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Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself ,
By all that priz'd it ; not for prud'ry's sake,
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard, perhaps, on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not receiv'd ;
But was a wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught th' unblemish'd to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men, too, were nice in honour in those days,
And judg'd offenders well. Then he that sharp'd,
And pocketted a prize by fraud obtain’d,
Was mark'd and shunn'd as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she requir'd
His ev'ry nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid, with the blood that he had basely spar’d,
The price of his default. But now-yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,
So lib’ral in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, (good-natur'd age :)
That they are safe, sinners of either sex,
Transgress what laws they may. Well dress'd, well
Well equipag'd, is ticket good enough
To pass us readily through ev'ry 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,
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts And specious semblances have lost their use. .
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd Long since ; with many an arrow deep infix’d, My panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew To seek a tranquil death in distant shades. There was I found by one who had himself Been hurt by th’ archers. In his side he bore, And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars. With gentle force soliciting the darts, He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live. Since then, with few associates, in remote And silent woods I wander, far from those My former partners of the peopled scene ; With few associates, and not wishing more. Here much I ruminate, as much I may, With other views of men and manners now Than once, and others of a life to come. I see that all are wand'rers, gone astray Each in his own delusions ; they are lost In chase of fancied happiness, still woo'd And never won. Dream after dream ensues ; And still they dream that they shall still succeed, And still are disappointed. Rings the world With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind, And add two thirds of the remaining half, And find the total of their hopes and fears Dreams, empty dreams. The million fit as gay As if created only like the fly, That spreads his motley wings in th' eye of noon,
To sport their season, and be seen no more.
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise,
And pregnant with discov'ries new and rare.
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats
Of heroes little known ; and call the rant
A history : describe the man, of whom
His own coevals took but little note ;
And paint his person, character, and views,
As they had known him from his mother's womb.
They disentangle from the puzzled skein,
In which obscurity has wrapp'd them up,
The threads of politic and shrewd design,
That ran through all his purposes, and charge
His mind with meanings that he never had,
Or, having, kept conceald. Some drill and boré
The solid earth, and from the strata there
Extract a register, by which we learn,
That he who made it, and reveal'd its date
To Moses, was mistaken in its age.
Some, more acute, and more industrious still,
Contrive creation ; travel nature up
To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And tell us whence the stars; why some are fix'd,
And planetary some ; what gave them first
Rotation, from what fountain flow'd their light.
Great contest follows, and much learned dust
Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend
The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp,
In playing tricks with nature, giving laws
To distant worlds, and trifling in their own. Is't not a pity now, that tickling rheums Should ever tease the lungs and blear the sight Of oracles like these ? Great pity too, That, having wielded th' elements, and built A thousand systems, each in his own way, They should go out in fume, and be forgot? Ah! what is life thus spent ? and what are they But frantic, who thus spend it ? all for smoke.me Eternity for bubbles, proves at last A senseless bargain. When I see such games Play'd by the creatures of a pow'r who swears That he will judge the earth, and call the fool To a sharp reck’ning that has liv'd in vain ; And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well, And prove it in th' infallible result So hollow and so false I feel my heart Dissolve in pity, and account the learn’d, If this be learning, most of all deceiv'd. Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps While thoughtful man is plausibly amus'd. Defend me, therefore, common sense, say I, From reveries so airy, from the toil Of dropping buckets into empty wells, And growing old in drawing nothing up!
"Twere well, says one sage erudite, profound, Terribly arch'd and aquiline his nose, And over-built with most impending brows, 'Twere well, could you permit the world to live As the world pleases. What's the world to you?-VOL. II.
Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk,
As sweet as charity, from human breasts.
I think, articulate, I laugh and weep,
And exercise all functions of a man.
How then should I and any man that lives
Be strangers to each other ? Pierce my vein,
Take of the crimson stream meand'ring there,
And catechise it well ; apply thy glass,
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood
Congenial with thine own: and, if it be,
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind ?
True; I am no proficient, I confess,
In arts like yours. I cannot call the swift
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds,
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath ;
I cannot analyse the air, nor catch
The parallax of yonder luminous point,
That seems half quench'd in the immense abyss :
Such pow'rs I boast not neither can I rest
A silent witness of the headlong rage
Or heedless folly by which thousands die,
Bone of my bone, and kindred souls to mine.
God never meant that man should scale the heav'ns
By strides of human wisdom. In his works,
Though wondrous, he commands us in his word
To seek him rather, where his mercy shines.
The mind, indeed, enlighten'd from above,