Page images
PDF
EPUB

Him even the dissolute admir’d; for he
A graceful looseness when he pleas'd put on,
And laughing could instruct. Much had he read,
Much more had seen; he studied from the life,
And in th' original perus'd mankind.

Vers'd in the woes and vanities of life,
He pitied man: and much he pitied thofe
Whom falsely-smiling Fate has curs'd with means
To diffipate their days in quest of joy.
Our aim is happiness; 'tis your's, 'tis mine,
He said, 'tis the pursuit of all that live-;
Yet few attain it, if 'twas e'er attain'd.
But they the widest wander from the mark,
Who thro' the flow'ry paths of faunt'ring Joy
Seek this coy goddess; that from stage to stage
Invites us still, but shifts as we pursue.
For, not to name the pains that Pleasure brings
To counterpoise itself, relentless Fate
Forbids that we thro' gay voluptuous wilds
Should ever roam: And were the Fates more kind
Our narrow luxuries, would soon be itale.
Were these exhaustless, Nature would grow fick,
And cloy'd with pleasure, squeamishly complain
That all was vanity, and life a dream.
Let Nature reft: Be busy for yourself,
And for your friend; be busy even in vain,
Rather than teaze her fated appetites.
Who never fasts, no banquet e'er enjoys ;
Who never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let Nature reft ; And when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge ; but fhun fatiety.
'Tis not for mortals always to be bleft:

But

But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober fense conducts,
And Virtue thro' this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and Sense I mean not to disjoin :
Virtue and Sense are one ; and, trust

me,

he
Who has not virtue is not truly wise.
Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a fool)
Is fenfe and spirit, with humanity :
'Tis sometimes angry, and its frown confounds;
'Tis even vindictive, but in vengeance juft.
Knaves fain 'would laugh at it; some great ones dare;
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of Fortune dreads its name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth :
This is the solid pomp of prosperous days;
The peace and shelter of adversity.
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of Envy and all sapping Time.
The gaudy gloss of Fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye: The fuff'rage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attain'd
By sense alone, and dignity of mind.

Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul,
Is the best gift of heav'n: a happiness
That even above the smiles and frowns of Fate
Exalts great Nature's favourites: a wealth
That ne'er encumbers, nor to baser hands
Can be transferr'd : it is the only good
Man jųstly boasts of, or can call his own.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance, to shield a lucky knave,

Or throw a cruel sunshine on a fool.
But for one end, one much neglected use,
Are riches worth your care: for Nature's wants
Are few, and without opulence fupplied.
This noble end is, to produce the Soul:
To fhew the virtues in the fairelt light;
To make Humanity the Minister
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the breast
That generous luxury the gods enjoy.
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly Sage
Sometimes declaimd. Of Right and Wrong he taught
Truths as refin'd as ever Athen's heard;
And (strange to tell!) he practis'd what he preach'd.

ARMSTRONG.

CHAP. XIX.

AGAINST INDOLENCE.

AN EPISTLE.
IN Frolic's hour, ere ferious Thought had birth,
There was a time, my dear CORNWALLIS! when
The Mufe would take me on her airy wing,
And waft to views romantic ; there present
Some motley vifion, shade and fun : the cliff
O'er hanging, sparkling brooks, and ruins grey :
Bade me meanders trace, and catch the form
Of varying clouds, and rainbows learn to paint.

Sometimes Ambition, brushing by, would twitch
My mantle, and, with winning look fublime,
Allure to follow. What tho' fteep the track,
Her mountain's top would overpay, when climb’d,
The scaler's toil; her temple there was fine,

And

[ocr errors]

And lovely thence the prospects. She could tell
Where laureis grew, whence many a wreath antique ;:
But more advis’d to shun the barren twig,
(What is immortal verdure without fruit ?)
And woo some thriving art; her numerous mines
Were open to the searcher's skill and pains.

Caught by th' harangue, heart beat, and flutt’ring pulse
Sounded irregular marches to be gone-
What! pause a moment when Ambition calls !
No, the blood gallops to the distant goal,
And throbs to reach it. Let the lamc fit ftill. ;
When Fortune gentle, at the hill's verge extreme,
Array'd in decent garb, but somewhat thin,
Smiling approach'd; and what occasion, alk'd,
Of climbing : She already provident,
Had cater'd well, if stomach could digest
Her viands, and a palate not too nice :
Unfit, the said, for perilous attempt;
That manly limb requir'd, and finew tough,
She took, and laid me in a vale remote,
Amid the gloomy scene of hr and yew,
On poppy beds, where Morpheus strew'd the ground:
Obfcurity her curtain round me drew)
And Syren Sloth a dull quietus fung.

Sithence no fairy lights, no quick’ning ray,
No fir of pulfe, nor objects to entice
Abroad the spirits : but the cloyster'd heart
Sits squat at home, like pagod in a niche
Obscure, or grandees with nod-watching eye,
And folded arms, in presence of the throne,
Turk, or Indostani. --Cities, forums, courts,
And prating fanhedrims and drumming wars,

Affect

[ocr errors]

G4

Affect no more than stories told to bed
Lethargic, which at intervals the fick
Hears and forgets, and wakes to doze again.
Instead of converse and variety,
The same trite round, the same ftale Glent scene :
Such are thy comforts, bleffed Solitude!
But Innocence is there, but Peace all kind,
And fimple Quiet with her downy couch,
Meads lowing, tune of birds, and lapse of streams,
And faunter with a book, and warbling Muse
In praise of hawthorns-Life's whole business this !
Is it to bask i th’sun? if so, a snail
Were happy crawling on a fouthern wall.

Why fits Content upon a cottage-fill
At eventide, and blefreth the coarse meal
In sooty corner? why sweet slumber wait
Th' hard pallet? not because from haunt remote
Sequefter'd in a dingle's bushy lap :
'Tis labour makes the peasant's fav'ry fare,
And works out his repose: for Ease muft

, alk. The leave of Diligence to be enjoy'd.

Oh! listen not to that enchantress Ease
With seeming smile; her palatable cup
By standing grows insipid ; and beware
The bottom, for there's poison in the lees.
What health impair’d, and crowds inactive maim'd!
What daily martyrs to her sluggish cause !
Less strict devoir the Russ and Persian claim
Despotic; and as subjects long inur'd
To servile burthen, grow supine and tame,
So fares it with our fou'reign and her train.

What tho' with lure fallacious me pretend
From worldly bondage to set free, what gain

Her

« PreviousContinue »