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The doctrine, miracles; which must convince,
For Heaven in them appeals to human sense:
And, though they prove not, they confirm the cause,
When what is taught agrees with Nature's laws.
Then for the style, majestic and divine,
It speaks no less than God in every line:
Commanding words, whose force is still the same
As the first fiat that produced our frame.
All faiths beside, or did by arms ascend,
Or sense indulged, has made mankind their friend :
This only doctrine does our lusts oppose,
Unfed by Nature's soil in which it grows;
Cross to our interests, curbing sense and sin;
Oppress'd without, and undermined within,
It thrives through pain; its own tormentors tires ;
And with a stubborn patience still aspires.
To what can reason such effects assign,
Transcending nature, but to laws divine,
Which in that sacred volume are contain'd;
Sufficient, clear, and for that use ordain'd?
If Heaven the grateful liberty would give,
That I might choose my method how to live;
And all those hours propitious Fate should lend,
In blissful ease and satisfaction spend :
Near some fair town I'd have a private seat,
Built uniform, not little nor too great ;
Better, if on a rising ground it stood,
On this side fields, on that a neighbouring wood.
It should within no other things contain
But what are useful, necessary, plain:
Methinks 'tis nauseous, and I'd near endure
The needless pomp of gaudy furniture.
A little garden, grateful to the eye,
And a cool rivulet run murmuring by ;
On whose delicious banks a stately row
Of shady limes or sycamores should grow.
At th’ end of which a silent study placed,
Should be with all the noblest authors graced :
Horace and Virgil, in whose mighty lines
Immortal wit and solid learning shines ;
Sharp Juvenal, and amorous Ovid too,
Who all the turns of love's soft passion knew:
He that with judgment reads his charming lines,
In which strong art with stronger nature joins,
Must grant his fancy does the best excel;
His thoughts so tender, and express'd so well.
With all those moderns, men of steady sense,
Esteem'd for learning and for eloquence.
In some of these, as fancy should advise,
I'd always take my morning exercise :
For sure no minutes bring us more content,
Than those in pleasing, useful studies spent.
I'd have a clear and competent estate, That I might live genteelly, but not great:
As much as I could moderately spend;
A little more, sometimes t'oblige a friend.
Nor should the sons of poverty repine
Too much at fortune, they should taste of mine ;
And all that objects of true pity were,
Should be relieved with what my wants could spare;
For that our Maker has too largely given,
Should be return'd in gratitude to Heaven..
A frugal plenty should my table spread,
With healthy, not luxurious, dishes spread;
Enough to satisfy, and something more,
To feed the stranger and the neighbouring poor.
Strong meat indulges vice, and pampering food
Creates diseases and inflames the blood.
But what's sufficient to make nature strong,
And the bright lamp of life continue long,
I'd freely take; and, as I did possess,
The bounteous Author of my plenty bless.
I'd have a little vault, but always stored
With the best wines each vintage could afford.
Wine whets the wit, improves its native force,
And gives a pleasant flavour to discourse;
By making all our spirits debonair,
Throws off the lees, the sediment of care.
But as the greatest blessing Heaven lends
May be debauch'd and serve ignoble ends,
So, but too oft, the grape's refreshing juice
Does many mischievous effects produce.
My house should no such rude disorders know,
As from high drinking consequently flow;
Nor would I use what was so kindly given,
To the dishonour of indulgent Heaven.
If any neighbour came, he should be free,
Used with respect, and not uneasy be
In my retreat, or to himself or me.
What freedom, prudence, and right reason gave,
All men may with impunity receive:
But the least swerving from their rule's too much;
For what's forbidden us, 'tis death to touch.
That life may be more comfortable yet, And all my joys refined, sincere, and great, I'd choose two friends, whose company would be A great advance to my felicity : Well-born, of humours suited to my own, Discreet, and men as well as books have known: Brave, generous, witty, and exactly free From loose behaviour or formality : Airy and prudent; merry, but not light; Quick in discerning, and in judging right: Secret they should be, faithful to their trust; In reasoning cool, strong, temperate, and just: Obliging, open: without huffing, brave; Brisk in gay talking, and in sober grave: Close in dispute, but not tenacious; tried By solid reason, and let that decide : Not prone to lust, revenge, or envious hate, Nor busy meddlers with intrigues of state : Strangers to slander, and sworn foes to spite ; Not quarrelsome, but stout enough to fight; Loyal and pious, friends to Cæsar; true As dying martyrs to their Maker too. In their society I could not miss A permanent, sincere, substantial bliss.
Would bounteous Heaven once more indulge, I'd
(For who would so much satisfaction lose, [choose
As witty nymphs in conversation give)
Near some obliging, modest fair to live :
For there's that sweetness in a female mind,
Which in a man's we cannot hope to find;
That, by a secret but a powerful art,
Winds up the spring of life, and does impart
Fresh vital heat to the transported heart.
I'd have her reason all her passion sway:
Easy in company, in private gay;
Coy to a fop, to the deserving free;
Still constant to herself, and just to me.
A soul she should have for great actions fit;
Prudence and wisdom to direct her wit:
Courage to look bold danger in the face;
No fear, but only to be proud or base :
Quick to advise, by an emergence pressid,
To give good counsel, or to take the best.
I'd have th' expression of her thoughts be such,
She might not seem reserved, nor talk too much;.
That shows a want of judgment and of sense ;
More than enough is but impertinence.
Her conduct regular, her mirth refined ;
Civil to strangers, to her neighbours kind;
Averse to vanity, revenge, and pride ;
In all the methods of deceit untried:
So faithful to her friend, and good to all,
No censure might upon her actions fall :
Then would ev'n envy be compellid to say,
She goes the least of womankind astray.
To this fair creature I'd sometimes retire,
Her conversation would new joys inspire;
Give life an edge so keen, no surly care
Would venture to assault my soul, or dare,
Near my retreat, to hide one secret snare.
But so divine, so noble a repast,
I'd seldom, and with moderation, taste:
For highest cordials all their virtue lose,
By a too frequent and too bold a use;
And what would cheer the spirits in distress,
Ruins our health when taken to excess.
I'd be concern'd in no litigious jar;
Beloved by all, not vainly popular.
Whate'er assistance I had power to bring,
T'oblige my country or to serve
Whene'er they call, I'd readily afford
My tongue, my pen, my counsel, or my sword.
Lawsuits I'd shun with as much studious care
As I would dens where hungry lions are ;
And rather put up injuries, than be
A plague to him who'd be a plague to me.
I value quiet at a price too great,
To give for my revenge so dear a rate: