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The Christian Triumph.
OUR ONLY CURE FOR THE FEAR OF DEATH, AND PROPER SENTIMENTS OF HEART ON THAT INESTIMABLE BLESSING,
To the Hon. Mr. Vorke.
How deep implanted in the breast of man
Why start at Death? where is he? Death arrived, Is past; not come, or gone; he's never here. 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 were 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; every date cries—Come away.' And what recalls me? look the world around, And tell me what; the wisest cannot tell. Should any born of woman give his thought . Full range, on just Dislike's unbounded field; Of things the vanity, of men the flaws; Flaws in the best; the many, flaw all o’er; As leopards spotted, or as Ethiops dark; Vivacious ill; good dying immature; (How immature, Narcissa's marble tells !) And at its death bequeathing endless pain ; His heart, though bold, would sicken at the sight, And spend itself in sighs for future scenes,
But grant to life (and just it is to grant , To lucky life) some perquisites of joy; A time there is when, like a thrice-told tale, Long-rifled life of sweet can yield no more, But, from our comment on the comedy, Pleasing reflections on parts well-sustain'd, Or purposed emendations where we fail'd, 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 .
Shall I dare say peculiar is my fate?
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 besiege ; Ambition's ill-judged effort to be rich. Alas! ambition makes my little less, Imbittering the possess'd. Why wish for more ? Wishing, of all employments is the worst; Philosophy's reverse, and health's decay! Were I as plump as stall’d Theology, . Wishing would waste me to this shade again. Were I as wealthy as a South Sea dream, Wishing is an expedient to be poor. Wishing, that constant hectic of a fool, Caught at a court, purged off by purer air And simpler diet, gifts of rural life!
Bless'd be that hand divine, which gently laid My heart at rest, beneath this humble shed. The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril: Here on a single plank, thrown safe ashore, I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
As that of seas remote, or dying storms!
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour ? What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fanie?
Earth's highest station ends in, · Here he lies;' · And · dust to dust' concludes her noblest song.
If this song lives, posterity shall know
O my coëvals! remnants of yourselves !
Which frugal Nature lent him for an hour!
When in this vale of years I backward look,
O thou great Arbiter of life and death!
Though Nature's terrors thus may be repress’d,