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Where art thou, HAMMOND ? thou the darling pride, The friend and lover of the tuneful throng! Ah why, dear youth, in all the blooming prime Of vernal genius, where disclosing fast Each active worth, each manly virtue lay, Why wert thou ravish'd from our hope so soon? What now avails that noble thirst of fame, Which ftung thy fervent breaft? that treasur'd store Of knowledge, early gain'd ? that eager zeal To serve thy country, glowing in the band Of YOUTHFUL Patriots, who sustain her name? What now, alas ! that life-diffusing charm Of sprightly wit ? that rapture for the Muse, That heart of friendship, and that soul of joy, Which bade with softest light thy virtue smile? Ah! only shew'd, to check our fond pursuits, And teach our humble hopes that life is vain !
Thus in some deep retirement would I pass The winter glooms, with friends of pliant soul, Or blithe, or folemn, as the theme inspir’d: With them would search, if Nature's boundless frame Was callid, late-rising from the void of night, Or sprung eternal from th’ ETERNAL MIND; Its life, its laws, its progress, and its end. Hence larger prospects of the beauteous whole
Would, gradual, open on our opening minds; And each diffufive harmony unite In full perfection to th' astonish'd eye. Then would we try to scan the moral World. Which, tho’ to us it seems embroil'd, moves on In higher order ; fitted, and impellid, By Wisdom's fineft hand, and issuing all In general Good. The fage historic Mufe Should next conduct us thro’ the deeps of time : Shew us how empire grew, declin'd, and fell, In scatter'd states; what makes the nations smile, Improves their foil, and gives them double suns ; And why they pine beneath the brightest skies, In Nature's richest lap. As thus we talk’d, Our hearts would burn within us, would inhale That portion of divinity, that ray Of pureft heaven, which lights the public soul Of patriots, and of heroes. But if doom'd, In powerless humble fortune, to repress These ardent rifings of the kindling soul; Then, even fuperior to ambition, we Would learn the private virtues ; how to glide Thro’ shades and plains, along the smootheft stream Of rural life: or snatch'd away by hope, Thro' the dim spaces of futurity,
With earneit eye anticipate those scenes
Meantime the village rouses up the fire ;
The city swarms intense. The public haunt, Full of each theme, and warm with mixt discourse, Hums indistinct. The sons of riot flow Down the loose stream of false inchanted joy, To swift destruction. On the rankled soul The gaming fury falls; and in one gulph Of total ruin, honour, virtue, peace, Friends, families, and fortune, headlong sink. Up springs the dance along the lighted dome, Mix'd, and evolv'd, a thousand sprightly ways. The glittering court effuses every pomp ; The circle deepens : beam'd from gaudy robes, Tapers, and sparkling gems, and radiant eyes, A soft effulgence o'er the palace waves : While, a gay infect in his summer-shine, The fop, light-fluttering, spreads his mealy wings.
Dread o'er the scene, the ghost of Hamlet stalks ; OTHELLO rages; poor Monimia mourns ; And BELVIDERA pours her soul in love. Terror alarms the breast; the comely tear Steals o'er the cheek: or else the Comic MUSE Holds to the world a picture of itself, And raises fly the fair impartial laugh. Sometimes she lifts her strain, and paints the scenes
Of beauteous life; whate'er can deck mankind, Or charm the heart, in generous Bevil * shew'd.
O Thou, whose wisdom, folid yet refin'd, Whose patriot-virtues, and consummate skill To touch the finer springs that move the world, Join’d to whate'er the Graces can bestow, And all Apollo's animating fire, Give thee, with pleasing dignity, to shine At once the guardian, ornament, and joy, Of polish'd life; permit the Rural Muse, O CHESTERFIELD, to grace with thee her song ! Ere to the shades again she humbly flies, Indulge her fond ambition, in thy train, (For every Muse has in thy train a place,) To mark thy various full-accomplish'd mind : To mark that spirit, which, with British scorn, Rejects th' allurements of corrupted power ; That elegant politeness, which excels, Even in the judgment of presumptuous France, The boasted manners of her shining court ; That wit, the vivid energy of sense, The truth of Nature, which, with Attic point,
* A character in the Conscious Lovers, written by Sir RICHARD STEELE.