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Maintain your modesty and station,
Pleasure is all the reigning theme ; Our noon-day thought, our midnight dream. In Folly's chace our youths engage, And shameless crowds of tott'ring age. The die, the dance, th' intemperate bowl, With various charms engross the soul. Are gold, fame, health, the terms of vice? The frantic tribes shall pay the price. But tho' to ruin post they run, They'll think it hard to be undone.
Do not arraign my want of taste, Or sight, to ken where joys are plae'd. They widely err who think me blind; And I disclaim a stoic's mind. Like yours are my sensations quite; I only strive to feel aright.
My joys, like streams, glide gently by;
You ask what party I pursue;
I've too much grace to play the knave,
I love my country from my soul,
Now the religion of your poet→→→ Does not this little preface slow it! My Visions if you scan with care, Tis ten to one you'll find it there.
And if my actions suit my song,
§ 81. Vision I. Slander. Inscribed to Miss S****.
My lovely girl, I write for yon,
Is far too stubborn grown for school.
Be Slander, then, my leading dream, Tho' you 're a stranger to the theme; Thy softer breast, and honest heart, Scorn the defamatory art, Thy soul asserts her native skies, Nor asks detraction's wings to rise; In foreign spoils let others shine, Intrinsic excellence is thine.
The bird in peacock's plumes who shone
Th' insidious sland'ring thief is worse Than the poor rogue who steals pour purse. Say, he purloins your glitt ring store; Who takes your gold, takes trashPerhaps he pilfers—to be fed-Ah! guiltless wretch who steals for bread! But the dark villain who shall ain To blast my fair, my spotless name, He'd steal a precious gem away, Steal what both Indies can 't repay! Here the strong pleas of want are vain, Or the more pious pleas of gain. No sinking family to save! No gold to glut th' insatiate knave!
Improve the hint of Shakspeare's tongue;
As I was nodding in my chair,
No plea diverts the fury's rage, The fury spares nor sex nor age. E'en Merit, with destructive charms, Provokes the vengeance of her arms.
Whene'er the tyrant sounds to war, Her canker'd trunip is heard afar. Pride, with a heart unknown to yield, Commands in chief, and guides the field; He stalks with vast gigantic stride, And scatters fear and ruin wide: So the impetuous torrents sweep At once whole nations to the deep.
Revenge, that base Hesperian †, known A chief support of Slander's throne, Amidst the bloody crowd is seen, And treach'ry brooding in his mien; The monster often chang'd his gait, But march'd resolv'd and fix'd as fate. Thus the fell kite, whom hunger stings, Now slowly moves his outstretch'd wings, Now swift as lightning bears away, And darts upon his trembling prey.
Envy commands a sacred band, With sword and poison in her hand. Around her haggard eye-balls roll; A thousand fiends possess her soul. The artful unsuspected sprite With fatal aim attacks by night. Her troops advance with silent tread, And stab the hero in his bed; Or shoot the wing'd malignant lic, And female honors pine and die. So prowling wolves, when darkness reigns, Intent on murder, scour the plains; Approach the folds where lanibs repose, Whose guileless breasts suspect no foes; The savage gluts his fierce desires, And bleating innocence expires.
Slander smil'd horribly, to view
Is it a breach of friendship's law,
If I beheld some faulty fair, Much worse delinquents crowded there: Prelates in sacred lawn I saw, Grave physic, and loquacious law; Courtiers, like summer flies, abound; And hungry poets swarm around. But now my partial story ends, And makes my females full amends.
If Albion's isle such dreams fulfils, 'Tis Albion's isle which cures the ills; Fertile of ev'ry worth and grace, Which warm the heart and flush the face. Fancy disclos'd a smiling train Of British nymphs that tripp'd the plain. Good-nature first, a sylvan queen, Attir'd in robes of chcerful green; A fair and smiling virgin she! With ev'ry charm that shines in thee. Prudence assum'd the chief command, And bore a mirror in her hand; Grey was the matron's head by age, Her mind by long experience sage; Of ev'ry distant ill afraid, And anxious for the simp'ring maid. The Graces danc'd before the fair; And white-rob'd Innocence was there. The trees with golden fruits were crown'd And rising flow'rs adorn'd the ground; The sun display'd each brighter ray, And shone in all the pride of day:
When Slander sicken'd at the sight, And skulk'd away to shun the light.
$82. Vision II. Pleasure. HEAR, ye fair mothers of our isle, Nor scorn your Poet's homely style. What tho' iny thoughts be quaint or new, I'll warrant that my doctrine's true: Or, if my sentiments be old, Remember truth is sterling gold.
You judge it of important weight, To keep your rising offspring straight;
* Garth's Dispensatory.
+ Xerxes, king of Persia, and son of Darius. He invaded Greece with an army consisting of more than a million of men (some say more than two millions); who, together with their cattle, perished in a great measure through the inability of the countries to supply such a vast host with provisión.
Hesperia includes Italy as well as Spain; and the inhabitants of both are remarkable for their revengeful dispositions.
For this such anxious moments feel,
The worst deformity of all.
Now take a simile at hand,
If human minds resemble trees ¿
Or robs the bloom, or starves the fruit.
When Rome, like Britain, groan'd with crimes,
Let each bright character be nam'd,
Does love of martial fame inspire?
Paint Cressy's vanquish'd field anew,
One summer evening as I stray'd Along the silent moon-light glade, With these reflections in my breast, Beneath an oak I sunk to rest; A gentle slumber intervenes, And fancy dress'd instructive scenes. Methought a spacious road I spied, And stately trees adorn'd its side; Frequented by a giddy crowd Of thoughtless mortals, vain and loud, Who tripp'd with jocund heel along, And bade me join their smiling throng.
I straight obey'd-persuasion hung Like honey on the speaker's tongue: A cloudless sun improv'd the day, And pinks and roses strew'd our way.
Now as our journey we pursue, A beauteous fabric rose to view; A stately dome, and sweetly grac'd ' With ev'ry ornament of taste. This structure was a 'female's claim, And Pleasure was the Monarch's name. The hall we enter'd uncontrol'd, And saw the queen enthron'd on gold: Arabian sweets perfum'd the ground, And laughing Cupids flutter'd round; A flowing vest adorn'd the fair, And flow'ry chaplets wreath'd her hair. Fraud taught the queen a thousand wiles, A thousand soft insidious smiles; Love taught her lisping tongue to speak, And form'd the dimple in her cheek; The lily and the damask rose The tincture of her face compose; Nor did the god of wit disdain To mingle with the shining train. Her vot'ries flock from various parts, And chiefly youth resign'd their hearts; The old in sparing numbers press'd, But awkward devotees at best!
Now let us range at large,' we cried, Thro' all the garden's boasted pride." Here jasmines spread the silver flow'r, To deck the wall, or weave the bow'r; The woodbines mix in am'rous play, And breathe their fragrant lives away. Here rising myrtles form a shade; There roses blush, and scent the glade; The orange, with a vernal face, Wears ev'ry rich autumnal grace; While the young blossoms here unfold, There shines the fruit like pendent gold. Citrons their balmy sweets exhale, And triumph in the distant gale.
Now fountains, murm'ring to the song,
Pleasure, imperial fair! how gay Thy empire, and how wide thy sway! Enchanting queen, how soft thy reign! How man, fond man! implores thy chain! Yet thine each meretricious art, That weakens and corrupts the heart: The childish toys, and wanton page, Which sink and prostitute the stage! The masquerade, that just offence To virtue, and reproach to sense! The midnight dance, the mantling bowl, And all that dissipate the soul; All that to ruin man combine, Yes, specious hariot! all are thine.
Blush, tyrant, blush! for, oh! 'tis true, That no fell serpent bites like you.
The guests were order'd to depart; Reluctance sat on every heart:
Whence sprung th' accursed lust of play, Which beggars thousands in a day? Speak, sore'ress, speak (for thou canst tell), Who call'd the treach'rous card from hell: Now man profanes his reas'ning pow'rs, Profanes sweet friendship's sacred hours; Abandon'd to inglorious ends, And faithless to himself and friends; A dupe to ev'ry artful knave, To ev'ry abject wish a slave: But who against himself combines, Abets his enemy's designs. When rapine nieditates a blow, He shares the guilt who aids the foe. Is man a thief who steals my pelfHow great his theft who robs himself? Is man, who gulls his friend, a cheatHow heinous, then, is self-deceit ? Is murder justly deem'd a crimeHow black is guilt who murders time! Should custom plead, as custom will, Grand precedents to palliate ill; Shall nodes and formis avail with me, When reason disavows the plea? Who games is felon of his wealth, His time, his liberty, his healthVirtue forsakes his sordid mind, And Honor scorns to stay belfind. From man when these bright cherubs part, Ah, what's the poor deserted heart! A savage wild that shocks the sight! Or chaos, and impervious night! Each gen'rous principle destroy'd, And dæmons crowd the frightful void. Shall Siam's elephant supply The baneful desolating die! Against the honest sylvan's will, You taught his iv'ry tusk to kill. Heaven, fond its favors to dispense, Gave him that weapon for defence: That weapon for his guard design'd, You render'd fatal to mankind. He plann'd no death for thoughtless youth; You gave the venom to his tooth.
A porter show'd a diff'rent door,
But oh! ye heavens, what vast surprise
And gath'ring clouds obscurd the day;
Let not the unexperienc'd boy Deny that pleasures will destroy; Or say that dreams are vain and wild, Like fairy tales to please a child. Important hints the wise may reap From sallies of the soul in sleep; And since there's meaning in my dream, The moral merits your esteem.
83. Vision III. Health.
ATTEND my Visions, thoughtless youths,
The subject of my song is Health,
Mark, tho' the blessing's lost with ease,
Say not, Apollo's sons succeed;
Would you extend your narrow span,
Soft were my slumbers, sweet my rest, Such as the infant's on the breast; When fancy, ever on the wing, And fruitful as the genial spring, Presented in a blaze of light, A new creation to my sight.
A rural landscape I descried, Drest in the robes of summer pride; The herds adorn'd the sloping hills; That glitter'd with their tinkling rills Below the fleecy mothers stray'd, And round their sportive jambkins play'd. Nigh to a murm'ring brook I saw An humble cottage, thatch'd with straw; Behind, a garden, that supplied All things for use, and none for pride : Beauty prevail'd thro' ev'ry part; But niore of nature than of art.
Hail, thou sweet, calm, unenvied seat!' I said, and bless'd the fair retreat; 'Here would I pass my remnant days, Unknown to censure or to praise; 'Forget the world, and be forgot, 'As Pope describes his vestal's lot.'
While thus I mus'd, a beauteous maid Stepp'd from a thicket's neighbouring shade; Not Hampton's gallery can boast, Nor Hudson's paint, so fair a toast: She claim'd the cottage for her own: To Health a cottage is a throne.
The annals say (to prove her worth) The Graces solemniz'd her birth. Garlands of various flow'rs they wrought, The orchard's blushing pride they brought: Hence in her face the lily speaks, And hence the rose which paints her cheeks; The cherry gave her lips to glow: Her eyes were debtors to the sloe; And, to complete the lovely fair, 'Tis said the chesnut stain'd her hair.
The virgin was averse to courts,
Two smiling cherubs grac'd her throne
The reign was long, the empire great, And Virtue minister of state. In other kingdoms, ev'ry hour, You hear of Vice preferr'd to power : Vice was a perfect stranger here; No knaves engross'd the royal ear: No fools obtain'd this monarch's grace; Virtue dispos'd of ev'ry place. What sickly appetites are ours, Still varying with the varying hours! And tho' from good to bad we range, No matter,' says the fool, 'tis change." Her subjects now express'd apace Dissatisfaction in their face; Some view the state with Envy's eye; Some were displeas'd, they knew not why; When Faction, ever bold and vain, With rigor tax'd their monarch's reign. Thus, should an angel from above, Fraught with benevolence and love, Descend to earth, and here impart Important truths to mend the heart, Would not th' instructive guest dispense With passion, appetite, and sense, We should his heavenly lore despise, And send him to his former skies. A dang'rous hostile pow'r arose To Health, whose household were her foes: A harlot's loose attire she wore, And Luxury the name she bore. This princess of unbounded sway, Whom Asia's softer sons obey, Made war against the queen of Health Assisted by the troops of Wealth.
The queen was first to take the field, Arm'd with her helmet and her shield;
An allusión to 2 Kings, xviii. 21.