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ODE TO DUTY.
[THIS Ode is on the model of Gray's Ode to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune. Many and many a time have I been twitted by my wife and sister for having forgotten this dedication of myself to the stern law-giver. Transgressor indeed I have been, from hour to hour, from day to day: I would fain hope however, not more flagrantly or in a worse way than most of my tuneful brethren. But these last words are in a wrong strain. We should be rigorous to ourselves and forbearing, if not indulgent, to others, and, if we make comparisons at all, it ought to be with those who have morally excelled us.]
'Jam non consilio bonus, sed more eò perductus, ut non tantum rectè facere possim, sed nisi rectè facere non possim.'
STERN Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!
There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work, and know it not:
Oh! if through confidence misplaced
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them
Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
And they a blissful course may hold
Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.
I, loving freedom, and untried;
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.
Through no disturbance of my soul,
But in the quietness of thought:
Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong.
To humbler functions, awful Power!
And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!
CHARACTER OF THE HAPPY WARRIOR.
[THE course of the great war with the French naturally fixed one's attention upon the military character, and, to the honour of our country, there were many illustrious instances of the qualities that constitute its highest excellence. Lord Nelson carried most of the virtues that the trials he was exposed to in his department of the service necessarily call forth and sustain, if they do not produce the contrary vices. But his public life was stained with one great crime, so that, though many passages of these lines were suggested by what was generally known as excellent in his conduct, I have not been able to connect his name with the poem as I could wish, or even to think of him with satisfaction in reference to the idea of what a warrior ought to be. For the sake of such of my friends as may happen to read this note I will add, that many elements of the character here pourtrayed were found in my brother John, who perished by shipwreck, as mentioned elsewhere. His messmates used to call him the Philosopher, from which it must be inferred that the qua
lities and dispositions I allude to had not escaped their notice. He often expressed his regret, after the war had continued some time, that he had not chosen the Naval, instead of the East India Company's, service, to which his family connexion had led him. He greatly valued moral and religious instruc tion for youth, as tending to make good sailors. The best, he used to say, came from Scotland; the next to them, from the North of England, especially from Westmorland and Cumberland, where, thanks to the piety and local attachments of our ancestors, endowed, or, as they are commonly called, free, schools abound.]
WHO is the happy Warrior? Who is he
In face of these doth exercise a power
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife, Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence; a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
Come when it will, is equal to the need: