Page images
PDF
EPUB

Will not the sickliest sheep of every flock
Resort to this example as a rock ;
There stand, and justify the foul abuse
Of sabbath-hours with plausible excuse?
If apostolic gravity be free
To play the fool on Sundays, why not we?
If he the tinkling harpsichord regards
As inoffensive, what offence in cards?
Strike up the fiddles, let us all be gay;
Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play.

O Italy !—Thy sabbaths will be soon
Our sabbaths, closed with mummery and buffoon.
Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene,
Ours parcell'd out, as thine have ever been,
God's worship and the mountebank between.
What says the prophet? Let that day be bless'd
With holiness and consecrated rest.
Pastime and business both it should exclude,
And bar the door the moment they intrude:
Nobly distinguish'd above all the six
By deeds, in which the world must never mix.
Hear him again. He calls it a delight,
A day of luxury observed aright,
When the glad soul is made Heaven's welcome

guest,
Sits banqueting, and God provides the feast.
But triflers are engaged, and cannot come;
Their answer to the call is-Not at home.

O the dear pleasures of the velvet plain,
The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again !
Cards with what rapture, and the polish'd die,
The yawning chasm of indolence supply !
Then to the dance, and make the sober moon
Witness of joys that shun the sight of noon.
Blame, cynic, if you can, quadrille or ball,
The snug close party, or the splendid hall,
Where Night, down-stooping from her ebon throne,
Views constellations brighter than her own.
'Tis innocent, and harmless, and refined,
The balm of cire, Elysium of the mind.

C

Innocent! Oh if venerable Time
Slain at the foot of Pleasure be no crime,
Then, with his silver beard and magic wand,
Let Comus rise archbishop of the land ;
Let him your rubric and your feasts prescribe,
Grand metropolitan of all the tribe.

Of manners rough, and coarse athletic cast,
The rank debauch suits Clodio's filthy taste.
Rufillus, exquisitely form’d by rule,
Not of the moral but the dancing school,
Wonders at Clodio's follies, in a tone
As tragical, as others at his own.
He cannot drink five bottles, bilk the score,
Then kill a constable, and drink five more;
But he can draw a pattern, make a tart,
And has the ladies' etiquette by heart.
Go, fool! and, arm in arm with Clodio, plead
Your cause before a bar you little dread;
But know, the law, that bids the drunkard die,
Is far too just to pass the trifler by.
Both baby-featured, and of infant size,
View'd from a distance, and with heedless eyes,
Folly and Innocence are so alike,
The difference, though essential, fails to strike.
Yet Folly ever has a vacant stare,
A simpering countenance, and a trifling air ;
But Innocence, sedate, serene, erect,
Delights us, by engaging our respect.
Man, Nature's guest by invitation sweet,
Receives from her both appetite and treat;
But if he play the glutton and exceed,
His benefactress blushes at the deed ;
For Nature, nice, as liberal to dispense,
Made nothing but a brute the slave of sense.
Daniel ate pulse by choice-example rare ! [fair.
Heaven bless'd the youth, and made him fresh and
Gorgonius sits, abdominous and wan,
Like a fat squab upon a Chinese fan :
He snuffs far off the anticipated joy ;

tle and ver son all his thoughts employ;

Prepares for meals as jockeys take a sweat,
Oh, nauseous !-an emetic for a whet!
Will Providence o'erlook the wasted good ?
Temperance were no virtue if he could.

That pleasures, therefore, or what such we call,
Are hurtful, is a truth confess'd by all;
And some, that seem to threaten virtue less,
Still hurtful in the abuse, or by the excess.

Is man then only for his torment placed
The centre of delights he may not taste ?
Like fabled Tantalus, condemn’d to hear
The precious stream still purling in his ear,
Lip-deep in what he longs for, and yet cursed
With prohibition, and perpetual thirst ?
No, wrangler-destitute of shame and sense,
The precept, that enjoins him abstinence,
Forbids him none but the licentious joy,
Whose fruit, though fair, tempts only to destroy.
Remorse, the fatal egg by Pleasure laid
In every bosom where her nest is made,
Hatch'd by the beams of Truth, denies him rest,
And proves a raging scorpion in his breast.
No pleasure? Are domestic comforts dead ?
Are all the nameless sweets of friendship fled ?
Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame
Good sense, good health, good conscience, and good

fame?
All these belong to virtue, and all prove
That virtue has a title to your love.
Have you no touch of pity, that the poor
Stand starved at your inhospitable door?
Or if yourself too scantily supplied
Need help, let honest industry provide.
Earn, if you want; if you abound, impart :
These both are pleasures to the feeling heart.
No pleasure? Has some sickly eastern waste
Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast ?
Can British Paradise no scenes afford
To please her sated and indifferent lord ?

Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run
Quite to the lees? And has religion none?
Brutes capable would tell you 'tis a lie,
And judge you from the kennel and the sty.
Delights like these, ye sensual and profane,
Ye are bid, begg'd, besought to entertain;
Call'd to these crystal streams, do ye turn off
Obscene to swill and wallow at a trough?
Envy the beast then, on whom Heaven bestows
Your pleasures, with no curses in the close.

Pleasure admitted in undue degree
Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free.
'Tis not alone the grape's enticing juice
Unnerves the moral powers, and mars their use;
Ambition, avarice, and the lust of fame,
And woman, lovely woman, does the same.
The heart, surrender'd to the ruling power
Of some ungovern'd passion every hour,
Finds by degrees the truths, that once bore sway,
And all their deep impressions, wear away ;
So coin grows smooth, in traffic current pass'd,
Till Cæsar's image is effaced at last.

The breach, though small at first, soon opening In rushes folly with a full-moon tide, [wide, Then welcome errours of whatever size, To justify it by a thousand lies. As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone, And hides the ruin that it feeds upon; So sophistry cleaves close to, and protects Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects. Mortals, whose pleasures are their only care, First wish to be imposed on, and then are. And, lest the fulsome artifice should fail, Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil. Not more industrious are the just and true, To give to Virtue what is Virtue's due The praise of wisdom, comeliness, and worth, And call her charms to public notice forthThan Vice's mean and disingenuous race

hide the shocking features of her face.

Her form with dress and lotion they repair;
Then kiss their idol, and pronounce her fair,

The sacred implement I now employ
Might prove a mischief, or at best a toy;
A trifle, if it move but to amuse;
But, if to wrong the judgment and abuse,
Worse than a poniard in the basest hand,
It stabs at once the morals of a land.

Ye writers of what none with safety reads,
Footing it in the dance that fancy leads;
Ye novelists, who mar what ye would mend,
Snivelling and drivelling folly without end ;
Whose corresponding misses fill the ream
With sentimental frippery and dream,
Caught in a delicate soft silken net,
By some lewd earl, or rakehell baronet :
Ye pimps, who, under virtue's fair pretence,
Steal to the closet of young innocence,
And teach her, unexperienced yet and green,
To scribble as you scribbled at fifteen;
Who, kindling a combustion of desire,
With some cold moral think to quench the fire;
Though all your engineering proves in vain,
The dribbling stream ne'er puts it out again :
O that a verse had power, and could command
Far, far away these flesh-flies of the land;
Who fasten without mercy on the fair,
And suck, and leave a craving maggot there !
Howe'er disguised the inflammatory tale,
And cover'd with a fine-spun specious veil;
Such writers, and such readers, owe the gust
And relish of their pleasure all to lust.

But the muse, eagle-pinion'd, has in view
A quarry more important still than you ;
Down, down the wind she swims, and sails away,
Now stoops upon it, and now grasps the prey.

Petronius! all the muses weep for thee;
But every tear shall scald thy memory:
The graces too, while Virtue at their shrine
Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine,

« PreviousContinue »