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Or with the merry fellows quaff,
And laugh aloud with them that laugh;
Or drink a joco-serious cup
With souls who've took their freedom up,
And let my mind, beguil'd by talk,
In Epicurus' garden walk,
Who thought it Heav'n to be serene;
Pain, Hell, and Purgatory, Spleen.
Sometimes I dress, with women sit,
And chat away the gloomy fit;
Quit the stiff garb of serious sense,
And wear a gay impertinence,
Nor think nor speak with any pains,
But lay on Fancy's neck the reins;
Talk of unusual swell of waist
In maid of honor loosely lac'd,
And beauty borr' wing Spanish red,
And loving pair with sep'rate bed,
And jewels pawn'd for loss of game,
And then redeem'd by loss of fame;
Of Kitty (aunt left in the lurch
By grave pretence to go to church)
Perceiv'd in hack with lover fine,
Like Will and Mary on the coin:
And thus in modish manner we,
In aid of sugar, sweeten tea.
Permit, ye fair, your idol form,
Which e'en the coldest heart can warm,
May with its beauties grace my line,
While I bow down before its shrine,
And your throng'd altars with my lays
Perfume, and get by giving praise.
With speech so sweet, so sweet a mien
You excommunicate the Spleen,
Which, fiend-like, flies the magic ring
You form with sound, when pleas'd to sing;
Whate'er you say, howe'er you move,
We look, we listen, and approve.
Your touch, which gives to feeling bliss,
Our nerves officious throng to kiss;
By Celia's pat, on their report,
The grave-air'd soul, inclin'd to sport,
Renounces wisdom's sullen pomp,
And loves the floral game, to romp.
But who can view the pointed rays,
That from black eyes scintillant blaze?
Love on his throne of glory seems
Encompass'd with satellite beams.
But when blue eyes, more softly bright,
Diffuse benignly humid light,
We gaze, and see the smiling loves,
And Cytherea's gentle doves,
And raptur'd fix in such a face
Love's mercy-seat, and throne of grace.
Shine but on age, you melt its snow;
Again fires long-extinguish'd glow,
And, charm'd by witchery of eyes,
Blood long congealed liquefies!
True miracle, and fairly done
By heads which are ador'd while on.
But oh, what pity 'tis to find
Such beauties both of form and mind,
By modern breeding much debas'd,
In half the female world at least!
Hence I with care such lott'ries shun,
Where, a prize miss'd, I'm quite undone;
And han't, by vent'ring on a wife,
Yet run the greatest risk in life.
Mothers, and guardian aunts, forbear Your impious pains to form the fair,
Nor lay out so much cost and art,
But to deflow'r the virgin heart;
Of every folly-fost'ring bed
By quick'ning heat of custom bred.
Rather than by your culture spoil'd,
Desist, and give us nature wild,
Delighted with a hoyden soul,
Which truth and innocence control.
Coquets, leave off affected arts,
Gay fowlers at a flock of hearts;
Woodcocks to shun your snares have skill,
You show so plain, you strive to kill.
In love the artless catch the game,
And they scarce miss who never aim.
The world's great Author did create
The sex to fit the nuptial state,
And meant a blessing in a wife
To solace the fatigues of life;
And old inspired times display,
How wives could love, and yet obey.
Then truth, and patience of control,
And housewife arts, adorn'd the soul;
And charms, the gift of Nature, shone;
And jealousy, a thing unknown:
Veils were the only masks they wore;
Novels (receipts to make a whore)
Nor ombre, nor quadrille, they knew,
Nor Pam's puissance felt at loo.
Wise men did not, to be thought gay,
Then compliment their pow'r away:
But lest, by frail desires misled,
The girls forbidden paths should tread,
Of ign'rance rais'd the safe high wall;
We sink haw-haws, that show them all.
Thus we at once solicit sense,
And charge them not to break the fence.
Now, if untir'd, consider, friend,
What I avoid to gain my end.
I never am at meeting seen,
Meeting, that region of the Spleen;
The broken heart, the busy fiend,
The inward call, on Spleen depend.
Law, licens'd breaking of the peace, To which vocation is disease: A gipsy diction scarce known well By th' magi, who law-fortunes tell, I shun; nor let it breed within Anxiety, and that the Spleen; Law, grown a forest, where perplex The mazes, and the brambles vex; Where its twelve verd'rers every day Are changing still the public way: Yet, if we miss our path and err, We grievous penalties incur; And wand'rers tire, and tear their skin, And then get out where they went in.
I never game, and rarely bet,
Am loth to lend, or run in debt.
No compter-writs me agitate;
Who moralizing pass the gate,
And there mine eyes on spendthrifts turn,
Who vainly o'er their bondage mourn.
Wisdom, before beneath their care,
Pays her upbraiding visits there,
And forces folly through the grate,
Her panegyric to repeat.
This view, profusely when inclin'd,
Enters a caveat in the mind:
Experience join'd with common sense,
To mortals is a providence.
Passion, as frequently is seen,
Subsiding settles into Spleen.
Hence, as the plague of happy life,
I run away from party-strife.
A prince's cause, a church's claim,
I've known to raise a mighty flame,
And priest, as stoker, very free
To throw in peace and charity.
That tribe, whose practicals decree
Small-beer the deadliest heresy ;
Who, fond of pedigree, derive
From the most noted whore alive;
Who own wine's old prophetic aid,
And love the mitre Bacchus made,
Forbid the faithful to depend
On half-pint drinkers for a friend,
And in whose gay red-letter'd face
We read good-living more than grace:
Nor they so pure, and so precise,
Immac'late as their white of eyes,
Who for the spirit hug the Spleen,
Phylacter'd throughout all their mien,
Who their ill-tasted home-brew'd pray'r
To the state's mellow forms prefer;
Who doctrines, as infectious, fear,
Which are not steep'd in vinegar,
And samples of heart-chested grace
Expose in show-glass of the face,
Did never me as yet provoke
Either to honor band and cloak,
Or deck my hat with leaves of oak.
I rail not with mock-patriot grace
At folks, because they are in place;
Nor, hir'd to praise with stallion pen,
Serve the ear-lechery of men;
But to avoid religious jars,
The laws are my expositors,
Which in my doubting mind create
Conformity to church and state.
I go, pursuant to my plan,
To Mecca with the caravan.
And think it right in common sense
Both for diversion and defence.
Reforming schemes are none of mine; To mend the world's a vast design: Like theirs, who tug in little boat, To pull to them the ship afloat, While to defeat their labor'd end, At once both wind and stream contend: Success herein is seldom seen, And zeal, when baffled, turns to Spleen
Happy the man, who innocent, Grieves not at ills he can't prevent; His skiff does with the current glide, Not puffing pull'd against the tide. He, paddling by the scuffling crowd, Sees unconcern'd life's wager row'd, And when he can't prevent foul play, Enjoys the folly of the fray.
By these reflections I repeal Each hasty promise made in zeal. When Gospel propagators say, We're bound our great light to display, And Indian darkness drive away, Yet none but drunken watchmen send, And scoundrel link-boys for that end; When they cry up this holy war, Which every Christian should be for; Yet such as owe the law their ears, We find employ'd as engineers:
This view my forward zeal so shocks,
In vain they hold the money-box.
At such a conduct, which intends
By vicious means such virtuous ends,
I laugh off Spleen, and keep my pence
From spoiling Indian innocence.
Yet philosophic love of ease
I suffer not to prove disease,
But rise up in the virtuous cuse
Of a free press and equal laws.
The press restrain'd! nefandous thought!
In vain our sires have nobly fought:
While free from force the press remains,
Virtue and Freedom cheer our plains,
And Learning largesses bestows,
And keeps uncensur'd open house.
We to the nation's public mart
Our works of wit, and schemes of art,
And philosophic goods this way,
Like water-carriage, cheap convey.
This tree, which knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From lay approach with zeal defend,
Lest their own paradise should end.
The Press from her fecundous womb
Brought forth the arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill'd in logic war,
Truth's banner wav'd in open air;
The monster Superstition fled,
And hid in shades its Gorgon head;
And lawless pow'r, the long-kept field,
By reason quell'd, was forc'd to yield.
This nurse of arts, and freedom's fence,
To chain, is treason against sense;
And, Liberty, thy thousand tongues
None silence, who design no wrongs;
For those, who use the gag's restraint,
First rob, before they stop complaint.
Since disappointment galls within, And subjugates the soul to Spleen, Most schemes, as money-snares, I hate, And bite not at projectors' bait, Sufficient wrecks appear each day, And yet fresh fools are cast away. Ere well the bubbled can turn round, Their painted vessel runs aground; Or in deep seas it oversets By a fierce hurricane of debts; Or helm directors in one trip, Freight first embezzled, sink the ship. Such was of late a corporation,* The brazen serpent of the nation, Which, when hard accidents distress'd, The poor must look at to be blest, And thence expect, with paper seal'd By fraud and us'ry, to be heal'd.
I in no soul-consumption wait Whole years at levees of the great,
The Charitable Corporation, instituted for the relief of the industrious poor, by assisting them with small sums upon pledges at legal interest. By the villany of those who had the management of this scheme, the proprietors were defrauded of very considerable sums of money. In 1732 the conduct of the directors of this body became the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, and some of them, who were members of the house of commons, were expelled for their concern in this iniquitous transaction.
And hungry hopes regale the while
On the spare diet of a smile.
There you may see the idol stand
With mirror in his wanton hand;
Above, below, now here, now there,
He throws about the sunny glare.
Crowds pant, and press to seize the prize,
The gay delusion of their eyes.
When Fancy tries her limning skill
To draw and color at her will,
And raise and round the figure well,
And show her talent to excel,
I guard my heart, lest it should woo
Unreal beauties Fancy drew,
And, disappointed, feel despair
At loss of things that never were.
When I lean politicians mark
Grazing on ether in the Park;
Who e'er on wing with open throats
Fly at debates, expresses, votes,
Just in the manner swallows use,
Catching their airy food of news;
Whose latrant stomachs oft molest
The deep-laid plans their dreams suggest;
Or see some poet pensive sit,
Fondly mistaking Spleen for Wit:
Who, though short-winded, still will aim
To sound the epic trump of Fame;
Who still on Phoebus' smiles will dote,
Nor learn conviction from his coat;
I bless'd my stars, I never knew
Whimsies, which close pursu'd, undo,
And have from old experience been
Both parent and the child of Spleen.
These subjects of Apollo's state,
Who from false fire derive their fate,
With airy purchases undone
Of lands, which none lend money on,
Born dull, had follow'd thriving ways,
Nor lost one hour to gather bays.
Their fancies first delirious grew,
And scenes ideal took for true.
Fine to the sight Parnassus lies,
And with false prospects cheats their eyes;
The fabled gods the poets sing,
A season of perpetual spring,
Brooks, flow'ry fields, and groves of trees,
Affording sweets and similes,
Gay dreams inspir'd in myrtle bow'rs,
And wreaths of undecaying flow'rs,
Apollo's harp with airs divine,
The sacred music of the Nine,
Views of the temple rais'd to Fame,
And for a vacant niche proud aim,
Ravish their souls, and plainly show
What Fancy's sketching power can do.
They will attempt the mountain steep,
Where on the top, like dreams in sleep,
The Muse's revelations show,
That find men crack'd, or make them so.
You, friend, like me, the trade of rhyme Avoid, elab'rate waste of time,
Nor are content to be undone,
Το for Phoebus' crazy son.
Poems, the hop-grounds of the brain,
Afford the most uncertain gain;
And lott'ries never tempt the wise
With blanks so many to a prize.
I only transient visits pay,
Meeting the Muses in my way,
Scarce known to the fastidious dames,
Nor skill'd to call them by their names.
Nor can their passports in these days,
Your profit warrant, or your praise.
On poems by their dictates writ,
Critics, as sworn appraisers, sit,
And mere upholst'rers in a trice
On gems and paintings set a price.
These tayl'ring artists for our lays
Invent cramp'd rules, and with straight stays
Striving free Nature's shape to hit,
Emaciate sense, before they fit.
A commonplace and many friends,
Can serve the plagiary's ends,
Whose easy vamping talent lies,
First wit to pilfer, then disguise.
Thus some, devoid of art and skill
To search the mine on Pindus' hill,
Proud to aspire and workmen grow,
By genius doom'd to stay below,
For their own digging show the town
Wit's treasure brought by others down.
Some wanting, if they find a mine,
An artist's judgment to refine,
On fame precipitately fix'd,
The ore with baser metals mix'd
Melt down, impatient of delay,
And call the vicious mass a play.
All these engage to serve their ends,
A band select of trusty friends,
Who, lesson'd right, extol the thing,
As Psapho taught his birds to sing;
Then to the ladies they submit,
Returning officers on wit:
A crowded house their presence draws,
And on the beaux imposes laws,
A judgment in its favor ends,
When all the panel are its friends:
Their natures merciful and mild
Have from mere pity sav'd the child;
In bulrush ark the bantling found
Helpless, and ready to be drown'd,
They have preserv'd by kind support,
And brought the baby-muse to court.
But there's a youth† that you can name,
Who needs no leading-strings to fame,
Whose quick maturity of brain
The birth of Pallas may explain :
Dreaming of whose depending fate,
I heard Melpomene debate,
"This, this is he, that was foretold
Should emulate our Greeks of old.
Inspir'd by me with sacred art,
He sings, and rules the varied heart;
If Jove's dread anger he rehearse,
We hear the thunder in his verse;
If he describes love turn'd to rage,
The furies riot in his page.
* Psapho was a Lybian, who, desiring to be accounted a god, effected it by this means: he took young birds and taught them to sing, Psapho is a great god. When they were perfect in their lesson, he let them fly; and other birds learning the same ditty, repeated it in the woods; on which his countrymen offered sacrifice to him, and considered him as a deity.
† Mr. Glover, the excellent author of Leonidas, Boadicea, Medea, &c.
If he fair liberty and law
By ruffian pow'r expiring draw,
The keener passions then engage
Aright, and sanctify their rage;
If he attempt disastrous love,
We hear those 'plaints that wound the grove.
Within the kinder passions glow,
And tears distill'd from pity flow."
From the bright vision I descend,
And my deserted theme attend.
Me never did ambition seize, Strange fever most inflam'd by ease! The active lunacy of pride, That courts jilt Fortune for a bride, This par'dise-tree, so fair and high, I view with no aspiring eye: Like aspen shake the restless leaves, And Sodom-fruit our pains deceives, Whence frequent falls give no surprise, But fits of Spleen, call'd growing wise. Greatness in glitt'ring forms display'd Affects weak eyes much us'd to shade, And by its falsely-envied scene Gives self-debasing fits of Spleen. We should be pleas'd that things are so, Who do for nothing see the show, And, middle-siz'd, can pass between Life's hubbub safe, because unseen. And midst the glare of greatness trace A wat'ry sunshine in the face, And pleasure fled to, to redress The sad fatigue of idleness.
Contentment, parent of delight, So much a stranger to our sight, Say, goddess, in what happy place Mortals behold thy blooming face; Thy gracious auspices impart, And for thy temple choose my heart. They, whom thou deignest to inspire, Thy science learn, to bound desire; By happy alchymy of mind They turn to pleasure all they find; They both disdain in outward mien The grave and solemn garb of Spleen, And meretricious arts of dress, To feign a joy, and hide distress; Unmov'd when the rude tempest blows, Without an opiate they repose; And, cover'd by your shield, defy The whizzing shafts, that round them fly: Nor meddling with the god's affairs, Concern themselves with distant cares; But place their bliss in mental rest, And feast upon the good possess'd.
Forc'd by soft violence of pray'r,
The blithesome goddess soothes my care.
I feel the deity inspire,
And thus she models my desire.
Two hundred pounds half-yearly paid,
Annuity securely made,
A farm some twenty miles from town,
Small, tight, salubrious, and my own;
Two maids, that never saw the town,
A serving-man, not quite a clown;
A boy to help to tread the mow,
And drive, while t'other holds the plow;
A chief, of temper form'd to please,
Fit to converse, and keep the keys;
And better to preserve the peace,
Commission'd by the name of niece,
With understandings of a size
To think their master very wise.
May Heav'n (it's all I wish for) send
One genial room to treat a friend,
Where decent cupboard, little plate,
Display benevolence, not state.
And may my humble dwelling stand
Upon some chosen spot of land:
A pond before full to the brim,
Where cows may cool, and geese may swim;
Behind, a green-like velvet neat,
Soft to the eye, and to the feet;
Where od'rous plants in evening fair
Breathe all around ambrosial air;
From Eurus, foe to kitchen ground,
Fenc'd by a slope with bushes crown'd,
Fit dwelling for the feather'd throng,
Who pay their quit-rents with a song;
With op'ning views of hill and dale,
Which sense and fancy too regale,
Where the half-cirque, which vision bounds,
Like amphitheatre surrounds;
And woods impervious to the breeze,
Thick phalanx of embodied trees,
From hills through plains in dusk array
Extended far, repel the day.
Here stillness, height, and solemn shade
Invite, and contemplation aid:
Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate
The dark decrees and will of Fate,
And dreams beneath the spreading beech
Inspire, and docile fancy teach;
While soft as breezy breath of wind,
Impulses rustle through the mind.
Here Dryads, scorning Phoebus' ray
While Pan melodius pipes away,
In measur'd motions frisk about,
Till old Silenus puts them out.
There see the clover, pea, and bean,
Vie in variety of green;
Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep,
Brown fields their fallow sabbaths keep,
Plump Ceres golden tresses wear,
And poppy top-knots deck her hair,
And silver streams through meadows stray,
And Naïads on the margin play,
And lesser nymphs on side of hills
From plaything urns pour down the rills.
Thus shelter'd, free from care and strife,
May I enjoy a calm through life;
See faction, safe in low degree,
As men at land see storms at sea,
And laugh at miserable elves,
Not kind, so much as to themselves,
Curs'd with such souls of base alloy,
As can possess, but not enjoy;
Debarr'd the pleasure to impart
By av'rice, sphincter of the heart,
Who wealth, hard-earn'd by guilty cares,
Bequeath untouch'd to thankless heirs.
May I, with look ungloom'd by guile,
And wearing Virtue's liv'ry-smile,
Prone the distressed to relieve,
And little trespasses forgive,
With income not in Fortune's pow'r,
And skill to make a busy hour,
With trips to town life to amuse,
To purchase books, and hear the news,
To see old friends, brush off the clown,
And quicken taste at coming down,
Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage,
And slowly mellowing in age,
When Fate extends its gathering gripe,
Fall off like fruit grown fully ripe,
Quit a worn being without pain,
Perhaps to blossom soon again.
But now more serious see me grow,
And what I think, my Memmius, know.
Th' enthusiast's hope, and raptures wild,
Have never yet my reason foil'd.
His springy soul dilates like air,
When free from weight of ambient care,
And, hush'd in meditation deep,
Slides into dreams, as when asleep;
Then, fond of new discoveries grown,
Proves a Columbus of her own,
Disdains the narrow bounds of place,
And through the wilds of endless space,
Borne up on metaphysic wings,
Chases light forms and shadowy things,
And in the vague excursion caught,
Brings home some rare exotic thought.
The melancholy man such dreams,
As brightest evidence, esteems;
Fain would he see some distant scene
Suggested by his restless Spleen,
And Fancy's telescope applies
With tinctur'd glass to cheat his eyes.
Such thoughts, as love the gloom of night,
I close examine by the light;
For who, though brib'd by gain to lie,
Dare sunbeam-written truths deny,
And execute plain common sense
On faith's mere hearsay evidence?
That superstition mayn't create,
And club its ills with those of Fate,
I many a notion take to task,
Made dreadful by its visor-mask.
Thus scruple, spasm of the mind,
Is cur'd, and certainty I find,
Since optic reason shows me plain,
I dreaded spectres of the brain;
And legendary fears are gone,
Though in tenacious childhood sown.
Thus in opinions I commence
Freeholder in the proper sense,
And neither suit nor service do,
Nor homage to pretenders show,
Who boast themselves by spurious roll
Lords of the manor of the soul;
Preferring sense, from chin that's bare,
To nonsense thron'd in whisker'd hair.
To thee, Creator uncreate,
O Entium Ens! divinely great!-
Hold, Muse, nor melting pinions try,
Nor near the blazing glory fly,
Nor straining break thy feeble bow,
Unfeather'd arrows far to throw :
Through fields unknown nor madly stray
Where no ideas mark the way.
With tender eyes, and colors faint,
And trembling hands, forbear to paint
Who features veil'd by light can hit?
Where can, what has no outline, sit?
My soul, the vain attempt forego,
Thyself, the fitter subject, know
He wisely shuns the bold extreme,
Who soon lays by th' unequal theme,
Nor runs, with Wisdom's syrens caught,
On quicksands swall'wing shipwreck'd thought
But, conscious of his distance, gives
Mute praise, and humble negatives.
In one, no object of our sight,
Immutable, and infinite,
Who can't be cruel or unjust,
Calm and resign'd, I fix my trust;
To him my past and present state
I owe, and must my future fate.
A stranger into life I'm come,
Dying may be our going home,
Transported here by angry Fate,
The convicts of a prior state.
Hence I no anxious thoughts bestow
On matters I can never know;
Through life's foul way, like vagrant pass'd,
He'll grant a settlement at last,
And with sweet ease the wearied crown,
By leave to lay his being down.
If doom'd to dance th' eternal round
Of life no sooner lost but found,
And dissolution soon to come,
Like sponge, wipes out life's present sum,
But can't our state of pow'r bereave
An endless series to receive;
Then, if hard dealt with here by Fate,
We balance in another state,
And consciousness must go along,
And sign th' acquittance for the wrong.
He for his creatures must decree
More happiness than misery,
Or be supposed to create,
Curious to try, what 'tis to hate :
And do an act, which rage infers,
'Cause lameness halts, or blindness errs.
Thus, thus I steer my bark, and sail
On even keel with gentle gale;
At helm I make my reason sit,
My crew of passions all submit.
If dark and blust'ring prove some nights,
Philosophy puts forth her lights;
Experience holds the cautious glass,
To shun the breakers, as I pass,
And frequent throws the wary lead,
To see what dangers may be hid;
And once in seven years I'm seen
At Bath or Tunbridge, to careen.
Though pleas'd to see the dolphins play
I mind my compass and my way,
With store sufficient for relief,
And wisely still prepar'd to reef,
Nor wanting the dispersive bowl
Of cloudy weather in the soul,
I make, (nray Heav'n propitious send
Such wind and weather to the end)
Neither becalm'd, nor over-blown,
Life's voyage to the world unknown