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The critic, that with plodding head
Toils o'er the learning of the dead ;
The cloister'd hermit that explores,
By midnight lamp, religion's stores ;
Each sage that marks, with thoughtful gaze,
The lunar orb, or planet's maze ;
And ev'ry bard, that strays along
The sylvan shade, intent on facred song ;
Shall all to thee those various praises give,
Which, through thy friendly aid, themselves receive :
For tho' thou mayst from glory's seats retire,
Where loud applause proclaims the honour'd name ;
Yet doth thy, modest wisdom still inspire
Each nobler work that swells the voice of Fame.
******************************** The PICTURE OF HUMAN LIFE.
Translated from the Greek of Cebes the THEBAN.
Et vita monftrata via eft.
HILE Saturn's a fane with solemn step we trod,
And view'd the "votive honours of the God,
a This temple was probably in the city of Thebes, for Cebes was a Theban. Devout offerings, for the most part in discharge of vows.
A pictur'd tablet, o'er the portal rais'd,
Attach'd our eye: in wonder lost, we gaz’d.
The pencil there some strange device had wrought,
And fables, all its own, disguis'd the thought.
Nor camp it seem'd, nor city: the design,
Whose moral mock'd our labour to divine,
Was a wall'd court, where rose another bound,
And, higher still, a third still less’ning ground.
The nether area open'd, at a gate
Where a vast crowd impatient seem'd to wait.
Within, a group of female figures stood,
In motley dress, a sparkling multitude.
Without, in station at the porch, was seen
A venerable form, in act and mien
Like some great teacher who with urgent tongue,
Authoritative, warn’d the rushing throng.
From doubt to doubt we wander'd; when appear'd
A fire, who thus the hard folution clear'd.
Strangers, that allegoric scene, I guess,
Conquers your skill, our home-born wits no less.
A foreigner, long since, whose nobler mind
Learning's beft culture to strong genius join'd,
Here liv'd, convers'd, and shew'd th' admiring age
Another Samian or Elean sage.
He rear'd this dome to Saturn's aweful name,
And gave that portrait to eternal fame.
He reason'd much, high argument he chose,
High as his theme his great conceptions rose.
Such wisdom flowing from a mouth but young
I heard astonish’d, and enjoy'd it long :
Him oft I heard this moral piece expound,
With nervous eloquence and sense profound.
'Father, if leisure with thy will confpire,
Yield, yield that comment to our warm defire.
Free to bestow, I warn you first, beware :
Danger impends, which summons all your care.
Wise, virtuous, bleft, whose heart our precepts gain,
Abandon'd, blind, and wretched, who disdain.
For know, our purpos'd theme resembles best
The fam'd Enigma of the Theban peft:
Th' interpreter a plighted crown enjoy'd,
The stupid perith's, by the Sphinx destroy'd.
Count folly as a Sphinx to all mankind,
Her problem, How is Good and Ill defin'd?
Misjudging here, by Folly's law we die,
Not inftant victims of her cruelty ;
From day to day our reasoning part she wounds,
Devours its strength, its noblest pow'rs confounds :
Awakes the lash of a Punishment, and tears
The mind with pangs which guilty life prepares,
With opposite effect, where thoughtful kill
Discerns the boundaries of Good and Ili,
Folly must perish ; and th' illumin'd breaft
To Virtue fay'd, is like th' immortals bleft.
c The Caselian and Salmasian editions read
πονηροι qwicked, instead of tixpos bitter.
JOHNSON. # Vid. X. 186.
Give audience, then, with no unheeding ear.
O hafte, no heedless auditors Hand here,
With strong desire, in dread suspence we wait,
So great the blefing, and the bane so great.
Instant, he rais'd his oratorial hand,
And laid (our eye he guided with a wand)
Behold life's pencil'd scene, the natal gate,
The numbers thronging into mortal state.
Which danger's path, and which to safety bears,
That ancient, Genius of mankind, declares.
See him aloft, benevolent he bends,
One hand is pointing, one a roll extends
Reason's imperial code; by heav'n impreft
In living letters on the human breast.
Oppos'd to him, Delufon plies her part,
With kin of borrow'd snow, and blush of art,
With hypocritic fawn, and eyes alkance
Whence soft infection steals in every glance,
Her faithless hand presents a crystal bowl,
Whose pois’nous draught intoxicates the foul.
Error and ignorance infus'd, compose
The fatal beverage which her fraud bestows.
Is that the hard condition of our birth?
Muft all drink Error wha appear on earth?
All; yet in fome their measure drowns the mind,
Others but taste, less erring and less blind.
• Th’ Opinions, and Defires, and Pleasures rise Behind the gate, thick-glitt'ring on our eyes ; Thick as bright atoms in the solar
Diverse their drap'ry and profusely gay.
These tempting forms, each like a mistress drest,
Our early steps with powerful charms arreft :
Soon as we enter life, with various art
Of dalliance they affail th' unguarded heart.
All promise joy, we rush to their embrace ;
To bliss or ruin here begins our race.
Happy, thrice happy, who intrust their youth
To right Opinions, and afcend to Truth:
Whom Wisdom tutors, whom the Virtues hail,
And with their own substantial feast regale.
The rest are harlots : by their flatt'ries won,
In chase of empty sciences we run:
Or Fortune's vanities pursue, and stray
With fenjual Pleasure in more dang’rous way.
See the mad rounds their giddy followers tread,
Delufion's cup strong-working in their head.
Fast as one shoal of fools have delug'd thro',
Succeeding shoals the bufy farce renew.
Who on that globe flands fretching to her flight?
Wild seems her aspect, and bereav'd of light. Fortune, blind, frantic, deaf. With restless wings The world she ranges, and her favours flings :