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Take this short lesson from the god of bays,
And let my friend apply it as he please:
Beat not the dirty paths where vulgar feet have trod,
But give the vigorous fancy room.
For when, like stupid alchemists you try
To fix this nimble god,
This volatile mercury,
The subtile spirit all flies up in fume;
Nor shall the bubbled virtuoso find
More than a fade, insipid mixture left behind.1
While thus I write, vast shoals of critics come,
And on my verse pronounce their saucy doom;
The Muse like some bright country virgin shows
Fall'n by mishap among a knot of beaux;
They, in their lewd and fashionable prate,
Rally her dress, her language, and her gait;
Spend their base coin before the bashful maid,
Current like copper, and as often paid:
She, who on shady banks has joy'd to sleep
Near better animals, her father's sheep;
Shamed and amazed, beholds the chattering throng,
To think what cattle she is got among;
But with the odious smell and sight annoy'd,
In haste she does th' offensive herd avoid.2
'Tis time to bid my friend a long farewell,
The Muse retreats far in yon crystal cell;
Faint inspiration sickens as she flies,
Like distant echo spent, the spirit dies.
In this descending sheet you'll haply find
Some short refreshment for your weary mind;
Nought it contains is common or unclean,
And, once drawn up, is ne'er let down again.
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S ILLNESS AND RECOVERY.
Written in December, 1693.
STRANGE to conceive how the same objects strike
At distant hours the mind with forms so like!
Whether in time Deduction's broken chain
Meets and salutes her sister link again;
Or haunted Fancy, by a circling flight,
Comes back with joy to its own seat at night;
Or whether dead Imagination's ghost
Oft hovers where alive it haunted most;
Or if Thought's rolling globe, her circle run,
Turns up old objects to the soul her sun;
Or loves the Muse to walk with conscious pride
O'er the glad scene whence first she rose a bride :-
'Out of an ode I writ, inscribed "The Poet." Would not one imagine that Swift had at this
The rest of it is lost.-Original. time already conceived his idea
Be what it will; late near yon whisp'ring stream,
Where her own Temple was her darling theme
There first the visionary sound was heard,
When to poetic view the Muse appear'd.
Such seem'd her eyes, as when an evening ray
Gives glad farewell to a tempestuous day;
Weak is the beam to dry up Nature's tears,
Still every tree the pendent sorrow wears;
Such are the smiles where drops of crystal show
Approaching joy at strife with parting woe.
As when, to scare th' ungrateful or the proud,
Tempests long frown, and thunder threatens loud,
Till the blest sun, to give kind dawn of grace,
Darts weeping beams across heaven's watery face;
When soon the peaceful bow unstring'd is shown,
A sign God's dart is shot, and wrath o'erblown:
Such to unhallow'd sight the Muse divine
Might seem when first she raised her eyes to mine.
What mortal change does in thy face appear,
Lost youth, she cried, since first I met thee here!
With how undecent clouds are overcast
Thy looks, when every cause of grief is past!
Unworthy the glad tidings which I bring,
Listen while the Muse thus teaches thee to sing:
As parent earth, burst by imprison'd winds, Scatters strange agues o'er men's sickly minds, And shakes the atheist's knees; such ghastly fear Late I beheld on every face appear; Mild Dorothea, peaceful, wise, and great, Trembling beheld the doubtful hand of fate; Mild Dorothea, whom we both have long Not dared to injure with our lowly song; Sprung from a better world, and chosen then The best companion for the best of men: As some fair pile, yet spared by zeal and rage, Lives pious witness of a better age:
So men may see what once was womankind,
In the fair shrine of Dorothea's mind.
You that would grief describe, come here and trace Its watery footsteps in Dorinda's face:2 Grief from Dorinda's face does ne'er depart Farther than its own palace in her heart: Ah, since our fears are fled, this insolent expel, At least confine the tyrant to his cell. And if so black the cloud that heaven's bright queen Shrouds her still beams; how should the stars be seen? Thus when Dorinda wept, joy every face forsook, And grief flung sables on each menial look; The humble tribe mourn'd for the quick'ning soul, That furnish'd spirit and motion through tho whole; So would earth's face turn pale, and life decay, Should Heaven suspend to act but for a day;
Sister to sir William Temple.
So nature's crazed convulsions make us dread
That time is sick, or the world's mind is dead.
Take, youth, these thoughts, large matter to employ
The fancy furnish'd by returning joy;
And to mistaken man these truths rehearse,
Who dare revile the integrity of verse:
Ah, favorite youth, how happy is thy lot!
But I'm deceived, or thou regard'st me not;
Speak, for I wait thy answer, and expect
Thy just submission for this bold neglect.
Unknown the forms we the high-priesthood use
At the divine appearance of the Muse,
Which to divulge might shake profane belief,
And tell the irreligion of my grief;
Grief that excused the tribute of my knees,
And shaped my passion in such words as these!
Malignant goddess! bane to my repose,
Thou universal cause of all my woes;
Say whence it comes that thou art grown of late
A poor amusement for my scorn and hate;
The malice thou inspirest I never fail
On thee to wreak the tribute when I rail;
Fools' commonplace thou art, their weak ensconcing fort,
Th' appeal of dulness in the last resort:
Heaven, with a parent's eye regarding earth,
Deals out to man the planet of his birth:
But sees thy meteor-blaze about me shine,
And, passing o'er, mistakes thee still for mine:
Ah, should I tell a secret yet unknown,
That thou ne'er hadst a being of thy own,
But a wild form dependent on the brain,
Scattering loose features o'er the optic vein;、
Troubling the crystal fountain of the sight,
Which darts on poet's eyes a trembling light;
Kindled while reason sleeps, but quickly flies,
Like antic shapes in dreams, from waking eyes,
In sum, a glitt'ring voice, a painted name,
A walking vapor, like thy sister Fame.
But if thou be'st what thy mad votaries prate,
A female power, loose govern'd thoughts create;
Why near the dregs of youth perversely wilt thou stay,
So highly courted by the brisk and gay?
Wert thou right woman, thou should'st scorn to look
On an abandon'd wretch by hopes forsook;
Forsook by hopes, ill fortune's last relief,
Assigned for life to unremitting grief;
For, let Heaven's wrath enlarge these weary days,
If hope e'er dawns the smallest of its rays.
Time o'er the happy takes so swift a flight,
And treads so soft, so easy, and so light,
That we the wretched, creeping far behind,
Can scarce th' impression of his footsteps find;
Smooth as that airy nymph so subtly born
With inoffensive feet o'er standing corn;
Which, bow'd by evening breeze, with bending stalks
Salutes the weary trav'ller as he walks;
But o'er the afflicted with a heavy pace
Sweeps the broad scythe, and tramples on his face.
Down falls the summer's pride, and sadly shows
Nature's bare visage furrow'd as he mows:
See, Muse, what havoc in these looks appear,
These are the tyrant's trophies of a year:
Since hope, his last and greatest foe, is filed,
Despair and he lodge ever in its stead;
March o'er the ruin'd plain with motion slow,
Still scatt'ring desolation where they go.
To thee I owe that fatal bent of mind,
Still to unhappy restless thoughts inclined;
To thee, what oft I vainly strive to hide,
That scorn of fools, by fools mistook for pride;
From thee whatever virtue takes its rise,
Grows a misfortune, or becomes a vice;
Such were thy rules to be poetically great:
Stoop not to interest, flattery, or deceit; Nor with hired thoughts be thy devotion paid; Learn to disdain their mercenary aid; Be this thy sure defence, thy brazen wall, Know no base action, at no guilt turn pale: And since unhappy distance thus denies T'expose thy soul, clad in this poor disguise; Since thy few ill-presented graces seem To breed contempt where thou hast hoped esteem -" Madness like this no fancy ever seized, Still to be cheated, never to be pleased; Since one false beam of joy in sickly minds Is all the poor content delusion finds. There thy enchantment broke, and from this hour I here renounce this visionary power; And since thy essence on my breath depends, Thus with a puff the whole delusion ends.
WRITTEN IN A LADY'S IVORY TABLE-BOOK, 1698.
PERUSE my leaves through every part,
And think thou seest my owner's heart,
Scrawl'd o'er with trifles thus, and quite
As hard, as senseless, and as light;
Exposed to every coxcomb's eyes,
But hid with caution from the wise.
Here you may read, "Dear charming saint;"
Beneath, "A new receipt for paint:"
Here, in beau-spelling, "True tel deth;"
There, in her own, "For an el breth:"
Here, "Lovely nymph, pronounce my doom!"
Here, a page fill'd with billet-doux ;
On t'other side, "Laid out for shoes"-
Madam, I die without your grace"-
Item, for half a yard of lace."
Who that had wit would place it here,
For every peeping fop to jeer?
To think that your brain's issue is
Expos'd to th' excrement of his,
In power of spittle and a clout,
Whene'er he please to blot it out;
And then, to heighten the disgrace,
Clap his own nonsense in the place,
Whoe'er expects to hold his part
In such a book and such a heart,
If he be wealthy and a fool,
Is in all points the fittest tool;
Of whom it may be justly said,
He's a gold pencil tipp'd with lead.
MRS. FRANCES HARRIS'S PETITION. 1700.
To their excellencies the lords justices of Ireland,1
The humble petition of Frances Harris,
Who must starve and die a maid if it miscarries;
Humbly showeth, that I went to warm myself in lady Betty's' chamber,
because I was cold;
And I had in a purse seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence, besides farthings, in money and gold;
So because I had been buying things for my lady last night,
I was resolved to tell my money, to see if it was right.
Now you must know, because my trunk has a very bad lock,
Therefore all the money I have, which God knows is a very small stock,
I keep in my pocket, tied about my middle, next my smock.
So when I went to put up my purse, as God would have it, my smock
And instead of putting it into my pocket, down it slipp'd;
Then the bell rung and I went down to put my lady to bed;
And God knows I thought my money was as safe as my maidenhead.
So when I came up again I found my pocket feel very light;
But when I search'd and miss'd my purse, Lord! I thought I should
have sunk outright.
"Lord! madam," says Mary, "how d'ye do?". "Indeed," says I,
But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done with my purse?"
"Lord help me!" says Mary, "I never stirr'd out of this place!"
Nay," said I, "I had it in lady Betty's chamber, that's a plain case."
So Mary got me to bed, and covered me up warm:
However, she stole away my garters, that I might do myself no harm.
So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very well think,
But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a wink.
So I was a-dream'd, methought that I went and searched the folks round,
And in a corner of Mrs. Duke's box, tied in a rag, the money was found.
'The earls of Berkey and of Galway.