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'Tis true, but let it not be known,
My eyes are somewhat dimmish grown:
For Nature, always in the right,
To your decay adapts my sight;
And wrinkles undistinguish'd pass,
For I'm asham'd to use a glass;
And till I see them with these eyes,
Whoever says you have them, lies.
No length of time can make you quit
Honour and virtue, sense and wit;
Thus you may still be young to me,
While I can better hear than see.
O ne'er may Fortune show her spite,
To make me deaf, and mend my sight.
STELLA'S BIRTHDAY, MARCH 13, 1726.
This day, whate'er the Fates decree,
Shall still be kept with joy by me:
This day then let us not be told
That you are sick, and I grown old;
Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills:
To-morrow will be time enough
To hear such mortifying stuff.
Yet, since from reason may be brought
A better and more pleasing thought,
Which can in spite of all decays
Support a few remaining days,
From not the gravest of divines
Accept for once some serious lines.
Altho’ we now can form no more
Long schemes of life, as heretofore ;
Yet you, while time is running fast,
Can look with joy on what is past.
Were future happiness and pain
A mere contrivance of the brain,
As atheists argue, to entice
And fit their proselytes for vice,
(The only comfort they propose,
To have companions in their woesj
Grant this the case; yet sure 'tis hard
That virtue, styled its own reward
And by all sages understood
To be the chief of human good,
Should acting die, nor leave behind
Some lasting pleasure in the mind,
Which, by remembrance, will assuage
Grief, sickness, poverty, and age;
And strongly shoot a radiant dart
To shine thro’ life's declining part.
Say, Stella, feel you no content,
Reflecting on a life well spent?
Your skilful hand employ'd to save
Despairing wretches from the grave;
And then supporting with your store
Those whom you dragg’d from death before
So Providence on mortals waits,
Preserving what it first creates:
Your generous boldness to defend
An innocent and absent friend;
That courage which can make you just
To merit humbled in the dust;
The detestation you express
For vice in all its glittering dress;
That patience under torturing pain,
Where stubborn stoics would complain :
Must these like empty shadows pass,
Or forms reflected from a glass?
Or mere chimæras in the mind,
That fly, and leave no marks behind ?
Does not the body thrive and grow
By food of twenty years ago?
And, had it not been still
It must a thousand times have died.
Then who with reason can maintain
That no effects of food remain ?
And is not virtue in mankind
The nutriment that feeds the mind;
Upheld by each good action past,
And still continued by the last?
Then, who with reason can pretend
That all effects of virtue end?
me, Stella, when you show That true contempt for things below.
Nor prize your life for other ends
Than merely to oblige your friends ;
Your former actions claim their part,
And join to fortify your heart.
For virtue in her daily race,
Like Janus, bears a double face;
Looks back with joy where she has gone,
And therefore goes with courage on.
She at your sickly couch will wait,
And guide you to a better state.
O then, whatever Heaven intends,
Take pity on your pitying friends!
Nor let your ills affect your mind,
To fancy they can be unkind.
Me, surely me, you ought to spare,
Whɔ gladly would your suffering share,
Or give my scrap of life to you,
And think it far beneath your due;
You, to whose care so oft I owe
That I'm alive to tell you so.
TO MRS. THRALE ON HER COMPLETING
HER THIRTY-FIFTH YEAR.
Oft in danger, yet alive,
We are come to thirty-five;
Long may better years arrive,
Better years than thirty-five !
Could philosophers contrive
Life to stop at thirty-five,
Time his hours should never drive
O'er the bounds of thirty-five,
High to soar and deep to dive,
Nature gives at thirty-five,
Ladies, stock and tend your hive,
Trifle not at thirty-five;
For, howe'er we boast and strive,
Life declines from thirty-five,
He that ever hopes to thrive
Must begin by thirty-five;
And all who wisely wish to wive
Must look on Thrale at thirty-five.
Away, let nought to love displeasing,
My Winifreda, move your care;
Let nought delay the heavenly blessing,
Nor squeamish pride, nor gloomy fear,
What tho' no grants of royal donors
With pompous titles grace our blood; We'll shine in more substantial honours,
And to be noble we'll be good.
Our name, while virtue thus we tender,
Will sweetly sound where'er 'tis spoke: And all the great ones, they shall wonder
How they respect such little folk.
What tho' from fortune's lavish bounty
No mighty treasures we possess; We'll find within our pittance plenty,
And be content without excess.
Still shall each returning season
Sufficient for our wishes give; For we will live a life of reason,
And that's the only life to live.
Thro' age and youth in love excelling,
We'll hand in hand together tread, Sweet smiling peace shall crown our dwelling,
And babes, sweet smiling babes, our bed.
How shall I love the pretty creatures,
While round my knees they fondly clung; To see them look their mother's features,
To hear them lisp their mother's tongue.
And when with envy time transported,
Shall think to rob us of our joys,
You'll in your girls again be courted,
And I'll go wooing in my boys.
A MAN may live thrice Nestor's life,
Thrice wander out Ulysses' race,
Yet never find Ulysses' wife;--
Such change hath chanced in this case !
Less age will serve than Paris had,
Small pain (if none be small enow)
To find good store of Helen's trade :
Such sap the root doth yield the bough!
For one good wife, Ulysses slew
A worthy knot of gentle blood:
For one ill wife, Greece overthrew
The town of Troy.-Sith bad and good
Bring mischief, Lord let be thy will
To keep me free from either ill !
THE JOYS OF WEDLOCK. How blest has my time been ! what joys have I known, Since wedlock's soft bondage made Jessy my own! So joyful my heart is, so easy my chain, That freedom is tasteless, and roving a pain. Through walks grown with woodbines, as often we stray: Around us our boys and girls frolic and play: How pleasing their sport is! the wanton ones see And borrow their looks from my Jessy and me. To try her sweet temper, oft times am I seen, In revels all day with the nymphs on the green; Tho' painful my absence, my doubts she beguiles, And meets me at night with complaisance and smiles. What though on her cheeks the rose loses its hue, Her wit and good humour bloom all the year through ; Time still, as he flies, adds increase to her truth, And gives to her mind what he steals from her youth.