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This day, whate'er the fates decree,
Shall still be kept with joy by me:
This day then let us not be told,
That you are sick, and I grown old;
Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills :
To-morrow will be time enough
To hear such mortifying stuff.
Yet, since from reason may be brought
A better and more pleasing thought,
Which can in spite of all decays
Support a few remaining days,
From not the gravest of divines
Accept for once some serious lines :
Although we now can form no more
Long schemes of life, as heretofore ;
Yet you, while time is running fast,
Can look with joy on what is past.
Were future happiness and pain
A mere contrivance of the brain,
As atheists argue, to entice
And fit their proselytes for vice,
(The only comfort they propose,
To have companions in their woes :)
Grant this the case ; yet sure 'tis hard
That virtue, styl'd its own reward,
And by all sages understood
To be the chief of human good,
Should acting die, nor leave behind
Some lasting pleasure in the mind,
Which ly remembrance will assuage
Grief, sickness, poverty, and age,
And strongly shoot a radiant dart
To shine through life's declining part.
Say, Stella, feel you no content,
Reflecting on a life well spent ?
Your skilful hand employ'd to save
Despairing wretches from the grave;
And then supporting with your store
Those whom you dragg’d from death before •
So Providence on mortals waits,
Preserving what it first creates :
Your gen'rous boldness to defend
An innocent and absent friend;
That courage, which can make you just
To merit humbled in the dust ;
The detestation you express
For vice in all its glitt'ring dress;
That patience under tort'ring pain,
Where stubborn stoics would complain ;
Must these like empty shadows pass,
Or forms reflected from a glass ?
Or mere chimæras in the mind,
That fly, and leave no marks behind ?
Does not the body thrive and grow
By food of twenty years ago ?
And, had it not been still supply'd,
It must a thousand times have dy’d.
Then who with reason can maintain
That no effects of food remain ?
And is not virtue in mankind
The nutriment that feeds the mind;
Upheld by each good action past,
And still continued by the last ?
Then, who with reason can pretend
That all effects of virtue end ?
Believe me, Stella, when you show
That true contempt for things below,
Nor prize your life for other ends
Than merely to oblige your friends,
Your former actions claim their part,
And join to fortify your heart.
For virtue in her daily race,
Like Janus, bears a double face;
Looks back with joy where she has gone,
And therefore goes with courage on.
She at your sickly couch will wait,
And guide you to a better state.
O then, whatever heav'n intends,
Take pity on your pitying friends i
Nor let your ills affect your mind,
To fancy they can be unkind.
Me, surely me, you ought to spare,
Who gladly would your sufferings share ;
Or give my scrap of life to you,
And think it far beneath your due ;
You, to whose care so oft I owe
That I'm alive to tell you so.
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The' unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes, to every land,
The work of an Almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevali,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale ;
And, nightly, to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth :
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball :
What though, no real voice, nor sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found :
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
For ever singing, as they shine,
• The hand that made us is divine.'
A LETTER FROM ITALY,
To the Right Hon. Charles Lord Halifax.
While you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,
And from Britannia's public posts retire,
Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
For their advantage sacrifice your ease ;
Me, into foreign realms my fate conveys
Through nations fruitful of iminortal lays,
Where the soft season and inviting clime
Conspire to trouble your repose with rhyme.
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise ;
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground;
For here the Muse so oft her harp has strung,
That not a mountain rears its head unsung,
Renown'd in verse each shady thicket grows,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.
How am I pleas'd to search the hills and woods
For rising springs and celebrated floods !
To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,
And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source?