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That all is vanity, and life a dream.
Let Nature rest: be busy for yourself,
And for your friend; be busy evʼn in vain,
Rather than tease her sated appetites.
Who never fasts, no banquet e'er enjoys;
Who never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let Nature rest: and when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge; but shun satiety.
"Tis not for mortals always to be bless'd.
But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober Sense conducts,
And Virtue, through this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and Sense I mean not to disjoin;
Virtue and Sense are one: and, trust me, still
A faithless heart betrays the head unsound.
Virtue (for mere Good-nature is a fool)
Is sense and spirit, with humanity;
'Tis sometimes angry, and its frown confounds;
"Tis ev'n vindictive, but in vengeance just.
Knaves fain would laugh at it; some great ones dare;
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of fortune dreads its name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth;
This is the solid pomp of prosperous days;
The peace and shelter of adversity :
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of Envy and all-sapping Time.
The gaudy gloss of fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye: the suffrage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attain'd
By sense alone, and dignity of mind.
'Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul, Is the best gift of Heaven: a happiness,
That ev'n above the smiles and frowns of fate
Exalts great Nature's favourites; a wealth,
That ne'er encumbers, nor can be transferr'd.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance, to shield a lucky knave,
Or throw a cruel sun-shine on a fool:
But for one end, one much-neglected use,
Are riches worth your care: (for Nature's wants
Are few, and without opulence supplied)
This noble end is, to produce the soul;
To show the virtues in their fairest light;
To make Humanity the minister
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the breast
That generous luxury the gods enjoy.'
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly sage Sometimes declaim'd. Of right and wrong he taught, Truths as refined as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to tell!) he practised what he preach'd.
Skill'd in the passions, how to check their sway
He knew, as far as Reason can control
The lawless powers. But other cares are mine :
Form'd in the school of Pæon, I relate
What passions hurt the body, what improve:
Avoid them, or invite them, as you may,
Know then, whatever cheerful and serene
Supports the mind, supports the body too.
Hence, the most vital movement mortals feel
Is Hope; the balm and life-blood of the soul:
It pleases, and it lasts. Indulgent Heaven
Sent down the kind delusion, through the paths
Of rugged life to lead us patient on;
And make our happiest state no tedious thing.
Our greatest good, and what we least can spare,
Is Hope the last of all our evils, Fear.
But there are passions grateful to the breast, And yet no friends to life: perhaps they please Or to excess, and dissipate the soul;
Or, while they please, torment. The stubborn clown,
The ill-tamed ruffian, and pale usurer,
(If Love's omnipotence such hearts can mould)
May safely mellow into love; and grow
Refined, humane, and generous, if they can.
Love in such bosoms never to a fault
Or pains or pleases. But, ye finer souls,
Form'd to soft luxury, and prompt to thrill
With all the tumults, all the joys and pains,
That beauty gives; with caution and reserve
Indulge the sweet destroyer of repose,
Nor court too much the queen of charming cares.
For, while the cherish'd poison in your breast
Ferments and maddens; sick with jealousy,
Absence, distrust, or ev'n with anxious joy,
The wholesome appetites and powers of life
Dissolve in languor. The coy stomach loathes
The genial board: your cheerful days are gone;
The generous bloom that flush'd your cheeks is fled.
To sighs devoted and to tender pains,
Pensive you sit, or solitary stray,
And waste your youth in musing.
Toy'd into care your unsuspecting heart :
It found a liking there, a sportful fire,
And that fomented into serious love;
Which musing daily strengthens and improves
Through all the heights of fondness and romance:
And you're undone, the fatal shaft has sped,
If once you doubt whether you love or no.
The body wastes away; the infected mind,
Dissolved in female tenderness, forgets
Each manly virtue, and grows dead to fame.
Sweet Heaven, from such intoxicating charms
Defend all worthy breasts! not that I deem
Love always dangerous, always to be shunn'd :
Love well repaid, and not too weakly sunk
In wanton and unmanly tenderness,
Adds bloom to health; o'er every virtue sheds
A gay, humane, a sweet, and generous grace,
And brightens all the ornaments of man.
But fruitless, hopeless, disappointed, rack'd
With jealousy, fatigued with hope and fear,
Too serious, or too languishingly fond,
Unnerves the body and unmans the soul:
And some have died for love; and some run mad;
And some with desperate hands themselves have
Some to extinguish, others to prevent,
A mad devotion to one dangerous fair,
Court all they meet; in hopes to dissipate
The cares of Love amongst an hundred brides.
The event is doubtful; for there are who find
A cure in this; there are who find it not.
'Tis no relief, alas! it rather galls
The wound, to those who are sincerely sick.
For while from feverish and tumultuous joys
The nerves grow languid, and the soul subsides,
The tender fancy smarts with every sting,
And what was love before is madness now.
Is health your care, or luxury your aim,
Be temperate still: when Nature bids, obey;
Her wild impatient sallies bear no curb :
But when the prurient habit of delight,
Or loose imagination, spurs you on
To deeds above your strength, impute it not
To Nature: Nature all compulsion hates.
Ah! let not luxury nor vain renown
Urge you to feats you well might sleep without;
To make what should be rapture a fatigue,
A tedious task; nor in the wanton arms
Of twining Lais melt your manhood down.
For from the colliquation of soft joys
How changed you rise! the ghost of what you was!
Languid, and melancholy, and gaunt, and wan;
Your veins exhausted, and your nerves unstrung.
Spoil'd of its balm and sprightly zest, the blood
Grows vapid phlegm; along the tender nerves
(To each slight impulse tremblingly awake)
A subtle fiend that mimics all the plagues,
Rapid and restless, springs from part to part.
The blooming honours of your youth are fallen;
Your vigour pines; your vital powers decay:
Diseases haunt you; and untimely age
Creeps on; unsocial, impotent, and lewd.
Infatuate, impious epicure! to waste
The stores of pleasure, cheerfulness, and health!
Infatuate all who make delight their trade,
And coy perdition every hour pursue.
Who pines with love, or in lascivious flames
Consumes, is with his own consent undone :
He chooses to be wretched, to be mad;
And warn'd proceeds and wilful to his fate.
But there's a passion, whose tempestuous sway
Tears up each virtue planted in the breast,
And shakes to ruins proud philosophy.
For pale and trembling Anger rushes in,
With faultering speech, and eyes that wildly stare;
Fierce as the tiger, madder than the seas,