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Poem by John Stagg
What fragrant odours scent the gale, Diffus'd from yon fair blushing rose; What sweets the various flowers exhale, What grand, what lively dies disclose. How sweetly smiles th' autumnal year, Whilst fruitage crowns the fertile lawn; Serene the azure Heavens appear, And warbling songsters hail the dawn. Hush'd are the winds, save where the breeze Refreshing fans the sober shade, And murm'ring thro' the waxing trees, With coolness cheers the sultry glade. The charms of cheerfulness extend O'er all creations ample plain; Each grateful creature seems to lend Concurrence to the thankful strain. The pinion'd warblers of the grove, That simply flutter on the spray, Inspir'd by gratitude and love, Pour forth in praise their warbling lay. Pour forth in praise to him whose hand Doth universal love diffuse: By instinct, prone to his command, Unconsciously his will they chuse. Where'er we turn our wand'ring eyes, What objects e'er our thoughts employ, Gay scenes of common gladness rise, Inspiring universal joy. Save where dull man, in pensive mein, Insensible of all delight, Sits wrapt in melancholy spleen, And turns disgusted from the sight. Offended at the joyous shew, That only galls his envious eye, He feels the burthen of his woe, And views these pleasures with a sigh. Oh, happiness! thou common aim, Of all, pursu'd by all in vain, Who shall thy scanty favours claim, What happy man thy friendship gain? Content, they say, from mankind fled, Determin'd never to return; To Heaven her upward flight she sped, And left poor hapless man to mourn. O gracious Heaven! why could'st thou prove Thus partial in the general plan, Why in beneficence and love, Produce so poor a thing as man? Why give so many joys to please, Why favours vainly thus employ? The means of pleasure, and of ease, And disallow him to enjoy. Why teems the earth with shining mines? Or why the gorgeons glare of state? To man in vain their lustre shines; On man in vain their splendours wait. Does ancient Eden still remain? Desire with reason still dispute? Doth man still covet yet in vain, To taste of the forbidden fruit? Still in his heart, corroding care Sits Gorgon like, his joys to spoil, No true content e'er settles there; Man's doom'd to mourn as well as toil. Happy the simple and the gay, Who nought of sad reflection know; Life's dreary voyage they sport away, Unknown to philosophic woe. But, can philosophy e'er grieve? That with strong reasoning guards the soul; Whose hand shou'd soothe each sigh we heave, Whose voice should every care controul. Yes! she with heavier loads oppress'd, Than weak humanity can bear, Serves but to harass more the breast, Which sweet simplicity would cheer. Unconscious of his greatness, man Reign'd happy in primeval state; Till thirst of knowledge first began These woes, he could but curse too late. Too sensible, the mind turns weak, Unequal to the load it bears; By selfish pride forbid to speak, And tell the vulgar world it's cares. Hard, hard, O Heaven, is such a state, When keen affliction racks the breast; When shame forbids us to relate The griefs with which the soul's opprest. No secret friend, perchance is near, No friend in whom we may confide; And tho' distress the heart may tear, 'Tis but the secret grief to hide. What man's misfortune's, when disclos'd, Meets more than public redicule: Faith on a public faith repos'd, Finds cause to deem itself a fool. But if a friend well-prov'd we find, Discretion bids us hold him dear: In him our cares are all confin'd, We prove and warrant him sincere. What ease participation yields? What joy communication lends? This , from a sad despondence shields, T HAT , sweet persuasive comfort sends. The soul disburthen'd of its load, Now feels kind interval of rest, Reliev'd from the heart piercing goad, Soft gleams of pleasure thrill the breast. Friendship the wond'rous change performs, That power, that quells our every care; That calms the tempests and the storms, That else our bosoms oft ensnare. Grant, gracious Heaven; grant me a friend, 'Tis all I wish, 'tis all I ask; Let all his words and actions blend, Nor wear dissimulation's mask. What are the splendours of the proud, What the gay pageants of the great? When mingled in the numerous crowd, How little then appears their state? A competence, O gracious Heaven! Is all I seek, nor covet more; This, bounteous God, to me when given, Makes me the happiest of the poor. Content with plenty—this is bliss: 'Tis virtue gives content in view; That happiness we may not miss, Still virtue's path let us pursue. Virtue gives happiness below, Thro' her we every pleasure prove, 'Tis she protects from every woe, 'Tis virtue leads to Heaven above.
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