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Who ravag'd kingdoms, and laid empires waste,
And in a cruel wantonness of pow'r
Thinn'd states of half their people, and gave up
To want the rest; now, like a storm that's spent,
Lie lush'd, and meanly sneak beneath thy covert,
Vain thought! to hide them from the gen'ral scorn,
'I hat haunts and dogs them like an injur'd ghost
Implacable. Here too the petty tyrant,
Whose scant domains geographer ne'er notic’d,
And well for neighb'ring grounds of arm as short;
Who fix'd his iron talons on the poor,
And grip'd them like some lordly beast of prey,
to the forceful cries of gnawing hunger,
And piteous plaintive voice of inisery
(As if a slave was not a shred of nature,
Of the same common nature with his lord):
Now tame and humble, like a child that's whipp'd,
Shakes hands with dust, and calls the worm his kinsman
Nor pleads his rank and birthright. Under ground
Precedency's a jest; vassal and lord,
Grossly familiar, side by side consume,
When self esteem, or others' adulation,
Would cunningly persuade us we were something
Abɔve the common level of our kind;
'I he Grave gainsays the smooth-complexion'd flatı'ry,
And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are,
Beauty! thou pretty plaything! dear deceit
That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart,
And gives it a new pulse unknown before!
The Grave discredits thee: thy charms expung'u,
Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soild,
What hast thou more to boast of? Will thy lovers
Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee homage?
Methinks, I see thee with thy head low laid;
Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek,
The high-fed worm in lazy volumes roll'
Riots unscar'd. For this was all thy caution?
For this thy painful labours at thy glass,
T' improve those charms, and keep them in repair,
For which the spoiler thanks thee not? Foul feeder!
Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well,
And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Look, how the fair one weeps! the conscious tears
Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of flow'rs:
Honest effusion! the swoln heart in vain
Works hard to put a gloss on its distress..
Strength too! thou surly, and less gentle boast
Of those that laugh loud at the village ring!
A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
With greater ease than e'er thou didst the stripling,
That rashly dar'd thee to the unequal fight,
What groan was that I heard? deep groan indeed!
With anguish heavy laden; let me trace it:
Fom yonder bed it comes, where the strong man
By stronger arm belal our'd, gasps for breath
Like a hard hunted beast. How his great heart
Beats thick; his roomy chest by far too scant
To give the lungs full play! what now avail
The strong, built sinewy limbs, and well-spread shoulders.
See how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Mad with his pain! eager he catches hold
Of what comes next to hand, and grasps it hard,
Just like a creature drowning! hideous sight!
O how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly!
Whilst the distemper's rank and deadly venom
Shoots like a burning arrow cross his bowels,
And drinks his marrow up.
Heard you that groan;
It was his last. See how the great Goliath,
Just like a child that brawl'd itself to rest,
Lies still. What mean'st thou then, O mighty boaster
To vaunt of nerves of thinę? What means the bull,
Unconscious of his strength, to play the coward,
And, flee before a feeble thing like man;
Tbat knowing well the slackness of his arm,
Trusts only in the well-invented knife!
With study pale, and midnight vigils spent,
The star-surveying sage close to his eye
Applies the sight-invigorating tube;
And trav'lling thro' the boundless length of space,
Marks well the courses of the far-seen orbs,
That roll with regular confusion there,
In extacy of thought. . But ah! proud man!
Great heights are hazardous to the weak head::
Soon, very soon, thy firmest footing fails;
And down thou dropp'st into that darksome place,
Where nor device nor knowledge ever came.
Here the tongue-warrior lies! disabled now,
Disarm'd , dishonour’d, like a wretch that's gagg’d,
And cannot tell his ail to passers-by.
Great man of language, whence this mighty change,
This dumb despair, and drooping of the head?
Though strong persuasion hung upon thy lip,
And sly insinuation's softer arts
In ambush lay about thy flowing tongue;
Alas! how chop-fall’n now! thick mists and silence
Rest, like a weary cloud, upon thy breast
Unceasing. Ah! where is the lifted arm,
The strength of action, and the force of words,
The well-turn'd period, and the well-tun'd voice,
With all the lesser ornaments of phrase ?
Ah! fled for ever, as they ne'er had been!
Raz'd from the book of fame; or, more provoking,
Perhaps some hackney hụnger-bitten scribbler
Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb
With long Alat narrative, or duller rhymes,
With heavy halting pace that drawl along;
Enough to rouze a dead man into
rage, And warm, with red resentment, the wan cheek.
Here the great masters of the healing art,
These mighty mock defrauders of the tomb!
Spite of their juleps and catholicons,
Resign to fate. Proud Æsculapius' son,
Where are thy boasted implements of art,
And all thy well cram'd magazines of health
Nor hill, nor vale, as far as ship could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook,
Escap'd thy rifling hand! from stubborn shrubs
Thou wrung'st their shy retiring virtues out,
And vex'd them in the fire; nor fly, nor insect,
Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research.
But why this apparatus? why this cost?
Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave!
Where are thy recipes and cordịals now,
With the long list of vouchers for thy cures?
Alas! thou speakest not,
The bold imposter Looks not inore silly, when the cheat's found our
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons ! Who meanly stole, discreditable shift! From back and belly too, their proper cheer; Eas'd of a tax it irk'd the wretch to pay To his own carcase, now lies cheaply lodg'd, By clam'rous appetites no longer teaz'd Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs. But, ah! where are his rents, his comings in? Aye! now you have made the rich man poor indeed : Robb'd of his gods, what has he left behind? O cursed lust of gold! when fur thy sake The fool throws up his interest in both worlds, First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to come.
How shocking must thy summons be, O Death! To him that is at ease in his possessions! Who, counting on long years of pleasure here, Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come! In that dread moment, how the frantic soul Raves round the wall of her clay tenement, Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help, But shrieks in vain! how wishfully she looks On all she's leaving, now no longer hers! A little longer, yet a little longer, O might she stay to wash away her stains, And fit her for her passage! mournful sight! Her very eyes weep blood: and ev'ry groan She heaves is big with horror: but the foe, Like a staunch murd'rer, steady to his purpose Pursues her close thro' ev'ry lane of life, Nor misses once the track, but presses on; Till, fore'd at last to the tremendous verge, At 4. she sinks to everlasting ruin.