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THROUGH the wild maze of life's still varying plan,
Bliss is alone th' important task of man.
All else is trifling, whether grave or gay,
A Newton's labors, or an infant's play;
Whether this vainly wastes th' unheeded sun,
Or those more vainly mark the course it run;
For of the two, sure smaller is the fault,
To err unthinking, than to err with thought;
But if, like them, we still must trifles use,
Harmless at least, like theirs, be those we choose.
Enough it is that reason blames the choice,
Join not to her's the wretch's plaintive voice;
Be folly free from guilt: let foplings play,
Or write, or talk, or dress, or die away.
Let those, if such there be, whose giant-mind
Superior tow'rs above their pigmy kind,
Unaided and alone, he realms explore,
Where hail and snow renew their treasur'd store.
Lo! heav'n spreads all its stars; let those explain,
What balanc'd pow'rs the rolling orbs sustain ;
Nor in more humble scales, pernicious weigh
Sense, justice, truth, against seducing pay.
So distant regions shall employ their thought,
And spotless senates here remain unbought.
Well had great Charles, by early want inspir'd, With warring puppets, guiltless praise acquir'd; So would that flame have mimic fights engag'd, Which fann'd by pow'r, o'er wasted nations rag'd.
Curs'd be the wretch, should all the mouths of fame,
Wide o'er the world his deathless deeds proclaim,
Who like a baneful comet spreads his blaze,
While trembling crowds in stupid wonder gaze;
Whose potent talents serve his lawless will,
Which turns each Virtue to a public ill,
With direful rage perverted might employs,
And Heav'n's great ends with Heav'n's best means destroys.
The praise of power is his, whose hand supplies
Fire to the bold, and prudence to the wise;
While man this only real merit knows,
Fitly to use the gifts which Heav'n bestows:
If savage valor be his vaunted fame,
The mountain-lion shall dispute his claim :
Or, if perfidious wiles deserve applause,
Through slighted vows, and violated laws;
The subtle plotter's title stands confess'd,
Whose dagger gores the trusting tyrant's breast.
And sure the villain less deserves his fate,
Who stabs one wretch, than he who stabs a state.
Now, mighty hero! boast thy dear delights,
The price of toilsome days and sleepless nights ;
Say, canst thou aught in purple grandeur find,
Sweet as the slumbers of the lowly hind?
Better are ye, the youthful and the gay, Who jocund rove through pleasure's flow'ry way! Yet seek not there for bliss! your toil were vain, (And disappointed toil is double pain) Though from the living fount your nectar-bowls Pour the soft balm upon your thirsty souls ; Though pure the spring, though every draught sin
By pain unbitter'd, and unpall'd by fear;
Though all were full as high as thought can soar,
'Till fancy fires, and wishes crave no more:
Let lovely woman artless charms display,
Where truth and goodness bask in beauty's ray;
Let heav'nly melody luxuriant float
In swelling sounds, and breathe the melting note;
Let gen'rous wines enliv'ning thoughts inspire,
While social converse sooths the genial fire:
If aught can yet more potent charms dispense,
Some stronger rapture, some sublimer sense;
Be these enjoy'd.-Then from the crowd arise
Some chief, in life's full pride maturely wise.
Ev'n you, my Lord, with titles, honors grac'd,
And higher still by native merit plac'd ;
By stinted talents to no sphere confin'd,'
Free ranging every province of the mind:
Equally fit, a nation's weight to bear,
Or shine in circles of the young and fair;
In grave debates instructed senates move,
Or melt the glowing dame to mutual love.
To heighten these, let conscious worth infuse
Sweet ease, and smiling mirth th' inspiring Muse.
Then answer, thou of every gift possess'd,
Say, from thy soul, art thou sincerely blest!
To various objects wherefore dost thou range?
Pleasure must cease, ere man can wish to change.
Hast thou not quitted Flaccus' sacred lay,
To talk with Bavius, or with Flavia play;
When wasted nature shuns the large expence
Of deep attention to exalted sense!
Precarious bliss! which soon, which oft must cloy,
And which how few, how very few enjoy!
Say, is there aught, on which, completely blest,
Fearless and full the raptur'd mind may rest?
Is there aught constant? Or, if such there be,
Can varying man be pleas'd with constancy?
Mark then what sense the blessing must employ!
The senses change, and loathe accustom'd joy:
Eden in vain immortal sweets displays,
If the taste sickens, or our frame decays.
The range of life contracted limits bound; Yet more confin'd is pleasure's faithless round:
Fair op'ning to the sight, when first we run,
But ah! how alter'd, when again begun!
When tir'd we view the same known prospect o'er,
And lagging, tread the steps we trod before.
Now clogg'd with spleen, the lazy current flows,
Through doubts, and fears, and self-augmenting
'Till sated, loathing, hopeless here of bliss, Some plunge to seek it into death's abyss.
Of all superfluous wealth's unnumber'd stings,
The sharpest is that knowledge which it brings ;
Enjoyment purchas'd makes its object known,
And then, alas! each soft illusion's flown:
Love's promis'd sweet, ambition's lofty scheme,
The painter's image, and the poet's theme.
These in perspective fair exalted high,
Attract with seeming charms the distant eye;
But when by envious Fortune plac'd too near,
Mis-shapen forms, and grosser tints appear :
Where lovely Venus led her beauteous train,
Some fiend gigantic holds her monstrous reign;
Crowns, scepters, laurels are confus'dly strow'd,
A wild, deform'd, unmeaning, heavy load.
Some pleasures here with sparing hand are giv'n, That sons of earth should taste their promis'd heaven; But what was meant to urge us to the chace, Now stops, or sideway turns our devious race: