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We read their monuments; we sigh; and while
'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours, And ask them what report they bore to Heaven, And how they might have borne more welcome news Their answers form what men Experience call; If Wisdom's friend, her best ; if not, worst foe. 380 O reconcile them! kind Experience cries, • There's nothing here but what as nothing weighs ; The more our joy, the more we know it vain, And by success are tutor'd to despair.' Nor is it only thus, but must be so.
385 Who knows not this, though gray, is still a child. Loose then from earth the grasp of fond desire ; Weigh anchor, and some happier clime explore.
Art thou so moor'd thou canst not disengage, Nor give thy thoughts a ply to future scenes ? 390 Since by life's passing breath, blown up from earth, Light as the summer's dust, we take in air A moment's giddy flight, and fall again, Join the dull mass, increase the trodden soil, And sleep, till Earth herself shall be no more ;
395 Since then (as emmets, their small world o'erthrown) We, sore amazed, from out earth's ruins crawl, And rise to fate extreme of foul or fair, As man's own choice, (controller of the skies ) As man's despotic will, perhaps one hour, 400
(O how omnipotent is Time !) decrees ;
410 'O Man! thy kingdom is departing from thee, And, while it lasts, is emptier than my shade.' Its silent language such ; nor need’st thou call Thy Magi to decipher what it means. Know, like the Median, Fate is in thy walls : 415 Dost ask how? whence ? Belshazzar-like, amazed. Man's make encloses the sure seeds of death; Life feeds the murderer: ingrate! he thrives On her own meal, and then his nurse devours. But here, Lorenzo, the delusion lies ;
420 That solar shadow, as it measures life, It life resembles too. Life speeds away From point to point, though seeming to stand still. The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth : Too subtle is the movement to be seen ;
425 Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone. Warnings point out our danger; gnonions, time: As these are useless when the Sun is set, So those, but when more glorious Reason shines. Reason should judge in all ; in Reason's eye 430 That sedentary shadow travels hard ; But such our gravitation to the wrong, So prone our hearts to whisper what we wish, 'Tis later with the wise than he's aware. A Wilmington goes slower than the Sun; 435 And all mankind mistake their time of day; E'en Age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown In furrow'd brows. So gentle life's descent,
We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain.
On this, or similar, Philander ! thou Whose mind was moral as the preacher's tongue, And strong to wield all science worth the name, How often we taik'd down the summer's sun, 450 And cool'd our passions by the breezy stream ! How often thaw'd and shorten'd winter's eve By conflict kind, that struck out latent truth, Best found so sought, to the recluse more coy! Thoughts disentangle passing o'er the lip; 455 Clean runs the thread ; if not, 'tis thrown away, Or kept to tie up nonsense for a song ; Song, fashionably fruitless, such as stains The fancy, and unhallow'd passion fires, Chiming her saints to Cytherea's fane.
460 Know'st thou, Lorenzo! what a friend contains ? As bees mix'd nectar draw from fragrant flowers, So men from Friendship, wisdom and delight; Twins, tied by Nature ; if they part, they die. Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach? 465 Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up want air, And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the sun. Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied ; Speech! thought’s canal; speech! thought's criterion too:
469 Thought in the mine may come forth gold or dross ; When coin'd in word, we know its real worth : If sterling, store it for thy future use ; *Twill buy thee benefit, perhaps renown. Thought, too, deliver'd, 'is the more possess'd; Teaching we learn; and giving we retain 475
The births of intellect; when duinb, forgot.
In contemplation is his proud resource ? 'Tis poor as proud, by converse unsustain'd. Rude thought runs wild in Contemplation's field; 490 Converse, the menaye, breaks it to the bit Of due restraint; and Emulation's spur Gives graceful energy, by rivals awed. *Tis converse qualifies for solitude, As exercise for salutary rest :
495 By that untutor d, Contemplation raves; And Nature's fool by Wisdom's is outdone
Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines, And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive, What is she but the means of happiness ?
500 That unobtain'd, than Folly more a fool; A melancholy fool, without he: bells. Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives The precious end, which makes our wisdom wise. Nature, in zeal for human amity,
505 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
510 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 ;
525 I wrong her much-entenders us for ever. Of Friendship’s fairest fruits, the fruit most fair Is Virtu, kindling at a rival fire, And emulously rapid in her race. O the soft enmity! endearing strife !
530 This carries Friendship to her noontide point, And gives the rivet of eternity.
From Friendship, which outlives my former themes, Glorious survivor of old Time and Death ! From Friendship, thus, that flower of heavenly seed, The wise extract earth's most hyblean bliss, 536 Superior wisdom, crown’d with smiling joy.
But for whom blossoms this Elysian flower? Abroad they find who cherish it at home. Lorenzo ! pardon what my love extorts,
540 An honest love, and not afraid to frown. Though choice of follies fasten on the great, None clings more obstinate than fancy fond, That sacred friendship is their easy prey Caught by the wasture of a golden lure,
545 Or fascination of a highborn smile. Their smiles the great, and the coquette, thuow out For others' hearts, tenacious of their own; And we no less of ours, when such the bait. Ye Fortune's cofferers ! ye powers of Wealth !
550 Can gold gain friendship? impudence of hope