Page images
PDF
EPUB

Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r;
As heav'n's blest beam turns vinegar more sour.

We, wretched subjects though to lawful sway, In this weak queen, some fav’rite still obey;

Ah! if she lend not arms, as well as rules,

What can she more than tell us we are fools?

Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend,

A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!
Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade
The choice we make, or justify it made;
Proud of an easy conquest all along,
She but removes weak passions for the strong:
So, when small humours gather to a gout,

The doctor fancies he has driv’n them out.

Yes, nature's road must ever be preferr'd; Reason is here no guide, but still a guard;

'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow,
And treat this passion more as friend than foe:
A mightier pow'r the strong direction sends,
And sev'ral men impels to sev'ral ends:
Like varying winds, by other passions tost,
This drives them constant to a certain coast.
Let pow'r or knowledge, gold or glory, please,
Or (oft more strong than all) the love of ease;
Thro’ life 'tis follow'd, ey'n at life's expence---
The merchant's toil, the sage's indolence,
The monk's humility, the hero's pride,

All, all alike, find reason on their side.

Th’ Eternal Art, educing good from ill, Grafts on this passion our best principle: 'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix’d, Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix’d;

.

The dross cements what else were too refin'd,

And in one int'rest body acts with mind.

As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care, On savage stocks inserted learn to bear; The surest virtues thus from passions shoot, Wild nature's vigour working at the root.

What crops

of wit and honesty appear

From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear!
See anger, zeal and fortitude supply;
Ev’n av’rice, prudence; sloth, philosophy;
Lust, thro' some certain strainers well refin'd,

Is gentle love, and charms all womankind;
Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave,

Is emulation in the learn'd or brave;

Nor virtue, male or female, can we name,
But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame.

Thus nature gives us (let it check our pride) The virtue nearest to our vice ally'd:

Reason the bias turns to good from ill,
And Nero reigns a Titus if he will,
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline,

In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine:

The same ambition can destroy or save,

And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.

This light and darkness in our chaos join'd, What shall divider the god within the mind,

Extremes in nature equal ends produce, In man they join to some mysterious use: Tho' each by turns the other's bounds invade, As, in some well-wrought picture light and shade; And oft so mix, the diffạrence is too nice

Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice,

Fools! who from hence into the notion fall,

That vice or virtue there is none at all.

If white and black blend, soften, and unite

A thousand ways, is there no black or white? Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; 'Tis to mistake them costs the time and pain.

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace:
But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed:
Ask where's the north? at York,'tis on the Tweed; -

In Scotland at the Orcades; and there,

At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.

No creature owns it in the first degree,
But thinks his neighbour farther gone

than he;

« PreviousContinue »