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Temper'd with such superior art,
That both were proof to ev'ry dart.
Two warlike chiefs approach'd the green,
And wond'rous fav'rites with the queen;
Both were of Amazonian race;
Both high in merit and in place.
Here Resolution march'd, whose soul
No fear could shake, no pow'r control;
The heroine wore a Roman vest;
A lion's heart inform'd her breast.
There prudence shone, whose bosom wrought
With all the various plans of Thought;
"Twas hers to bid the troops engage,
And teach the battle where to rage.
And now the Syren's armies press; Their van was headed by Excess; The mighty wings that form'd the side, Commanded by that giant Pride; While Sickness, and her sisters, Pain And Poverty, the centre gain: Repentance, with a brow severe, And Death were station'd in the rear!
Health rang'd her troops with matchless art,
And acted the defensive part:
Her army posted on a hill,
Plainly bespoke superior skill.
Hence were discover'd, through the plain,
The motions of the hostile train:
While Prudence, to prevent surprise,
Oft sallied with her trusty spies;
Explor'd each ambuscade below,
And reconnoitred well the foe.
Afar when Luxury descried
Inferior force by art supplied,
The Syren spake- Let Fraud prevail,
Since all my num'rous hosts must fail;
• Henceforth hostilities shall cease;
I'll send to Health and offer peace.'
Straight she dispatch'd, with pow'rs complete,
Pleasure, her minister, to treat.
This wicked strumpet topp'd her part,
And sow'd sedition in the heart!
'Thro' ev'ry troop the poison ran;
All were infected to a man.
The wary generals were won
By Pleasure's wiles, and both undone
Jove held the troops in high disgrace,
And bade discases blast the race;
Look'd on the queen with melting eyes,
And snatch'd his darling to the skies
Who still regards those wiser few,
That dare her dictates to pursue.
For where her stricter law prevails,
Tho' passion prompts or vice assails,
Long shall they cloudless skies behold,
And their calm sun-set beam with guld.
§ 84. Vision IV. Content.
MAN is deceiv'd by outward show-
"Tis a plain homespun truth I know;
The fraud prevails at ev'ry age,
says the school-boy and the sage:
Yet still we hug the dear deceit,
And still exclaim against the cheat.
But whence this inconsistent part?
Say, moralists, who know the heart:
If you'll this labyrinth pursue,
I'll go before, and find the clue.
I dream'd ('twas on a birth-day nighty
A sumptuous palace rose to sight:
The builder had, thro' ev'ry part,
Observ'd the chastest rules of art;
Raphael and Titian had display'd
All the full force of light and shade
Around the liveried servants, wait;
An aged porter kept the gate.
As I was traversing the hall, Where Brussels looms adorn'd the wall (Whose tap'stry shows, without my aid, A nun is no such useless maid), A graceful person came in view (His form, it seems, is known to few); His dress was unadorn'd with lace, But charms! a thousand in his face.
This, Sir, your property?' I cried; Master and mansion coincide: Where all, indeed, is truly great,
And proves that bliss may dwell with state:
Pray, Sir, indulge a stranger's claim,
And grant the favor of your name."
Content! the lovely form replied;
But think not here that I reside:
Here lives a courtier, base and sly;
An open, honest rustic, I.
Our taste and manners disagree;
'His levee boasts no charms for me:
For titles, and the similes of kings,
To me are cheap, unheeded things.
("Tis virtue can alone impart
The patent of a ducal heart:
Unless this herald speaks him great,
What shall avail the glare of state?)
Those secret charms are my delight,
Which shine remote from public sight-
Passions subdued, desires at rest:
And hence his chaplain shares my breast.
There was a time (his grace can tell)
I knew the duke exceeding well;
Knew ev'ry secret of his heart;
In truth, we never were apart:
But when the court became his end,
He turn'd his back upon his friend.
One day I call'd upon his grace,
Just as the duke had got a place:
I thought (but thought amiss, 'tis clear)
I should be welcome to the peer;
Yes, welcome to a man in pow'r;
And so I was→→→ for half an hour:
But he grew weary of his guest,
And soon discarded me his breast;
Upbraided me with want of merit,
But most for poverty of spirit.
You relish not the great man's lot!
Come, hasten to my humbler cot.
Think me not partial to the great,
I'm a sworn foe to pride and state!
No monarch shares my kind embrace; There's scarce a monarch knows my face; Content shuns courts, and oftner dwells 'With modest worth in rural cells;
There's no complaint, tho' brown the bread,
Or the rude turf sustain the head;
Tho' hard the couch, and coarse the meat,
Sull the brown loaf and sleep are sweet.
Far from the city I reside,
And a thatch'd cottage all my pride.
True to my heart, I seldom roam,
Because I find my joys at home:
For foreign visits then begin
When the man feels a void within.
But tho' from towns and crowds I fly, No humorist, nor cynic, I.
If these the friendships you pursue, Your friends, I fear, are very few. So little company, you say, Yet fond of home from day to day! How do you shun Detraction's rod? I doubt your neighbours think you odd!
I commune with myself at night, And ask my heart if all be right: If Right' replies my faithful breast, I smile, and close my eyes to rest.
You seem regardless of the town: Pray, Sir, how stand you with the gown?
The clergy say they love me well Whether they do, they best can tell: They paint me modest, friendly wise, And always praise me to the skies: But if conviction's at the heart, Why not a correspondent part? For shall the learned tongue prevail, If actions preach a diff'rent tale? Who'll seek my door, and grace my walls, When neither dean nor prelate calls?
With those my friendships must obtain, Who prize their duty more than gain ; Soft flow the hours whene'er we meet, And conscious virtue is our treat; Our harmless breasts no envy know, And hence we fear no secret foe; Our walks Ambition ne'er attends, And hence we ask no pow'rful friends: We wish the best to church and state, But leave the steerage to the great; Careless who rises or who falls, And never dream of vacant stalls:
Much less, by pride or int'rest drawn,
Sigh for the mitre and the lawn.
Observe the secrets of my art,
I'll fundamental truths impart;
If you'll my kind advice pursue,
I'll quit my hut, and dwell with you.
The passions are a num'rous crowd,
Imperious, positive, and loud:
Curb these licentious sons of strife;
Hence chiefly rise the storms of life:
If they grow mutinous, and rave,
They are thy masters, thou their slave,
Regard the world with cautious eye,
Nor raise your expectation high.
See that the balanc'd scales be such,
You neither fear nor hope too much :
For disappointment's not the thing;
'Tis pride and passion point the sting,
Life is a sea, where storms must rise;
"Tis folly talks of cloudless skies;
He who contracts his swelling sail,
Eludes the fury of the gale.
Be still, nor anxious thoughts employ;
Distrust embitters present joy:
On God for all events depend;
You cannot want when God's your friend.
Weigh well your part, and do your
Leave to your Maker all the rest.
The hand which form'd thee in the womb.
Guides from the cradle to the tomb.
Can the fond mother slight her boy?
Can she forget her pratting joy?
Say then, shall sov'reign love desert
The humble and the honest heart?
Heav'n may not grant thee all thy mind,
Yet say not thou, that Heav'ns unkind.
God is alike both good and wise
In what he grants and what denies:
Perhaps, what Goodness gives to-day,
To-morrow Goodness takes away.
You say, that troubles intervene; That sorrows darken all the scene. True-and this consequence you see, The world was ne'er design'd for thee: You're like a passenger below, That stays perhaps a night or so; But still his native country lies Beyond the bound'ries of the skies.
Of Heav'n ask virtue, wisdom, health, But never let thy pray'r be wealth. If food be thine (tho' little gold), And raiment to repel the cold; Such as may Nature's wants suffice, Not what from pride and folly rise : If soft the motions of thy soul, And a calm conscience crown the whole; Add but a friend to all this store, You can't in reason wish for more: And if kind Heav'n this comfort brings, 'Tis more than Heav'n bestows on kings.
He spake the airy spectre flies. And straight the sweet illusion dies, The vision, at the early dawn, Consign'd me to the thoughtful morn;
To all the cares of waking clay, And inconsistent dreams of day.
§ 85. Vision V. Happiness. YE ductile youths, whose rising sun Hath many circles still to run; Who wisely wish the pilot's chart, To steer thro' life th' unsteady heart; And, all the thoughtful voyage past, To gain a happy port at last: Attend a Seer's instructive song; For moral truths to dreams belong.
I saw this wondrous Vision soon, Long ere my sun had reach'd its noon; Just when the rising beard began To grace my chin, and call me man.
One night, when balmy slumbers shed Their peaceful poppies o'er my head, My fancy led me to explore A thousand scenes unknown before. I saw a plain extended wide, And crowds pour'd in from ev'ry side; All seem'd to start a diff'rent game, Yet all declar'd their views the same: The chace was Happiness, I found; But all, alas! enchanted ground.
Indeed, I judg'd it wondrous strange,
To see the giddy numbers range
Thro' roads, which promis'd nought, at best,
But serrow to the human breast.
Methought, if bliss was all their view,
Why did they difl'rent paths pursue?
The waking world has long agreed,
That Bagshot's not the road to Tweed:
And he who Berwick seeks thro' Staines,
Shall have his labor for his pains.
As Parnell says, my bosom wrought
With travail of uncertain thought;
And, as an angel help'd the dean,
My angel chose to intervene.
The dress of cach was much the same;
And virtue was my seraph's name.
When thus the angel silence broke;
Her voice was music as she spoke :
Attend, O man! nor leave my side, And safety shall thy footsteps guide; Such truths I'll teach, such secrets show, As none but favor'd mortals know. She said and straight we march'd along To join Ambition's active throng: Crowds urg'd on crowds with eager pace, And happy he who led the race. Axes and daggers lay unscen In ambuscade along the green: While vapors shed delusive light, And bubbles mock'd the distant sight. We saw a shining mountain rise, Whose tow'ring summit reach'd the skies; The slopes were steep, and form'd of glass, Painful and hazardous to pass : Courtiers and statesmen led the way; The faithless paths their steps betray;
This moment seen aloft to soar,
The next to fall, and rise no more.
"Twas here Ambition kept her court,
A phantom of gigantic port:
The fav'rite that sustain'd her throne
Was falsehood by her vizard known;
Next stood Mistrust, with frequent sigh,
Disorder'd look, and squinting eye;
While meagre Envy claim'd a place;
And Jealousy, with jaundic'd face.
But where is Happiness?' I cried.
My guardian turn'd, and thus replied:
Mortal, by Folly still beguil'd,
Thou hast not yet outstripp'd the child;
Thou who hast twenty winters seen
(I hardly think thee past fifteen)
To ask if happiness can dwell
With ev'ry dirty imp of hell!
Go to the school-boy; he shall preach
What twenty winters cannot teach;
He'll tell thee, from his weekly theme,
That thy pursuit is all a dream;
That bliss ambitious vows disowns,
And, self-dependent, laughs at thrones ;
Prefers the shades, and lowly seats,
• Whither fair Innocence retreats.
So the coy lily of the vale
Shuns eminence, and loves the dale.
I blush'd; and now we cross'd the plain,
To find the money-getting train;
Those silent, snug, commercial bands,
With busy looks, and dirty hands.
Amidst these thoughtful crowds, the old
Plac'd all their happiness in gold;
And surely, if there's bliss below,
These hoary heads the secret know.
We journey'd with the plodding crew,
When soon a temple rose to view;
A Gothic pile! with moss o'ergrown;
Strong were the walls, and built with stone.
Without a thousand mastiffs wait;
A thousand bolts secure the gate.
We sought admission long in vain,
For here all favors sell for gain.
The greedy porter yields to gold i
His fee receiv'd, the gates unfold.
Assembled nations here we found,
And view'd the cringing herds around,
Who daily sacrific'd to Wealth
Their honor, conscience, peace, and healtst,
I saw no charms that could engage;
The god appear'd like sordid age,
With hooked nose, and famish'd jaws,
But serpent's eyes, and harpy's claws :
Behind stood Fear, that restless sprite,
Which haunts the watches of the night;
And viper Care, that stings so deep,
Whose deadly venom murders sleep.
We hasten now to Pleasure's bow'rs, Where the gay tribes sat crown'd with flow'rs: Here beauty ev'ry charm display'd, And love inflam'd the yielding maid;
Delicious wine our taste employs;
His crimson bowl exalts our joys.
I felt its gen'rons pow'r, and thought
The pearl was found that long I sought.
Determin'd here to fix home,
I bless'd the change, nor wish'd to roam :
The seraph disapprov'd my stay;
Spread her fair plumes, and wing'd away.
Alas! whene'er we talk of bliss,
How prone is man to judge amiss!
See, a long train of ills conspires
To scourge our uncontrol'd desires
Like summer swarms diseases crowd,
Each bears a crutch, or each a shroud.
Fever, that thirsty fury came,
With inextinguishable flame;
Consumption, sworn ally of Death!
Crept slowly on with panting breath;
Gout roar'd, and show'd his throbbing feet;
And Dropsy took the drunkard's seat;
Stone brought his tort'ring racks: and near
Sat Palsy, shaking in his chair.
A mangled youth, beneath a shade, A melancholy scene display'd:
His noseless face, and loathsome stains,
Proclaim'd the poison in his veins;
He rais'd his eyes, he smote his breast,
He wept aloud, and thus address'd;
'Forbear the harlot's false einbrace,
Tho' lewdness wear an angel's face:
Be wise, by my experience taught;
I die, alas! for want of thought!'
As he who travels Lybia's plains,
Where the fierce lion lawless reigns,
Is seis'd with fear and wild dismay,
When the grim foe obstructs his way;
My soul was pierc'd with equal fright,
My tott ring limbs oppos'd my flight:
I call'd ón Virtue, but in vain;
Her absence quicken'd ev'ry pain.
At length the slighted angel heard;
The dear refulgent form appear'd:
Presumptuous youth! she said, and frown'd
(My heart-strings Autter'd at the sound);
Who turns to me reluctant ears,
Shall shed repeated floods of tears. These rivers shall for ever last; 'There's no retracting what is past : Nor think avenging ills to shun; Play a false card, and you 're undone." ⚫Of Pleasure's gilded baits beware, Nor tempt the Syren's fatal snare: Forego this curs'd detested place; 'Abhor the strumpet, and her race. 'Had you those softer paths pursu'd, Perdition, stripling, had ensued:
Yes, fly- you stand upon its brink!
To-morrow is too late to think.
'Indeed, unwelcome truths I tell,
But mark may sacred lesson well;
With me whoever lives at strife,
Loses his better friend for life;
With me, who lives in friendship's ties,
'Finds all that's sought for by the wise.
Folly exclaims, and well she may,
Because I take her mask-away;
If once I bring her to the sun,
The painted harlot is undone.
But prize, my child, oh prize my rules,
And leave Deception to her fools.
Ambition deals in tinsel toys;
Her traffic gewgaws, fleeting joys,
An errant juggler in disguise,
Who holds false optics to your eyes.
But ah! how quick the shadows pass!
Tho' the bright visions thro' her glass
Charm at a distance! yet, when near,
The baseless fabrics disappear.
Nor riches boast intrinsic worth;
Their charms, at best, superior earth:
These oft the heaven-born mind enslave,
And make an honest man a knave.'
"Wealth cures my wants!", the miser cries:
Be not deceiv'd-the miser lies;
One want he has, with all his store,
That worst of wants-the want of more.' "Take Pleasure, Wealth, and Pomp away, "And where is Happiness," you say.
'Tis here-and may be yours-for, know, I'm all that's Happiness below.
To Viced leave tumultuous joys; Mine is the still and softer voice! That whispers peace when storms invade, And music through the midnight shade. Come, then, be mine in ev'ry part, Nor give me less than all your heart; When troubles discompose your breast, I'll enter there a cheerful guest: My converse shall your cares beguile, The little world within shall smile. And then it scarce imports a jot, Whether the great world frowns or not. And when the closing scenes prevail, When wealth, state, pleasure, all shall fail; All that a foolish world admires, 'Or Passion craves, or Pride inspires : At that important hour of need, Virtue shall prove a friend indeed! My hands shall smooth thy dying bed, My arms sustain thy drooping head: And when the painful struggle's o'er, And that vain thing, the world, no more; I'll bear my fav'rite son away To rapture and eternal day.'
And, since thy choice is always free,
I bless thee for thy smiles on me.
When sorrows swell the tempest high,
Thou, a kind port, art always nigh;
For aching hearts a sov reign cure,
Not soft nepenthe* half so sure!
And, when returning comforts rise,
Thou the bright sun that gilds our skies.
While these ideas warm'd my breast,
My weary eyelids stole to rest;
When fancy re-assum'd the theme,
And furnish'd this instructive dream:
I sail'd upon a stormy sea (Thousands embark'd alike with me); My skiff was small, and weak beside, Not built, methought, to stem the tide. The winds along the surges sweep, The wrecks lie scatter'd through the deep; Aloud the foaming billows roar; Unfriendly rocks forbid the shore.
While all our various course pursue, A spacious isle salutes our view: Two queens with tempers diff'ring wide, This new-discover'd world divide: A river parts their proper claim, And Truth its celebrated name.
But Prudence most attracts the sight,
And shines pre-eminently bright.
To view her various thoughts that rise,
She holds a mirror to her eyes;
The mirror, faithful to its charge,
Reflects the virgin's soul in large.
A Virtue with a softer air
Was handmaid to the regal fair:
This nymph, indulgent, constant, kind,
Derives from heaven her spotless mind;
When actions wear a dubious face,
Puts the best meaning on the case;
She spreads her arms, and bares her breasts,
Takes in the naked and distress'd;
Prefers the hungry orphan's cries,
And from her queen obtains supplies.
The maid, who acts this lovely part,
Grasp'd in her hand a bleeding heart.
Fair Charity, be thou my guest,
And be thy constant couch my breast!
But virtues of inferior name
Crowd round the throne with equal claim,
In Loyalty by none surpass'd,
They hold allegiance to the last :
Not antient records e'er can show
That one deserted to the foe.
The river's other side display'd Alternate plots of flow'rs and shade, Where poppies shone with various hue, Where yielding willows plenteous grew: And humble plants, by trav'llers thought With slow but certain poison fraught. Beyond these scenes the eye descried A pow'rful realm extended wide; Whose bound'ries from north-east begun, And stretch'd to meet the south-west sun. Here Flatt'ry boasts despotic sway, And basks in all the warmth of day.
Long practis'd in Deception's school,
The tyrant knew the arts to rule;
Elated with th' imperial robe,
She plans the conquest of the globe;
And, aided by her servile trains,
Leads kings, and sons of kings, in chains.
Her darling minister is Pride
(Who ne'er was known to change his side),
A friend to all her int'rests just,
And active to discharge his trust;
Caress'd alike by high and low,
The idol of the belle and beau :
In ev'ry shape he shows his skill,
And forms her subjects to his will;
Enters their houses and their hearts,
And gains his point before he parts ;
Sure never minister was known
So zealous for his sov'reign's throne!
Three sisters, similar in mien,
Were maids of honor to the queen;
Who farther favors shar'd beside,
As daughters of her statesman, Pride.
* Nepenthe is an herb which, being infused in wine, dispels grief. It is unknown to the moderns; but some believe it a kind of opium, and others take it for a species of bugloss. Plin. xvi. 21. f. & xxv.2. The humble plant bends down before the touch, as the sensitive plant shrinks from the touch; and is said by some to be the slow poison of the Indians.