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But why of that epocha make such a fuss ?
But loyalty, truce! we're on dangerous ground;
Who knows how the fashions may alter ? The doctrine to-day that is loyalty sound,
To-morrow may bring us a halter!
I send you a trifle, a head of a bard,
A trifle scarce worthy your care ;
But accept it, good sir, as a mark of regard,
Sincere as a saint's dying prayer.
Now life's chilly evening dim shades on your eye,
And ushers the long, dreary night; But you, like the star that athwart gilds the sky,
Your course to the latest is bright.
TO R. GRAHAM, ESQ., OF FINTRA.
When Nature her great masterpiece design'd,
And fran’d her last, best work, the human mind,
Her eye intent on all the mazy plan,
She form’d of various parts the various man.
Then first she calls the useful many forth Plain, plodding industry, and sober worth
Thence peasants, farmers, native sons of earth,
And merchandise, whole genus take their birth;
Each prudent cit a warm existence finds,
And all mechanics' many apron'd kinds.
Some other rarer sorts are wanted yet,
The lead and buoy are needful to the net;
The caput mortuum of gross desires
Makes a material for mere knights and squires;
The martial phosphorus is taught to flow,
She kneads the lumpish, philosophic dough,
Then marks th’ unyielding mass with grave designs,
Law, physics, politics, and deep divines :
Last, she sublimes th’ Aurora of the poles,
The flashing elements of female souls.
The order'd system fair before her stood,
Nature, well-pleas'd, pronounc'd it very good;
But, ere she gave creating labor o'er,
Half jest, she tried one curious labor more,
Some spumy, fiery, ignis faluus matter;
Such as the slightest breath of air might scatter;
With arch alacrity and conscious glee,
(Nature may have her whim as well as we,
Her Hogarth-art perhaps she meant to show it,)
She forms the thing, and christens it
Creature, though oft the prey of care and sorrow,
When blest' to-day unmindful of to-morrow.
A being form’d to amuse his graver friends,
Admir'd and prais'd — and there the homage ends ;
A mortal quite unfit for fortune's strife,
Yet oft the sport of all the ills of life;
Prone to enjoy each pleasure riches give,
Yet haply wanting wherewithal to live;
Longing to wipe each tear, to heal each groan,
Yet frequent all unheeded in his own.
But honest Nature is not quite a Turk,
She laugh'd at first, then felt for her poor work,
Pitying the propless climber of mankind,
She cast about a standard-tree to find;
And, to support his helpless woodbine state,
Attached him to the generous, truly great,
A title, and the only one I claim,
To lay strong hold for help on bounteous Graham.
Pity the tuneful Muses' hapless train,
Weak, timid landsmen on life's stormy main!
Their hearts no selfish, stern, absorbent stuff,
That neither gives — though humbly takes enough:
The little fate allows, they share as soon,
Unlike sage, proverb'd Wisdom's hard-wrung boon.
The world were bless'd did bliss on them depend
Ah! that “the friendly e'er.should want a friend !"
Let Prudence number o'er each sturdy son,
Who life and wisdom at one race begun,
Who feel by reason, and who give by rule,
(Instinct's a brute, and sentiment a fool!)
Who make poor will do wait upon I should
We own they're prudent, but who feels they're good ?
Ye wise once, hence! ye hurt the social eye!
God's image rudely etch'd on base alloy!
But come ye who the godlike -pleasure know-
Heaven's attribute distinguish'd --- to bestow !
Whose arms of love would grasp the human race;
Come thou who giv'st with all a courtier's grace ;
Friend of my life, true patron of my rhymes !
Prop of my dearest hope for future times.
Why shrinks my soul half-blushing, half-afraid,
Backward, abashed to ask thy friendly aid ?
I know my need, I know thy giving hand,
I crave thy friendship at thy kind command;
But there are such who court the tuneful Nine-
Heavens! should the branded character be mine!
Whose verse in manhood's pride sublimely flows;
Yet vilest reptiles in their begging prose.
Mark, how their lofty, independent spirit
Soars on the spurning wing of injur’d merit !
Seek not the proofs in private life to find !
Pity the best of words should be but wind!
So to heaven's gates the lark's shrill song ascends,
But grovelling on the earth the carol ends.
In all the clamorous cry of starving want,
They dun benevolence with shameful front;
Oblige them, patronize their tinsel lays,
They persecute you all your future days!
Ere my poor soul such deep damnation stain,
My horny fist assume the plough again;
The piebald jacket let me patch once more;
On eighteen-pence a week I've lived before.
Though, thanks to heaven! I dare even that last shift
I trust, meantime, my boon is in thy gift;
That placed by thee upon the wished-for height,
Where, Man and Nature fairer in her sight,
My Muse may imp her wing or some sublimer flight
LATE crippled of an arm, and now a leg,
About to beg a pass for leave to beg;
Dull, listless, teas'd, dejected and deprest,
'Nature is adverse to a cripple's rest,)
Will gen'rous Graham list his Poet's wail ?
(It soothes poor Misery heark’ning to her tale,)
And hear him curse the light he first survey'd,
And doubly curse the luckless, rhyming trade!
Thou, Nature, partial Nature, I arraign; Of thy caprice maternal I complain. The lion and the bull thy care have found ; One shakes the forest, and one spurns the ground: Thou gi’est the ass his hide, the snail his shell, Thenvenomed wasp, victorious, guards his cell. Thy minions, kings defend, control, devour, In all th’ omnipotence of rule and power. Foxes and statesmen, subtle wiles insure; The cit.and polecat stink and are secure. Toads with their poison, doctors with their drug, The priest and hedgehog in their robes are snug; Ev'n silly woman has her warlike arts, Her tongue and eyes, her dreaded spear and darts.
But oh! thou bitter step-mother, and hard,
To thy poor, fenceless, naked child — the Bard!
A thing unteachable in the world's skill,
And half an idiot, too, more helpless still.
No heels to bear him from the op'ning dun;
No claws to dig, his hated sight to shun;
No horns, but those by luckless Hymen worn,
And those, alas! not Amalthea's horn :
No nerves olfact’ry, Mammon's trusty cur,
Clad in rich dulness, comfortable fur,
In naked feeling, and in aching pride,
He bears th' unbroken blast from ev'ry side ;
Vampyre booksellers drain him to the heart,
And scorpion critics cureless venom dart.