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REFLECTIONS ON THE ADAGE,
6'Twill be all one a hundred Years hence.”
A HUNDRED years ! o'er all the earth
To what a change shall they give birth!
The term, tho' but a little space,
In ancient Time's continuous race;
Yet this contracted narrow span
Includes the destiny of man---
His blooming rise, and riper day,
The prime of manhood, and decay ;
His widest plans, and valiant deeds,
And the bright glory that succeeds ;
His wishes, fears, and hopes contains,
And all his pleasures, and his pains ;
They live, they flourish, and they die,
Within the fleeting century !
Ah! what are men; so full of boast ?
Another frail ephemeral host,
Of larger size, and longer day,
Than those that sport in every ray:
As flowers, that bloom a longer while,
Whose lengthen’d summer yet must fail ;
Like moonbeans dancing on the lake,
Till fitting rays their place forsake;
Their fate prolonged, tho' not so bright,
And then for ever sink in nights
Unumber'd years the mountains last, Unnumber'd years
the rocks stand fast, The rivers run from age to age, Nor waters, nor their force assuage ; Even works uprear'd by feeble men, The pyramid, and lofty fane, Survive their founder's quicken'd fate, And last illustriously grcat; Attest, while time its circuit runs, The worship of succeeding sons, And as they drop by turns away, Intomb within their well-worn clay ; While on the temple's front appears The grey moss of a thousand years !
A hundred years ! within that term, Destruction, with a giant arm, Shall ravage wide, from pole to pole, And sweep off every living soul; Those countless millions of each clime, Who snatch, to-day, the joys of time, And, active, eager, bustle on Thro' busy life, shall all be gone; And, ere a century pass away, Changing, or changed to kindred clay, Beneath their stones, or hillocks
green, Shall be as they had never been !
Shall even our memory expire, Shall thus be quench'd our living fire ? Will not the phænix Fame spring forth, And give our being second birth; Our names go down to times to come, And heal the ravage of the tomb?
No; see, even here, the fiction fail,
And lasting fame a fabulous tale;
The clouds, that gather on the sky,
Thro' that long night, a century,
At last so thick a gloom produce,
That lesser stars their light refuse ;
And even the moon, that orb so bright,
Labours to pierce thro' tenfold night.
The many dying, die to rot, And are immediately forgot; Of all who hoped for fame, alive, How few survive, or should survive! A few short years a name may last, Fame's trump be blown, and loud the blast, But weaker sounds it every day, Until at last it die away; Thus life and fame together fall, And perish their memorial!
So in a winter's radiant even,
When sparkle in the vault of Heaven
A thousand stars of brilliant hue,
And promise to be lasting too;
Yet, long before the dawn of day,
The feeble beams have stole away,
They swift evanish, one by one,
And leave to shine, and shine alone,
The morning star, that victor bright,
That triumphs in the field of night!
Where is the fair, who charmed so The youths a hundred years ago?
Who, vainly prond, froze with a frown,
Or smiled to enliven half the town;
'Mid minor beauty shone more bright,
The lovely Venus of the night;
And fondly hoped, that true the tale,
Which told her triumphs ne'er would fail ;
That future youths should toast her name,
And beauties envy half her fame,-
Haply she saw her head grow grey,
While others borç the palm away;
She liv'd her time, her fame is gone,
And even her very name unknown.
So hath it fared with valour high,
And bravest deeds of chivalry ;
And many a warrior, long laid low,
In courage great as Marlboro',
Now sleeps unnamed, unknown, unbless'd,
In common undistinguish'd rest.
Shall this oblivion of the tomb,
The foresight of a future doom,
The soul's each noble purpose thwart,
And chill the ardour of the heart ?
Curb Fancy's wing, aspiring high
To steeps of Immortality ?
Shall then we fold our arms, and wait
The coming winter of our fate ?
No: let life's summer honours glow,
And let the opening roses blow,
To deck the meads, and scent the air,
And render Nature doubly fair,
While glide the hours that swell our agez
The season of our pilgrimage.
A dearer boon let lull our cares,
Than shouts of fame a thousand years ;
The heaving heart and weeping eye,
Sweet proofs of tenderest sympathy;
Be these, thro’ life, our easy aim,
More soothing than a deathless name.
The upright soul, by virtue fired,
The honest mind, by all admired;
Mild gentle manners, without art,
That flow spontaneous from the heart,
Like springs from an untroubled source,
That cherish all around their course;
A life led out of public view,
And known but to a chosen few;
A heart that loves that circle small,
But breathes benevolence to all ;
Grows old, by all who know approved,
By friends revered, by kindred loved ;
This heart,—this man shall smiling die,
And hallowed be his memory!
The tears, that fall upon his clay,
Shall not be quickly wiped away;
But when remembrance gives to view
The picture of a man so true,
The gathering drops, and deep’ning sighs
Shall oft, and sadly pleasing rise;
While breathes a prayer from every breast,
$ Q that were mine such sainted rest."