« PreviousContinue »
Maintain your modesty and station,
So women shall preserve the nation.
Mothers, 'tis said, in days of old,
Esteem'd their girls more choice than gold;
Too well a daughter's worth they knew,
To make her cheap by public view
Few, who their diamond's value weigh,
Expose those diamonds every day.
Then, if sir Plume drew near, and smil'd,
The parent trembled for her child:
The first advance alarm'd her breast;
And fancy pietur'd all the rest.
But now no mother fears a foe;
No daughter shudders at a bean."
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;
To small their channel, never dry;
Keep a still, even, fruitful wave,
And bless the neighb`ring meads they lave.
My fortune (for I'll mention all,
And more than you dare tell, is small;
Yet ev'ry friend partakes my store,
And want goes smiling from my door.
Will forty shillings warm the breast
Of worth or industry distrest-
This sum I cheerfully impart,
Tis fourscore pleasures to my heart:
And you may make, by means like these,
Five talents ten, whene'er you please.
'Tis true, my little purse grows light;
But then I sleep so sweet at night!
This grand specific will prevail
When all the doctor's opiates fail.
You ask what party I pursue;
Perhaps you mean, Whose fool are you?' The names of party I detest;
Badges of slavery at best:
I've too much grace to play the knave,
And too much pride to turn a slave.
I love my country from my soul,
And grieve when knaves or fools control:
I'm pleased when vice and folly smart,
Or at the gibbet or the cart:
Yet always pity where I can ;
Abhor the guilt, but mourn the man.
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,
You can't in conscience think me wrong.
§ 81. Vision I. Slander. Inscribed to
My lovely girl, I write for you,
pray believe my
They'll form your mind to ev'ry grace;
They'll add new beauties to your face;
And when old age impairs your prime,
You'll triumph o'er the spoils of time.
Childhood and youth engage my pen ;
'Tis labor lost to talk to men
Youth may perhaps reform when wrong;
Age will not listen to my song.
He who at fifty is a fool,
Is far too stubborn grown for school.
What is that vice which still prevails,
When almost ev'ry passion fails;
Which with our very dawn begun,
Nor ends but with our setting sun;
Which, like a noxious weed can spoil
The fairest flow'rs, and choke the soil!
'Tis Slander-and, with shame I own,
The vice of human kind alone.
Be Slander, then, my leading dream,
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
Could plead no merit of her own;
The silly theft betray'd her pride,
And spoke her poverty beside.
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 trash-no more;
Perhaps he pilfers- to be fed-
Ah! guiltless wretch who steals for bread!
But the dark villain who shall aim
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; "Twas thus immortal Shakspeare sung And trust the bard's unerring rule, For nature was that poet's school. As I was nodding in my chair, I saw a rueful wild appear; No verdure met my aching sight, But hemlock and cold aconite; Two very pois nous plants, 'tis true, But not so bad as vice to you.
The dreary prospect spread around; Deep snow had whiten'd all the ground:
A bleak and barren mountain nigh,
Expos'd to ev'ry friendless sky!
Here foul-mouth'd Slander lay reclin'd,
Her snaky tresses hiss'd behind;
A bloated toad-stool rais'd her head,
The plumes of ravens were her bed * ;'
She fed upon the viper's brood,
And slak'd her impious thirst with blood.
The rising sun, and western ray,
Were witness to her distant sway.
The tyrant claim'd a mightier host
Than the proud Persian e'er could boast.
No conquest grac'd Darius' sont,
By his own numbers half undone :
Success attended Slander's pow'r;
She reap'd fresh laurels ev'ry hour:
Her troops a deeper scarlet wore
Than ever armies knew before.
No plea diverts the fury's rage,
The fury spares nor sex nor age.
E'en Merit, with destructive charmis,
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 Hesperiant, 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
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 lie,
And female honors pine and die.
So prowling wolves, when darkness reigns,
Intent on murder, scour the plains;
Approach the folds where lambs repose,
Whose guileless breasts suspect no foes;
The savage gluts his fierce desires,
And bleating innocence expires.
Slander smil'd horribly, to view
How wide her conquests daily grew :
Around the crowded levees wait,
Like oriental slaves of state;
Of either sex whole armies prest,
But chiefly of the fair and best.
Is it a breach of friendship's law,
To say what female friends I saw ?
Slander assumes the idol's part,
And claims the tribute of the heart;
The best in some unguarded hour,
Have bow'd the knee, and own'd her pow'r,
Then let the poet not reveal
What candor wishes to conceal.
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 flics, 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 warin 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;
+ 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 provision.
Hesperia includes Italy as well as Spain; and the inhabitants of both are remarkable for their revengeful dispositions.
For this such anxious moments feel,
And ask the friendly aids of steel;
For this import the distant cane,
Or slay the monarch of the main.
And shall the soul be warp'd aside
By passion, prejudice, and pride?
Deformity of heart I call
The worst deformity of all.
Your cares to body are confin'd;
Few fear obliquity of mind.
Why not adorn the better part?
This is a noble theme for art.
For what is form, or what is face,
But the soul's index, or its case?
Now take a simile at hand,
Compare the mental soil to land.
Shall fields be till'd with annual care,
And minds lie fallow ev'ry year?
Oh, since the crop depends on you,
Give them the culture which is due :
Hoe ev'ry weed, and dress the soil,
So harvest shall repay your toil.
If human minds resemble trees
(As ev'ry moralist agrees),
Prime all the stragglers of your vine,
Then shall the purple clusters shine.
The gard'ner knows that fruitful life
Demands that salutary knife:
For ev'ry wild luxuriant shoot
Or robs the bloom, or starves the fruit.
A satirist in Roman times,
When Rome, like Britain, groan'd with crimes,
Asserts it for a sacred truth,
That pleasures are the bane of youth;
That sorrows such pursuits attend,
Or such pursuits in sorrows end:"
That all the wild advent'rer gains,
Are perils, penitence, and pains.
Approve, ye fair, the Roman page,
And bid your sons revere the sage;
In study spend their midnight oil,
And string their nerves by manly toil.
Thus shall they grow, like Temple, wise;
Thus future Lockes and Newtons rise;
Or hardy chiefs to wield the lance,
And save us from the chains of France.
Yes, bid your sons betimes forego
Those treach'rous paths where pleasures grow,
Where the young mind is Folly's slave;
Where ev'ry virtue finds a grave.
Let each bright character be nam'd,
For wisdom or for valor fam'd.
Are the dear youths to science prone?
Tell how th' immortal Bacon shone!
Who, leaving meaner joys to kings,
Soar'd high on contemplation's wings;
Rang'd the fair fields of nature o'er,
Where never mortal trod before:
Bacon! whose vast capacious plan
Bespoke him angel more than man!
Does love of martial fame inspire?
Cherish, ye fair, the gen'rous sire;
Teach them to spurn inglorious rest,
And rouse the hero in his breast:
Paint Cressy's vanquish'd field anew,
Their souls shall kindle at the view;
Resolv'd to conquer or to fall,
When Liberty and Britain call.
Thus shall they rule the crimson plain;
Or hurl their thunders thro' the main;
Gain with their blood, nor grudge the cost,
What their degen'rate sires have lost:
The laurel thus shall grace their brow,
As Churchill's once, or Warren's now.
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 insidions 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,
Roll their translucent streams along;
Thro' all the aromatic groves
The faithful turtles coo their loves;
The lark ascending pours his notes,
And linnets swell their rapt'rous throats.
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 oflence"
To virtue, and reproach to sense!
The midnight dance, the mantling bowl,
And all that dissipate the soul;
All that to ruin an combine,
Yes, specious hariot! all are thine.
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 pelf—
How great his theft who robs himself?
Is man, who gulls his friend, a cheat-
How heinous, then, is self-deceit ?
Is murder justly deem'd a crime-
How 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 health
Virtue forsakes his sordid mind,
And Honor scorns to stay beltind.
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.
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:
A porter show'd a diff'rent door,
Not the fair portal known before.
The gates, methought were open'd wide;
The crowds descended in a tide:
But oh! ye heavens, what vast surprise
Struck the advent'rers frighted eyes!
A barren heath before us lay,
And gath'ring clouds obscur'd the day;
The darkness rose in smoky spires;
The lightnings flash'd their livid fires;
Loud peals of thunder rent the air,
With vengeance chill'd our hearts with fear.
Five ruthless tyrants sway'd the plain,
And triumph'd o'er the mangled slain.
Here sat Distaste, with sickly mien,
And more than half devour'd with spleen:
There stood Remorse with thought opprest,
And vipers feeding on his breast:
Then Want, dejected, pale, and thin,
With bones just starting thro' his skin;
A ghastly fiend! — and close behind,
Disease his aching head reclin'd;
His everlasting thirst confess'd
The fires which rag'd within his breast
Death clos'd the train! the hideous form
Smil'd, unrelenting, in the storm;
When straight a doleful shriek was heard:
I 'woke she vision disappear'd.
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.
ATTEND my Visions, thoughtless youths, Ere long you'll think them weighty truths; Prudent it were to think so now, Ere age has silver'd o'er your brow: For he, who at his early years Has sown in vice, shall reap in tears. If folly has possess'd his prime, Disease shall gather strength in time; Poison shall rage in ev'ry vein; Nor penitence dilute the stain: And when each hour shall urge his fate, Thought, like the doctor, comes too late. The subject of my song is Health, A good superior far to wealth. Can the young mind distrust its worth? Consult the monarchs of the earth: Imperial czars, and sultans, own
No gem so bright that decks their throne; Each for this pearl his crown would quit, And turn a rustic, or a cit.
Mark, tho' the blessing's lost with ease,
Ta not recover'd when you please.
Say not that gruels shall ́avail;
For salutary gruels fail;
Say not, Apollo's sons succeed;
Apollo's Son is Egypt's
How fruitless the physician's skill, How vain the penitential pill, The marble monuments proclaim; The humbler turf confirms the same! Prevention is the better cure; So says the proverb, and 'tis sure. Would you extend your narrow span, And make the most of life you can; Would you, when med'cines cannot save, Descend with ease into the graveCalmly retire, like ev’ning light, And cheerful bid the world good night? Let Temp'rance constantly preside; Our best physician, friend, and guide! Would you to wisdom make pretence, Proud to be thought a man of sense? Let Temp'rance (always friend to fame) With steady hand direct your aim! Or, like an archer in the dark, Your random shaft will miss the mark: For they who slight her golden rules, In wisdom's volume stand for fools. But morals, unadorn'd by art, Are seldom known to reach the heart: I'll therefore strive to raise my theme With all the scenery of a dream.
Soft were my slumbers, sweet my rest, Such as the infant's on the breast; When faney, 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 scat!'.
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,
But often seen in rural sports:
When in her rosy vest the morn
Walks o'er the dew-bespangled lawn,
The nymph is first to form the race,
Or wind the horn, and lead the chace.
Sudden I heard a shouting train;
Glad acclamations fill'd the plain;
Abundant joy improv'd the scene,
For Health was loud proclaim'd a queen.
Two smiling cherubs grac'd her throne
(To modern courts, I fear, unknown):
One was the nymph that loves the light,
Fair Innocence, array'd in white;
With sister Peace in close embrace,
And heaven all opening in her face.
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,
Her subjects now express'd apace
Dissatisfaction in their face;
Some view the state with Envy's cye;
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 allusion to 2 Kings, xviii. 21.