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CHAP. XXIV.

THE PAIN ARISING FROM VIRTUOUS EMOTIONS ATTENDED WITH PLEASURE.

BEHOLD the ways .

Of Heav'n's eternal destiny to man,
For ever just, benevolent and wise:
That Virtue's awful steps, howe'er pursued
By vexing Fortune and intrusive Pain,
Should never be divided from her chaste,
Her fair attendant, Pleasure. Need I urge
Thy tardy thought thro' ail the various round
Of this existence, that thy soft'ning soul
At length may learn what energy the hand-
Of Virtue mingles in the bitter tide
Of passion swelling with distress and pain,
To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops
Of cordial Pleasure? Ask the faithful youth,
Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd
So often fills his arms; so often draws
His lonely footsteps at the silent hour,
To pay the mournful tribute of his tears?
O! he will tell tfiee, that the wealth of world*
Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego a.
That sacred hour, when stealing from the noise
Of care and envy, sweet remembrance sooths
With virtue's kindest looks his aching breast,
And turns his tears to rapture.—Ask the crowd
Which flies impatient from the village-walk
To climb the neighboring cliffs, when far below
The cruel winds have hurl'd upon the coast
Some hapless bark ; while sacred pity melts
The gen'ral eye, or terror's icy hand
Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair:
While every Brother closer to her fe/east

Catches her child, and pointing where the waves
Foam thro' the shatter'd vessel, shrieks aloud,
As one poor wretch, that spreads his piteous arms
For succour, swallow'd by the roaring surge,
As now another, dash'd against the rock,
Drops lifeless down. 0 deemest thou indeed
No kind endearment here by nature giv'n
To mutual terror, and compassion's tears?
No sweetly-melting softness which attracts,
O'er all that edge of pain, the social pow'rs
To this their proper action and their end ?—
Ask thy own heart ; when at th'e midnight hour,
Slow thro' that studious gloom thy pausing eye
Led by the glimm'ring taper moves around
The sacrtd volumes of the dead, the songs
Of Grecian birds, and records writ by fame
For Grecian Heroes, 'where, the present pow'r'
Of heav,n and,earth, surveys th' immortal page,
E,en as a father,s Wessios;, while he reads
The praises of hisisdn 5 if then thy' soul,
Spurning fire ^oke of these inglorious days,
Mix in their deeds and kindle with their flame:
Sf;', wl.'en the prospect blackens on thy view,
'Wht.n rooted from the base, heroic states
Mourn in ttie dust and tremble at the frown
Oi curst ambition ;—when the pious band
Of youths tiiat fought for freedom and their sires
Lie side by side in gore;—wh:'n ruffian-pride
Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp
Of public pow'r, the majesty of rule,
The sword, the laurel, and the purple robe,
To slavish empty pageants, to adorfl
A tyrant's walk, and glitter in the eyes
Of such as bow the knee ;—-when honour'd urns
Of patriots and of chiefs, the awful bust
And storied arch, to glut -.he coward rage
Of regal envy, strew the public way

With hallow'd ruins !—when the muse's haunt,

The marble porch where wisdom wont to talk

With Socrates or Tully, hears no more,

Save the hoarse jargon of contentious monks,

Or female superstition's midnight pray'r ;—

When ruthless rapine from the baud of time

Tears the destroying scythe, with surer blow

To sweep the works of glory from their base:

Till desolation o'er the grass-grown street

Expands his raven-wings, and up the wall,

Where senates once the pride of monarchs doom'd

Hisses the gliding snake thro' hoary weeds

That clasp the mould'ring column ;—thus defac'd,

Thus widely mournful when the prospect thrills

Thy beating bosom, when the patriot's tear

Starts from thine eye, and thy extended arm

In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove

To fire the impious wreath on Philip's brow,

Or dash Octavius from the trophied car ;—

Say, does thy secret soul repine to taste

The big distress? Or wouldst thou then exchange

Those heart-ennobling sorrows, for the lot

Of him who sits amid the gaudy herd

Of mute barbarians bending to his nod,

And bears aloft his gold-invested front,

And says within himself, " 1 am a king,

"And wherefore should the clam'rous voice of woe

"Intrude upon mine ear ?"—The baleful dregs

Of these late ages, this inglorious draught

Of servitude and folly, have not yet,

Blest be th' Eternal Ruler of the world!

Defil'd to such a depth of sordid shame.

The native honours of the human soul,

Nor so efiac'd the image of its sire.

AKENSJCa,

CHAP. XXV.

ON TASTE.

SAY, what is taste, but the internal pow'rs
Active, and strong, and feelingly alive
To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense
Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust
From things deform'd, or disarrang'd, or-gross
In species? This nor gems, nor stores of gold,
Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow;
But God alone, when first his active hand
Imprints the sacred bias of the soul.
He, mighty Parent, wise and just in all,
Free as the vital breeze or light of heav'n,
Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain
Who journies homeward from a summer-day's
Long labour, why forgetful of his toils
And due repose, he loiters to behold
The sunshine gleaming as thro' amber clouds,
O'er all the western sky? Full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutor'd airs,
Beyond the pow'r of language, will unfold
The form of beauty smiling at his heart,
How lovely! how commanding! But tho' Heav'n
In every breast hath sown these early seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair culture's kind parental aid,
Without enlivening suns> and genial show'rs,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming head,
Or yield the harvest promis'd in its spring.
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour; or attend
His will, obseqious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel: different mind.a

Incline to diff'rent objects : one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild;
Another sighs for harmony, and grace,
And gentlest beauty. Hence when lightning fires
The arch of heav'n, and thunders rock the ground;
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,
And ocean, groaning from his lowest bed,
Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky;
Amid the mighty uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakespear looks abroad
From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys
The elemental war. But Waller longs,
All on the margin of some flow'ry stream,
To spread his careless limbs amid the cool
Of plantane shades, and to the list'ning deer,
The tale of slighted vows and love's disdain
Resounds soft warbling all the live-long day;
Consenting Zephyr sighs: the weeping rill
Joins in his plaint, melodious; mute the groves;
And hill and dale with all their echoes mourn.
Such and so various are the tastes of men.

Akenside.

CHAP. XXVI.

THE PLEASURES ARISING FROM A CULTIVATED IMAGINATION.

O BLEST of Heav'n, whom not the languid songs

Of luxury, the Syren! not the bribes

Of sordid wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils

Of pageant honour, can seduce to leave

Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the store

Of nature, fair imagination culls.

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