« ForrigeFortsett »
And sheltered Sofa, while the nitrous air
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown 1
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets; and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less,
Than to release the adultress from her bond.
The adultress! what a theme for angry verse!
What provocation to the indignant tyeart,
That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandoned, glorying in her shame!
No:—let her pass, and chariotted along
In guilty splendour shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has washed them white,
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unsmirched,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time
Not to be passed: 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 an wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught the unblemished to preserve with care
Th'xt purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those day%
And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped,
To pass us readily through every door.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
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 healed, 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;
With few associates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I see that all are wanderers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still wooed
And never won. Dream after dream ensues;
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed. Rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two thirds of the remaining half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly,
That spreads his motley wings in the, eye of noon,
To sport their season, and be seen no more.
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discoveries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats
VOL. II. G
Of heroes little known; and call the rant
An history: describe the man, of whom
His own coevals took but little note,
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.
They disentangle from the puzzled skein,
In which obscurity has wrapped them up,
The threads of politic and shrewd design,
That ran through all his purposes, and charge
His mind with meanings that he never had,
Or having kept concealed. Some drill and bore
The solid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn,
That he who made it, and revealed its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age. ,•
Some, more acute, and more industrious still,
Contrive creation; travel nature up
To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And tell us whence the stars; why some are fixed,
And planetary some; what gave them first
Rotation, from what fountain flowed their light.
Great contest follows, and much learned dust
Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend
The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp
In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own.