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NIGHT THE EIGHTH.
THE MAN OF THE WORLD ANSWERED.
With strokes alternate buffet to and fro
Man's restless heart, their sport, their flying ball;
Till, with the giddy circle sick and tir'd,
It pants for peace, and drops into despair.
Such is the world Lorenzo sets above
That glorious promise angels were esteem'd
Too mean to bring; a promise, their Ador'd
Descended to communicate, and press,
By counsel, miracle, life, death, on man.
Such is the world Lorenzo's wisdom wooes,
And on its thorny pillow seeks repose;
A pillow, which, like opiates ill-prepar'd,
Intoxicates, but not composes; fills
The visionary mind with gay chimeras,
All the wild trash of sleep, without the rest;
What unfeign'd travel, and what dreams of joy!
How frail, men, things! how momentary, both!
Fantastic chase of shadows hunting shades!
The gay, the busy, equal, though unlike;
Equal in wisdom, differently wise!
Through flowery meadows, and through dreary wastes
One bustling, and one dancing, into death.
There's not a day, but, to the man of thought,
Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach
On life, and makes him sick of seeing more.
The scenes of business tell us-"What are men;"
The scenes of pleasure-" What is all beside;"
There, others we despise; and here, ourselves.
Amid disgust eternal, dwells delight?
"Tis approbation strikes the string of joy.
What wondrous prize has kindled this career,
Stuns with the din, and chokes us with the dust,
On life's gay stage, one inch above the grave!
The proud run up and down in quest of eyes;
The sensual, in pursuit of something worse;
The grave, of gold; the politic, of power;
And all, of other butterflies, as vain!
As eddies draw things frivolous and light,
How is man's heart by vanity drawn in;
On the swift circle of returning toys,
Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then,
IN WHICH ARE CONSIDERED,
The Love of this life; the Ambition and Pleasure, with the Wit and Wisdom of the World.
AND has all Nature, then, espous'd my part?
Have I brib'd Heaven and Earth to plead against
And is thy soul immortal?-What remains?
All, all, Lorenzo!-Make immortal, blest.
Unblest immortals!--What can shock us more?
And yet Lorenzo still affects the world;
There, stows his treasure; thence, his title draws,
Man of the world (for such wouldst thou be call'd.)
And art thou proud of that inglorious style?
Proud of reproach? for a reproach it was,
In ancient days; and CHRISTIAN-in an age
When men were men, and not asham'd of Heaven-
Fir'd their ambition, as it crown'd their joy.
Sprinkled with dews from the Castalian font,
Fain would I re-baptize thee, and confer
A purer spirit, and a nobler name.
Thy fond attachments fatal, and inflam'd,
Point out my path, and dictate to my song:
To thee, the world how fair! How strongly strikes
Ambition and gay pleasure stronger still!
Thy triple bane! the triple bolt that lays
Thy virtue dead! Be these my triple theme;
Nor shall thy wit, or wisdom, be forgot.
Common the theme; not so the song; if she
My song invokes, Urania deigns to smile.
The charm that chains us to the world, her foe,
If she dissolves, the man of earth, at once,
Starts from his trance, and sighs for other scenes;
Scenes, where these sparks of night, these stars,
Where gay delusion darkens to despair?
Unnumber'd suns, (for all things, as they are,
The blest behold); and, in one glory, pour
Their blended blaze on man's astonish'd sight;
A blaze the least illustrious object there.
Lorenzo since eternal is at hand,
To swallow time's ambitions; as the vast
Leviathan, the bubbles vain, that ride
High on the foaming billow; what avail
High titles, high descent, attainments high,
If unattain'd our highest? O Lorenzo!
What lofty thoughts, these elements above,
What towering hopes, what sallies from the Sun,
What grand surveys of destiny divine,
And pompous presage of unfathom'd fate,
Should roll in bosoms, where a spirit burns,
Bound for eternity! In bosoms read
By him, who foibles in archangels sees!
On human hearts he bends a jealous eye,
And marks, and in Heaven's register enrols
The rise and progress of each option there;
Sacred to doomsday! That the page unfolds,
And spreads us to the gaze of gods and men.
And what an option, O Lorenzo! thine!
This world! and this, unrival'd by the skies!
A world, where lust of pleasure, grandeur, gold,
"This is a beaten track."-Is this a track
Should not be beaten? never beat enough,
Till enough learn'd the truths it would inspire.
Shall truth be silent, because folly frowns?
Turn the world's history; what find we there,
But fortune's sports, or nature's cruel claims,
Or woman's artifice, or man's revenge,
And endless inhumanities on man?
Fame's trumpet seldom sounds, but, like the knell,
It brings bad tidings: how it hourly blows
Man's misadventures round the listening world!
Man is the tale of narrative old time;
Sad tale; which high as Paradise begins;
As if, the toil of travel to delude,
From stage to stage, in his eternal round
The days, his daughters, as they spin our hours
On fortune's wheel, where accident unthought,
Oft, in a moment, snaps life's strongest thread,
Each, in her turn, some tragic story tells,
With, now and then, a wretched farce between.
And fills his chronicle with human woes.
Time's daughters, true as those of men, deceive us,
Not one, but puts some cheat on all mankind:
While in their father's bosom, not yet ours,
They flatter our fond hopes; and promise much
Of amiable; but hold him not o'er-wise,
Three demons that divide its realms between them, Who dares to trust them; and laugh round the year
At still-confiding, still-confounded, man,
Conding, though confounded; hoping on,
Untaught by trial, unconvinc'd by proof,
And ever looking for the never-seen.
Life to the last, like harden'd felons, lies;
Nor owns itself a cheat, till it expires.
Its little joy goes out by one and one,
And leaves poor man, at length, in perfect night;
Night darker than what, now, involves the Pole.
O thou, who dost permit these ills to fall [mourn!
For gracious ends, and wouldst that man should
O thou, whose hands this goodly fabric fram'd,
Who know'st it best, and wouldst that man should
What is this sublunary world? A vapor;
A vapor all it holds; itself, a vapor;
From the damp bed of chaos, by thy beam
Exhal'd, ordain'd to swim its destin'd hour
In ambient air, then melt, and disappear.
Earth's days are number'd, nor remote her doom;
As mortal, though less transient, than her sons;
Yet they dote on her, as the world and they
Were both eternal, solid; thou, a dream.
They dote! on what? Immortal views apart,
A region of outsides! a land of shadows!
A fruitful field of flowery promises!
A wilderness of joy! perplex'd with doubts,
And sharp with thorns! a troubled ocean, spread
With bold adventurers, their all on board!
No second hope, if here their fortune frowns;
Frown soon it must. Of various rates they sail,
Of ensigns various; all alike in this,
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate:
They strike; and while they triumph, they expire.
In stress of weather, most; some sink outright;
O'er them, and o'er their names, the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind,
Like a flag floating, when the bark's ingulf'd;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more:
One Cæsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few, beneath auspicious planets born,
(Darlings of Providence! fond Fate's elect!)
With swelling sails make good the promis'd port,
With all their wishes freighted; yet e'en these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain;
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men; and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their strength; their numberless escapes
In ruin end: and, now, their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world, just made their own!
Their nest so deeply down'd, and built so high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
Woe then apart, (if woe apart can be
From mortal man,) and fortune at our nod,
The gay! rich! great! triumphant! and august!
What are they?-The most happy (strange to say!
Convince me most of human misery;
All restless, anxious; tost with hopes, and fears,
In calmest skies; obnoxious all to storm;
And stormy the most general blast of life:
All bound for happiness; yet few provide
The chart of knowledge, pointing where it lies;
Or virtue's helm, to shape the course design'd:
All, more or less, capricious fate lament,
Now lifted by the tide, and now resorb'd,
And further from their wishes than before:
All, more or less, against each other dash,
To mutual hurt, by gusts of passion driven,
And suffering more from folly, than from fate.
Ocean! thou dreadful and tumultuous home
Of dangers, at eternal war with man!
Death's capital, where most he domineers,
With all his chosen terrors frowning round,
(Though lately feasted high at Albion's cost*)
Wide-opening, and loud-roaring still for more!
Too faithful mirror! how dost thou reflect
The melancholy face of human life!
The strong resemblance tempts me further still:
And, haply, Britain may be deeper struck
By moral truth, in such a mirror seen,
Which Nature holds for ever at her eye.
Self-flatter'd, unexperienc'd, high in hope,
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers gay,
We cut our cable, launch into the world,
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend;
All, in some darling enterprise embark'd:
But where is he can fathom its extent?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite! her lawful prize!
Some steer aright; but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof,
Full against wind and tide, some win their way;
And when strong effort has deserv'd the port,
* Admiral Balchen, &c.
What are they? Smiling wretches of to-morrow!
More wretched, then, than e'er their slave can be;
Their treacherous blessings, at the day of need,
Like other faithless friends, unmask, and sting;
Then, what provoking indigence in wealth!
What aggravated impotence in power!
High titles, then, what insult of their pain!
If that sole anchor, equal to the waves,
Immortal hope! defies not the rude storm,
Takes comfort from the foaming billows' rage,
And makes a welcome harbor of the tomb.
Is this a sketch of what thy soul admires?
"But here," thou say'st, "the miseries of life
Are huddled in a group. A more distinct
Survey, perhaps, might bring thee better news."
Look on life's stages: they speak plainer still;
The plainer they, the deeper wilt thou sigh.
Look on thy lovely boy; in him behold
The best that can befall the best on Earth;
The boy has virtue by his mother's side:
Yes, on Florello look: a father's heart
Is tender, though the man's is made of stone;
The truth, through such a medium seen, may make
Impression deep, and fondness prove thy friend.
Florello, lately cast on this rude coast
A helpless infant; now, a heedless child;
To poor Clarissa's throes, thy care succeeds;
Care full of love, and yet severe as hate!
O'er thy soul's joy how oft thy fondness frowns'
Needful austerities his will restrain;
As thorns fence-in the tender plant from harm.
As yet, his reason cannot go alone;
But asks a sterner nurse to lead it on.
His little heart is often terrified;
The blush of morning, in his cheek, turns pale;
Its pearly dew-drop trembles in his eye;
His harmless eye! and drowns an angel there.
Ah! what avails his innocence? The task
Enjoin'd must discipline his early powers;
He learns to sigh, ere he is known to sin;
Guiltless, and sad! a wretch before the fall!
How cruel this! more cruel to forbear.
Our nature such, with necessary pains,
We purchase prospects of precarious peace:
Though not a father, this might steal a sigh.
Suppose him disciplin'd aright (if not,
"Twill sink our poor account to poorer still;)
Ripe from the tutor, proud of liberty,
He leaps inclosure, bounds into the world!
The world is taken, after ten years' toil,
Like ancient Troy; and all its joys his own.
Alas! the world's a tutor more severe;
Its lessons hard, and ill deserve his pains;
Unteaching all his virtuous nature taught,
Or books (fair virtue's advocates!) inspir'd.
For who receives him into public life? Men of the world, the terræ-filial breed, Welcome the modest stranger to their sphere, (Which glitter'd long, at distance, in his sight,) And, in their hospitable arms, inclose: Men, who think nought so strong of the romance, So rank knight-errant, as a real friend : Men, that act up to reason's golden rule, All weakness of affection quite subdued: Men, that would blush at being thought sincere, And feign, for glory, the few faults they want; That love a lie, where truth would pay as well; As if, to them, vice shone her own reward.
Lorenzo! canst thou bear a shocking sight? Such, for Florello's sake, 'twill now appear: See, the steel'd files of season'd veterans, Train'd to the world, in burnish'd falsehood bright; Deep in the fatal stratagems of peace; All soft sensation, in the throng, rubb'd off; All their keen purpose, in politeness sheath'd; His friends eternal-during interest; His foes implacable-when worth their while; At war with every welfare, but their own; As wise as Lucifer, and half as good; And by whom none, but Lucifer, can gainNaked, through these (so common fate ordains,) Naked of heart, his cruel course he runs, Stung out of all, most amiable in life, [feign'd; Prompt truth, and open thought, and smiles unAffection, as his species, wide diffus'd; Noble presumptions to mankind's renown; Ingenuous trust, and confidence of love.
These claims to joy (if mortals joy might claim) Will cost him many a sigh; till time, and pains, From the slow mistress of this school, experience, And her assistant, pausing, pale, distrust, Purchase a dear-bought clew to lead his youth Through serpentine obliquities of life, And the dark labyrinth of human hearts. And happy! if the clew shall come so cheap; For, while we learn to fence with public guilt, Full oft we feel its foul contagion too, If less than heavenly virtue is our guard. Thus, a strange kind of curst necessity Brings down the sterling temper of his soul, By base alloy, to bear the current stamp, Below call'd wisdom; sinks him into safety, And brands him into credit with the world; Where specious titles dignify disgrace, And Nature's injuries are arts of life; Where brighter reason prompts to bolder crimes; And heavenly talents make infernal hearts; That unsurmountable extreme of guilt!
Poor Machiavel! who labor'd hard his plan, Forgot, that genius need not go to school; Forgot, that man, without a tutor wise,
His plan had practis'd long before 'twas writ.
The world's all title-page; there's no contents,
The world's all face; the man who shows his heart,
Is hooted for his nudities, and scorn'd.
A man I knew, who liv'd upon a smile,
And well it fed him; he look'd plump and fair;
While rankest venom foam'd through every vein.
Lorenzo! what I tell thee, take not ill!
Living, he fawn'd on every fool alive;
And, dying, curs'd the friend on whom he liv'd.
To such proficients thou art half a saint.
In foreign realms (for thou hast travel'd far)
How curious to contemplate two state-rooks,
Studious their nests to feather in a trice,
With all the necromantics of their art,
Playing the game of faces on each other,
Making court sweet-meats of their latent gall,
In foolish hope to steal each other's trust;
Both cheating, both exulting, both deceiv'd;
And sometimes both (let Earth rejoice) undone!
Their parts we doubt not; but be that their shame,
Shall men of talents, fit to rule mankind,
Stoop to mean wiles, that would disgrace a fool;
And lose the thanks of those few friends they serve?
For who can thank the man he cannot see?
Why so much cover? It defeats itself.
Ye, that know all things! know ye not, men's hearts
Are therefore known, because they are conceal'd?
For why conceal'd?-The cause they need not tell.
I give him joy, that's awkward at a lie;
Whose feeble nature truth keeps still in awe;
His incapacity is his renown.
"Tis great, 'tis manly, to disdain disguise;
It shows our spirit, or it proves our strength.
Thou say'st, ""Tis needful:" is it therefore right?
Howe'er, I grant it some small sign of grace,
To strain at an excuse: and wouldst thou then
Escape that cruel need? Thou may'st, with ease;
Think no post needful that demands a knave.
When late our civil helm was shifting hands,
So Poulteney thought: think better, if you can.
But this, how rare! the public path of life
Is dirty:-yet, allow that dirt is due,
It makes the noble mind more noble still:
The world's no neuter; it will wound, or save;
Or virtue quench, or indignation fire.
You say, "The world, well known, will make a man:"
The world, well known, will give our hearts to
Or make us demons, long before we die.
To show how fair the world, thy mistress, shines Take either part, sure ills attend the choice; Sure, though not equal, detriment ensues. Not virtue's self is deified on Earth; Virtue has her relapses, conflicts, foes; Foes, that ne'er fail to make her feel their hate. Virtue has her peculiar set of pains. True friends to virtue, last, and least, complain; But if they sigh, can others hope to smile? If wisdom has her miseries to mourn, How can poor folly lead a happy life? And if both suffer, what has Earth to boast, Where he most happy, who the least laments? Where much, much patience, the most envied state And some forgiveness, needs the best of friends? For friend, or happy life, who looks not higher, Of neither shall he find the shadow here.
The world's sworn advocate, without a fee, Lorenzo smartly, with a smile, replies;
Thus far thy song is right; and all must own
Virtue has her peculiar set of pains.-
And joys peculiar who to vice denies?
If vice it is, with nature to comply:
If pride, and sense, are so predominant,
To check, not overcome them, makes a saint.
Can Nature in a plainer voice proclaim
Pleasure, and glory, the chief good of man?"
Can pride, and sensuality, rejoice?
From purity of thought, all pleasure springs;
And, from an humble spirit, all our peace.
Ambition, pleasure! let us talk of these:
Of these, the Porch, and Academy, talk'd;
Of these, each following age had much to say:
Yet, unexhausted still the needful theme.
Who talks of these, to mankind all at once
He talks; for were the saints from either free?
Are these thy refuge?—No: these rush upon thee;
Thy vitals seize, and, vulture-like, devour:
I'll try if I can pluck thee from thy rock,
Prometheus! from this barren ball of Earth;
If reason can unchain thee, thou art free.
Of real greatness? That man greatly lives,
Whate'er his fate, or fame, who greatly dies;
High-flush'd with hope, where heroes shall despair.
If this a true criterion, many courts,
Illustrious, might afford but few grandees.
Th' Almighty, from his throne, on Earth surveys
Nought greater, than an honest, humble heart;
An humble heart, his residence! pronounc'd
His second seat; and rival to the skies.
The private path, the secret acts of men,
If noble, far the noblest of our lives!
How far above Lorenzo's glory sits
Th' illustrious master of a name unknown;
Whose worth unrival'd, and unwitness'd, loves
Life's sacred shades, where gods converse with men;
And peace, beyond the world's conception, smiles!
As thou (now dark,) before we part, shalt see.
But thy great soul this skulking glory scorns.
Lorenzo's sick, but when Lorenzo's seen;
And when he shrugs at public business, lies.
Denied the public eye, the public voice,
As if he liv'd on others' breath, he dies.
Fain would he make the world his pedestal;
Mankind the gazers, the sole figure, he.
Knows he, that mankind praise against their will,
And mix as much detraction as they can?
Knows he, that faithless fame her whisper has,
As well as trumpet? That his vanity
Is so much tickled from not hearing all?
Knows this all-knower, that from itch of praise,
Or, from an itch more sordid, when he shines,
Taking his country by five hundred ears,
Senates at once admire him, and despise,
With modest laughter lining loud applause,
Which makes the smile more mortal to his fame?
His fame, which (like the mighty Cæsar,) crown'd
With laurels, in full senate, greatly falls,
By seeming friends, that honor, and destroy.
We rise in glory, as we sink in pride:
Where boasting ends, there dignity begins;
And yet, mistaken beyond all mistake,
The blind Lorenzo's proud-of being proud;
And dreams himself ascending in his fall.
An eminence, though fancied, turns the brain :
All vice wants hellebore; but of all vice,
Pride loudest calls, and for the largest bowl;
Because, unlike all other vice, it flies,
In fact, the point in fancy most pursued.
Who court applause, oblige the world in this;
They gratify man's passion to refuse.
Superior honor, when assum'd, is lost;
E'en good men turn banditti, and rejoice,
Like Kouli-Khan, in plunder of the proud.
We wisely strip the steed we mean to buy:
Judge we, in their caparisons, of men?
It nought avails thee, where, but what, thou art;
All the distinctions of this little life
Are quite cutaneous, foreign to the man.
Though somewhat disconcerted, steady still
To the world's cause, with half a face of joy,
When, through death's streights, Earth's subtle Lorenzo cries-" Be, then, ambition cast;
And, first, thy Caucasus, ambition, calls;
Mountain of torments! eminence of woes!
Of courted woes! and courted through mistake!
"Tis not ambition charms thee; 'tis a cheat
Will make thee start, as H- at his Moor.
Dost grasp at greatness? First, know what it is:
Think'st thou thy greatness in distinction lies?
Not in the feather, wave it e'er so high,
By fortune stuck, to mark us from the throng,
Is glory lodg'd: 'tis lodg'd in the reverse;
In that which joins, in that which equals, all,
The monarch and his slave;-" a deathless soul,
Unbounded prospect, and immortal kin,
A Father-God, and brothers in the skies;"
Elder, indeed, in time; but less remote
In excellence, perhaps, than thought by man;
Why greater what can fall, than what can rise?
If still delirious, now, Lorenzo! go;
And with thy full-blown brothers of the world,
Throw scorn around thee; cast it on thy slaves;
Thy slaves and equals: how scorn cast on them
Rebounds on thee! If man is mean, as man,
Art thou a god? If fortune makes him so,
Beware the consequence: a maxim that,
Which draws a monstrous picture of mankind,
Where, in the drapery, the man is lost;
Externals fluttering, and the soul forgot.
Thy greatest glory, when dispos'd to boast,
Boast that aloud, in which thy servants share.
Which wriggle into wealth, or climb renown.
As crooked Satan the forbidden tree,
They leave their party-color'd robe behind,
All that now glitters, while they rear aloft
Their brazen crests, and hiss at us below.
Of fortune's fucus strip them, yet alive:
Strip them of body, too; nay, closer still,
Away with all, but moral, in their minds;
And let what then remains impose their name,
Pronounce them weak, or worthy; great, or mean.
How mean that snuff of glory fortune lights,
And death puts out! Dost thou demand a test,
A test, at once, infallible, and short,
Ambition's dearer far stands unimpeach'd,
Gay pleasure! proud ambition is her slave;
For her, he soars at great, and hazards ill;
For her, he fights, and bleeds, or overcomes;
And paves his way, with crowns, to reach her smile:
Who can resist her charms ?"-Or, should? Lo-
What mortal shall resist, where angels yield?
Pleasure's the mistress of ethereal powers;
For her contend the rival gods above;
Pleasure's the mistress of the world below;
And well it was for man, that pleasure charms;
How would all stagnate, but for pleasure's ray!
How would the frozen stream of action cease!
What is the pulse of this so busy world?
The love of pleasure: that, through every vein,
Throws motion, warmth; and shuts out death from
Though various are the tempers of mankind, Pleasure's gay family hold all in chains: Some most affect the black; and some, the fair; Some honest pleasure court: and some, obscene. Pleasures obscene are various, as the throng Of passions, that can err in human hearts; Mistake their objects, or transgress their bounds. Think you there's but one whoredom? Whoredom, all,
But when our reason licenses delight:
Dost doubt, Lorenzo? Thou shalt doubt no more.
Thy father chides thy gallantries, yet hugs
An ugly common harlot, in the dark;
A rank adulterer with others' gold!
And that hag, vengeance, in a corner, charms.
Hatred her brothel has, as well as love,
Where horrid epicures debauch in blood.
Whate'er the motive, pleasure is the mark:
For her, the black assassin draws his sword;
For her, dark statesmen trim their midnight lamp,
To which no single sacrifice may fall;
For her, the saint abstains; the miser starves;
The Stoic proud, for pleasure, pleasure scorn'd;
For her, affliction's daughters grief indulge,
And find, or hope, a luxury in tears;
For her, guilt, shame, toil, danger, we defy;
And, with an aim voluptuous, rush on death.
Thus universal her despotic power!
And as her empire wide, her praise is just. Patron of pleasure! doter on delight! I am thy rival! pleasure I profess; Pleasure the purpose of my gloomy song. Pleasure is nought but virtue's gayer name: I wrong her still, I rate her worth too low; Virtue the root, and pleasure is the flower; And honest Epicurus' foes were fools.
But this sounds harsh, and gives the wise offence! If o'erstrain'd wisdom still retains the name, How knits austerity her cloudy brow, And blames, as bold, and hazardous, the praise Of pleasure, to mankind, unprais'd, too dear! Ye modern Stoics! hear my soft reply; Their senses men will trust: we can't impose; Or, if we could, is imposition right?
Own honey sweet; but, owning, add this sting;
When mixt with poison, it is deadly too." Truth never was indebted to a lie.
And know thyself; and know thyself to be
(Strange truth) the most abstemious man alive
Tell not Calista; she will laugh thee dead;
Or send thee to her hermitage with L
Absurd presumption! Thou who never knew'st
A serious thought! shalt thou dare dream of joy ?
No man e'er found a happy life by chance;
Or yawn'd it into being, with a wish;
Or, with the shout of grovelling appetite,
E'er smelt it out, and grubb'd it from the dirt.
An art it is, and must be learnt; and learnt
With unremitting effort, or be lost;
And leaves us perfect blockheads, in our bliss.
The clouds may drop down titles and estates;
Wealth may seek us; but wisdom must be sought;
Sought before all; but (how unlike all else
We seek on Earth!) 'tis never sought in vain.
First, pleasure's birth, rise, strength, and grandeur
Is nought but virtue to be prais'd, as good?
Why then is health preferr'd before disease?
What nature loves is good without our leave;
And where no future drawback cries, " Beware,"
Pleasure, though not from virtue, should prevail.
"Tis balm to life, and gratitude to Heaven;
How cold our thanks for bounties unenjoy'd!
The love of pleasure is man's eldest-born,
Born in his cradle, living to his tomb:
Wisdom, her younger sister, though more grave,
Was meant to minister, and not to mar,
Imperial pleasure, queen of human hearts.
Lorenzo! thou, her majesty's renown'd, Though uncoift counsel, learned in the world! Who think'st thyself a Murray, with disdain May'st look on me. Yet, my Demosthenes! Canst thou plead pleasure's cause as well as I? Know'st thou her nature, purpose, parentage? Attend my song, and thou shalt know them all;
Brought forth by wisdom, nurst by discipline,
By patience taught, by perseverance crown'd,
She rears her head majestic; round her throne,
Erected in the bosom of the just,
Each virtue, listed, forms her manly guard.
For what are virtues? (formidable name!
What, but the fountain, or defence, of joy?
Why, then, commanded? Need mankind commands.
At once to merit, and to make, their bliss ?
Great Legislator! scarce so great, as kind!
If men are rational, and love delight,
Thy gracious law but flatters human choice;
In the transgression lies the penalty;
And they the most indulge, who most obey.
Of pleasure, next, the final cause explore;
Its mighty purpose, its important end.
Not to turn human brutal, but to build
Divine on human, pleasure came from Heaven.
In aid to reason was the goddess sent;
To call up all its strength by such a charm.
Pleasure, first, succors virtue; in return,
Virtue gives pleasure an eternal reign.
What, but the pleasure of food, friendship, faith,
Supports life natural, civil, and divine?
"Tis from the pleasure of repast, we live;
'Tis from the pleasure of applause, we please;
"Tis from the pleasure of belief, we pray;
(All prayer would cease, if unbeliev'd the prize :)
It serves ourselves, our species, and our God;
And to serve more, is past the sphere of man.
Glide, then, for ever, pleasure's sacred stream!
Through Eden, as Euphrates ran, it runs,
And fosters every growth of happy life;
Makes a new Eden where it flows;-but such
As must be lost, Lorenzo! by thy fall.
"What mean I by thy fall?"-Thou 'It shortly see,
While pleasure's nature is at large display'd;
Already sung her origin, and ends.
Those glorious ends, by kind, or by degree,
When pleasure violates, 'tis then a vice,
And vengeance too; it hastens into pain.
From due refreshment, life, health, reason, joy;
From wild excess, pain, grief, distraction, death ;
Heaven's justice, this proclaims, and that her love
What greater evil can I wish my foe,
Than his full draught of pleasure, from a cask
Unbroach'd by just authority, ungaug'd
By temperance, by reason unrefin'd?
A thousand demons lurk within the lee.
Heaven, others, and ourselves! uninjur'd these,
Drink deep; the deeper, then, the more divine: