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VERSES,

PRINTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE YEARLY BILL OF MORTALITY

OF THE TOWN OF NORTHAMPTON.

Dec. 21, 1787.

Regumque turres.
Pale Death with equal foot strikes wide the door
Of royal halls and hovels of the poor.

WHILE thirteen moons saw smoothly run

The Nen's barge-laden wave,
All these, life's rambling journey done,

Was man (frail always) made more frail

Than in foregoing years?
Did famine, or did plague prevail,

That so much death appears?
No; these were vig'rous as their sires,

Nor plague nor famine came;
This annual tribute Death requires,

And never waves his claim.

Like crowded forest trees we stand,

And some are mark'd to fall ;. VOL. II. 2d v

The axe will smite at God's command,

And soon shall smite us all.
Green as the bay-tree, ever green,

With its new foliage on,
The gay, the thoughtless have I seen ;

I pass'd—and they were gone.
Read, ye that run, the awful truth,

With which I charge my page ; A worm is in the bud of youth,

And at the root of age.

No present health can health insure

For yet an hour to come ;
No med'cine, though it often cure,

Can always balk the tomb.

And oh! that (humble as my lot,

And scorn'd as is my strain*)
These truths, though known, too much forgot,

I may not teach in vain.
So prays your Clerk, with all his heart ;

And, ere he quits the pen,
Begs You, for once, to take his part,

And answer all-Amen!

* John Cox, Parish Clerk of Northampton.

. ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.

November 5, 1793.

Happy the mortal, who has trac'd effects
To their First Cause; cast fear beneath his feet;
And death, and roaring hell's voracious fires.

THANKLESS for favours from on high,

Man thinks he fades too soon ; Though 'tis his privilege to die,

Would he improve the boon:
But he, not wise enough to scan

His best concerns aright,
Would gladly stretch life's little span

To ages, if he might
To ages, in a world of pain,

To ages, where he goes
Gall'd by affliction's heavy chain,

And hopeless of repose.

Strange fondness of the human heart,

Enamour'd of its harm ! Strange world, that costs it so much smart,

And still has pow'r to charm !

Whence has the world her magic powr?

Why deem we death a foe? Recoil from weary life's best hour,

And covet longer woe?

The cause is conscience-Conscience oft

Her tale of guilt renews :
Her voice is terrible though soft,

And dread of death ensues.
Then, anxious to be longer spar'd,

Man mourns his fleeting breath :
All evils then seem light, compar'd

With the approach of DEATH. "Tis judgment shakes him; there's the fear

That prompts his wish to stay :
He has incurr'd a long arrear,

And must despair to pay.
Pay!-Follow Christ, and all is paid :

His death your peace ensures :
Think on the grave, where he was laid,

And calm descend to yours.

ON A SIMILAR OCCASION.

FOR THE YEAR

Improve the present hour, for all beside
Is a mere feather on the torrent's tide.

COULD I, from Heav'n inspir'd, as sure presage

To whom the rising year shall prove the last As I can number in my punctual page,

And item down the victims of the past ;

How each would trembling wait the mournful sheet,

On which the press might stamp him next to die; And, reading here his sentence, how replete

With anxious meaning, heav'nward cast his eye.

Time then would seem more precious than the joys

In which he sports away the treasure now, And prayer more seasonable than the noise

Of drunkards or the music-drawing bow,

Then, doubtless, many a trifler, on the brink

Of this world's hazardous and headlong shore, Forc'd to a pause, would feel it good to think,

Told that his setting sun would rise no more. Ah! self-deceiv'd! could I prophetic say

Who next is fated, and who next shall fall, The rest might then seem privileg'd to play ;

But, naming none, the voice now speaks to all. Observe the dappled foresters, how light

They bound, and airy, o'er the sunny glade : One falls—the rest, wide scatter'd with affright,

Vanish at once into the thickest shade.

Had we their wisdom, should we, often warn'd,

Still need repeated warnings ; and at last, A thousand awful admonitions scorn'd,

Die self-accus'd of life all run to waste ?

Sad waste! for which no after thrift atones, · The grave admits no cure of guilt or sin;

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