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The rich - could they a constant friend condemn ? The poor believed - for who should flatter them?
Thus on her name though all disgrace attend, In every creature she beholds a friend. (1)
(1) [“ With many nervous lines and ingenious allusions, this poem has something of the languor which seems inseparable from an allegory which exceeds the length of an epigram" – JEFFREY.]
UPON THE SUBJECT
Quid juvat errores, merså jam puppe, fateri?
CLAUDIAN. in Eutropium, lib. ii. lin. 7.
What avails it, when shipwreck'd, that error appears ? Are the crimes we commit wash'd away by our tears ? (1)
(1) [See antè, p. 21.]
When all the fiercer passions cease
(The glory and disgrace of youth); When the deluded soul, in peace,
Can listen to the voice of truth; When we are taught in whom to trust,
And how to spare, to spend, to give, (Our prudence kind, our pity just,)
'T is then we rightly learn to live.
Its weakness when the body feels,
Nor danger in contempt defies; To reason when desire appeals,
When, on experience, hope relies ; When every passing hour we prize,
Nor rashly on our follies spend; But use it, as it quickly flies,
With sober aim to serious end; When prudence bounds our utmost views,
And bids us wrath and wrong forgive; When we can calmly gain or lose, —
'Tis then we rightly learn to live.
Yet thus, when we our way discern,
And can upon our care depend, To travel safely, when we learn,
Behold I we're near our journey's end We've trod the maze of error round,
Long wand'ring in the winding glade; And, now the torch of truth is found,
It only shows us where we stray'd: Light for ourselves, what is it worth,
When we no more our way can choose ? For others, when we hold it forth,
They, in their pride, the boon refuse.
By long experience taught, we now
Can rightly judge of friends and foes, Can all the worth of these allow,
And all their faults discern in those ; Relentless hatred, erring love,
We can for sacred truth forego ; We can the warmest friend reprove,
And bear to praise the fiercest foe: To what effect? Our friends are gone
Beyond reproof, regard, or care; And of our foes remains there one,
The mild relenting thoughts to share ?
Now 't is our boast that we can quell
The wildest passions in their rage; Can their destructive force repel,
And their impetuous wrath assuage: Ah! Virtue, dost thou arm, when now
This bold rebellious race are fled ;