Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TIME AND CHANCE HAPPENTH TO ALL, by NATHANIEL COTTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TIME AND CHANCE HAPPENTH TO ALL, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Reader, if fond of wonder and surprise
Last Line: Their virtues shall exalt them to the sky.
Subject(s): Luck; Time

READER, if fond of wonder and surprise,
Behold in me ten thousand wonders rise.
Should I appear quite partial to my cause,
Shout my own praise, and vindicate applause;
Do not arraign my modesty or sense,
Nor deem my character a vain pretence.
Know then I boast an origin and date
Coëval with the sun—without a mate
An offspring I beget in number more
Than all the crowded sands which form the shore.
That instant they are born, my precious breed,
Ah me! expire—yet my departed seed
Enter like spectres, with commission'd power,
The secret chamber at the midnight hour;
Pervade alike the palace, and the shed,
The statesman's closet, and the rustic's bed;
Serene and sweet, like envoys from the skies,'
To all the good, the virtuous, and the wise;
But to the vicious breast remorse they bring,
And bite like serpents, or like scorpions sting.
Being and birth to sciences I give,
By me they rise through infancy and live;
By me meridian excellence display,
And, like autumnal fruits, by me decay.
When poets, and when painters are no more,
And all the feuds of rival wits are o'er;
'Tis mine to fix their merit and their claim,
I judge their works to darkness or to fame.
I am a monarch, whose victorious hands
No craft eludes, no regal power withstands:
My annals prove such mighty conquests won,
As shame the puny feats of Philip's son.
But though a king, I seldom sway alone,
The goddess Fortune often shares my throne.
The human eye detects our blended rule,
Here we exalt a knave, and there a fool.
Ask you what powers our sovereign laws obey?
Creation is our empire—we convey
Sceptres and crowns at will—as we ordain,
Kings abdicate their thrones, and peasants reign.
Lovers to us address the fervent prayer;
'Tis ours to soften or subdue the fair:
We now like angels smile, and now destroy,
Now bring, or blast, the long-expected joy.
At our fair shrine ambitious churchmen bow,
And crave the mitre to adorn the brow.
Go to the inns of court—the learned drudge
Implores our friendship to commence a judge.
Go, and consult the sons of Warwick Lane;
They own our favours, and adore our reign.
Theirs is the gold, 'tis true—but all men see
Our claim is better founded to the fee.
Reader, thus sublunary worlds we guide,
Thus o'er your natal planets we preside.
Kingdoms and kings are ours—to us they fall;
We carve their fortunes, and dispose of all.
Nor think that kings alone engross our choice,
The cobler sits attentive to our voice.
But since my colleague is a fickle she,
Abjure my colleague, and depend on me.
Either she sees not, or with partial eyes,
Either she grants amiss, or she denies.
But I, who pity those that wear her chain,
Scorn the capricious measures of her reign;
In every gift, and every grace excel,
And seldom fail their hopes, who use me well.
Yet though in me unnumber'd treasures shine,
Superior to the rich Peruvian mine!
Though men to my indulgence hourly owe
The choicest of their comforts here below:
(For men's best tenure, as the world agree,
Is all a perquisite deriv'd from me)
Still man's my foe! ungrateful man, I say,
Who meditates my murder every day.
What various scenes of death do men prepare!
And what assassinations plot the fair!
But know assuredly, who treat me ill,
Who mean to rob me, or who mean to kill;
Who view me with a cold regardless eye,
And let my favours pass unheeded by;
They shall lament their folly when too late;
So mourns the prodigal his lost estate!
While they who with superior forethought blest,
Store all my lessons in their faithful breast;
(For where's the prelate, who can preach like me,
With equal reasoning, and persuasive plea?)
Who know that I am always on my wings,
And never stay in compliment to kings;
Who therefore watch me with an eagle's sight,
Arrest my pinions, or attend my flight;
Or if perchance they loiter'd in the race,
Chide their slow footsteps, and improve their pace;
Yes, these are wisdom's sons, and when they die,
Their virtues shall exalt them to the sky.

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