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Is it in charity you game,
To save your worthy gang from shame?
Unless you furnish'd daily bread,
Which way could idleness be fed?
Could these professors of deceit
Within the law no longer cheat,
They must run bolder risks for prey,
And strip the traveller on the way.
Thus in your annual rents they share,
And 'scape the noose from year to year.
Consider, ere you make the bet,
That sum might cross your taylor's debt.
When you the pilfering rattle shake,
Is not your honour, too, at stake?
Must you not by mean lies evade
Tomorrow's duns from every trade;
By promises so often paid,
Is yet your taylor's bill defray'd?
Must you not pitifully fawn
To have your butcher's writ withdrawn?
This must be done. In debts of play,
Your honour suffers no delay;
And not this year's and next year's rent The sons of rapine can content.
Look round, the wrecks of play behold,
Estates dismember'd, mortgag'd, sold!
Their owners now, to gaols confin'd,
Show equal poverty of mind.
Some, who the spoil of knaves were made,
Too late attempt to learn their trade.
Some, for the folly of one hour,
Become the dirty tools of power;
And, with the mercenary list,
Upon court charity subsist.
You'll find at last this maxim true,
Fools are the game which knaves pursue.
The forest (a whole century's shade)
Must be one wasteful ruin made:
No mercy's shown to age or kind;
The general massacre is sign'd.
The park, too, shares the dreadful fate,
For duns grow louder at the gate.
Stern clowns, obedient to the 'squire,
(What will not barbarous hands for hire?)
With brawny arms repeat the stroke;
Fall'n are the elm and reverend oak.
Through the long wood loud axes sound,
And Echo groans with every wound.
To see the desolation spread,
Pan drops a tear, and hangs his head:
His bosom now with fury burns;
Beneath his hoof the dice he spurns.
Cards, too, in peevish passion torn,
The sport of whirling winds are borne.
"To snails inveterate hate I bear,
Who spoil the verdure of the year;
The caterpillar I detest,
The blooming Spring's voracious pest;
The locust, too, whose ravenous band
Spreads sudden famine o'er the land.
But what are these? the dice's throw
At once hath laid a forest low.
The cards are dealt, the bet is made,
And the wide park hath lost its shade.
Thus is my kingdom's pride defac'd,
And all its ancient glories waste.
All this" (he cries)" is Fortune's doing:
"Tis thus she meditates my ruin.
By Fortune, that false, fickle jade,
More havock in one hour is made,
Than all the hungry insect race,
Combin'd, can in an age deface."
Fortune, by chance, who near him past, O'erheard the vile aspersion cast.
Why, Pan," (says she) "what 's all this rant? 'Tis every country-bubble's cant. Am I the patroness of vice?
Is 't I who cog or palm the dice?
Did I the shuffling art reveal,
To mark the cards, or range the deal?
In all th' employments men pursue,
I mind the least what gamesters do.
There may (if computation's just)
One now and then my conduct trast.
I blame the fool, for what can I,
When ninety-nine my power defy?
These trust alone their fingers' ends,
And not one stake on me depends,
Whene'er the gaming-board is set
Two classes of mankind are met;
But, if we count the greedy race,
The knaves fill up the greater space.
'Tis a gross errour held in schools,
That Fortune always favours fools.
In play it never bears dispute;
That doctrine these fell'd oaks confute.
Then why to me such rancour show?
'Tis Folly, Pan, that is thy foe.
By me his late estate he won,
But he by Folly was undone."
PLUTUS, CUPID, AND TIME.
Of all the burthens man must bear, Time seems most galling and severe : Beneath this grievous load oppress'd, We daily meet some friend distress'd.
"What can one do? I rose at nine?
'Tis full six hours before we dine:
Six hours! no earthly thing to do!
Would I had doz'd in bed till two!"
A pamphlet is before him spread,
And almost half a page is read;
Tir'd with the study of the day,
The fluttering sheets are toss'd away.
He opes his snuff-box, hums an air,
Then yawns, and stretches in his chair.
"Not twenty, by the minute hand!
Good gods," says he, "my watch musf stand i
How muddling 'tis on books to pore!
I thought I'd read an hour or more.
The morning, of all hours, I hate.
One can't contrive to rise too late."
To make the minutes faster run,
Then, too, his tiresome self to shun,
To the next coffee-house he speeds,
Takes up the news, some scraps he reads.
Sauntering, from chair to chair he trails;
Now drinks his tea, now bites his nails.
He spies a partner of his woe;
By chat affictions lighter grow;
Each other's grievances they share,
And thus their dreadful hours compare.
Says Tom, "Since all men must confess,
That time lies heavy, more or less,
Why should it be so hard to get,
Till two, a party at piquet?
Play might relieve the lagging morn: By cards long wintry nights are borne. Does not quadride amuse the fair, Night after night, throughout the year? Vapours and spleen forgot, at play They cheat uncounted hours away."
My case," says Will, “then must be hard,
By want of skill from play debarr'd.
Courtiers kill tine by various ways;
Dependence wears out half their days.
How happy these, whose time ne'er stands !
Attendance takes it off their hands.
Were it not for this cursed shower,
The Park had wil'd away an hour.
At court, without or place or view,
I daily lose an hour or two:
It fully answers my design,
When I have pick'd up friends to dine;
The tavern makes our burthen light;
Wine puts our time and care to flight.
At six (hard case!) they call to pay.
Where can one go? I hate the play.
From six till ten! unless in sleep,
One cannot spend the hours so cheap.
The comedy's no sooner done,
But some assembly is begun;
Loitering from room to room I stray,
Converse, but nothing hear or say:
Quite tir'd, from fair to fair I roam.
So soon! I dread the thoughts of home.
From thence, to quicken slow-pac'd night,
Again my tavern-friends invite:
Here, too, our early mornings pass,
Till drowsy sleep retard the glass."
Thus they their wretched life bemoan,
And make each other's case their own.
Consider, friends, no hour rolls on
But something of your grief is gone.
Were you to schemes of business bred,
Did you the paths of learning tread,
Your hours, your days, would fly too fast;.
You'd then regret the minute past.
Time's fugitive and light as wind:
'Tis indolence that clogs your mind:
That load from off your spirits shake,
You'll own, and grieve for, your mistake.
A while your thoughtless spleen suspend,
Then read, and (if you can) attend.
As Plutus, to divert his care,
Walk'd forth one morn to take the air,
Cupid o'ertook his strutting pace.
Each star'd upon the stranger's face,
Till recollection set them right,
For each knew th' other but by sight.
After some complimental talk,
Time met them, bow'd, and join'd their walk.
Their chat on various subjects ran,
But most, what each had done for man.
Plutus assumes a haughty air,
Just like our purse-proud fellows here.
"Let kings," says he, “let cobblers tell,
Whose gifts among mankind excel.
Consider courts; what draws their train?
Think you 'tis loyalty or gain?
That statesman hath the strongest hold,
Whose tool of politics is gold;
By that, in former reigns, 'tis said,
The knave in power hath senates led:
By that alone he sway'd debates,
Enrich'd himself, and beggar'd states.
Forego your boast. You must conclude,
That's most esteem'd that's most pursued.
Think, too, in what a woeful plight
That wretch must live whose pocket's light.
Are not his hours by want deprest?
Penurious care corrodes his breast.
Without respect, or love, or friends,
His solitary day descends."
"You might," says Cupid, "doubt my parts,
My knowledge, too, in human hearts,
Should I the power of gold dispute,
Which great examples might confute.
I know, when nothing else prevaiis,
Persuasive money seldom fails;
That beauty, too, (like other wares)
Its price, as well as conscience, bears.
Then marriage (as of late profest)
Is but a money jobb at best.
Consent, compliance, may be sold;
But love's beyond the price of gold.
Smugglers there are, who, by retail,
Expose what they call love to sale;
Such bargains are an arrant cheat:
You purchase flattery and deceit.
Those who true love have ever try'd,
(The common cares of life supply'd)
No wants endure, no wishes make,
But every real joy partake.
All comfort on themselves depends;
They want nor power, nor wealth, nor friends.
Love, then, hath every bliss in store;
'Tis friendship, and 'tis something more.
Each other every wish they give:
Not to know love, is not to live."
"Or love, or money," Time reply'd,
"Were men the question to decide,
Would bear the prize; on both intent,
My boon's neglected, or inis-spent.
'Tis I who measure vital space,
And deal out years to human race.
Though little priz'd, and seldom sought,
Without me love and gold are nought.
How does the miser time employ
Did I e'er see him life enjoy?
By me forsook, the hoards he won
Are scatter'd by his lavish son.
By me all useful arts are gain'd
Wealth, learning, wisdom, is attain'd.
Who then would think (since such my power)
That e'er I knew an idle hour?
So subtle and so swift I fly,
Love's not more fugitive than I.
Who hath not heard coquettes complain
Of days, months, years, mis-spent in vain?
For time misus'd they pine and waste,
And love's sweet pleasures never taste.
Those who direct their time aright,
If love or wealth their hopes excite,
In each pursuit fit hours employ'd,
And both by time have been enjoy'd.
How heedless then are mortals grown!
How little is their interest known!
In every view they ought to mind me,
For, when once lost, they never find me."
He spoke. The gods no more contest,
And his superior gift confest,
That Time (when truly understood) Is the most precious earthly good.
THE OWL, THE SWAN, THE COCK, THE SPIDER, THE ASS, AND THE FARMER.
CONVERSING with your sprightly boys,
Your eyes have spoke the mother's joys.
With what delight I've heard you quote
Their sayings in imperfect note!
I grant, in body and in mind
Nature appears profusely kind.
Trust not to that. Act you your part;
Imprint just morals on their heart;
Impartially their talents scan:
Just education forms the man.
Perhaps (their genius yet unknown)
Each lot of life's already thrown;
That this shall plead, the next shall fight,
The last assert the church's right.
I censure not the fond intent;
But how precarious is th' event!
By talents misapply'd and crost,
Consider, all your sons are lost.
One day (the tale's by Martial penn'd)
A father thus address'd his friend:
"To train my boy, and call forth sense,
You know I've stuck at no expense;
I've try'd him in the several arts;
(The lad, no doubt, hath latent parts)
Yet, trying all, he nothing knows,
But, crab-like, rather backward goes.
Teach me what yet remains undone ;
'Tis your advice shall fix my son."
"Sir," says the friend, "I've weigh'd the matter;
Excuse me, for I scorn to flatter:
Make him (nor think his genius checkt)
A herald or an architect."
Perhaps (as commonly 'tis known)
He heard th' advice, and took his own.
The boy wants wit; he's sent to school,
Where learning but improves the fool.
The college next must give him parts,
And cram him with the liberal arts.
Whether he blunders at the bar,
Or owes his infamy to war;
Or if by licence or degree
The sexton share the doctor's fee;
Or from the pulpit by the hour
He weekly floods of nonsense pour;
We find (th' intent of Nature foil'd)
A taylor or a butcher spoil'd.
Thus ministers have royal boons
Conferr'd on blockheads and buffoons:
In spite of nature, merit, wit,
Their friends for every post were fit.
But now let every Muse confess
That merit finds its due success.
Th' examples of our days regard;
Where's virtue seen without reward?
Distinguish'd and in place you find
Desert and worth of every kind.
Survey the reverend bench, and see
Religion, learning, piety »
The patron, ere he recommends,
Sees his own image in his friend's.
Is honesty disgrac'd and poor?
What is 't to us what was before?
We all of times corrupt have heard,
When paltry minions were preferr'd;
When all great offices, by dozens,
Were fill'd by brothers, sons, and cousins.
What matter ignorance and pride?
The man was happily ally'd.
Provided that his clerk was good,
What though he nothing understood?
In church and state the sorry race
Grew more conspicuous fools in place.
Such heads, as then a treaty made,
Had bungled in the cobbler's trade.
Consider, patrons, that such elves
Expose your folly with themselves.
'Tis yours, as 'tis the parent's care,
To fix each genius in its sphere.
Your partial hand can wealth dispense,
But never give a blockhead sense.
An Owl of magisterial air,
Of solemn voice, of brow austere,
Assum'd the pride of human race,
And bore his wisdom in his face;
Not to depreciate learned eyes,
I've seen a pedant look as wise.
Within a barn, from noise retir'd,
He scorn'd the world, himself admir'd;
And, like an ancient sage, conceal'd
The follies public life reveal'd.
Philosophers of old, he read,
Their country's youth to science bred,
Their manners form'd for every station,
And destin'd each his occupation.
When Xenophon, by numbers brav'd,
Retreated, and a people sav'd,
That laurel was not all his own;
The plant by Socrates was sown.
To Aristotle's greater name
The Macedonian ow'd his fame.
Th' Athenian bird, with pride replete,
Their talents equall'd in conceit.
And, copying the Socratic rule,
Set up for master of a school.
Dogmatic jargon learnt by heart,
Trite sentences, hard terms of art,
To vulgar ears seem'd so profound,
They fancy'd learning in the sound.
The school had fame; the crowded place
With pupils swarm'd of every race.
With these the Swan's maternal care
Had sent her scarce-fledg'd cygnet heir:
The Hen (though fond and loath to part)
Here lodg'd the darling of her heart:
The Spider, of mechanic kind,
Aspir'd to science more refin'd:
The Ass learnt metaphors and tropes,
But most on music fix'd his hopes.
The pupils now, advanc'd in age,
Were call'd to tread life's busy stage;
And to the master 'twas submitted,
That each might to his part be fitted.
"The Swan," says he, "in arms shall shine;
The soldier's glorious toil be thine.
"The Cock shall mighty wealth attain: Go, seek it on the stormy main.
"The court shall be the Spider's sphere: Power, fortune, shall reward him there.
"In music's art, the Ass's fame
Shall emulate Corelli's name."
Each took the part that he advis'd,
And all were equally despis'd.
A Farmer, at his folly mov'd,
The dull preceptor thus reprov'd :
"Blockhead," says he, "by what you've done,
One would have thought them each your son;
For parents, to their offspring blind,
Consult nor parts nor turn of mind,
But ev'n in infancy decree
What this, what th' other son, shall be.
Had you with judgment weigh'd the case,
Their genius thus had fix'd their place:
The Swan had learnt the sailor's art;
The Cock had play'd the soldier's part;
The Spider in the weaver's trade
With credit had a fortune made;
But for the foal, in every class,
The blockhead had appear'd an Ass.”
THE COOK-MAID, THE TURNSPIT, AND THE OX.
CONSIDER man in every sphere, Then tell me, is your lot severe? 'Tis murmur, discontent, distrust, That makes you wretched.
I grant, the hungry must be fed,
That toil, too, earns thy daily bread.
What then? Thy wants are seen and known;
But every mortal feels his own.
We're born a restless, needy crew:
Show me the happier man than you.
Adam, though blest above his kind,
For want of social woman pin'd.
Eve's wants the subtle Serpent saw,
Her fickle taste transgress'd the law:
Thus fell our sire; and their disgrace
The curse entail'd on human race.
When Philip's son, by glory led,
Had o'er the globe his empire spread ;
When altars to his name were dress'd;
That he was man, his tears confess'd.
The hopes of avarice are check'd:
The proud man always wants respect.
What various wants on power attend!
Ambition never gains its end.
Who hath not heard the rich complain
Of surfeits and corporeal pain?
He, barr'd from every use of wealth,
Envies the ploughman's strength and health.
Another, in a beauteous wife,
Finds all the miseries of life:
Domestic jars and jealous fear
Embitter all his days with care.
This wants an heir; the line is lost:
Why was that vain entail engrost?
Canst thou discern another's mind?
What is 't you envy? Envy's blind.
Tell Envy, when she would annoy,
That thousands want what you enjoy.
"The dinner must be dish'd at one.
Where's this vexatious Turnspit gone?
Unless the skulking cur is caught,
The surloin's spoilt, and I'm in fault."
Thus said, (for sure you'll think it fit
That I the Cook-maid's oaths omit)
With all the fury of a cook,
Her cooler kitchen Nan forsook :
The broom-stick o'er her head she waves;
She sweats, she stamps, she puffs, she raves:
The sneaking Cur before her flies;
She whistles, calls; fair speech she tries.
These nought avail. Her choler burns;
The fist and cudgel threat by turns.
With hasty stride she presses near ;
He slinks aloof, and howls with fear.
"Was ever Cur so curs'd!" (he cry'd)
"What star did at my birth preside!
Am I for life by compact bound
To tread the wheel's eternal round?
Inglorious task! of all our race
No slave is half so mean and base.
Had Fate a kinder lot assign'd,
And form'd me of the lap-dog kind,
then, in higher life employ'd,
Had indolence and ease enjoy'd;
And, like a gentleman, carest,
Had been the lady's favourite guest:
Or were I sprung from spaniel line,
Was his sagacious nostril mine,
By me, their never-erring guide,
From wood and plain their feasts supply'd,
Knights, 'squires, attendant on my pace,
Had shar'd the pleasures of the chase.
Endued with native strength and fire,
Why call'd I not the lion sire?
A lion! such mean views 1 scorn:
Why was I not of woman born?
Who dares with Reason's power contend?
On man we brutal slaves depend:
To him all creatures tribute pay,
And luxury employs his day."
An Ox by chance o'erheard his moan,
And thus rebuk'd the lazy drone :
"Dare you at partial Fate repine?
How kind's your lot compar'd with mine!
Decreed to toil, the barbarous knife
Hath sever'd me from social life;
Urg'd by the stimulating goad,
I drag the cumbrous waggon's load:
"Tis mine to tame the stubborn plain,
Break the stiff soil, and house the grain:
Yet I, without a murmur, bear
The various labours of the year.
But then, consider, that one day
(Perhaps the hour's not far away)
You, by the duties of your post,
Shall turn the spit when I'm the roast;
And for reward shall share the feast,
I mean, shall pick my bones at least."
"Till now," th' astonish'd Cur replies
"I look'd on all with envious eyes.
How false we judge by what appears!
All creatures feel their several cares.
If thus yon mighty beast complains;
Perhaps man knows superior pains.
Let envy then no more torment:
Think on the Ox, and learn content."
Thus said, close following at her heel,
With cheerful heart he mounts the wheel.
THE RAVEN, THE SEXTON, AND THE EARTH-WORM TO LAURA.
LAURA, methinks you're over-nice. True; flattery is a shocking vice!
Yet sure, whene'er the praise is just,
One may commend without disgust.
Am I a privilege deny'd,
Induig'd by every tongue beside?
How singular are all your ways!
A woman, and averse to praise !
If 'tis offence such truths to tell,
Why do your merits thus excel?
Since then I dare not speak my mind,
A truth conspicuous to mankind;
Though in full lustre every grace
Distinguish your celestial face;
Though beauties of inferior ray
(Like stars before the orb of day)
Turn pale and fade; I check my lays,
Admiring what I dare not praise.
If you the tribute due disdain,
The Muse's mortifying strain
Shall, like a woman in mere spite,
Set beauty in a moral light.
Though such revenge might shock the ear Of many a celebrated fair,
I mean that superficial race
Whose thoughts ne'er reach beyond their face;
What's that to you? I but displease
Such ever-girlish ears as these.
Virtue can brook the thoughts of age,
That lasts the same through every stage.
Though you by time must suffer more
Than ever woman lost before,
To age is such indifference shown,
As if your face were not your own.
Were you by Antoninus taught?
Or is it native strength of thought,
That thus, without concern or fright,
You view yourself by Reason's light?
Those eyes, of so divine a ray,
What are they? Mouldering, mortal clay.
Those features, cast in heavenly mould.
Shall, like my coarser earth, grow old?
Like common grass, the fairest flower
Must feel the hoary season's power.
How weak, how vain, is human pride!
Dares man upon himself contide?
The wretch, who glories in his gain,
Amasses heaps on heaps in vain.
Why lose we life in anxious cares,
To lay in hoards for future years ?
Can those (when tortur'd by disease)
Cheer our sick heart, or purchase ease?
Can those prolong one gasp of breath,
Or calm the troubled hour of death?
What's beauty? Call ye that your own?
A flower that fades as soon as blown.
What's man in all his boast of sway?
Perhaps the tyrant of a day.
Alike the laws of life take place
Through every branch of human race.
The monarch of long regal line
Was rais'd from dust as frail as mine.
Can he pour health into his veins,"
Or cool the fever's restless pains?
Can he (worn down in Nature's course)
New-brace his feeble nerves with force?
Can he (how vain is mortal power!)
Stretch life beyond the destin❜d hour?
Consider, man; weigh well thy frame;
The king, the beggar, is the same.
Dust form'd us all. Each breathes his day, Then sinks into his native clay.
Beneath a venerable yez,
That in the lonely church-yard grew,
Two Ravens sate. In solemn croak
Thus one his hungry friend bespoke.
"Methinks I scent some rich repast;
The savour strengthens with the blast;
Snuff then, the promis'd feast inhale;
I taste the carcase in the gale.
Near yonder trees, the farmer's steed,
From toil and every drudgery freed,
Hath groan'd his last. A dainty treat?
To birds of taste, delicious meat!"
A Sexton, busy at his trade,
To hear their chat suspends his spade.
Death struck him with no farther thought,
Than merely as the fees he brought.
"Was ever two such blundering fowls,
In brains and manners less than owls!
Blockheads," says he, "learn more respect:
Know ye on whom ye thus reflect?
In this same grave (who does me right,
Must own the work is strong and tight)
The 'squire, that yon fair hall possest,
To-night shall lay his bones at rest.
Whence could the gross mistake proceed?
The 'squire was somewhat fat indeed.
What then? the meanest bird of prey
Such want of sense could ne'er betray;
For sure some difference must be found
(Suppose the smelling organ sound)
In carcasses, (say what we can)
Or where's the dignity of man?"
With due respect to human race,
The Ravens undertook the case.
In such similitude of scent,
Man ne'er could think reflections meant.
As epicures extol a treat,
And seem their savoury words to eat,
They prais'd dead horse, luxurious food!
The venison of the prescient brood.
The Sexton's indignation, mov'd,
The mean comparison reprov'd;
Their undiscerning palate blam'd,
Which two-legg'd carrion thus defam'd.
Reproachful speech from either side
The want of argument supply'd:
They rail, revile; as often ends
The contest of disputing friends.
"Hold," says the fowl; "since human pride.
With confutation ne'er comply'd,
Let's state the case, and then refer
The knotty point, for taste may err."
As thus he spoke, from out the mould
An Earth-worm, huge of size, unroll'd
His monstrous length: they straight agree
To chuse him as their referee :
So to th' experience of his jaws
Each states the merits of the cause.
He paus'd; and, with a solemn tone,
Thus made his sage opinion known:
"On carcasses of every kind
This maw hath elegantly din'd;
Provok'd by luxury or need,
On beast, or fowl, or man, I feed:
Such small distinction 's in the savour,
By turns I chuse the fancy'd flavour:
Yet I must own (that human beast!)
A glutton is the rankest feast.
Man, cease this boast; for human pride
Hath various tracts to range beside.