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Lessons of Wisdom.
JLiow t» live happiest: how avoid the paint ,
The disappointments and disgust of those
"Who would in pleasure all their hours employ;
The precepts here of a divine old man
I could recite. Tho' old , he still retain'd
His manly sense , and energy of mind.
Virtuous and wise he was, but not severe;
He still remember'd that he once was young:
His easy presence check'd no decent joy.
Him ev'n 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 those
"Whom falsely-smiling Fate has curs'd with means
To dissipate their days in truest 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 saunt'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 stale.
Were these exh uistjess , Nature would grow sick
And eloy'd with pleasure; squeamishly complain
That all was vanity , and life a dream.
Let nature rest: Be busy for yourself,
And for your friend ; be busy ev'n in vain ,
Rather than teaze her sated appetites.
Who never lasts, no banquet e'er ecjoys;
"Wo never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let nature rest: and when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge: but shun satiety.
'Tis not for mortals always to be blest.
But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober Sense 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 sense and spirit, with humanity:
'Tis sometimes angry, and it's frown confounds }
'Tis e'en vindictive , but in vengeance just.
Knaves fain would laugh at it; some great one's
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of fortune dreads it's 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 suffrage 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 Heaven : a happiness
That e'en 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 justly boasts of, or can call nis 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 us«
Are riches worth your care ( for Nature's wants
Are few, and without ooulence supplied)
This noble end is, to produce the Soul:
To shew the virtues in their fairest 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 Sa^e ,
Sometimesdeclaim'd.Of Rightandwrong he taught
Truths as refill'd as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to telU ) he practis'd what he preach'd
J-n frolick's hour, ere serious thought had birth.
There was a time , my dear Cornv/allis, when
The Muse would take me on her airy wing
And waft to views romantic; there present
Some motley vision, shade and sun : the cliff
O'erhanging , sparkling brooks , and ruins greys
Bade me meanders trace , and catch the form
Of various clouds, and rainbows learn to paint.
Sometimes ambition,brushing by, would twitch
My mantle, and with winning look sublime,
Allure to follow. What iho' steep the track,
Her mountain's top would overpay, when climb'd,
The scaler's toil; her temple there was fine,
And lovely thence the prospects. She could tell
Where laurels grew, whence many a wreath an>
tique; But more advis'd to shun the barren twig, ( What is immortal verdure without fruit?) And woo some thriving art; her numerous mines W'ere open to the searcher's skill and pains?
Caught by th'harangue, heartbeat, andflutt'ring pulse Sounded irregular marches to be gone— W'hat! pause a moment when Ambition calls! No, the blood gallops to the distant goal,
And throbs to reach it. Let the lame sit still.
TVhen Fortune gentle at th' hill's verge extreme,
Array'd in decent garb , but somewhat thin ,
Smiling approach'd; and what occasion , ask'd
Of climbing: She already provident,
Had cater'd well, if stomach could digest
Pier viands, and a palate not too nice:
Unfit, she said, for perilous attempt;
That manly limb requir'd , and sinew tough.
She took , and laid me in a vale remote,
Amid the gloomy scene of fir and yew,
On poppy beds , where Morpheus strewM the
ground: Obscurity her curtain round me drew, And Syren Sloth a dull quietus sung.
Sithence no fairy lights , no quick'ning ray, No stir of pulse, nor objects to entice Abroad the spirits : but the cloyster'd heart Sits squat at home , hke pagod in a niche Obscure , or grandees with nod-watching eye , And folded arms, in presence of the throne , Turk , or Indostan.—Cities, forums, courts , And prating sanhedrims , and drumming wars , Affect no more than stories tobi to bed Lethargic , which at intervals the sick Hears and forgets, and wakes to doze again. Instead of converse and variety. The same trite round , the same stale silent scene: Such are thy comforts, blessed Solitude !— But Innocence is there, but Peace all kind , And simple Quiet with her downy couch, Meads lowing, tune of birds , and lapse of streams, And saunter 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 southern wall.
Why sits Content upon a cottage sill At eventide, and blesseth the coarse meal In sooty corner? why sweet slumber wait Th' hard pallet? not because from haunt reniote Sequester'd iu a dingle's bushy lap:
'Tis ijbonr makes the peasant's sav'ry fare, .
And works out his repose : lor Ease must ask
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
1 he bottom, for thereTs poison in the lees.
What health impair'd, and crowds inactive maiurii!
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 , grows supine and tame ,
So fares it with our Sov'reign and her train.
"What tho' with lure fallacious she pretend From worldly bondage to set free, what gain. Her votaries? What avails from iron chains Exempt, if rosy fetters bind as fast?
Bestir, and answer your creation's end. Think we that man, with vig'rous pow'r endow"-V And room to stretch , was destin'd to sit still? Sluggards are Nature's rebels, slight her laws^ Nor live up to the terms on which they hold Their vital lease. Laborious terms and hard: But such the tenure of our earthly state I Riches and fame are Industry's reward; The nimble runner courses Fortune down. And then he banquets,-for she feeds the bold.
Think what you owe your country, what yourself. If splendor charm not, yet avoid the scorn, That treads on lowly stations. Think of some Assiduous booby mounting o'er your head , And thence with saucy grandeur looking down: . Think of (Reflection's stab ! ) the pitying friend With shoulder shruggM and sorry. Think that Time Has golden minutes , if discreetly seiz'd: And if some sad example , indolent, To warn and scare be wanting——think of me.