821. Massachusetts Gazette, 1 April 1788

The EXPOSTULATION,

Suggested while viewing the Pourt[r]ait of his Excellency doctor Franklin in mr. Peel’s collection of illustrious personages.

O Time! thou mighty conqueror of all

Who own thy powers, and breath the vital air!

O thou who trampl’st o’er this terraqueous ball

Nor turn’st aside thy hasty foot to spare

The prostrate beggar, or the throned King,

Nor stop—to whet thy scythe or rest thy wing,

But mowest down all alike with one tremenduous swing.

Insatiate reaper of the worlds vast field;

If Heaven-born virtue thou should’st chance to meet;

Say could thine iron heart a moment yield

To tenderness?—to a sentiment so sweet

As soft compassion?—could’st thou turn away,

Thy fatal sickle, if thou would’st, and stay

The dire impending blow till some remoter day?

O, if thou canst!—behold yon friend of mine,

For whom, O time! I fervently implore:

I rather should have said, a friend of thine;

What can I urge to move thy pity more?

Lean gently on him yet a little while,

Old age of pain, and all its woes beguile,

And cheer his gentle soul with an indulgent smile.

Ah tell me not the godlike sage is past

Those years, which number mans allotted age:

That he shall live as long as thou shalt last,

In sacred wisdom’s philosophick page

I know’st—yet spare him, till his joyful eyes,

Have seen that plant,(a) he long hath watered, rise,

And with her towering branches meet the favouring skies.

It will not be very long, grant heaven, till then,

With thee, O time! what are a few years more?

Spare then this wisest, spare this best of men,

Altho’ alas! already past four score:

How hard, the husbandmen should just decease,

As rich Pomona promises encrease

Of boundless plenty, happiness and peace!

And see, already, fix fair boughs(b) array’d

In deathless green, their tender foliage shoot!

Ah cruel, spare him, just t’enjoy the shade—

A little longer still to prove the fruit:

Nay, let him live the wonder of mankind,

For age, as for the treasures of her mind,

For sense sublime, and sentiment refin’d.

It will be but gratitude, O time! in thee;

The gracious Franklin never us’d thee ill:

Ask the wide world—the world will all agree,

He ne’er conspired with thoughtless men to kill,

The smallest of thy downy-footed train

Of fleet-wing’d hours, but ever grac’d thy reign,

And, like Vespasian’s son, ne’er spent a day in vain.

(a) The real union of these at present disunited states.

(b) The six assenting states.