Dear BECHER, you tell me to mix with mankind;
I cannot deny such a precept is wise;
But retirement accords with the tone of my mind:
I will not descend to a world I despise.
Did the Senate or Camp my exertions require,
Ambition might prompt me, at once, to go forth;
When Infancy's years of probation expire,
Perchance, I may strive to distinguish my birth.
The fire, in the cavern of Etna, conceal'd,
Still mantles unseen in its secret recess;
At length, in a volume terrific, reveal'd,
No torrent can quench it, no bounds can repress.
Oh! thus, the desire, in my bosom, for fame
Bids me live, but to hope for Posterity's praise.
Could I soar with the Phoenix on pinions of flame,
With him I would wish to expire in the blaze.
For the life of a Fox, of a Chatham the death,
What censure, what danger, what woe would I brave!
Their lives did not end, when they yielded their breath,
Their glory illumines the gloom of their grave.
Yet why should I mingle in Fashion's full herd?
Why crouch to her leaders, or cringe to her rules?
Why bend to the proud, or applaud the absurd?
Why search for delight, in the friendship of fools?
I have tasted the sweets, and the bitters, of love,
In friendship I early was taught to believe;
My passion the matrons of prudence reprove,
I have found that a friend may profess, yet deceive.
To me what is wealth? - it may pass in an hour,
If Tyrants prevail, or if Fortune should frown:
To me what is title? - the phantom of power;
To me what is fashion? - I seek but renown.
Deceit is a stranger, as yet, to my soul;
I, still, am unpractised to varnish the truth:
Then, why should I live in a hateful controul?
Why waste, upon folly, the days of my youth?