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In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire ;
While expletives their feeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line;
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhimes;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze,”
In the next line, it "whispers through the trees :"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd, not in vain, with "sleep ;"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags it's slow length along,
Leave such to tune their own dull rhimes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow;
And praise the easy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetness join.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
"Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar:
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow ;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow,
Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow :
Persians and Greeks like turns of Nature found,
And the world's victor stood subdu'd by Sound!
LESSONS OF WISDOM.
How to live happiest: how avoid the pains,
The disappointments, and disgust of those
Who would in pleasure all their hours employ;
The precepts here of a divine old man
I could recite. Though old, he still retain'd
His manly sense, and energy of mind.
Virtuous and wise he was, but not severe;
He still remember'd, that he once was young;
His easy presence check'd no decent joy.
Him even the dissolute admir'd; for he
A graceful looseness when he pleas'd put on,
And laughing could instruct. Much had he read,
Much more had seen; he studied from the life,
And in th' original perus'd mankind.
Vers'd in the woes and vanities of life,
He pitied man: and much he pitied those
Whom falsely-smiling Fate has curs'd with means
To dissipate their days in quest of joy.
Our aim is Happiness: 'tis yours, 'tis mine,
He said, 'tis the pursuit of all that live:
Yet few attain it, if 'twas e'er attain'd.
But they the widest wander from the mark,
Who through the flow'ry paths of saunt'ring Joy,
Seek this coy Goddess; that from stage to stage
Invites us still, but shifts as we pursue.
For, not to name the pains that pleasure brings
To counterpoise itself, relentless Fate
Forbids, that we through gay voluptuous wilds
Should ever roam: and, were the Fates more kind,
Our narrow luxuries would soon be stale.
Were these exhaustless, Nature would grow sick,
And, cloy'd with pleasure, squeamishly complain,
That all was vanity, and life a dream.
Let Nature rest: be busy for yourself,
And for your friend; be busy ev'n in vain,
Rather than tease her sated appetites:
Who never fasts, no banquet e'er enjoys;
Who never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let Nature rest: and when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge: but shun satiety.
'Tis not for mortals always to be blest.
But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober Sense conducts,
And Virtue, through this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and Sense I mean not to disjoin;
Virtue and Sense are one; and, trust me, he
Who has not virtue is not truly wise.
Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a fool)
Is sense and spirit, with humanity :
'Tis sometimes angry, and it's frown confounds;
"Tis ev'n vindictive, but in vengeance just.
Knaves fain would laugh at it; some great ones dare;
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of Fortune dreads it's name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth;
This is the solid pomp of prosp'rous days,
The peace and shelter of adversity;
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of Envy and all-sapping Time.
The gaudy gloss of Fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye: the suffrage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attain'd
By sense alone, and dignity of mind.
Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul,
Is the best gift of Heav'n: a happiness
That ev'n above the smiles and frowns of Fate
Exalts great Nature's favourites: a wealth
That ne'er encumbers, nor to baser hands
Can be transferr'd: it is the only good
Man justly boasts of, or can call his own.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance to shield a lucky knave,
Or throw a cruel sunshine on a fool.
But for one end, one much-neglected use,
Are riches worth your care (for Nature's wants
Are few, and without opulence supplied).
This noble end is, to produce the Soul;
To show the virtues in their fairest light;
To make Humanity the minister
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the breast
That gen'rous Luxury the Gods enjoy-
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly Sage
Sometimes declaim'd. Of Right and Wrong he taught
Truths as refin'd as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to tell!) he practis'd what he preach'd.
AN EPISTLE TO DR. CORNWALLIS.
IN Frolic's hour, ere serious Thought had birth,
There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when
The Muse would take me on her airy wing,
And waft to views romantic; there present
Some motley vision, shade and sun; the cliff
O'erhanging, sparkling brooks, and ruins gray:
Bade me meanders trace, and catch the form
Of various clouds, and rainbows learn to paint.
Sometimes Ambition, brushing by, would twitch
My mantle, and with winning look sublime
Allure to follow. What though steep the track,
Her mountain's top would overpay, when climb'd,
The scaler's toil; her temple there was fine,
And lovely thence the prospects. She could tell
Where laurels grew, whence many a wreath antique ;
But more advis'd to shun the barren twig,
(What is immortal verdure without fruit?)
And woo some thriving art; her num'rous mines
Were open to the searcher's skill and pains.
Caught by th' harangue, heart beat, and flutt'ring pulse
Sounded irreg'lar marches to be gone→→→→
What, pause a moment when Ambition calls?
No, the blood gallops to the distant goal,
And throbs to reach it. Let the lame sit still.
When Fortune gentle, at th' hill's verge extreme,
Array'd in decent garb, but somewhat thin,
Smiling approach'd; and what occasion, ask'd,
Of climbing: She, already provident,
Had cater'd well, if stomach could digest
Her viands, and a palate not too nice :
Unfit, she said, for perilous attempt;
That manly limb requir'd, and sinew tough:
She took, and laid me in a vale remote,
Amid the gloomy scene of fir and yew,
On poppy beds, where Morpheus strew'd the ground
Obscurity her curtain round me drew,
And siren Sloth a dull quietus sung.
Sithence no fairy lights, no quick'ning ray,
No stir of pulse, nor objects to entice
Abroad the spirits: but the cloister'd heart
Sits squat at home, like pagod in a niche
Obscure, or grandees with nod-watching eye,
And folded arms, in presence of the throne,
Turk, or Indostan-Cities, forums, courts,
And prating sanhedrims, and drumming wars,
Affect no more than stories told to bed
Lethargic, which at intervals the sick
Hears and forgets, and wakes to doze again.
Instead of converse and variety,
The same trite round, the same stale silent scene
Such are thy comforts, blessed Solitude!-
But Innocence is there, but Peace all kind,
And simple Quiet with her downy couch,
Meads lowing, tune of birds, and lapse of streams,
And saunter with a book, and warbling Muse
In praise of hawthorns-Life's whole business this.
Is it to bask i' th' sun if so, a snail
Were happy crawling on a southern wall.
Why sits Content upon a cottage sill
At eventide, and blesses the coarse meal