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Swarms in all quarters ; meets the eye, the ear,
And suffocates the breath at ev'ry turn.
Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself
Of that calamitous mischief has been found :
Found, too, where most offensive, in the skirts
Of the rob’d pedagogue ! Else, let th' arraign'd
Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge.
So, when the Jewish leader stretch'd his arm,
And wav'd his rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egpyt: gardens, fields, and plains,
Were cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill'd;
The croaking nuisance lurk'd in ev'ry nook ;
Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scap'd ;
And the land stank--so num'rous was the fry.
ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.
Self-recollection and reproof.--Address to domestic happi
ness. Some account of myself.—The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise. Justification of my censures.—Divine illumination 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 gar. den.-Pruning.–Framing.–Greenhouse.-Sowing of flower-seeds. The country preferable to the town even in the 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 chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease ;
So I, designing other themes, and call'd
T'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 deserv'd)
Long held, and scarcely disengag'd 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 flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb’d by folly, and appriz'd
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 happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has surviv'd the fall !
Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or, tasting, long enjoy thee ; too infirm,
Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup.
Thou art the nurse of virtue—In thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heav'n-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is ador'd,
That reeling goddess with a zoneless waist
And wand'ring 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
Conven'd for purposes of empire less
Than to release th' adultress from her bond.
Th’ adultress! what a theme for angry verse !
What provocation to th' indignant heart
That feels for injur'd 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 asham'd to own.
Virtue and vice had bound'ries in old time,
Not to be pass’d: and she, that had renounc'd