[...]Eurip.Siquis Deus mihi largiatur, ut ex hac oetate repuerascam, & in cunis vagiam, valdè recusem. Cicero de Senect.The bewailing of Man's Miseries hath been elegantly and copiously set forth by Many, in the Writings as well of Philosophers, as Divines. And it is both a pleasant and a profitable Contemplation. Lord Bacon's Advancement of Learning.




Solomon seeking Happiness from Knowledge, convenes the Learned Men of His Kingdom; requires them to explain to Him the various Operations and Effects of Nature; discourses of Vegetables, Animals, and Man; proposes some Questions concerning the Origin, and Situation of the habitable Earth; proceeds to examine the System of the visible Heaven; doubts if there may not be a Plurality of Worlds; enquires into the Nature of Spirits and Angels; and wishes to be more fully informed, as to the Attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the Rabbins, and Doctors; blames His own Curiosity; and concludes, that as to Human Science, All is Vanity.


TEXTS chiefly alluded to in this Book.

The Words of the Preacher, the Son of David, King of Jerusalem. Ecclesiastes, Chap. I. Vers. I.

Vanity of Vanities, saith the Preacher, Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity. Vers. 2

I communed with mine own Heart, saying, lo, I am come to great Estate, and have gotten more Wisdom, than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: Yea my Heart had great Experience of Wisdom and Knowledge. Vers. 16.

He spake of Trees, from the Cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the Hyssop that springeth out of the Wall: he spake also of Beasts, and of Fowl, and of creeping Things, and of Fishes. i Kings, Chap. IV. Vers. 33.

I know, that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that Men should fear before him. Ecclesiastes, Chap. III. Vers. 14.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: Also he hath set the World in their Heart, so that no Man can find out the Work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Vers. II.

For in much Wisdom is much Grief: and He that increaseth Knowledge, increaseth Sorrow. Chap. I. Vers. 18.

And further, by these, my Son, be admonished: of making many Books there is no End; and much Study is a weariness of the Flesh. Chap. 12. Vers. 12.

1 Ye Sons of Men, with just Regard attend,
2 Observe the Preacher, and believe the Friend,
3 Whose serious Muse inspires Him to explain,
4 That all we Act, and all we Think is Vain.
5 That in this Pilgrimage of Seventy Years,
6 O'er Rocks of Perils, and thro' Vales of Tears
7 Destin'd to march, our doubtful Steps we tend,
8 Tir'd with the Toil, yet fearful of it's End.
9 That from the Womb We take our fatal Shares
10 Of Follies, Passions, Labors, Tumults, Cares;
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11 And at Approach of Death shall only know
12 The Truths, which from these pensive Numbers flow,
13 That We pursue false Joy, and suffer real Woe.
14 Happiness, Object of that waking Dream,
15 Which we call Life, mistaking; Fugitive Theme
16 Of my pursuing Verse, Ideal Shade,
17 Notional Good, by Fancy only made,
18 And by Tradition nurs'd, fallacious Fire,
19 Whose dancing Beams mis-lead our fond Desire,
20 Cause of our Care, and Error of our Mind:
21 O! had'st Thou ever been by Heav'n design'd
22 To Adam, and his Mortal Race; the Boon
23 Entire, had been reserv'd for Solomon:
24 On Me the partial Lot had been bestow'd;
25 And in my Cup the golden Draught had flow'd.
26 But O! e'er yet Original Man was made;
27 E'er the Foundations of this Earth were laid;
28 It was, opponent to our Search, ordain'd,
29 That Joy, still sought, should never be attain'd.
30 This, sad Experience cites me to reveal;
31 And what I dictate, is from what I feel.
32 Born as I was, great David's fav'rite Son,
33 Dear to my People, on the Hebrew Throne
34 Sublime, my Court with Ophir's Treasures blest,
35 My Name extended to the farthest East,
36 My Body cloth'd with ev'ry outward Grace,
37 Strength in my Limbs, and Beauty in my Face,
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38 My shining Thought with fruitful Notions crown'd,
39 Quick my Invention, and my Judgment sound.
40 Arise (I commun'd with my self) arise;
41 Think, to be Happy; to be Great, be Wise:
42 Content of Spirit must from Science flow;
43 For 'tis a Godlike Attribute, to Know.
44 I said; and sent my Edict thro' the Land:
45 Around my Throne the Letter'd Rabbins stand,
46 Historic Leaves revolve, long Volumes spread,
47 The Old discoursing, as the Younger read:
48 Attent I heard, propos'd my Doubts, and said;
49 The Vegetable World, each Plant, and Tree,
50 It's Seed, it's Name, it's Nature, it's Degree
51 I am allow'd, as Fame reports, to know,
52 From the fair Cedar, on the craggy Brow
53 Of Lebanon nodding supremely tall,
54 To creeping Moss, and Hyssop on the Wall:
55 Yet just and conscious to my self, I find
56 A thousand Doubts oppose the searching Mind.
57 I know not why the Beach delights the Glade
58 With Boughs extended, and a rounder Shade;
59 Whilst tow'ring Firrs in Conic forms arise,
60 And with a pointed Spear divide the Skies:
61 Nor why again the changing Oak should shed
62 The Yearly Honour of his stately Head;
63 Whilst the distinguish'd Yew is ever seen,
64 Unchang'd his Branch, and permanent his Green.
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65 Wanting the Sun why does the Caltha fade?
66 Why does the Cypress flourish in the Shade?
67 The Fig and Date why love they to remain
68 In middle Station, and an even Plain;
69 While in the lower Marsh the Gourd is found;
70 And while the Hill with Olive-shade is crown'd?
71 Why does one Climate, and one Soil endue
72 The blushing Poppy with a crimson Hue;
73 Yet leave the Lilly pale, and tinge the Violet blue?
74 Why does the fond Carnation love to shoot
75 A various Colour from one Parent Root;
76 While the fantastic Tulip strives to break
77 In two-fold Beauty, and a parted Streak?
78 The twining Jasmine, and the blushing Rose,
79 With lavish Grace their Morning Scents disclose:
80 The smelling Tub'rose and Junquele declare,
81 The stronger Impulse of an Evening Air.
82 Whence has the Tree (resolve me) or the Flow'r
83 A various Instinct, or a diff'rent Pow'r?
84 Why should one Earth, one Clime, one Stream, one Breath
85 Raise This to Strength, and sicken That to Death?
86 Whence does it happen, that the Plant which well
87 We name the Sensitive, should move and feel?
88 Whence know her Leaves to answer her Command,
89 And with quick Horror fly the neighb'ring Hand?
90 Along the Sunny Bank, or wat'ry Mead,
91 Ten thousand Stalks their various Blossoms spread:
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92 Peaceful and lowly in their native Soil,
93 They neither know to spin, nor care to toil;
94 Yet with confess'd Magnificence deride
95 Our vile Attire, and Impotence of Pride.
96 The Cowslip smiles, in brighter yellow dress'd,
97 Than That which veils the nubile Virgin's Breast.
98 A fairer Red stands blushing in the Rose,
99 Than That which on the Bridegroom's Vestment flows.
100 Take but the humblest Lilly of the Field;
101 And if our Pride will to our Reason yield,
102 It must by sure Comparison be shown,
103 That on the Regal Seat great David's Son,
104 Aray'd in all his Robes, and Types of Pow'r,
105 Shines with less Glory, than that simple Flow'r.
106 Of Fishes next, my Friends, I would enquire,
107 How the mute Race engender, or respire;
108 From the small Fry that glide on Jordan's Stream
109 Unmark'd, a Multitude without a Name,
110 To that Leviathan, who o'er the Seas
111 Immense rolls onward his impetuous Ways,
112 And mocks the Wind, and in the Tempest plays.
113 How They in Warlike Bands march greatly forth
114 From freezing Waters, and the colder North,
115 To Southern Climes directing their Career,
116 Their Station changing with th'inverted Year.
117 How all with careful Knowledge are indu'd,
118 To chuse their proper Bed, and Wave, and Food:
119 To guard their Spawn, and educate their Brood.
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120 Of Birds, how each according to her Kind
121 Proper Materials for her Nest can find;
122 And build a Frame, which deepest Thought in Man
123 Would or amend, or imitate in vain.
124 How in small Flights They know to try their Young,
125 And teach the callow Child her Parent's Song.
126 Why these frequent the Plain, and those the Wood.
127 Why ev'ry Land has her specific Brood.
128 Where the tall Crane, or winding Swallow goes,
129 Fearful of gathering Winds, and falling Snows:
130 If into Rocks, or hollow Trees they creep,
131 In temporary Death confin'd to Sleep;
132 Or conscious of the coming Evil, fly
133 To milder Regions, and a Southern Sky.
134 Of Beasts and creeping Insects shall we trace
135 The wond'rous Nature, and the various Race;
136 Or wild or tame, or Friend to Man or Foe,
137 Of Us, what They, or what of Them We know?
138 Tell me, Ye studious, who pretend to see
139 Far into Nature's Bosom, whence the Bee
140 Was first inform'd her vent'rous Flight to steer
141 Thro' tractless Paths, and an Abyss of Air.
142 Whence she avoids the slimy Marsh, and knows
143 The fertile Hills where sweeter Herbage grows,
144 And Hony-making Flow'rs their opening Buds disclose.
145 How from the thicken'd Mist, and setting Sun
146 Finds She the Labor of her Day is done?
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147 Who taught Her against Winds and Rains to strive,
148 To bring her Burden to the certain Hive,
149 And thro' the liquid Fields again to pass
150 Dutious, and hark'ning to the sounding Brass?
151 And, O Thou Sluggard, tell me why the Ant
152 'Midst Summer's Plenty thinks of Winter's Want:
153 By constant Journeys careful to prepare
154 Her Stores; and bringing home the Corny Ear,
155 By what Instruction does She bite the Grain,
156 Lest hid in Earth, and taking Root again,
157 It might elude the Foresight of her Care?
158 Distinct in either Insect's Deed appear
159 The marks of Thought, Contrivance, Hope, and Fear.
160 Fix thy corporeal, and internal Eye
161 On the Young Gnat, or new-engender'd Fly;
162 On the vile Worm, that Yesterday began
163 To crawl; Thy Fellow-Creatures, abject Man!
164 Like Thee they breath, they move, they tast, they see,
165 They show their Passions by their Acts like Thee:
166 Darting their Stings, they previously declare
167 Design'd Revenge, and fierce intent of War:
168 Laying their Eggs, they evidently prove
169 The Genial Pow'r, and full Effect of Love.
170 Each then has Organs to digest his Food,
171 One to beget, and one receive the Brood:
172 Has Limbs and Sinews, Blood and Heart, and Brain,
173 Life, and her proper Functions to sustain;
174 Tho' the whole Fabric smaller than a Grain.
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175 What more can our penurious Reason grant
176 To the large Whale, or Castled Elephant,
177 To those enormous Terrors of the Nile,
178 The crested Snake, and long-tail'd Crocodile,
179 Than that all differ but in Shape and Name,
180 Each destin'd to a less, or larger Frame?
181 For potent Nature loves a various Act,
182 Prone to enlarge, or studious to contract:
183 Now forms her Work too small, now too immense,
184 And scorns the Measures of our feeble Sense.
185 The Object spread too far, or rais'd too high,
186 Denies it's real Image to the Eye:
187 Too little, it eludes the dazl'd Sight;
188 Becomes mixt Blackness, or unparted Light.
189 Water and Air the varied Form confound;
190 The Strait looks crooked, and the Square grows round.
191 Thus while with fruitless Hope, and weary Pain,
192 We seek great Nature's Pow'r, but seek in vain;
193 Safe sits the Goddess in her dark Retreat;
194 Around Her, Myriads of Ideas wait,
195 And endless Shapes, which the Mysterious Queen
196 Can take or quit, can alter or retain:
197 As from our lost Pursuit She wills to hide
198 Her close Decrees, and chasten human Pride.
199 Untam'd and fierce the Tiger still remains:
200 He tires his Life in biting on his Chains:
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201 For the kind Gifts of Water, and of Food,
202 Ungrateful, and returning Ill for Good,
203 He seeks his Keeper's Flesh, and thirsts his Blood:
204 While the strong Camel, and the gen'rous Horse,
205 Restrain'd and aw'd by Man's inferior Force,
206 Do to the Rider's Will their Rage submit,
207 And answer to the Spur, and own the Bit;
208 Stretch their glad Mouths to meet the Feeder's Hand,
209 Pleas'd with his Weight, and proud of his Command.
210 Again: the lonely Fox roams far abroad,
211 On secret Rapin bent, and Midnight Fraud;
212 Now haunts the Cliff, now traverses the Lawn;
213 And flies the hated Neighborhood of Man:
214 While the kind Spaniel, and the faithful Hound,
215 Likest that Fox in Shape and Species found,
216 Refuses thro' these Cliffs and Lawns to roam;
217 Pursues the noted Path, and covets home;
218 Does with kind Joy Domestic Faces meet;
219 Takes what the glutted Child denies to eat;
220 And dying, licks his long-lov'd Master's Feet.
221 By what immediate Cause They are inclin'd,
222 In many Acts, 'tis hard, I own, to find.
223 I see in others, or I think I see,
224 That strict their Principles, and our's agree.
225 Evil like Us they shun, and covet Good;
226 Abhor the Poison, and receive the Food.
227 Like Us they love or hate: like Us they know,
228 To joy the Friend, or grapple with the Foe.
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229 With seeming Thought their Action they intend,
230 And use the Means proportion'd to the End.
231 Then vainly the Philosopher avers,
232 That Reason guides our Deed, and Instinct their's.
233 How can We justly diff'rent Causes frame,
234 When the Effects entirely are the same?
235 Instinct and Reason how can we divide?
236 'Tis the Fool's Ign'rance, and the Pedant's Pride.
237 With the same Folly sure, Man vaunts his Sway;
238 If the brute Beast refuses to Obey.
239 For tell me, when the empty Boaster's Word
240 Proclaims himself the Universal Lord;
241 Does He not tremble, lest the Lion's Paw
242 Should join his Plea against the fancy'd Law?
243 Would not the Learned Coward leave the Chair;
244 If in the Schools or Porches should appear
245 The fierce Hyoena, or the foaming Bear?
246 The Combatant too late the Field declines;
247 When now the Sword is girded to his Loins.
248 When the swift Vessel flies before the Wind;
249 Too late the Sailor views the Land behind.
250 And 'tis too late now back again to bring
251 Enquiry, rais'd and tow'ring on the Wing;
252 Forward She strives, averse to be with-held
253 From nobler Objects, and a larger Field.
254 Consider with me this Ætherial Space,
255 Yielding to Earth and Sea the middle Place.
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256 Anxious I ask Ye, how the Pensile Ball
257 Should never strive to rise, nor fear to fall.
258 When I reflect, how the revolving Sun
259 Does round our Globe his crooked Journies run;
260 I doubt of many Lands, if they contain
261 Or Herd of Beast, or Colony of Man:
262 If any Nations pass their destin'd Days
263 Beneath the neighb'ring Sun's directer Rays:
264 If any suffer on the Polar Coast,
265 The Rage of Arctos, and eternal Frost.
266 May not the Pleasure of Omnipotence
267 To each of These some secret Good dispense?
268 Those who amidst the Torrid Regions live,
269 May they not Gales unknown to us receive;
270 See daily Show'rs rejoice the thirsty Earth,
271 And bless the flow'ry Buds succeeding Birth?
272 May they not pity Us, condemn'd to bear
273 The various Heav'n of an obliquer Sphere;
274 While by fix'd Laws, and with a just Return,
275 They feel twelve Hours that shade, for twelve that burn;
276 And praise the neighb'ring Sun, whose constant Flame
277 Enlightens them with Seasons still the same?
278 And may not Those, whose distant Lot is cast
279 North beyond Tartary's extended Waste,
280 Where thro' the Plains of one continual Day,
281 Six shining Months pursue their even Way;
282 And Six succeeding urge their dusky Flight,
283 Obscur'd with Vapors and o'erwhelm'd in Night;
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284 May not, I ask, the Natives of these Climes
285 (As Annals may inform succeeding Times)
286 To our Quotidian Change of Heav'n prefer
287 Their one Vicissitude, and equal Share
288 Of Day and Night, disparted thro' the Year?
289 May they not scorn our Sun's repeated Race,
290 To narrow bounds prescrib'd, and little space,
291 Hast'ning from Morn, and headlong driv'n from Noon,
292 Half of our Daily Toil yet scarcely done?
293 May they not justly to our Climes upbraid
294 Shortness of Night, and Penury of Shade;
295 That e'er our weary'd Limbs are justly blest
296 With wholesom Sleep, and necessary Rest;
297 Another Sun demands return of Care,
298 The remnant Toil of Yesterday to bear?
299 Whilst, when the Solar Beams salute their Sight,
300 Bold and secure in half a Year of Light,
301 Uninterrupted Voyages they take
302 To the remotest Wood, and farthest Lake;
303 Manage the Fishing, and pursue the Course
304 With more extended Nerves, and more continu'd Force.
305 And when declining Day forsakes their Sky;
306 When gath'ring Clouds speak gloomy Winter nigh;
307 With Plenty for the coming Season blest,
308 Six solid Months (an Age) they live, releas'd
309 From all the Labor, Process, Clamor, Woe,
310 Which our sad Scenes of daily Action know:
311 They light the shining Lamp, prepare the Feast,
312 And with full Mirth receive the welcome Guest;
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313 Or tell their tender Loves (the only Care
314 Which now they suffer) to the list'ning Fair;
315 And rais'd in Pleasure, or repos'd in Ease
316 (Grateful Alternates of substantial Peace)
317 They bless the long Nocturnal Influence shed
318 On the crown'd Goblet, and the Genial Bed.
319 In foreign Isles which our Discov'rers find,
320 Far from this length of Continent disjoin'd,
321 The rugged Bears, or spotted Lynx's brood;
322 Frighten the Vallies, and infest the Wood:
323 The hungry Crocodile, and hissing Snake
324 Lurk in the troubl'd Stream and fenny Brake:
325 And Man untaught, and rav'nous as the Beast,
326 Does Valley, Wood, and Brake, and Stream infest.
327 Deriv'd these Men and Animals their Birth
328 From Trunk of Oak, or pregnant Womb of Earth?
329 Whence then the Old Belief, that All began
330 In Eden's Shade, and one created Man?
331 Or grant, this Progeny was wafted o'er
332 By coasting Boats from next adjacent Shoar:
333 Would Those, from whom We will suppose they spring,
334 Slaughter to harmless Lands, and Poyson bring?
335 Would they on Board or Bears, or Lynxes take,
336 Feed the She-Adder, and the brooding Snake?
337 Or could they think the new Discover'd Isle
338 Pleas'd to receive a pregnant Crocodile?
339 And since the Savage Lineage we must trace
340 From Noah sav'd, and his distinguish'd Race;
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341 How should their Fathers happen to forget
342 The Arts which Noah taught, the Rules He set,
343 To sow the Glebe, to plant the gen'rous Vine,
344 And load with grateful Flames the Holy Shrine?
345 While the great Sire's unhappy Sons are found,
346 Unpress'd their Vintage, and untill'd their Ground,
347 Stragling o'er Dale and Hill in quest of Food,
348 And rude of Arts, of Virtue, and of God.
349 How shall We next o'er Earth and Seas pursue
350 The vary'd Forms of ev'ry thing we view;
351 That all is chang'd, tho' all is still the same,
352 Fluid the Parts, yet durable the Frame?
353 Of those Materials, which have been confess'd
354 The pristine Springs, and Parents of the rest,
355 Each becomes other. Water stop'd gives Birth
356 To Grass and Plants, and thickens into Earth:
357 Diffus'd it rises in a higher Sphere;
358 Dilates it's Drops, and softens into Air:
359 Those finer Parts of Air again aspire;
360 Move into Warmth, and brighten into Fire:
361 That Fire once more by thicker Air o'ercome,
362 And downward forc'd, in Earth's capacious Womb
363 Alters it's Particles; is Fire no more;
364 But lies resplendent Dust, and Shining Oar:
365 Or running thro' the mighty Mother's Veins,
366 Changes it's Shape; puts off it's old Remains;
367 With wat'ry Parts it's lessen'd Force divides;
368 Flows into Waves, and rises into Tides.
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369 Disparted Streams shall from their Chanels fly,
370 And deep surcharg'd by sandy Mountains lye,
371 Obscurely sepulcher'd. By eating Rain,
372 And furious Wind, down to the distant Plain
373 The Hill, that hides his Head above the Skies,
374 Shall fall: The Plain by slow Degrees shall rise
375 Higher than er'st had stood the Summit-Hill:
376 For Time must Nature's great Behests fulfill.
377 Thus by a length of Years, and Change of Fate,
378 All Things are light or heavy, small or great:
379 Thus Jordan's Waves shall future Clouds appear;
380 And Egypt's Pyramids refine to Air.
381 Thus later Age shall ask for Pison's Flood;
382 And Travellers enquire, where Babel stood.
383 Now where we see these Changes often fall,
384 Sedate we pass them by, as Natural:
385 Where to our Eye more rarely they appear,
386 The Pompous Name of Prodigy they bear:
387 Let active Thought these close Mæanders trace:
388 Let Human Wit their dubious Bound'ries place.
389 Are all Things Miracle; or nothing such?
390 And prove We not too little, or too much?
391 For that a Branch cut off, a wither'd Rod
392 Should at a Word pronounc'd revive and bud:
393 Is this more strange, than that the Mountain's Brow,
394 Strip'd by December's Frost, and white with Snow,
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395 Should push, in Spring, ten thousand thousand Buds;
396 And boast returning Leaves, and blooming Woods?
397 That each successive Night from opening Heav'n
398 The Food of Angels should to Man be giv'n;
399 Is this more strange, than that with common Bread
400 Our fainting Bodies every Day are fed;
401 Than that each Grain and Seed consum'd in Earth,
402 Raises it's Store, and multiplies it's Birth;
403 And from the handful, which the Tiller sows,
404 The labour'd Fields rejoice, and future Harvest flows?
405 Then from whate'er We can to Sense produce
406 Common and plain, or wond'rous and abstruse,
407 From Nature's constant or Eccentric Laws,
408 The thoughtful Soul this gen'ral Influence draws,
409 That an Effect must presuppose a Cause.
410 And while She does her upward Flight sustain,
411 Touching each Link of the continu'd Chain,
412 At length she is oblig'd and forc'd to see
413 A First, a Source, a Life, a Deity;
414 What has for ever been, and must for ever be.
415 This great Existence thus by Reason found,
416 Blest by all Pow'r, with all Perfection crown'd;
417 How can we bind or limit His Decree,
418 By what our Ear has heard, or Eye may see?
419 Say then: Is all in Heaps of Water lost,
420 Beyond the Islands, and the Mid-land Coast?
421 Or has that God, who gave our World it's Birth,
422 Sever'd those Waters by some other Earth,
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423 Countries by future Plow-shares to be torn,
424 And Cities rais'd by Nations yet unborn?
425 E'er the progressive Course of restless Age
426 Performs Three thousand times it's Annual Stage;
427 May not our Pow'r and Learning be supprest;
428 And Arts and Empire learn to travel West?
429 Where, by the Strength of this Idea charm'd,
430 Lighten'd with Glory, and with Rapture warm'd,
431 Ascends my Soul? what sees She White and Great
432 Amidst subjected Seas? An Isle, the Seat
433 Of Pow'r and Plenty; Her Imperial Throne,
434 For Justice and for Mercy sought and known;
435 Virtues Sublime, great Attributes of Heav'n,
436 From thence to this distinguish'd Nation given.
437 Yet farther West the Western Isle extends
438 Her happy Fame; her Armed Fleets She sends
439 To Climates folded yet from human Eye;
440 And Lands, which We imagine Wave and Sky.
441 From Pole to Pole She hears her Acts resound,
442 And rules an Empire by no Ocean bound;
443 Knows her Ships anchor'd, and her Sails unfurl'd
444 In other Indies, and a second World.
445 Long shall Britannia (That must be her Name)
446 Be first in Conquest, and preside in Fame:
447 Long shall her favor'd Monarchy engage
448 The Teeth of Envy, and the Force of Age:
449 Rever'd and Happy She shall long remain,
450 Of human Things least changeable, least vain.
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451 Yet All must with the gen'ral Doom comply;
452 And this Great Glorious Pow'r, tho' last, must dye.
453 Now let us leave this Earth, and lift our Eye
454 To the large Convex of yon' Azure Sky:
455 Behold it like an ample Curtain spread,
456 Now streak'd and glowing with the Morning Red;
457 Anon at Noon in flaming Yellow bright,
458 And chusing Sable for the peaceful Night.
459 Ask Reason now, whence Light and Shade were giv'n,
460 And whence this great Variety of Heav'n:
461 Reason our Guide, what can She more reply,
462 Than that the Sun illuminates the Sky;
463 Than that Night rises from his absent Ray,
464 And his returning Lustre kindles Day?
465 But we expect the Morning Red in vain:
466 'Tis hid in Vapors, or obscur'd by Rain.
467 The Noontyde Yellow we in vain require:
468 'Tis black in Storm, or red in Light'ning Fire.
469 Pitchy and dark the Night sometimes appears,
470 Friend to our Woe, and Parent of our Fears:
471 Our Joy and Wonder sometimes She excites,
472 With Stars unnumber'd, and eternal Lights.
473 Send forth, Ye Wise, send forth your lab'ring Thought:
474 Let it return with empty Notions fraught,
475 Of airy Columns every Moment broke,
476 Of circling Whirlpools, and of Spheres of Smoke:
477 Yet this Solution but once more affords
478 New Change of Terms, and scaffolding of Words:
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479 In other Garb my Question I receive;
480 And take the Doubt the very same I gave.
481 Lo! as a Giant strong the lusty Sun
482 Multiply'd Rounds in one great Round does run,
483 Twofold his Course, yet constant his Career,
484 Changing the Day, and finishing the Year.
485 Again when his descending Orb retires,
486 And Earth perceives the Absence of his Fires;
487 The Moon affords us Her alternate Ray,
488 And with kind Beams distributes fainter Day:
489 Yet keeps the Stages of her Monthly Race,
490 Various her Beams, and changeable her Face.
491 Each Planet shining in his proper Sphere,
492 Does with just Speed his radiant Voyage steer:
493 Each sees his Lamp with diff'rent Lustre crown'd:
494 Each knows his Course with diff'rent Periods bound;
495 And in his Passage thro' the liquid Space,
496 Nor hastens, nor retards his Neighbor's Race.
497 Now shine these Planets with substantial Rays?
498 Does innate Lustre gild their measur'd Days?
499 Or do they (as your Schemes, I think, have shown)
500 Dart furtive Beams, and Glory not their own,
501 All Servants to that Source of Light, the Sun?
502 Again I see ten thousand thousand Stars,
503 Nor cast in Lines, in Circles, nor in Squares:
504 (Poor Rules, with which our bounded Mind is fill'd,
505 When We would plant, or cultivate, or build)
506 But shining with such vast, such various Light,
507 As speaks the Hand, that form'd them, Infinite:
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508 How mean the Order and Perfection sought
509 In the best Product of the human Thought,
510 Compar'd to the great Harmony that reigns
511 In what the Spirit of the World ordains!
512 Now if the Sun to Earth transmits his Ray,
513 Yet does not scorch us with too fierce a Day;
514 How small a Portion of his Pow'r is giv'n
515 To Orbs more distant, and remoter Heav'n?
516 And of those Stars, which our imperfect Eye
517 Has doom'd, and fix'd to one Eternal Sky,
518 Each by a native stock of Honor great,
519 May dart strong Influence, and diffuse kind Heat,
520 It self a Sun; and with transmissive Light
521 Enliven Worlds deny'd to human Sight:
522 Around the Circles of their ambient Skies
523 New Moons may grow or wane, may set or rise;
524 And other Stars may to those Suns be Earths;
525 Give their own Elements their proper Births;
526 Divide their Climes, or elevate their Pole;
527 See their Lands flourish, and their Oceans roll;
528 Yet these great Orbs thus radically bright,
529 Primitive Founts, and Origins of Light,
530 May each to other (as their diff'rent Sphere
531 Makes or their Distance, or their height appear)
532 Be seen a nobler, or inferior Star;
533 And in that Space, which We call Air and Sky,
534 Myriads of Earths, and Moons, and Suns may lye
535 Unmeasur'd, and unknown by human Eye.
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536 In vain We measure this amazing Sphere,
537 And find and fix it's Centre here or there;
538 Whilst it's Circumf'rence, scorning to be brought
539 Ev'n into fancy'd Space, illudes our vanquish'd Thought.
540 Where then are all the radiant Monsters driv'n,
541 With which your Guesses fill'd the frighten'd Heaven?
542 Where will their fictious Images remain?
543 In paper Schemes, and the Chaldean's Brain.
544 This Problem yet, this Offspring of a Guess,
545 Let Us for once a Child of Truth confess;
546 That these fair Stars, these Objects of Delight,
547 And Terror, to our searching dazl'd Sight,
548 Are Worlds immense, unnumber'd, infinite.
549 But do these Worlds display their Beams, or guide
550 Their Orbs, to serve thy Use, to please thy Pride?
551 Thy self but Dust, thy Stature but a Span,
552 A Moment thy Duration; foolish Man!
553 As well may the minutest Emmet say,
554 That Caucasus was rais'd, to pave his Way:
555 The Snail, that Lebanon's extended Wood
556 Was destin'd only for his Walk, and Food:
557 The vilest Cockle, gaping on the Coast
558 That rounds the ample Seas, as well may boast,
559 The craggy Rock projects above the Sky,
560 That He in Safety at it's Foot may lye;
561 And the whole Ocean's confluent Waters swell,
562 Only to quench his Thirst, or move and blanch his Shell.
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563 A higher Flight the vent'rous Goddess tries,
564 Leaving material Worlds, and local Skies:
565 Enquires, what are the Beings, where the Space,
566 That form'd and held the Angels ancient Race.
567 For Rebel Lucifer with Michael fought:
568 (I offer only what Tradition taught:)
569 Embattl'd Cherub against Cherub rose;
570 Did Shield to Shield, and Pow'r to Pow'r oppose:
571 Heav'n rung with Triumph: Hell was fill'd with Woes.
572 What were these Forms, of which your Volumes tell,
573 How some fought great, and others recreant fell?
574 These bound to bear an everlasting Load,
575 Durance of Chain, and Banishment of God:
576 By fatal Turns their wretched Strength to tire;
577 To swim in sulph'rous Lakes, or land on solid Fire:
578 While Those exalted to primaeval Light,
579 Excess of Blessing, and Supreme Delight,
580 Only perceive some little Pause of Joys
581 In those great Moments, when their God imploys
582 Their Ministry, to pour his threaten'd Hate
583 On the proud King, or the Rebellious State:
584 Or to reverse Jehovah's high Command,
585 And speak the Thunder falling from his Hand,
586 When to his Duty the proud King returns;
587 And the Rebellious State in Ashes mourns.
588 How can good Angels be in Heav'n confin'd;
589 Or view that Presence, which no Space can bind?
590 Is GOD above, beneath, or yon', or here?
591 He who made all, is He not ev'ry where?
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592 O how can wicked Angels find a Night
593 So dark, to hide 'em from that piercing Light,
594 Which form'd the Eye, and gave the Pow'r of Sight?
595 What mean I now of Angel, when I hear
596 Firm Body, Spirit pure, or fluid Air?
597 Spirits to Action spiritual confin'd,
598 Friends to our Thought, and Kindred to our Mind,
599 Should only act and prompt us from within,
600 Nor by external Eye be ever seen.
601 Was it not therefore to our Fathers known,
602 That these had Appetite, and Limb, and Bone?
603 Else how could Abram wash their weary'd Feet;
604 Or Sarah please their Taste with sav'ry Meat?
605 Whence should they fear? or why did Lot engage
606 To save their bodies from abusive Rage?
607 And how could Jacob, in a real Fight,
608 Feel or resist the wrestling Angel's Might?
609 How could a Form it's Strength with Matter try?
610 Or how a Spirit touch a Mortal's Thigh?
611 Now are they Air condens'd, or gather'd Rays?
612 How guide they then our Pray'r, or keep our Ways,
613 By stronger Blasts still subject to be tost,
614 By Tempests scatter'd, and in Whirlwinds lost?
615 Have they again (as Sacred Song proclaims)
616 Substances real, and existing Frames?
617 How comes it, since with them we jointly share
618 The great Effect of one Creator's Care;
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619 That whilst our Bodies sicken, and decay,
620 Their's are for ever healthy, young, and gay?
621 Why, whilst We struggle in this Vale beneath,
622 With Want and Sorrow, with Disease and Death;
623 Do They more bless'd perpetual Life employ
624 On Songs of Pleasure, and in Scenes of Joy?
625 Now when my Mind has all this World survey'd,
626 And found, that Nothing by it self was made;
627 When Thought has rais'd it self by just Degrees,
628 From Vallies crown'd with Flow'rs, and Hills with Trees;
629 From smoaking Min'rals, and from rising Streams;
630 From fatt'ning Nilus, or victorious Thames;
631 From all the Living, that four-footed move
632 Along the Shoar, the Meadow, or the Grove;
633 From all that can with Finns, or Feathers fly
634 Thro' the Aërial, or the Wat'ry Sky;
635 From the poor Reptile with a reas'ning Soul,
636 That miserable Master of the Whole;
637 From this great Object of the Body's Eye,
638 This fair Half-round, this ample azure Sky,
639 Terribly large, and wonderfully bright
640 With Stars unnumber'd, and unmeasur'd Light;
641 From Essences unseen, Celestial names,
642 Enlight'ning Spirits, and ministerial Flames,
643 Angels, Dominions, Potentates, and Thrones,
644 All that in each Degree the name of Creature owns:
645 Lift we our Reason to that Sov'reign Cause,
646 Who blest the whole with Life, and bounded it with Laws;
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647 Who forth from Nothing call'd this comely Frame,
648 His Will and Act, His Word and Work the same;
649 To whom a thousand Years are but a Day;
650 Who bad the Light her genial Beams display;
651 And set the Moon, and taught the Sun his Way:
652 Who waking Time, his Creature, from the Source
653 Primæval, order'd his predestin'd Course:
654 Himself, as in the Hollow of His Hand,
655 Holding, obedient to His high Command,
656 The deep Abyss, the long continu'd Store,
657 Where Months, and Days, and Hours, and Minutes pour
658 Their floating Parts, and thenceforth are no more.
659 This Alpha and Omega, First and Last,
660 Who like the Potter in a Mould has cast
661 The World's great Frame, commanding it to be
662 Such as the Eyes of Sense and Reason see;
663 Yet if He wills, may change or spoil the whole;
664 May take yon' beauteous, mystic, starry Roll,
665 And burn it, like an useless parchment Scroll:
666 May from it's Basis in one Moment pour
667 This melted Earth
668 Like liquid Metal, and like burning Oar:
669 Who sole in Pow'r, at the Beginning said;
670 Let Sea, and Air, and Earth, and Heav'n be made:
671 And it was so And when He shall ordain
672 In other Sort, has but to speak again,
673 And They shall be no more: Of this great Theme,
674 This Glorious, Hallow'd, Everlasting Name,
675 This GOD, I would discourse
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676 The learned Elders sat appall'd, amaz'd;
677 And each with mutual Look on other gaz'd.
678 Nor Speech They meditate, nor Answer frame:
679 Too plain, alas! their Silence spake their Shame:
680 'Till One, in whom an outward Mien appear'd,
681 And Turn superior to the vulgar Herd,
682 Began; that Human Learning's furthest Reach
683 Was but to note the Doctrines I could teach;
684 That Mine to Speak, and Their's was to Obey:
685 For I in Knowledge more, than Pow'r did sway;
686 And the astonish'd World in Me beheld
687 Moses eclips'd, and Jesse's Son excell'd.
688 Humble a Second bow'd, and took the Word;
689 Foresaw my Name by future Age ador'd.
690 O Live, said He, Thou Wisest of the Wise!
691 As None has equall'd, None shall ever rise
692 Excelling Thee
693 Parent of wicked, Bane of honest Deeds,
694 Pernicious Flatt'ry! Thy malignant Seeds
695 In an ill Hour, and by a fatal Hand
696 Sadly diffus'd o'er Virtue's Gleby Land,
697 With rising Pride amidst the Corn appear,
698 And choak the Hopes and Harvest of the Year.
699 And now the whole perplex'd ignoble Crowd
700 Mute to my Questions, in my Praises loud,
701 Echo'd the Word: whence Things arose, or how
702 They thus exist, the Aptest nothing know:
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703 What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
704 All Veil of Doubt apart, the Dullest see.
705 My Prophets, and my Sophists finish'd here
706 Their Civil Efforts of the Verbal War:
707 Not so my Rabbins, and Logicians yield:
708 Retiring still they combat: from the Field
709 Of open Arms unwilling they depart,
710 And sculk behind the Subterfuge of Art.
711 To speak one Thing mix'd Dialects they join;
712 Divide the Simple, and the Plain define;
713 Fix fancy'd Laws, and form imagin'd Rules,
714 Terms of their Art, and Jargon of their Schools,
715 Ill grounded Maxims by false Gloss enlarg'd,
716 And captious Science against Reason charg'd.
717 Soon their crude Notions with each other fought:
718 The adverse Sect deny'd, what This had taught;
719 And He at length the amplest Triumph gain'd,
720 Who contradicted what the last maintain'd.
721 O wretched Impotence of human Mind!
722 We erring still Excuse for Error find;
723 And darkling grope, not knowing We are blind.
724 Vain Man! since first thy blushing Sire essay'd
725 His Folly with connected Leaves to shade;
726 How does the Crime of thy resembling Race
727 With like Attempt that pristine Error trace?
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728 Too plain thy Nakedness of Soul espy'd,
729 Why dost Thou strive the conscious Shame to hide
730 By Masks of Eloquence, and Veils of Pride?
731 With outward Smiles their Flatt'ry I receiv'd;
732 Own'd my Sick Mind by their Discourse reliev'd;
733 But bent and inward to my Self again
734 Perplex'd, these Matters I revolv'd; in vain.
735 My Search still tir'd, my Labor still renew'd,
736 At length I Ignorance, and Knowledge view'd,
737 Impartial; Both in equal Balance laid:
738 Light flew the knowing Scale; the doubtful Heavy weigh'd.
739 Forc'd by reflective Reason I confess,
740 That human Science is uncertain Guess.
741 Alas! We grasp at Clouds, and beat the Air,
742 Vexing that Spirit We intend to clear.
743 Can Thought beyond the Bounds of Matter climb?
744 Or who shall tell Me, what is Space or Time?
745 In vain We lift up our presumptuous Eyes
746 To what our Maker to their Ken denies:
747 The Searcher follows fast; the Object faster flies.
748 The little which imperfectly We find,
749 Seduces only the bewilder'd Mind
750 To fruitless Search of Something yet behind.
751 Various Discussions tear our heated Brain:
752 Opinions often turn; still Doubts remain;
753 And who indulges Thought, increases Pain.
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754 How narrow Limits were to Wisdom giv'n?
755 Earth She surveys: She thence would measure Heav'n:
756 Thro' Mists obscure, now wings her tedious Way;
757 Now wanders dazl'd with too bright a Day;
758 And from the Summit of a pathless Coast
759 Sees Infinite, and in that Sight is lost.
760 Remember, that the curs'd Desire to know,
761 Off-spring of Adam, was thy Source of Woe.
762 Why wilt Thou then renew the vain Pursuit,
763 And rashly catch at the forbidden Fruit?
764 With empty Labor and eluded Strife
765 Seeking, by Knowledge, to attain to Life;
766 For ever from that fatal Tree debarr'd,
767 Which flaming Swords and angry Cherubs guard.




Solomon again seeking Happiness, enquires if Wealth and Greatness can produce it: begins with the Magnificence of Gardens and Buildings, the Luxury of Music and Feasting; and proceeds to the Hopes and Desires of Love. In two Episodes are shewn the Follies and Troubles of that Passion. Solomon still disappointed, falls under the Temptations of Libertinism and Idolatry; recovers his Thought, reasons aright, and concludes, that as to the Pursuit of Pleasure, and sensual Delight, All is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit.


TEXTS chiefly alluded to in this Book.

I said in my own Heart, go to now, I will prove thee with Mirth; therefore enjoy Pleasure. Ecclesiastes, Chap. II. Vers. I.

I made me great Works, I builded me Houses, I planted me Vineyards. Vers. 4.

I made me Gardens and Orchards; and I planted Trees in them of all kind of Fruits. Vers. 5.

I made me Pools of Water, to water therewith the Wood that bringeth forth Trees. Vers. 6.

Then I looked on all the Works that my Hands had wrought, and on the Labour that I had laboured to do: And behold, all was Vanity, and Vexation of Spirit; and there was no Profit under the Sun. Vers. II.

I gat me Men-Singers and Women-Singers, and the Delights of the Sons of Men, as Musical Instruments, and that of all Sorts. Vers. 8.

I sought in mine Heart to give my self unto Wine (yet acquainting mine Heart with Wisdom) and to lay hold on Folly, 'till I might see what was that Good for the Sons of Men, which they should do under Heaven, all the Days of their Life. Vers. 3.

Then I said in my Heart, as it happeneth unto the Fool, so it happeneth even unto Me; and why was I then more Wise? Then I said in my Heart, that this also is Vanity. Vers. 15.

Therefore I hated Life, because the Work that is wrought under the Sun is grievous unto me. Chap. II. Vers. 27.

Dead Flies cause the Oyntment to send forth a stinking Savour: so doth the little Folly him that is in Reputation for Wisdom and Honour. Chap. X. Vers. I.

The Memory of the Just is blessed, but the Memory of the Wicked shall rot. Proverbs, Chap. X. Verse. 7.

1 Try then, O Man, the Moments to deceive,
2 That from the Womb attend Thee to the Grave:
3 For weary'd Nature find some apter Scheme:
4 Health be thy Hope; and Pleasure be thy Theme:
5 From the perplexing and unequal Ways,
6 Where Study brings Thee; from the endless Maze,
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7 Which Doubt persuades to run, forewarn'd recede,
8 To the gay Field, and flow'ry Path, that lead
9 To jocund Mirth, soft Joy, and careless Ease:
10 Forsake what may instruct, for what may please:
11 Essay amusing Art, and proud Expence;
12 And make thy Reason subject to thy Sense.
13 I commun'd thus: the Pow'r of Wealth I try'd,
14 And all the various Luxe of costly Pride.
15 Artists and Plans reliev'd my solemn Hours:
16 I founded Palaces, and planted Bow'rs.
17 Birds, Fishes, Beasts of each Exotic Kind
18 I to the Limits of my Court confin'd.
19 To Trees transferr'd I gave a second Birth;
20 And bid a foreign Shade grace Judah's Earth.
21 Fish-ponds were made, where former Forrests grew;
22 And Hills were levell'd to extend the View.
23 Rivers diverted from their Native Course,
24 And bound with Chains of Artificial Force,
25 From large Cascades in pleasing Tumult roll'd;
26 Or rose thro' figur'd Stone, or breathing Gold.
27 From furthest Africa's tormented Womb
28 The Marble brought erects the spacious Dome;
29 Or forms the Pillars long-extended Rows,
30 On which the planted Grove, and pensile Garden grows.
31 The Workmen here obey the Master's Call,
32 To gild the Turret, and to paint the Wall;
33 To mark the Pavement there with various Stone;
34 And on the Jasper Steps to rear the Throne:
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35 The spreading Cedar, that an Age had stood,
36 Supreme of Trees, and Mistress of the Wood,
37 Cut down and carv'd, my shining Roof adorns;
38 And Lebanon his ruin'd Honor mourns.
39 A thousand Artists shew their cunning Pow'r,
40 To raise the Wonders of the Iv'ry Tow'r.
41 A thousand Maidens ply the purple Loom,
42 To weave the Bed, and deck the Regal Room;
43 'Till Tyre confesses her exhausted Store,
44 That on her Coast the Murex is no more;
45 'Till from the Parian Isle, and Lybia's Coast,
46 The Mountains grieve their hopes of Marble lost;
47 And India's Woods return their just Complaint,
48 Their Brood decay'd, and want of Elephant.
49 My full Design with vast Expence atchiev'd,
50 I came, beheld, admir'd, reflected, griev'd.
51 I chid the Folly of my thoughtless Hast:
52 For, the Work perfected, the Joy was past.
53 To my new Courts sad Thought did still repair
54 And round my gilded Roofs hung hov'ring Care.
55 In vain on silken Beds I sought Repose;
56 And restless oft' from purple Couches rose:
57 Vexatious Thought still found my flying Mind
58 Nor bound by Limits, nor to Place confin'd;
59 Haunted my Nights, and terrify'd my Days;
60 Stalk'd thro' my Gardens, and pursu'd my Ways,
61 Nor shut from artful Bow'r, nor lost in winding Maze.
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62 Yet take thy Bent, my Soul; another Sense
63 Indulge; add Music to Magnificence:
64 Essay, if Harmony may Grief controll;
65 Or Pow'r of Sound prevail upon the Soul.
66 Often our Seers and Poets have confest,
67 That Music's Force can tame the furious Beast;
68 Can make the Wolf, or foaming Boar restrain
69 His Rage; the Lion drop his crested Mane,
70 Attentive to the Song: the Lynx forget
71 His Wrath to Man, and lick the Minstrel's Feet.
72 Are we, alas! less savage yet than these?
73 Else Music sure may human Cares appease.
74 I spake my Purpose; and the chearful Choir
75 Parted their shares of Harmony: the Lyre
76 Soften'd the Timbrel's Noise: the Trumpet's Sound
77 Provok'd the Dorian Flute (both sweeter found
78 When mix'd:) the Fife the Viol's Notes refin'd;
79 And ev'ry Strength with ev'ry Grace was join'd.
80 Each Morn they wak'd Me with a sprightly Lay:
81 Of opening Heav'n they Sung, and gladsome Day.
82 Each Evening their repeated Skill express'd
83 Scenes of Repose, and Images of Rest:
84 Yet still in vain: for Music gather'd Thought:
85 But how unequal the Effects it brought?
86 The soft Ideas of the chearful Note,
87 Lightly receiv'd, were easily forgot.
88 The solemn Violence of the graver Sound
89 Knew to strike deep, and leave a lasting Wound.
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90 And now reflecting, I with Grief descry
91 The sickly Lust of the fantastic Eye;
92 How the weak Organ is with Seeing cloy'd,
93 Flying e'er Night what it at Noon enjoy'd.
94 And now (unhappy Search of Thought!) I found
95 The fickle Ear soon glutted with the Sound,
96 Condemn'd eternal Changes to pursue,
97 Tir'd with the last, and eager of the New.
98 I bad the Virgins and the Youth advance,
99 To temper Music with the sprightly Dance.
100 In Vain! too low the Mimic-Motions seem:
101 What takes our Heart, must merit our Esteem.
102 Nature, I thought, perform'd too mean a Part,
103 Forming her Movements to the Rules of Art;
104 And vex'd I found, that the Musician's Hand
105 Had o'er the Dancer's Mind too great Command.
106 I drank; I lik'd it not: 'twas Rage; 'twas Noise;
107 An airy Scene of transitory Joys.
108 In vain I trusted, that the flowing Bowl
109 Would banish Sorrow, and enlarge the Soul.
110 To the late Revel, and protracted Feast
111 Wild Dreams succeeded, and disorder'd Rest;
112 And as at Dawn of Morn fair Reason's Light
113 Broke thro' the Fumes and Phantoms of the Night;
114 What had been said, I ask'd my Soul, what done;
115 How flow'd our Mirth, and whence the Source begun?
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116 Perhaps the Jest that charm'd the sprightly Croud,
117 And made the Jovial Table laugh so loud,
118 To some false Notion ow'd it's poor Pretence,
119 To an ambiguous Word's perverted Sense,
120 To a wild Sonnet, or a wanton Air,
121 Offence and Torture to the sober Ear.
122 Perhaps, alas! the pleasing Stream was brought
123 From this Man's Error, from another's Fault;
124 From Topics which Good-nature would forget,
125 And Prudence mention with the last Regret.
126 Add yet unnumber'd Ills, that lye unseen
127 In the pernicious Draught; the Word obscene,
128 Or harsh, which once elanc'd must ever fly
129 Irrevocable; the too prompt Reply,
130 Seed of severe Distrust, and fierce Debate;
131 What We should shun, and what We ought to hate.
132 Add too the Blood impoverish'd, and the Course
133 Of Health suppress'd, by Wine's continu'd Force.
134 Unhappy Man! whom Sorrow thus and Rage
135 To diff'rent Ills alternately engage.
136 Who drinks, alas! but to forget; nor sees,
137 That melancholy Sloath, severe Disease,
138 Mem'ry confus'd, and interrupted Thought,
139 Death's Harbingers, lye latent in the Draught:
140 And in the Flow'rs that wreath the sparkling Bowl,
141 Fell Adders hiss, and poys'nous Serpents roll.
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142 Remains there Ought untry'd, that may remove
143 Sickness of Mind, and heal the Bosom? Love,
144 Love yet remains: Indulge his genial Fire,
145 Cherish fair Hope, solicit young Desire,
146 And boldly bid thy anxious Soul explore
147 This last great Remedy's Mysterious Pow'r.
148 Why therefore hesitates my doubtful Breast?
149 Why ceases it one Moment to be blest?
150 Fly swift, my Friends; my Servants, fly; imploy
151 Your instant Pains to bring your Master Joy.
152 Let all my Wives and Concubines be dress'd:
153 Let them to Night attend the Royal Feast;
154 All Israel's Beauty, all the foreign Fair,
155 The Gifts of Princes, or the Spoils of War.
156 Before their Monarch They shall singly pass;
157 And the most Worthy shall obtain the Grace.
158 I said: the Feast was serv'd: the Bowl was crown'd;
159 To the King's Pleasure went the mirthful Round:
160 The Women came: as Custom wills, they past:
161 On One (O that distinguish'd One!) I cast
162 The fav'rite Glance: O! yet my Mind retains
163 That fond Beginning of my infant Pains.
164 Mature the Virgin was of Egypt's Race:
165 Grace shap'd her Limbs; and Beauty deck'd her Face:
166 Easy her Motion seem'd, serene her Air:
167 Full, tho' unzon'd, her Bosom rose: her Hair
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168 Unty'd, and ignorant of artful Aid,
169 Adown her Shoulders loosely lay display'd;
170 And in the Jetty Curls ten thousand Cupids play'd.
171 Fix'd on her Charms, and pleas'd that I could love,
172 Aid me my Friends, contribute to improve
173 Your Monarch's Bliss, I said; fresh Roses bring
174 To strow my Bed; 'till the impov'rish'd Spring
175 Confess her Want; around my am'rous Head
176 Be dropping Myrrhe, and liquid Amber shed,
177 'Till Arab has no more. From the soft Lyre,
178 Sweet Flute, and ten-string'd Instrument, require
179 Sounds of Delight: and Thou, fair Nymph, draw nigh;
180 Thou, in whose graceful Form, and potent Eye
181 Thy Master's Joy long sought at length is found;
182 And as thy Brow, let my Desires be crown'd;
183 O fav'rite Virgin, that hast warm'd the Breast,
184 Whose sov'reign Dictates subjugate the East!
185 I said; and sudden from the golden Throne
186 With a submissive Step I hasted down.
187 The glowing Garland from my Hair I took,
188 Love in my Heart, Obedience in my Look;
189 Prepar'd to place it on her comely Head:
190 O fav'rite Virgin! (yet again I said)
191 Receive the Honors destin'd to thy Brow;
192 And O above thy Fellows happy Thou!
193 Their Duty must thy sov'reign Word obey.
194 Rise up, my Love; my fair One, come away.
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195 What Pang, alas! what Ecstasy of Smart
196 Tore up my Senses, and transfix'd my Heart;
197 When She with modest Scorn the Wreath return'd,
198 Reclin'd her beauteous Neck, and inward mourn'd?
199 Forc'd by my Pride, I my Concern suppress'd
200 Pretended Drowsiness, and Wish of Rest;
201 And sullen I forsook th'Imperfect Feast:
202 Ordering the Eunuchs, to whose proper Care
203 Our Eastern Grandeur gives th'imprison'd Fair,
204 To lead Her forth to a distinguish'd Bow'r,
205 And bid her dress the Bed, and wait the Hour.
206 Restless I follow'd this obdurate Maid:
207 (Swift are the Steps that Love and Anger tread:)
208 Approach'd her Person, courted her Embrace,
209 Renew'd my Flame, repeated my Disgrace:
210 By Turns put on the Suppliant and the Lord;
211 Threaten'd this Moment, and the next implor'd;
212 Offer'd again the unaccepted Wreath,
213 And Choice of happy Love, or instant Death.
214 Averse to all her am'rous King desir'd,
215 Far as She might, She decently retir'd;
216 And darting Scorn, and Sorrow from her Eyes,
217 What means, said She, King Solomon the Wise?
218 This wretched Body trembles at your Pow'r:
219 Thus far could Fortune: but She can no more.
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220 Free to her Self my potent Mind remains;
221 Nor fears the Victor's Rage, nor feels his Chains.
222 'Tis said, that Thou can'st plausibly dispute,
223 Supreme of Seers, of Angel, Man, and Brute;
224 Can'st plead, with subtil Wit and fair Discourse,
225 Of Passion's Folly, and of Reason's Force.
226 That to the Tribes attentive Thou can'st show,
227 Whence their Misfortunes, or their Blessings flow.
228 That Thou in Science, as in Pow'r art great;
229 And Truth and Honor on Thy Edicts wait.
230 Where is that Knowledge now, that regal Thought,
231 With just Advice, and timely Counsel fraught?
232 Where now, O Judge of Israel, does it rove?
233 What in one Moment dost Thou offer? Love
234 Love? why 'tis Joy or Sorrow, Peace or Strife:
235 'Tis all the Color of remaining Life:
236 And Human Mis'ry must begin or end,
237 As He becomes a Tyrant, or a Friend.
238 Would David's Son, religious, just, and grave,
239 To the first Bride-bed of the World receive
240 A Foreigner, a Heathen, and a Slave?
241 Or grant, Thy Passion has these Names destroy'd;
242 That Love, like Death, makes all Distinction void;
243 Yet in his Empire o'er Thy abject Breast,
244 His Flames and Torments only are exprest:
245 His Rage can in my Smiles alone relent;
246 And all his Joys solicit my Consent.
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247 Soft Love, spontaneous Tree, it's parted Root
248 Must from two Hearts with equal Vigour shoot:
249 Whilst each delighted, and delighting, gives
250 The pleasing Ecstasy, which each receives:
251 Cherish'd with Hope, and fed with Joy it grows:
252 It's chearful Buds their opening Bloom disclose;
253 And round the happy Soil diffusive Odor flows.
254 If angry Fate that mutual Care denies;
255 The fading Plant bewails it's due Supplies:
256 Wild with Despair, or sick with Grief, it dies.
257 By Force Beasts act, and are by Force restrain'd:
258 The Human Mind by gentle Means is gain'd.
259 Thy useless Strength, mistaken King, employ:
260 Sated with Rage, and ignorant of Joy,
261 Thou shalt not gain what I deny to yield;
262 Nor reap the Harvest, tho' Thou spoil'st the Field.
263 Know, Solomon, Thy poor Extent of Sway;
264 Contract thy Brow, and Israel shall obey:
265 But wilful Love Thou must with Smiles appease;
266 Approach his awful Throne by just Degrees;
267 And if Thou would'st be Happy, learn to please.
268 Not that those Arts can here successful prove:
269 For I am destin'd to another's Love.
270 Beyond the cruel Bounds of Thy Command,
271 To my dear Equal, in my Native Land,
272 My plighted Vow I gave: I His receiv'd:
273 Each swore with Truth: with Pleasure each believ'd.
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274 The mutual Contract was to Heav'n convey'd:
275 In equal Scales the busy Angels weigh'd
276 It's solemn Force, and clap'd their Wings, and spread
277 The lasting Roll, recording what We said.
278 Now in my Heart behold Thy Poynard stain'd:
279 Take the sad Life which I have long disdain'd:
280 End, in a dying Virgin's wretched Fate,
281 Thy ill-starr'd Passion, and My steadfast Hate.
282 For long as Blood informs these circling Veins;
283 Or fleeting Breath it's latest Pow'r retains;
284 Hear Me to Egypt's vengeful Gods declare,
285 Hate is My Part: be Thine, O King, Despair.
286 Now strike, She said, and open'd bare her Breast:
287 Stand it in Judah's Chronicles confest,
288 That David's Son, by impious Passion mov'd,
289 Smote a She-Slave, and murder'd what He lov'd.
290 Asham'd, confus'd I started from the Bed;
291 And to my Soul yet uncollected said:
292 Into Thy self, fond Solomon, return;
293 Reflect again, and Thou again shalt mourn.
294 When I through number'd Years have Pleasure sought;
295 And in vain Hope the wanton Phantom caught;
296 To mock my Sense, and mortify my Pride,
297 'Tis in another's Pow'r, and is deny'd.
298 Am I a King, great Heav'n! does Life or Death
299 Hang on the Wrath, or Mercy of My Breath;
300 While kneeling I My Servant's Smiles implore;
301 And One mad Dam'sel dares dispute My Pow'r?
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302 To Ravish Her? That Thought was soon depress'd,
303 Which must debase the Monarch to the Beast.
304 To send Her back? O whither, and to whom?
305 To Lands where Solomon must never come;
306 To that Insulting Rival's happy Arms,
307 For whom, disdaining Me, She keeps her Charms.
308 Fantastic Tyrant of the am'rous Heart;
309 How hard Thy Yoke! how cruel is Thy Dart!
310 Those 'scape Thy Anger, who refuse Thy Sway;
311 And those are punish'd most, who most Obey.
312 See Judah's King revere thy greater Pow'r:
313 What can'st Thou covet, or how triumph more?
314 Why then, O Love, with an obdurate Ear
315 Does this proud Nymph reject a Monarch's Pray'r?
316 Why to some simple Shepherd does She run,
317 From the fond Arms of David's Fav'rite Son?
318 Why flies She from the Glories of a Court,
319 Where Wealth and Pleasure may Thy Reign support,
320 To some poor Cottage on the Mountain's Brow,
321 Now bleak with Winds, and cover'd now with Snow,
322 Where pinching Want must curb her warm Desires,
323 And Household Cares suppress Thy Genial Fires?
324 Too aptly the afflicted Heathens prove
325 The Force, while they erect the Shrines of Love.
326 His Mystic Form the Artizans of Greece
327 In wounded Stone, or molten Gold express:
328 And Cyprus to his Godhead pays her Vow:
329 Fast in his Hand the Idol holds his Bow;
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330 A Quiver by his Side sustains a Store
331 Of pointed Darts; sad Emblems of his Pow'r;
332 A pair of Wings He has, which He extends
333 Now to be gone; which now again He bends
334 Prone to return, as best may serve his wanton Ends.
335 Entirely thus I find the Fiend pourtray'd,
336 Since first, alas! I saw the beauteous Maid:
337 I felt Him strike; and now I see Him fly:
338 Curs'd Daemon! O! for ever broken lye
339 Those fatal Shafts, by which I inward bleed!
340 O! can my Wishes yet o'ertake thy Speed!
341 Tir'd may'st Thou pant, and hang thy flagging Wing;
342 Except Thou turn'st Thy Course, resolv'd to bring
343 The Dam'sel back, and save the Love-sick King.
344 My Soul thus strugling in the fatal Net,
345 Unable to enjoy, or to forget;
346 I reason'd much, alas! but more I lov'd;
347 Sent and recall'd, ordain'd and disapprov'd:
348 'Till hopeless plung'd in an Abyss of Grief,
349 I from Necessity receiv'd Relief:
350 Time gently aided to asswage my Pain;
351 And Wisdom took once more the slacken'd Rein.
352 But O how short My Interval of Woe!
353 Our Griefs how swift; our Remedies how slow!
354 Another Nymph (for so did Heav'n ordain,
355 To change the Manner, but renew the Pain)
356 Another Nymph, amongst the many Fair,
357 That made My softer Hours their solemn Care,
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358 Before the rest affected still to stand;
359 And watch'd My Eye, preventing My Command.
360 Abra, She so was call'd, did soonest hast
361 To grace my Presence: Abra went the last:
362 Abra was ready e'er I call'd her Name;
363 And tho' I call'd another, Abra came.
364 Her Equals first observ'd her growing Zeal;
365 And laughing gloss'd, that Abra serv'd so well.
366 To Me her Actions did unheeded dye,
367 Or were remark'd but with a common Eye;
368 'Till more appris'd of what the Rumor said,
369 More I observ'd peculiar in the Maid.
370 The Sun declin'd had shot his Western Ray;
371 When tir'd with Bus'ness of the solemn Day,
372 I purpos'd to unbend the Evening Hours,
373 And banquet private in the Women's Bow'rs.
374 I call'd, before I sat, to wash My Hands:
375 For so the Precept of the Law commands.
376 Love had ordain'd, that it was Abra's Turn
377 To mix the Sweets, and minister the Urn.
378 With awful Homage, and submissive Dread
379 The Maid approach'd, on my declining Head
380 To pour the Oyls: She trembled as She pour'd;
381 With an unguarded Look She now devour'd
382 My nearer Face: and now recall'd her Eye,
383 And heav'd, and strove to hide a sudden Sigh.
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384 And whence, said I, canst Thou have Dread, or Pain?
385 What can thy Imag'ry of Sorrow mean?
386 Secluded from the World, and all it's Care,
387 Hast Thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear?
388 For sure, I added, sure thy little Heart
389 Ne'er felt Love's Anger, or receiv'd his Dart.
390 Abash'd She blush'd, and with Disorder spoke:
391 Her rising Shame adorn'd the Words it broke.
392 If the great Master will descend to hear
393 The humble Series of His Hand-maid's Care;
394 O! while She tells it, let him not put on
395 The Look, that awes the Nations from the Throne:
396 O! let not Death severe in Glory lye
397 In the King's Frown, and Terror of his Eye.
398 Mine to obey; Thy Part is to ordain:
399 And tho' to mention, be to suffer Pain;
400 If the King smiles, whilst I my Woe recite;
401 If weeping I find Favour in His Sight;
402 Flow fast my Tears, full rising his Delight.
403 O! Witness Earth beneath, and Heav'n above;
404 For can I hide it? I am sick of Love:
405 If Madness may the Name of Passion bear;
406 Or Love be call'd, what is indeed Despair.
407 Thou Sov'reign Pow'r, whose secret Will controlls
408 The inward Bent and Motion of our Souls!
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409 Why hast Thou plac'd such infinite Degrees
410 Between the Cause and Cure of my Disease?
411 The mighty Object of that raging Fire,
412 In which unpity'd Abra must expire,
413 Had He been born some simple Shepherd's Heir,
414 The lowing Herd, or fleecy Sheep his Care;
415 At Morn with him I o'er the Hills had run,
416 Scornful of Winter's Frost, and Summer's Sun,
417 Still asking, where He made his Flock to rest at Noon.
418 For him at Night, the dear expected Guest,
419 I had with hasty Joy prepar'd the Feast;
420 And from the Cottage, o'er the distant Plain,
421 Sent forth my longing Eye to meet the Swain;
422 Wav'ring, impatient, toss'd by Hope and Fear;
423 Till He and Joy together should appear;
424 And the lov'd Dog declare his Master near.
425 On my declining Neck, and open Breast,
426 I should have lull'd the lovely Youth to Rest;
427 And from beneath his Head, at dawning Day,
428 With softest Care have stol'n my Arm away;
429 To rise, and from the Fold release the Sheep,
430 Fond of his Flock, indulgent to his Sleep.
431 Or if kind Heav'n propitious to my Flame
432 (For sure from Heav'n the faithful Ardor came)
433 Had blest my Life, and deck'd my natal Hour
434 With Height of Title, and Extent of Pow'r:
435 Without a Crime my Passion had aspir'd,
436 Found the lov'd Prince, and told what I desir'd.
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437 Then I had come, preventing Sheba's Queen,
438 To see the comeliest of the Sons of Men;
439 To hear the charming Poet's am'rous Song,
440 And gather Honey falling from his Tongue;
441 To take the fragrant Kisses of his Mouth,
442 Sweeter than Breezes of her native South;
443 Likening his Grace, his Person, and his Mien
444 To all that Great or Beauteous I had seen.
445 Serene and bright his Eyes, as solar Beams
446 Reflecting temper'd Light from Crystal Streams;
447 Ruddy as Gold his Cheek; his Bosom fair
448 As Silver; the curl'd Ringlets of his Hair
449 Black as the Raven's Wing; his Lip more red,
450 Than Eastern Coral, or the scarlet Thread;
451 Even his Teeth, and white, like a young Flock
452 Coeval, newly shorn, from the clear Brook
453 Recent, and blanching on the Sunny Rock.
454 Iv'ry with Saphirs interspers'd, explains
455 How white his Hands, how blue the Manly Veins.
456 Columns of polish'd Marble firmly set
457 On golden Bases, are his Legs, and Feet.
458 His Stature all Majestic, all Divine,
459 Strait as the Palmtree, strong as is the Pine.
460 Saffron and Myrrhe are on his Garments shed:
461 And everlasting Sweets bloom round his Head.
462 What utter I? where am I? wretched Maid!
463 Dye, Abra, dye: too plainly hast Thou said
464 Thy Soul's Desire to meet His high Embrace,
465 And Blessings stamp'd upon thy future Race;
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466 To bid attentive Nations bless thy Womb,
467 With unborn Monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to come.
468 Here o'er her Speech her flowing Eyes prevail.
469 O foolish Maid! and O unhappy Tale!
470 My suff'ring Heart for ever shall defy
471 New Wounds, and Danger from a future Eye.
472 O! yet my tortur'd Senses deep retain
473 The wretched Mem'ry of my former Pain,
474 The dire Affront, and my Egyptian Chain.
475 As Time, I said, may happily efface
476 That cruel Image of the King's Disgrace;
477 Imperial Reason shall resume her Seat;
478 And Solomon once fall'n, again be great.
479 Betray'd by Passion, as subdu'd in War,
480 We wisely should exert a double Care,
481 Nor ever ought a second time to Err.
482 This Abra then
483 I saw Her; 'twas Humanity: it gave
484 Some Respite to the Sorrows of my Slave.
485 Her fond Excess proclaim'd her Passion true;
486 And generous Pity to that Truth was due.
487 Well I intreated her, who well deserv'd;
488 I call'd Her often; for She always serv'd.
489 Use made her Person easy to my Sight;
490 And Ease insensibly produc'd Delight.
491 Whene'er I revell'd in the Women's Bow'rs;
492 (For first I sought Her but at looser Hours:)
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493 The Apples She had gather'd smelt most sweet:
494 The Cake She kneaded was the sav'ry Meat:
495 But Fruits their Odor lost, and Meats their Taste;
496 If gentle Abra had not deck'd the Feast.
497 Dishonor'd did the sparkling Goblet stand,
498 Unless receiv'd from gentle Abra's Hand:
499 And when the Virgins form'd the Evening Choir,
500 Raising their Voices to the Master-Lyre;
501 Too flat I thought This Voice, and That too shrill;
502 One show'd too much, and one too little Skill:
503 Nor could my Soul approve the Music's Tone;
504 'Till all was hush'd, and Abra Sung alone.
505 Fairer She seem'd, distinguish'd from the rest;
506 And better Mein disclos'd, as better drest.
507 A bright Tiara round her Forehead ty'd,
508 To juster Bounds confin'd it's rising Pride:
509 The blushing Ruby on her snowy Breast,
510 Render'd it's panting Whiteness more confess'd:
511 Bracelets of Pearl gave Roundness to her Arm;
512 And ev'ry Gem augmented ev'ry Charm.
513 Her Senses pleas'd, her Beauty still improv'd;
514 And She more lovely grew, as more belov'd.
515 And now I could behold, avow, and blame
516 The several Follies of my former Flame;
517 Willing my Heart for Recompence to prove
518 The certain Joys that lye in prosp'rous Love.
519 For what, said I, from Abra can I fear,
520 Too humble to insult, too soft to be severe?
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521 The Dam'sel's sole Ambition is to please:
522 With Freedom I may like, and quit with Ease:
523 She sooths, but never can enthrall my Mind:
524 Why may not Peace and Love for once be join'd?
525 Great Heav'n! how frail thy Creature Man is made!
526 How by Himself insensibly betray'd!
527 In our own Strength unhappily secure,
528 Too little cautious of the adverse Pow'r;
529 And by the Blast of Self-opinion mov'd,
530 We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd.
531 On Pleasure's flowing Brink We idly stray,
532 Masters as yet of our returning Way:
533 Seeing no Danger, We disarm our Mind;
534 And give our Conduct to the Waves and Wind:
535 Then in the flow'ry Mead, or verdant Shade
536 To wanton Dalliance negligently laid,
537 We weave the Chaplet, and We crown the Bowl;
538 And smiling see the nearer Waters roll;
539 'Till the strong Gusts of raging Passion rise;
540 'Till the dire Tempest mingles Earth and Skies;
541 And swift into the boundless Ocean born,
542 Our foolish Confidence too late We mourn:
543 Round our devoted Heads the Billows beat;
544 And from our troubl'd View the lessen'd Lands retreat.
545 O mighty Love! from thy unbounded Pow'r
546 How shall the human Bosom rest secure?
547 How shall our Thought avoid the various Snare?
548 Or Wisdom to our caution'd Soul declare
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549 The diff'rent Shapes, Thou pleasest to imploy,
550 When bent to hurt, and certain to destroy?
551 The haughty Nymph in open Beauty drest,
552 To-Day encounters our unguarded Breast:
553 She looks with Majesty, and moves with State:
554 Unbent her Soul, and in Misfortune great,
555 She scorns the World, and dares the Rage of Fate.
556 Here whilst we take stern Manhood for our Guide,
557 And guard our Conduct with becoming Pride;
558 Charm'd with the Courage in her Action shown,
559 We praise her Mind, the Image of our own.
560 She that can please, is certain to perswade:
561 To-day belov'd, To-morrow is obey'd.
562 We think we see thro' Reason's Optics right;
563 Nor find, how Beauty's Rays elude our Sight:
564 Struck with her Eye whilst We applaud her Mind;
565 And when We speak Her great, We wish Her kind.
566 To-morrow, cruel Pow'r, Thou arm'st the Fair
567 With flowing Sorrow, and dishevel'd Hair:
568 Sad her Complaint, and humble is her Tale,
569 Her Sighs explaining where her Accents fail.
570 Here gen'rous Softness warms the honest Breast:
571 We raise the sad, and succour the distress'd:
572 And whilst our Wish prepares the kind Relief;
573 Whilst Pity mitigates her rising Grief:
574 We sicken soon from her contagious Care;
575 Grieve for her Sorrows, groan for her Despair;
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576 And against Love too late those Bosoms arm,
577 Which Tears can soften, and which Sighs can warm.
578 Against this nearest cruelest of Foes,
579 What shall With meditate, or Force oppose?
580 Whence, feeble Nature, shall We summon Aid;
581 If by our Pity, and our Pride betray'd?
582 External Remedy shall We hope to find,
583 When the close Fiend has gain'd our treach'rous Mind;
584 Insulting there does Reason's Pow'r deride;
585 And blind Himself, conducts the dazl'd Guide?
586 My Conqueror now, my Lovely Abra held
587 My Freedom in her Chains: my Heart was fill'd
588 With Her, with Her alone: in Her alone
589 It sought it's Peace and Joy: while She was gone,
590 It sigh'd, and griev'd, impatient of her Stay:
591 Return'd, She chas'd those Sighs, that Grief away:
592 Her Absence made the Night: her Presence brought the Day.
593 The Ball, the Play, the Mask by Turns succeed.
594 For Her I make the Song: the Dance with Her I lead.
595 I court Her various in each Shape and Dress,
596 That Luxury may form, or Thought express.
597 To-day beneath the Palm-tree on the Plains
598 In Deborah's Arms and Habit Abra reigns:
599 The Wreath denoting Conquest guides her Brow:
600 And low, like Barak, at her Feet I bow.
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601 The Mimic Chorus sings her prosp'rous Hand;
602 As She had slain the Foe, and sav'd the Land.
603 To-morrow She approves a softer Air;
604 Forsakes the Pomp and Pageantry of War;
605 The Form of peaceful Abigail assumes;
606 And from the Village with the Present comes:
607 The Youthful Band depose their glitt'ring Arms;
608 Receive her Bounties, and recite her Charms;
609 Whilst I assume my Father's Step and Mein,
610 To meet with due Regard my future Queen.
611 If hap'ly Abra's Will be now inclin'd
612 To range the Woods, or chace the flying Hind;
613 Soon as the Sun awakes, the sprightly Court
614 Leave their Repose, and hasten to the Sport.
615 In lessen'd Royalty, and humble State,
616 Thy King, Jerusalem, descends to wait,
617 'Till Abra comes. She comes: a Milk-white Steed,
618 Mixture of Persia's, and Arabia's Breed,
619 Sustains the Nymph: her Garments flying loose
620 (As the Sydonian Maids, or Thracian use)
621 And half her Knee, and half her Breast appear,
622 By Art, like Negligence, disclos'd, and bare.
623 Her left Hand guides the hunting Courser's Flight:
624 A Silver Bow She carries in her Right:
625 And from the golden Quiver at her Side,
626 Rustles the Ebon Arrow's feather'd Pride.
627 Saphirs and Diamonds on her Front display
628 An artificial Moon's increasing Ray.
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629 Diana, Huntress, Mistress of the Groves,
630 The fav'rite Abra speaks, and looks, and moves.
631 Her, as the present Goddess, I obey:
632 Beneath her Feet the captive Game I lay.
633 The mingl'd Chorus sings Diana's Fame:
634 Clarions and Horns in louder Peals proclaim
635 Her Mystic Praise: the vocal Triumphs bound
636 Against the Hills: the Hills reflect the Sound.
637 If tir'd this Evening with the hunted Woods,
638 To the large Fish-pools, or the glassy Floods
639 Her Mind To-morrow points; a thousand Hands
640 To-night employ'd, obey the King's Commands.
641 Upon the wat'ry Beach an artful Pile
642 Of Planks is join'd, and forms a moving Isle.
643 A golden Chariot in the Midst is set;
644 And silver Cygnets seem to feel it's Weight.
645 Abra, bright Queen, ascends her gaudy Throne,
646 In semblance of the Græcian Venus known:
647 Tritons and Sea-green Naiads round Her move;
648 And sing in moving Strains the Force of Love:
649 Whilst as th'approaching Pageant does appear;
650 And echoing Crouds speak mighty Venus near;
651 I, her Adorer, too devoutly stand
652 Fast on the utmost Margin of the Land,
653 With Arms and Hopes extended, to receive
654 The fancy'd Goddess rising from the Wave.
655 O subject Reason! O imperious Love!
656 Whither yet further would My Folly rove?
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657 Is it enough, that Abra should be great
658 In the wall'd Palace, or the Rural Seat?
659 That masking Habits, and a borrow'd Name
660 Contrive to hide my Plenitude of Shame?
661 No, no: Jerusalem combin'd must see
662 My open Fault, and Regal Infamy.
663 Solemn a Month is destin'd for the Feast:
664 Abra Invites: the Nation is the Guest.
665 To have the Honor of each Day sustain'd,
666 The Woods are travers'd; and the Lakes are drain'd:
667 Arabia's Wilds, and Egypt's are explor'd:
668 The Edible Creation decks the Board:
669 Hardly the Phoenix 'scapes
670 The Men their Lyres, the Maids their Voices raise,
671 To sing my Happiness, and Abra's Praise.
672 And slavish Bards our mutual Loves rehearse
673 In lying Strains, and ignominious Verse:
674 While from the Banquet leading forth the Bride,
675 Whom prudent Love from public Eyes should hide;
676 I show Her to the World, confess'd and known
677 Queen of my Heart, and Part'ner of my Throne.
678 And now her Friends and Flatt'rers fill the Court:
679 From Dan, and from Beersheba They resort:
680 They barter Places, and dispose of Grants,
681 Whole Provinces unequal to their Wants.
682 They teach Her to recede, or to debate;
683 With Toys of Love to mix Affairs of State;
684 By practis'd Rules her Empire to secure;
685 And in my Pleasure make my Ruin sure.
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686 They gave, and She transferr'd the curs'd Advice,
687 That Monarchs should their inward Soul disguise,
688 Dissemble, and command; be false, and wise;
689 By ignominious Arts for servile Ends
690 Should compliment their Foes, and shun their Friends.
691 And now I leave the true and just Supports
692 Of Legal Princes, and of honest Courts,
693 Barzillai's, and the fierce Benaiah's Heirs;
694 Whose Sires, Great Part'ners in my Father's Cares,
695 Saluted their young King at Hebron crown'd,
696 Great by their Toil, and glorious by their Wound.
697 And now, unhappy Council, I prefer
698 Those whom my Follies only made me fear,
699 Old Corah's Brood, and taunting Shimei's Race;
700 Miscreants who ow'd their Lives to David's Grace;
701 Tho' they had spurn'd his Rule, and curs'd Him to his Face.
702 Still Abra's Pow'r, my Scandal still increas'd;
703 Justice submitted to what Abra pleas'd:
704 Her Will alone could settle or revoke;
705 And Law was fix'd by what She latest spoke.
706 Israel neglected, Abra was my Care:
707 I only acted, thought, and liv'd for Her.
708 I durst not reason with my wounded Heart.
709 Abra possess'd; She was it's better Part.
710 O! had I now review'd the famous Cause,
711 Which gave my righteous Youth so just Applause;
712 In vain on the dissembl'd Mother's Tongue
713 Had cunning Art, and sly Perswasion hung;
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714 And real Care in vain, and native Love
715 In the true Parent's panting Breast had strove;
716 While both deceiv'd had seen the destin'd Child
717 Or slain, or sav'd, as Abra frown'd or smil'd.
718 Unknowing to command, proud to obey,
719 A life-less King, a Royal Shade I lay.
720 Unhear'd the injur'd Orphans now complain:
721 The Widow's Cries address the Throne in vain.
722 Causes unjudg'd disgrace the loaded File;
723 And sleeping Laws the King's Neglect revile.
724 No more the Elders throng'd around my Throne,
725 To hear My Maxims, and reform their own.
726 No more the Young Nobility were taught,
727 How Moses govern'd, and how David fought.
728 Loose and undisciplin'd the Soldier lay;
729 Or lost in Drink, and Game, the solid Day:
730 Porches and Scholes, design'd for public Good,
731 Uncover'd, and with Scaffolds cumber'd stood,
732 Or nodded, threat'ning Ruin
733 Half Pillars wanted their expected Height;
734 And Roofs imperfect prejudic'd the Sight.
735 The Artists grieve; the lab'ring People droop:
736 My Father's Legacy, my Country's Hope,
737 God's Temple lies unfinish'd
738 The Wise and Grave deplor'd their Monarch's Fate,
739 And future Mischiefs of a sinking State.
740 Is this, the Serious said, is this the Man,
741 Whose active Soul thro' every Science ran?
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742 Who by just Rule and elevated Skill
743 Prescrib'd the dubious Bounds of Good and Ill?
744 Whose Golden Sayings, and Immortal Wit,
745 On large Phylacteries expressive writ,
746 Were to the Forehead of the Rabbins ty'd,
747 Our Youth's Instruction, and our Age's Pride?
748 Could not the Wise his wild Desires restrain?
749 Then was our Hearing, and his Preaching vain:
750 What from his Life and Letters were we taught,
751 But that his Knowledge aggravates his Fault?
752 In lighter Mood the Humorous and the Gay,
753 As crown'd with Roses at their Feasts they lay;
754 Sent the full Goblet, charg'd with Abra's Name,
755 And Charms superior to their Master's Fame:
756 Laughing some praise the King, who let 'em see,
757 How aptly Luxe and Empire might agree:
758 Some gloss'd, how Love and Wisdom were at Strife;
759 And brought my Proverbs to confront my Life.
760 However, Friend, here's to the King, one cries:
761 To Him who was the King, the Friend replies.
762 The King, for Judah's, and for Wisdom's Curse,
763 To Abra yields: could I, or Thou do worse?
764 Our looser Lives let Chance or Folly steer;
765 If thus the Prudent and Determin'd err.
766 Let Dinah bind with Flowers her flowing Hair;
767 And touch the Lute, and sound the wanton Air:
768 Let Us the Bliss without the Sting receive,
769 Free, as We will, or to injoy, or leave.
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770 Pleasures on Levity's smooth Surface flow:
771 Thought brings the Weight, that sinks the Soul to Woe.
772 Now be this Maxim to the King convey'd,
773 And added to the Thousand He has made.
774 Sadly, O Reason, is thy Pow'r express'd,
775 Thou gloomy Tyrant of the frighted Breast!
776 And harsh the Rules, which We from Thee receive;
777 If for our Wisdom We our Pleasure give;
778 And more to think be only more to grieve.
779 If Judah's King at thy Tribunal try'd,
780 Forsakes his Joy to vindicate his Pride;
781 And changing Sorrows, I am only found
782 Loos'd from the Chains of Love, in Thine more strictly bound.
783 But do I call Thee Tyrant, or complain,
784 How hard thy Laws, how absolute thy Reign?
785 While Thou, alas! art but an empty Name,
786 To no Two Men, who e'er discours'd, the same;
787 The idle Product of a troubled Thought,
788 In borrow'd Shapes, and airy Colors wrought;
789 A fancy'd Line, and a reflected Shade;
790 A Chain which Man to fetter Man has made,
791 By Artifice impos'd, by Fear obey'd.
792 Yet, wretched Name, or Arbitrary Thing,
793 Whence ever I thy cruel Essence bring,
794 I own thy Influence; for I feel thy Sting.
795 Reluctant I perceive thee in my Soul,
796 Form'd to command, and destin'd to control.
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797 Yes; thy insulting Dictates shall be heard:
798 Virtue for once shall be Her own Reward:
799 Yes; Rebel Israel, this unhappy Maid
800 Shall be dismiss'd: the Crowd shall be obey'd:
801 The King his Passion, and his Rule shall leave,
802 No longer Abra's, but the People's Slave.
803 My Coward Soul shall bear it's wayward Fate:
804 I will, alas! be wretched, to be great;
805 And sigh in Royalty, and grieve in State.
806 I said: resolv'd to plunge into my Grief
807 At once so far, as to expect Relief
808 From my Despair alone
809 I chose to write the Thing I durst not speak,
810 To Her I lov'd; to Her I must forsake.
811 The harsh Epistle labour'd much to prove,
812 How inconsistent Majesty, and Love.
813 I always should, It said, esteem Her well;
814 But never see her more: It bid Her feel
815 No future Pain for Me; but instant wed
816 A Lover more proportion'd to her Bed;
817 And quiet dedicate her remnant Life
818 To the just Duties of an humble Wife.
819 She read; and forth to Me She wildly ran,
820 To Me, the Ease of all her former Pain.
821 She kneel'd intreated, struggl'd, threaten'd, cry'd;
822 And with alternate Passion liv'd, and dy'd:
823 'Till now deny'd the Liberty to mourn,
824 And by rude Fury from my Presence torn,
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825 This only Object of my real Care,
826 Cut off from Hope, abandon'd to Despair,
827 In some few posting fatal Hours is hurl'd
828 From Wealth, from Pow'r, from Love, and from the World.
829 Here tell Me, if Thou dar'st, my conscious Soul,
830 What diff'rent Sorrows did within Thee roll:
831 What Pangs, what Fires, what Racks didst Thou sustain,
832 What sad Vicissitudes of smarting Pain?
833 How oft from Pomp and State did I remove,
834 To feed Despair, and cherish hopeless Love?
835 How oft, all Day, recall'd I Abra's Charms,
836 Her Beauties press'd, and panting in my Arms?
837 How oft, with Sighs, view'd every Female Face,
838 Where mimic Fancy might her Likeness trace?
839 How oft desir'd to fly from Israel's Throne,
840 And live in Shades with Her and Love alone?
841 How oft, all Night, pursu'd Her in my Dreams,
842 O'er flow'ry Vallies, and thro' Crystal Streams;
843 And waking, view'd with Grief the rising Sun,
844 And fondly mourn'd the dear Delusion gone?
845 When thus the gather'd Storms of wretched Love
846 In my swoln Bosom, with long War had strove;
847 At length they broke their Bounds: at length their Force
848 Bore down whatever met it's stronger Course:
849 Lay'd all the Civil Bonds of Manhood waste;
850 And scatter'd Ruin as the Torrent past.
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851 So from the Hills, whose hollow Caves contain
852 The congregated Snow, and swelling Rain;
853 'Till the full Stores their antient Bounds disdain;
854 Precipitate the furious Torrent flows:
855 In vain would Speed avoid, or Strength oppose:
856 Towns, Forests, Herds, and Men promiscuous drown'd,
857 With one great Death deform the dreary Ground;
858 The echo'd Woes from distant Rocks resound.
859 And now what impious Ways my Wishes took;
860 How they the Monarch, and the Man forsook;
861 And how I follow'd an abandon'd Will,
862 Thro' crooked Paths, and sad Retreats of Ill;
863 How Judah's Daughters now, now foreign Slaves,
864 By turns my prostituted Bed receives.
865 Thro' Tribes of Women how I loosely rang'd
866 Impatient; lik'd To-night, To-morrow chang'd;
867 And by the Instinct of capricious Lust,
868 Enjoy'd, disdain'd, was grateful, or unjust:
869 O, be these Scenes from human Eyes conceal'd,
870 In Clouds of decent Silence justly veil'd!
871 O, be the wanton Images convey'd
872 To black Oblivion, and eternal Shade!
873 Or let their sad Epitome alone,
874 And outward Lines to future Age be known,
875 Enough to propagate the sure Belief,
876 That Vice engenders Shame; and Folly broods o'er Grief.
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877 Bury'd in Sloth, and lost in Ease I lay:
878 The Night I revell'd; and I slept the Day.
879 New Heaps of Fewel damp'd my kindling Fires;
880 And daily Change extinguish'd young Desires.
881 By its own Force destroy'd, Fruition ceas'd;
882 And always weary'd, I was never pleas'd.
883 No longer now does my neglected Mind
884 It's wonted Stores, and old Ideas find.
885 Fix'd Judgment there no longer does abide,
886 To take the True, or set the False aside.
887 No longer does swift Mem'ry trace the Cells,
888 Where springing Wit, or young Invention dwells.
889 Frequent Debauch to Habitude prevails:
890 Patience of Toil, and Love of Virtue fails.
891 By sad Degrees impair'd my Vigor dyes;
892 Till I Command no longer ev'n in Vice.
893 The Women on my Dotage build their Sway:
894 They ask; I grant: They threaten; I obey.
895 In Regal Garments now I gravely stride,
896 Aw'd by the Persian Dam'sel's haughty Pride.
897 Now with the looser Syrian dance, and sing,
898 In Robes tuck'd up, opprobrious to the King.
899 Charm'd by their Eyes, their Manners I acquire;
900 And shape my Foolishness to their Desire.
901 Seduc'd and aw'd by the Philistine Dame,
902 At Dagon's Shrine I kindle impious Flame.
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903 With the Chaldean's Charms her Rites prevail;
904 And curling Frankincense ascends to Baal.
905 To each new Harlot I new Altars dress;
906 And serve Her God, whose Person I caress.
907 Where, my deluded Sense, was Reason flown?
908 Where the high Majesty of David's Throne?
909 Where all the Maxims of Eternal Truth,
910 With which the Living GOD inform'd my Youth?
911 When with the lewd Egyptian I Adore
912 Vain Idols, Deities that ne'er before
913 In Israel's Land had fix'd their dire Abodes,
914 Beastly Divinities, and Droves of Gods:
915 Osiris, Apis, Pow'rs that chew the Cud,
916 And Dog Anubis, Flatt'rer for his Food:
917 When in the Woody Hill's forbidden Shade
918 I carv'd the Marble, and invok'd it's Aid:
919 When in the Fens to Snakes and Flies, with Zeal
920 Unworthy human Thought, I prostrate fell;
921 To Shrubs and Plants my vile Devotion paid;
922 And set the bearded Leek, to which I pray'd:
923 When to all Beings Sacred Rites were giv'n;
924 Forgot the Arbiter of Earth and Heav'n.
925 Thro' these sad Shades, this Chaos in my Soul,
926 Some Seeds of Light at length began to roll.
927 The rising Motion of an Infant Ray
928 Shot glimm'ring thro' the Cloud, and promis'd Day.
929 And now one Moment able to reflect,
930 I found the King abandon'd to Neglect,
931 Seen without Awe, and serv'd without Respect.
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932 I found my Subjects amicably joyn,
933 To lessen their Defects, by citing Mine.
934 The Priest with Pity pray'd for David's Race;
935 And left his Text, to dwell on my Disgrace.
936 The Father, whilst he warn'd his erring Son,
937 The sad Examples which He ought to shun,
938 Describ'd, and only nam'd not, Solomon.
939 Each Bard, each Sire did to his Pupil sing,
940 A Wise Child better than a Foolish King.
941 Into My self my Reason's Eye I turn'd;
942 And as I much reflected, much I mourn'd.
943 A Mighty King I am, an Earthly God:
944 Nations obey my Word, and wait my Nod.
945 I raise or sink, imprison or set free;
946 And Life or Death depends on My Decree.
947 Fond the Idea, and the Thought is vain:
948 O'er Judah's King ten thousand Tyrants reign.
949 Legions of Lust, and various Pow'rs of Ill
950 Insult the Master's Tributary Will:
951 And He, from whom the Nations should receive
952 Justice, and Freedom, lyes Himself a Slave,
953 Tortur'd by cruel Change of wild Desires,
954 Lash'd by mad Rage, and scorch'd by brutal Fires.
955 O Reason! once again to Thee I call:
956 Accept my Sorrow, and retrieve my Fall.
957 Wisdom, Thou say'st, from Heav'n receiv'd her Birth;
958 Her Beams transmitted to the subject Earth.
959 Yet this great Empress of the human Soul
960 Does only with imagin'd Pow'r controul;
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961 If restless Passion by Rebellious Sway
962 Compells the weak Usurper to obey.
963 O troubled, weak, and Coward, as thou art!
964 Without thy poor Advice the lab'ring Heart
965 To worse Extremes with swifter Steps would run,
966 Not sav'd by Virtue, yet by Vice undone.
967 Oft have I said, the Praise of doing well
968 Is to the Ear, as Oyntment to the Smell.
969 Now if some Flies perchance, however small,
970 Into the Alabaster Urn should fall;
971 The Odors of the Sweets inclos'd would dye;
972 And Stench corrupt (sad Change!) their Place supply.
973 So the least Faults, if mix'd with fairest Deed,
974 Of future Ill become the fatal Seed:
975 Into the Balm of purest Virtue cast,
976 Annoy all Life with one contagious Blast.
977 Lost Solomon! pursue this Thought no more:
978 Of thy past Errors recollect the Store:
979 And silent weep, that while the Deathless Muse
980 Shall sing the Just; shall o'er their Head diffuse
981 Perfumes with lavish Hand; She shall proclaim
982 Thy Crimes alone; and to Thy evil Fame
983 Impartial, scatter Damps, and Poysons on thy Name.
984 Awaking therefore, as who long had dream'd,
985 Much of my Women, and their Gods asham'd,
986 From this Abyss of exemplary Vice
987 Resolv'd, as Time might aid my Thought, to rise;
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988 Again I bid the mournful Goddess write
989 The fond Pursuit of fugitive Delight:
990 Bid her exalt her melancholy Wing,
991 And rais'd from Earth, and sav'd from Passion, sing
992 Of human Hope by cross Event destroy'd,
993 Of useless Wealth, and Greatness unenjoy'd,
994 Of Lust and Love, with their fantastic Train,
995 Their Wishes, Smiles, and Looks deceitful all, and vain.




Solomon considers Man through the several Stages and Conditions of Life; and concludes in general, that We are all Miserable. He reflects more particularly upon the Trouble and Uncertainty of Greatness and Power; gives some Instances thereof from Adam down to Himself; and still concludes that All is Vanity. He reasons again upon Life, Death, and a future Being; finds Human Wisdom too imperfect to resolve his Doubts; has Recourse to Religion; is informed by an Angel, what shall happen to Himself, his Family, and his Kingdom, 'till the Redemption of Israel: and, upon the whole, resolves to submit his Enquiries and Anxieties to the Will of his Creator.


TEXTS chiefly alluded to in this Book.

Or ever the Silver Cord be loosed, or the golden Bowl be broken, or the Pitcher be broken at the Fountain, or the Wheel broken at the Cistern. Ecclesiastes, Chap. XII. Vers. 6.

The Sun ariseth, and the Sun goeth down, and hasteth to his Place where He arose. Ecclesiastes, Chap. I. Vers. 5.

The Wind goeth towards the South, and turneth about unto the North. It whirleth about continually; and the Wind returneth again according to his Circuit. Vers. 6.

All the Rivers run into the Sea: yet the Sea is not full. Unto the Place from whence the Rivers come, thither they return again. Vers. 7.

Then shall the Dust return to the Earth, as it was: and the Spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes, Chap. XII. Vers. 7.

Now when Solomon had made an End of Praying, the Fire came down from Heaven, and consumed the Burnt-offering, and the Sacrifices; and the Glory of the Lord filled the House. II Chronicles, Chap. VII. Vers. I.

By the Rivers of Babylon, there We sat down; Yea We wept, when We remembred Sion &c. Psalm CXXXVII. Vers. I.

I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what doeth it? Ecclesiastes, Chap. II. Vers. 2.

No Man can find out the Work that God maketh, from the Beginning to the End. Ecclesiastes, Chap. III. Vers. II.

Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that Men should fear before Him. Vers. 14.

Let us hear the Conclusion of the whole Matter; Fear God, and keep his Commandments; for this is the whole Duty of Man. Ecclesiastes, Chap. XII. Verse. 13.

1 Come then, my Soul: I call Thee by that Name,
2 Thou busie Thing, from whence I know I am:
3 For knowing that I am, I know Thou art;
4 Since That must needs exist, which can impart.
5 But how Thou cam'st to be, or whence Thy Spring:
6 For various of Thee Priests and Poets sing.
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7 Hear'st Thou submissive, but a lowly Birth,
8 Some sep'rate Particles of finer Earth,
9 A plain Effect,