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As would have flush'd pale penury with joy ?
Did I in groves forbidden altars raise,
Or molten gods adore, or idols praise ?
Did my firm faith to Heav'n still point the way?
Did Charity to man my actions sway ?
Did meek-ey'd Patience all my steps attend ?
Did generous Candour mark me for her friend?
Did I unjustly seek to build my name
On the pil'd ruins of another's fame ?
Did I abhor, as hell, th' insidious lie,
The low deceit, th’ unmanly calumny ?
Did my fix'd soul the impious wit detest?
Did my firm virtue scorn the unhallow'd jest;
The sneer profane, and the poor ridicule
Of shallow Infidelity's dull school?
Did I still live as born one day to die,
And view th' eternal world with constant eye ?
If so I liv'd, if so I kept thy word,
In mercy view, in mercy hear me, Lord !
For, oh, how strict soe'er I kept thy law,
From mercy only all my hopes I draw;
My holiest deeds indulgence will require;
The best but to forgiveness will aspire ;
If thou my purest services regard,
'Twill be with pardon only, not reward.
How imperfection's stamp'd on all below!
How sin intrudes in all we say or do!
How late in all the insolence of health,
I charm'd th’ Assyrian * by my boast of wealth !
How fondly with elab’rate pomp display'd
• This is an anachronism. Hezekiah did not show his treasures to the Assyrian till after his recovery from his siekness,
My glittring treasures ! with what triumph laid
My gold and gems before his dazzled eyes,
And found a rich reward in his surprise!
Oh, mean of soul! can wealth elate the heart,
Which of the man himself is not a part!
Oh, poverty of pride! Oh, foul disgrace!
Disgusted Reason, blushing, hides her face.
Mortal, and proud! strange contradicting terms !
Pride for death's victim, for the prey of worms !
Of all the wonders which th’ eventful life
Of man presents; of all the mental strife
Of warring passions; all the raging fires
Of furious appetites and mad desires,
Not one so strange appears as this alone,
That man is proud of what is not his own!
How short is human life! the very breath,
Which frames my words, accelerates my death.
Of this short life how large a portion's filed!
To what is gone I am already dead;
As dead to all my years and minutes past,
As I, to what remains, shall be at last :
Can I past miseries so far forget,
To view my vanish'd years with fond regret ?
Can I again my worn-out fancy cheat ?
Indulge fresh hope ? solicit new deceit ?
Of all the vanities weak man admires,
Which greatness gives, youth hopes, or pride desires,
Of these, my soul, which hast thou not enjoy'd ?
With each, with all, thy sated powers are cloy'd.
What can I then expect from length of days ?
More wealth, more wisdom, pleasure, health, or
More pleasure ! hope not that, deluded king;
For when did age increase of pleasure bring ?
Is health, of years prolong’d the common boast ?
And dear-earn’d Fame, is it not cheaply lost ?
More Wisdom ! that indeed were happiness;
That were a wish a king might well confess :
But when did Wisdom covet length of days ?
Or seek its bliss in pleasure, wealth, or praise ?
No:— Wisdom views with an indiff'rent eye
All finite joys, all blessings born to die.
The soul on earth is an immortal guest,
Compelld to starve at an unreal feast :
A spark, which upward tends by nature's force;
A stream diverted from its parent source;
A drop dissever'd from the boundless sea;
A moment, parted from eternity;
A pilgrim panting for the rest to come;
An exile, anxious for his native home.
Why should I ask my forfeit life to save?
Is Heav'n unjust which dooms me to the grave ?
Was I with hope of endless days deceiv’d ?
Or of lov'd life am I alone bereav'd ?
Let all the great, the rich, the learn’d, the wise,
Let all the shades of Judah’s monarchs rise,
And say, if genius, learning, empire, wealth,
Youth, beauty, virtue, strength, renown, or health,
Has once revers'd th' immutable decree
On Adam pass’d, of man's mortality ?
What — have these eyes ne'er seen the felon worm
The damask cheek devour, the finish'd form ?
On the pale rose of blasted beauty feed,
And riot on the lip so lately red ?
Where are our fathers ? Where th’ illustrious line
Of holy prophets, and of seers divine ?
Live they for ever ? Do they shun the grave?
Or when did wisdom its professor save ?
When did the brave escape ? When did the breath
Of Eloquence charm the dull ear of Death ?
When did the cunning argument avail,
The polish'd period, or the varnish'd tale;
The eye of lightning, or the soul of fire,
Which thronging thousands crowded to admire?
E’en while we praise the verse the poet dies;
And silent as his lyre great David lies.
Thou, blest Isaiah! who, at God's command,
Now speak’st repentance to a guilty land,
Must die! as wise and good thou hadst not been,
As Nebat's son, who taught the land to sin.
And shall I then be spar'd ? Oh, monstrous pride!
Shall I escape, when Solomon has died ?
If all the worth of all the saints were vain –
Peace, peace, my troubled soul, nor dare complain :
Lord, I submit. Complete thy gracious will;
For if Thou slay me, I will trust Thee still.
Oh! be my will so swallow'd up in thine,
That I may do Thy will in doing mine.
THE HONOURABLE MRS. BOSCAWEN.