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The village churchyard, in low plaintive tone,
A dirge-like melody
For worth and beauty modest as its own.
More gaily now it sweeps
By the small school-house, in the sunshine bright;
And o'er the pebbles leaps,
Like happy hearts by holiday made light.
May not its course express,
In characters which they who run may read,
The charms of gentleness,
Were but its still small voice allowed to plead ?
What are the trophies gained
By power, alone, with all its noise and strife,
To that meek wreath, unstained,
Won by the charities' that gladden life?
Niagara's streams might fail,
And human happiness be undisturbed:
But Egypt would turn pale,
Were her still Nile's o'erflowing bounty curbed!
THE insect, that with puny wing
Just shoots along one summer ray,
The floweret, which the breath of spring
Wakes into life for half a day,
The smallest mote, the tenderest hair,
All feel a heavenly Father's care.
E'en from the glories of his throne
He bends to view this earthly ball;
Sees all as if that all were one,
Loves one as if that one were all;
Rolls the swift planets in their spheres,
And counts the sinner's lonely tears.
(1) Charities-from the Greek Xápis, favour, love-the domestic affections.
THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.'
LET observation, with extensive view,
Survey mankind from China to Peru;2
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate,
Where wavering man, betrayed by venturous pride,
To tread the dreary paths without a guide,
As treacherous phantoms in the midst delude,
Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good.
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice!
How nations sink, by darling schemes opprest,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request!
Fate wings with every wish the afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art;
With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
Impeachment3 stops the speaker's powerful breath,
And restless fire precipitates on death.
The needy traveller, serene and gay,
Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.
Does envy seize thee? crush the upbraiding joy-
Increase his riches and his peace destroy;
Now fears in dire vicissitude invade,
The rustling brake alarms, and quivering shade,
Nor light nor darkness brings his pain relief,
One shows the plunder and one hides the thief.
In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand,
Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand:
(1) "The Vanity of Human Wishes" is an imitation-not a translation-of the 10th Satire of Juvenal, and, notwithstanding occasional tautology and needless pomposity of style, is a nervous and energetic poem. Sir Walter Scott praises its "deep and pathetic morality;" and Lord Byron calls it "a grand poem," though he does not "much admire the opening."
(2) On this couplet Coleridge justly remarks, that it is as much as to say, "let observation with extensive observation observe mankind."
(3) Impeachment-from the French empêcher to hinder, arrest-a charge o grave importance brought against a public character.
To him the church, the realm, their powers consign,
Through him the rays of regal bounty shine,
Turned by his nod the stream of honour flows,
His smile alone security bestows;
Still to new heights his restless wishes tower;
Claim leads to claim, and power advances power;
Till conquest, unresisted, ceased to please,
And rights submitted left him none to seize :
At length his Sovereign frowns-the train of state
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate :
Where'er he turns he meets a stranger's eye,
His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly;
Now drops at once the pride of awful state,
The golden canopy, the glittering plate,
The regal palace, the luxurious board,
The liveried army, and the menial lord.1
With age, with cares, with maladies opprest,
He seeks the refuge of monastic rest.
Grief aids disease, remembered folly stings,
And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings.
Speak thou whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
Shall Wolsey's wealth with Wolsey's end be thine?
Or livest thou now, with safer pride content,
The wisest justice on the banks of Trent?
For why did Wolsey, near the steeps of fate,
On weak foundations raise the enormous weight?
Why but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin to the gulfs below.
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride,
How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide.
A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,
No dangers fright him, and no labours tire;
O'er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain,
Unconquered lord of pleasure and of pain ;
No joys to him pacific sceptres yield,
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field;
Behold surrounding kings their power combine,
And one capitulate,2 and one resign;
(1) Menial lord—the lord of the menials, the steward of the household.
(2) And one capitulate, &c.-Charles XII. compelled the King of Denmark to
sue for peace, and the King of Poland to resign his crown.
Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain ;
“Think nothing gained," he cries, "till nought remain ;
On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly,
And all be mine beneath the polar sky.”
The march begins in military state,
And nations on his eye suspended wait;
Stern famine guards the solitary coast,
And winter barricades the realms of frost;
He comes-nor want, nor cold, his course delay;
Hide, blushing glory, hide Pultowa's' day:
The vanquished hero leaves his broken bands,
And shows his miseries in distant lands: 2
Condemned a needy supplicant to wait,
While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
But did not chance at length her error mend?
Did no subverted empire mark his end?
Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound?
Or hostile millions press him to the ground?
His fall was destined to a barren strand,
A petty fortress,3 and a dubious hand;
He left the name at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
In gay hostility and barbarous pride,
With half mankind embattled at his side,
Great Xerxes came to seize the certain prey,
And starves exhausted regions in his way;
Attendant flattery counts his myriads o'er,
Till counted myriads soothe his pride no more;
Fresh praise is tried till madness fires his mind,
The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind;
New powers are claimed, new powers are still bestowed,
Till rude resistance lops the spreading god;
The daring Greeks deride the martial show,
And heap their valleys with the gaudy foe;
(1) Pultowa-At the battle of Pultowa, a town in Russia, Charles was completely defeated by his rival, Peter the Great.
(2) Distant lands-He retired into the Turkish territory, to Bender, on the Dniester, where he was liberally entertained, notwithstanding the absurdity of his behaviour there. See Voltaire's" Histoire de Charles XII."
(3) Petty fortress-Charles was struck dead by a shot from an unknown hand, while besieging Friedrichshall, in Norway.
(4) Starves exhausted regions—This is a Latinism, like "captum interfecit," he took and killed him; so here, he exhausts and starves the regions.
The insulted sea with humbler thoughts he gains,
A single skiff to speed his flight remains;
The encumbered oar1 scarce leaves the dreaded coast
Through purple billows and a floating host.
But grant, the virtues of a temperate prime
Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime;
An age that melts with unperceived decay,
And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day benevolence endears,
Whose night congratulating conscience cheers;
The general favourite as the general friend;
Such age there is, and who shall wish its end?
Yet even on this her load misfortune flings,
To press the weary minutes' flagging wings;
New sorrow rises as the day returns,
A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns.
Now kindred merit fills the sable bier,
Now lacerated friendship claims a tear;
Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
Still drops some joy from withering life away;
New forms arise, and different views engage,
Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage,
Till pitying nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
But few there are whom hours like these await,
Who set unclouded in the gulfs of fate.
From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,
By Solon cautioned to regard his end,
In life's last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave and follies of the wise?
From Marlborough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driveller and a show.
(1) The encumbered oar, &c.-Though extravagant, the language of this couplet presents a very striking picture of the scene.
(2) But grant-i. e. but suppose that, &c.
(3) Superfluous, &c.-A striking metaphor, ingenious, clear, and admirably expressed.
(4) Lydia's monarch-Croesus.
(5) Marlborough's, &c.-He was afflicted with paralysis; "but," says a writer in the Penny Cyclopædia,' "without at all seriously impairing his faculties;" so that the above line is, at least, a poetical exaggeration.
(6) Swift-For some time before his death Swift's mind gave way, and he at length died in a state of quiet idiotcy.