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Where is to-morrow? In another world,
For numbers this is certain ; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain-hopes; spin out eternal schemes,
As we the fatal sisters could out-spin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.
Not ev'n PAILANDER had bespoke his shroud ;
Nor had he cause, a warning was deny’d;
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
As sudden, though for years admonish'd home.
Of human ills the last extreme beware,
Beware, LORENZO ! a slow-sudden death.
How dreadful that deliberate surprize!
Be wise to-day, 'tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead ;
*Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life:
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears The palm, “ That all men are about to live," For ever on the brink of being born. All pay themselves the compliment to think They, one day, shall not drivel; and their pride On this reversion takes up ready praise ; At least, their own; their future selves applauds; How excellent that life they ne'er will lead ! Time lodg'd in their own hands is Folly's vails :
That lodg'd in Fate's, to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone ;
'Tis not in Folly, not to scorn a fool ;
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that thro' ev'ry stage: when young, indeed,
In full content, we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise :
At thirty man suspects himself a fool ;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan ;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves; and re-resolves : then dies the same.
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal :
All men think all men mortal, but themselves ;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate
Strikes thro’ their wounded hearts the sudden dread;
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close ; where past the shaft, no trace is found :
As from the wing no scar the sky retains ;
The parted wave no furrow from the keel ;
So dies in human hearts the thought of death :
Ev'n with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Can I forget PAILANDER ? That were strange;
O my full heart! but should I give it vent,
The longest night, though longer far, would fail,
And the lark listen to my midnight-song.
The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn; Grief's sharpest thorn hard-pressing on my breast, I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel ! like thee,
And call the stars to listen : ev'ry star
Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
Yet be not vain ; there are who thine excel,
And charm through distant ages : wrapt in shade,
Pris'ner of darkness! to the silent hours,
How often I repeat their rage divine,
To lull my griefs, and steal my heart from woe!
I roll their raptures, but not catch their fire.
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Meonides !
Or Milton! thee; ah! could I reach your strain !
Or his, who made Meonides our own.
Man too he sung; immortal man I sing;
Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life;
What, now, but immortality can please ?
O had he press'd his theme, pursu'd the track,
Which opens out of darkness into day !
O had he mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd, where I sink, and sung immortal man!
How had it bless'd mankind, and rescu'd met
ON TIME, DEATH, AND FRIENDSHIP.
To the Right Honourable the Earl of Wilmington.
“ WHEN the cock crew, he wept,"smote by
Which looks on me, on all; that pow'r who bids
This midnight-centinel with clarion shrill,
(Emblem of that which shall awake the dead,)
Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of heav'n,
Shall I, too, weep? where then is fortitude?
And fortitude abandon'd, where is man?
I know the terms on which he sees the light :
He that is born, is listed : life is war;
Eternal war with woe : who bears it best,
Deserves it least.-On other themes I'll dwell.
LORENZO ! let me turn my thoughts on thee,
And thine on themes may profit; profit there,
Where most thy need : themes, too, the genuine