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E P I S T L E
EAR JOSEPH -five and twenty years ago
Alas! how time escapes—'tis even som With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour and now we never meet. As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the fame in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings Strange fluctuation of all human things! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart : And, were I call’d to prove th' assertion true, One proof should serve-a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won, Thodgh num'rous once, reduc'd to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No: Gold they seein'd, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant önce, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overaw'd Left he should trespass, begg’d to go abroad. Go, fellow !--whither ? --turning short about Nay. Stay at home;n-you're always going out. 'Tis but a step, fir, jult at the street's endFor what ? --An please you, fir, to see a friend. A friend? Horatio cried, and seem'd to startYea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart-And fetch my cloak, for though the night be raw I'll see him too-the first I ever faw..
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild, i And was his play-thing often when a child; But fomewhat at that moment pinch'd him close, Else he was seldom bitter or morose : Perhaps, his confidence just then betray'd, His grief might prompt him with the speech he
made ; Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth, The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
But not to moralize too much, and strain
Oh happy Britain ! we have not to fear