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Make him athletic as in days of old,
Learn’d at the bar, in the palæstra bold,
Divest the rougher sex of female airs,
And teach the softer not to copy theirs :
The change shall please, nor shall it matter aught
Who works the wonder, if it be but wrought.
'Tis time, however, if the case stands thus,
For us plain folks, and all who side with us,
To build our altar, confident and bold,
And say as stern Elijah said of old,
The strife now stands upon a fair award,
If Israel's Lord be God, then serve the Lord:
If he be silent, faith is all a whim,
Then Baal is the God, and worship him.
Digression is so much in modern use,
Thought is so rare, and fancy so profuse,
Some never seem so wide of their intent,
As when returning to the theme they meant;
As mendicants, whose business is to roam,
Make ev'ry parish but their own their home.
Though such continual zig-zags in a book,
Such drunken reelings have an awkward look,
And I had rather creep to what is true,
Than rove and stagger with no mark in view;
Yet to consult a little, seem'd no crime,
The freakish humuur of the present time :
But now to gather up what seems dispers’d,
And touch the subject I design'd at first,
May prove, though much beside the rules of art,
Best for the public, and my wisest part.
And first let no man charge me, that I mean
To close in sable ev'ry social scene,
And give good company a face severe,
As if they met around a father's bier ;
For tell some men, that pleasure all their bent,
And laughter all their work, is life mis-spent,
Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply,
« Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry."
To find the medium asks some share of wit,
And therefore 't is a mark fools never hit :
But though life's valley be a vale of tears,
A brighter scene beyond that vale appears,
Whose glory with a light, that never fades,
Shoots between scatter'd rocks and op'ning shades,
And, while it shows the land the soul desires,
The language of the land she seeks inspires.
Thus touch'd, the tongue receives a sacred cure
Of all that was absurd, profane, impure ;
Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech
Pursues the course, that Truth and Nature teach ;
No longer labours merely to produce
The pomp of sound, or tinkle without use :
Where'er it winds, the salutary stream,
Sprightly and fresh, enriches ev'ry theme,
While all the happy man possess'd before,
The gift of Nature, or the classic store,
Is made subservient to the grand design,
For which Heav'n form’d the faculty divine.
So should an idiot, while at large he strays,
Find the sweet lyre, on which an artist plays,
With rash and awkward force the chord he shakes,
And grins with wonder at the jar he makes ;
But let the wise and well-instructed hand
Once take the shell beneath his just command,
In gentle sounds it seems as it complain'd
Of the rude injuries it late sustain'd,
Till tun'd at length to some immortal song,
It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours his praise along.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER SELKIRK,
DURING HIS SOLITARY ABODE IN THE ISLAND OF JUAN FERNANDEZ.
I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute ;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
O Solitude! where are the charms,
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech,
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts, that roam over the plain,
My form with indifference see ;
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestow'd upon man,
O, had I the wings of a dove,
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth, Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.
Religion ! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word ! More precious than silver and gold,
Or all that this Earth can afford. But the sound of the church-going bell
These valleys and rocks never heard, Never sigh'd at the sound of a knell,
Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd.
Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial endearing report
Of a land, I shall visit no more.
My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see.
How fleet is a glance of the mind !
Compar'd with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift-winged arrows of light. When I think of my own native land,
In a moment I seem to be there; But alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.
But the sea-fowl is
to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair ;
Even here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair.
And mercy, encouraging thought !
Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.
SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE
TENDED, AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN.
John GILPIN was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.
John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
“ Though wedded we have been These twice ten tedious years, yet we
No holiday have seen.
“ To-morrow is our wedding-day,
And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton
All in a chaise and pair.