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That kills himself t' avoid misery, fears it;
And at the best shows a bastard valour.-Massinger.
For, as we see the eclipsed sun
By mortals is more gazed upon,
Than when, adorn'd with all his light,
He shines in serene sky most bright,
So valour, in a low estate,
Is more admir'd and wonder'd at.
The wreath, in mad ambition's race,
Is his whose speed can first obtain it;
But in the quest of heavenly grace
Who holiest seeks, will surest gain it.
Alone in this celestial fight,
When countless foes unseen assemble,
There's valour high in timorous flight,
'Tis heroic zeal to fear and tremble.
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
Consuming means soon preys upon itself.
Now 'gan his heart to swell in jollity,
And of himself great hope and help conceiv'd;
That, puffed up with smoke of vanity,
And with self-loved personage deceiv'd,
He 'gan to hope, of men to be receiv'd
For such as him thought, or fain would be:
But for in court gay portance he perceiv'd
A gallant show to be in greatest gree,
Eftsoons to court he cast t' advance his first degree.
Why is the hearse with 'scutcheons blazon'd round,
And with the nodding plumes of ostrich crown'd?
No: the dead know it not, nor profit gain;
It only serves to prove the living vain.
How are thy painted beauties doted on,
By light and empty idiots! how pursued
With open and extended appetite;
How they do sweat, and run themselves from breath!
Raised on their toes to catch thy airy forms,
Still turning giddy till they reel like drunkards,
That buy the merry madness of one hour
With the long irksomeness of following time.
I spake-from vanity it seemed to me;
Was silent-still I saw 't was vanity:
I owned my vainness-vanity took possession
Of that most sad confession.
I vowed to kill the weed, and strove to do't,
And hewed and hacked down to the very root;
Alas! still seemed vanity to be thriving,
And living even in that very striving!
Then fell I down and prayed-Lord take my
And save me from the body of this death.
To err is human, human to be vain;
'Tis vanity and mock desire of fame
That prompts the rustic on the steeple top
Sublime to mark the outlines of his shoes;
And in the area to engrave his name.
With pride of heart the churchwarden surveys
High o'er the belfry, girt with birds and flow'rs,
His story wrote in capitals,_'T was I
That bought the font, and I repaired the pews.
Here vanity assumes her pert grimace.
The hue of death is cast o'er everything,
And vanity is marked on all I see.
Or is it vanity, that mental mole,
The dense ophthalmia of the vacant mind, Which whispers we may stem the strong control Of every wave that in our course we find.
WHY then doth flesh, a bubble-glass of breath,
Hunt after honour and advancement vain,
And rear a trophy for devouring death,
With so great labour and long-lasting pain,
As if his days for ever should remain?
Sith all that in this world is great or gay,
Doth as a vapour vanish and decay.
When first the sun too powerful beams displays,
It draws up vapour which obscures its rays;
But even those clouds at last before its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
AGE cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety.
The wholesom'st meats that are will breed satiety, We should admit of some variety.
Sir John Harrington.
Variety's the source of joy below,
From which still fresh revolving pleasures flow;
In books and love, the mind one end pursues,
And only change the expiring flame renews.
A man so various that he seem'd to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome.
Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong,
Was everything by starts, and nothing long!
But in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking;
Bless'd madman, who could every hour employ
In something new to wish, or to enjoy!
In squandering wealth, was his peculiar art,
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
VAUNTING. VENGEANCE. VENTURE.
Nor that the champion
Whom famous poets verse so much, doth vaunt,
And hath for twelve huge labours high extolled
So many furies, and sharp hits did haunt.-Spenser.
So spake the apostate angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair.
THE Souls of all that I had murdered,
Came to my tent, and every one did threat
To-morrow's vengeance on the head of Richard.
Nurtur'd in blood betimes, his heart delights
In vengeance gloating on another's pain.
IN my school-days, when I had lost my shaft,
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way, with more advised watch,
To find the other forth; by venturing both,
I oft found both.
"Nothing ventured, nothing won,"
Is a saying trite and true;
Yet the ice when it is new,
Only fools will venture on;
Be ye bold, yet rashness shun,
Wisely venture, when you do.
Believe me, Sir, had I such ventures forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;
Peering in maps, for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object, that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me sad.
I'LL versify in spite, and do my best,
To make as much waste paper as the rest.
THOU, whose sweet youth and early hopes enhance
Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure,
Hearken unto a Verser; who may chance
Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure.
A verse may find him who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.
Curst be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!
How happy had I been, if, for a curse,
The fates had never sentenc'd me to verse.
But ever since this peremptory vein,
With restless frenzy first possess'd my brain,
And that the devil tempted me, in spite
Of my own happiness to judge and write;
Shut up against my will, I waste my age
In mending this, and blotting out that page,
And grow so weary of the slavish trade
I envy their condition that write bad.
On man, on nature, and on human life,
Musing in solitude, I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise,
Accompanied by feelings of delight,
Pure, or with no unfeeling sadness mixed.
And I am conscious of affecting thoughts
And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes
Or elevates the mind, content to weigh
The good and evil of our mortal state.
-To these emotions, whensoe'er they come,
Whether from breath of outward circumstance,
Or from the soul, an impulse to herself,
I would give utterance in numerous verse.