Better I were distract,
So should my thoughts be sever’d from my griefs, And woes by strong imagination lose The knowledge of themselves.
Genius! thou gift of Heav’n! thou light divine!
Amid what dangers art thou doom’d to shine!
Oft will the body’s weakness check thy force,
Oft damp thy vigour, and impede thy course;
And trembling nerves compel thee to restrain
Thy nobler efforts, to contend with pain;
Or want (sad guest!) will in thy presence come,
And breathe around her melancholy gloom:
To life’s low cares will thy proud thought confine,
And make her sufferings, her impatience, thine.
Evil and strong, seducing passions prey
On soaring minds, and win them from their way,
Who then to Vice the subject spirits give,
And in the service of the conqu’ror live;
Like captive Samson making sport for all,
Who fear’d their strength, and glory in their fall.
Genius, with virtue, still may lack the aid
Implored by humble minds, and hearts afraid;
May leave to timid souls the shield and sword
Of the tried Faith, and the resistless Word;
Amid a world of dangers venturing forth,
Frail, but yet fearless, proud in conscious worth,
Till strong temptation, in some fatal time,
Assails the heart, and wins the soul to crime,
When left by honour, and by sorrow spent,
Unused to pray, unable to repent,
The nobler powers, that once exalted high
Th’ aspiring man, shall then degraded lie:
Reason, through anguish, shall her throne forsake,
And strength of mind but stronger madness make.
When Edward Shore had reach’d his twentieth year,
He felt his bosom light, his conscience clear;
Applause at school the youthful hero gain’d,
And trials there with manly strength sustain’d:
With prospects bright upon the world he came,
Pure love of virtue, strong desire of fame:
Men watch’d the way his lofty mind would take,
And all foretold the progress he would make.
Boast of these friends, to older men a guide,
Proud of his parts, but gracious in his pride;
He bore a gay good-nature in his face,
And in his air were dignity and grace;
Dress that became his state and years he wore,
And sense and spirit shone in Edward Shore.
Thus, while admiring friends the Youth beheld,
His own disgust their forward hopes repell’d;
For he unfix’d, unfixing, look’d around,
And no employment but in seeking found;
He gave his restless thoughts to views refined,
And shrank from worldly cares with wounded mind.
Rejecting trade, awhile he dwelt on laws,
“But who could plead, if unapproved the cause?”
A doubting, dismal tribe physicians seem’d;
Divines o’er texts and disputations dream’d,
War and its glory he perhaps could love,