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But if through genuine tenderness of heart,
Or secret want of relish for the game,
You shun the glories of the chase, nor care
To haunt the peopled stream; the garden yields
A soft amusement, an humane delight.
To raise th' insipid nature of the ground;
Or tame its savage genius to the grace
Of careless sweet rusticity, that seems
The amiable result of happy chance,
Is to create; and gives a godlike joy,
Which every year improves. Nor thou disdain
To check the lawless riot of the trees,
To plant the grove, or turn the barren mould.
O happy he! whom, when his years decline,
(His fortune and his fame by worthy means
Attain'd, and equal to his moderate mind;
His life approv'd by all the wise and good,
Even envied by the vain,) the peaceful groves
Of Epicurus, from this stormy world,
Receive to rest; of all ungrateful cares
Absolv'd, and sacred from the selfish crowd.
Happiest of men! if the same soil invites
A chosen few, companions of his youth,
Once fellow-rakes perhaps, now rural friends;
With whom in easy commerce to pursue
Nature's free charms, and vie for sylvan fame :
A fair ambition; void of strife or guile,
Or jealousy, or pain to be outdone.
Who plans th' enchanted garden, who directs
The vista best, and best conducts the stream:
Whose groves the fastest thicken and ascend;
Whom first the welcome Spring salutes; who shows
The earliest bloom, the sweetest proudest charms
Of Flora; who best gives Pomona's juice
To match the sprightly genius of champaign.
Thrice-happy days! in rural business past:
Blest winter nights! when, as the genial fire
Cheers the wide hall, his cordial family
With soft domestic arts the hours beguile,
And pleasing talk that starts no timorous fame,
With witless wantonness to hunt it down:
Or through the fairy-land of tale or song
Delighted wander, in fictitious fates
Engag'd, and all that strikes humanity:
Till lost in fable, they the stealing hour
Of timely rest forget. Sometimes, at eve
His neighbors lift the latch, and bless unbid
His festal roof; while, o'er the light repast,
And sprightly cups, they mix in social joy;
And, through the maze of conversation, trace
Whate'er amuses or improves the mind.
Sometimes at eve (for I delight to taste
The native zest and flavor of the fruit,
Where sense grows wild, and tastes of no manure)
The decent, honest, cheerful husbandman
Should drown his labor in my friendly bowl;
And at my table find himself at home.
Whate'er you study, in whate'er you sweat,
Indulge your taste. Some love the manly foils;
The tennis some; and some the graceful dance.
Others, more hardy, range the purple heath,
Or naked stubble; where, from field to field,
The sounding coveys urge their laboring flight;
Eager amid the rising cloud to pour
The gun's unerring thunder: and there are
Whom still the meed* of the green archer charms.
He chooses best, whose labor entertains
This word is much used by some of the old English poets, and signifies reward or prize.
His vacant fancy most: the toil you hate
Fatigues you soon, and scarce improves your limbs.
As beauty still has blemish, and the mind
The most accomplish'd its imperfect side,
Few bodies are there of that happy mould
But some one part is weaker than the rest:
The legs, perhaps, or arms refuse their load,
Or the chest labors. These assiduously,
But gently, in their proper arts employ'd,
Acquire a vigor and springy activity,
To which they were not born. But weaker parts
Abhor fatigue and violent discipline.
Begin with gentle toils; and as your nerves
Grow firm, to hardier by just steps aspire;
The prudent, even in every moderate walk,
At first but saunter, and by slow degrees
Increase their pace. This doctrine of the wise
Well knows the master of the flying steed.
First from the goal the manag'd coursers play
On bended reins; as yet the skilful youth
Repress their foamy pride; but every breath
The race grows warmer, and the tempest swells,
Till all the fiery mettle has its way,
And the thick thunder hurries o'er the plain.
When all at once from indolence to toil
You spring, the fibres by the hasty shock
Are tir'd and crack'd, before their unctuous coats,
Compress'd, can pour the lubricating balm.
Besides, collected in the passive veins,
The purple mass a sudden torrent rolls,
O'erpowers the heart, and deluges the lungs
With dangerous inundation; oft the source
Of fatal woes; a cough that foams with blood,
Asthma, and feller peripneumonyt,
Or the slow minings of the hectic fire.
Th' athletic fool, to whom what Heaven denied Of soul is well compensated in limbs, Oft from his rage, or brainless frolic, feels His vegetation and brute force decay. The men of better clay and finer mould Know nature, feel the human dignity, And scorn to vie with oxen or with apes. Pursu'd prolixly, even the gentlest toil Is waste of health: repose by small fatigue Is earn'd, and (where your habit is not prone To thaw) by the first moisture of the brows. The fine and subtle spirits cost too much To be profus'd, too much the roscid balm. But when the hard varieties of life You toil to learn, or try the dusty chase, Or the warm deeds of some important day: Hot from the field, indulge not yet your limbs In wish'd repose; nor court the fanning gale, Nor taste the spring. O! by the sacred tears Of widows, orphans, mothers, sisters, sires, Forbear! no other pestilence has driven Such myriads o'er th' irremeable deep. Why this so fatal, the sagacious Muse Through nature's cunning labyrinths could trace: But there are secrets which who knows not now, Must, ere he reach them, climb the heapy Alps Of science; and devote seven years to toil. Besides, I would not stun your patient ears With what it little boots you to attain. He knows enough, the mariner, who knows Where lurk the shelves, and where the whirlpools
What signs portend the storm: to subtler minds
†The inflammation of the lungs,
He leaves to scan, from what mysterious cause
Charybdis rages in th' Ionian wave;
Whence those impetuous currents in the main
Which neither oar nor sail can stem; and why
The roughening deep expects the storm, as sure
As red Orion mounts the shrouded Heaven.
In ancient times, when Rome with Athens vied
For polish'd luxury and useful arts;
All hot and reeking from th' Olympic strife,
And warm Palestra, in the tepid bath
Th' athletic youth relax'd their weary limbs.
Soft oils bedew'd them, with the grateful pow'rs
Of nard and cassia fraught, to soothe and heal
The cherish'd nerves. Our less voluptuous clime
Not much invites us to such arts as these.
'Tis not for those, whom gelid skies embrace,
And chilling fogs; whose perspiration feels
Such frequent bars from Eurus and the North;
"Tis not for those to cultivate a skin
Too soft or teach the recremental fume
Too fast to crowd through such precarious ways.
For through the small arterial mouths, that pierce
In endless millions the close-woven skin,
The baser fluids in a constant stream
Escape, and viewless melt into the winds.
While this eternal, this most copious waste
Of blood, degenerates into vapid brine,
Maintains its wonted measure, all the powers
Of health befriend you, all the wheels of life
With ease and pleasure move: but this restrain'd
Or more or less, so more or less you feel
The functions labor: from this fatal source
What woes descend is never to be sung.
To take their numbers, were to count the sands
That ride in whirlwind the parch'd Libyan air;
Or waves that, when the blustering North embroils
The Baltic, thunder on the German shore.
Subject not then, by soft emollient arts,
This grand expense, on which your fates depend,
To every caprice of the sky; nor thwart
The genius of your clime: for from the blood
Least fickle rise the recremental steams,
And least obnoxious to the styptic air,
He not the safe vicissitudes of life
Without some shock endures; ill-fitted be
To want the known, or bear unusual things.
Besides, the powerful remedies of pain
(Since pain in spite of all our care will come
Should never with your prosperous days of health
Grow too familiar: for by frequent use
The strongest medicines lose their healing powe
And even the surest poisons theirs to kill.
Let those who from the frozen Arctos reach Parch'd Mauritania, or the sultry west,
Or the wide flood that laves rich Indostan,
Plunge thrice a day, and in the tepid wave
Untwist their stubborn pores; that full and free
Th' evaporation through the soften’d skin
May bear proportion to the swelling blood.
So may they 'scape the fever's rapid flames:
So feel untainted the hot breath of Hell.
With us, the man of no complaint demands
The warm ablution just enough to clear
The sluices of the skin, enough to keep
The body sacred from indecent soil.
Still to be pure, ev'n did it not conduce
(As much it does) to health, were greatly word
Your daily pains. "Tis this adorns the rich:
The want of this is poverty's worst woe;
With this external virtue, age maintains
A decent grace; without it, youth and charma
Are lothesome. This the venal graces know;
So doubtless do your wives: for married sires,
As well as lovers, still pretend to taste;
Nor is it less (all prudent wives can tell)
To lose a husband's than a lover's heart.
But now the hours and seasons when to tal
From foreign themes recall my wandering song
Some labor fasting, or but slightly fed
To lull the grinding stomach's hungry rage.
Where nature feeds too corpulent a frame,
'Tis wisely done for while the thirsty veins,
Impatient of lean penury, devour
The treasur'd oil, then is the happiest time
To shake the lazy balsam from its cells.
Now while the stomach from the full repast
Which breathe through straiter and more callous Subsides, but ere returning hunger gnaws
The temper'd Scythian hence, half-naked treads
His boundless snows, nor rues th' inclement Heaven;
And hence our painted ancestors defied
The east; nor curs'd, like us, their fickle sky.
The body, moulded by the clime, endures
The equator heats or hyperborean frost :
Except by habits foreign to its turn,
Unwise you counteract its forming pow'r.
Rude at the first, the winter shocks you less
By long acquaintance: study then your sky,
Form to its manners your obsequious frame,
And learn to suffer what you cannot shun.
Against the rigors of a damp cold heav'n
To fortify their bodies, some frequent
The gelid cistern; and, where nought forbids,
I praise their dauntless heart: a frame so steel'd
Dreads not the cough, nor those ungenial blasts
That breathe the tertian or fell rheumatism;
The nerves so temper'd never quit their tone,
No chronic languors haunt such hardy breasts.
But all things have their bounds; and he who
By daily use the kindest regimen
Essential to his health, should never mix
With human kind, nor art nor trade pursue.
Ye leaner habits, give an hour to toil;
And ye whom no luxuriancy of growth
Oppresses yet, or threatens to oppress.
But from the recent meal no labors please.
Of limbs or mind. For now the cordial power
Claim all the wandering spirits to a work
Of strong and subtle toil, and great event:
A work of time; and you may rue the day
You hurried, with untimely exercise,
A half-concocted chyle into the blood.
The body overcharged with unctuous phlegm
Much toil demands: the lean elastic less.
While winter chills the blood and binds the ve
No labors are too hard: by those you 'scape
The slow diseases of the torpid year;
Endless to name; to one of which alone,
To that which tears the nerves, the toil of slave
Is pleasure: Oh! from such inhuman pains
May all be free who merit not the wheel!
But from the burning Lion when the Sun
Pours down his sultry wrath; now while the blo
Too much already maddens in the veins,
And all the finer fluids through the skin
Explore their flight; me, near the cool cascade
Reclin'd, or saunt'ring in the lofty grove,
No needless slight occasion should engage
To pant and sweat beneath the fiery noon.
Now the fresh morn alone and mellow eve
To shady walks and active rural sports
Invite. But, while the chilling dews descend,
May nothing tempt you to the cold embrace
Of humid skies; though 'tis no vulgar joy
To trace the horrors of the solemn wood,
While the soft evening saddens into night:
Though the sweet poet of the vernal groves
1 Melts all the night in strains of am'rous woe.
The shades descend, and midnight o'er the world
Expands her sable wings. Great Nature droops
Through all her works. Now happy he whose toil
Has o'er his languid powerless limbs diffus'd
A pleasing lassitude: he not in vain
Invokes the gentle deity of dreams.
His powers the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose: on him the balmy dews
Of sleep with double nutriment descend.
But would you sweetly waste the blank of night
In deep oblivion; or on Fancy's wings
Visit the paradise of happy dreams,
And waken cheerful as the lively morn;
Oppress not nature sinking down to rest
With feasts too late, too solid, or too full:
But be the first concoction half-matur'd
Ere you to mighty indolence resign
Your passive faculties. He from the toils
And troubles of the day to heavier toil
Retires, whom trembling from the tower that rocks
Amid the clouds, or Calpe's hideous height,
The busy demons hurl; or in the main
O'erwhelm; or bury struggling under ground.
Not all a monarch's luxury the woes
Can counterpoise of that most wretched man,
Whose nights are shaken with the frantic fits
Of wild Orestes; whose delirious brain,
Stung by the furies, works with poison'd thought;
While pale and monstrous painting shocks the soul;
And mangled consciousness bemoans itself
For ever torn; and chaos floating round.
O shame! O pity! nipt with pale quadrille,
And midnight cares, the bloom of Albion dies!
By toil subdu'd, the warrior and the hind
Sleep fast and deep: their active functions soon
With generous streams the subtle tubes supply;
And soon the tonic irritable nerves
Feel the fresh impulse and awake the soul.
The sons of indolence with long repose
Grow torpid; and, with slowest Lethe drunk,
Feebly and ling'ringly return to life,
Blunt every sense and powerless every limb.
Ye, prone to sleep (whom sleeping most annoys)
On the hard mattress or elastic couch
Extend your limbs, and wean yourselves from sloth
Nor grudge the lean projector, of dry brain
And springy nerves, the blandishments of down:
Nor envy while the buried Bacchanal
Exhales his surfeit in prolixer dreams.
He without riot, in the balmy feast
Of life, the wants of nature has supplied,
Who rises, cool, serene, and full of soul.
But pliant nature more or less demands,
As custom forms her; and all sudden change
She hates of habit, even from bad to good.
If faults in life, or new emergencies,
From habits urge you by long time confirm'd,
Slow may the change arrive, and stage by stage;
Slow as the shadow o'er the dial moves,
Slow as the stealing progress of the year.
Observe the circling year. How unperceiv'd
Her seasons change! Behold! by slow degrees,
Stern Winter tam'd into a ruder Spring;
The ripen'd Spring a milder Summer's glows;
The parting Summer sheds Pomona's store,
And aged Autumn brews the winter storm.
Slow as they come, these changes come not void
Of mortal shocks: the cold and torrid reigns,
The two great periods of the important year,
Are in their first approaches seldom safe;
Funereal Autumn all the sickly dread;
And the black fates deform the lovely Spring.
What dreams presage, what dangers these or those He well advis'd who taught our wiser sires
Portend to sanity, though prudent seers
Reveal'd of old, and men of deathless fame,
We would not to the superstitious mind
Suggest new throbs, new vanities of fear.
'Tis ours to teach you from the peaceful night
To banish omens and all restless woes.
In study some protract the silent hours,
Which others consecrate to mirth and wine;
And sleep till noon, and hardly live till night.
But surely this redeems not from the shades
One hour of life. Nor does it nought avail
What season you to drowsy Morpheus give
Of th' ever-varying circle of the day;
Or whether, through the tedious winter gloom,
You tempt the midnight or the morning damps.
The body, fresh and vigorous from repose,
Defies the early fogs: but, by the toils
Of wakeful day exhausted and unstrung,
Weakly resists the night's unwholesome breath.
The grand discharge, th' effusion of the skin,
Slowly impair'd, the languid maladies
Creep on, and through the sick'ning functions steal.
As, when the chilling east invades the Spring,
The delicate narcissus pines away
In hectic languor, and a slow disease
Taints all the family of flowers, condemn'd
To cruel heav'ns. But why, already prone
To fade, should beauty cherish its own bane?
Early to borrow Muscovy's warm spoils,
Ere the first frost has touch'd the tender blade;
And late resign them, though the wanton Spring
Should deck her charms with all her sister's rays.
For while the effluence of the skin maintains
Its native measure, the pleuritic Spring
Glides harmless by; and Autumn, sick to death
With sallow quartans, no contagion breathes.
I in prophetic numbers could unfold
The omens of the year: what seasons teem
With what diseases; what the humid South
Prepares, and what the demon of the East:
But you perhaps refuse the tedious song.
Besides, whatever plagues in heat, or cold,
Or drought, or moisture dwell, they hurt not you,
Skill'd to correct the vices of the sky,
And taught already how to each extreme
To bend your life. But should the public bane
Infect you; or some trespass of your own,
Or flaw of nature, hint mortality;
Soon as a not unpleasing horror glides
Along the spine, through all your torpid limbs;
When first the head throbs, or the stomach feels
A sickly load, a weary pain the loins;
Be Celsus call'd: the fates come rushing on;
The rapid fates admit of no delay.
While wilful you, and fatally secure,
Expect to-morrow's more auspicious sun,
The growing pest, whose infancy was weak
And easy vanquish'd, with triumphant sway
O'erpow'rs your life. For want of timely care,
Millions have died of medicable wounds.
Ah! in what perils is vain life engag'd!
What slight neglects, what trivial faults destroy
The hardiest frame! of indolence, of toil,
We die; of want, of superfluity:
The all-surrounding Heaven, the vital air,
Is big with death. And, though the putrid South
Be shut; though no convulsive agony
Shake, from the deep foundations of the world,
Th' imprison'd plagues; a secret venom oft
Corrupts the air, the water, and the land.
What livid deaths has sad Byzantium seen!
How oft has Cairo, with a mother's woe,
Wept o'er her slaughter'd sons and lonely streets!
Even Albion, girt with less malignant skies,
Albion the poison of the gods has drank,
And felt the sting of monsters all her own.
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent
Their ancient rage, at Bosworth's purple field;
While, for which tyrant England should receive,
Her legions in incestuous murders mix'd,
And daily horrors; till the fates were drunk
With kindred blood by kindred hands profus'd:
Another plague of more gigantic arm
Arose, a monster, never known before,
Rear'd from Cocytus its portentous head.
This rapid fury not, like other pests,
Pursu'd a gradual course, but in a day
Rush'd as a storm o'er half the astonish'd isle,
And strew'd with sudden carcasses the land.
First, through the shoulders, or whatever part Was seiz'd the first, a fervid vapor sprung. With rash combustion thence, the quivering spark Shot to the heart, and kindled all within; And soon the surface caught the spreading fires. Through all the yielded pores, the melted blood Gush'd out in smoky sweats; but nought assuag'd The torrid heat within, nor aught reliev'd The stomach's anguish. With incessant toil, Desperate of ease, impatient of their pain, They toss'd from side to side. In vain the stream Ran full and clear, they burnt and thirsted still. The restless arteries with rapid blood Beat strong and frequent. Thick and pantingly The breath was fetch'd, and with huge lab'rings heav'd.
At last a heavy pain oppress'd the head,
A wild delirium came; their weeping friends
Were strangers now, and this no home of theirs.
Harass'd with toil on toil, the sinking powers
Lay prostrate and o'erthrown; a ponderous sleep
Wrapt all the senses up: they slept and died.
In some a gentle horror crept at first
O'er all the limbs; the sluices of the skin
Withheld their moisture, till by art provok'd
The sweats o'erflow'd; but in a clammy tide:
Now free and copious, now restrain'd and slow;
Of tinctures various, as the temperature
Had mix'd the blood; and rank with fetid steams:
As if the pent-up humors by delay
Were grown more fell, more putrid, and malign.
Here lay their hopes (though little hope remain'd)
With full effusion of perpetual sweats
To drive the venom out. And here the fates
Were kind, that long they linger'd not in pain;
For who surviv'd the Sun's diurnal race
Rose from the dreary gates of Hell redeem'd:
Some the sixth hour oppress'd, and some the third.
Of many thousands, few untainted 'scap`d;
Of those infected, fewer 'scap'd alive:
Of those who liv'd, some felt a second blow;
And whom the second spar'd, a third destroy'd.
Frantic with fear, they sought by flight to shen
The fierce contagion. O'er the mournful land
Th' infected city pour'd her hurrying swarms:
Rous'd by the flames that fir'd her seats around,
Th' infected country rush'd into the town.
Some, sad at home, and in the desert some,
Abjur'd the fatal commerce of mankind:
In vain where'er they fled, the fates pursu'd
Others, with hopes more specious, cross'd the mar
To seek protection in far-distant skies;
But none they found. It seem'd the general a
From pole to pole, from Atlas to the east,
Was then at enmity with English blood.
For, but the race of England, all were safe
In foreign climes; nor did this fury taste
The foreign blood which England then continë
Where should they fly? The circumambient Heate
Involv'd them still; and every breeze was base
Where find relief! The salutary art
Was mute; and, startled at the new disease,
In fearful whispers hopeless omens gave.
To Heaven with suppliant rites they sent their pray's
Heav'n heard them not. Of every hope de nive
Fatigued with vain resources; and subdu'd
With woes resistless and enfeebling fear;
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow.
Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard,
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death
Infectious horror ran from face to face,
And pale despair. 'Twas all the business the
To tend the sick, and in their turns to die.
In heaps they fell: and oft one bed, they say,
The sick'ning, dying, and the dead contain'd.
Ye guardian gods, on whom the fates depend
Of tottering Albion! ye eternal fires
That lead through Heav'n the wandering year e
That o'er th' encircling elements preside!
May nothing worse than what this age has seen
Arrive! Enough abroad, enough at home
Has Albion bled. Here a distemper'd heaven
Has thinn'd her cities, from those lofty cliffs
That awe proud Gaul, to Thule's wintry reign;
While in the west, beyond the Atlantic foam,
Her bravest sons, keen for the fight, have died
The death of cowards and of common men:
Sunk void of wounds, and fall'n without renown
But from these views the weeping Muses turn,
And other themes invite my wandering song.
THE choice of aliment, the choice of air,
The use of toil, and all external things,
Already sung; it now remains to trace
What good, what evil, from ourselves proceeds:
And how the subtle principle within
Inspires with health, or mines with strange decay
The passive body. Ye poetic shades
Who know the secrets of the world unseen,
Assist my song! for, in a doubtful theme
Engag'd, I wander through mysterious ways.
There is, they say, (and I believe there is.)
A spark within us of th' immortal fire,
That animates and moulds the grosser frame;
And when the body sinks, escapes to Heaven,
Its native seat, and mixes with the gods.
Meanwhile this heavenly particle pervades
The mortal elements; in every nerve
It thrills with pleasure, or grows mad with pain.
And, in its secret conclave, as it feels
The body's woes and joys, this ruling power
Wields at its will the dull material world,
And is the body's health or malady.
By its own toil the gross corporeal frame
Fatigues, extenuates, or destroys itself.
Nor less the labors of the mind corrode
The solid fabric: for by subtle parts
And viewless atoms, secret Nature moves
The mighty wheels of this stupendous world.
By subtle fluids pour'd through subtle tubes,
The natural vital functions are perform'd.
By these the stubborn aliments are tam'd;
The toiling heart distributes life and strength;
These the still-crumbling frame rebuild; and these
Are lost in thinking, and dissolve in air.
To lean for ever, cramps the vital parts,
And robs the fine machinery of its play.
'Tis the great art of life to manage well
The restless mind. For ever on pursuit
Of knowledge bent, it starves the grosser powers
Quite unemploy'd, against its own repose
It turns its fatal edge, and sharper pangs
Than what the body knows imbitter life.
Chiefly where solitude, sad nurse of care,
To sickly musing gives the pensive mind,
There madness enters; and the dim-ey'd fiend,
Sour Melancholy, night and day provokes
Her own eternal wound. The Sun grows pale;
A mournful visionary light o'erspreads
The cheerful face of Nature: Earth becomes
A dreary desert, and Heaven frowns above.
Then various shapes of curs'd illusion rise:
Whate'er the wretched fears, creating fear
Forms out of nothing, and with monsters teems
Unknown in Hell. The prostrate soul beneath
A load of huge imagination heaves;
And all the horrors that the murderer feels
But 'tis not thought, (for still the soul's em- With anxious flutterings wake the guiltless breast. ploy'd)
"Tis painful thinking that corrodes our clay.
All day the vacant eye without fatigue
Strays o'er the Heaven and Earth; but long intent
On microscopic arts, its vigor fails.
Just so the mind, with various thought amus'd,
Nor aches itself, nor gives the body pain.
But anxious study, discontent, and care,
Love without hope, and hate without revenge,
And fear, and jealousy, fatigue the soul,
Engross the subtle ministers of life,
And spoil the lab'ring functions of their share.
Hence the lean gloom that melancholy wears;
The lover's paleness; and the sallow hue
Of envy, jealousy; the meagre stare
Of sore revenge: the canker'd body hence
Betrays each fretful motion of the mind.
The strong-built pedant, who both night and day
Feeds on the coarsest fare the schools bestow,
And crudely fattens at gross Burman's stall;
O'erwhelm'd with phlegm lies in a dropsy drown'd,
Or sinks in lethargy before his time.
With useful studies you, and arts that please,
Employ your mind; amuse, but not fatigue.
Peace to each drowsy metaphysic sage!
And ever may all heavy systems rest!
Yet some there are, even of elastic parts,
Whom strong and obstinate ambition leads
Through all the rugged roads of barren lore,
And gives to relish what their generous taste
Would else refuse. But may not thirst of fame,
Nor love of knowledge, urge you to fatigue
With consfant drudgery the liberal soul.
Toy with your books; and, as the various fits
Of humor seize you, from philosophy
To fable shift; from serious Antonine
To Rabelais' ravings, and from prose to song.
While reading pleases, but no longer, read;
And read aloud resounding Homer's strain,
And wield the thunder of Demosthenes.
The chest so exercis'd improves its strength;
And quick vibrations through the bowels drive
The restless blood, which in unactive days
Would loiter else through unelastic tubes.
Deem it not trifling while I recommend
What posture suits: to stand and sit by turns,
As nature prompts, is best. But o'er your leaves
Such phantoms pride in solitary scenes,
Or fear, or delicate self-love creates.
From other cares absolv'd, the busy mind
Finds in yourself a theme to pore upon;
It finds you miserable, or makes you so.
For while yourself you anxiously explore,
Timorous self-love, with sick'ning fancy's aid,
Presents the danger that you dread the most,
And ever galls you in your tender part.
Hence some for love, and some for jealousy,
For grim religion some, and some for pride,
Have lost their reason: some for fear of want,
Want all their lives; and others every day
For fear of dying suffer worse than death.
Ah! from your bosoms banish if you can
Those fatal guests; and first the demon Fear,
That trembles at impossible events;
Lest aged Atlas should resign his load,
And Heaven's eternal battlements rush down.
Is there an evil worse than fear itself?
And what avails it that indulgent Heaven
From mortal eyes has wrapt the woes to come,
If we, ingenious to torment ourselves,
Grow pale at hideous fictions of our own?
Enjoy the present: nor with needless cares,
Of what may spring from blind misfortune's womb,
Appal the surest hour that life bestows.
Serene, and master of yourself, prepare
For what may come; and leave the rest to Heaven
Oft from the body, by long ails mis-tun'd,
These evils sprung, the most important health,
That of the mind, destroy: and when the mind
They first invade, the conscious body soon
In sympathetic languishment declines.
These chronic passions, while from real woes
They rise, and yet without the body's fault
Infest the soul, admit one only cure;
Diversion, hurry, and a restless life.
Vain are the consolations of the wise;
In vain your friends would reason down your pain.
O ye, whose souls relentless love has tam'd
To soft distress, or friends untimely fall'n!
Court not the luxury of tender thought;
Nor deem it impious to forget those pains
That hurt the living, nought avail the dead.
Go, soft enthusiast! quit the cypress groves,
Nor to the rivulet's lonely moanings tune
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