« PreviousContinue »
Ecstacy sets her stamp on ev'ry mien;
Chins fall'n, and not an eye-ball to be seen.
Still I insist, though music heretofore
Has charm'd me much (not e'en Occiduus more),
Love, joy, and peace, make harmony more meet
For Sabbath ev’nings, and perhaps as sweet.
Will not the sickliest sheep of ev'ry flock
Resort to this example as a rock;
There stand, and justify the foul abuse
Of Sabbath hours with plausible excuse
If apostolic gravity be free
To play the fool on Sundays, why not we?
If he the tinkling harpsichord regards
As inoffensive, what offence in cards ?
up the fiddles, let us all be gay, Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play.
Oh, Italy !-thy Sabbaths will be soon Our Sabbaths, clos'd with mumm’ry and buffoon. Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene, Our's parcell'd out, as thine have ever been, God's worship and the mountebank between. What says the prophet? Let that day be blest With holiness and consecrated rest. Pastime and business both it should exclude, And bar the door the moment they intrude: Nobly distinguish'd above all the six By deeds, in which the world must never mix. Hear him again. He calls it a delight, A day of luxury observ'd aright, When the glad soul is made Heav'n's welcome guest, Sits banquetting, and God provides the feast. But triflers are engag'd and cannot come; Their answer to the call is-Not at home.
0, the dear pleasures of the velvet plain, The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again! Cards with what rapture, and the polish'd die, The yawning chasm of indolence supply!
Then to the dance, and make the sober moon
Witness of joys that shun the sight of noon.
Blame, Cynic, if you can, quadrille or ball,
The snug close party, or the splendid hall,
Where Night, down-stooping from her ebon throne,
Views constellations brighter than her own.
'Tis innocent, and harmless, and refin'd,
The balm of care, Elysium of the mind.
Innocent! Oh if venerable Time
Slain at the foot of Pleasure be no crime,
Then, with his silver beard and magic wand,
Let Comus rise archbishop of the land;
Let him your rubric and your feasts prescribe,
Grand metropolitan of all the tribe.
Of manners rough, and coarse athletic cast,
The rank debauch suits Clodio's filthy taste.
Rufillus, exquisitely form'd by rule,
Not of the moral but the dancing school,
Wonders at Clodio's follies, in a tone
As tragical, as others at his own.
He cannot drink five bottles, bilk the score,
Then kill a constable, and drink five more ;*
But he can draw a pattern, make a tart,
And has the ladies' etiquette by heart,
Go, fool; and, arm-in-arm with Clodio, plead
Your cause before a bar you little dread;
But know, the law that bids the drunkard die,
Is far too just to pass the trifler by:
Both baby-featurd, and of infant size,
View'd from a distance, and with heedless eyes,
Folly and Innocence are so alike,
The diff'rence, though essential, fails to strike.
Yet Folly ever has a vacant stare,
A simp’ring countnance, and a trifling air;
But Innocence, sedate, serene, erect,
Delights us, by engaging our respect.
Man, Nature's guest by invitation sweet,
Receives from her both appetite and treat;
But, if he play the glutton and exceed,
His benefactress blushes at the deed,
For Nature, nice, as lib’ral to dispense,
Made nothing but a brute the slave of sense.
Daniel ate pulse by choice-example rare !
Heav'n bless'd the youth, and made him fresh and fair.
Gorgonius sits, abdominous and wan,
Like a fat squab upon a Chinese fan:
He snuffs far off th' anticipated joy;
Turtle and ven’son all his thoughts employ;
Prepares for meals as jockeys take a sweat,
Oh, nauseous !- an emetic for a whet!
Will Providence o'erlook the wasted good?
Temperanoe were no virtue if he could.
That pleasures, therefore, or what such we call,
Are hurtful, is a truth confess'd by all.
And some, that seem to threaten virtue less,
Still hurtful in th' abuse, or by th’excess.
Is man, then, only for his torment plac'd The centre of delights he may not taste ? Like fabld Tantalus, condemn’d to hear The precious stream still purling in his ear, Lip-deep in what he longs for, and yet curst With prohibition and perpetual thirst ? No, wrangler--destitute of shame and sense, The precept that enjoins him abstinence, Forbids him none but the licentious joy, Whose fruit, though fair, tempts only to destroy. Remorse, the fatal egg by pleasure laid In ev'ry bosom where her nest is made, Hatch'd by the beams of Truth, denies him rest, And
proves a raging scorpion in his breast. No pleasure ? Are domestic comforts dead? Are all the nameless sweets of friendship fled ? Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame, Good sense, good health, good conscience, and good All these belong to virtue, and all prove [fame? That virtue has a title to your love.
Have you no touch of pity, that the poor
Stand starv'd at your inhospitable door?
Or if yourself, too scantily supplied,
Need help, let honest industry provide.
Earn, if you want; if you abound, impart:
These both are pleasures to the feeling heart.
No pleasure? has some sickly eastern waste
Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast ?
Can British Paradise no scenes afford
To please her sated and indiff'rent lord ?
Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run
Quite to the lees? And has religion none?
Brutes capable would tell you 'tis a lie,
And judge yon from the kennel and the sty.
Delights like these, ye sensual and profane, s
Ye are bid, begg’d, besought to entertain;
Call’d to these crystal streams, do ye turn off
Obscene to swill and swallow at a trough?
Envy the beast, then, on whom Heav'n bestows
Your pleasures, with no curses in the close.
Pleasure admitted in undue degree
Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free.
"Tis not alone the grape's enticing juice
Unnerves the moral pow'rs, and mars their use;
Ambition, av'rice, and the lust of fame,
And woman, lovely woman, does the same.
The heart, surrender'd to the ruling power
Of some ungovern'd passion ev'ry hour,
Finds by degrees the truths, that once bore sway,
And all their deep impressions, wear away ;
So coin grows smooth, in traffic current pass'd,
Till Cæsar's image is effac'd at last.
The breach, tho'small at first, soon op'ning wide, In rushes folly with a full-moon tide, Then welcome errors of whatever size, To justify it by a thousand lies. As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone, And hides the ruin that it feeds upon;
So sophistry cleaves close to and protects
Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects.
Mortals, whose pleasures are their only care,
First wish to be impos'd on, and then are.
And, lest the fulsome artifice should fail,
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil.
Not more industrious are the just and true,
To give to Virtue what is Virtue's due--
The praise of wisdom, comeliness, and worth,
And call her charms to public notice forth
Than Vice's mean and disingenuous race,
To hide the shocking features of her face.
Her form with dress and lotion they repair;
Then kiss their idol, and pronounce her fair.
The sacred implement I now employ
Might prove a mischief, or at best à toy;
A trifle, if it move but to amuse ;
But, if to wrong the judgment and abuse,
Worse than a poniard in the basest hand,
It stabs at once the morals of a land.
Ye writers of what none with safety reads,
Footing it in the dance that Fancy leads ;
Ye novelists, who mar what ye would mend,
Sniv’lling and driv’lling folly without end;
Whose corresponding misses fill the ream
With sentimental frippery and dream,
Caught in a delicate, soft, silken net
By some lewd earl, or rakehell baronet :
Ye pimps, who, under virtue's fair pretence,
Steal to the closet of young innocence,
And teach her, inexperienced yet and green,
To scribble as you scribbl’d at fifteen;
Who, kindling a combustion of desire,
With some cold moral think to quench the fire;
Though all your engineering proves in vain,
The dribbling stream ne'er puts it out again :
0, that a verse had power, and could command
Far, far away these flesh-flies of the land;