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O days of Heav'n, and nights of equal praise,
Serene and peaceful as those heav'nly days,
When souls drawn upwards in communion sweet
Enjoy the stillness of some close retreat,
Discourse, as if releas'd and safe at home,
Of dangers past, and wonders yet to come,
And spread the sacred treasures of the breast
Upon the lap of covenanted Rest.
What, always dreaming over heav'nly things,
Like angel-heads in stone with pigeon-wings?
Canting and whining out all day the word,
And half the night? fanatic and absurd!
Mine be the friend less frequent in his pray'rs,
Who makes no bustle with his soul's affairs,
Whose wit can brighten up a wint'ry day,
And chase the splenetic dull hours away;
Content on Earth in earthly things to shine,
Who waits for Heav'n ere he becomes divine,
Leaves saints t' enjoy those altitudes they teach,
And plucks the fruit plac'd more within his reach."
Well spoken, advocate of sin and shame,
Known by thy bleating, Ignorance thy name.
Is sparkling wit the World's exclusive right?
The fix'd fee-simple of the vain and light?
Can hopes of Heav'n, bright prospects of an hour,
That come to waft us out of Sorrow's pow'r,
Obscure or quench a faculty, that finds
Its happiest soil in the serenest minds?
Religion curbs indeed its wanton play,
And brings the trifler under rig'rous sway,
But gives it usefulness unknown before,
And, purifying, makes it shine the more.
A Christian's wit is inoffensive light,
A beam that aids, but never grieves the sight;
Vig'rous in age as in the flush of youth,
'Tis always active on the side of truth;
Temp'rance and peace insure its healthful state,
And make it brightest at its latest date.
Oh I have seen (nor hope perhaps in vain,
Ere life go down, to see such sights again)
A vet'ran warrior in the Christian field,
Who never saw the sword he could not wield;
Grave without dullness, learned without pride.
Exact, yet not precise, though meek, keen-ey'd ;
A man that would have foil'd at their own play
A dozen would-bes of the modern day;
Who, when occasion justified its use,
Had wit as bright as ready to produce,
Could fetch from records of an earlier age,
Or from philosophy's enlighten'd page,
His rich materials, and regale your ear
With strains it was a privilege to hear:
Yet above all his luxury supreme,
And his chief glory, was the Gospel theme;
There he was copious as old Greece or Rome,
His happy eloquence seem'd there at home,
Ambitious not to shine or to excel,
But to treat justly what he lov'd so well.
It moves me more perhaps than folly ought,
When some green heads, as void of wit as thought,
Suppose themselves monopolists of sense,
And wiser men's ability pretence.
Youth has a sprightliness and fire to boast,
That in the valley of decline are lost,
And Virtue with peculiar charms appears,
Crown'd with the garland of life's blooming years;
Yet Age, by long experience well inform'd,
Well read, well temper'd, with religion warm'd,
That fire abated, which impels rash youth,
Proud of his speed, to overshoot the truth,
As time improves the grape's authentic juice,
Mellows and makes the speech more fit for use,
And claims a rev'rence in its short'ning day,
That 'tis an honor and a joy to pay.
The fruits of Age, less fair, are yet more sound,
Than those a brighter season pours around;
And, like the stores autumnal suns mature,
Through wint'ry rigors unimpair'd endure.
What is fanatic frenzy, scorn'd so much,
And dreaded more than a contagious touch?
I grant it dang'rous, and approve your fear,
That fire is catching, if you draw too near;
But sage observers oft mistake the flame,
And give true piety that odious name.
To tremble (as the creature of an hour
Ought at the view of an Almighty Pow'r)
Before his presence, at whose awful throne
All tremble in all worlds, except our own,
To supplicate his mercy, love his ways,
And prize them above pleasure, wealth, or praise,
Though common sense, allow'd a casting voice,
And free from bias, must approve the choice,
Convicts a man fanatic in th' extreme,
And wild as madness in the world's esteem
But that disease, when soberly defin'd,
Is the false fire of an o'erheated mind;
It views the truth with a distorted eye,
And either warps or lays it useless by ;
"Tis narrow, selfish, arrogant, and draws
Its sordid nourishment from man's applause;
And while at heart sin unrelinquish'd lies,
Presumes itself chief fav'rite of the skies.
"Tis such a light as putrefaction breeds
In fly-blown flesh, whereon the maggot feeds,
Shines in the dark, but, usher'd into day,
The stench remains, the lustre dies away.
True bliss, if man may reach it, is compos'd
Of hearts in union mutually disclos'd;
And, farewell else all hope of pure delight,
Those hearts should be reclaim'd, renew'd, upright.
Bad men, profaning friendship's hallow'd name,
Form, in its stead a covenant of shame,
A dark confed'racy against the laws
Of virtue, and religion's glorious cause:
They build each other up with dreadful skill,
As bastions set point-blank against God's will:
Enlarge and fortify the dread redoubt,
Deeply resolv'd to shut a Savior out;
Call legions up from Hell to back the deed;
And, curs'd with conquest, finally succeed.
But souls, that carry on a blest exchange
Of joys, they meet with in their heav'nly range,
And with a fearless confidence made known
The sorrows, sympathy esteems its own,
Though time will wear us, and we must grow old, Daily derive increasing light and force
Such men are not forgot as soon as cold,
Their fragrant mem'ry will outlast their tomb,
Embalm'd for ever in its own perfume.
And to say truth, though in its early prime,
And when unstain'd with any grosser crime,
From such communion in their pleasant course,
Feel less the journey's roughness and its length,
Meet their opposers with united strength,
And, one in heart, in int'rest, and design,
Gird up each other to the race divine.
But Conversation, choose what theme we may, And chiefly when religion leads the way, Should flow, like waters after summer show'rs, Not as if rais'd by mere mechanic pow'rs, The Christian, in whose soul, though now distress'd, Lives the dear thought of joys he once possess'd, When all his glowing language issued forth With God's deep stamp upon its current worth, Will speak without disguise, and must impart, Sad as it is, his undissembling heart,
Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal,
Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel.
The song of Zion is a tasteless thing,
Unless, when rising on a joyful wing,
The soul can mix with the celestial bands,
And give the strain the compass it demands.
Strange tidings these to tell a world, who treat
All but their own experience as deceit!
Will they believe, though credulous enough,
To swallow much upon much weaker proof,
That there are blest inhabitants of Earth,
Partakers of a new ethereal birth,
Their hopes, desires, and purposes estrang'd
From things terrestrial, and divinely chang'd,
Their very language of a kind, that speaks
The soul's sure int'rest in the good she seeks,
Who deal with Scripture, its importance felt,
As Tully with philosophy once dealt,
And in the silent watches of the night,
And through the scenes of toil-renewing light,
The social walk, or solitary ride,
Keep still the dear companion at their side?
No-shame upon a self-disgracing age,
God's work may serve an ape upon a stage
With such a jest, as fill'd with hellish glee
Certain invisibles as shrewd as he;
But veneration or respect finds none,
Save from the subjects of that work alone.
The World grown old her deep discernment
Claps spectacles on her sagacious nose,
Peruses closely the true Christian's face,
And finds it a mere mask of sly grimace;
Usurps God's office, lays his bosom bare,
And finds hypocrisy close lurking there;
And, serving God herself through mere constraint,
Concludes his unfeign'd love of him a feint.
And yet, God knows, look human nature through,
(And in due time the World shall know it too,)
That since the flow'rs of Eden felt the blast,
That after man's defection laid all waste,
Sincerity tow'rds the heart-searching God
Has made the new-born creature her abode,
Nor shall be found in unregen'rate souls,
Till the last fire burn all between the Poles.
Sincerity! why 'tis his only pride,
Weak and imperfect in all grace beside,
He knows that God demands his heart entire,
And gives him all his just demands require.
Without it his pretensions were as vain,
As having it he deems the World's disdain;
That great defect would cost him not alone
Man's favorable judgment, but his own;
His birthright shaken, and no longer clear,
Than while his conduct proves his heart sincere.
Retort the charge, and let the World be told
She boasts a confidence she does not hold;
That, conscious of her crimes, she feels instead
A cold misgiving, and a killing dread:
That while in health the ground of her support
Is madly to forget that life is short;
That sick she trembles, knowing she must die,
Her hope presumption, and her faith a lie;
That while she dotes, and dreams that she believes,
She mocks her Maker, and herself deceives,
Her utmost reach, historical assent,
The doctrines warp'd to what they never meant;
That truth itself is in her head as dull
And useless as a candle in a skull,
And all her love of God a groundless claim,
A trick upon the canvas, painted flame.
Tell her again, the sneer upon her face,
And all her censures of the work of grace,
Are insincere, meant only to conceal
A dread she would not, yet is forc'd to feel;
That in her heart the Christian she reveres,
And while she seems to scorn him, only fears.
A poet does not work by square or line,
As smiths and joiners perfect a design;
At least we moderns, our attention less,
Beyond th' example of our sires digress,
And claim a right to scamper and run wide.
Wherever chance, caprice, or fancy, guide.
The World and I fortuitously met;
I ow'd a trifle, and have paid the debt;
She did me wrong, I recompens'd the deed,
And, having struck the balance, now proceed.
Perhaps however as some years have pass'd,
Since she and I convers'd together last,
And I have liv'd recluse, in rural shades,
Which seldom a distinct report pervades,
Great changes and new manners have occurr'd,
And blest reforms, that I have never heard,
And she may now be as discreet and wise,
As once absurd in all discerning eyes.
Sobriety perhaps may now be found,
Where once Intoxication press'd the ground;
The subtle and injurious may be just,
And he grown chaste, that was the slave of lust;
Arts once esteem'd may be with shame dismiss'd;
Charity may relax the miser's fist;
The gamester may have cast his cards away,
Forgot to curse, and only kneel to pray.
It has indeed been told me (with what weight,
How credibly, 'tis hard for me to state)
That fables old, that seem'd for ever mute,
Reviv'd are hast'ning into fresh repute,
And gods and goddesses, discarded long
Like useless lumber, or a stroller's song,
Are bringing into vogue their heathen train,
And Jupiter bids fair to rule again;
That certain feasts are instituted now,
Where Venus hears the lover's tender vow;
That all Olympus through the country roves,
To consecrate our few remaining groves,
And Echo learns politely to repeat
The praise of names for ages obsolete;
That having prov'd the weakness, it should seem,
Of Revelation's ineffectual beam,
To bring the passions under sober sway,
And give the moral springs their proper play,
They mean to try what may at last be done,
By stout substantial gods of wood and stone,
And whether Roman rites may not produce
The virtues of old Rome for English use.
May such success attend the pious plan,
May Mercury once more embellish man,
Grace him again with long-forgotten arts,
Reclaim his taste, and brighten up his parts,
Make him athletic as in days of old,
Learn'd at the bar, in the palæstra bold,
Divest the rougher sex of female airs,
And teach the softer not to copy theirs :
The change shall please, nor shall it matter aught
Who works the wonder, if it be but wrought.
"Tis time, however, if the case stands thus,
For us plain folks, and all who side with us.
To build our altar, confident and bold,
And say as stern Elijah said of old,
The strife now stands upon a fair award,
If Israel's Lord be God, then serve the Lord:
If he be silent, faith is all a whim,
Then Baal is the God, and worship him.
Digression is so much in modern use,
Thought is so rare, and fancy so profuse,
Some never seem so wide of their intent,
As when returning to the theme they meant;
As mendicants, whose business is to roam,
Make ev'ry parish but their own their home.
Though such continual zigzags in a book,
Such drunken reelings, have an awkward look,
And I had rather creep to what is true,
Than rove and stagger with no mark in view;
Yet to consult a little, seem'd no crime,
The freakish humor of the present time:
But now to gather up what seems dispers'd,
And touch the subject I design'd at first,
May prove, though much beside the rules of art,
Best for the public, and my wisest part.
And first let no man charge me, that I mean
To close in sable ev'ry social scene,
And give good company a face severe,
As if they met around a father's bier ;
For tell some men, that pleasure all their bent,
And laughter all their work, is life misspent,
Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply,
"Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry."
To find the medium asks some share of wit,
And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit:
But though life's valley be a vale of tears,
A brighter scene beyond that vale appears,
Whose glory with a light, that never fades,
Shoots between scatter'd rocks and op'ning shades,
And, while it shows the land the soul desires,
The language of the land she seeks inspires.
Thus touch'd, the tongue receives a sacred cure
Of all that was absurd, profane, impure;
Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech
Pursues the course that Truth and Nature teach;
No longer labors merely to produce
The pomp of sound, or tinkle without use:
Where'er it winds, the salutary stream,
Sprightly and fresh, enriches ev'ry 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 Heav'n 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 chord 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 tun'd at length to some immortal song,
It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours his praise along.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER SELKIRK, DURING HIS SOLITARY ABODE IN THE ISLAND OF JUAN FERNANDEZ.
I AM monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute; From the centre all round to the sea, I am lord of the fowl and the brute. O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face? Better dwell in the midst of alarms, Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech,
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts, that roam over the plain,
My form with indifference see;
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestow'd upon man,
O, had I the wings of a dove,
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth, Might learn from the wisdom of age, And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth
Religion! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word! More precious than silver and gold, Or all that this Earth can afford. But the sound of the church-going bell These valleys and rocks never heard, Never sigh'd at the sound of a knell, Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd.
Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial endearing report
Of a land, I shall visit no more.
My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see.
How fleet is a glance of the mind! Compar'd with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light. When I think of my own native land, In a moment I seem to be there; But alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.
But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair.
There's mercy in every place,
And mercy, encouraging thought!
Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.
SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE IN
TENDED, AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN.
JOHN GILPIN was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.
John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
"Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we
No holiday have seen.
"To-morrow is our wedding-day,
And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton
All in a chaise and pair.
"My sister, and my sister's child,
Myself, and children three,
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride On horseback after we."
He soon replied, "I do admire
Of woman-kind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear,
Therefore it shall be done.
"I am a linen-draper bold,
As all the world doth know,
And my good friend the calender
Will lend his horse to go."
Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said;
And, for that wine is dear,
We will be furnish'd with our own,
Which is both bright and clear."
John Gilpin kiss'd his loving wife;
O'erjoy'd was he to find,
That, though on pleasure she was bent,
She had a frugal mind.
The morning came, the chaise was brought,
But yet was not allow'd
To drive up to the door, lest all
Should say that she was proud.
So three doors off the chaise was stay'd,
Where they did all get in;
Six precious souls, and all agog
To dash through thick and thin.
Smack went the whip, round went the wheels, Were never folk so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath,
As if Cheapside were mad.
John Gilpin at his horse's side
Seiz'd fast the flowing mane, And up he got, in haste to ride,
But soon came down again;
For saddle-tree scarce reach'd had he, His journey to begin,
When turning round his head, he saw Three customers come in.