Epistle to Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer

Such were the notes thy once-lov'd Poet sung,
'Till Death untimely stop'd his tuneful tongue.
Oh just beheld, and lost! admir'd and mourn'd!
With softest manners, gentlest arts adorn'd!
Blest in each science, blest in ev'ry strain!
Dear to the Muse! to H ARLEY dear — in vain!
For him, thou oft hast bid the World attend,
Fond to forget the statesman in the friend;
For Swift and him, despis'd the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great;
Dextrous, the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleas'd to 'scape from Flattery to Wit.
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear,
(A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear)
Recall those nights that clos'd thy toilsome days,
Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays,
Who, careless now of Int'rest, Fame, or Fate,
Perhaps forgets that O XFORD e'er was great;
Or deeming meanest what we greatest call,
Beholds thee glorious only in thy Fall.
And sure, if aught below the seats divine
Can touch Immortals, 'tis a Soul like thine:
A Soul supreme, in each hard instance try'd,
Above all Pain, all Passion, and all Pride,
The rage of Pow'r, the blast of public breath,
The lust of Lucre, and the dread of Death.
In vain to Deserts thy retreat is made;
The Muse attends thee to thy silent shade:
'Tis hers, the brave man's latest steps to trace,
Rejudge his acts, and dignify disgrace.
When Int'rest calls off all her sneaking train,
And all th' oblig'd desert, and all the vain;
She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
When the last ling'ring friend has bid farewell.
Ev'n now, she shades thy Ev'ning-walk with bays,
(No hireling she, no prostitute to praise)
Ev'n now, observant of the parting ray,
Eyes the calm Sun-set of thy various Day,
Thro' Fortune's cloud one truly great can see,
Nor fears to tell, that M ORTIMER is he.
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