« PreviousContinue »
ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK,
Self-recollection and reproof.-Address to domestic
happioess.—Some account of myself.-The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise. -Justification of my censures.-Divine illumina. tion necessary to the most expert philosopher.The question, What is truth? answered by other questions.-Domestic happiness addressed again. -Few lovers of the country.-My tame hare.Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden. -Pruning.—I'raming.-Green-house. Sawing of flower-seeds.—The country preferable to the town even in winter.- Reasons why it is deserted at that season.-Ruinous effects of gaming, and of expensive improvement.-Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.
AS one, who long in thickets and in brakes Entangled, winds now this way and now that His devious course uncertain, seeking home; Or, having long in miry ways been foil'd And sore discomfited, from slough to slough Plunging, and half despairing of escape ; If chance at length he find a greensward smooth And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise, He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed, And winds his way with pleasure and with ease; So I, designing other themes, and callid To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due, To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams, Have rambled wide: in country, city, seat Of academic fame (howe'er deserved), Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last. But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road I mean to tread : I feel myself at large, Courageous, and refresh'd for future toil, If toil await me, or if dangers new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect Most part an empty, ineffectual sound, What chance that I, to fame so little known, Nor conversant with men or manners much, Should speak to purpose, or with better hope Crack the satiric thong? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charm'd with rural beauty, to repose,
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains,
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue faine, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb'd by Folly, and apprised
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or, at least, confine
Remarks, that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust conceal'd
Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic llappiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise, that hast survived the fall!
Though few now taste thee unimpaired and pure,
Or tasting long enjoy thee! too infirm,
Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which veglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup;
Thou art the nurse of Virtue, in thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again.
Thou art pot known where Pleasure is adored,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets; and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less,
Than to release the adultress from her bond.
The adultress! what a theme for angry verse!
What provocation to the indignant heart,
That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandon'd, glorying in her shame!
No: let her pass, and, chariotted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white,
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unsmirch'd,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
Not to be pass'd; and she, that had renounced
Her sex's honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it; not for prudery's sake,
dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not received:
But 'twas a wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught the unblemish'd to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those days,
And judged offenders well. Then he that sharp'd,
And pocketted a prize by fraud obtain'a,
Was mark'd and shunn'd as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she required
His every nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid with the blood that he had basely spared,
The price of his default. But now-yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,
So liberal in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, (good-natured age!)
That they are safe, sinners of either sex,
Transgress what laws they may. Well dress'd, well
Well equipaged, is ticket good enough
To pass us readily through every door.
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may,
(And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet)
May claim this merit still-that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,