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THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.
The Vanity of Human JWishes.
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride,
How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide.
A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,
No dangers fright him, and no labours tire:
O’er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain,
Unconquer'd lord of pleasure and of pain :
No joys to him pacific sceptres yield ;
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field.
Behold surrounding kings their pow'rs combine,
And one capitulate, and one resign:
Peace courts his hand and spreads her charms in vain;
“Think nothing gain'd,” he cries, “till naught remain-
On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly,
And all be mine beneath the polar sky!”
The march begins in military state,
And nations on his eye suspended wait;
Stern famine guards the solitary coast,
And winter barricades the realms of frost.
He comes-nor want nor cold his course delay :
Hide, blushing glory, hide Pultowa's day!
The vanquish'd hero leaves his broken bands,
And shews his miseries in distant lands;
Condemn’d a needy supplicant to wait,
While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
But did not Chance at length her error mend ?
Did no subverted empire mark his end ?
Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound?
?r hostile millions press him to the ground?
His fall was destin’d to a barren strand,
A petty fortress, and a dubious hand:
He left the name at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide, Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man's work, or His own gifts : who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly : thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean, without rest : They also serve who only stand and wait.
Hard by the gates of hell her dwelling is, There whereas all plagues and harmes abound,
Which punish wicked men that walk amiss :
It is a darksome delve farre under ground,
With thorns and barren brakes environ'd round,
That pone the same way may out win.
Yet many ways to enter may be found,
But none to issue forth when one is in;
For discord harder is to end than to begin.
And all within the riven walles were hung With ragged monuments of times fore-past,
Of which the sad effects of discord sung: There were rent robes and broken sceptres plac't, Altars defil'd, and holy things defact,
Dishevered spears, and shields ytorne in twaine,
Great cittys ransack't, and strong castles ras't,
Nations captived, and huge armies slain;
Of all which ruines there some reliques did remain.
There was the signe of antique Babylon,
Of fatal Thebes, of Rome that raigned long,
Of sacred Salem, and sad Ilion;
For memory of which on high there hong
The golden apple (cause of all their wrong),
For which the three faire goddesses did strive:
There also was the name of Nimrod strong;
Of Alexander, and his princes five,
Which shar'd to them the spoils which he had got alive.
And there the reliques of the drunken fray The which among the Lapithees befell ;
And of the bloody feast, which sent away
So many centaurs drunken souls to hell,
That under great Alcides' fury fell;
And of the dreadful discord which did drive
The noble Argonauts to outrage fell,
That each of life sought other to deprive,
All mindless of the golden fleece which made them
And eke of private persons many moe
That 'twere too long a work to count them all :
Some of sworne friends, that did their faith forgoe;
Some of borne brethren, prov'd unnatural;
Some of deare lovers, foes perpetual ;-
Witness their broken bands there to be seen,
Their girlonds rent, their bowres dispoiled all ;
The monuments whereof there byding been,
As plaine as at the first, when they were fresh and
Such was the house within : but all without,
The barren ground was full of wicked weeds
Which she herself had sowen all about,
Now growen great, at first of little seeds,
The seeds of evil words, and factious deedes ;
Which when to ripeness due they growen are,
Bring forth an infinite increase, that breedes
Tumultuous trouble, and contentious jarre,
The which must often end in blood-shed and in
A paraphrase on 1 Cor. xiii.
Charity! decent, modest, easy, kind,
Softens the high, and rears the abject mind;
Knows with just reins and gentle hand to guide
Betwixt vile shame and arbitrary pride.
Not soon provok’d, she easily forgives,
And much she suffers, as she much believes.
Soft peace she brings wherever she arrives ;
She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives;
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even,
And opens in each heart a little heaven.
Each other gift which God on man bestows,
Its proper bounds and due restriction knows;
To one fix'd purpose dedica its pow'r,
And, finishing its act, exists no more.
Thus, in obedience to what Heav'n decrees,
Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease :
But lasting Charity's more ample sway,
Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,
In happy triumph shall for ever live,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive.
As through the artist's intervening glass
Our eye observes the distant planets pass,
A little we discover, but allow
That more remains unseen than art can shew;
So whilst our mind its knowledge would improve
(Its feeble eye intent on things above),