1822
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Pleasures of Conversation. Part III.

The Pleasures of Conversation, a Poem. By William Cooke, Esq. New Edition, enlarged with Poetical Portraits of the principal Characters of Dr. Johnson's Club.

William Cook


The third part begins in a sportive humor: "Rang'd by Philosophy in flowery vest,— | Light as the stream which bathes her playful breast,— | Let FANCY sometimes sport! — that 'witching maid!" p. 68. To Fancy is joined Wit, proceeding in a Miltonic vein: "Now like the lightning's vivid flash 'tis found | Above — below — at every point around" p. 70. The allegorical pageant succeeds to Raillery, Anecdote, and Pun. Cook then recalls how he originally encountered wit as a youth in Ireland, before he made the acquaintance of his famous associates in London. Cook gives verse characters of Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, Richard Farmer, Boswell, and others, concluding with a moving tribute to John Nichols: "Yet oh! my friend! with whom full many a night, | I have heard those worthies with supreme delight, | How sad to tell those happy scenes are o'er, | And all those loved associates now no more! | — All — all are gone, save we who still remain | As mourning heralds of this matchless train!" p. 90. The poem enumerates the many social goods wrought by conversation, the school of mankind. Conversation is the source and sustenance of love: "Here every finer chord is touched that rings, | When rapture swells the note and pours along the strings" p. 104. From love the poem moves to the enduring comforts provided by conversation, terminating in the hope of a divine converse beyond the grave.



Thus far with caution have we kept near shore,
And plied progressively the patient oar,
Now bolder grown — the Muse would spread her sail,
And court the vantage of that brisker gale,
Whose genial current shapes the lucid way,
Where Conversation's active topics play,
Topics which kindling as the spirits warm,
Give and receive the true convivial charm.

Come then, Philosophy, with all those powers
Which soothe — improve — and gild the fleeting hours;
Come! — and when Vice would press her flattering tale,
And titled Folly with its airs prevail—
With thy commanding voice control their aim,
And point the way to a superior fame.
Teach them, that little arts, howe'er refin'd,
Are but the feebler instruments of mind;
That fashion's mirror shadowy forms displays,
Things without use — and actions without praise,
Pride without honour — without taste, expense,
Shows without comforts — Learning without sense.
'Tis thus philosophy by timely art,
Plays with dexterity the tutor's part,
Corrects the loose, excites the virtuous mind,
And spreads the general good of human kind.

So erst the Grecian youth, with frolic fir'd,
And vanity which toils to be admir'd,
Burst through the sage's school, with flowrets crown'd.
And in swill'd insolence and wassail drown'd,
Awhile contemn'd the philosophic lay,
Nor heeded all its moral truths could say;
But such the charm of virtue o'er the soul,
Such her high port and dignified control,
Such the mild influence of her heaven-born thought,
So proud to execute what virtue ought,
The youth at last convinc'd — with blushes spread,
Drew down the pageant garland from his head,
Acknowledg'd all his former guilt with shame,
And pupil to the sage he scoff'd became.

Rang'd by Philosophy in flowery vest,—
Light as the stream which bathes her playful breast,—
Let FANCY sometimes sport! — that 'witching maid!—
Who charms by every grace that can persuade,
Whose arts display such variegated dyes,
As catch the willing senses by surprize.
What tho' she frolics with the jocund spring,
Alike with wisdom she delights to sing;
What tho' she fires the poet's phrenzied dreams,
Alike she guides the politician's schemes,
Sets by her magic skill whate'er is right,
In all the fascinating points of light,
Collects with taste the scatter'd diamond's rays,
Unites their efforts, and directs their blaze.

Come too, let WIT in its best form appear,
Gay without looseness, frank — tho' not severe,
Inclin'd to laugh — yet rous'd at Wisdom's voice,
The first to aid — and decorate her choice.
When Wit thus comes array'd with every grace,
It keeps due seasons — dignity and place;
Spreads every charm when bosoms jointly share
The glow of converse — and contempt of care,
But checks the strain, and takes an humbler tone
Before the vulgar — or unletter'd drone;
Play'd off to such, like whispering — 'tis ill-bred,
In both — they're ignorant of what is said.

But what's this WIT which so much power displays,
And draws around it such distinguish'd praise?
Is it a science issuing from the schools,
And taught progressively by settled rules?
Or can it — say, parochially proclaim
"A local habitation and a name?"
Ah no! — it ranges with the poet's eye,
Now stoops to earth — or now ascends the sky,
Flits through all nature with a boundless wing,
Is every where by turns — and every thing.
Now in a grave impressive strain 'twill shine,
And give a sterling sense to every line;
Now like the lightning's vivid flash 'tis found
Above — below — at every point around,
With plain simplicity 'twill sometimes press,
And now attract with all the lure of dress;
Now in an apologue will best prevail,
And charm its hearers by an artful tale;
Or in a simile their humour hit,
And by a parallel elicit wit.
In short, like Proteus, such its changeling power,
So form'd — so fitted to the varying hour,
That strive to paint it — by a magic air
It mocks description-and eludes all care,
Yes! — this is WIT, which in itself can find
These quick, successive images of mind;
Fancies which flow from their own native store,
Untaught by fashion, or scholastic lore,
The badge of merit, Nature's will imparts,
When first she stamps the bias on our hearts.

Lo! RAILLERY trips it from the same gay school,
Unaw'd by forms, or syllogistic rule,
Yet sure to please, addressed with proper skill,
Let plodding talkers spurn it as they will;
Not that which, snarling, worries all it meets,
—That mob-like education of the streets—
Nor that which probes, insidiously, to find
The secret failings of a neighbour's mind
True raillery takes a more exalted line,
And scorns by mean, unworthy arts to shine;
Amused, it frolics in a playful tone,
And laughs at follies in good-nature sown,
Or sets some talent in a different view,
By different lights, to shew what's merit's due;
Or fir'd by fancy of ingenious birth,
—Whilst it reveres the favourite sons of worth—
Mocks them for vices, which the world proclaims
Contrast the virtues that adorn their names:
Such as if MOIRA, prais'd by every tongue,
The good — the wise — the aged and the young,
Should be arraign'd for narrowness of mind,
To strangers callous — to his friends unkind,
The first to violate his country's laws,
The last — to volunteer in virtue's cause;
Truth thus revers'd, returns with novel praise,
And gilds the object with reflected rays.

To wit and raillery's "spirit stirring drum,"
Come, ANECDOTE! with all thy graces, come!
Now giving facts to light th' historic page,
Which scap'd the critic's eye, or writer's age,
Or now describing, in thy humorous way,
Some sprightly story of the modern day,
Something which meets "the cunning of the scene,"
Unmix'd with malice — petulance — or spleen:
Such cull'd with taste, and not by use grown stale,
In powers of entertaining seldom fail,
Relieve the grave — to mirth its rites afford,
And crown the sparkling glass, and hospitable board.

See last where PUNNING waits — submissive — low!
Who says "Come in, associate!" — aye — or no?
"No" — growls some critic, skill'd in lumb'ring lore,
—Dull as the weed which rots on Lethe's shore—
Whose mind ne'er soar'd above those learned elves,
Whose labours fright old authors from themselves.
This is a wretched school-boy kind of taste,
Unfit for him by college honours grac'd,
Unfit for him who scorns such wordy wiles,
Nor once betrays his features into smiles."
Fir'd by congenial thoughts, "No," cries the Cit,
"Punning's, I am told, the lowest kind of wit,
A sort of talent by misfortune lent,
The bane of industry, and ten per cent."—
But men of this inveterate wisdom say,
Are there no times, or seasons to be gay?
Should we be always so intent to spare,
As to keep hourly watch and ward with care?
Is there no balance against human ills,
No spirit cordials — no convivial pills?
But all one cheerless round of form and place,
Where merry Morons dares not shew his face?
Be yours that life — be ours to soothe its cares,
And meet the world in all its playful airs,
To hail that pun, which comes impromptu drest,
In wit's gay trappings — badinage, and jest,
Or laughing out, humanely will decide,
And turn commencing bickerings aside.
Such puns, the truly learn'd will not revile,
At such the wise may innocently smile.

'Midst many a dear, delightful friendly hour,
Warm'd by the beams of wit's enliv'ning pow'r,
When care suspended, gave the soul full play,
And tell-tale clocks unheeded toll'd away,
These rules were glean'd — from spirits pure in heart;
Who soar'd to science — or excell'd in art,
Or in the cause of virtue — giant strong,
Roll'd the full tide of moral truth along.
Sweet the remembrance of those pleasing tunes,
Which charm'd my youth, and now inspires my rhymes;
Sweet the remembrance of each worthy wight,
Who gave this pure and rational delight!
Some on Ierne's hospitable coast,
Whose loves and friendships were my earliest boast,
By whom the Muse was first induced to sing,
First taught to poise and spread her trembling wing,
Unconscious of that art's seducing schemes
Which merge all business in poetic dreams,
Unconscious of that more than magic skill,
Which lures the victim when and where it will;
Some who have been Britannia's boast and pride,
Alike to genius as to rank allied,
Men, as if fortune in her contrite hour,
Gave this amends for all her wanton power,
A large amends! beneficent and kind,
To rouse and guide my energies of mind.

JOHNSON, the Socrates of modern days,
Who must as often as he's named have praise,
Who in an age where talents sought their way
Through various routes of taste — caprice, or pay,
Though pressed by Poverty on every side,
Yet with a manly, firm — intrepid stride,
Form'd from himself a school of moral truth,
As guides for age — as institutes for youth,
His own example beaming through the whole,
In all the spotless purity of soul.

BURKE, whose omniscient eye surveyed around
All that in learning — morals — taste were found;
The powers of rhetoric were all his own,
To shine — convince — or legislate alone;
All turn'd obedient to his guiding hand,
And bowed submissive to his sole command;
Yet whilst we view'd those powers in bright array,
Fruits more luxuriant grac'd th' enamelled way,
Ripe in experience — ripe in strength of thought,
Now warm'd by wit and now by judgment wrought,
'Till the wrapt mind by various passions tost,
Found all its thoughts in admiration lost.

REYNOLDS, whom nature from his earliest hour,
Endued with all her fascinating power,
Adorned with every aid of graphic art,
To seize the genuine impulse of the heart;
Hence when his pencil sketch'd the human face,
He gave the mind — the manners and the grace;
The individual was not only known,
Portrait and Character alike were shewn.
To gifts like these, so apposite and clear,
He added all that could the man endear;
A sober sense, by easy manners led,
A fund of talk so perfectly well bred,
As awed e'en Malice to restrain her mind,
Knowing that Reynolds could not be malign'd.

GOLDSMITH, whose moral, sweet, descriptive quill,
Pure as the fount on Aganippe's hill,
Displayed the talents of a virtuous muse,
With all the graces poets should infuse,
How oft, dear Bard of Auburn, have we strayed
Round London's purlieus in the summer shade,
Then at the Grecian closed our rambling day
With wits and templars in the social way,
Where mirth and observation's pleasing powers
Illumed and vivified the fleeting hours?
How oft I have seen the rays of nature start
Warm and impressive from thy honest heart,
In careless phrases — sometimes unrefin'd,
Yet all th' effusions of a pregnant mind.

Adieu! dear Bard! and tho' 'tis many a year
Since fate has stopp'd thy muse's bright career,
Still Memory whispers with a grateful tongue,
How Reynolds painted — and how Goldsmith sung;
Still to my ear thy warbling lyre conveys
The fond memorials of thy well earned praise,
Alleviates still the loss it could not save,
And draws one comfort from th' oblivious grave;
A comfort — time — nor accident shall rend,
In feeling such a poet was my friend.

Twinned with this sister art, 'twas BURNEY'S skill
To paint the powers of music at his will,
Those wondrous powers, which act without controul
To wake, to rouse, to animate the soul;
Or touch the chord where softer notes reply,
And pity blends her sympathetic sigh.
Such was his skill, and such his higher art
Alike to touch with harmony his heart
Where taste and science happily combined
To shew the produce of a cultured mind.

Hail, happy spirit! who with varied grace,
Bequeath'd those talents to thy rising race,
Where Burney's name with freshen'd bloom still lives
To shame those legacies which fortune gives.

Nor Wyndham's merits should be left unsung,
Whilst memory has a note — or praise a tongue;
Arts, science, politics, his mind embraced,
In all the variegated forms of taste,
Eager to know what could in all be found,
And to communicate the same around;
What tho' in all this range of mental pow'r,
He sometimes cropt a thistle for a flower,
Tho' sometimes cap-a-pe he rear'd his lance
In all the gallantry of old romance,
His aims were honest, — and thus understood
He always acted for the public good.

O Garrick! who can paint thy various powers
To cheer and vivify the social hours?
Or, in the fascinating charms array'd,
To rouse — to melt — to threaten or persuade?
Whether in Lear's decrepid form, all wild
Pouring his frantic curses on his child,
Or now with murd'rous, felt Ambition warm,
Assumed Macbeth — or Richard's hideous form,
Or turn'd aside to meet in sprightly glee
His laughter-loving sister Comedy,
In Drugger's idiot look — or Ranger's ease,
Which gave to fashion every charm to please;
Whate'er the part, 'twas nature pure and whole,
Who for the purpose fir'd his kindred soul,
To shew the various passions as they rise,
Without the borrowed robes of art's disguise,
That all th' admiring world in him might see
Not One — but all mankind's epitome.

How oft wrapped up in wonder have I been
When you and Shakespeare aggrandiz'd the scene!
How oft as listening on thy magic ground,
I shared in all the fond illusions round,
Lived o'er each act, joined in the loud applause,
And felt the moral of the Drama's laws,
Laws, which display the manners of mankind,
Improve our taste and meliorate the mind.

Near Garrick's shrine, let modest Farmer stand,
Truth in his voice — decision in his hand,
Who rescued Shakespeare from the claims of art,
And gave to Nature, what was Nature's part;
Proved 'twas her power alone inspir'd his soul,
And taught the varying passions how to roll,
Gave him the range of all her wide domain,
Whilst panting Science followed him in vain.
Nor was this all the critic's praise — his mind
Alike was of the artless social kind,
Tho' learn'd yet clear — familiar yet well bred,
Without the courtier's smile — or pedant's head.

Next BOSWELL came, whose roving fancy sought
By turns — the charms of pleasantry and thought;
Whatever subject met his mental view,
He added something pertinent or new;
For such the fulness of his jocund mind,
He needed no preparatives to find,
His humour, like the beauties of a face,
Cost him no trouble — it was nature's grace.

Lo! HORSLEY, champion of the church's cause,
And Barrington, the guard of British laws,
Who sought her records with the purest zeal,
And with his own example stampt their seal,
A seal, which proves this point in every suit,
That law best shines by manners, sense, and truth.

Skilled in an art which, happily applied,
Displays benevolence on every side;
Joined to the graces which adorn that art,
Good temper, sense, and excellence of heart;
Such once was BROCKLESBY, my earliest friend,
Who waited not — for others to commend,
But led me onwards in the path of fame,
Gave me his arm — his patronage and name,
With all that cordial service could provide,
Nor ever once forsook me 'till he died.

Lured by the Muse to stray from Rufus Hall,
To sprightlier scenes which rise at pleasure's call,
Murphy, 'twas your's to grace our social fire,
And give to converse all its rights require;
The scholar's knowledge, and the courtier's ease,
With every charm to cultivate, or please.
'Twas yours to tell who grac'd the drama's art,
Compared to those who now assume the part;
Now tell what actors flourished heretofore,
And now — who bellowed and were heard no more.
With all the Bedford critics could disclose
Quin's surly jests, and sprightly Foote's Bon Mots.
These thou couldst tell with many a varied grace,
With due regard to circumstance and place,
Or turn the theme, and equal powers display
Where graver observation led the way.

Come, Nichols, last, not least in our regards,
Accept this tribute which thy worth awards;
And sure, if fond research to aid the store
Of ancient learning — or domestic lore,
If zeal, which every month successful plies
To paint the living manners as they rise;
If this be praise, then take your ample due,
For all those honest claims belong to you.

Yet oh! my friend! with whom full many a night,
I have heard those worthies with supreme delight,
How sad to tell those happy scenes are o'er,
And all those loved associates now no more!
—All — all are gone, save we who still remain
As mourning heralds of this matchless train!

Here let me ponder o'er those halcyon days,
Which filled my mind with knowledge, love and praise;
Here let me ponder o'er each honoured name,
Whose talk was wisdom, and whose friendship fame,
With many more whom Death's unsparing pow'r
Has swept untimely from the social hour;
Names that, perhaps, for many a coming age,
Shall ne'er alike adorn th' historic page,
Yet live for ever in my grateful breast,
The pride and solace of my evening's rest.

This was my school — and surely I may boast
Some little merit from so bright an host;
Sure I might say — with such experience fraught,
Some skill in Conversation may be taught,
Some germ may strike to fertilize the mind,
And spread this science more amongst mankind.

Here might we close — but that the social muse
—Who feels a public interest in her views—
Once more would touch, as ling'ring o'er the lyre,
Her favourite subject with congenial fire,
Proclaim its birth — its various charms rehearse
In no ignoble adulating verse,
But in such strains as to herself belong,
When truth and gratitude record the song,
Such cordial strains as parting friends attest,
When long remember'd pleasures share the breast.

Whether in nature's mould — or that of art,
Man first was cast to act a social part,
Nor aught avails! in social bands we're found,
Link'd in all parts — above — below — around.
The splendid firmament which spreads on high
Its awful front, and gives one common sky,
The fost'ring elements which round us wait,
Our equal birth-right — undistinguish'd fate,
Our conscious weakness — fond desire to know
If kindred thoughts in other breasts might glow—
All these, perhaps, first led us to unite
For mutual wonder — safety — and delight.
Our pleasures next society ensnar'd,
—For pleasures to be relish'd, must be shar'd—
'Till by degrees, with love and friendship's aid,
And laws and arts, and all-aspiring trade,
Converse spread out so general and refin'd,
To rank the great carousal of the mind.

In vain we fly to books to gain this art,
For what can theories alone impart?
Such are, at best, but copies well design'd,
'Tis in th' original we read mankind:
Here natures ope her page without disguise,
And shews the living manners as they rise;
With books too often solitude will grow,
That nurse of private vice, and various woe:
As wine's abuse, that false ally to joy,
Soothing at first, hereafter to destroy,
Or spleen which urges with perpetual pain,
Suspicions — fears — anxieties — in vain,
Or manners rough — or diffidence of air,
Or silence which usurps the social chair—
Whilst CONVERSATION, ever on the wing,
Delights to rove through all the honied spring,
Like music's voice, harmonious, deep and clear,
Pours all its information through the ear,
Draws out the force of education's plan,
Combines the whole, and finishes the man.

See how it decorates the classic page!
And how the ancients felt this pleasing rage!
Or at their baths — their meals — the public hall,
'Twas Conversation took the lead in all;
Here rights were canvass'd — manners understood,
And laws develop'd for the public good,
Here heroes' deeds were told with kindred blaze,
Nor humbler virtues 'scap'd their share of praise.
The matron's constancy, the sage's sense,
The grace of beauty, and its best defence,
The poor man's firmness in the struggling hour,
Contentment's charm, or riches' liberal power,
All learning taught — all daily life had shewn,
—The most instructive science to be known—
Were here enforced with simpleness and truth,
As food for age — or models for their youth,
Nay, even in death, they felt for human kind,
And left their moral legacies behind.

O life's true teacher! — most illustrious sage!
Whose great example burns from age to age,
Who scorn'd the trammels of the wrangling schools,
And taught philosophy by christian rules,
Tho' doom'd a base — unworthy death to share,
—In spite of pity's voice, and virtue's prayer—
Still did thy soul, unbroken and serene,
With conscious truth survey the awful scene,
Fearless what pangs, the poison'd bowl could give,
And to the last — inform'd us how to live.

And thou, blest shade! whose name we must admire
Whilst British bosoms glow with British fire,
Who first brought learning at a cheap expense,
To store the public mind with useful sense,
Whose grace of thought disclos'd so pure a ray,
And shed such lustre round thy moral lay,
That Fashion's glass — no longer dup'd the age,
But crowds grew virtuous musing o'er thy page.
'Twas yours through life, by mild, parental air,
To make the children of mankind your care,
To guide our taste — inspire the rising youth
With love of honour, rectitude, and truth,
"Form the soft bosom with the gentlest art,
And pour the human virtues in the heart."

With such bright models, plac'd before our view,
Let's learn to copy each proportion true,
Explore what Conversation can produce,
For moral happiness — and social use.
In life's gay spring 'tis that perpetual school,
Which moulds the manners, free from tyrant rule,
Gives strength of mind and readiness to scan
The various habitudes of active man.
Possess'd of this we better learn to prize
What comforts fashion gives, or what denies,
What dress imports — what friendship's crowds employ,
In all the frivolous pursuits of joy.
Shielded by this, we better lean to shun
Those fatal rounds which youthful passions run;
Bacchus' mad court, or that unhallow'd fane
Where Pleasure's daughters lead a life of pain,
Where love assum'd keeps up a mimic show,
And every smile's the harbinger of woe.
Or Gaming's lure, which rends all social life,
Engenders fraud, rapacity and strife,
With feverish fits which harrow up the soul
'Twixt fruitless hopes and fears without control:
The cause of days unprofitably spent,
Of widow'd nights to wives with sorrow rent,
Of children left unfriended and forlorn,
A prey to vice — and poverty and scorn,
The bane of all man's honourable ends,
Fame — health and fortune — happiness and friends.
Far above such the virtuous bosom soars,
Who converse love — fly from these Syren shores.

In works of taste, though sought with critic zeal,
'Tis Conversation stamps the final seal,
Marks what's original and what is known,
And adds another's strictures to our own.
What school — what travels, what examples taught,
As rich materials for our use are brought;
Proud now to feel what charmed our earlier days,
Return with tenfold interest to our praise,
On every side we some advantage prove,
It warms our friendship and revives our LOVE.

Fir'd by that sound, my fancy how expands,
To hail the scene where hearts unite with hands,
To hail that scene, so exquisitely sweet,
Where souls co-mingling happy lovers meet.
Primaeval scene! where joys spring up around,
Which he who never felt few comforts found,
Which he who scorns to feel and claim his part,
Deserves the miseries of a vacant heart.
Here the fond youth contemplates all the fair,
And finds that every virtue's treasured there,
Adorn'd with every grace that can invite,
And lead the senses to supreme delight,—
Hence all the ardour of his mind's display'd
To please — inform, and win the blushing maid.

She, too, subdued, embarrassed looks around,
Yet hangs enraptur'd on the dulcet sound:
Warm'd by his strains — she feels herself inclin'd
To claim that half which heaven at first design'd,
And thus in words which purest thoughts impart,
Whispers in secret to her pulsive heart:
"Sure Hymen here has found his lawful throne,
This is the man I now may call my own;
Nor modesty — nor virtue can upbraid
This frank confession of an artless maid;
I know we're one, I feel it in my frame,
Our thoughts, desires, and manners are the same,
With him through fortune's changes will I rove,
And all the business of our lives be love."

Hearts thus united, following nature's end,
Soon mould the lover to the faithful friend,
And from the varying incidents of life,
Which others meet with sullenness or strife,
Call out the sweet regards of man and wife.
Those sweet regards by kindred thoughts improved,
That witching charm of "LOVING AND BELOVED."
Hence, when the evening shadows scarf the day,
With all that bustle daily cares display,
And fond BENVOLIO seeks within his home
Those purer joys which never ask to roam,
Here Conversation finds its happiest hour
'Twixt love and duty — gratitude and power.
Here every finer chord is touched that rings,
When rapture swells the note and pours along the strings.
He now recounts in fond domestic ease,
All that he thinks will cultivate, or please;
"The public good, which loyal hearts proclaim
As equal sharers of the public fame;
What cast of fortune speeds himself, or friends,
What match commences — or what law-suit ends,
What whims amuse — what useful books come out,
What neighbour meditates a friendly rout:"
Perhaps some party for his household made,
Which asks the toilette's supplemental aid,
Then shews such presents for his children bought
As prove the pledges of a father's thought.

Oh! sweet exchange of every pure delight,
Which cheers the day and gladdens every night,
Where mutual looks express without a voice,
The bliss which consecrates a mutual choice,
Where children run to clasp their happy sire,
And form a listening group around his fire,
Where all combine to shew from nature's laws,
The Conversation piece which nature draws.

Such the resource my widowed heart late knew,
Such were the scenes for years I had in view!
However fortune turned her giddy wheel,
Whatever stings she strove to make me feel,
Thy magic looks, MARIA, crushed her sway,
And changed the gloomy to the cheerful day;
For Oh! — the hand of heaven that made you fair,
Alike gave every soft persuasive air,
Manners to grace the polished walks of life,
Prudence to guide the duties of a wife.
With every charm connubial rights could prove,
Good humour — truth — amenity and Love.

Then take this verse — thou dear departed shade!
For all the virtues which thy life displayed
This and a sigh — the memory of a heart
Which from thy loved idea ne'er shall part;
This and a tear — the homage of his woe,
Are all a sorrowing husband can bestow,
Are all, alas that now can claim his power,
The sad exchange for many a blissful hour.

Yet from this tribute whilst I seek relief,
I court no partial audience to my grief,
My cause, ye Husbands! is alike your own,
'Tis mutual love must fortify your throne,
Spread every joy — extinguish every strife,
And form the dear relationships of life;
Those melting charities which lead the soul
From kindred parts to harmonize the whole:
And if my long experience can impart
This useful truth more genial to the heart,
If it can make one married pair more wise
In the true value of the nuptial prize,
This prize which Providence at first design'd
To bless, cement and propagate mankind,
My object's answered, and thus understood
I feel the proud reward of doing good.

In latter age when passions milder flow,
And our chief pride is raised on what we know,
Tho' love no longer takes an active part,
No longer flames, or agitates the heart;
Still Conversation holds its settled throne,
Its power of pleasing still is all our own.
By this once more we prove the virgin kind,
And gain fresh conquests o'er her charms of mind,
Excite the rising youth to found a name
On the broad basis of an honest fame,
Teach them that fortune — trimmed in all her charms,
And falsely called "The Queen of Arts and Arms,"
Acts but as handmaid to the vigorous mind
Where industry and virtue are combin'd;
Ev'n age will listen to our tales of truth,
And feel once more the energies of youth.
Thus Conversation, from its boundless store,
Ever dispensing and yet never poor,
Blends with instruction every cheerful hour,
Obtains respect and confidence and power.

And when approaching to its awful close,
Life chiefly finds its comforts in repose,
When the calm mind, tho' from the world apart,
Still loves the commerce of a tender heart,
When ebbing nature wants some soothing friend
To cheer its spirit and support its end,
This social charm shall gild our setting day,
Inspire fresh hopes, and brighter views display;
Hopes which foretaste, confirm'd by pious trust,
"THE SACRED CONVERSATION OF THE JUST,"

Where "Man made perfect" feels celestial fires,
Glows in discourse, or hymns in heavenly choirs,
Where, blest COMMUNION! every joy is Thine,
ETERNAL TRUTH and HARMONY DIVINE.

[pp. 65-110]