Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame,
Good sense, good health, good conscience, and

good fame?
All these belong to virtue, and all prove
That virtue has a title to your love.
Have you no touch of pity, that the

poor
Stand starved at your inhospitable door?
Or if yourself too scantily supplied
Need help, let honest industry provide.
Earn, if you want; if you abound, impart:
These both are pleasures to the feeling heart.
No pleasure? Has some sickly eastern waste
Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast?
Can British paradise no scenes afford
To please her sated and indifferent lord?
Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run
Quite to the lees? And has religion nione?
Brutes capable would tell you 'tis a lie,
And judge you from the kennel and the

stye. Delights like these, ye sensual and profane, Ye are bid, begged, besought to entertain;

Called to these crystal streams, do ye turn off Obscene to swill and swallow at a trough? Envy the beast then, on whom heaven bestows Your pleasures, with no curses in the close.

Pleasure admitted in undue degree Enslaves, the will, nor leaves the judgment free. 'Tis not alone the grape's enticing juice Unnerves the moral powers, and mars their use; Ambition, avarice, and the lust of fame, And woman, lovely woman, does the same. The heart, surrendered to the ruling power Of some ungoverned passion every hour, Finds by degrees the truths, that once bore sway, And all their deep impressions, wear away; So coin grows smooth, in traffic current passed, Till Cæsar's image is effaced at last.

The breach, tho'small at first, soon opening wide, In rushes folly with a full moon tide, Then welcome errors of whatever size, To justily it by a thousand lies. As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone, And hides the ruin that it feeds upon;

So sophistry cleaves close to and protects
Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects.
Mortals, whose pleasures are their only care,
First wish to be imposed on, and then are.
And, lest the fulsome artifice should fail,
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil.
Not more industrious are the just and true
To give to virtue what is virtue's due=
The praise of wisdom, comeliness, and worth,
And call her charms to public notice forth-
Than vice's mean and disingenuous race
To hide the shocking features of her face.
Her form with dress and lotion they repair;
Then kiss their idol, and pronounce her fair.

The sacred implement I now employ
Might prove a mischief, or at best a toy;
A trifle, if it move but to amuse;
But, if to wrong the judgment and abuse,
Worse than a poignard in the basest hand,
It stabs at once the morals of a land.

Ye writers of what none with safety reads, Footing it in the dance that fancy leads;

Ye novelists, who mar what ye would mend,
Snivelling and drivelling folly without end;
Whose corresponding misses fill the ream
With sentimental frippery and dream,
Caught in a delicate soft silken net
By some lewd earl, or rake-hell baronet :
Ye pimps, who under virtue's fair pretence,
Steal to the closet of young innocence,
And teach her, unexperienced yet and green,
To scribble as you scribbled at fifteen;
Who, kindling a combustion of desire,
With some cold moral think to quench the fire;
Though all your engineering proves in vain,
The dribbling stream never puts it out again :
Oh that a verse had power and could command
Far, far away these flesh-flies of the land;
Who fasten without mercy on the fair,
And suck, and leave a craving maggot there.
However disguised the inflammatory tale,
And covered with a fine-spun specious veil;
Such writers, and such readers, owe the gust
And relish of their pleasure all to lust.

But the muse, eagle-pinioned, has in view A quarry more important still than you; Down, down the wind she swims and sails away, Now stoops upon it, and now grasps the

prey. Petronius! all the muses weep for thee; But every tear shall scald thy memory: The graces too, while virtue at their shrine Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine, Felt each a mortal stab in her own breast, Abhorred the sacrifice, and curst the priest. Thou polished and high-finished foe to truth, Gray-beard corruptor of our listening youth, To purge and skim away the filth of vice, , That so refined it might the more entice, Then pour it on the morals of thy son; To taint his heart, was worthy of thine own! Now, while the poison all high life pervades, Write if thou canst, one letter froin the shades; One, and one only, charged with deep regret That thy worst part, thy principles, live yet : One sad epistle thence may cure mankind Of the plague spread by bundles left behind.

« ForrigeFortsett »