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Soon, not surprising, Death his visit paid
Her thought went forth to meet him on his
Nor Gaiety forgot it was to die;
Though Fortune, too (our third and final theme.)
As an accomplice, play'd her gaudy plumes,
And every glittering gewgaw, on her sight,
T'o dazzle and debauch it from its mark.
Death's areadful advent is the mark of man,
And every thought that misses it is blind.
Fortune with Youth and Gaiety conspired
To weave a triple wreath of happiness,
(If happiness on earth) to crown her brow:
And could Death charge through such a shining зhield?
That shining shield invites the tyrant's spear,
As if to damp our elevated aims,
And strongly preach humility to man.
O how portentous is prosperity!
How, cometlike, it threatens while it shines!
Few years but yield us proof of Death's ambition,
To cull his victims from the fairest fold,
And sheath his shafts in all the pride of life.
When flooded with abundance, purpled o'er
With recent honours, bloom'd with every bliss,
Set up in ostentation, made the gaze,
The gaudy centre, of the public eye;
When Fortune, thus, has toss'd her child in air,
Snatch'd from the covert of an humble state,
How often have I seen him dropp'd at once,
Our morning's envy ! and our evening's sigh!
As if her bounties were the signal given,
The flowery wreath, to mark the sacrifice,
And call Death's arrows on the destined prey.
High Fortune seems in cruel league with Fate.
Ask you for what? to give his war on man
The deeper dread, and more illustrious spoil;
Thus to keep daring mortals more in awe.
And burns Lorenzo still for the sublime
Of life? to hang his airy nest on high,
On the slight timber of the topmcst bough,
Rock'd at each breeze, and menacing a fall?
Granting grim Death at equal distance there,
Yet peace begins just whore ambition ends.
What makes man wretched? Happiness denied?
Lorenzo! no; 'tis Happiness disdain'd!
She comes too meanly dress'd to win our smile,
And calls herself Content, a homely name!
Our flame is transport, and Content our scorn!
Ambition turns, and shuts the door against her,
And weds a toil, a tempest, in her stead;
A tempest to warm transport near of kin.
Unknowing what our mortal state admits,
Life's modest joys we ruin while we raise,
And all our ecstasies are wounds to peace
Peace, the full portion of mankind below.
And since thy peace is dear, ambitious youth Of fortune fond! as thoughtless of thy fate As late I drew Death's picture, to stir up Thy wholesome fears; now, drawn in contrast, see Gay Fortune's thy vain hopes to reprimand. See, high in air the sportive goddess hangs, Unlocks her casket, spreads her glittering ware, And calls the giddy winds to puff abroad Her random bounties o'er the gaping throng. All rush rapacious; friends o'er trodden friends, Sons o'er their fathers, subjects o'er their kings, Priests o'er their gods, and lovers o'er the fair, (Still more adored) to snatch the golden shower. 965 Gold glitters most where virtue shines no more; As stars from absent suns have leave to shine. O what a precious pack of votaries, Unkennel'd from the prisons and the stews, Pour in, all opening in their idol's praise! All, ardent, eye each wafture of her hand, And, wide expanding their voracious jaws, Morsel on morsel swallow down unchew'd, Untasted, through mad appetite for more
Gorged to the throat, yet lean and ravenous still: 975
Sagacious all to trace the smallest game,
And bold to seize the greatest. If (bless'd chance')
Court-zephyrs sweetly breathe; they launch, they fly,
O'er just, o'er sacred, all-forbiuden ground,
Drunk with the burning scent of place or power, 980
Stanch to the foot of Lucre-till they dic.
Or, if for men you take them, as I mark
Their manners, thou their various fates survey.
With aim inismeasured and impetuous speed,
Some, darting, strike their ardent wish far off,
Through fury to possess it: some succeed,
But stumble, and let fall the taken prize.
From some, by sudden blasts, 'tis whirl'd away,
And lodged in bosoms that ne'er dream'd of gain.
To some it sticks so close, that, when torn off,
Torn is the man, and mortal is the wound.
Some, o'crenamour'd of their bags, run mad;
Groan under gold, yet weep for want of bread.
Together some (unhappy rivals!) seize,
And rend abundance inte poverty:
Loud croaks the raven of the law, and smiles;
Smiles, too, the goddess; but smiles most at those
(Just victims of exorbitant desire!)
Who perish at their own request, and, whelm'd
Beneath her load of lavish grants, expire.
Fortune is famous for her numbers slain;
The number small which happiness can bear.
Though various for a while their fates, at last
One curse involves them all: at Death's approach
All read their riches backward into loss,
And mourn in just proportion to their store.
And Death's approach (if orthodox my song)
Is hasten'd by the lure of Fortune's smiles.
And art thou still a glutton of bright gold?
And art thou still rapacious of thy ruin?
Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow;
A blow which, while it exccutes, alarms,
And startles thousands with a signal fall.
As when some stately growth of oak, or pine,
Which nods aloft and proudly spreads her shade, 1015
The Sun's defiance, and the flock's defence,
By the strong strokes of labouring hinds subdued
Loud groans her last; and rushing from her height,
In cumbrous ruin thunders to the ground;
The conscious forest trembles at the shock,
. And hill, and stream, and distant dale resound.
These high-aim'd darts of Death, and these alone,
Should I collect, my quiver would be full;
A quiver which, suspended in mid air,
Or near heaven's archer, in the zodiac, hung
(So could it be,) should draw the public eye,
The gaze and contemplation of mankind!
A constellation awful, yet benign,
To guide the gay through Life's tempestuous wave,
Nor suffer them to strike the common rock;
'From greater danger to grow more secure,
And, wrapp'd in happiness, forget their fate.'
Lysander, happy past the common iot,
Was warn'd of danger, but too gay to fear
He woo'd the fair Aspasia; she was kind.
In youth, form, fortune, fame, they both were bless'd
All who knew envied; yet in envy loved :
Can Fancy form more finish'd happiness?
Fix'd was the nuptial hour. Her stately dome
Kose on the sounding beach. The glittering spires
Float in the wave, and break against the shore; 1041
So break those glittering shadows, human joys.
The faithless morning smiled: he takes his leave
To reembrace, in ecstasies, at eve:
The rising storm forbids: the news arrives;
Untold she saw it in her servant's eye.
She felt it seen (her heart was apt to feel,)
And drown'd, without the furious ocean's aid,
In suffocating sorrows shares his tomb.
Now round the sumptuous bridal monument
The guilty billows innocently roar,
And the rough sailor, passing, drops a tear.
A tear?-can tears suffice?-but not for me.
How vain our efforts! and our arts how vain.
The distant train of thought I took, to shun,
Has thrown me on my fate.-These died together;
Happy in ruin! undivorced by death!
Or ne'er to meet, or ne'er to part, is peace.-
Narcissa! Pity bleeds at thought of thee;
Yet thou wast only near me, not myself.
Survive myself?—that cures all other woe.
Narcissa lives; Philander is forgot.
O the soft commerce!-O the tender ties,
Close twisted with the fibres of the heart!
Which broken, break them, and drain off the soul 1065
Of human joy, and make it pain to live.—
And is it then to live? When such friends part,
"Tis the survivor dies.-My heart! no more.