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DIDACTIC AND MORAL PIECES.
Ill-busied man! why should'st thou take such care
To lengthen out thy life's short calendar?
When every spectacle thou look’st upon
Presents and acts thy execution.
Each drooping season and each flower doth
• Fool! as I fade and wither, thou must die.'
The beating of thy pulse (when thou art well)
Is just the tolling of thy passing-bell:
Night is thy hearse, whose sable canopy
Covers alike deceased day and thee.
And all those weeping dews which nightly fall
Are but the tears shed for thy funeral.
Dr. King's Poems, p. 138.
The lopped tree in time may grow again,
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower:
The sorriest wight may find release of pain,
The driest soil suck in some moistning shower.
Times go by turns, and chances change by course
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.
The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow,
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb;
Her tides have equal times to come and go,
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web.
No joy so great but runneth to an end,
No hap so hard but may in fine amend.
Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring,
No endless night, nor yet eternal day;
The saddest birds a season find to sing,
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay.
Tlius with succeeding turns God tempereth all,
That man may hope to rise, yet fear to fall.
A chance may win that by mischance was lost,
That net that holds no great takes little fish;
In some things all, in all things none are crost,
Few all they need, but none have all they wish.
Unmeddled joys here to no man befal,
Who least hath some, who most hath never all.
The wisest men that nature e'er could boast,
For secret knowledge of her power, were lost,
Confounded, and in deep amazement stood,
In the discovery of the chiefest good:
Keenly they hunted *, beat in every brake,
Forwards they went, on either hand, and back
Return'd they counter; but their deep-mouth'd art
(Though often challeng'd sent) yet ne'er could start,
In all th' enclosures of philosophy,
That game, from squat, they term, Felicity: :
They jangle, and their maxims disagree,
As many men, so many minds there be.
One digs to Pluto's throne, thinks there to find
Her grace, rak'd up in gold : another's mind
Mounts to the courts of Kings, with plumes of honour
And feather'd hopes, hopes there to seize upon her;
A third, unlocks the painted gates of pleasure,
And ransacks there, to find this peerless treasure;
A fourth, more sage, more wisely melancholy,
Persuades himself, her deity's too holy
* Keenly they hunted, &c.] To this and the succeeding lines may with justice be applied what Dr. Warton has observed of some lines of Pope : “ The metaphors in the succeeding lines, drawn from the fieldsports of setting and shooting, seem below the dignity of the subject.”
Essay on Pope, Vol. II. p. 124.
For common hands to touch, he rather chooses
To make a long day's journey to the Muses;
To Athens (gown'd) he goes, and from that school
Returns unsped, a more instructed fool.
Where lies she then? or lies she
Honours are bought and sold, she rests not there;
Much less in pleasures hath she her abiding,
For they are shar'd to beasts, and ever sliding;
Nor yet in virtue, virtue's often poor;
And (crush'd with fortune) begs from door to door.
Nor is she sainted in the shrine of wealth;
That, makes men slaves, is unsecur'd from stealth ;
Conclude we then, Felicity consists
Not in exterior fortunes, but her lists
Are boundless, and her large extension
of human apprehension;
Fortunes are seldom measur'd by desert,
The fairer face hath oft the fouler heart;
Sacred Felicity doth ne'er extend
Beyond itself; in it, all wishes end :
The swelling of an outward fortune can
Create a prosp’rous, not a happy man;
A peaceful conscience is the true content,
And wealth is but her golden ornament.
Job Militant, by F. Quarles,
Med. xii. Edit. 1630.
HERE wards are weak, and foes encount'ring strong, Where mightier do assault than do defend, The feebler part puts up enforced wrong, And silent sees that, speech could not amend; Yet higher powers must think, though they repine, When sun is set, the little stars will shine.
While pike do range, the silly tench doth fly,
And crouch in privy creeks, with smaller fish:
Yet pikes are caught when little fish go by,
These fleet afloat, while those do fill the dish;
There is a time even for the worms to creep,
And suck the dew while all their foes do sleep.
The marline cannot ever soar on high,
Nor greedy grey-hound still pursue the chase,
The tender lark will find a time to fly,
And fearful hare to run a quiet race.
He that high growth on cedars did bestow,
Gave also lowly mushrooms leave to grow.
In Haman's pomp poor Mordocheus wept;
Yet God did turn his fate upon his foe.
The lazar pin’d, while Dives' feast was kept,
Yet he to heaven, to hell did Dives go.
We trample grass, and prize the flowers of May,
grass is green, when flowers do fade away.