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She who ne'er answers till a husband cools,
Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules;
Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
Yet has her humour most when she obeys;
Let fops or fortune fly which way they will,
Disdains all loss of tickets or codille;
Spleen, vapours, or small-pox, above them all,
And mistress of herself though china fall.
And yet, believe me, good as well as ill,
Woman's at best a contradiction still.
Heav'n, when it strives to polish all it can
Its last best work, but forms a softer man;
Picks from each sex, to make the fav'rite blest,
Your love of pleasure, our desire of rest;
Blends, in exception to all gen'ral rules,
Your taste of follies with our scorn of fools,
Reserve with frankness, art with truth allied,
Courage with softness, modesty with pride,
Fixed principles with fancy ever new;
Shakes all together, and produces-You.
Be this a woman's fame; with this unblest,
Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
This Phoebus promised (I forget the year)
When those blue eyes first opened on the sphere;
Ascendant Phoebus watched that hour with care,
Averted half your parents' simple pray'r,
And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf
That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
The gen'rous god, who wit and gold refines,
And ripens spirits as he ripens mines,
Kept dross for duchesses—the world shall know it,—
To you gave sense, good humour, and a poet.
SATIRES AND EPISTLES OF HORACE IMITATED
Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, winged his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seemed to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.
"Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
In all debates where critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
Of Shakespear's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
How Beaumont's judgment checked what Fletcher writ;
How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow,
But for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe.
These, only these, support the crowded stage,
From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."
All this may be: the people's voice is odd;
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To "Gammer Gurton" if it give the bays,
And yet deny the "Careless Husband" praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule,
Why then, I say, the public is a fool;
But let them own that greater faults than we
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet.
Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
Now, serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground;
In quibbles angel and archangel join,
And God the Father turns a school-divine:
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desp'rate hook,
Or damn all Shakespear, like th' affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.
But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease,
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o'er)
One simile that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthened thought that gleams through many a page, 45
Has sanctified whole poems for an age.
I lose my patience, and I own it too,
When works are censured, not as bad, but new;
While if our elders break all Reason's laws,
These fools demand, not pardon, but applause.
On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow,
If I but ask if any weed can grow;
One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
Which Betterton's grave action dignified,
Or well-mouthed Booth with emphasis proclaims
(Though but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names),
How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
And swear all shame is lost in George's age!
You'd think no fools disgraced the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,
Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
And, having once been wrong, will be so still.
He who, to seem more deep than you or I,
Extols old bards or "Merlin's Prophecy,"
Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
And to debase the sons exalts the sires.
Had ancient times conspired to disallow
What then was new, what had been ancient now?
Or what remained, so worthy to be read
By learnèd critics, of the mighty dead?
A HYMN TO CONTENTMENT
"Lovely, lasting peace of mind,
Sweet delight of human-kind,
Heavenly born and bred on high,
To crown the fav'rites of the sky
With more of happiness below
Than victors in a triumph know,
Whither, O whither art thou fled,
To lay thy meek, contented head?
What happy region dost thou please
To make the seat of calms and ease?
Ambition searches all its sphere
Of pomp and state, to meet thee there.
Encreasing avarice would find
Thy presence in its gold enshrined.
The bold advent'rer ploughs his way
Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
To gain thy love, and then perceives
Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
The silent heart which grief assails
Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales,
Sees daisies open, rivers run,
And seeks, as I have vainly done,
Amusing thought, but learns to know
That solitude's the nurse of woe.
No real happiness is found
In trailing purple o'er the ground;
Or in a soul exalted high
To range the circuit of the sky,
Converse with stars above, and know
All Nature in its forms below-
The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
And doubts at last, for knowledge, rise.
Lovely, lasting peace, appear!
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden blest,
And man contains it in his breast."
'T was thus, as under shade I stood,
I sung my wishes to the wood,
And, lost in thought, no more perceived
The branches whisper as they waved;
It seemed as all the quiet place
Confessed the presence of the Grace;
When thus she spoke: "Go rule thy will;
Bid thy wild passions all be still;
Know God, and bring thy heart to know
The joys which from religion flow:
Then ev'ry Grace shall prove its guest,
And I'll be there to crown the rest."
Oh, by yonder mossy seat,
In my hours of sweet retreat,
Might I thus my soul employ
With sense of gratitude and joy,
Raised, as ancient prophets were,
In heavenly vision, praise, and pray'r,
Pleasing all men, hurting none,
Pleased and blest with God alone!
Then, while the gardens take my sight
With all the colours of delight,
While silver waters glide along,
To please my ear and court my song,
I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
And Thee, great Source of Nature, sing.
The sun, that walks his airy way
To light the world and give the day;
The moon, that shines with borrowed light;
The stars, that gild the gloomy night;
The seas, that roll unnumbered waves:
The wood, that spreads its shady leaves;
The field, whose ears conceal the grain,
The yellow treasure of the plain;
All of these, and all I see,
Should be sung, and sung by me:
They speak their Maker as they can,
But want and ask the tongue of man.
Go search among your idle dreams,
Your busy or your vain extremes,
And find a life of equal bliss,
Or own the next begun in this.
A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH
By the blue taper's trembling light,
No more I waste the wakeful night,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the sages o'er:
Their books from wisdom widely stray,
Or point at best the longest way;
I'll seek a readier path, and go
Where wisdom's surely taught below.