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MAN'S RESOLUTIONS TO REFORM.
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 applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodged in their own hands is folly's vails;
That lodged 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 through every 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 through 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 :
E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
LIFE AND DEATH. Life makes the soul dependent on the dust; Death gives her wings to mount above the spheres. Through chinks, styled organs, dim life peeps at light; Death bursts th’involving cloud, and all is day; All eye, all ear, the disembodied power. Death has feign'd evils, nature shall not feel; Life, ills substantial, wisdom cannot shun. Is not the mighty mind, that son of heaven! By tyrant life dethroned, imprison'd, paind? By death enlarged, ennobled, deified ? Death but entombs the body; life the soul.
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour ?
What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame?
Earth's highest station ends in “Here he lies,"
And “dust to dust” concludes her noblest song.
If this song lives, posterity shall know
One, though in Britain born, with courtiers bred,
Who thought e'en gold might come a day too late;
Nor on his subtle death-bed plann'd his scheme
For future vacancies in church or state;
Some avocation deeming it to die,
Unbit by rage canine of dying rich;
Guilt's blunder! and the loudest laugh of hell!
SOCIETY NECESSARY FOR HAPPINESS.
Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines,
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
What is she, but the means of Happiness?
That unobtain'd, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fool, without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end, which makes our wisdom wise,
Nature, in zeal for human amity,
Denies, or damps, an undivided joy:
Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;
Joy flies monopolists: it calls for Two:
Rich fruit! heaven-planted! never pluck'd by One.
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give
To social man true relish of himself.
Full on ourselves, descending in a line,
Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
Delight intense is taken by rebound;
Reverberated pleasures fire the breast.
INSUFFICIENCY OF GENIUS AND STATION WITHOUT TIRTUE.
Genius and art, ambition's boasted wings,
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
Dædalian enginery! If these alone
Assist our flight, fame's flight is glory's fall.
Heart merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch, when I behold;
When I behold a genius bright, and base,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal,
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust.
Struck at the splendid, melancholy sight,
At once compassion soft, and envy, rise-
But wherefore envy? Talents angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give infamy renown.
Great ill is an achievement of great powers.
Plain sense but rarely leads us far astray.
Reason the means, affections choose our end;
Means have no merit, if our end amiss.
If wrong our hearts, our heads are right in vain;
Hearts are proprietors of all applause.
Right ends and means make wisdom: Worldly-wise
Is but half-witted, at its highest praise.
Let genius then despair to make thee great;
Nor flatter station: What is station high?
'Tis a proud mendicant; it boasts and begs;
It begs an alms of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs and ministers are awful names;
Whoever wear them, challenge our devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage, and a supple knee,
To beings pompously set up, to serve
The meanest slave: all more is merit's due.
Her sacred and inviolable right
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to superior worth;
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools, indeed, drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majesty.
Let the small savage boast his silver fur;
His royal robe unborrow'd and unbought,
His own, descending fairly from his sires.
Shall man be proud to wear his livery,
And souls in ermine scorn a soul without?
Can place or lessen us or aggrandize ?
Pygmies are pygmies still, though perch'd on Alps;
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own stature, builds himself:
Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids:
Her monuments shall last, when Egypt's fall.
Of these sure truths dost thou demand the cause ?
The cause is lodged in immortality.
Hear, and assent. Thy bosom burns for power;
What station charms thee? I'll install thee there;
'Tis thine. And art thou greater than before?
Then thou before wast something less than man.
Has thy new post betray'd thee into prido?
That treacherous pride betrays thy dignity;
That pride defames humanity, and calls
The being mean, which staffs or strings can raise.
High worth is elevated place: Tis more;
It makes the post stand candidate for Thee;
Makes more than monarchs-makes an honest man;
Though no exchequer it commands, 'tis wealth;
And though it wears no ribbon, 'tis renown;
Renown, that would not quit thee, though disgraced,
Nor leave thee pendent on a master's smile.
Other ambition nature interdicts;
Nature proclaims it most absurd in man,
By pointing at his origin, and end;
Milk, and a swath, at first, his whole demand;
His whole domain, at last, a turf, or stone;
To whom, between, a world may seem too small.
THE LOVE OF PRAISE.
What will not men attempt for sacred praise ?
The Love of Praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Reigns, more or less, and glows, in every heart:
The proud, to gain it, toils on toils endure;
The modest shun it, but to make it sure,
O'er globes and sceptres, now on thrones it swells;
Now, trims the midnight lamp in college cells:
'Tis Tory, Whig; it plots, prays, preaches, pleads,
Harangues in Senates, squeaks in Masquerades.
Here, to Steele's humor makes a bold pretence;
There, bolder, aims at Pulteney's eloquence.
It aids the dancer's heel, the writer's head,
And heaps the plain with mountains of the dead;
Nor ends with life; but nods in sable plumes,
Adorns our hearse, and flatters on our tombs.
THE LANGUID LADY.
The languid lady next appears in state,
Who was not born to carry her own weight;
She lolis, reels, staggers, till some foreign aid
To her own stature lifts the feeble maid.
Then, if ordaind to so severe a doom,
She, by just stages, journeys round the room :
But, knowing her own weakness, she despairs
To scale the Alps-that is, ascend the stairs.
My fan! let others say, who laugh at toil;
Fan! hood! glove! scarf! is her laconic style;
And that is spoke with such a dying fall,
That Betty rather sees, than hears the call :
The motion of her lips, and meaning eye,
Piece out th' idea her faint words deny.
O listen with attention most profound !
Her voice is but the shadow of a sound.
And help! oh help! her spirits are so dead,
One hand scarce lifts the other to her head.
If, there, a stubborn pin it triumphs o'er,
She pants! she sinks away! and is no more.
Let the robust and the gigantic carve,
Life is not worth so much, she'd rather starve:
But chew she must herself; ah, cruel fate!
That Rosalinda can't by proxy eat.
WILLIAM FALCONER. 1730—1769.
WILLIAM FALCONER was the son of a barber in Edinburgh, and was born in the year 1730. He had very few advantages of education, and in early life went to sea in the merchant service. He was afterwards mate of a ves sel that was wrecked in the Levant, and was one of three only, out of the crew, that were saved ; a catastrophe which formed the subject of his future
poem, “The Shipwreck," which he published in 1762, and on which his chief claim to merit rests. Early in 1769 his “ Marine Dictionary” appeared, which has been spoken highly of by those who are capable of estimating its merits. In the latter part of the same year he embarked in the Aurora, for India, but the vessel was never heard of after she passed the Cape, “ so that the poet of the Shipwreck may be supposed to have perished by the same species of calamity which he had rehearsed."|
The subject of the Shipwreck and the fate of its author, bespeak an uncommon partiality in its favor. If we pay respect to the ingenious scholar, who can produce agreeable verses amidst the shades of retirement or the shelves of his library, how much more interest must we take in the “ship-boy on the high and giddy mast," cherishing refined visions of fancy at the hour which he may casually snatch from fatigue and danger! His poem has the sensible charm of appearing a transcript of reality, and from its vividness and power of description, powerfully interests the feelings, and leaves a deep impression of truth and nature on the mind,
THE VESSEL GOING TO PIECES.-DEATH OF ALBERT, THE COM
With mournful look the seamen eyed the strand
Where death's inexorable jaws expand:
Swift from their minds elapsed all dangers past,
As, dumb with terror, they beheld the last.
Now on the trembling shrouds, before, bebind,
In mute suspense they mount into the wind-
The Genius of the deep, on rapid wing,
The black eventful moment seem'd to bring,
The fatal Sisters, on the surge before,
Yoked their infernal horses to the prore.-
The steersmen now received their last command
To wheel the vessel sidelong to the strand.
Twelve sailors, on the foremast who depend,
High on the platform of the top ascend;
Fatal retreat! for while the plunging prow
Immerges headlong in the wave below,
Down-prest by watery weight the bowsprit bends,
And from above the stem deep crashing rends.
Beneath her beak the floating ruins lie;
The foremast totters, unsustain'd on high:
And now the ship, fore-lifted by the sea,
Hurls the tall fabric backward o'er her lee;
While, in the general wreck, the faithful stay
Drags the main-topmast from its post away.
Flung from the mast, the seamen strive in vain
Through hostile floods their vessel to regain.
The waves they buffet, till, bereft of strength,
O'erpower'd they yield to cruel fate at length.
The hostile waters close around their head,
They sink for ever, number'd with the dead!
Those who remain their fearful doom await,
Nor longer mourn their lost companions' fate.
1 Campbell's Specimens, vol. vi. p. 08.