« PreviousContinue »
Another fhakes the bed, diffolving there,
Till knots upon his gouty joint appear,
And chalk is in his crippled fingers found;
Rots like a doddard oak, and piecemeal falls to ground;
Then his lewd follies he would late repent;
And his past years, that in a mist were spent.
But thou art pale, in nightly studies, grown, To make the ftoick inftitutes thy own : Thou long with studious care haft till'd our youth, And fown our well-purg'd ears with wholesome truth. From thee both old and young, with profit, learn The bounds of good and evil to difcern. CORNUTUS.
Unhappy he who does this work adjourn, And to to-morrow would the fearch delay : His lazy morrow will be like to-day.
But is one day of eafe too much to borrow?
Yes, fure: for yesterday was once to-morrow.
That yesterday is gone, and nothing gain'd:
And all thy fruitless days will thus be drain'd;
For thou haft more to-morrows yet to ask,
And wilt be ever to begin thy task;
Who, like the hindmoft chariot-wheels, art curft,
Still to be near, but ne'er to reach the first.
O freedom! first delight of human kind!
Not that which bondmen from their masters find,
The privilege of doles: not yet t' infcribe
Their names in this or t' other Roman tribe:
That falfe enfranchifement with eafe is found:
Slaves are made citizens, by turning round.
How, replies one, can any be more free?.
Here 's Dama, once a groom of low degree,
Not worth a farthing, and a fot befide;
So true a rogue, for lying's fake he ly'd ;
But, with a turn, a freeman he became;
Now Marcus Dama is his worship's name.
Good Gods! who would refuse to lend a fum,
If wealthy Marcus furety will become!
Marcus is made a judge, and for a proof
Of certain truth, He faid, it is enough.
A will is to be prov'd; put in your claim;
'Tis clear, if Marcus has fubfcrib'd his name.
This is true liberty, as I believe :
What can we farther from our caps receive,
Than as we pleafe without control to live?
Not more to noble Brutus could belong.
Hold, fays the ftoick, your affumption 's wrong:
I grant, true freedom you have well defin'd:
But, living as you lift, and to your mind,
And loosely tack'd, all must be left behind.
What, fince the prætor did my fetters loose,
And left me freely at my own dispose,
May I not live without control and awe,
Excepting ftill the letter of the law?
Hear me with patience while thy mind I free
From thofe fond notions of falfe liberty:
'Tis not the prætor's province to bestow
True freedom; nor to teach mankind to know
What to ourselves, or to our friends, we owe.
He could not fet thee free from cares and ftrife,
Nor give the reins to a lewd vicious life:
As well he for an ass a harp might string,
Which is against the reason of the thing;
For reafon ftill is whispering in your ear,
Where you are fure to fail, th' attempt forbear.
No need of public fanctions this to bind,
Which Nature has implanted in the mind:
Not to pursue the work, to which we 're not design'd. Unskill'd in hellebore, if thou fhould't try
To mix it, and mistake the quantity,
The rules of phyfic would against thee cry.
The high-shoe'd ploughman, should he quit the land, To take the pilot's rudder in his hand,
Artless of stars, and of the moving sand,
The gods would leave him to the waves and wind, And think all fhame was loft in human kind.
Tell me, my friend, from whence hadst thou the skill,
So nicely to distinguish good from ill?
Or by the found to judge of gold and brass,
What piece is tinker's metal, what will pass?
And what thou art to follow, what to fly,
This to condemn, and that to ratify?
When to be bountiful, and when to spare,
But never craving, or oppreft with care?
The baits of gifts, and money to despise,
And look on wealth with undefiring eyes?
When thou canst truly call these virtues thine,
Be wise and free, by heaven's consent, and mine.
But thou, who lately, of the common strain,
Wert one of us, if ftill thou dost retain
The fame ill habits, the fame follies too,
Glofs'd over only with a faint-like show,
Then I refume the freedom which I gave,
Still thou art bound to vice, and still a flave.
Thou canst not wag my finger, or begin
"The leaft light motion, but it tends to fin."
How's this? Not wag thy finger, he replies?
No, friend; nor fuming gums, nor facrifice,
Can ever make a madman free, or wife.
"Virtue and vice are never in one foul:
"A man is wholly wife, or wholly is a fool."
A heavy bumkin, taught with daily care,
Can never dance three steps with a becoming air.
In fpite of this, my freedom still remains.
Free! what, and fetter'd with fo
Canft thou no other mafter understand
Than him that freed thee by the prætor's wand?
Should he, who was thy lord, command thee now,
With a harsh voice, and fupercilious brow,
To fervile duties, thou would'ft fear no more.;
The gallows and the whip are out of door.
But if thy paffions lord it in thy breast,
Art thou not still a slave, and still opprest?
Whether alone, or in thy harlot's lap,
When thou would'ft take a lazy morning's nap;
Up, up, fays Avarice; thou fnor'st again,
Stretcheft thy limbs, and yawn'st, but all in vain;
The tyrant Lucre no denial takes;
At his command th' unwilling fluggard wakes:
What must I do? he cries: What? fays his lord:
Why, rife, make ready, and go streight abraod:
With fish, from Euxine feas, thy vessel freight;
Flax, caftor, Coan wines, the precious weight
Of pepper, and Sabæan incenfe, take
With thy own hands, from the tir'd camel's back:
And with poft-hafte thy running markets make.
Be fure to turn the penny; lye and swear;
'Tis wholefome fin: but Jove, thou fay'st, will hear:
Swear, fool, or ftarve; for the dilemma 's even :
A tradesman thou! and hope to go to heaven?
Refolv'd for fea, the flaves they baggage pack,
Each faddled with his burden on his back:
Nothing retards thy voyage, now, unless
Thy other lord forbids, Voluptuousness :
And he may ask this civil question: Friend,
What doft thou make a ship-board? to what end?
Art thou of Bethlem's noble college free?
Stark, ftaring mad, that thou would'st tempt the fea?
Cubb'd in a cabbin, on a mattress laid,
On a brown george, with lowfy fwobbers fed,