The Friend, an Epistle to Aaron Hill, Esq.

O my lov'd Hill! O thou by Heav'n design'd
To charm, to mend, and to adorn mankind!
To thee my hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows tend,
Thou brother, father, dearer yet!—thou Friend!
If worldly friendships of cement divide
As int'rests vary, or as whims preside;
If leagues of Lux'ry borrow Friendship's light,
Or leagues subversive of all social right;
O say, my Hill! in what propitious sphere
Gain we the Friend, pure, knowing, and sincere?
'Tis where the worthy and the wise retire;
There Wealth may learn its use, may Love inspire;
There may young Worth the noblest end obtain,
In want may friends, in friends may knowledge gain,
In knowledge bliss; for wisdom virtue finds,
And brightens mortal to immortal minds.
Kind then my wrongs, if love like yours succeed,
For you, like Virtue, are a friend indeed!
Oft' when you saw my youth wild error know,
Reproof, soft hinted, taught the blush to glow.
Young and unform'd, you first my genius rais'd,
Just smil'd when faulty, and when mod'rate prais'd,
Me shunn'd, me ruin'd, such a Mother's rage!
You sung, till Pity wept o'er page.
You call'd my lays and wrongs to early fame;
Yet, yet th' obdurate mother felt no shame.
Pierc'd as I was, your counsel soften'd care.
To ease turn'd anguish, and to hope despair.
The man who never wound afflictive feels,
He never felt the balmy worth that heals.
Welcome the wound when bless'd with such relief!
For deep is felt the Friend when felt in grief.
From you shall never, but with life, remove
Aspiring genius, condescending love.
When some with cold superior looks redress,
Relief seems insult, and confirms distress;
You! when you view the man with wrongs besieg'd,
While warm you act th' obliger seem th' oblig'd.
All-winning, mild to each of lowly state;
To equals free, unservile to the great;
Greatness you honour, when by worth acquir'd;
Worth is by worth in ev'ry rank admir'd.
Greatness you scorn when titles insult speak;
Proud to vain Pride, to honour'd Meekness meek.
That worthless bliss which others court you fly;
That worthy woe they shun attracts your eye.
But shall the Muse resound alone your praise?
No—let the public Friend exalt her lays!
O trace that Friend with me!—he's your's—he's mine!
The world's—beneficent behold him shine!
Is wealth his sphere? If riches, like a tide,
From either India pour their golden pride;
Rich in good works, him others' wants employ;
He gives the widow's heart to sing for joy.
To orphans, pris'ners, shall his bounty flow,
The weeping family of Want and Woe.
Is knowledge his? Benevolently great,
In leisure active, and in care sedate;
What aid his little wealth perchance denies,
In each hard instance his advice supplies.
With modest truth he sets the wand'ring right,
And gives religion pure primeval light;
In love diffusive, as in light refin'd,
The lib'ral emblem of his Maker's mind.
Is pow'r his orb? He then, like pow'r divine,
On all, tho' with a varied ray, will shine.
Ere pow'r was his, the man he once carest
Meets the same faithful smile and mutual breast:
But asks his friend some dignity of state;
His friend, unequal to th' incumbent weight?
Asks it a stranger, one whom parts inspire
With all a people's welfare would require?
His choice admits no pause; his gift will prove
All private well absorb'd in public love.
He shields his country when for aid she calls;
Or, should she fall, with her he greatly falls:
But as proud Rome, with guilty conquest crown'd,
Spread slav'ry, death, and desolation, round,
Should e'er his country for dominion's prize
Against the sons of men a faction rise,
Glory in her's is in his eye disgrace:
The Friend of truth, the Friend of human race.
Thus to no one, no sect, no clime, confin'd,
His boundless love embraces all mankind:
And all their virtues in his life are known,
And all their joys and sorrows are his own!
These are the lights where stands that friend confest;
This, this the spirit which informs thy breast.
Thro' Fortune's cloud thy genuine worth can shine;
What wouldst thou not were wealth and greatness thine?
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