1 SINCEREST Critick of my Prose, or Rhime,
2 Tell how thy pleasing STOWE employs thy Time,
3 Say, COBHAM, what amuses thy Retreat?
4 Or Stratagems of War, or Schemes of State?
5 Dost thou recal to Mind with Joy, or Grief,
6 Great MALBRO's Actions? That immortal Chief,
7 Whose slightest Trophy rais'd in each Campaign,
8 More than suffic'd to signalize a Reign?
9 Does thy remembrance rising warm thy Heart,
10 With Glory past, where Thou thy self hadst Part,
11 Or dost thou grieve indignant, now to see,
12 The fruitless End of all thy Victory?
13 To see th' Audacious Foe, so late subdu'd,
14 Dispute those Terms for which so long they su'd,[Page 4]
15 As if BRITANNIA now were sunk so low,
16 To beg that Peace she wonted to bestow,
17 Be far that Guilt! be never known that Shame!
18 That ENGLAND shou'd retract her rightful Claim,
19 Or ceasing to be dreaded and ador'd,
20 Stain with her Pen the Lustre of her Sword,
21 Or dost thou give the Winds a far to blow.
22 Each vexing Thought, and heart-devouring Woe,
23 And fix thy Mind alone on rural Scenes,
24 To turn the level'd Lawns to liquid Plains,
25 To raise the creeping Rills from humble Beds,
26 And force the latent Springs to lift their Heads,
27 On watry Columns, Capitals to rear,
28 That mix their flowing Curls with upper Air.
29 Or dost Thou, weary grown, these Works neglect,
30 No Temples Statues, Obblisques erect,
31 But catch the morning Breeze from fragrant Meads,
32 Or shun the noontide Ray in wholsome Shades,
33 Or slowly walk along the mazy Wood,
34 To mediate on all that's wise and good,
35 For Nature bountiful in thee has join'd,
36 A Person pleasing with a worthy Mind,
37 Not given the Form alone, but Means, and Art,
38 To draw the Eye, or to allure the Heart,
39 Poor were the Praise in Fortune to excel,
40 Yet want the Way to use that Fortune well.[Page 5]
41 While thus adorn'd, while thus with Virtue crown'd,
42 At Home in Peace, Abroad in Arms renown'd,
43 Graceful in Form, and winning in Address
44 While well you think, what aptly you express,
45 With Health, with Honour, with a fair Estate,
46 A Table free, and eloquently neat.
47 What can be added more to mortal Bliss?
48 What can he want who stands possest of this?
49 What can the fondest wishing Mother more
50 Of Heaven attentive for her Son implore?
51 And yet a Happiness remains unknown,
52 Or to Philosophy reveal'd alone;
53 A Precept, which unpractis'd renders vain,
54 Thy flowing Hopes, and Pleasure turns to Pain.
55 Shou'd Hope, and Fear thy Heart alternate tear,
56 Or Love, or Hate, or Rage, or anxious Care,
57 Whatever Passions may thy Mind infest,
58 (Where is that Mind which Passions ne'er molest?)
59 Amidst the Pangs of such intestine Strife,
60 Still think the present Day, the last of Life;
61 Defer not till to Morrow to be wise,
62 To Morrow's Sun to thee may never rise.
63 Or shou'd to Morrow chance to cheer thy Sight,
64 With her enliv'ning and unlookt-for Light,
65 How grateful will appear her dawning Rays!
66 As Favours unexpected doubly please.[Page 6]
67 Who thus can think and who such thoughts pursues,
68 Content may keep his Life, or calmly lose;
69 All Proofs of this Thou may'st thy self receive,
70 When Leisure from Affairs will give thee Leave,
71 Come, see thy Friend, retir'd without Regret,
72 Forgetting Care, or striving to forget;
73 In easy Contemplation soothing Time
74 With Morals much, and now and then with Rhime,
75 Not so robust in Body, as in Mind,
76 And always undejected, tho' declin'd;
77 Not wondering at the World's new wicked Ways,
78 Compar'd with those of our Fore-fathers Days,
79 For Virtue now is neither more or less,
80 And Vice is only varied in the Dress;
81 Believe it, Men have ever been the same,
82 And all the Golden Age, is but a Dream.