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Some men there are, thank Heaven, but very few,
Who will condemn, whate'er you say or do ;
They, with ingenious malice, draw forth evil
From sermons! such are children of the devil!
One writes a song; should it appear in print,
The generous Bavius says, "There's danger in 't."
Another cheers an else heart-broken bard;
"Let the vain fool his parasite reward!"
Kind Zoilus exclaims. Who then escapes?
None, when foul Envy thus her comment shapes.
Yet will my mind fly backwards to the time
When great indeed my fault, I learn'd to rhyme :
When every day gave birth to schemes, that soon
Pass'd rapidly away, like dreams at noon;
To plans that might have suited fairy-land,
But fleeting here as figures drawn in sand!
How often have we studied Gibbon's page!
How often glow'd with Burke; prophetic sage!
Those intellectual giants, such in truth
They were, with splendid periods charm'd our youth.
Oft have we sought the theatre; and felt
That then embodied there, Rome's genius dwelt,
When Kemble, like the god-like hero, shone
Among inferior lights, a sun alone!
Adored by thousands, such his happy lot-
He was but yesterday; and now-forgot!
Thus as old Time turns round his wheel, uprise,
And fast descend, the mighty and the wise;
A few eulogiums in the journals tell
How wise they were, how mighty, then-farewell!
He whom variety delights, would find
All that must please him in Statira's mind!
Where various qualities are sweetly blent,
Candour with cunning, sense with sentiment.
Look in her face, a devil lurketh there,
That in her eye-glance seems to say-" Beware!"
How often have we prattled round her board,
With would-be Authors and a gentle Lord!
Great was her love of patronage and state;
We praised her talents, and her show of plate.
But times are alter'd: in this world of woe
Realities demand exertion now.
We are not what we were; that burning zeal
For books and pleasures we no longer feel:
Fancy has now withdrawn her high-wrought veil
From our fond gaze, and sober thoughts prevail;
And what has pleased in boyhood now appears
Vain, as comes on the noon-time of our years.
All was romantic, if it be romance
To float upon the changing stream of chance.
Let Cocker's useful volume supersede
The metaphysic tomes of Brown or Reid.
But 'tis indeed a pain, (though Interest seems
To bid me scorn unprofitable themes,)
While the old bards adorn my shelves, to quit
At once their world of poetry and wit!
Where the dense yellow fog o'erhangs the Thames, The sage, great Coke, thy close attention claims; Yet wilt thou seize, at intervals of time, On Byron's Lara-Cowper's Task sublime! The mind is healthy that to works like these, Amid the toil of thought, can turn with ease.
Content, thou hast eight hundred pounds a-year,
Books, and, far better still, a conscience clear;
Thou dost not feel, what squires have felt, distress,
When their rents fail, and mortgages oppress!
Debts, taxes, and annuities might make
The proudest landlord for his acres quake!
Like Machiavel in politics, thou art
A Tory, or a Radical at heart!
Rejoicing oft to see how Whigs are hit
Now by John Bull's, and now by Cobbett's wit.
Yet politics are but ephemeral things;
Kings, though the world's progressive, will be kings: Statesmen are statesmen still-the mob will roar,
be what Wilkes has been before!
Say, dost thou seek the Caledonian squeeze,
Where few can stand, and fewer sit with ease;
Where Irving's glowing oratory shows
The skeleton at least of Taylor's prose!
Or, blest with better taste, wilt thou not hear
Andrews, as eloquent, and far more clear?
Then, at a brother lawyer's country-seat,
In social converse find a sabbath treat?
As magic lanthorns throw along the wall
Forms of gigantic shape, yet shadows all,
In florid self-importance thus the vain
Burst on our sight-then shrink to nought again.
Their well-known faces haunt me where I walk,
And oh how wearisome their well-known talk!
Yet such are men; though reason, 'tis confest,
Illumes their minds with scattered rays at best:
Such have immortal spirits, which must be
Happy, or wretched, through eternity!
Go, triflers, tread Love's flowery path; but know
Ye burn with dæmons, or with seraphs glow!
Oft have we laugh'd at (for in truth we've seen
The world) their civil smiles that nothing mean;
Their dolorous looks, whene'er they seem'd to grieve;
And can such poor dissemblers e'er deceive?
Give me the man who, if at times he err,
At least shows something like a character,
Who can consult his heart as well as head;
Nor waits to ask if feeling be well bred!
Some have the wealth of Ind, are strange, are proud,
And scorn to hold communion with the crowd :-
But fortune frowns; the smiling auctioneer
Bids gold and pearls barbaric disappear,
Philips will sell their books, where underwrit
Notes tersely pencill'd show sententious wit;
Philips will sell their gewgaws, that amaze
Women and rustics with their gorgeous blaze!
But such superfluous vanities can ne'er
Delight thy mind, be they or rich or rare.
Soon, very soon, life's little day is past;
No works but those of charity, will last.
Nor Byron's verse nor Beckford's pomp can save
Vathek or Harold from their destined grave!
And what is wealth? with equal hand 'tis given
To bad, to good-no proof of favouring Heaven!
And who is rich? Emilius, whose good sense
Protects him from the glare of vain expense;
Who buys not glittering toys when very dear,
But treats his friends with hospitable cheer;—
Who loves to breathe the incense of the morn
As the sun's golden rays his hills adorn--
Deeming more beautiful the sky's young bloom,
Than all the splendours of a drawing-room;