Epistle To John Sargent, Esq.

A poem by William Hayley

October, 1814.

Epistle.

Friend of my vernal and autumnal day,
In life's gay bloom, and in its slow decay:
Sargent! who leav'st thy hermit's studious cell,
To act thy busier part, and act it well,
In courts of rural justice to preside,
In temperate dignity unstain'd with pride.
Oft let us meet, that friendship's honour'd chain,
In its extension may new lustre gain;
So let us, cheer'd by memory's social blaze,
Live o'er again our long-departed days.
I thank kind Heaven, that made the pleasure mine
Beneath my roof to see thy virtues shine;
When Providence thy fondest wishes crown'd,
Casting thy lot on fair, and southern ground:
When the gay songs of Eartham's friendly grove
Proclaim'd the triumph of thy prosperous love--
Tis sweet to plant a friend in genial land,
And see his branches round the world expand!
I share thy joy, the heart's parental feast
To learn thy filial pilgrim in the East,
Thy youthful Harry, is among the prime,
Whom learning honours in her Indian clime:
Nor less the joy to hear thy eldest-born,
Whom gifts of sacred eloquence adorn,
Has, with Cicestria's liberal applause,
Those gifts exerted in the noblest cause:
Pleas'd to promote the most sublime emprise
That Christian charity could e'er devise;
To blend her votaries of every name
In one harmonious universal aim;
To make the word of God, that truest wealth,
The heart's nutrition, and the spirit's health
As common as the food, by heavenly power
Pour'd from the skies, a life-preserving shower,
On deserts pour'd, in hopeless hunger's track,
When He, who gather'd little, felt no lack.
My friend of many years! we both have found
Darkness and sunshine on the chequer'd ground,
In different paths appointed to our feet:
You in the world--your host in his retreat!
Yet blest be Heaven, that grants us to behold
Wonders of Providence like those of old,
When mortals in the waste, they murmuring trod,
Saw, and rever'd the guidance of their God,
We have beheld, and with one heart and voice
Hail'd the bright scene, that bids the globe rejoice;
Nature releas'd from devastation's flood,
And peace emerging from a sea of blood.
Wonders yet happier to devotion's eyes
In blissful vision will now widely rise,
From pure diffusive zeal in Britain sprung,
Bidding the Gospel speak in every tongue;
Till its effect earth's utmost bounds attest,
Jesus enthron'd in every human breast,
And all his subjects, as his mercy will'd,
Feeling within themselves his joy fulfill'd.
Yes, my time-honoured friend, with one accord
We bless the promised advent of our Lord,
In heavenly prospect, tho' we still sustain
Our unexhausted share of earthly pain.
But whatsoever ills yet undisplay'd
May o'er our eve of life throw deeper shade,
We have the constant comfort to possess
An antidote against the mind's distress;

That settled trust in Providence divine.
Which lets the Christian at no lot repine:
But, when most tried, his faith's prime power employ,
And make affliction minister to joy.
We both have past thro' many a troubled day,
And felt adversity's heart-searching sway:
But when most wounded, both have kiss'd the rod,
And blest the pangs assign'd us by our God;
To wean us from a world, which, Nature sees,
None estimate aright, or quit with ease,
But souls Heaven-taught, that, free from doubt's alarm,
Hail death their herald to the Saviour's arms.
We both, my friend, in mind sedate and firm
Enter'd with thankfulness life's latest term.
And I might claim (could years such right assume)
First to attain the quiet of the tomb;
There show me still the friendship of our youth,
And still speak of me with indulgent truth.
May'st thou, less worn by griefs of many a year,
Still rich in filial gems, that earth endear!
Thy public duties long with grace discharge,
Esteem'd and honour'd by the world at large.
Thy elder, idler friend that world may spare,
And yet allow his name a station there;
For he long literary zeal has shown,
To honour merit, that surpassed his own:
And hop'd to live beyond his mortal days,
In England's memory, and friendship's praise.
High hopes! o'er which his holier thoughts aspire,
And make the peace of God his paramount desire.

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