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Like some well-fashioned arch thy patience stood, And purchased strength from its increasing load: Pain met thee like a friend to set thee free; Affliction still is virtue's opportunity!
Yet, ah! what terrors frown'd upon her fate
Death with its formidable band,
Fever, and pain, and pale consumptive care,
Nor did the cruel ravagers design
To finish all their efforts at a blow;
But, mischievously slow,
They robb'd the relic and defaced the shrine.
Despairing of relief,
Her weeping children round,
Beheld each hour
Death's growing power,
And trembled as he frown'd.
As helpless friends who view from shore
The labouring ship, and hear the tempest roar,
They stood, while hope and comfort fail,
The inevitable loss.
Relentless tyrant, at thy call
How do the good, the virtuous fall! Goldsmith.
Truth, beauty, worth, and all that most engage,
When vice my dart and scythe supply,
Yet let that wisdom, urged by her example,
Let us prize death as the best gift of nature;
When they have journey'd through a world of cares,
May put off life and be at rest for ever.
Groans, weeping friends, indeed, and gloomy sables,
May oft distract us with their sad solemnity:
The preparation is the executioner.
Death, when unmask'd, shows me a friendly face,
And is a terror only at a distance;
For as the line of life conducts me on
To Death's great court, the prospect seems more fair. 'Tis Nature's kind retreat, that's always open
To take us in when we have drain'd the cup
Of life, or worn our days to wretchedness.
In that secure, serene retreat,
Where all the humble, all the great,
Where wildly huddled to the eye,
The beggar's pouch and prince's purple lie,
May every bliss be thine.
And, ah! blest spirit, wheresoe'er thy flight,
May cherubs welcome their expected guest,
Our vows are heard! long, long to mortal eyes,
Celestial-like her bounty fell,
Where modest want and patient sorrow dwell;
Want pass'd for merit at her door,
Unseen the modest were supplied,
Her constant pity fed the poor,
Then only poor, indeed, the day she died.
And, oh! for this, while sculpture decks thy shrine, And art exhausts profusion round,
The tribute of a tear be mine,
A simple song, a sigh profound.
There Faith shall come, a pilgrim grey,
To bless the tomb that wraps thy clay;
To dwell a weeping hermit there.
Truth, Fortitude, and Friendship shall agree,
Fast by that shore where Thames' translucent stream,
Where, splendid as the youthful poet's dream,
From China borrows aid to deck the scene: -
The good old sire, unconscious of decay,
Ye shady walks, ye waving greens,
Ye nodding towers, ye fairy scenes,
That she who formed your beauties is no more.
First of the train the patient rustic came,
"And where," he cried, "shall now my babes have bread, Or how shall age support its feeble fire?
No lord will take me now, my vigour fled,
Nor can my strength perform what they require;
Each grudging master keeps the labourer bare,
My noble mistress thought not so:
Unseen, though constant, used to flow,
And as my strength decay'd, her bounty grew."
In decent dress and coarsely clean,
The pious matron next was seen,
Clasp'd in her hand a godly book was borne,
By use and daily meditation worn;
That decent dress, that holy guide,
Oh! where shall weeping want repair,
Too late in life for me to ask,
And shame prevents the deed,
But all my wants, before I spoke,
She still relieved, nor sought my praise,
But every day her name I'll bless,
Each day, each hour, her name I'll bless,