Tales of instruction: in verse and prose/Content, A Vision

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If ſolid happineſs we prize,
Within our breaſt this jewel lies;
And they are fools who roam.

The world has nothing to beſtow,
From our ſelves our joys muſt flow,
And that dear hut our home.

MAN is deceiv'd by outward ſhow—
'Tis a plain home-ſpun truth, I know;
The fraud prevails at ev'ry age,
So ſays the ſchool boy and the ſage;
Yet ſtill we hug the dear deceit,
And ſtill exclaim againſt the cheat.
But whence this inconſiſtent part?
Say, moraliſts, who know the heart:
If you'll this labyrinth purſue,
I'll go before and find the clue.

I dreamt ('twas on a birth-day night)
A ſumptuous palace roſe to fight:
The builder had, thro' ev'ry part,
Obſerv'd the chaſteſt rules of art;
Raphael and Titian had diſplay'd
All the full force of light and ſhade;
Around the liv'ry'd ſervants wait
An aged porter kept the gate.

As I was traverſing the hall,
Where Bruſſels' looms adorn'd the wall,
(Whoſe tap'ſtry ſhews without my aid,
A nun is no ſuch uſeleſs maid)
A graceful perſon came in view,
(His form it ſeems is known to few;)
His dreſs was unadorn'd with lace,
But charms! a thouſand in his face.

This, Sir, your property? I cry'd—
Maſter and manſion coincide;
Where all, indeed, is truly great,
And proves, that bliſs may dwell with ſtate.
Pray, Sir, indulge a ſtranger's claim,
And grant the favour of your name.

"Content," the lovely form reply'd,
But think not, here that I reſide:
Here lives a courtier, baſe and fly;
An open, honeſt, ruſtic, l.
Our taſte and manners diſagree;
His levee boaſt no charms for me:
For titles, and the ſmiles of kings,
To me are cheap unheeded things.
('Tis virtue can alone impart
The patent of a ducal heart:
Unleſs this herald ſpeaks him great,
What ſhall avail the glare of ſtate?)
Thoſe ſecret charms my delight,
Which ſhine remote from public ſight;
Paſſion ſubdued, deſires at reſt—
And hence his chaplain ſhares my breaft.
There was a time (his Grace can tell)
I knew the Duke exceeding well;
Knew ev'ry ſecret of his heart;
In truth, we never were apart:
But when the court became his end,
He turn'd his back upon his friend.

One day I call'd upon his Grace,
Juſt as the Duke had got a place:
I thought (but thought amiſs, 'tis clear)
I ſhou'd be welcome to the peer:
Yes, welcome to a man in power;
And ſo I was—for half an hour.
But he grew weary of his gueſt,
And ſoon diſcarded me his breaſt;
Upbraided me with want of merit,
But moſt for poverty of fpirit.

You reliſh not the great man's lot?
Come then, I'll take thee to my cot.
Think me not partial to the great,
I'm a ſworn foe to pride and ſtate:
No monarchs ſhare my kind embrace;
There's ſcarce a monarch knows my face:
Content ſhuns courts, and oftner dwells
With modeſt worth in humble cells;
There's no complaint, tho' brown the bread,
Or the cold ſtone ſuſtain the head;
Tho' hard the couch, and coarſe the meat,
Still the brown loaf and ſleep are ſweet.

Far from the city I reſide,
And a thatch'd cottage all my pride.
True to my heart I ſeldom roam,
Becauſe I find my joys at home:
For foreign viſits then begin,
When the man feels a void within.

But tho' from towns and crouds I fly,
No humouriſt, nor cynic, I.
Amidſt ſequeſter'd ſhades I prize
The friendſhips of the good and wiſe.
Bid Virtue and her ſons attend,
Virtue will tell thee, I'm her friend;
Tell thee, I'm faithful, conſtant, kind,
And meek and lowly and reſign'd;
Will ſay, there's no diſtinction known
Betwixt her houfhold and my own.

Author. If theſe the friendſhips you purſue,
Your friends, I fear, are very few.
So little company, you ſay,
Yet fond of home from day to day!
How do you ſhun detraction's rod?
I doubt your neighbours think you odd!

Content. I commune with myſelf at night,
And aſk my heart, if all be right:
If, "right," replies my faithful breaſt,
I ſmile and cloſe my eyes to reſt.

Author. You ſeem regardleſs of the town:
Pray, Sir, how ſtand you with the gown?
Content. The clergy ſay, they love me well;
Whether they do, they beſt can tell:
They paint me modeſt, friendly, wiſe,
And always praiſe me to the ſkies;
But if conviction's at the heart,
Why not a correſpondent part?
For ſhall the learned tongue prevail,
Of actions preach a diff'rent tale?
Who'll ſeek my door, or grace thy walls,
When neither dean nor prelate calls?

With thoſe my friendſhips moſt obtain,
Who prize their duty more than gain;
Soft flow the hours whene'er we meet,
And conſcious virtue is our treat;
Our harmleſs breaſts no envy know,
And hence we fear no ſecret foe,
Our walks ambition ne'er attends,
And hence we aſk no pow'rful friends;
We wiſh the beſt to church and ſtate,
But leave the ſteerage to the great;
Careleſs, who riſes, or who falls,
And never dream of vacant ſtalls;
Much leſs by pride or int'reſt drawn,
Sigh for the mitre, and the lawn.

Obſerve the ſecrets of my art,
I'll fundamental truths impart:
And if you'll my advice purſue,
I'll quite my hut and dwell with you.
The paſſions are a numerous croud,
Imperious, poſitive, and loud:
Curb theſe licentious ſons of ſtrife;
Hence chiefly riſe the ſtorms of life;
If they grow mutinous and rave,
They are thy maſters, thou their ſlave.

Regard the world with cautious eye,
Nor raiſe your expectation high.
See that the balanc'd ſcales be ſuch,
You neither fear nor hope too much.
For disappointment's not the thing;
'Tis pride and paſſion point the ſting.
Life is a ſea, where ſtorms muſt riſe;
'Tis folly talks of cloudleſs ſkies:
He, who contracts his ſwelling ſail,
Eludes the fury of the gale.

Be ſtill, nor anxious thoughts employ;
Diſtruſt imbitters preſent joy:
On God for all events depend;
You cannot want when God's your friend.
Weigh well your part, and do your beſt;
Leave to your Maker all the reſt.
The hand which form'd thee in the womb,
Guides from the cradle to the tomb.
Can the fond mother ſlight her boy;
Can ſhe forget her prattling joy?
Say then, ſhall Sov'reign Love deſert
The humble and the honeſt heart?
Heav'n may not grant thee all thy mind;
Yer ſay not thou, that Heav'n's unkind.
God is alike, both good, and wiſe,
In what he grants and what denies:
Perhaps, what goodneſs gives to-day,
To-morrow goodneſs takes away.

You ſay that troubles intervene,
That ſorrow darkens half the ſcene.
True—and this conſequence you ſee,
The world was ne'er deſign'd for thee:
You're like a paſſenger below,
That ſtays perhaps a night or ſo;
But ſtill his native country lies
Beyond the bound'ries of the ſkies.

Of heav'n aſk virtue, wiſdom, health,
But never let thy prayer be wealth.
If food be thine, (tho' little gold)
And raiment to repel the cold;
Such as may nature's wants ſuffice,
Not what from pride and folly riſe;
If ſoft the motions of thy ſoul,
And a calm conſcience crowns the whole;
Add but a friend to all this ſtore,
You can't in reaſon wiſh for more;
And if kind Heav'n this comfort brings,
'Tis more than heav'n beſtows on kings.

He ſpake—The airy ſpectre flies,
And ſtrait the ſweet illuſion dies.
The viſion, at the early dawn,
Conſign'd me to the thoughtful morn;
To all the cares of waking clay,
And inconſiſtent dreams of day.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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