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FLORI 0;

A TALE,

FOR FINE GENTLEMEN AND FINE LADIES.

IN TWO PARTS..

(PRINTED FIRST WITH THE BAS BLEU IN THE YEAR 1780.] TO THE

HON. HORACE WALPOLE. *

MY DEAR SIR,

It would be very flattering to me, if I might hope that the little Tale, which I now take the liberty of presenting to you, could amuse a few moments of your tedious indisposition. It is, I confess, but a paltry return for the many hours of agreeable information and elegant amusement which I have received from your spirited and very entertaining writings: yet I am persuaded that you will receive it with favor, as a small offering of esteem and gratitude; as an offering of which the intention alone makes all the little value.

The slight verses, Sir, which I place under your protection, will not, I fear, impress the world with a very favorable idea of my poetical powers; but I shall, at least, be suspected of having some taste, and of keeping good company, when I confess that some of the pleasantest hours of my life have been passed in your conversation. I should be unjust to your very engaging and well-bred turn of wit, if I did not declare that, among all the lively and brilliant things I have heard from you, I do not remember ever to have heard an unkind or an ungenerous one. Let me be allowed to bear my feeble testimony to your temperate use of this charming faculty, so delightful in itself, but which can only be safely trusted in such hands as yours, where it is guarded by politeness, and directed by humanity.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obliged and most obedient, humble servant,

THE AUTHOR.

JANUARY 27, 1786.

* Afterwards Earl of ORFORD.

FLORIO.

PART I.

Florio, a youth of gay renown, Who figured much about the town, Had passed with general approbation,

The modish forms of education ; Knew what was proper to be known, Th' established jargon of bon-ton; Had learnt, with very moderate reading, The whole new system of good breeding. He studied to be cold and rude, Though native feeling would intrude : Unlucky sense and sympathy, Spoiled the vain thing he strove to be ; For Florio was not meant by nature, A silly or a worthless creature.

He had a heart disposed to feel, Had life and spirit, taste and zeal; Was handsome, generous; but by fate Predestined to a large estate! Hence, all that graced his opening days, Was marred by pleasure, spoiled by praise. The Destiny, who wove the thread Of Florio's being, sighed and said, “ Poor youth! this cumbrous twist of gold More than my shuttle well can hold, For which thy anxious fathers toiled, Thy white and even thread has spoiled; 'Tis this shall warp thy pliant youth From sense, simplicity, and truth; Thy erring fire, by wealth misled, Shall scatter pleasures round thy head, When wholesome discipline's control Should brace the sinews of thy soul;

Coldly thou'lt toil for learning's prize,
For why should he that's rich be wise ?"

The gracious Master of mankind,
Who knew us vain, corrupt, and blind,
In mercy, though in anger, said,
That man should earn his daily bread :
His lot inaction renders worse,
While labor mitigates the curse.
The idle life's worst burdens bear,
And meet, what toil escapes, despair !

Forgive, nor lay the fault on me,
This mixture of mythology;.
The muse of Paradise has deigned
With truth to mingle fables feigned;
And though the bard who would attain
The glories, Milton, of thy strain,
Will never reach thy style or thoughts,
He may be like thee-in thy faults.

Exhausted Florio, at the age
When youth should rush on glory's stage;
When life should open fresh and new,
And ardent Hope her schemes pursue,
Of youthful gayety bereft,
Had scarce an unbroached pleasure left;
He found already, to his cost,
The shining gloss of life was lost;
And Pleasure was so coy a prude,
She fled the more, the more pursued;
Or if o'ertaken and caressed,
He loathed and left her when possessed.
But Florio knew the world; that science
Sets sense and learning at defiance;
He thought the world to him was known,
Whereas he only knew the Town:
In men this blunder still you find ;
All think their little set-Mankind.

Though high renown the youth had gained,
No flagrant crimés his life had stained;
No tool of falsehood, slave of passion,
But spoiled by CUSTOM, and the FASHION.
Though known among a certain set,
He did not like to be in debt;
He shuddered at the dicer's box,
Nor thought it very heterodox

That tradesmen should be sometimes paid,
And bargains kept as well as made.
His growing credit, as a sinner,
Was that he liked to spoil a dinner ;
Made pleasure and made business wait,
And still, by system, came too late;
Yet 'twas a hopeful indication,
On which to found a reputation ;
Small habits, well pursued betimes,
May reach the dignity of crimes;
And who a juster claim preferred,
Than one who always broke his word ?

His mornings were not spent in vice,
'Twas lounging, sauntering, eating ice;
Walk up and down St. James's Street,
Full fifty times the youth you'd meet;
He hated cards, detested drinking,
But strolled to shun the toil of thinking;
'Twas doing nothing was his curse :
Is there a vice can plague us worse?
The wretch who digs the mine for bread,
Or ploughs that others may be fed,
Feels less fatigue than that decreed
To him who cannot think, or read.
Not all the peril of temptations,
Not all the conflict of the passions,
Can quench the spark of glory's flame,
Or quite extinguish Virtue's name,
Like the true taste for genuine saunter,
Like sloth, the soul's most dire enchanter.
The active fires that stir the breast,
Her poppies charm to fatal rest;
They rule in short and quick succession,
But Sloth keeps one long, fast possession :
Ambition's reign is quickly closed,
Th' usurper's rage is soon deposed;
Intemperance, where there's no temptation,
Makes voluntary abdication :
Of other tyrants short the strife,
But INDOLENCE is king for life.
The despot twists, with soft control,
Eternal fetters round the soul.

Yet though so polished Florio's breeding, Think him not ignorant of reading ;

VOL. V.

15

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