« PreviousContinue »
ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.
Self-recollection and reproof.—Address to domes.
tick happiness.—Some account of myself.—The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise.—Justification of my censures.—Divine illumination necessary to the most expert pbilosopher. The question, What is truth ? answered by other questions.-Domestick happiness addressed again. --Few lovers of the country.-My tame hare. Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden.--Pruning.--Framing --Green-house. -Sowing of flower-seeds.-The country preferable to the town even in winter.—Reasons why it is deserted at that season.--Ruinous effects of gaming, and of expensive improvement.-Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.
AS one, who long in thickets and in brakes Entangled, winds now this way and now that His devious course uncertain, seeking home; Or, having long in miry ways been foil'd And sore discomfited, from slough to slough Plunging, and half despairing of escape; If chance at length he find a greensward smooth And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise, He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed, And winds his way with pleasure and with ease ; So I, designing other themes, and callid Tadorn the Sofa with eulogium due, To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams, Have rambled wide : in country, city, seat Of academick fame (howe'er deserv’d), Long held, and scarcely disengag’d at last. But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road I mean to tread: I feel myself at large,
Courageous, and refresh'd for future toil,
If toil await me, or if danger's new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect
Most part an empty, ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the s trick throng ? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charm’d with rural beauty, to repose,
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains,
Or, when l'ough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb’d by Folly, and appris'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or, at least, confine
Remarks, that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disyust conceal'd
Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the tault
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestick Happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpair’d and pure, Or ias ing long enjoy thee! too infirm, Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup ; Thou art the nurse of Virtue, in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, Heav'n-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is ador'd,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wand’ring eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, bating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets; and senates seem
Conven'd for purposes of empire less,
Than to release th' adultress from her bond.
Th’adultress! what a theme for angry verse!
What provocation to th' indignant heart,
That feels for injur'd love ! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandon'd, glorying in her shame!
No: let her pass, and, chariotted along
In guilty splendour, shake the publick ways;
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white.
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unsmirch’d,
And chaste themselves, are not asham'd to own.
Virtue and vice had bound'ries in old time,
Not to be pass'd : and she, that had renounc'd
Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself
By all that priz'd it ; not for prud'ry's sake,
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not receivid :
But 'twas a wholsesome rigour in the main,