ADDRESS TO FRIENDSHIP.
1 Friendship! thou noblest ardor of the soul!
2 Immortal essence! languor's best support!
3 Chief dignifying proof of glorious man!
4 Firm cement of the world! endearing tie,
5 Which binds the willing soul, and brings along
6 Her chastest, strongest, and sublimest powers! [Page 80]
7 All else the dregs of spirit. Love's soft flame,
8 Bewildering, leads th'infatuated soul;
9 Levels, depresses, wraps in endless mists,
10 Contracts, dissolves, enervates and enslaves,
11 Relaxes, sinks, distracts, while Fancy fills
12 Th'inflaming draught, and aids the calenture.
13 Intoxicating charm! yet well refin'd
14 By Virtue's brightening flame, pure it ascends,
15 As incense in its grateful circles mounts,
16 Till, mixt and lost, with Thee it boasts thy name.
17 Thou unfound blessing! woo'd with eager hope,
18 As clowns the nightly vapour swift pursue,
19 And fain wou'd grasp to cheer their lonely way;
20 Vain the wide stretch, and vain the shorten'd breath,
21 For, ah! the bright delusion onward flies,[Page 81]
22 While the sad swain deceiv'd, now cautious treads
23 The common beaten track, nor quits it more.
24 Not unexisting art thou, but so rare,
25 That delving souls ne'er find thee; 'tis to thee,
26 When found, if ever found, sweet fugitive,
27 The noble mind opes all her richest stores;
28 Thy firm, strong hold suits the courageous breast,
29 Where stubborn virtues dwell in secret league,
30 And each conspires to fortify the rest.
31 Etherial spirits alone may hope to prove
32 Thy strong, yet soften'd rapture; soften'd more
33 When penitence succeeds to injury;
34 When, doubting pardon, the meek, pleading eye
35 On which the soul had once with pleasure dwelt,[Page 82]
36 Swims in the tear of sorrow and repentance.
37 The faultless mind with treble pity views
38 The tarnish'd friend, who feels the sting of shame;
39 'Tis then too little barely to forgive;
40 Nor can the soul rest on that frigid thought,
41 But rushing swiftly from her Stoic heights,
42 With all her frozen feelings melted down
43 By Pity's genial beams, she sinks, distrest,
44 Shares the contagion, and with lenient hand
45 Lifts the warm chalice fill'd with consolation.
46 Yet Friendship's name oft decks the crafty lip,
47 With seeming virtue clothes the ruthless soul;
48 Grief-soothing notes, well feign'd to look like Truth,
49 Like an insidious serpent softly creep
50 To the poor, guileless, unsuspecting heart,[Page 83]
51 Wind round in wily folds, and sinking deep
52 Explore her sacred treasures, basely heave
53 Her hoard of woes to an unpitying world;
54 First sooths, ensnares, exposes, and betrays.
55 What art thou, fiend, who thus usurp'st the form
56 Of the soft Cherub? Tell me, by what name
57 The ostentatious call thee, thou who wreck'st
58 The gloomy peace of sorrow-loving souls?
59 Why thou art Vanity, ungenerous sprite,
60 Who tarnishest the action deem'd so great,
61 And of soul-saving essence. But for thee,
62 How pure, how bright wou'd Theron's virtues shine;
63 And, but that Thou art incorp'rate with the flame,
64 Which else wou'd bless where'er its beams illume,
65 My grateful spirit had recorded here
66 Thy splendid seemings. Long I've known their worth. [Page 84]
67 O, 'tis the deepest error man can prove,
68 To fancy joys disinterested can live,
69 Indissoluble, pure, unmix'd with self;
70 Why, 'twere to be immortal, 'twere to own
71 No part but spirit in this chilling gloom.
72 My soul's ambitious, and its utmost stretch
73 Wou'd be, to own a friend — but that's deny'd.
74 Now, at this bold avowal, gaze, ye eyes,
75 Which kindly melted at my woe-fraught tale;
76 Start back, Benevolence, and shun the charge;
77 Soft bending Pity, fly the sullen phrase,
78 Ungrateful as it seems. My abject fate
79 Excites the willing hand of Charity,
80 The momentary sigh, the pitying tear,
81 And instantaneous act of bounty bland,[Page 85]
82 To Misery so kind; yet not to you,
83 Bounty, or Charity, or Mercy mild,
84 The pensive thought applies fair friendship's name;
85 That name which never yet cou'd dare exist
86 But in equality [...]