a thousand Deaths, in fearing one.
But was Death frightful, what has Age to fear
If prudent, Age should meet the friendly Foe,
And shelter in his hospitable Gloom.
I scarce can meet a Monument, but holds
My Younger; ev'ry Date, cries~" Come away.".
And what recalls me? look the World around,
And tell me what : the Wifeft cannot tell.
Should any born of Woman give this Thought
Full range, on just Dislike's unbounded Field ;
Of Things, the Vanity; of Men, the Flaws;
Flaws in the Beft; the Many, Flaw all o'er,
As Leopards spotted, or as Æthiops dark;
Vivacious Ill; Good dying immature ;
(How immature, Narcisa's Marble tells)
And at his Death bequeathing endless Pain ;
His Heart, tho' bold, would ficken at the Sight,
And spend itself in Sighs, for future Scenes.
But grant to Life (and just it is to grant
To lucky Life) fome Perquisites of Joy ;
A Time there is, when, like a thrice-told Tale,
And that of no great Moment, or Delight,
Long-rifled Life of sweet can yield no more,
But from our Comment on the Comedy,
Pleasing Refle&tions on Parts well-fustain'd,
Or purpos'd Emendations where we failid,
Or Hopes of Plaudits from our candid Judge,
When, on their Exit, Souls are bid unrobe,
Toss Fortune back her Tinsel, and her Plume,
And drop this Mask of Flesh behind the Scene.
With me, that Time is come; my World is dead;
A new World rises, and new Manners reign :
Foreign Comedians, a spruce Band ! arrive,
To push me from the Scene, or hiss me there.
What a pert Race starts up? the Strangers gaze,
And I at them; my Neighbour is unknown;
Nor that the worst; ah me! the dire Effect
Of loit'ring here, of Death defrauded long;
Of old so gracious, (and let that fuffice)
My very Mafter knows me not.
Shall I dare say, Peculiar is the Fate ?
I've been so long remember'd, I'm forgot.
An Object ever preiling dims the Sight,
And hides behind its Ardor to be seen:
When in his Courtiers Ears I
pour my Plaint,
They drink it, as the Nectar of the Great ;
And squeeze my Hand, and beg me come to-morrow ;.
Refusal! canst thou wear a smoother Form ?
Indulge me, nor conceive, I drop my Theme,
Who cheapens Life, abates the Fear of Death;
Twice-told the Period spent on stubborn Troy,
Court-Favour, yet untaken, I befiege ;
Ambition's ill-judg'd Effort to be rich,
Alas! Ambition makes my Little less ;
Imbitt'ring the Poffefs'd : Why wish for more
Wishing, of all Employments, is the worst;
Philosophy's Reverse! and Health's Decay !
Was I as plump, as stallid Theology,
Wishing would waste me to this Shade again.
Was I as wealthy as a South-Sea Dream,
Wishing is an Expedient to be poor.
Wishing, that constant Hettick of a Fool;
Caught at a Court, purg'd off by purer Air,
And fimpler Diet ; Gifts of rural Life!
Bleft be that hand Divine, which gently laid
My Heart at rest, beneath this humble Shed.
The World's a stately Bark, on dang'rous Seasy
With Pleasure seen, but boarded at our Peril:
Here, on a single Plank, thrown safe alhore,
I hear the Tumult of the distant Throng,
As that of Seas remote, or dying Storms;
And meditate on Scenes, more filent ftill ;
Pursue my Theme, and fight the Fear of Death:
Here, like a Shepherd gazing from his Hut,
Touching his Reed, or leaning on his Staff,
Eager Ambition's fiery Chace I fee;
I see the circling Hunt, of noisy Men,
Burst Laws Enclosure, leap the Mounds of Right,
Pursuing and pursu'd, each other's Prey;
As Wolves, for Rapine ;, as the Fox, for Wiles ;
Till Death, that mighty Hunter, earths them all.
Why all this Toil for Triumphs of an Hour? What, tho we wade in Wealth, or foar in Fame, Earth's highest Station ends in “ Here he lies," And “ Dust to. Duft” concludes Her noblest Song. If this Song lives, Pofterity shall know One, tho' in Britain born, with Courtiers bred, Who thought ev'n Gold might come a Day too late Nor on his subtle Death-bed plan'd his Scheme For future Vacancies in Church, or State ; Some Avocation deeming it to die; Unbit by Rage canine of dying Rich; Guilt's Blunder! and the loudest Laugh of Hell,
O my Coëvals! Remnants of yourselves; Poor human Ruins, tott'ring o'er the Grave ! Shall we, shall aged Men, like aged Trees,
Strike deeper their vile Root, and closer cling,
Still more enamour'd of this wretched Soil ?
Shall our pale, wither'd Hands be ftill ftretch'd out,
Trembling, at once; with Eagerness -and Age?
With Av'rice, and Convulsions grasping hard ;
Grafping at Air ! for what has Earth beside ?
Man wants but Little; nor that Little, long :
How soon muft he resign his very Duft ;
Which frugal Nature lent him for an Hour!
Years unexperienc'd rush on num'rous Ills ;
And soon as Man, expert from Time, has found
The Key of Life, it opes the Gates of Death.
When in this Vale of Years I backward look
And miss such Numbers, Numbers too of such,
Firmer in Health, and greener in their Age,
And stricter on their Guard, and fitter far
To play Life's subtle Game, I scarce believe
I still survive ; and am I fond of Life,
Who scarce can think it possible, I live ?
Alive by Miracle ! or, what is next,
Alive by Mead! If I am still alive,
Who long have bury'd what gives Life to live,
Firmness of Nerve, and Energy of Thought.
Life's Lee is not more mallow, than impure,
And vapid; Sense, and Reafon fhew the Door,
Call for my Bier, and point me to the Duft.
O thou great Arbiter of Life and Death!
Nature's immortal, immaterial Sun!
Whofe all-prolific Beam late call’d me forth
From Darkness, teeming Darkness, where I lay
The Worms inferior, and, in Rank, beneath
The Duft I tread on, high to bear
To drink the Spirit of the golden Day,
And triumph in Existence; and could't know
No Motive, but my Bliss; and haft ordain'd