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IS pleasant, safely to behold from shore
The rowling ship, and hear the tempeft roar: Not that another's pain is our delight; But pains unfelt produce the pleasing fight. 'Tis pleasant also to behold from far The moving legions mingled in the war. But much more sweet thy lab’ring steps to guide To virtue's heights, with wisdom well supply'd, And all the magazines of learning fortify'd: From thence to look below on human kind, Bewilder'd in the maze of life, and blind: To see vain fools ambitiously contend For wit and pow'r; their last endeavours bend T'outshine each other, waste their time and health In search of honour, and pursuit of wealth. O wretched man! in what a mift of life, Inclos’d with dangers and with noisy ftrife, He spends his little span; and overseeds His cramm'd desires, with more than nature needs! For nature wisely stints our appetite, And craves no more than undisturb’d delight: Which minds, unmix'd with cares and fears obtain ; A foul serene, a body void of pain. So little this corporeal frame requires; So bounded are our natural desires, That wanting all, and setting pain aside, With bare privation sense is satisfy’d.
If golden sconces hang no: on the walls,
To light the costly suppers and the balls;
If the proud palace hines not with the state
Of burnish'd bowls, and of reflected plate;
If well-tun'd harps, nor the more pleasing found
Of voices, from the vaulted roofs rebound;
Yet on the grass, beneath a poplar fhade,
By the cool stream, our careless limbs are lay'd ;
With cheaper pleafures innocently bleft,
When the warm spring with gaudy flow'rs is dreft.
Nor will the raging fever’s fire abate,
With golden canopies and beds of state:
But the poor patient will as soon be found
On the hard mattress, or the mother ground.
Then fince our bodies are not eas’d the more
By birth, or pow'r, or fortune's wealthy store,
'Tis plain, these useless toys of every kind
As little can relieve the lab’sing mind:
Unless we could suppose the dreadful fight
of marthal'd legions moving to the fight,
Could, with their found and terrible
Expel our fears, and drive the thoughts of death awar.
But, fince the supposition vain appears,
Since clinging cares, and trains of inbred fears,
Are not with sounds to be affrighted thence,
But in the midst of pomp pursue the prince,
Not aw’d by arms, but in the presence bold,
Without respect to purple, or to gold;
Why should not we these pageantries despise;
Whose worth but in our want of reason lies
For life is all in wand'ring errors led;
And just as children are surpriz’d with dread,
And tremble in the dark, so riper years
E'en in broad day-light are poffe!s'd with fears;
And shake at shadows fanciful and vain,
As those which in the breasts of children reign.
These bugbears of the mind, this inward hell,
No rays of outward sunshine can dispel;
But nature and right reason must display
Their beams abroad, and bring the darksome foul to-day.
The latter part of the THIRD Book of
Against the Fear of Death.
THAT has this bugbear death to frighten men,
If fouls can die, as well as bodies can?
For, as before our birth we felt no pain,
When Puric arms infefted land and main,
When Heav'n and earth were in confusion hurld.
For the debated empire of the world,
Which aw'd with dreadful expectation lay,
Sure to be saves, uncertain who should sway:
So, when our mortal flame Mall be disjoin'd,
The lifeless lump uncoupled from the mind,
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free;
We shall not feel, because we shall not be.
Tho'carth in seas, and seas in Heav'n were lost,
We should not move, we only should be toft.
Nay, even suppose when we have suffer'd fate,
The foul could feel in her divided ftate,
What's that to us? for we are only We
While fools and bodies in one frame agree.
Nay, tho' our atoms should revolve by chance,
And matter leap into the former dance;
Tho'time our life and motion could restore,
And make our bodies what they were before,
What gain to us would all this bustle bring?
The new-made man would be another thing.
When once an interrupting pause is made,
That individual being is decay'd.
We, who are dead and gone, lhall bear no part
In all the pleasures, nor shall feel the smart,
Which to that other mortal shall accrue,
Whom of our matter time shall mould anew.
For backward if you look on that long space
Of ages past, and view the changing face
Of matter, toft and variously combin'd
In sundry shapes, 'tis easy for the mind
From thence t'infer, that seeds of things have been
In the same order as they now are seen :
Which yet our dark remembrance cannot trace,
Because a pause of life, a gaping space,
Has come retnixt, where memory lies dead,
And all the wand'ring motions from the sense are filed.
For whosoe'er shall in misfortunes live,
Must Be, when those misfortunes shall arrive ;
And since the man who Is not, feels not woe,
(For death exempts him, and wards off the blow,
Which we, the living, only feel and bear)
What is there left for us in death to fear?
When once that pause of life has come between,
'Tis just the same as we had never been.
And therefore if a man bemoan his lot,
That after death his mould'ring limbs shall rot,
Or slames, or jaws of beasts devour his mass,
Know, he's an unsincere, unthinking ass.
A secret fting remains within his mind;
The fool is to his own cast offals kind.
He boasts no sense can after death remain ;
Yet makes himself a part of life again ;
As if some other He could feel the pain.
If, while we live, this thought moleft his head,
What wolf or valtare shall devour me dead?
He wastes his days in idle grief, nor can
Distinguish 'twixt the body and the man;
But thinks himself can still himself survive;
And, what when dead he feels not, feels alive.
Then he repines that he was born to die,
Nor knows in death there is no other He,
No living He remains his grief to vent,
And o'er his senseless carcase to lament.
If after death 'tis painful to be torn
By birds, and beasts, then why not so to burn,
Or drench'd in foods of honey to be soak’d,
Imbalm’d to be at once preserv'd and choak’d;
Or on an airy mountain's top to lie,
Expos’d to cold and Heav'n's inclemency;
Or crowded in a tomb to be opprest
With monumental marble on thy breast ?
But to be snatch'd from all the houshold joys,
From thy chalte wife, and thy dear prattling boys,
Whose little arms about thy legs are caft,
And climbing for a kiss prevent their mother's haste,
Inspiring secret pleasure thro' thy breast;
Ah! these shall be no more: thy friends oppreft
Thy care and courage now no more shall free;
Ah! wretch, thou cry'ít, ah! miserable me?
One woful day sweeps children, friends, and wife,
And all the brittle blessings of my life!
Add one thing more, and all thou say'st is true ;
Thy want and with of them is vanish'd too:
Which well consider'd were a quick relief
To all thy vain imaginary grief.
For thou shalt sleep, and never wake again,
And, quitting life, shalt quit thy living pain.
But we thy friends shall all those sorrows find,
Which in forgetful death thou leav'st behind ;
Notime fhalldry our tears, nordrive thee from our mind.