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Nor let us murmur at our stinted powers,
When kindness, love, and concord may be ours.
The gift of ministering to other's ease,
To all her sons impartial she decrees;
The gentle offices of patient love,
Beyond all flattery, and all price above;
The mild forbearance at a brother's fault,
The angry word suppressed, the taunting thought;
Subduing and subdued, the petty strife,
Which clouds the color of domestic life;
The sober comfort, all the peace which springs
From the large aggregate of little things ;
On these small cares of daughter, wife, or friend,
The almost sacred joys of home depend :
There, Sensibility, thou best may'st reign,
Home is thy true legitimate domain.
A solitary bliss thou ne'er could'st find,
Thy joys with those thou lov'st are intertwined ;
And he whose helpful tenderness removes
The rankling thorn which wounds the breast he loves,
Smooths not another's rugged path alone,
But clears th' obstruction which impedes his own.
The hint malevolent, the look oblique,
The obvious satire, or implied dislike;
The sneer equivocal, the harsh reply,
And all the cruel language of the eye;
The artful injury, whose venomed dart
Scarce wounds the hearing, while it stabs the heart;
The guarded phrase, whose meaning kills, yet told,
The listener wonders how you thought it cold ;
Small slights, neglect, unmixed perhaps with hate,
Make up in number what they want in weight.
These, and a thousand griefs minute as these,
Corrode our comfort and destroy our ease.
As feeling tends to good or leans to ill, It gives fresh force to vice or principle; 'Tis not a gift peculiar to the good, 'Tis often but the virtue of the blood; And what would seem compassion's moral flow, Is but a circulation swift or slow : But to divert it to its proper course, There wisdom's power appears, there reason's force: If, ill directed, it pursue the wrong, It adds new strength to what before was strong;
Breaks out in wild, irregular desires,
Disordered passions, and illicit fires;
Without, deforms the man, depraves within,
And makes the work of God the slave of sin.
But if religion's bias rule the soul,
Then sensibility exalts the whole;
Sheds its sweet sunshine on the moral part,
Nor wastes on fancy what should warm the heart.
Cold and inert the mental powers would lie,
Without this quickening spark of Deity.
To melt the rich materials from the mine,
To bid the mass of intellect refine,
To bend the firm, to animate the cold,
And heaven's own image stamp on nature's gold;
To give immortal mind its finest tone,
O Sensibility! is all thy own.
This is th' ethereal flame which lights and warms,
In song enchants us, and in action charms.
'Tis this that makes the pensive strains of Gray*
Win to the open heart their easy way;
Makes the touched spirit glow with kindred fire,
When sweet Serena's poet wakes the lyre; ,
Makes Portland'st face its brightest rapture wear,
When her large bounty smooths the bed of care :
'Tis this that breathes through Sévigné's fair page
That nameless grace which soothes a second age;
'Tis this, whose charms the soul resistless seize,
And gives Boscawen half her power to please.
Yet why those terrors ? why that anxious care?
Since your last hopef the deathful war will dare?
Why dread that energy of soul which leads
To dangerous glory by heroic deeds ?
Why mourn to view his ardent soul aspire ?
You fear the son because you knew the sire.
Hereditary valor you deplore,
And dread, yet wish, to find one hero more.
* This is meant of the Elegy in a Country Church-yard; of which exquisite poem, sensibility is, perhaps, the characteristic beauty.
+ Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, only child of the second earl of Oxford and Mortimer, married, in 1734, the second duke of Portland. Prior celebrated her in the well-known nursery song,“ My noble, lovely, little Peggy." Her grace died in 1785.-ED.
# Viscount Falmouth, Admiral Boscawen's only remaining son, was then in America, and at the battle of Lexington.
O great design!
Ye sons of mercy! O complete your work;
Wrench from Oppression's hand the iron rod,
And bid the cruel feel the pains they give.
IF Heaven has into being deigned to call Thy light, O liberty ! to shine on all; Bright intellectual sun! why does thy ray To earth distribute only partial day? Since no resisting cause from spirit flows, Thy universal presence to oppose; No obstacles by nature's hand impressed, Thy subtle and ethereal beams arrest; Not swayed by matter is thy course benign, Or more direct or more oblique to shine; Nor motion's laws can speed thy active course, Nor strong repulsion's powers obstruct thy force; Since there is no convexity in mind, Why are thy genial beams to parts confined ? While the chill north with thy bright ray is blessed Why should fell darkness half the south infest ? Was it decreed, fair Freedom! at thy birth, That thou shouldst ne'er irradiate all the earth? While Britain basks in thy full blaze of light, Why lies sad Afric quenched in total night?
Thee only, sober goddess ! I attest, In smiles chastised, and decent graces dressed, To thee, alone, pure daughter of the skies, The hallowed incense of the bard should rise! Not that mad liberty, in whose wild praise Too oft he trims his prostituted bays; Not that unlicensed monster of the crowd, Whose roar terrific bursts in peals so loud, Deafening the ear of peace; fierce faction's tool, Of rash sedition born, and mad misrule; Whose stubborn mouth, rejecting reason's rein, No strength can govern, and no skill restrain ; Whose magic cries the frantic vulgar draw, To spurn at order, and to outrage law; VOL. V.