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JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Dear Joseph-five and twenty years ago
Alas, how time escapes!—'tis even so—
A tedious hour-and now we never meet!
As some grave gentleman in Terence
says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow bringsStrange 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
Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won,
Though num'rous once, reduc'd to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No-gold they seem’d, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour-door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawid Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. Go, fellow!-whither?-turning short aboutNay—stay at home-you're always going out. 'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.For what?--An please you, sir, to see a friend. A friend! Horatio cry'd, and seem'd to startYea, marry shalt thou, and with all
heart. And fetch my cloak: for, though the night be raw, , I'll see him toothe first I ever saw.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps, his confidence just then betray'd,
Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth, The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth. Howe'er it was,
was, his language, in Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But, not to moralize too much, and strain
Decreed that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt, That all was naught within, and all found out.
Oh, happy Britain! we have not to fear Such hard and arbitrary measure here; Else, could a law like that which I relate Once have the sanction of our triple state, Some few that I have known in days of old, Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold; While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow, Might traverse England safely to and fro, An honest man, close-button'd to the chin, Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.