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And give the world their talents and themselves— 799
Small thanks to those whose negligence or sloth
Exposed their inexperience to the snare,
And left them to an undirected choice.
See then the quiver broken and decay'd,
In which are kept our arrows! Rusting there
In wild disorder, and unfit for use,
What wonder if, discharged into the world,
They shame their shooters with a random flight,
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine !
Well may the Church wage unsuccessful war,
With such artillery arm’d. Vice parries wide
The undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.
Have we not track'd the felon home, and found
His birthplace and his dam? The country mourns,
Mourns, because every plague that can infest
Society, and that saps and worms the base
Of the edifice that Policy has raised,
Swarms in all quarters; meets the eye, the ear;
And suffocates the breath at every turn.
Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself
Of that calamitous mischief has been found
Found too where most offensive, in the skirts
Of the robed pedagogue! Else let the arraign’d
Stand up unco
unconscious, and refute the charge.
So when the Jewish leader stretch'd his arm,
And waved his rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egypt: gardens, fields, and plains,
Were cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill’d;
The croaking nuisance lurk’d in every nook ;
Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scaped ;
And the land stank—so numerous was the fry.
Wild n of
BOOK III.—THE GARDEN.
Self-recollection and reproof, l-Address to domestic happiness, 41-Some
account of myself, 108—The vanity of many of their pursuits who are
reputed wise, 124—Justification of my censures, 191—Divine illumination
necessary to the most expert philosopher, 221—The question, What is
truth ? answered by other questions, 261-Domestic happiness addresseil
again, 290— Few lovers of the country, 293—My tame bare, 334-Occu-
pations of a retired gentleman in his garden, 352—Pruning, 408—Framing,
435—Raising the cucumber, 446—Greenhouse, 566—Sowing of flower
seeds, 624—The country preferable to the town, even in the winter, 675
-Reasons why it is deserted at that season, 728—Ruinous effects of
gaming and of expensive improvements, 760—Book concludes with an
apostrophe to the metropolis, 811.
As one who, long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking home;
Or, having long in miry ways been foild,
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
Plunging, and half despairing of escape ;
If chance at length he find a greensward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,
He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease ;
So I, designing other themes, and call’d
To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have rambled wide. In country, city, seat
Of academic fame (howe'er deserved),
Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last.
But now with pleasant pace, a cleanlier road
I mean to tread. I feel myself at large,
Courageous, and refresh'd for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding-boards reflect
Most part an empty ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the satiric thong? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charm’d with rural beauty, to repose,
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains ;
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb’d by Folly, and apprized
Ilow great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or at least confine
Remarks that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust conceald
Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obstinate; and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic Happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has survived the fall !
Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or tasting, long enjoy thee! too infirm,
Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup :
Thou art the nurse of Virtue. In thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where Pleasure is adored,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support ;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets ; and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less
Than to release the adulteress from her bond.
The adulteress! what a theme for angry verse !
What provocation to the indignant heart,
That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is—
Cruel, abandon’d, glorying in her shame!
No: let her pass, and charioted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways !
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them wbite,
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now, of character unsmirch’d,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
Not to be pass'd : and she that had renounced
Her sex's honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it ; not for prudery's sake,
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not received ;
But was a wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught the unblemish’d to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those days,
And judged offenders well. And he that sharp'd,
And pocketed a prize by fraud obtain'd,
Was mark’d and shunn'd as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she required
His every nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid, with the blood that he had basely spared,
The price of his default.
But now, yes, now,
We are become so candid and so fair,
So liberal in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, a good-natured age!
That they are safe, sinners of either sex,
Transgress what laws they may. Well dress’d, well bred,
Well equipaged, is ticket good enough
To pass us readily through every door. .
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may
(And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet),
May claim this merit still, that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause ;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have lost their use.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since ; with many an arrow deep infix'd
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew,
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by the archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live.
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene;