TO THE Reverend Dr. AYSCOUGH at Oxford.
Written from Paris in the Year 1728.
1 SAY, dearest friend, how roll thy hours away?
2 What pleasing study cheats the tedious day?
3 Dost thou the sacred volumes oft explore
4 Of wise Antiquity's immortal lore,
5 Where virtue by the charms of wit refin'd,
6 At once exalts and polishes the mind?[Page 26]
7 How diff'rent from our modern guilty art,
8 Which pleases only to corrupt the heart;
9 Whose curs'd refinements odious Vice adorn,
10 And teach to honour what we ought to scorn!
11 Dost thou in sage Historians joy to see
12 How Roman Greatness rose with Liberty;
13 How the same hands that tyrants durst controul,
14 Their empire stretch'd from Atlas to the Pole;
15 Till wealth and conquest into slaves refin'd
16 The proud luxurious masters of mankind?
17 Dost thou in letter'd Greece each charm admire,
18 Each grace, each virtue Freedom could inspire;
19 Yet in her troubled states see all the woes
20 And all the crimes that giddy Faction knows;
21 Till rent by parties, by Corruption sold,
22 Or weakly careless, or too rashly bold,
23 She sunk beneath a mitigated doom,
24 The slave and tut'ress of protecting Rome?
25 Does calm Philosophy her aid impart,
26 To guide the passions, and to mend the heart?
27 Taught by her precepts, hast thou learnt the end
28 To which alone the wise their studies bend;
29 For which alone by nature were design'd
30 The pow'rs of thought — to benefit mankind?
31 Not like a cloyster'd drone, to read and doze,
32 In undeserving, undeserv'd repose;
33 But reason's influence to diffuse; to clear
34 Th' enlighten'd world of ev'ry gloomy fear;[Page 27]
35 Dispel the mists of error, and unbind
36 Those pedant chains that clog the freeborn mind,
37 Happy who thus his leisure can employ!
38 He knows the purest hours of tranquil joy;
39 Nor vex'd with pangs that busier bosoms tear,
40 Nor lost to social Virtue's pleasing care;
41 Safe in the port, yet lab'ring to sustain
42 Those who will float on the tempestuous main.
43 So Locke the days of studious quiet spent;
44 So Boyle in wisdom found divine content;
45 So Cambray, worthy of a happier doom,
46 The virtuous slave of Louis and of Rome.
a Dr. HOUGH. Wor'ster thus supports his drooping age,
48 Far from court-flatt'ry, far from party rage;
49 He, who in youth a tyrant's frown defy'd,
50 Firm and intrepid on his country's side,
51 Her boldest champion then, and now her mildest guide.
52 O gen'rous warmth! O sanctity divine!
53 To emulate his worth, my friend, be thine:
54 Learn from his life the duties of the gown;
55 Learn not to flatter, nor insult the crown;
56 Nor basely servile court the guilty great,
57 Nor raise the Church a rival to the State:
58 To Error mild, to Vice alone severe,
59 Seek not to spread the law of Love by Fear.
60 The priest, who plagues the world, can never mend:
61 No foe to Man was e'er to God a friend:[Page 28]
62 Let reason and let virtue faith maintain,
63 All force but theirs is impious, weak, and vain.
64 Me other cares in other climes engage,
65 Cares that become my birth, and suit my age;
66 In various knowledge to improve my youth,
67 And conquer Prejudice, worst foe to Truth;
68 By foreign arts domestick faults to mend,
69 Enlarge my notions, and my views extend;
70 The useful science of the world to know,
71 Which books can never teach, or pedants shew.
72 A nation here I pity, and admire,
73 Whom noblest sentiments of glory fire,
74 Yet taught by custom's force, and bigot fear,
75 To serve with pride, and boast the yoke they bear:
76 Whose Nobles born to cringe, and to command,
77 In courts a mean, in camps a gen'rous band;
78 From each low tool of pow'r content receive
79 Those laws, their dreaded arms to Europe give.
80 Whose people vain in want, in bondage blest,
81 Though plunder'd, gay; industrious, though oppress'd;
82 With happy follies rise above their fate,
83 The jest and envy of each wiser state.
84 Yet here the Muses deign'd awhile to sport
85 In the short sun-shine of a fav'ring court:
86 Here Boileau strong in sense, and sharp in wit,
87 Who from the ancients, like the ancients writ,
88 Permission gain'd inferior vice to blame,
89 By flatt'ring incense to his Master's fame.[Page 29]
90 Here Moliere, first of comick wits, excell'd
91 Whate'er Athenian theatres beheld;
92 By keen, yet decent satire skill'd to please,
93 With morals mirth uniting, strength with ease.
94 Now charm'd, I hear the bold Corneille inspire
95 Heroick thought with Shakespear's force and fire;
96 Now sweet Racine with milder influence move
97 The soften'd heart to Pity and to Love.
98 With mingled pain and pleasure I survey
99 The pompous works of arbitrary sway;
100 Proud palaces, that drain'd the subject store,
101 Rais'd on the ruins of th' oppress'd and poor;
102 Where ev'n mute walls are taught to flatter state,
103 And painted triumphs stile Ambition GREATb
b The victories of LOUIS XVI. painted in the galleries of Versailles..
104 With more delight those pleasing shades I view,
105 Where Condé from an envious court withdrewc
106 Where, sick of glory, faction, pow'r and pride,
107 (Sure judge how empty all, who all had try'd)
108 Beneath his palms the weary Chief repos'd,
109 And life's great scene in quiet Virtue clos'd.
110 With shame that other fam'd retreat I see
111 Adorn'd by Art, disgrac'd by Luxuryd
d St. Cloud.;
112 Where Orleans wasted ev'ry vacant hour
113 In the wild riot of unbounded pow'r.
114 Where feverish Debauch and impious Love
115 Stain'd the mad table and the guilty grove.[Page 30]
116 With these amusements is thy friend detain'd,
117 Pleas'd and instructed in a foreign land;
118 Yet oft a tender wish recalls my mind
119 From present joys to dearer left behind:
120 O native isle, fair Freedom's happiest feat!
121 At thought of thee my bounding pulses beat;
122 At thought of thee my heart impatient burns,
123 And all my country on my soul returns.
124 When shall I see the fields, whose plenteous grain
125 No pow'r can ravish from th' industrious swain?
126 When kiss with pious love the sacred earth,
127 That gave a BURLEIGH, or a RUSSEL birth?
128 When, in the shade of laws, that long have stood,
129 Prop'd by their care, or strengthen'd by their blood,
130 Of fearless independence wisely vain,
131 The proudest slave of Bourbon's race disdain?
132 Yet oh! what doubt, what sad presaging voice
133 Whispers within, and bids me not rejoice;
134 Bids me contemplate ev'ry state around,
135 From sultry Spain to Norway's icy bound;
136 Bids their lost rights, their ruin'd glories see;
137 And tells me, These, like England, once were Free.